March 13, 2008

POINT: Wright Should Protect Beltran For Optimal Performance

Beltran's first year as a Met was mediocre, and sub par for his ability.

Year 2: Fellow Puerto Rican, Carlos Delgado, comes over- takes some of the offensive pressure off, and protects him in the lineup as a solid force; combined with Beltran's being more relaxed to his new environment and being used to the NY media, Beltran instantly became an MVP candidate.

Year 3: Beltran's numbers took a step back overall (BB, RBI, R, HR, and 2B go down, K's go up), no coincidence that Delgado disappeared offensively for a month at a time.

Delgado impacts the lineup exponentially. Beltran is pretty dependent upon him. Unless the Mets do this:


Alou (if/when he comes back)

Beltran is one of those guys who punishes the ball when it is in a particular zone (belt high, a little in). With Delgado behind him pitchers can make him chase more often, because they knew a struggling hitter was on deck. Put a solid hitter behind him and his stats change dramatically and we get optimal performance from him. David Wright is the guy to provide such protection.

In addition, with Wright widely being considered the Mets best hitter, it would make more sense to have him up more often with the speed of Reyes, Castillo, and/or Beltran in front of him.


Anonymous said...

Are you crazy??? The optimal lineup is in OBP order(from highest to lowest) because moving up or down a slot in the batting order over the course of the season is 18 pa's and your best hitter usually hits 3rd. so if ur right about this "protection" thing(proven statistically that it doesnt work in many baseball books) than bat beltran 2nd. You dont need speed at the top of the order when beltran and wright are hitting behind you!!!! most times you steal you loose runs. last year jose reyes gained 5.5 runs the whole season for the mets on the basepaths. thats nothing!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I think that this is a good argument, although I still like the order in the other direction. Wright seems more adept at hitting with a poor hitter behind him, and I think that he balances the lineup better from the four-hole when Alou is out or there is a lefty starter. I only worry about the fact that he hits a lot of doubles and singles (.325 batting average!) and drives in a lot of runners with great clutch hitting. If Beltran hits 40 HR this year, Wright will have a lot less to clean up, and we can't expect him to hit more than 30 HR. And if Beltran hits .265 in the 3-hole, there will be a lot of rallies broken up in the 3-hole. Both Wright and Beltran are not ideal clean-up hitters, but I believe that Wright in the 3-hole and Beltran in the 4-hole seems optimal. If Delgado hits 30 HR and drives in 100 with a .280 average, this all won't matter so much anyway, because pitchers will have to pitch to the #4 hitter...

Daniel said...

Wright is our best hitter and should be batting third

Brian said...

This is a great idea. The first comment here is a great example of the misuse of statistics in today's analysis.

Of course you want your best OBP hitters at the top of the lineup, but you don't want to completely forget that there are human beings involved here. A great deal of the research has been beneficial to our understanding of the game (like for instance, batting the worst hitter eighth will garner more runs) but a lot of it is retrospective or theoretical, and can't take account of real-life factors.

Lineup protection is a real hard topic to pin down and study, and its hard to believe if you watch every day that Beltran does not become a different hitter when he isn't trying to carry the load all by himself. I think most fans who watch the Mets regularly will agree.

David Wright is the best hitter in the lineup and the best hitter should typically bat third - but I think if any team were to deviate from that formula, this might be the one. Also, I like the idea of batting Beltran second. A little unorthodox but batting him after Reyes would be dynamic.