Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Money Order

Some of our more astute readers have picked up on a trend that I've noticed recently as well involving Ned Yost and his automatic batting order.

If you're paying close attention, you might have noticed that over the last few weeks, Milwaukee's batting order has gone as follows, regardless of the players who occupy each position:


For sake of brevity, I'm going to call this Ned's "Money Order."

As I was curious about how long this has gone on, I had the Chuckie Hacks research staff pore over box scores to identify exactly when the Money Order trend began and how consistent it has been. In short, the results were shocking.

In August, Ned has gone with his Money Order for each of the 19 games played. You have to go all the way back to July 31, the final game of the Cubs series, to find a game in which Ned did not go to the Money Order (in that game, which was pure desperation time for the Brewers, Counsell played 3B and hit 2nd, Hardy played SS and hit 3rd, Braun played LF and hit 5th and Kapler played RF and hit 6th).

Amazingly, since July 6, Ned has gone with the Money Order in 39 out of 40 games, with July 31 being the only exception.

This includes:
  • The famous 8/14 game against Jake Peavy, when Craig Counsell played SS and hit 2nd and Laynce Nix started in LF and hit 3rd. It was just shocking that the team managed only 2 runs that game with that duo at the top of the lineup.
  • All of the games that Ryan Braun has missed with his intercostal thingy; in each case his replacement (usually Kapler) has hit 3rd. Although Kapler has generally been decent as a replacement, he isn't a #3 hitter. This burned Milwaukee when he came up with the bases loaded and 2 outs twice on Tuesday, and failed each time.
  • All games in which Counsell played 3B or SS - meaning that he hit either 6th or 2nd depending upon the position that he played. Honestly, if Counsell has to play, he needs to hit 7th or 8th. Not 2nd or 6th.

Ned also used the Money Order 7 times in mid-late June.

Seriously, if Prince played catcher for some reason, would he bat 8th? Based on the research, I think you'd have to say yes, he would.

Obviously, this is insane. Nobody does their lineup based strictly upon the postion that the player plays. I'm not a Ned hater. In fact, I've generally been a Ned defender. But conventional wisdom would tell you that batting Kapler 3rd every game that Braun doesn't play is nuts. In that situation, Hart should hit 3rd, with Cameron hitting 5th. Counsell should never, ever, ever, ever bat 2nd and he has no business batting 6th either. If he plays, he hits 7th or 8th. Look, the idea is to get your best hitters more at bats, and your sluggers more at bats with the potential for runners to be on base.

But the craziest thing? The Money Order works. In the 39 games that Ned used it since July 6, the Brewers are 24-15. In the 7 games that Ned used the Money Order in June, the Brewers were 5-2. That's 29-17 in 46 games with the Money Order since mid-June.

Meaning that the Money Order will be sticking around for a while - and if they win 63% of their games the rest of the way using the Money Order, then I'm OK with it. But I have to believe the Money Order is costing the team runs when Counsell and Kapler bat way out of position.


Anonymous said...

Kapler batting 3rd is a classic "square peg, round hole."

AP said...

This is example #2,000 of why I really don't think Ned is doing anything resembling managing, and the team is winning in spite and not because of him.

Last year, he "tinkered" with the lineup and platoons and all that stuff and the team sucked by about this time of the year. This year, it's like he's not even involved in the decision making process and holy crap the team loks fine. It's almost like the less he does the better off we are. Hmmmm....not exactly a ringing endorsement of one's managerial prowess.

Tim said...

I cannot believe what you have written here. Unreal. Fine work, as usual.

Wrigleyville said...

if i'm tony larussa, i'm thinking "i can't believe i'm losing to this guy."

D'Amico's one good year said...

That, and "where's the booze?"

Seriously though... Jesus. I've said it before- I look forward to a Counsell spot start at first so he can be the clean-up hitter.

I do have to say this; maybe the Money Order works because there's no offensive plan? Every regular starter save for Kendall and occasionally Hart approach each at bat as an individual thing, a chance for a homer. There's no small ball, no plan. That's not to say a plan would work. what with low OBPs and poor plate discipline.

Todd said...

D'Amico...I've wondered the same thing. Prince has some mild sprain and needs to sit out a day, even though you'd think otherwise, Nedder will grab his handy dandy lineup card that has all the positions preprinted on it and pencil in Counsell at 1B/cleanup.

ClownShipLollypop. said...

I'll take Counsell any day over Hall or Reeks. If there is anyone that shouldn't be at the top of the order it's Dick Figdet-Bat Reeks.

Counsell has more plate discipline than most people on this team. He gets on base which is more than I can say for Weeks, Hall and Cameroon among others.

Craig The High-Stepper Counsell is CLUTCH.

I'm ready to be thoroughly berated...

garcia said...

I want to thank AP for the mutual hatred of Ned Yost. I thought I was the only person on the "Ned is worthless" bandwagon. I said to multiple people from the beginning of the season... if the brewers do anything this year in the playoffs it will be because of pure talent and nothing more.

The two glaring weakspots for the crew down the stretch:

1) Inconsistent bullpen
2) No Coach to lead or coach the team

I bet Yost got his scorebook from like Wal-mart or something where everything is preprinted including the score... it also comes with a pen that dangles by a string

AP said...

I have tried to refrain this year (as compared to last) from Ned-bash '2008 on my part. Ultimately they're winning, and if they make the playoffs I don't care if he goes and hangs out in the parking lot during games. He could try to answer a question without sounding like an angry old man now and again too.

I just think that most of his decisions are dumb; the last Padres series was the absolute boiling point for me. Also, Melvin should get some heat for assembling the bullpen with the highest salary to talent ratio in MLB.

