2011 Orioles Line-up By The Book

The roster isn’t set – Vlad Guerrero is still floating around in free agency, after all – and I’m not done going through the player projections, but I had an itch to look at the Orioles potential line-up using the guidelines put forth in The Book (if you haven’t read it, you should):

“Your three best hitter should bat somewhere in the #1, #2, and #4 slots. You fourth- and fifth-best hitters should occupy the #3 and #5 slots. The #1 and #2 slots will have players with more walks than those in the #4 and #5 slots. From slot #6 through #9, put the players in descending order of quality.”

Here are the current projections for the starting nine (Wieters through Roberts are my own; after-wards are ZiPS/CAIRO):

Matt Wieters: .263/.334/.404, .324 wOBA
Derrek Lee: .266/.346/.432, .340 wOBA
Brian Roberts: .272/.350/.409, .335 wOBA
Mark Reynolds: .226/.325/.465, .339 wOBA
JJ Hardy: .268/.324/.420, .324 wOBA
Felix Pie: .269/.317/.417, .319 wOBA
Adam Jones: .280/.328/.446, .334 wOBA
Nick Markakis: .288/.363/.446, .355 wOBA
Luke Scott: .261/.345/.481, .356 wOBA

The top two hitter clearly appear to be Markakis and Scott. I’m probably going to be a little higher on the former than the latter, but they’ll still be the team’s best bats. Number three is a relatively close race between Jones, Roberts, Reynolds, Lee. Given that there’s virtually no way that anyone but Roberts will be the team’s primary lead-off hitter – and his speed/base-running add to his offensive value – putting him in the top three is fair. Roberts’ line is the one most tilted to OBP anyway, so he’s getting put into the #1 spot. Markakis and Scott go #2 and #4 – in that order since Markakis has the higher OBP and Scott has more power.

That leaves Jones, Reynolds, and Lee for the three and five spots. Since the third hitter comes up to bat more often with none on and outs, home runs are leveraged better there. Makes the choice a little easier, no? Lee over Jones in the five slot makes some sense given his OBP edge. Then it’s by descending quality, so Jones-Wieters-Hardy-Pie. (Or Hardy-Wieters, but I’d rather bet on the catcher’s upside.)

So the line-up would be:

Roberts – S
Markakis – L
Reynolds – R
Scott – L
Lee – R
Jones – R
Wieters – S
Hardy – R
Pie – L

That’s the base line-up. I’ll work out the platoon splits for the hitters at some point soon, but my hunch is that with a righty on the mound Pie (and maybe Wieters) would move up a slot, and with a lefty on the mound Scott would move down a slot or two and Pie would get replaced by Reimold (who could somewhat leverage his OBP skills by still batting 9th to help set up the top of the line-up).

It’s not terribly frightening – there’s no really great hitter unless someone has a career year – but it is fairly deep. A 100 run improvement over 2010 isn’t out of the question at all.

Stats: wOBA