What If We Had Used OBP To Create Our Lineup In 2007?

In 2007 and again in 2008, the Mets missed clinching a playoff berth by just one game. No matter which team it is or even which sport, missing the playoffs by one game in back to back years is not a comfortable place to be.

As the Mets enter into a new era with a brand new philosophy based on tried and true principles, lets hope that it never happens again.

That said, I wonder sometimes if something as simple as a lineup tweak could have altered our destiny, especially in 2007 when getting shutout of the post season really hurt Mets fans the most.

While browsing through Baseball Reference, I found that the most used lineup during the 2007 season was as follows:

  1. Jose Reyes
  2. Paul Lo Duca
  3. Carlos Beltran
  4. Carlos Delgado
  5. David Wright
  6. Moises Alou
  7. Shawn Green
  8. Jose Valentin

Of course, throughout the season there were days off, injuries, etc., but for the most part this lineup or a slight variation of it was the norm.

I took a look at each players on-base percentage and wondered what the lineup might have looked like if we constructed it from highest OBP to lowest OBP. (SLG and OPS added for reference) Here is what it would have looked like:

  1. David Wright .416/.546/.963
  2. Moises Alou .392/.524/.916
  3. Jose Reyes .354/.421/.775
  4. Carlos Beltran .353/.525/.878
  5. Shawn Green .352/.430/.782
  6. Carlos Delgado .333/.448/.781
  7. Paul Lo Duca .311/.378/.689
  8. Jose Valentin .302/.373/.676

It probably would have given the Mets better results as their best four players would have garnered the most at-bats, and more importantly extended many an inning be creating less outs.

Interestingly enough, it points out what most of us already knew and that was that Paul Lo Duca had no business batting that high in the order. Oddly enough, in the second most widely used lineup of 2007, Jose Valentin replaced Lo Duca at the number two spot; an even more futile choice.

Although such a change would have probably resulted in at least a couple of more wins and vaulted the Mets into the post season, a better approach might even be as follows:

What if we stuck to the same philosophy except for one dramatic change. Take your two highest OPS players and stack them in the number three and four spots of the lineup and leave all else the same. The result would be this:

  1. Jose Reyes
  2. Carlos Beltran
  3. David Wright
  4. Moises Alou
  5. Shawn Green
  6. Carlos Delgado
  7. Paul Lo Duca
  8. Jose Valentin

Ahhh, perfection. This would have certainly been the best way to go, and I have no doubt it could have impacted the Mets in the most spectacular of ways.

One of the things I’m most excited about for the 2011 season, is that I know great thought and emphasis will be placed on things that were all too often taken for granted by the old regime, like filling out a lineup card.

This new focus on “win probabilities” is why I am confident we will see a much more competitive Mets team in 2011 than in years past, even without the big back-page signing that hasn’t gotten the Mets anywhere in the last four seasons.

Optimizing our current roster and putting them in the best possible position to win, will have the same effect as signing Cliff Lee and Jayson Werth and keeping things the way things were before. Getting more with less is always better than the alternative.