Using Ben Revere Optimally in the Lineup

I promise I’ll focus on some other players, as this is the third article on Ben Revere I’ve written recently, but he is personally the most intriguing player on the roster at the moment. The Phillies are giving him a breather for today’s series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates and will use him in the #8 slot tomorrow when the Phillies arrive in New York to play the Mets. That move, of course, is ripe for discourse and analysis and my initial reaction was that it is a bad idea to move Revere lower, particularly to the #8 spot, because his usefulness as a base runner is mitigated by weaker hitters who would be less likely to drive him in from second on a single, or from third on a sacrifice fly.

Inspired by a discussion with frequent commenter and friend of the blog @Yolacrary, though, I’ve changed my position on that. (With the caveat that, overall, optimizing a lineup doesn’t net you enough runs to truly be worth the hassle.) Tom Tango went over lineup optimization in The Book — a must-have for any of you Saber-inclined people who haven’t grabbed it yet — so I went back and read it again. The key point, as it pertains to base-stealing is:

…if you are going to steal second, you need to do this in front of a slap hitter: a hitter with few extra-base hits, few walks, and few strikeouts.

Using data from 2012-13, here are all the current Phillies players based on the relevant data:

Name PA H 1B 1B% BB+HBP BB+HBP% K K% 1-BB%-K%
Michael Young 735 193 151 78% 42 0.06 85 0.12 0.83
Kevin Frandsen 224 70 54 77% 15 0.07 21 0.09 0.84
Domonic Brown 288 59 38 64% 32 0.11 47 0.16 0.73
Chase Utley 447 101 64 63% 61 0.14 55 0.12 0.74
John Mayberry 535 121 75 62% 43 0.08 128 0.24 0.68
Jimmy Rollins 790 181 110 61% 67 0.08 114 0.14 0.77
Carlos Ruiz 421 121 73 60% 45 0.11 50 0.12 0.77
Humberto Quintero 161 37 22 59% 6 0.04 33 0.20 0.76
Ryan Howard 374 78 46 59% 32 0.09 119 0.32 0.60
Freddy Galvis 234 50 29 58% 10 0.04 33 0.14 0.82
Laynce Nix 163 37 21 57% 14 0.09 52 0.32 0.60
Erik Kratz 221 47 25 53% 15 0.07 49 0.22 0.71

I put (1-BB%-K%) and 1B% on a scatterplot.

The further towards the top right you go, the more ideal the hitter is to bat behind Ben Revere. The two outliers that you can see are Kevin Frandsen and Michael Young. Frandsen is a sparsely-used bench bat, and Young has been batting fifth for most of the season. Though Young has been an above-average hitter in the early going, he is not among the Phillies’ better hitters overall. The Book says about lineup optimization overall:

Your three best hitters should bat somewhere in the #1, #2, and #4 slots. Your fourth- and fifth-best hitters should occupy the #3 and #5 slots. From slot #6 through #9, put the players in descending order of quality.

Depending on how you value Young — ZiPS projected him to finish with the seventh-best wOBA among Phillies regulars — moving Revere to #7 and Young to #8 may be something worth an experiment. Certainly, though, I was wrong to think that Revere in either the #1 or #2 spot was optimal.

As mentioned before, though, lineup optimization nets you only a few extra runs. The Book estimates .02 runs per PA, which is a 1.4 run difference over 700 PA. Overall, in 162 games, you may gain around 10-15 runs.

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  1. Allen

    April 25, 2013 10:48 PM

    For what it’s worth, 10-15 runs may translate to 3-5 games that might have otherwise been lost. In a tightly contested division (and league), that could mean the difference in securing the second wild card.

  2. Cutter McCool

    April 25, 2013 10:51 PM

    When’s that banner of yours going to finall change to something that doesn’t feel like ancient history? Maybe a reliever blowing another lead or tie in the 8th?

