Batting Order Position Values

September 7, 2020
                                Batting Order Position Values

A Different Approach

           

We have been discussing here the relative "value" of batting in each batting order position.  I suggested in an article posted here a week or two ago that the hitter most valued by his team would bat in the cleanup spot, thus that cleanup (batting 4th) is the highest-valued position.  My outline went 4-3-1-2-5-6-7-8-9, with the values for those as 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-1. 

In response to this, some of you have suggested that batting third is actually more valuable—a higher-valued spot—than batting cleanup, and various pieces of evidence have been introduced to validate this.   But it occurred to me on Saturday (September 5) that there is a different way to approach the problem.

Let us consider these two games.   Sal Bando and Rick Monday were teammates at Arizona State, were both drafted by the Kansas City A’s, and were teammates with the Kansas City A’s and the Oakland A’s.   Rick Monday, on April 20, 1969, and Sal Bando, on June 24, 1974, had what might be considered identical games.   Both of them, in those games, went to bat five times.  Both of them walked, singled, homered, grounded out, and flied out, in both cases to right field; the only difference is that Bando’s ground ball was to third and Monday’s was to first, but this fact is otherwise without consequence.  Identical games. 

This is not really unusual; I have in my game logs more than 600 games in which a player went to the plate five times, walked, singled, homered, and made two outs which were not strikeouts.  Sal Bando had that exact game 4 times in his career, and Monday had it four times; Ken Singleton had that game 9 times.  But when Bando had this game, on June 24, 1974, he scored two runs and drove in 5 runs.  When Monday had that game in 1969, he scored only one run and drove in only one run—the home run.  

Bando was hitting third in his game.

Monday was hitting eighth. 

 

There are theoretical runs, which are the runs created by your singles, doubles, triples, etc., and there are ACTUAL runs or, not to prejudice the discussion, what we could call Resulting Runs, which are runs scored and RBI.  Suppose that we compared games which are identical or functionally identical in terms of the hitter’s individual production or theoretical runs, but coming from different spots in the batting order.  Would it not seem logical to you, at least on the level of intuitive logic, that when a player is placed in the most important positions in the batting order, he would produce more actual runs or resulting runs (Runs Scored and RBI) then when he has identical production, but placed in a less critical position in the batting order? 

It seemed logical to me; I don’t know if it is clear yet what I have done.  But I took my Game Logs, which now include 357,000 player game lines, and I extracted from them the player’s:

1)     Batting Order Position,

2)     Runs Scored,

3)     RBI, and

4)     Runs Created.

 

I sorted the data by (1) batting Order Position, and (2) Runs Created, so that all of the games in which a player batted sixth and created 2.61 runs in the game were next to one another, in descending order below the games in which a player batted 6th and created 2.62 runs in the game, and above the games in which a player batted 6th and created 2.60 runs in the game.  I just picked those numbers out of the air, but if you are curious, there were 5 games in the data in which a player batted 6th and created 2.62 runs in the game, 10 games in which a player batted 6th and created 2.61 runs in the game, and 18 games in which a player batted 6th and created 2.60 runs in the game.

From there, I formed moving averages, with 1001 games in each group—the focus line, the 500 games above this line, and the 500 games below this line.   The moving average moves constantly downward, from 3.46 runs created per game at the top of the chart to negative .79 runs created per game at the bottom of the chart.   But at some point it must cross the line 2.60 runs created per game.   There is a series of averages which look like this:

 

2.602602

2.60178

2.600958

2.600136

2.599314

2.598481

2.597649

2.596816

2.595992

 

And the one we are focused on now is 2.600136, which represents 2.60 Runs Created per game in our study.  

