Holes in Olney’s AL All-Star Lineup

July 10, 2009 at 12:45 pm 4 comments


Over at the 4-Letter, Buster Olney created an AL All-Star team that did not follow the normal one-player-per-team rule. Then he created two lineups, one against right-handers and one against left-handers and some of his selections make no sense whatsoever.

Here is Olney’s lineup versus right-handers:

RF: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
C: Joe Mauer, Twins
3B: Evan Longoria, Rays
1B: Justin Morneau, Twins (has a .998 on-base plus slugging percentage versus right-handed pitchers, the best among first basemen other than Russell Branyan; I’d start Morneau because of the defense)
LF: Adam Lind, Jays (a .999 OPS versus right-handed pitchers)
2B: Ben Zobrist, Rays (a .934 OPS versus right-handed pitchers)
CF: Adam Jones, Orioles
SS: Jason Bartlett, Rays

First off, the Morneau selection over Branyan is just wrong. Here are the numbers of each against right-handers:

  AVG. OBP. SLG. OPS. HR At-Bats UZR/150
Branyan .301 .399 .612 1.011 16 183 -0.3
Morneau .298 .409 .581 .990 14 191 -6.4

As you can see, Branyan is the superior hitter. Even if you take Morneau’s numbers from this article a couple days ago, Branyan’s are still superior, especially considering that Branyan is 0-6 with two walks in since this was written by Olney.

We can also see by the fielding metric UZR/150 that Branyan is easily the better defender. If you go by fielding percentage then Morneau is ahead but that is because Branyan reaches more batted-balls than Morneau.

Olney’s comment about starting Morneau over Branyan because of defense is absurd! The numbers clearly show that Branyan has been superior on both sides of the ball this half-season.

Another flip I would make is that of Adam Lind for Carl Carwford. Here are their head-to-head stats versus right-handers:

  AVG. OBP. SLG. OPS. HR SB/CS At-Bats UZR/150
Crawford .329 .391 .489 .880 7 42/4 219 +10.2
Lind .308 .396 .599 .995 15 0/1 227 -3.3

Lind has the upper hand in power but Crawford has the upper hand in average, and it’s not even close in steals or fielding. Crawford should be the selection in Olney’s lineup.

And lastly, one could argue that Ben Zobrist belongs over Ian Kinsler in the lineup versus left-handers. Here are their splits:

  AVG. OBP. SLG. OPS. HR SB/CS At-Bats UZR/150
Zobrist .350 .442 .725 1.167 6 3/2 80 +31.0
Kinsler .344 .407 .740 1.147 11 4/0 96 +7.4

This one is a close call. Zobrist has the edge in almost every category other than homers. Zobrist’s defense at second has been incredible! Granted, it has only been in 39 games as opposed to Kinsler’s 82. This one is close but a slight edge has to go to Zobrist.

We all have our opinions, and maybe I am wrong, but I thought these picks, although hypothetical, needed a little more research.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Holes in Olney’s AL All-Star Lineup «  |  July 10, 2009 at 1:34 pm

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  • 2. Rory  |  July 15, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I think the AL won in large part because Ichiro Suzuki
    led off the game with a great at-bat against Tim Lincecum
    , eventually singling through the right side. It set a tone for the AL and although they scored a couple of runs due to poor defense those runs ended up deciding the game!

  • 3. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  July 15, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Ichiro obviously had a major role. I also think Granderson’s triple that led to a sac fly was another huge part that got little love.

  • 4. Rory  |  July 15, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Granderson’s triple got a lot of love from everyone I heard talking about it after the game (announcers included). It would’ve been a really tough catch but Upton’s route to the ball was awful, granted he’s never played LF in the majors.


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