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Sox opening day batting order
Where to put Crawford and Ellsbury???

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Posted 04 February 2011 - 11:32 AM

The globe is asking for projections this morning, and Cesar commented on it in another thread so I figured I'd ask the rest of you. What do you think the order should be?

I've changed my mind on this about 8 times over the winter and here's what I've finally come up with.

1. Crawford
2. Pedroia
3. Gonzalez
4. Youkilis
5. Ortiz
6. Drew
7. Scutaro/Lowrie
8. Ellsbury
9. Saltalamacchia/Tek

Cameron has to start against all LHP.

I'm really at a loss as to where to put Ellsbury. I like Pedroia batting 2nd too much to have Crawford/Ellsbury be 1-2 and there's too many lefties in the middle of the lineup to have him bat anywhere other than 8th.

Ok guys, rip me apart and tell me where I'm wrong.
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Posted 04 February 2011 - 12:16 PM

When the Sox first signed Crawford I assumed that it would look something like this:

Ellsbury
Pedroia
Crawford
Gonzalez
Youkilis
Ortiz
Drew
SS of choice
Catcher of choice

I have also been changing my mind about this ever since. I think that I've decided that there are two things that should be set in stone; Gonzalez should bat third and Youkilis should bat fourth. That's your new version of Ortiz hitting third and Ramirez hitting fourth. I think it will be important to guarantee Gonzalez an at bat in every first inning. After that you simply use your best right-handed power hitter. I suppose you could make the argument that Youkilis would be better in the third spot since he does have a slightly higher OBP. There are two answers to that position. First of all, on most days your lead-off hitter will be a lefty. If you go with the strict L-R-L model then your number three hitter has to be a lefty. Secondly, Youkilis has compiled the slightly higher OBP while batting a majority of the time out of the clean-up spot.

If I stick with that idea, then I like the way BS has it mapped out.
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Posted 04 February 2011 - 12:44 PM

I heard somewhere that Ellsbury is a big fan of leading off and Crawford isn't. I think that the Red Sox will go through a bunch of batting orders until they find one that they like, but here's one that I think makes some sense.

1. Ellsbury
2. Pedroia
3. Gonzalez
4. Youkilis
5. Crawford
6. Scutaro
7. Ortiz
8. Drew
9. Saltalamacchia/Varitek

Okay, I know what you're thinking, "Why in the sh&*t a$$ f^$%&k is Crawford batting in the five hole?" I kinda see this lineup as split into two separate lineups with two "leadoff" men. I put Crawford in as the "second" leadoff batter because of his ability to hit with runners in scoring position. For his career, Crawford has a .311 AVG, .355 OBP, and an .842 OPS with RISP. In 2010 Crawford's numbers were even better with RISP: .359 AVG, .400 OBP, and a .938 OPS.

In this lineup there's a good chance that one of the first four batters will get a hit or somehow reach base in the first inning (I don't see too many games where it's a 1-2-3 top of the first). There's also a good chance that Youk will either bat the players in front of him in or make the 3rd out. If Youk bats in players in the first, then Crawford will be up and ready to plate Youk... or if Youk makes the 3rd out, then you start the next inning off with your "second" leadoff hitter in Crawford. Scutaro fills in the same contact hitter in the 6 hole that Pedroia fills in the 2 hole and we go on from there.

Whaddya think?
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Posted 04 February 2011 - 01:21 PM

View PostHail Cesar, on 04 February 2011 - 12:44 PM, said:

I heard somewhere that Ellsbury is a big fan of leading off and Crawford isn't. I think that the Red Sox will go through a bunch of batting orders until they find one that they like, but here's one that I think makes some sense.

1. Ellsbury
2. Pedroia
3. Gonzalez
4. Youkilis
5. Crawford
6. Scutaro
7. Ortiz
8. Drew
9. Saltalamacchia/Varitek

Okay, I know what you're thinking, "Why in the sh&*t a$$ f^$%&k is Crawford batting in the five hole?" I kinda see this lineup as split into two separate lineups with two "leadoff" men. I put Crawford in as the "second" leadoff batter because of his ability to hit with runners in scoring position. For his career, Crawford has a .311 AVG, .355 OBP, and an .842 OPS with RISP. In 2010 Crawford's numbers were even better with RISP: .359 AVG, .400 OBP, and a .938 OPS.

