The Optimal Line-Up

Dave · June 17, 2011 at 11:49 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Now that the Mariners have added Dustin Ackley to the roster, I thought I’d throw out my suggestion for what the line-up should look like on a fairly regular basis, based on the team as currently constructed.


Ichiro, RF
Ackley, 2B
Smoak, 1B
Cust, DH
Olivo, C
Carp, LF
Gutierrez, CF
Figgins/Kennedy, 3B
Ryan, SS

I’m sure Wedge will start Ackley lower in the line-up for reasons related to “pressure” and “adjusting”, but I don’t put a lot of stock in those ideas. Right now, Ackley is one of the best hitters on the team, and the Mariners have their best chance of winning if he’s near the top of the batting order and on base for Justin Smoak to drive in.

As for Carp over Peguero, this shouldn’t even be that controversial; Carp outhit Peguero in Tacoma, and he’s outhit him in the Majors. I don’t think either of them should be considered the answer in left field, but given the choice between the two, I think Carp should win out pretty easily. If you want to argue for Peguero to get some of Cust’s playing time, that’s fine – just realize that the “lousy” Jack Cust that many people want to see released has a .314 wOBA, and the “exciting” Carlos Peguero that has “proved his skeptics wrong” has a .316 wOBA. Both are flawed players, but I’ll take a guy who can actually get on base over an all-or-nothing hack.

Figgins probably won’t like becoming a part-time player, but he hasn’t earned an everyday role, and until Adam Kennedy cools off, those two can share third base. They’re both probably best utliized as part-time players at this point in their career anyway.


Ichiro, RF
Ackley, 2B
Smoak, 1B
Olivo, C
Gutierrez, CF
Halman, LF
Carp, DH
Figgins, 3B
Ryan, SS

The lack of a real left fielder continues to hurt here, as the team has a very weak middle of the order against southpaws. Halman is probably the best option right now due to handedness and defense, but that’s just being the biggest fish in a very tiny pond. If the Mariners are serious about trying to stay in the race this summer, they need a new left fielder – preferably one who can hit LHPs. You can mix and match at DH if you want, as none of the options are all that great against southpaws.

There will be some push to use Jack Wilson at second base against lefties, but I would advise against a strict platoon. Ackley actually hit LHPs better than RHPs in Tacoma this year, and the team needs his bat in the line-up as often as possible. Wilson can get the occasional start against southpaws, but they should be benching Ackley about as often as they bench Justin Smoak – these two aren’t just the future of the offense, they’re two of the best hitters this team has, and they need them in order to win.


58 Responses to “The Optimal Line-Up”

  1. jjracoon on June 17th, 2011 5:22 pm

    You are right that I havent learned what was taught but I do read what you guys say and digest it. I cant say that I completely understand all of it but I do get the significance you place on them. Unofortunately my love of the game gets in the way of my pushing the numbers only. I will just read your entries in the future and avoid commenting.

  2. BLYKMYK44 on June 17th, 2011 7:27 pm

    Why do people keep talking about Pineda being scary in October…there is no way he is going to be pitching in October based on the innings he has already accumulated…

  3. Paul B on June 17th, 2011 7:34 pm

    limerick thugsta, using runs and RBI to evaluate hitters is like using ERA to evaluate pitchers.

  4. Westside guy on June 17th, 2011 10:51 pm

    There’s also the issue that people are ignoring – Peguero’s putting up his numbers in a pretty strict platoon role, while Cust does not have that advantage. That, in and of itself, favors Cust in the discussion.

    I don’t care strongly, one way or the other. I’m enjoying the way the team is playing, but don’t really expect them to stay in it. If I did, I’d be squacking more about the need to pick up a REAL left fielder for the pennant race.

    You know what helps you score runs?

    Not making outs and putting runners on base.

    Yeah, I’m getting pretty tired of people basically ignoring this as well.

  5. MrZDevotee on June 18th, 2011 1:18 am


    I don’t think folks are necessarily “ignoring” the advantage of walks as much as weighing them against what you give up when your DH takes a walk.

    Weighted Run Values (from TangoTiger, and a bit dated– compiled from 1974-1990)

    BB 0.30
    1B 0.460
    2B 0.750
    3B 1.033
    HR 1.402

    I think the average fan expects the DH to contribute more instances of a 2B, 3B, or HR (ie, power numbers) versus other batters in your lineup. So what folks are bemoaning is that essentially, unless he’s walking at a rate higher than his batting average, to neutralize the difference in values, he’s actually leaving value behind when he takes a walk.

    Cust is a useful example, because he has 40 BB’s, and 39 hits currently, almost even.

    I don’t see the problem in wanting a DH who takes advantage of those higher run values, rather than one into taking so many walks.

    And to want a DH who can provide those higher values is NOT to say you don’t value a walk as an outcome. It’s just to suggest there are OTHER higher outcomes, and a DH (by design) usually hopes of offer you more of those higher values.

    It’s not really such a cut and dry “either/or” dilemma– it’s about an offense that struggles to score runs needing more impactful at bats from a few key hitters, and some folks expect the DH to be one of those hitters (if not THE top example of such a hitter).

  6. Westside guy on June 18th, 2011 1:53 am

    Ah… nevermind.

  7. eponymous coward on June 18th, 2011 8:11 am

    Ah… nevermind.

    Pretty much where I am at.

    But to move on…

    I don’t care strongly, one way or the other. I’m enjoying the way the team is playing, but don’t really expect them to stay in it. If I did, I’d be squacking more about the need to pick up a REAL left fielder for the pennant race.

    Why? If this is a year an 85 win team wins the AL West, why can’t that team be the Mariners? We’re talking about having to go 49-43 the rest of the way. Is that completely unreasonable for this team the rest of the way?

    I can see the argument for the M’s falling off (Bedard’s arm is made of glass, the bullpen’s untested), but there are some POSITIVE upside things too (Ackley’s an improvement in middle infield, Gutierrez is back). Basically, we’re looking at a team that (projecting from 70 to 162 games) has FOUR 3.5+ WAR players in the starting rotation right now (everyone but Vargas, who is a 2-ish WAR player at present rate over a full season- so league average). The range of 3-4 WAR is “All-Star”. So, basically, the Mariners have a rotation that averages out to All-Star performance. That’s really good, even if you figure Fister and Bedard might not sustain that.

    So, I again assert- as long as the team doesn’t crater, the rotation doesn’t fall apart/regress horribly, or the Rangers decide it’s time to blow the doors off the rest of the AL West, this team has a very legitimate shot, and teams with power arms in the playoffs have a history of doing well come playoff time. This team would be making a mistake if they were thinking “it’s been nice, but it’s still not our year” (and I don’t think Zduriencik is doing that, BTW- he won’t mortgage the future but I will confidently predict he WILL make a move if he is given leeway for one). It’s not a huge one and we’re a long way out from September, but don’t sell it short.

  8. Westside guy on June 18th, 2011 12:26 pm

    I don’t think I’m selling this year short. I guess what I was saying (somewhat badly) is I’m trying not to let myself get too worked up about what Z and/or Wedge do (or fail to do) this year, and that statement I made was an explanation of why.

    Of course, I explained the “why” without stating the “what”. 😀

    I’d love to see the Mariners in the hunt. I’d love to see them exceed my expectations. But right now I’m just sitting back and enjoying the ride; at least most of the time. It’d be great if it’s late July and we’re still in the thick of things – at that point I very well may get a bit more worked up regarding whatever is going on in left, if Ryan is still hitting second and still hitting .180 if you leave out May, or if Figgins is being allowed to suck up all the oxygen around third (assuming his recent uptick doesn’t last), etc.

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