In the 1001 games in which 6th-place hitters created an average of 2.60 runs per game, they scored 1.470 runs, and drove in 1,977.  On the other hand, in the 1,001 games in which 5th-place hitters created an average of 2.60 runs per game, they scored 1,566 runs and drove in 2,013.   And in the 1,001 games in which 7th place hitters drove in 1,001 runs, they scored 1,479 runs—actually nine more than they scored while batting 6th--but drove in only 1.867.   Let me chart that:

Runs Created Per Game

Batting

Runs Scored

RBI

2.60

5th

1566

2013

2.60

6th

1470

1977

2.60

7th

1479

1867

 

In fact, let’s expand the chart to include the other batting order positions—understanding that "2.60 Runs Created" is no more important than 2.50 Runs Created or 1.47 Runs Created or any other number; it’s just an exemplar. 

 

Runs Created In The Game

Batting

Runs Scored

RBI

2.60

1st

1680

1319

2.60

2nd

1627

1462

2.60

3rd

1599

1864

2.60

4th

1597

2127

2.60

5th

1566

2013

2.60

6th

1470

1977

2.60

7th

1479

1867

2.60

8th

Not enough data

2.60

9th

Not enough data

 

2.60 Runs created in a game is a very good game, and there aren’t enough 8th or 9th-place hitters in my data to get 1001 hitters creating that number of runs.   I have, however, 533 8th-place hitters in that group, and if you expand that data to 1,001 games, it would work out to 1,480 runs scored—basically the same number as the 6th- and 7th-place hitters—but only 1,780 RBI, down another hundred. 

It would appear from this data, then, that more actual runs are produced by a hitter having a game of this quality in the 4th spot than in the 5th spot, more in the 5th spot than in the 6th spot, more in the 6th spot than in the 7th spot, and more in the 7th spot than batting in the 8th position.  This is, of course, exactly consistent with our expectations, and it is consistent with the initial layout of the value of the positions that I suggested last week.

However, the values in the chart from top to bottom are not ENTIRELY consistent with that chart.   We can measure the actual-vs.-theoretical value of run production by adding the Runs and RBI together, and dividing by the Runs Created.   We can call this the Productivity Ratio.  The layout of position values that I had suggested was this:

 

4th

10

3rd

9

1st

8

2nd

7

5th

6

6th

5

7th

4

8th

3

9th

1

 

But based on the Productivity Ratios, I get a somewhat different order:

Postion

Prior Value

Productivity Ratio

4th

10

1.469

5th

6

1.4064

3rd

9

1.4060

6th

5

1.349

7th

4

1.283

2nd

7

1.265

8th

3

1.252

9th

1

1.232

1st

8

1.205

 

Before we go any further, let me acknowledge that this is not anyone’s last word on the subject.  Simulation studies have repeatedly shown that the order in which players bat in the lineup has minimal impact on the team’s runs scored, and there are no doubt many differences between Runs Scored/RBI and impact on the team.   But let’s not get intellectually constipated by the things that we think we know.   Let’s face the question direction.   Can you explain to me, in clear language which can be traced to mathematical measurements, why you would NOT want to put your best hitters in the positions in the order where they would produce the most actual runs?   If there are offsetting values to using your best hitters in the third spot, rather than the fourth, what EXACTLY are they?  What EXACTLY are the benefits of doing it the other way?   And "more opportunities to bat" doesn’t count, because that would be accounted for in the method that I have used. 

And one more point.  I understood anyway, and I suppose that I have understood since I was eleven years old, that a hitter will drive in more runs when he is hitting 4th than when he is hitting third, but will score more runs when he is hitting third.  But what I did not understand, until now, is that the gain in RBI from hitting cleanup is like five times larger than the loss in runs scored—maybe MORE than five times, I don’t know.   This chart compares #3 and #4 hitters along a more extended spectrum:

 

BP

Games

Runs Scored

RBI

Runs Created

Net Gain Hitting Fourth

3

1001

2214

2795

3.80

 

4

1001

2196

3072

3.80

259

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

2161

2748

3.70

 

4

1001

2154

3008

3.70

253

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

2102

2683

3.60

 

4

1001

2102

2916

3.60

233

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

2058

2589

3.50

 

4

1001

2031

2814

3.50

198

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

2017

2487

3.40

 

4

1001

1986

2695

3.40

177

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1944

2384

3.30

 

4

1001

1936

2575

3.30

183

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1889

2288

3.20

 

