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Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Batting Order Factoids (and Why They Matter in Fantasy)

90% of what fantasy baseball writers write is centered on a factoid. Here’s a factoid: Chris Davis hit 53 home runs in 2013. Based on that factoid I wrote 1000 words that was a step-by-step look to see if he can reasonably repeat 50 home runs in 2014. 

Here’s another factoid for you: Joe Mauer is as exciting as the non-juice parts of a pack of Gushers. Not only is this a factoid about how Joe Mauer is as vanilla and consistent a hitter as they come, but I could flesh it out some and write a perfectly good post about how Joe Mauer is an over-looked fantasy baseball asset.

But after you strip away all my weird jokes and pointless side bar comments, everything starts with a factoid.

So let’s do something different. Let’s slice away the fluffy stuff and just show the factoids. Here are some factoids about lineup position and some examples of why it matters in fantasy:

  • Plate appearances decline by lineup spot. Leadoff hitters receive 11% more more plate appearances than when batting lower in the lineup.
  • Said another way, for every spot you move up in the lineup you gain about 19 plate appearances per year. As much as is possible, fantasy owners need to target players who hit in the top 5 spots of their lineup.
  • 88% of leadoff hitters bat leadoff again their next game.
  • 68% of those players are batting leadoff 50 games later.
  • Yet leadoff hitters have the best chance of any lineup position to retain their role over time. This means that other guys can get shuffled in lineups like you shuffle a deck of cards, so don’t get tooooo hung up on lineup position.
  • Cleanup hitters or guys in the #3 hole are the next most likely to retain their lineup spots over time.
  • Joe Mauer most often hit #3 in the Minnesota Twins lineup.
  • There is no difference in walk rate among lineup spots in the AL. (Nor does lineup position have on impact on contact rates.)
  • In the NL a #8 hitter has strong walk rates, but this will largely disappear if he’s moved from that spot.
  • The #8 hitter in the NL is a black hole in terms of stolen base attempts. (Less so in the AL, but it still gave me pause when I rostered Jurickson Profar, slated to hit 8th for the Texas Rangers, but I played a hunch he’ll hit his way into the #2 spot and Ron Washington likes to run.)
  • Stolen base attempts vary by lineup, but more so based upon the running tendencies of individual managers. Alex Rios is a good bet to get a lot of steals this year.
  • If a NL player moves from the #8 to the leadoff position his stolen base attempts would double. (This raises the possibility for greater fantasy impact from players like Andrelton Simmons or Anthony Rendon.)
  • Hitters 3-5 are ideal for non-HR RBI, largely at the expense of #6 hitters.
  • Slots 9-1-2 are death for RBI. But…
  • Batting at the top of a lineup GREATLY  increases runs scored, particularly in the NL.

There you are. Some lineup factoids. Where a player hits in a lineup has a significant impact on his fantasy value. Roster accordingly.

Tags: Chris Davis Fantasy Baseball Joe Mauer Lineup MLB

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