In this lineup there's a good chance that one of the first four batters will get a hit or somehow reach base in the first inning (I don't see too many games where it's a 1-2-3 top of the first). There's also a good chance that Youk will either bat the players in front of him in or make the 3rd out. If Youk bats in players in the first, then Crawford will be up and ready to plate Youk... or if Youk makes the 3rd out, then you start the next inning off with your "second" leadoff hitter in Crawford. Scutaro fills in the same contact hitter in the 6 hole that Pedroia fills in the 2 hole and we go on from there.

Whaddya think?

Well... One of the first THREE guys needs to get on base in the first, or else we are talking 1-2-3. Any other time the lineup turns over, Crawford is hitting behind Youk. Maybe that's OK. Maybe not. But two leadoffs only works in the first 2/9s of each game (at best). I don't want to lose Crawford's bat in the 1st inning any more than I want to lose Gonzo's. I'll take

Crawford
Pedroia
Gonzo
Youk
Ortiz
Lowrie/Scutaro
Drew/Cameron
Salty/Varitek
Ellsbury
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Posted 04 February 2011 - 01:46 PM

For whatever it's worth:

For his career, Carl Crawford is .288/.323/.421/.744 out of the leadoff spot in 1695 PAs, compared to .296/.337/.444/.781 overall. (The two other spots where he's seen significant time: .305/.349/.463/.812 in 2651 PAs batting second, .294/.338/.452/.790 in 852 PAs batting third)

The grain of salt here: Only about 125 of those leadoff PAs have come in the last 5 seasons (and none in the last 3), so of course his numbers are worse there. He was a .740 OPS guy through 2005, when most of those leadoff PAs happened. He has been .812 since. So maybe it's not the leadoff spot that's the problem, it's the fact that he just wasn't very good yet when he was leading off.

That still leaves open the question of, why? Is he not comfortable there, or is it just that he was needed elsewhere on those Tampa Bay teams? I have no idea. Obviously if he's not comfortable there, or changes/struggles with his approach, that's a dealbreaker. Otherwise...tough call. Assuming that Ellsbury and Crawford are the only choices for the leadoff spot (and Pedroia is locked into his #2 position):

  • OBP: Career numbers, Ellsbury has the edge. But Crawford has improved, and if you only count since '07 (when Ellsbury broke in), then Crawford actually has the slight edge.
  • XBH: Crawford. News flash: 2nd base is called "scoring position." First base isn't. Being on second base instead of first base is of obvious benefit to The Laser Show.
  • Overall baserunning: Crawford again, I think, although it's hard to say exactly where individual talent ends and team philosophy begins.


That all seems to say Crawford, except that...

  • Base stealing: I say Ellsbury is better. In particular, Crawford really has not been very successful stealing against lefties. Ellsbury has.
  • OBP: I already covered this, right? But I think Ellsbury's ceiling here is higher, and this might be the year he shows it. And, again, lefties. Ellsbury has been steady against them. Crawford, not so much.


I might bat Crawford leadoff against righties, but I definitely wouldn't put him there against lefties. And if that's the case...are players better off in a fixed role? Or is it perfectly fine to have two completely different batting orders depending on whether or not the opposing pitcher is some sort of freak?
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Posted 04 February 2011 - 01:54 PM

View Postrominer, on 04 February 2011 - 01:46 PM, said:

...are players better off in a fixed role? Or is it perfectly fine to have two completely different batting orders depending on whether or not the opposing pitcher is some sort of freak?


In a world of machines and going by statistical analysis, it should be fine to have drastic changes to the order based on the opposing pitcher. However, these are people and these people generally have large egos. Personally I don't understand it. A major league baseball player should be able to hit the same no matter where they are in the order. I would think that if Tito agrees with your philosophy, it should only take one team meeting where he explains to the people involved that this team has a chance to be special and that he feels this is the best way to go about achieving that to alleviate any problems.