  3. Xeifrank

    April 26, 2013 01:41 AM

    Nice to see you came to the same conclusion as my sim did when I was running my off-season lineup-optimization series and found that the Phillies would be best served batting Ben Revere 9th (pitcher 8th) followed by Michael Young in the leadoff spot.
    vr, Xeifrank

  4. Steve

    April 26, 2013 06:52 AM

    What was your best lineup found through SIM? just curious.

  5. Steve

    April 26, 2013 06:59 AM

    Can Sunday come soon enough? Let’s hope Chooch doesn’t read the comment, here and everywhere, and realize how much we are counting on him to be the “Savior of the Season.” I just can’t get excited about DY in a Phils uniform but, do we have a choice?

  6. TomG

    April 26, 2013 07:44 AM

    Re: Cutter McCool’s comment: Har! And: My suggestion: A pic of the bullpen staff with a faded, 50% transparent mugshot of C**d Q****s as a background, because the spirit of CQ obviously presides over our current bullpen and. even more scary, perhaps always will? If we can’t escape it, we might as well own it. And by we I mean you – specifically in your banner. What harm could it do? Hey, it might even have the opposite effect, and work to exorcise him.

    Speaking of things that need to be exorcised, since De(l)mon Young is coming and there seems to be no way of stopping him short of driving his spirit into a herd of pigs (which may sound as if I were advocating cruelty to pigs, but I’m not; let’s just assume that this particular herd of pigs is delinquent and had it coming), perhaps now would be a good time to add a Nate Schierholtz stats-app to your sidebar, since he’s currently at .313/.362/.578/.940 with the Cubs? Because rather than run from that pain, we might as well embrace it. There was $1.5 mil well-(not)spent.

  7. hampton

    April 26, 2013 08:04 AM

    Like this analysis a great deal. Young behind Revere would likely cut down Young’s DPs too.

  8. Xeifrank

    April 26, 2013 10:52 AM

    Steve head on over to the discussion at the Book Blog for details, links and discussion.
    vr, Xei

  9. Steve

    April 26, 2013 01:19 PM

    I have to admit Xeifrank, I find the below lineups to be intriguing but sad as we will never see CM ever move RH to the 7th hole aainst a LH pitcher. He would argue how it would affect the psych of the big guy. It would be interestin to see MY at leadoff and BR at 9th. I find it interesting that DY never hits higher then 6th. Good articles and some neat information. CLICK on Xiefrank to jump to his site.

    vs RHP

    1. Michael Young
    2. Jimmy Rollins
    3. Chase Utley
    4. Ryan Howard
    5. Dominic Brown
    6. Erik Kratz
    7. Delmon Young
    8. Pitchers Spot
    9. Ben Revere

    now vs LHP

    1. Michael Young
    2. Jimmy Rollins
    3. Chase Utley
    4. John Mayberry
    5. Erik Kratz
    6. Delmon Young
    7. Ryan Howard
    8. Pitchers Spot
    9. Ben Revere

  10. art kyriazis

    April 28, 2013 04:28 PM

    With an anemic 31 OPS+, a minus .3 WAR offensive WAR, and a net minus .2 WAR even with defense factored in, on pace to be at -1.8 WAR for the year, the optimal place for Ben Revere IS ON THE BENCH. While the three game series in NY v. the Mets is only a small sample size, it’s pretty clear even from these games that sitting Revere down and playing Nix or even Galvis in the OF improves the Phillies immeasurably. Nix had key hits, and Galvis hit a HR, something Revere can’t even do. I’d probably run Nix out there in CF most of the time, and given Galvis amazing LF numbers, why not try Galvis in CF? He’s a switchitter who can hit for power and his career OPS+ is 68, enough for a guy with a very serious glove and some power. Revere at this point would be more valuable off the bench as a pinch runner, defensive sub, pinch hitter, and so forth. He should not be starting because at this juncture, he is the worst OF on the Phillies. When Delmon Young arrives, the Phils might consider sending Revere down to the Minors for a month to work on his hitting. Seriously, converting Freddy Galvis to a CF has a tremendous amount of merit–he’d be much like Victorino.

    Art Kyriazis, Philly
    @AJohnKyriazis (twitter)

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