Lineup construction is a topic that produces no shortage of opinions.
Most of us grew up learning the traditionalist’s perspective in lineup construction – fast guys bat leadoff, slap hitters who move runners over bat second and your best overall hitter bats third. Your “RBI guy” bats cleanup, your best clutch hitter bats fifth and the rest of the lineup is rounded out by placing the remaining hitters ranked by talent in descending order.
Other baseball fans – lineup construction heretics, if you will – will tell you that lineup construction is ultimately meaningless and that the difference between an optimal lineup and the worst possible combination of your starting nine players yields only a few additional runs per year.
I come in somewhere between those extremes. I strongly believe that there is such a thing as the optimal lineup - and you're never going to find it by following the traditionalist model.
I'm back at Flushing University this year and I'm completing my first column of the 2009 season tonight. Lineup construction is the main topic - I'm happy to see that Jerry Manuel is taking the concept seriously this time around. I also have some cool stuff from my Citi Field experience - you'll see that here later this week.
I hope that writing on a weekly basis will re-ignite my creativity - this blog has laid dormant for the better part of six months now. Loyal readers - come back to me!