This post has been edited by BigSlick: 04 February 2011 - 01:56 PM

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Posted 04 February 2011 - 02:57 PM

View PostSoxAroundTheWorld, on 04 February 2011 - 01:21 PM, said:

Well... One of the first THREE guys needs to get on base in the first, or else we are talking 1-2-3.


Right. Maybe I should have clarified that I don't see many 1-2-3 first innings with Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez as the first three. I figure (hope) one of them will be on base in the first. I don't think you're losing anything by putting Crawford further down in the order... actually I think you're gaining because the lineup will be more dynamic through out rather than speed just at the top. If you have a leadoff type who is also capable of hitting with RISP, then I think it makes sense to put him in the 5 hole where he'll be a decent asset. I don't think you have to have a masher in the 5 hole.
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Posted 04 February 2011 - 03:13 PM

This may be a little off topic, but I'm not afraid of LHP starters against us like so many pussies I hear crying about it. I see Youk DHing, Lowrie at 3rd, and Cameron taking over for someone in the OF.

Oh, and I see 2,3,4 pretty much locked up with Pedroia, A-Gon, and Youk.

As for the rest of the oreder... probably 8 - SS, and 9 - C.

1.
2. Pedroia
3. A-Gon
4. Youk
5.
6.
7.
8. SS
9. C

That leaves 1, 5, 6, 7 open for Ortiz, Ellsbury, Crawford, and Drew against RHP. I guess that does leave 3 LHH in a row, maybe SS moves up to break it up a little. Now here either Crawford or Ellsbury lead off and Ortiz probably gets the 5 spot.

That leaves those positions open for Cameron, Lowrie, OF, OF against LHP.
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Posted 04 February 2011 - 03:45 PM

View PostMrNewEngland, on 04 February 2011 - 03:13 PM, said:

This may be a little off topic, but I'm not afraid of LHP starters against us like so many pussies I hear crying about it. I see Youk DHing, Lowrie at 3rd, and Cameron taking over for someone in the OF.


I don't think it's a fear or a major concern so much as an "if there's a weakness."

Varitek and Saltalamacchia have opposite splits from each other, so that balances things out there. Lowrie has crushed lefties. Cameron has crushed lefties even last year (1.128 OPS) when he was using a walker in center field. And Youkilis (1.311 OPS last year) is pretty much doing the job of two players against lefties. If Darnell McDonald gets the last spot on the bench, then even he's a viable option (.821 last year, right around .800 lifetime).

Of the Sox lefty batters, Ellsbury hasn't been any worse against lefties than righties. Gonzalez has struggled with lefties in the past, but he was actually better against them than against righties last season (.937 vs. .887). I don't know that that trend is likely to continue, but I think he'll hold his own.

To me, the only real concern there is Crawford. We can live with Ortiz and Drew being useless against lefties, and can replace their production. But there's obviously nobody who's going to match Crawford's baserunning (or LF defense, for that matter). I don't think Crawford can be a top of the order guy against lefties, but you have to get more out of him against lefties than he's done in the past few seasons (.641, .704, .696 in the last 3 years).
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Posted 04 February 2011 - 10:27 PM

1- Pedey
2- Lowrie
3- Youkilis
4- Ortiz
5- Drew
6- Nava
7- McDonald
8- Varitek
9- Anderson

This post has been edited by Red Sox Fan2: 04 February 2011 - 10:29 PM

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Posted 05 February 2011 - 10:19 AM

For those of you proposing Saltalamacchia/Varitek in the nine-hole, and a guy with better speed and OBP skills in the eight-hole, that is far from ideal. If he doesn't lead off, Ellsbury would be great in the nine-hole because he'll help turn over the order, plus go from first to third more often on base hits by the leadoff or two-hole guy.
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Posted 05 February 2011 - 04:20 PM

After about four tries, I came up with this as the least problematic generic lineup(which can be tinkered with due to pitching matchup or performance):

Pedroia
Crawford
Gonzalez
Ortiz
Youk
Drew
Scutaro
Catcher
Ellsbury

I don't like bunching lefties together, but it is inevitable that at one spot in this lineup, you will need to have three in a row(unless you put Scutaro or Varitek in the 5 or 6 hole, which isn't gonna happen), so if you're going to set yourself up in a scenario where a leftie specialist has to pitch to our guys, it might as well be the good ones. The success rate in late innings against LHP will be much higher if they come in to face Gonzalez and Ortiz back to back rather than Ortiz and Drew.

