clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What's the best way to optimize the Orioles lineup?

New, 6 comments

Buck changed the lineup after Opening Day, moving Travis Snider up the order. Is that the right decision? What is the optimal lineup for the Orioles?

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

After a three-hit game on the Opening Day, Buck has moved Travis Snider to the third spot in the lineup for the last two games. This is an interesting decision to say the least, with Adam Jones, Chris Davis and Manny Machado batting behind him. Inspired by Buck's lineup choice, I decided to take a look at the optimal Orioles lineup.

I utilize lineupsimulator.com to simulate runs scored by a lineup per game. The simulation does not account for baserunning other than the element of base stealing. Another point of consideration that the simulation ignores is the stacking of same-handed batters that makes it easier for opponents to match up late in the game. Regardless, it is the best public tool that I can find. The projection of batter splits comes from ZiPS. I also assume the lineup against RHP to include De Aza, Snider and Schoop, the last of which does not seem like a certainty given the first series. Against LHP, I assume Delmon Young to take over the DH role, with De Aza or Snider snatching the remaining corner outfield position. Schoop and Flaherty remain the 2B and SS against LHP.

Here are the projected runs per game for some of the possible lineups I find intriguing or likely, with a baseline set by the worst lineup in my mind.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Average per season

Average per game

RHP

De Aza

Pearce

Snider

Jones

Davis

Machado

Flaherty

Schoop

Joseph

669

4.13

RHP

De Aza

Pearce

Davis

Jones

Snider

Machado

Flaherty

Schoop

Joseph

671

4.14

RHP

Machado

Pearce

Davis

Jones

Snider

De Aza

Flaherty

Schoop

Joseph

670

4.14

RHP

Machado

Davis

Pearce

Jones

Snider

De Aza

Flaherty

Schoop

Joseph

669

4.13

RHP

Pearce

Machado

Davis

Jones

Snider

De Aza

Flaherty

Schoop

Joseph

666

4.11

RHP

Machado

De Aza

Pearce

Davis

Jones

Snider

Flaherty

Schoop

Joseph

670

4.14

RHP

Joseph

Schoop

Flaherty

De Aza

Snider

Pearce

Jones

Davis

Machado

657

4.06

LHP

De Aza

Pearce

Jones

Davis

Young

Machado

Schoop

Flaherty

Joseph

644

3.98

LHP

Machado

Pearce

Jones

Davis

Young

De Aza

Schoop

Flaherty

Joseph

646

3.99

LHP

Machado

Pearce

Davis

Jones

Young

De Aza

Schoop

Flaherty

Joseph

649

4.01

LHP

Machado

Pearce

Davis

Jones

Young

Snider

Schoop

Flaherty

Joseph

645

3.98

LHP

Machado

Pearce

Jones

Davis

Young

Snider

Schoop

Flaherty

Joseph

648

4

LHP

Machado

Pearce

Young

Davis

Jones

Snider

Schoop

Flaherty

Joseph

649

4.01

LHP

Joseph

Flaherty

Schoop

Snider

Young

Davis

Jones

Pearce

Machado

633

3.91

What is evident from the simulations is that lineup decisions really aren't that important. Even the worst possible lineup in my mind scores only about 15 runs per season less the best lineup according to the simulations.

Nonetheless, we see that the best lineup against RHP is the current lineup deployed by Buck with Davis and Snider switching spots. Moving Machado up in the lineup and De Aza down does not seem to have any significant effect.

Against LHP, we see that moving Machado to the top of the lineup may be a good idea, with De Aza, the only prototypical leadoff batter on the Orioles, being a left-handed batter. It also seems like Snider does not represent much of an upgrade over De Aza at the plate, which should make De Aza the easy choice in the lineup given his superior defense and speed.

The differences in simulation among these lineups are so small that you should not make any conclusion based on these results, especially given all that the simulation ignores. While lineup choices are one of the favorite topics among fans, we can see that it really is a small part of the game and we should not overreact to small lineup changes like the one Buck made after Opening Day.