Manager Charlie Manuel Dis-optimizes Phillies’ Lineup

Posted by Mike Frohwirth

On Saturday, we examined some possible courses of action that the Phillies could take, assuming that the world will come to an end on Saturday, May 21st. The Phillies have, apparently, chosen to go in another direction. For their Monday night game against right-hander Jake Westbrook and the Cardinals, they have selected the following, rather unorthodox lineup (batting handed-ness in parentheses):

Rollins (B), .332 wOBA

Valdez (R), .261 wOBA

Ibanez (L), .288 wOBA

Howard (L), .361 wOBA

Mayberry (R), .400 wOBA

Francisco (R), .311 wOBA

Orr (L), .289 wOBA

Ruiz (R), .295 wOBA

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With Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco both on the active roster, but unavailable to start tonight, Phillies' Manager Charlie Manuel has successfully chosen the best eight starters. (Future AAA-reserve Michael Martinez is on the bench, as is backup catcher Brian Schneider. Left-handed batting Ross Gload (.265 wOBA) was likely considered, but his inclusion would have weakened an already-poor defensive outfield, for minimal benefit offensively.)

The batting order selected for the eight starters, however, is questionable. Remember, in an earlier lineup construction post, we determined that the best hitters should be positioned at the top of the lineup (to maximize their plate appearances), and that the #1, #2, and #4 spots are the most important.

Jimmy Rollins (1st) and Ryan Howard (4th) appear to be in the correct spots. The rest of the lineup options are quite uninspiring. We'll slot Mayberry second, as he has been the best of the rest. Raul Ibanez and Ben Francisco are the best of the remainders, considering that Westbrook is a right-handed pitcher, and that Ibanez has been much better than Francisco in future weeks, we'll put Ibanez 3rd and Francisco 5th. The 6-7-8 spots will be filled by Ruiz, Orr, and Valdez. This gives us the following lineup:

Rollins (B), .332 wOBA

Mayberry (R), .400 wOBA

Ibanez (L), .288 wOBA

Howard (L), .361 wOBA

Francisco (R), .311 wOBA

Ruiz (R), .295 wOBA

Orr (L), .289 wOBA

Valdez (R), .261 wOBA

Still not a very impressive lineup, but Manuel could have done better. His decision to bat Valdez in the second spot is particularly egregious, as it maximizes his plate appearances, and should lead to a GIDP or two (or four).