4

1001

1902

2503

3.20

228

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1839

2201

3.10

 

4

1001

1835

2365

3.10

160

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1809

2227

3.00

 

4

1001

1827

2369

3.00

160

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1741

2134

2.90

 

4

1001

1763

2275

2.90

163

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1712

2121

2.80

 

4

1001

1705

2228

2.80

100

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1670

2026

2.70

 

4

1001

1636

2137

2.70

77

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1599

1864

2.60

 

4

1001

1597

2127

2.60

261

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1525

1705

2.50

 

4

1001

1546

2010

2.50

326

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1441

1654

2.40

 

4

1001

1440

1856

2.40

201

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1390

1593

2.30

 

4

1001

1408

1771

2.30

196

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1348

1598

2.20

 

4

1001

1403

1847

2.20

304

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1327

1485

2.10

 

4

1001

1354

1695

2.10

237

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1225

1382

2.00

 

4

1001

1241

1540

2.00

174

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1173

1360

1.90

 

4

1001

1110

1482

1.90

59

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1175

1341

1.80

 

4

1001

1195

1576

1.80

255

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

1143

1291

1.70

 

4

1001

1096

1268

1.70

-70

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

972

990

1.60

 

4

1001

965

1142

1.60

145

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

981

1049

1.50

 

4

1001

980

1214

1.50

164

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

935

917

1.40

 

4

1001

929

1016

1.40

93

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

973

880

1.30

 

4

1001

895

934

1.30

-24

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

745

751

1.20

 

4

1001

756

813

1.20

73

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

910

1223

1.10

 

4

1001

913

1301

1.10

81

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

830

769

1.00

 

4

1001

732

826

1.00

-41

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

538

592

0.90

 

4

1001

527

646

0.90

43

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

671

639

0.80

 

4

1001

673

706

0.80

69

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

696

694

0.70

 

4

1001

670

745

0.70

25

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

516

484

0.60

 

4

1001

476

510

0.60

-14

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

440

374

0.50

 

4

1001

433

448

0.50

67

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

506

323

0.40

 

4

1001

495

400

0.40

66

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

449

320

0.30

 

4

1001

426

324

0.30

-19

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

316

270

0.20

 

4

1001

285

322

0.20

21

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1001

410

357

0.10

 

4

1001

360

364

0.10

-43

 

The data shows that if a player does not have a productive day, then there is little or no difference between his hitting 3rd and 4th, but that if he DOES have a productive day, he will be involved in quite significantly more runs if he bats 4th than if he bats third—and also, that the more productive he is, the larger the difference is between having him in the third spot and having him in the fourth spot.  

The data shows that

1)     Given a known and constant amount of production from the hitter,

2)     He will drive in significantly more runs from the 4th spot than the third,

3)     He will score essentially as many, and

4)     This is the crucial point, the difference increases the better his day is. 

So if your hitter—any hitter—has more run production impact from the 4th spot than the 3rd spot, and if that gap increases as the hitter becomes more productive within a given game, then why would you NOT bat your best hitter in the spot where he has the most impact?   Why should we not regard the 4th spot as the most critical spot in the batting order?

Thanks for reading. 

 
 

COMMENTS (31 Comments, most recent shown first)

jrickert
hotstatrat wrote: "It seems only in recent years that teams have finally put a premium on OBA for the top two batters in the order. My recollection was that the orthodox used to be putting speed in those spots - especially lead-off, while the no. 2 guy was often a good bat control player. This data does not contradict that recollection.'
(12:25 AM Sep 8th )

It's a bit more complicated than that. I recall reading an article from the 1950s talking about it being important for the leadoff batter to get on base. Possibly some time during the stolen base revolution that view receded for a while.
To take a look at it I went to baseball reference and checked the leadoff OBP- league OBP for 1901-2019. The DH in 1973 skews results some, but the 1901-72 and 1973-2019 comparisons still show the more complicated change in leadoff OB.
For example, in 2019 the leadoff OBA was .335, the league OBA was .323: this is lists as 12. None of the five year averages is negative.
Taking the 5 year averages (except for 1901-04) for the years xxx0-xxx4 and xxx5-xxx9 gives the following average differences for
[leadoff - all batters],


1900s 43 30
1910s 27 17
1920s 11 14
1930s 07 05
1940s 03 09
1950s 14 13
1960s 06 10
1970s 09 08
1980s 12 13
1990s 18 10
2000s 02 11
2010s 08 12

When glancing through the splits I notices that in the early years of the 20th century the most stolen bases usually occurred in either the 3rd or 4th slot.
The last time the #3 slot led was 1932
https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/split.cgi?t=b&lg=MLB&year=1932.

