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On Lineup Protection

May 6, 2015

No significant study exists that shows that a batter gets better pitches to hit if there’s a great hitter standing in the on-deck circle. That’s not to say such an edge doesn’t exist–logically, stats can’t prove nothingness. But it’s never been proven, and some people say that since so much work has been done with no connection found, a connection is, at best, unlikely.

I’ll buy “unlikely”. David Laurila over at math-based Fangraphs wanted to know what people inside the game think. Here’s his informal survey responses:

Most interesting, for me, out of this set, is Joe Girardi:

Joe Girardi, Yankees manager: “I worry more about stacking lefties or stacking righties. I want righties between lefties, so it’s harder for them to match up against us later in the game. That’s my biggest concern. I think about that type of protection more than anything. I don’t think hitters think a whole lot about (who’s behind them) and I don’t necessarily either, because lineups today are so deep.”

This all makes intuitive sense of course, but Girardi didn’t quite eat his own cooking Friday night, sending up a completely let-handed/switch lineup to face Justin Masterson.


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