Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays


At this past Fanfest, I was prepared to ask a question to Buck Showalter about the lineup decision in 2013 to continue to bat him fifth in the lineup.  I stopped myself though as the following quote kept echoing in my head from the year prior, “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”.  However, the Orioles did move Davis into the third spot and fourth spot during the course of the season last year.  The results were surprising:

Split           G  PA  R HR RBI BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS
Batting 3rd    34 151 18  8  21 22  50 .230 .351 .484  .835
Batting 4th    25 101  9  7  19  7  33 .207 .267 .478  .746
Batting 5th   101 421 76 38  98 43 116 .325 .401 .724 1.125

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/24/2014.

Chris Davis appears to have a significant reduction in all categories at the 3rd and 4th position of the lineup.  However, let’s look at the number so far for 2014:

Split          G PA  R  H HR RBI BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
Batting 3rd   13 60 10 13  1   7 11 16 .283 .417 .391 .808
Batting 4th    7 27  3  4  1   3  2  7 .174 .296 .391 .688

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/24/2014.

Once again, we have seen reduced numbers from Davis in the 3rd and 4th spot of the lineup.  However, Davis has been extremely proficient in the lineup at getting on base with numerous walks coming from pitchers going around him.  So what can be done with Chris Davis besides sacrificing some KFC chicken and putting out some rum?

What if the Orioles were to do something drastic and move him out of the 3rd and 4th spot?  The obvious answer I bet you think I’m getting at is moving Davis to the fifth spot.  However, I am not going to advocate that change.  Instead, I think the Orioles need to consider moving Chris Davis to the 2nd spot in the lineup.

Wait…Wait…Put down the pitchforks and torches Birdland.  Hear me out because I’m not even sure I can buy this lineup voodoo.  Back in 2007, there was a book put out by some esteemed baseball statisticians and they called it “The Book“.  One of the analysis done in this book was lineup analysis.  This broke out each position and is best summed up via the following summary.  If we use the logic dictated here, the lineup should look something like the following:

Against LHP

  1. Nick Markakis (LH/RF) – 4th Highest OBP, Non Home Run Hitter
  2. Adam Jones (RH/CF) – 2nd Highest OBP, 2nd SLG, 2nd OPS
  3. Chris Davis (LH/1B) – 6th in OPS and wOBA
  4. Nelson Cruz (RH/DH) – Best SLG and wOBA on Team at this time
  5. Matt Wieters (SH/C) – 3rd Best OPS and 4th wOBA
  6. Delmon Young  (RH/LF) – 3rd wOBA and 4th OPS
  7. Ryan Flaherty (RH/3B) – 7th wOBA
  8. JJ Hardy (RH/SS) – 9th wOBA
  9. Jonathan Schoop (RH/2B) – 10th wOBA

Against RHP

  1. Steve Lombardozzi (SH/2B) – 5th Higher OBP, Non Home Run HItter
  2. Chris Davis (LH/1B) – 4th OBP, 5th OPS, 5th wOBA
  3. Jonathan Schoop (RH/3B) – 4th wOBA and 4th OPS
  4. Matt Wieters (SH/C)- 2nd in SLG, OPS, and wOBA
  5. Nelson Cruz (RH/LF) – 3rd OPS, 3rd wOBA
  6. Steve Clevenger (LH/DH) – 1st OPS and wOBA (only 16 PA)
  7. Nick Markakis (LH/RF) – 8th in wOBA
  8. JJ Hardy (RH/SS) – 9th OPS, 9th wOBA
  9. Adam Jones (RH/CF) – 11th in wOBA, 10th OPS

The thing that stands out the most is how this has destroyed the left and right handed balance that Buck loves to use.  He feels its of extreme benefit late in innings when playing the bullpen matchups.  In addition, we have an extremely limited sample size thus far in April.  Jones being at the bottom of the lineup against RH doesn’t make any sense.  Last year he was 2nd on the team in terms of wOBA and OPS.  One has to expect him to break out eventually.

However, let’s focus on Davis specifically.  Davis with his reduced offensive production and higher OBP potentially warrants a shift up to #2 in the lineup.  This also shifts Nelson Cruz down into the heart of the lineup as his power has been very impressive as of late for the Orioles.

Then again maybe we should just wait until Manny gets back in a few weeks and let the stats build up a bit more before we make some drastic changes.