The leadoff position has led in stolen bases every year since 1965, sometimes by a narrow margin with the 3rd slot tied for second place as recently as 1976. The first time the leadoff slot was more than double any other slot was 1962 (Maury Wills' 104 SB year). The other years with leadoff SB at least twice any other batting slot were 1980-5,1999,2003,2006-7.

The data also shows the developments of "bat-control bats 2nd" through the decrease in strikeouts(SO) for the number 2 hitters that started a bit before we were born and became less pronounced this milennium. The #2 slot had the fewest SO of any batting slot in 2018 but the margin was narrow, unlike the wide margins of the 1960s and 70s.
1:39 PM Sep 12th
 
Mike137
One more thing: Bill's approach here is absolutely brilliant.
10:30 AM Sep 10th
 
Mike137
Bill wrote: "And "more opportunities to bat" doesn’t count, because that would be accounted for in the method that I have used." Several people have challenged that. Either they are right, or they, and I, are misinterpreting what Bill meant.

Here is my reasoning. Let's say we have a player who averages r runs created per plate appearance and averages PA plate appearances per game. Then his average runs created per game, RC, is
RC = r*PA.

If the productivity ratio for his position in the lineup is PR, then his average runs produced per game, RP, will be
RP = RC*PR = r*PA*PR.

So for two players with the same r but batting in different positions in the order, their relative impact will be proportional to (PA*PR).

If I want to decide where to put my best hitter, I want to put him in the position for which (PA*PR) is highest. Then my next best hitter in the remaining position with the highest (PA*PR), etc.

10:27 AM Sep 10th
 
tangotiger
Bill's method is a "leverage" or "efficiency" stat. It doesn't consider "volume".

For example, if every batting lineup had the same ratio of RC to actual runs, you'd put the best hitter at #1, purely because of the higher volume of plate appearances.

In reality better hitters are at #4 because the higher efficiency is slightly more impactful than the fewer number of plate appearances in the first and third slots. #2 is where it kind of breaks even with #4 in that regard (trading quality for quantity).
5:51 PM Sep 9th
 
shthar
If batting third was more important than batting fourth, batting 3rd would have a name, like 'cleanup'.


5:03 PM Sep 9th
 
Fireball Wenz
If we are using batting order to determine a player's offensive value by inference, is it more important to understand the perceived importance of the batting order position, or the actual importance.​
1:59 PM Sep 9th
 
PeteRidges
For the productivity measure, we're counting runs and RBIs, because they help a team...but we're not subtracting anything for outs, even though they could be regarded as negative productivity.

But making an out isn't just not scoring a run, it's worse than that.
1:34 PM Sep 9th
 
tjmaccarone
@MarisFan61

The method is, I think, pretty robust in the sense that the runs+RBI per run created don't really depend much on the plate appearance differences. That's not the point I was trying to raise. My point was that even if the leverage per run created is better at the 7th spot than the first spot, it's more than offset by the opportunity to have a higher number of runs created. In essence, I think what Bill has done is fine insofar as it goes, but it doesn't inform lineup construction without also taking into account that the higher positions in the order get more plate appearances.​
10:08 PM Sep 8th
 
MarisFan61
P.S. -- CORRECTION (I think):

Taking another look, it seems there isn't any requirement about number of plate appearances -- so the issue of differentials in PA's according to batting order position does matter.

AND FURTHER (pardon if this won't be right either, and you're excused for not reading :-) ....but I hope some of you will....


