A "Balanced Ballclub"
synergy in the batting order?


There has been a spirited debate this last week or two about the disappearance of Rod Carew and Ichiro types.  Guys who could hit .300-and-plenty while chipping the ball in front of the outfielders.   They are rare nowadays, perhaps because nobody launches the bat quickly and then drags it through the zone in Wade Boggs fashion.  A few guys lately have hit .300 with low power, Jose Altuve, Ben Revere, Marco Scutaro.  It will be fun to see if Ketel Marte can make a run at this.


A corollary is that --- > when you stack a lineup with HR hitters, they may bump into each other, for lack of elbow room.  When Nelson Cruz cleans 'em off with a 3-run shot, Kyle Seager's homer threat is devalued in the next at-bat.  But!  On the other hand, a lineup full of Ichiros is always working together in a coordinated fashion.

In chess we call this the "two Bishops" principle.  One Bishop running on light squares and one on dark squares, it is impossible to waste motion, to cover one square redundantly.  They slide back and forth like twin saws for you; this is true whether you're a Grandmaster or a patzer.  So it is with Kansas City's lineup.  Like Earl said, give me a lineup with eight Wade Boggses and I'll show you how simple managing can be.

Okay, he said eight Frank Robinsons.  But Earl's teams never hit 200 homers and scored 600.


Here yesterday James found a stat, after somebody asked him about the 1930 Cardinals who had all 8 of their hitters bat .300.  Last year's Mariners (he brought 'em up, not me!) hit 198 homers, but scored only 656 runs.  The 1930 St. Louis Cardinals hit 104 homers, but scored 1,004 runs.   Slap me silly and call me Shar-Pay :- )

Yes, Egbert, there were several other variables at work.  It was the 1930s; you have to consider the quality of the hitters; you have to consider the walks and SB's, yadda yadda yadda.  But 650 runs vs. 1000!

We can safely say that the 200-homer M's of last year could afford to slide some offensive energy from the "homers" column to the "hits" column.  Jerry DiPoto talked about "having our big game hunting done" so that we needed to "raise the floor around them."  Maybe he'll benefit from a factor that had escaped him, too.  Could be that, totally inadvertently, he'll get some benefit from subbing Ichiro-type players in for his LoMo-type players.

  • Aoki = .287 AVG life (leadoff)
  • Marte = .283 AVG (bats #2)
  • Clevenger = .287 AVG (last year, heh!  So sue me.  I like 'im)
  • Lind = .291 last 3 years, since his bustout - same as Pedroia, Hosmer, and Span

Adam Lind, despite his power and walks, is actually an outstanding pure-AVG hitter.  Top-10, top-15 in the league.  'course that is with skipping out on some of the LH-vs-LH matchups, which is fine.  Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson look for their favorite shots too.  It's a rather important part of sports.

Back in the 1970's they used to speak in terms of a "balanced ballclub."  The term is long obsolete.  But if it were still in use, there would be zero doubt that the 2016 M's are much better balanced than they were last year.


Dr D



Doc, all those Big Red Machines that you and I cut our teeth on weren't quite  the Bash Bros. bunch that posterity makes them out to be.  In an apples to oranges type of way, you understand.   

From '72-'76, those Reds hit between 124 and 141 homers in each season.  Of course, in the 12 team NL those numbers were generally in the top three.  They scored (in the '72-'75 seasons) 707, 741, 776, 840, and 857 runs.  Notice the steadily increasing run production.  Now get this, their team OBP (including pitchers) went .330, .332, .343, .353, & .357.  Notice the correlation?  Hard to miss, isn't it.  They ranked #1 in the league in team OBP in each season, excepting '73.

In '15, the M's had exactly ONE fulltime player (Cruz/.369) who had an OBP that was equal/better than the Reds' TEAM OBP in either '75 or '76.  And the Reds were batting a few of those Jack Billinghams, Gary Nolans and Pat Darcys.  

Just to remind you, the M's team '15 OBP was .311.  Of the Reds' top 11 positional players in '75 only BU catcher Bill Plummer (.291) was below that.  Then next two lowest guys were GG SS Dave Concepcion at .326 and GG CF'er Cesar Geronimo at .327.  I suppose we can forgive them for being relative slackers at getting on base, given their GG's and all.    Guys like Morgan (.466), Rose (.406) and Griffey (.391) were seemingly on base all the time.

Tony Perez was considered a semi-masher but he actually hit fewer homeruns in '75 than Cano did last year. Had a .356 OBP, however.  Heck, he might lead off for us.

Won't it be cool if Ketel Marte takes a walk in his first PA of the season and sprints to 1B, ala Charlie Hustle?  The squeal of glee will be coming from me.

Go team.



Right.  It was never that they hit a shipload of homers - what was kewl was that they led the league in EVERYthing.  :- )  Check out the "Rank among NL teams" line on this card.  How do you get one set of 8 players to lead the league in SB's and 3B's while also leading in HR's?  And leading in hits while leading in walks?

Just 'cause they had all the best players ...

Easy to have a "balanced ballclub" when Joe Morgan covers every 5x5 category by himself, right?


If Ketel decides to Charlie Hustle it on his first walk, I'll buy you a six-game pack ...


If Marte sprinted down the line and then a little scrolling line across the top said "that's one six-game pack" or somesuch ... they've done it before ...


Doc... you make great points about the 2015 and prior rosters that Jack assembled, and how Jack will forever be perceived.

However, as I started to point out in my piece - SPOILER ALERT -  as well as my next post, Jack / MacNamara was assembling a lot of OBP / no power guys in the minors. Thus things were already starting to change, though the question of whether Jack would have employed the new crop of players or just used them to trade for more Trumbo's will never be known.  


I'd kind of sensed this for a couple of years - that Jack Z did "what he should" in ammy player acquisition but then did "what he wanted" when the rubber hit the road (on the 25-man roster).  

Plenty of James Jones types in the minors, but when it came time to try to win, here comes Mark Trumbo.

That may not be fair.  Looking forward to your post amigo :- )

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