Optimizing the Astros Lineup

I love it when I discover a new baseball analysis tool or analysis method. Today, I heard about the Baseball Musings Lineup Analysis tool on the FanGraphs Effectively Wild Podcast.

For over a year I have contended that batting Springer in the leadoff spot is not the most efficient for the Astros and they were losing runs. I believed and still do that the Astros offense would be most effective with Altuve leading off and having Brantley second. Finally, with this tool I have a statistical method to test this theory and to ask what the optimal Astros projected lineup is in 2019.

To do this, I am using the FanGraphs depth chart projections for the 2019 Astros season. In the Lineup Analysis tool I put what I think the projected Astros lineup will be:

As shown this analysis method projects the Astros to score 5.151 runs per game with this lineup. So what about the lineup I think the Astros should use? How does it compare with A.J. Hinch’s lineup?

So there you have it; my lineup is better — by a whole 0.01 runs per game or two runs per year. That’s it — two runs. I am no longer going to stress about the batting order. However, maybe there is even a more optimal lineup. What does this tool project is the best lineup?

This lineup is five runs better for the season than what the Astros are likely to use. Do not stress about what order the batters bat in. However, using the projected stats, is there a better everyday roster? Or should the Astros be having someone else start? If we try a few options, we find that this is the optimal 2019 Houston Astros lineup:

That’s right, Kyle Tucker traders. The optimal Astros lineup for 2019 includes Kyle Tucker. How good is a lineup that projects to score 5.151-5.223 runs anyway? This would translate into 834-846 runs for the season. In 2017 and 2018, this would have been the third best run total. In 2017 the Astros had a historically excellent lineup that scored a league-leading 896 runs (second most runs by a team in the last 10 years), and last year the 2018 Astros scored 797 runs. Scoring 5.2 runs per game is a really good offense.

Another aspect of this algorithm is that it shows the worst lineup and the projected runs from that. I don’t think there is any way Hinch would ever run out this lineup.

The really good news is that for almost for any lineup option that A.J. Hinch would use, he will get 5-5.2 runs/game of production, and it really does not matter in what order they bat.

Just giving you one less thing to worry about in 2019 as you live in Baseball Paradise, Astros fans.

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