As Guy said in his first comment, since it seems the lower-in-the-order guys might be more likely on the average to have achieved the given numbers of Runs Created in fewer plate appearances, wouldn't the games by lower-order hitters tend to reflect better actual performance than the higher-order hitter games that they're being equated with?

Like: Wouldn't a 2.6 Runs Created game with 5 plate appearances tend to be a better actual performance that one that had 6 plate appearances? And wouldn't that introduce an inaccuracy for a study like this?
9:03 PM Sep 8th
 
MarisFan61
Guy: The key question is if Bill's method requires equal numbers of PA's.

My impression is that it does.
You're not sure -- fair enough!

DOES IT?

Provided that it does, I think that all the debate below about differentials in PA's for different batting order spots is irrelevant (with the possible subtle exception of what I indicated).
8:43 PM Sep 8th
 
Guy123
this study looks at runs-created amounts for exact same kind of offensive game -- which includes (I would think) that the numbers of PA's in each comparison were the same.

I don't see any indication that Bill required an identical number of PAs. But even if he did, that would not change the fact that Bill's method fails to account for the extra PAs received by hitters higher in the order. This study asks the question: Given a certain level of offensive production by a hitter in a game, how many more/fewer runs will the team score due to the hitter's lineup position? Note the first word: "given." It assumes equal production by the hitter. If a hitter creates more runs when batting leadoff than batting eighth -- because he bats more often -- that will be ignored by this method.
7:13 PM Sep 8th
 
MarisFan61
Pardon if this has been addressed in some comments (didn't read them all)....

I don't understand at all why anyone thinks the "plate appearances" thing (i.e. differential acc. to batting order position) makes any difference.

BECAUSE: As I understand, this study looks at runs-created amounts for exact same kind of offensive game -- which includes (I would think) that the numbers of PA's in each comparison were the same.

.....although....a subtle thing here would be a factor related to what i said down there, which nobody has commented on.
But that's subtle and I'm not sure how much it would matter for this thing.
4:53 PM Sep 8th
 
willibphx
Bill interesting way to look at the topic as usual.

Couple of questions, I am assuming that a 2.60 RC game is pretty rare for even a great player. Assuming a very good player creates 125 runs in 150 games, their average game would be .83 RC per game for the season. What kind of distribution of RCs do you have in your database? While the better the day, the more efficient the four spot is relative to the three spot should you base your lineup on a performance that is much more unlikely?

Second observation, as you say, a 2.60 RC is a very good game. In your data do you know how many times a HR was involved as that would be definition create a run and at least one RBI and may be driving the increasing delta. Still real and counts but it might help explain why it happens.
4:53 PM Sep 8th
 
jgf704
I like joedimino's question. To me, you've shown that at constant hitter game performance (measured by RC), 4th place hitters will accumulate more R+RBI than the 3rd place hitters. But the question of "best" batting order revolves around what is best for team run scoring. So I too would be curious to see how team run totals compare for 3rd place vs. 4th place hitters at constant game performance level.
12:34 PM Sep 8th
 
Guy123
This method may be successfully accounting for a player's number of plate appearances for the purpose of measuring the "run leverage" of each plate appearance. Although, when we compare a leadoff hitter and #7 hitter who both created 2.50 runs in a game, the #7 hitter will have created those runs in fewer PAs (on average), so I'm not sure whether we have an apples-to-apples comparison.

But leaving that aside, the method certainly does not account for the fact that batting higher in the lineup gives a hitter more PAs on average, and thus more opportunities to contribute. That is why the #1 and #2 positions rank implausibly low here (both below the 7th slot). Despite the lower leverage enjoyed by the #1 and #2 hitters per plate appearance, the benefit of getting good hitters more plate appearances means that good hitters should fill these slots rather than batting 7th or 8th.

In addition, if teams did start putting weak hitters at the top of the lineup, as Bill's ranking seems to recommend, that would obviously greatly reduce the productivity of the 3, 4, and 5 slots. When we consider whether to start moving hitters around, we need to consider not only how the moved hitter's productivity would change, but also the impact on other lineup positions.
10:13 AM Sep 8th
 
hotstatrat
The RBI are more a function of the batters batting in front of the position than batting position itself. There is more RBI from the 4th and 5th batters given equal runs created, because the 3rd batters have historically been the team's best at getting on base. That's what the data is confirming to me.

