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February 11, 2004

More from MGL
by Larry Mahnken

MGL ran a couple more simulations with the Yankees' lineup options at Baseball Primer. I suggested three lineup constructions:
Lineup 1    Lineup 2    Lineup 3
1B Giambi   1B Lee      1B Lee
DH Williams DH Giambi   DH Giambi
CF Lofton   CF Williams CF Lofton
Lineup 1 would be the "ideal" lineup if Giambi could play every day, you'd be able to get both Giambi and Williams' bats in the lineup, and keep Bernie's glove in the clubhouse.

So, MGL ran his simulation with both Mussina (who allows about the same number of fly balls as ground balls) and Brown (who is one of the more extreme ground ball pitchers in MLB) pitching. His conclusions, as I understand them, are:

With Mussina pitching, Lineup 1 and Lineup 3 are .14 runs a game (or 2.268 wins/162 games) better than Lineup 2.
With Brown pitching, Lineup 3 is .12 runs a game (or 1.944 wins) better than Lineups 1 or 2.

In other words, under no circumstances should Bernie Williams ever play center. With Brown pitching, Williams should take the game off while Giambi DH's, and should DH every other game, except when the Yankees give Giambi a day off.

Sadly, this also means that if Giambi can't play the field every day, Bernie Williams becomes expendable, unless he's moved to left field, because it would be best for the Yankees to play Lofton instead of him every day. That's not going to happen, Bernie will probably play center when Giambi DH's. But if the Yankees miss home field advantage, the division title, or the playoffs by a couple of games, that decision will be a costly one.