Indians

Top Secret Indians Lineup Released: Between Innings

Can you keep a secret?

I don’t have many contacts within the Cleveland Indians organization. You could say that I have direct contact with sensitive information from the inner offices of downtown Cleveland as often as I am featured in a fashion magazine.

However, every now and then, mistakes are made and someone- whose identity I will protect to the end of time itself- might or might not have sent out a picture detailing the future plans behind the lineup construction of the Indians. It was quickly deleted, but I was able to save off a copy in the moments it remained in the public domain. I am willing to share this information, but you have to promise to be super-quiet about it. OK?

You might have been wondering why Jason Kipnis and his team-low OBP was leading off for the Tribe before his injury.

You might have been wondering why Brandon Guyer was selected to take his place a top the lineup despite being mired in a slump that consisted of one hit in three weeks.1

You might even be wondering why the obvious best hitter on the entire team and All-Star standout- who batted second for the American League- is hitting in the fifth position.

Well, I don’t have answers to all of those questions. What I do have is the diabolical plan to change baseball forever with a lineup so ingenious that most people will be baffled and scoff at it as if it were made from complete idiocy. I assure you the greatest analytical models have been utilized and the greatest minds of our generation have peer-reviewed the results. The days of considering lineup construction meaningless or a fool’s errand are over.

To give a more complete, scientific outlook on things, the old school view, the sabermetric approach, and the new revolutionary plan will be given for each spot in the lineup alongside the player who will fill the void.

No. 1

Old school thinking: The lead-off hitter needs to be a speedy guy who hits the ball on the ground. He needs to be able to steal, be good on hit-and-run situations, and having someone who has great contact rates at the plate is desirable.

Sabermetric view: Speed is not as important as the ability to get on base. When choosing between players with similar on base skills, putting the player with less power at the top spot or one that walks more than he hits (moving runners a tad less), is ideal.

Revolutionary plan: The pitcher is expecting a tough out at the top of the order, which means the thinker’s plan is to set him up by putting your worst hitter at the top of the lineup. That might tip your hand though, so putting someone with a low on base percentage who has been terrible but still has a decent reputation is the way to go here.

Indians player: Brandon Guyer2

No. 2

Old school thinking: A left-handed batter who is a good bunter is ideal here for when the lead-off man gets aboard.

Sabermetric view: One of your three best hitters should be in this spot because they will come up in crucial situations more than the three and five hitters.

Revolutionary plan: Avoiding the double play to start the game is paramount. All costs should be expended including putting a lesser hitter in this spot because he happens to have great wheels.

Indians player: Bradley Zimmer3

No. 3

Old school thinking: An RBI machine needs to be in the three-hole as it is the most important spot to drive in runs.

Sabermetric view: The players who bat second and fifth come up with runners in scoring position far more often; so, the fifth or sixth best hitter should actually hit third.

Revolutionary plan: The fans don’t buy tickets to see Erik Gonzalez. Absolutely have to give the fans incentive to show up in the first inning so that the team can sell more concessions. More concession sales means more revenue means the ability to replace a player with someone better on the open market for next year. So, putting the face of the franchise third will guarantee success regardless of if he happens to be in the worst slump of his professional career.

Indians player: Francisco Lindor

No. 4

Old school thinking: The clean-up hitter should be a power hitter and be the best home run hitter on the team even if they strike out a bunch.

Sabermetric view: The clean-up hitter should be among the best hitters on the team and power is a major bonus from this position.

Revolutionary plan: Looking like a power hitter is just as important as actually being a power hitter. Someone who intimidates the opposing pitcher with their stature and girth. The longer the plate appearance the better so that the pitcher is properly intimidated for the rest of the inning.

Indians player: Carlos Santana

No. 5

Old school thinking: The protector should be someone who can also hit home runs as they end the heart of the order and needs to ensure the clean up hitter will not be intentionally walked.

Sabermetric view: You do not want someone who just lives and dies with the home run here as the No. 3 spot will actually have a bit more value with such a player. Otherwise, put the fourth best hitter in the fifth position.

Revolutionary plan: The protector theory is flawed. Not in theory but in application. The man in the on deck circle needs to be someone you want to be able to back up the cleanup guy if he is hit by a pitch and starts a brawl.

Indians player: Yan Gomes

No. 6

Old school thinking: The all-or-nothing guy. Not one of the better hitters on the team but someone who can send the ball on a long ride every now and then.

Sabermetric view: Look at your four worst hitters. If any of them are stolen base threats or guys who take an extra base on singles and doubles, then place them here.

Revolutionary plan: The four and five hitters are slow, so it is imperative to break it up with someone who has speed.

Indians player: Giovanny Urshela

No. 7

Old school thinking: Second worst hitter.

Sabermetric view: Third worst hitter.

Revolutionary plan: Check to see if a good hitter happened to not fit into any of the above categories. Place them here.

Indians player: Edwin Encarnacion

No. 8

Old school thinking: Worst hitter.

Sabermetric view: Second worst hitter.

Revolutionary plan: It would make some sense to put the normal starting position player who is left and doesn’t fit into the No. 9 slot. But, there is an important spot that does not appear on the normal lineup. This is next level thinking, so prepare. A team never knows what position will end up in a high leverage position during a game. Even the best hitters are only going between 1-for-4 or 2-for-5 anyway, so saving that hit for a high leverage spot makes sense.4 Sub out another guy for them in the starting lineup and be ready to pinch hit anywhere in the lineup.

Indians player: Abraham Almonte
Indians player to save for high leverage pinch-hitting: Michael Brantley

No. 9

Old school thinking: Considered a second lead-off position by putting someone with speed who has decent on base ability here.

Sabermetric view: Worst hitter.

Revolutionary plan: The bottom of the order has the potential of any of the players ahead of him getting on base, so it should be the best possible hitter. Just think of all of the possible combinations so that your No. 9 hitter can knock in runs. Too many teams put a bad hitter here and waste a golden opportunity to knock in runs, turn over the lineup, and change the game.

Indians player: Jose Ramirez

The Final Lineup

  1. Brandon Guyer, RF
  2. Bradley Zimmer, CF
  3. Francisco Lindor, SS
  4. Carlos Santana, 1B
  5. Yan Gomes, C
  6. Giovanny Urshela, 3B
  7. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
  8. Abraham Almonte, LF
  9. Jose Ramirez, 2B

Key pinch-hitter available for high leverage: Michael Brantley

Addendum

There have been queries since the posting of this article about how it was possible that Michael Martinez did not fit into the optimal lineup for the 2017 Cleveland Indians. Be assured that every possibility was modeled. It turned out that the M-Mart line was the inflection point of entropy as you can see in the image below. A big thanks to Kiddicus for the physics peer review on this item.

Inflection point of entropy

  1. But hey, it worked. Guyer went 1-for-5 on Tuesday, which is more than three times better than he had been hitting. I mean, ignore the fact that he gave the game away by missing an easy pop fly in right field and all. []
  2. Yes, Jason Kipnis will reclaim this position when he returns. []
  3. The fastest man, tied with Billy Hamilton according to Statcast, in MLB. []
  4. Did you know that you can ‘save’ that hit for high leverage situations? I’ll bet you didn’t know it worked that way. []