Travis said...

Fine work, those summer interns in the research department are really starting to pay off. I'm sure they were excited to do some real work for a chacnge instead of just getting Brad his coffee.

D'Amico's one good year said...

You're correct, Clown, when you say that Counsell has possibly the best plate sense on the team... Add to that solid, steady defense, and you have a quality role-player/spot starter on a contending team, a role he's filled in the past.
That said, he SHOULD NOT be an everyday starter, and he should not bat in the top 2/3rds of the lineup.

My bone of contention (heh, bone!) has been that if AgroCraig is your starting 3rd baseman, you have to look elsewhere. Brad Nelson? Gamel? JJ? I don't know. I do know that Hall has a similar BA to Counsell, more power, equivilent range, and a better (if somewhat less accurate) arm. He should be the starter. Not to say that THAT is a great option, either.

Matt said...

Clown, I'm not going to berate you, because I understand how you could hate Weeks.

But you're wrong in saying that Counsell gets on base.

Craig Counsell's OBP is .327.

Weeks has an OBP of .335.

Add in the fact that Counsell is slugging an absolutely putrid .304, and he's really not a very good hitter if you go by the numbers.

If you take emotion out of the equation, you should hate Counsell in the lineup much, much more than hating Weeks in the lineup. But again, I can understand why you hate Weeks. He's supposed to be much better than Counsell.

ClownShipLollypop. said...

I will agree that Counsell should be a slot fill / spot hitter not a starter. That's been his forte for a long time and he's been very good at it. However, if you look at the other options for 3rd, I'll still take Counsell. EVERY time Hall throws to first it's in the dirt and Fielder has to dig it out. I've seen more accurate 3rd baseman in little league.

I do agree that Hall has gotten the shaft. You can't switch a players position 3 times in 3 years and expect solid consistent production. When Yost started the platoon at 3rd Hall was hitting better than several other people on the team and yet those players continued to start and SUCK. He also got the shaft when Counsell started to play every day. Hall was probably in his hottest streak all season. I didn't understand that decision at all.

Damnit, I think I just convinced myeself not to hate Hall...

The bottom line is when you look at this lineup it really is amazing where we stand. There are so many holes and mediocre players.

D'Amico's one good year said...

Ah, Clown, now you see my Billy Hall arguement.

I think most of the time when Hall makes a poor, rushed throw, or swings out of his shoes, he's doing it because he's trying to show something amazing so Yost will let him play.

Matt- That's exactly what I've been thinking during all the Weeks bashing. Yeah, he ain't great... but what are our other options? Durham? More limited defensively than Weeks, and has a similar OBP despite his significantly higher BA. Counsell? Meh. Hall? Would rush throws there, too. Hardy? A waste of a above average shortstop with an exellent arm.

ClownShipLollypop. said...

Maybe it really is more of an emotional attachment that I have for Counsell.

It just seems to me that Yost has some type of love affair with Weeks. I don't get it. Cut your fucking losses already. Sometimes you mess up and draft a shitty player. Oops, move along, nothing to see here.

Dick Reeks = Tony Bologna Tits Mandarich

D'Amico's one good year said...

Here's a question that goes back to something we chatted about yesterday-

Is Yost sticking with Weeks because he knows he's going to be on the team for a while? We were talking about who is more likely to be traded, Weeks or Hardy... And as much as the thought sickens me I think it's Hardy, as he's more valueable. You wouldn't get much for Weeks, maybe a couple of low-A prospects... My opinion, of course. I know scouts and GMs are still enamored with Weeks's potential due to his physical acumen.

Joe Steve said...

Isn't there at least a bit that has to be said about guys knowing and keeping their roles in the order? Remember when JJ was pissy because he was batting 7th in front of the pitcher, then in font of Kendall? Obviously some batters are more comfortable in certain spots. Throw a Kapler in there at 3 or mix and match and disrupt a few others in the lineup? AP mentioned the team was shit last year when Ned was "tinkering" so now that he doesn't he's still shit?

After the first inning, it boils down to the 'leadoff guy' each inning getting on base, regardless of where they are in the order.

I don't get too worked up over batting order, but yeah, Counsell and Nix 2/3 vs Peavy? I about vurped when I saw that.

D'Amico's one good year said...

Joe Steve-

It's cause he's pissy that anyone questioned him last year, so he's taking his ball and going home; "I shouldn't change my lineup so much? Fine... I WON'T CHANGE IT AT ALL!."

The one change I do agree with is moving JJ higher in the batting order. That one, I'm not bitching about... But he should be at 3, not 2. You want your most versatile batsman at 2... Ah, well.

Joe Steve said...

Point well taken, D'Amico. Ned's media/public relations skills are top notch, eh?

Although, if I had the likes Witrado and The Prince of Darkness shoving mics in my face every night, I may be a bit jaded/asshole-ish myself.

I wouldn't be shocked if the Money Order went away for a few days if Braun, god forbid, gets DLd...

D'Amico's one good year said...

Joe- True. But he has two jobs; manage the team and be a face to the media. He doesn't do either well.

I vote Cirillo for manager next year. Because I love Jeff Cirillo.

Plesac's a Traitor said...

How pissed off is Ted Simmons most games? He's a baseball genius and he's sitting there watching Ned not bunt baserunners over and leaving in pitchers 2 batters too long. He should be doing everything in his power to get Yost kicked out of every game. "Go challenge that call Ned! Call the ump an asshole!"

D'Amico's one good year said...

"He said Earnhart deserved it, Ned! Go get'em!"

Seriously. Simba may or may not have a baseball mind. We'll never know, because I doubt he'll be getting a ton of job offers after working on Ned's staff.

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