It seems only in recent years that teams have finally put a premium on OBA for the top two batters in the order. My recollection was that the orthodox used to be putting speed in those spots - especially lead-off, while the no. 2 guy was often a good bat control player. This data does not contradict that recollection.
12:25 AM Sep 8th
 
CharlesSaeger
@bjames: What I'm asking is to run the batting order weights purely by position, not by player. If a catcher bats cleanup, whoever he is, he gets 10 points; if another catcher bats eighth, he gets 3 points. Then, you add up the points for all catchers. If a player bats 5th one day and plays catcher, catchers get 6 points; if he moves to first base the next day and still bats 5th, then first basemen get 6 points.

I'm trying to get an idea of how batting order position gives an indication of how much offense managers expect each fielding position to contribute to offense. Pitchers always bat ninth, suggesting that their contribution is almost purely defensive. If first basemen bat in the middle of the order, suggesting that their contribution is mostly offensive.
11:24 PM Sep 7th
 
joedimino
At each level, like 2.6, 2.7 runs etc. - would it make sense to look at the total runs scored in the game for the team, as opposed to just the RBI and runs scored of the batter?
10:35 PM Sep 7th
 
tjmaccarone
If you take Bill's table, and then multiply by the efficiency factor by the number of plate appearances each spot in the lineup is expected to get over the course of a season, the rank ordering becomes 4,3,5,2,6,1,7,8,9, with 1 and 6 basically identical. The biggest gap is between the value of being 1st versus 7th, about 7.7% more value. Of course, some of the value for the 3/4/5 guys comes from the type of players put 1/2, so it's not really clear if moving Rickey Henderson types lower in the order would really help the team. I think this is why the studies have found that batting order doesn't really matter, within the range of options a reasonable manager might choose. There's a limited number of conventional options, and the higher leverage spots in the order have fewer at bats, until you get to the last three spots where every team places its worst hitters (and where, sometimes, the at bats don't matter because the guy will get pinch hit for late in close games).

Until this year with the three batter rule, the left-right alternation teams had started to do probably had more value that putting the best hitters into the most valuable slots. Even now, it probably does.







10:28 PM Sep 7th
 
bjames
CharlesSaeger
I have a question that I asked late on the last article, so it might have been overlooked. Or it might be a stupid question, but I'll ask it again:

What kind of fielding position weights would you have if you weighed them by position in the batting order? Say, if you totaled up all the values for left fielders by position in the batting order, then for catchers, and for designated hitters, and so on


I am sure it is not a stupid question, but I don't have ANY idea what you are asking.
10:23 PM Sep 7th
 
bjames
W.T.Mons10
So, should we regard the leadoff spot as the least important in the lineup?


No, we should strive to understand the data. If we understand the data, we SHOULD be able to explain in operational terms why the data is what it is. Until we can do that, we have to acknowledge that we don't quite understand the data.
10:22 PM Sep 7th
 
bjames
tjmaccarone
Also, I don't understand how this has taken into account the extra times at bat from batting higher in the order. The ratio is per run created, right


He would have more Runs Created, but also--and proportionally, more runs scored and RBI. The proportions would not change.
10:20 PM Sep 7th
 
CharlesSaeger
I have a question that I asked late on the last article, so it might have been overlooked. Or it might be a stupid question, but I'll ask it again:

What kind of fielding position weights would you have if you weighed them by position in the batting order? Say, if you totaled up all the values for left fielders by position in the batting order, then for catchers, and for designated hitters, and so on. What does where shortstops bat in the batting order say about how much offense their managers expect of them? Do left fielders bat in more important spots in the batting order than catchers? Than shortstops? Than first basemen?

