Monday, March 07, 2005

Why Not?

Anyone else catch this little section buried in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article?

La Russa said he has a lineup now that could produce even more offensively if he had the pitcher bat eighth instead of in the usual No. 9 slot. But he's not going to do so. In 1998, he batted the pitcher No. 8 for about half the season with considerable win-loss success.

This season, with Mark Grudzielanek and David Eckstein he has two leadoff-capable hitters and could use them as bookends, thus getting Albert Pujols and Larry Walker up in the first inning, but keeping two de facto leadoff hitters ahead of them in every subsequent inning.

The constant explanation - to media and to players - isn't worth the switch, La Russa said. But it's still academically of interest. "We won 105 (games last year) hitting the guy ninth," La Russa said. "I'm not sure I want to (mess with) it."

My question is - if La Russa honestly thinks that it would produce more runs, why not go with it? Who cares about the baseball purists complaining? I, personally, would welcome the discussion and find it interesting.

Of course, the move would likely only result in very few extra run over the course of the season (see Curve Blog for more fun with lineup changes.) And possibly, La Russa knows (or has been told) that the advantage would likely only produce a handful of runs over the course of the season, thus he's choosing not to rock the boat. But it would be fun...


At 11:09 AM, Blogger L Boros said...

robb --- i missed that little item, thanks for posting. interesting that la russa has actually thought this through and concluded, correctly, that it would provide a boost to the offense; even more interesting that he discards the extra runs so casually.

maybe he'll keep the lineup in his back pocket and use it if the team needs a jump-start out of a slump . . .

At 1:24 PM, Blogger Socnorb11 said...

I find it interesting that it's assumed that TLR has TWO "lead-off capable players", when much of Cardinal Nation isn't convinced yet that he even has ONE!

;) I'm being ornery, of course.......but I think the jury's still out on Grudz and Eck.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger cardsfanboy said...

I happen to agree with TLR, but I have been in some arguments on baseball primer about the validity of that argument.

I've never been a fan of putting a guy leadoff just because he fits the leadoff mode, and I'm absolutely loving it that TLR isn't going to throw away the number two spot by not batting walker second. I think there are other benefits other than the extra leadoff guy it allows the team to bring in a pinch hitter a batter earlier where there is better chances to choose your pitcher/batter matchup. But I understand why TLR wouldn't do it, it's not worth the added effort of dealing with the press, especially in a city in which there are actual fans that would rather have Kerry Robinson over Jim Edmonds.

At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TLR is using restraint. Rather than trying the experiment, he is living vicariously through the press, and simply talking about it. He made similar comments last year, and went into much more detail as to why he wouldn't actually do it: too distracting, and might make the players feel that the coaches didn't have enough confidence in them to win the "normal" way. This year, he simply stated the obvious, that you don't mess with a team that won 105 games.


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