Updated: Aug 29
I covered this with Robert Land on the Houston Sports Talk Podcast on 8/28/22
The Intro and Disclaimer
Earlier this season I reset a 2021 analysis I did of the optimal Astros batting order (https://www.larrythegm.com/post/the-2022-optimal-astros-batting-order). Since then, the Astros have made two big trades, had key injuries, and some others have suffered from serious performance issues.
I put out post trade deadline what I thought the lineup should be, but let's go back to our fun lineup tool and see what it thinks. As a reminder, here is where the simple lineup analysis tool is located (https://www.baseballmusings.com/cgi-bin/LineupAnalysis.py). The are many flaws with this over simplified tool but directionally and within say 30% I think we can get the right answers here. I would expect teams have FAR more advanced tools to do something similar on a daily basis. So even given this disclaimer, let's pretend that the answers here give us at least an accurate magnitude type of perspective here.
For this series we are going to look at several topics:
Catcher- All-Maldy vs. All-Vasquez
What would a team full of Maldonados score vs. a team full of Vazquezes? Our tool can give us an idea.
Vazquez currently has a o.331 OBP and a 0.420 SLG. According to the tool a team full of Vazquezes would score 4.681 runs per game.
Maldonado currently has a o.241 OBP and a 0.347 SLG. According to the tool a team full of Maldonados would score 2.371 runs per game.
Yes almost DOUBLE the runs per game.
Before we are done with this series we will conclude with the BEST lineup and compare that to Dusty's standard lineup. For now let's estimate the impact of the Maldy vs. Vazquez decision every night. Above we said the difference between a lineup full of Vazquezes is 2.31 runs per game better than a lineup full of Maldonados. If we divide that by nine we get the impact of the single decision nightly.
Overall, playing Maldy over Vazquez is costing the Astros on average 0.26 runs per game or the equivalent of 42 runs per year. What is the difference between a player that scores 102 runs a year and one that scores 60 runs a year? What is the difference between a player that has 102 RBI a year and one that has 60 RBI?
Here is a more complete set of data that shows the overall results and platoon splits.
Maldy hits LHP with a lot more power so the LHP gap is not as big.
For context, there is NO defensive metric that is even close to this level of magnitude.
I have covered this in much more detailed later here are some relevant defensive metrics
Caught Stealing- 31% Vazquez vs. 28% Maldonado- Advantage Vazquez
Defensive Runs Saved 5 Vazquez vs. -2 Maldonado- Advantage Vazquez
FRM (Framing) 0.1 Vazquez vs. -2.0 Maldonado- Advantage Vazquez
In our optimal Astros lineup, we need Vazquez.
A side note on the possible accuracy of this tool- I plugged into the tool the average MLB hitter (0.312 OBP/ 0.395 SLG)- an All-average hitter lineup if you will. The tool indicates that lineup would score 4.10 runs per game. The average runs per game is 4.30. This is way better than I thought.
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