On stats alone, Youk deserves to be higher than 5, but I think this arrangement will be great for Papi, it will bring him up with more men on base and the pitcher going from the stretch, plus the protection factor since nobody is going to want to walk him for Youkilis. I can see his power numbers rising to his old levels this season just based on the team surrounding him.

7 through 9 could all switch depending on performance. Ellsbury being at 9 is another reason I put Crawford at two rather than leadoff, it breaks up another leftie-leftie dynamic there and pretty much contains that problem in the heart of our lineup where our best hitters can overcome that. Plus Pedroia is such a contact hitter that he'll be good at fouling off fastballs and letting Ellsbury get a chance to run on off-speed stuff.
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Posted 06 February 2011 - 12:57 AM

Lineups are fun to make but I'm not sure they matter...
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Posted 07 February 2011 - 08:56 AM

Ellsbury
Pedroia
Crawford
Gonzalez
Youkilis
Ortiz
Drew
Catcher
Scutaro/Lowrie

XOXOXOX,
Teets advisor
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Posted 07 February 2011 - 09:11 AM

There's what I'd like to see, and there's what I expect to see on Opening Day.

Expect to see:

1) Ellsbury
2) Crawford
3) Youkilis
4) Gonzalez
5) Pedroia
6) Ortiz
7) Drew
8) Saltalamacchia
9) Scutaro

Two LHH have to be mashed together at some point, and I think Francona will go with hoping that Drew's struggles against LHP were a fluke last year, and that his career split will reassert itself. If it doesn't, then Cameron would PH/start against LOOGYs/LH Starters, so that isn't a huge issue. Drew is the easier PH candidate (Cameron), so it makes sense to pair him with a LHH who can't hit LHP at all anymore, namely Ortiz. In the other pairing, Ellsbury has no significant split, and I think they'll go for having tons of speed at the top of the order, while hoping that Crawford gets a bunch of meaty fastballs hitting in front of Youkilis.

Would like to see:

1) Crawford
2) Lowrie
3) Gonzalez
4) Youkilis
5) Ortiz
6) Pedroia
7) Drew
8) Saltalamacchia
9) Ellsbury

I know, Crawford doesn't want to hit leadoff. I just don't expect Ellsbury to be effective there, and he has always done well low in the order. He's like a speedy Bill Mueller, I say put him where he thrives unless he proves otherwise.

This post has been edited by JMDurron: 07 February 2011 - 09:12 AM

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 10:24 AM

View PostSoxAroundTheWorld, on 04 February 2011 - 01:21 PM, said:

Crawford
Pedroia
Gonzo
Youk
Ortiz
Lowrie/Scutaro
Drew/Cameron
Salty/Varitek
Ellsbury


I think Ortiz falls off the face of the earth, or at least RSN, if he doesn't get more protection than Lowrie/Scutaro. He'll never see a strike thrown to him. I feel that a Youk or at least a Drew have to be behind him for him to be relevant in 2011.

This post has been edited by VoteRiceIn: 07 February 2011 - 04:55 PM

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 04:18 PM

View PostCambridge, on 05 February 2011 - 10:19 AM, said:

For those of you proposing Saltalamacchia/Varitek in the nine-hole, and a guy with better speed and OBP skills in the eight-hole, that is far from ideal. If he doesn't lead off, Ellsbury would be great in the nine-hole because he'll help turn over the order, plus go from first to third more often on base hits by the leadoff or two-hole guy.


