Someone can check on this, but when the Twins were rollin' on dubs last year for awhile (and it was brief, but not terribly brief) was when they FINALLY did have two legitimate OBP people in front of Mauer. Span and Revere at the time were somewhere around .350 OBP and during that stretch they might have been .370 or so. That worked. That's basically the one time in the Mauer era where such a thing has occurred.
Part of the argument here is based on the traditional reasons for having your best hitter bat 3rd. A manager has little or no control really, how many times his best hitter or hitters come to the plate with runners on base. The 1st inning is really the only exception to that. If you have 2 hitters who get on base at 30% or better, there will be somewhere around 100 runners on base during the course of the season in the first inning for your 3rd place batter. Largely, OBP of each hitter times 162 games, minus home runs, double plays, caught stealings, and if the lead off hitter scores on a hit by the 2nd place hitter. Putting Mauer in the 3rd spot will increase the number of times he will have runners on in front of him.
Unless there has been a home run, if the clean up batter bats in the first, he has runners on base for him. There tend to be a lot of variables here, but if you have somebody with a good OBP to bat 2nd, I believe it makes sense to bat Mauer 3rd. You will increase his RBI opportunities and probably Willingham's as well.
I think largely if the no. 2 hitter has an OBP in the vicinity of the clean up hitter(currently Willingham) then you will probably be better off with Mauer batting 3rd. If Dozier or Carroll can't get on base that often, then it makes more sense to move Mauer to the 2nd spot. Especially because moving the hitters up gets Morneau into the 4th spot. But, largely what I am saying is that I don't think it is any slam dunk that it is better for the team to have Mauer batting 2nd.
I appreciate data, but realize that interpretation is opinion.
One observation of the data thus far has been that the Twins have worked the pitch counts of opposing pitchers.
They had 4 players last year that saw an above average pitches/plate appearance.
Mauer - 4.31
Willingham - 4.20
Carroll - 4.07
Span - 3.89
Dozier saw 3.68 pitches per plate appearance.
This year the team average is 4.25 in a few games. Last year was 3.88.
I wonder if grouping at the top of the lineup several players who can work the count and see a lot of pitches will cause earlier exits of the opposing starting pitcher. Grouping them certainly will lead to higher pitch count innings.
I am not sure what the data means to winning baseball games, but I am interested in following it this year.
Well said, badsmerf.
Just two games ago, Mauer got a two-out hit and Willingham hit a homerun. I like our chances much better if we can have two guys with nice OBP's in front of the two sluggers.
There is a problem with this argument. The first is the assumption that Mauer will have 50 extra baserunners on in front of him, the next that they would be RISP, and the next is that Mauer would drive them in. Plus, if you have a #2 hitting getting on-base at one of the lowest levels of any player in the entire MLB, you are giving essentially giving the 2nd most AB's in a season to one of the worst hitters in the MLB on purpose. This is completely illogical. Many would be fine with Mauer hitting 3rd if there was a legit option on the roster. OBP doesn't make this argument. The benefit of Mauer batting second is the immediate pressure he puts on pitchers. Almost 60% of the time a runner will be on base with 1 out when Willingham hits in the 1st inning now (assuming Mauer 40% Hicks 33% and the odds that neither reach base is about 40%). So, now you have your best chance to get an XBH in the next 2 AB's and a runner that can score from first. With an incompetent 2 hitter and since Mauer doesn't hit many XBH, the odds of scoring are less. Anyway, just a little statistics to consider.
I definitely appreciate your point of view; much as I admire those who try to explain what often seems unexplainable, there are simply too many variables to consider when using SABR stats. While I usually think that way about hitters, it definitely holds true for pitchers too, and I'll keep my fingers crossed that our rotation ends up better than the numbers might suggest.
I agree with you completely on this. I think the advanced stats that have been introduced with sabermetrics do a better job of trying to isolate individual performance than traditional stats, but like you said, it doesn't tell the whole story. I don't think that we should stop trying to find these new stats just because we haven't found the perfect one yet. Maybe we never will, but that doesn't mean we can't keep trying.
Until then though, there will definitely be people that are "better than the numbers."
Oh, I understand saber stats, but I think people need to understand that baseball is a team game. Your stats ARE dependent on teammates. You can try, but you really can't completely take the team out of individual stats. Especially pitching stats where how well you pitch is very much influenced by what the other 8 guys on the field do or don't do. And even when you make the perfect pitch and every teammate does what he should, it can still go wrong when the opposing hitter bloops one in or is just better than you on that particular pitch.
It is important also to recognize that saber stats have as many weaknesses as traditional stats. Just different sorts of weaknesses. A stat like FIP will naturally favor power/strikeout pitchers because it focuses largely on when the ball is not hit. I don't really think that is a very realistic way to look at pitching.
The other thing is the attempt to create new stats tend to back my point. Many times we feel that players are better or maybe worse than their numbers so people are out there trying to find new ways to measure results. Maybe it is better to say that stats are an inperfect reflection of what happens on the field.