March 20, 2008

lineup optimization using Cubs 2008 ZiPS projections

Back in 2006, I got it into my head to try my hand at writing a simulator for the express purpose of optimizing lineups. It would go through all 9! permutations of the lineup and actually play simulated games, and then output the average runs scored for each lineup. You can see the original post here and the follow-up using stats taken from the 2005 Astros here. I never did get around to updating the algorithm (although it's still on my to-do list), but since I finally got myself a new computer I decided to try something that my friend suggested, which was to run a set of projections through the program in order to predict what the optimum lineup would be for the forthcoming year.

The program finally finished the run (marginally faster - about 50 hours run time) using the 2008 ZiPS projections for the Cubs. I used the projections for the following eight players: Lee, Ramirez, Fukudome, Soto, Pie, DeRosa, Theriot, and Soriano; and then summed up the actual 2007 lines for the five pitchers with the most ABs (Z, Lilly, Hill, Marshall, Marquis) to make a sort of "average" pitcher. I'd like to reiterate that this algorithm doesn't take into account errors, steals, player speed, GIDP, handedness, sacrifice flies or sac bunts, and baserunning is strictly station-to-station. The algorithm also does not take into account any other strategy - i.e., it doesn't pitch around guys to get to the pitcher. In addition, ZiPS doesn't project hit-by-pitches.

That said, here are the results for the top 10 and bottom 10 lineups, as well as the results for the starting lineup from the March 18th spring training game.


March 18th starting lineup
Runs/season Runs/9 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
596.248 3.681 Theriot Soriano Lee Ramirez Fukudome DeRosa Soto Pie pitcher

Top 10
Runs/season Runs/9 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
606.033 3.741 DeRosa Fukudome Lee Soto Ramirez Soriano Pie pitcher Theriot
605.697 3.739 Fukudome Lee Ramirez Soto Soriano Pie pitcher Theriot DeRosa
605.402 3.737 Fukudome Lee Soto Ramirez Soriano Pie pitcher DeRosa Theriot
605.378 3.737 DeRosa Lee Fukudome Ramirez Soto Soriano Pie pitcher Theriot
605.314 3.737 Fukudome DeRosa Lee Soriano Ramirez Soto Pie pitcher Theriot
605.294 3.736 Fukudome Lee Ramirez Soriano Pie Soto pitcher Theriot DeRosa
605.287 3.736 DeRosa Soto Fukudome Lee Ramirez Soriano Pie pitcher Theriot
605.286 3.736 Fukudome Soto Lee Ramirez Soriano Pie pitcher Theriot DeRosa
605.268 3.736 Fukudome Lee Soto Pie Ramirez Soriano pitcher Theriot DeRosa
605.223 3.736 Fukudome Lee Ramirez Soriano Soto Pie pitcher Theriot DeRosa

Bottom 10
Runs/season Runs/9 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
565.289 3.489 DeRosa Fukudome Theriot pitcher Pie Soto Soriano Ramirez Lee
565.301 3.49 Pie DeRosa Fukudome Theriot pitcher Soto Soriano Ramirez Lee
565.562 3.491 DeRosa Theriot Fukudome pitcher Pie Soto Soriano Ramirez Lee
565.64 3.492 Pie DeRosa Fukudome Theriot pitcher Ramirez Soto Soriano Lee
565.697 3.492 Fukudome Theriot DeRosa pitcher Pie Soriano Ramirez Soto Lee
565.715 3.492 DeRosa Theriot Pie pitcher Soto Soriano Ramirez Lee Fukudome
565.758 3.492 DeRosa Theriot Fukudome pitcher Pie Soriano Ramirez Soto Lee
565.808 3.493 Fukudome DeRosa Theriot pitcher Pie Soriano Soto Ramirez Lee
565.833 3.493 Theriot Pie Fukudome DeRosa pitcher Soriano Soto Lee Ramirez
565.878 3.493 DeRosa Theriot Pie pitcher Soriano Ramirez Soto Lee Fukudome

There is some evidence for putting your best OBP player (Fukudome) in the leadoff spot, followed by your best OPS guys with an emphasis on OBP. Unfortunately, the 2008 Cubs ZiPS projections probably aren't the best lineup for determining generalities about each lineup slot; the top 4 hitters are all within 60 points of each other in projected OPS, and the top 6 projected starters all have projected OBP within 50 points of each other as well. However, there is good support for LaRussa's "second leadoff hitter" in the 9-hole, and maybe even a "third leadoff hitter" with the pitcher in the 7th or 8th slot depending on whether your real leadoff hitter also has good pop or not. The optimum lineup here is only about 10 runs (maybe 1 win) better than the lineup Lou fielded on March 18th.

Crossposted over at Bleed Cubbie Blue.

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