Monday, April 5, 2010


If you know me, you know I like certain things: I like vanilla ice cream, I love baseball, and I am quite fond of puns and cheesy play-on-words.  Hence the title of today's post.  Today was opening day, and it could not have gone any better for the G-men.  The Giants opened up the season with the first of a three-game series in Houston against the Astros.  Lincecum was set to face off against Astros's stud Roy Oswalt.  A couple questions hung over the heads of the Giants as they entered the 2010 season:

(1) Would Lincecum be able to start the season off well?  Last year, although the Giants won the game, Lincecum pitched very poorly against the Milwaukee Brewers, and barely made it through three innings before the 'penn took over.  Giants fans were waiting on the edge of their seats to see whether the face of the franchise would be able to overcome his opening day jitters.

(2) How would the Giants's offense pan out?  Today was the first day that the Giants offense got to swing the lumber in a game that counted.  Certain off-season acquisitions and call-ups changed the Giants's opening day roster in 2010 from what it was in 2009.  Gone is Randy Winn, Emmanuel Burriss, Travis Ishikawa, and Fred Lewis from the 2010 starting roster.  Entered Aubrey Huff, Mark DeRosa, John Bowker, and Juan Uribe.  Would they be able to put up solid numbers?  Would they be able to give this stellar pitching staff the support it needs?

Luckily for Giants fans the answers to the aforementioned questions were all: "Yes, and how."  Lincecum simply was phenomenal tonight.  He went 7 full innings, gave up no runs, allowed only 4 hits, and struck out 7 batters.  Lincecum, to the collective joy and elation to his fans, simply dazzled.  Barring a no-hitter, Lincecum could not have pitched a better game.

And lucky for Lincecum, his support was strong.  Collectively, the Giants managed 10 hits together, including a single-HR blast from Mark DeRosa.  One surprise came from Edgar Renteria.  Renteria had a terrible 2009 season, during which he played through pain and battled an injury.  Renteria is apparently healthy once again and it shows.  Today, Renteria went 2 for 3, with one RBI, and one walk.  It seems like there is some life in Ol' Edgar afterall.  John Bowker and Aubrey Huff both went 4 for 1, which Bowker getting 1 RBI.  All in all, the Giants offense was pleasantly alive and well today, and they clearly made a statement that they are here and ready to play ball for 2010.

The lineup was as folllows:

(1) Rowand
(2) Renteria
(3) Sandoval
(4) Huff
(5) DeRosa
(6) Molina
(7) Bowker
(8) Uribe
(9) Lincecum

The line-up performed well today, but one thing that troubled me was batting Benjie in the sixth hole.  Benjie needs to be lower in the line-up.  Molina has a terrible OBP and he is horrificly slow (I believe he is the slowest base runner in MLB).  It is unfortunate to have him batting in front of John Bowker, who will be forced to slow down if Benjie cannot pick up the speed.  I suggest Bruce Bochey switch his line-up around a little:

(1) Renteria
(2) DeRosa
(3) Bowker
(4) Sandoval
(5) Huff
(6) Rowand
(7) Uribe
(8) Molina
(9) Pitcher

Although few managers are aware of this, you generall want your best hitters to bat in the #1, #2, and #4 spots (Tango 132).  The overall quality of your #2 and #4 hitters should be about the same, and they should be the two best hitters on the team (Tango 130).  It is clear that Pablo Sandoval and Mark DeRosa are currently the two best hitters on the team, and given that Sandoval is more of a HR guy, and DeRosa is a smarter hitter, it makes sense to put them in the #4 and #2 spots respectively.  Your third best hitter, generally, should be your #1 hitter because the "run value for the leadoff hitter, for each event [hitting a single, double, homerun, etc.], is closest to the #2 and #5 hitters.  The biggest differences are that the run value of the HR for the leadoff hitter is the lowest among the top five spots, while the walk is the highest" (Tango 131).  This suggests that you want a hitter who has discipline, who can get on base, but lack pop or power.  Right now Bochey has put Rowand in that position, which may be the best decision, however after watching Rowand struggle up there today, and seeing Renteria enjoy some success, I thought I would put Renteria in the leadoff spot.

A number three hitter has a HR value higher than the #1 and #5 spots, but lower than the #4 spot, and about lower than the #2 spot in all regards except for HR, which is even (Tango 130).  This suggests that the #3 hitter should be worse thant he #4 and #2 hitters.  For some reason, in major league baseball today the #3 spot is considered the place for the best hitter on the team.  This is clearly wrong (Tango 130).  For that reason, I put John Bowker in the #3 spot, as he is the new guy on the team, but has shown an ability to hit the ball.  The rest of the lineup basically answers itself.  I want Molina at the bottom of the order so as to not clog up the base paths, Uribe and Rowand will bat after Huff hopefully getting on base so Benjie can knock them in.

Something to think about.  It would be interesting to see how a line-up like this would work on a real major league team.

Works Cited:

Tom Tango, Mitchell Lichtman, and Andrew Dolphin.  The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball. Potomac Books, Inc.  Washington DC, 2007.

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