This is actually a really good point. Add to this the fact that the Catching corp probably won't put up huge OBPs. The concern I initially had was a Catcher being on base and hindering the advancement of Ellsbury. However, this scenario probably won't play out as often as I first thought. If it does happen, I suppose we should just be lucky that the number 8 guy didn't make an out. Also, in cases where the number 8 hitter is on second and Ellsbury is on first, there's a good chance that you can score two on a Carl Crawford double. At the very least you'll end up with Ellsbury and Crawford in scoring position for Pedroia. I like it.
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Posted 31 March 2011 - 10:52 AM

So the opening day lineup has been announced. Drew sits because of the leftie, and we're looking at

Ellsbury
Pedroia
Crawford
Youk
A-Gon
Ortiz
Cameron
Saltalamacchia
Scutaro

I just think this is retarded beyond belief. Our 8th best OBP guy is seeing the most potential plate appearances just because he fits the stereotypical role of a speedster leadoff man. Our best hitter, perhaps the best hitter in the American League, has to wait until fifth to get a crack every time the lineup turns around. I just don't think this is the right way to maximize production.

I understand that Pedroia's splits when batting leadoff are lower than when batting 2nd, but how much of that is actually due to the lineup? Can't it have something to do with his stage of development at the time(IIRC many of those ABs came in 07 after Crisp struggled and got bumped from leadoff), injuries, and the protection or lack thereof behind him at the time? I honestly don't buy the idea that there's some sort of psychological block keeping him from having success batting first compared to second. He has all the skills to be valuable at the top position, he wastes a ton of pitches and gets on base to a high clip. Crawford would also be a success at one of the top two positions due to his getting on base and ability to beat out DPs.

And honestly, having a 50+ steals guy in front of Youkilis/Gonzalez/Crawford is a waste. With the amount of gappers and homers we can expect from them, they'd score BigDogDan from first base. Let Ellsbury bat 7th so he can score on a single from Scutaro or the catcher spot.

I just despise the archaic notion of putting a horrible OBP guy at leadoff just because he's fast and steals bases, and I was hoping that baseball as a profession had progressed beyond that age. Francona should be better than this. Hopefully after a few weeks and configurations, we come to the best lineup. If the lineup looks like this all year long, I'd put money on Jacoby leading the majors in outs created.
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Posted 07 April 2011 - 02:23 PM

I'd like to bump this topic after the disaster of the last week

I personally feel that the lineup Francona has been using the last few days has been awful and contributing to losses. I can take one of Ellsbury/Crawford at the top of the order, but both is just moronic. It pushes back the meat of the lineup to 4/5/6, and every time the lineup gets turned over again, we have to rely on mediocre OBP guys like Jacoby and Crawford to not make outs and extend it for them. It's just a bad decision, and he's doing it on the notion that speed and aggression on the basepaths will make something happen, which is just what shit teams like Tampa and the Indians fall back on when they have nobody who can actually hit.

I feel it cost us the game in the 8th inning today. The bottom of the lineup got a man on base and turned it over with only one out. But Gonzalez and Youkilis never got the chance to come up with RISP because Ellsbury/Crawford/Pedroia had to bat first, and only one of them could work a walk. I love Pedroia, and he should be batting in one of the top two spots, and I realize outs happen. If the inning were extended for Gonzalez, there's no guarantee he would've reached base. Even if he has a .450 OBP, there's still a 55% chance he makes an out. But the fact is that he gives us a markedly better chance of reaching base, and driving in runs, than anyone else. The crime is putting Ellsbury and Crawford back to back, I'm not going to waste time doing probs and stats here, but neither of them have particularly great on base skills, yet they both get the most plate appearances as a result of hitting 1-2. Francona is putting the team in a disadvantageous position by pushing the best three hitters we have to 4/5/6 and relying too much on guys whose skills are better suited for other roles at the top.

This has been a pet peeve of mine all winter long when people talk about Crawford and Ellsbury, and every time I challenge the lineup construction, I just get the card carrying pink hat nation sheep jumping down my throat about how Terry Francona is a great manager and has world series rings, or that stolen bases actually have value at the top of the lineup(which they don't) or crap like that. I just can't take it. It's like arguing with a horde of Joe Morgans.
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Posted 07 April 2011 - 02:33 PM

Coming into today, the Sox as a team were hitting .190/.275/.301/.575 as a team.

I really don't think that the order in which they suck is a major factor at this point.
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