I hope I'm being clear.
10:10 PM Sep 7th
 
MarisFan61
(clarifying: When I said "goodness," I meant PRODUCTIVITY as shown by this method.)
10:08 PM Sep 7th
 
MarisFan61
I wonder about two possible factors that might be exaggerating the 'goodness' of players at certain positions in the order (as shown by "productivity" in this study), specifically (a) lower-in-the-order hitters, especially 6-7-8; and (b) 4th.

Please pardon if these are covered in the article, either explicitly or implicitly. Need I say, I miss stuff.

First I'll say what's the main thing that makes me suspect and wonder anything: I'm struck that 6 and 7 are ahead of 2, even recognizing that of course the RBI opportunities are greater; and even more, that 6, which is in the next place after 3, is so relatively close to 3. I do see that there's a gap, but, granting that we don't easily have a feel for the degrees of difference represented by the numbers, it seems like an unexpectedly small gap.

So, here is the main thing I'm wondering: Since I 'assume' (in 'quotes' because I realize it's not necessarily right! -- and I realize that therefore I might lose some folks right there) ....since I assume that '6' and '7' hitters are, on average, less good than '2':
Could it be that when 6 and 7 hitters have a given kind of game, it would tend on average to be in a somewhat higher run environment than when a 2 has it, whether because of park factors or worse opposing pitching or some combination?
If so -- and I would guess it is so -- would this then not tend to give higher productivity numbers in this study for (for example) 6 and 7 than for 2 even if the actual productivity of that performance is no greater?

BTW, regarding the "run environment" thing I'm asking, it would seem that this could be checked by looking at what are the comparative average 'team-runs' figures for games where each batting order position has a certain kind of game.

---------------

And, about '4' coming out as seemingly more important than '3' on productivity (similarly various other differentials, but this seems the easiest to talk about):
It strikes me that the result doesn't at all necessarily argue for where the best hitter should be placed, and that it could be just an inherent result of the overall dynamic of how a good batting order works; like, that the presence of a good '3' type hitter (including his good speed) lends extra godspeed :-) to the 4 position which wouldn't be present if (for example) those hitters were flip-flopped.

Let me add, I know from past experience here that these things I'm saying may reflect a failure to fully understand what is being done. But every now and then, I do come up with a good idea, if sometimes by accident. :-)
9:48 PM Sep 7th
 
W.T.Mons10
So, should we regard the leadoff spot as the least important in the lineup?
9:29 PM Sep 7th
 
TJNawrocki
I would gather this effect mostly results from the fact that teams tend to put their best hitter third in the lineup, and that third hitter frequently has the best OBP on the team. The guy batting behind Mickey Mantle or Ted Williams or Stan Musial is going to have more RBI opportunities than Mickey or Ted or Stan.

You could move those guys lower in the lineup, but why would you? If Musial bats fourth rather than third, that just shifts the RBI opportunities further down the lineup.​
9:19 PM Sep 7th
 
tjmaccarone
Also, I don't understand how this has taken into account the extra times at bat from batting higher in the order. The ratio is per run created, right? Each plate appearance batting fifth in the order may be more valuable than leading off, but the leadoff hitter will have something like 10% more plate appearances for a typical team.
8:50 PM Sep 7th
 
tjmaccarone
What happens if you split this up for DH leagues versus non-DH leagues? The leadoff hitters in non-DH leagues hit behind the pitcher, so that they have many fewer RBI opportunities, and, when not leading off an inning, have an extra high chance to come up with at least one out in the inning, which also reduces their chances at scoring a run.
8:32 PM Sep 7th
 
bjames
Tanner_Boyle
Hi Bill,

On the large drop of the 1st place hitters, could that have something to do with Caught Stealing, as those are generally the primary base stealers in the line-up?


I don't really see what you are getting at. If a player is caught stealing, that reduces his runs created in the game, and also (of course) reduces his runs scored, albeit not necessarily in an identical proportion.
6:54 PM Sep 7th
 
Tanner_Boyle
Hi Bill,

On the large drop of the 1st place hitters, could that have something to do with Caught Stealing, as those are generally the primary base stealers in the line-up?


6:35 PM Sep 7th
 
 
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