What Is The Optimal Batting Order For The 2013 Angels?

Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

Using Baseball Musings line-up analysis tool, we try to figure out the best batting order.

A couple of weeks ago, there was talk about batting Mike Trout somewhere other than in the lead-off spot of the Angels' batting order. Although Trout is one of the fastest players in the game, the power he displayed in his first, almost full-season in 2012, has some people thinking he may be more suited for a spot further down in the order. Also, it was suggested that a team's batting order doesn't have much of an impact on scoring runs.

The website baseballmusings.com has a line-up analysis tool that will provide the best and worst batting order for any nine players submitted based on their inputted OBA and SLG. I suggested the following line-up:

Mike Trout
Erick Aybar
Albert Pujols
Josh Hamilton
Mark Trumbo
Howard Kendrick
Alberto Callaspo
Chris Iannetta
Peter Bourjos

Using FanGraphs' ZiPS 2013 projections, this batting order would project to score 4.875 runs per game. Last season the Angels scored 767 runs, this line-up is projected to score almost 790. The tool suggested that the best line-up with these players would be:

Iannetta
Pujols
Aybar
Hamilton
Trout
Trumbo
Kendrick
Bourjos
Callaspo

(Here's a link if you want to see all of the batting order variations: 2013 Angels Batting Orders.)

It projects this line-up to score 5.003 runs per game, or a little over 810 runs for the season. For reference, the Texas Rangers led the majors with 808 runs scored last season. When taking a look at the worst line-up with these players, we'll get a result of 4.666 runs per game, which is almost 755 runs scored for the season. The difference between the optimum batting order and the worst over a complete season would project to be 55 runs, or roughly 6 to 9 more wins for the season. However, there's no way Mike Scioscia will ever use the optimal batting order, and who can blame him - he'd be run out of town if he batted Aybar third as the tool suggests!

So, using the suggested batting order at the top, the difference in runs scored would be 20 during the season, less than 3 wins on the season. Using that batting order would project the Halos to improve last season's production by 23 runs, or approximately 3 more wins. Of course this doesn't factor defense or pitching in to the projected win-lose records.

By the way, moving Bourjos into the lead-off spot and dropping Trout to second would improve my suggested batting order by 0.028 runs per game, but would still score less runs than the optimal batting order.

I was curious to see the impact of replacing Peter Bourjos with Vernon Wells in the Angels' batting order. Using the order of:

Trout
Aybar
Pujols
Hamilton
Trumbo
Wells
Kendrick
Callaspo
Iannetta

The team was projected to score 4.941 runs per game. This is about 10 runs ( 1 or 2 wins for the season) more for the season than the batting order with Bourjos. Obviously, this line-up would suffer defensively, but hitting-wise, the difference is negligible. (Here are all of the batting order results with Wells instead of Bourjos).

And finally, the last batting order I tried swapped Aybar and Callaspo in the above order. The difference was 0.009 runs per game, or almost 2 more runs during the season. Although I didn't run the tool with Bourjos instead of Wells with this configuration, it's pretty safe to assume the difference between Aybar or Callaspo is so small it wouldn't matter.

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