Should Mets Bat Pitcher Eighth?

From “DanB” in the comments section:

Hey Joe, I am (surprise!) tired of talking about why our shortstop position sucks. What about a good ole’ baseball post about Collins’ idea (actually LaRussa’s) of pitchers batting 8th? At first I didn’t like it because it gives the pitcher 18 more ABs per year. But then I realize a pitcher only gets two to three ABs anyway before they get pinch-hit for. It would be the pinch hitters getting 18 more ABs per year. I actually like the idea of the pinch hitters getting more ABs rather then the typical eighth place hitter, especially since it will be in the late innings. And this is before we debate whether it would give DW more RBI opportunities. Anyone?

Thoughts?

If you care what I think … well, I don’t care, is what I think. Like Dan, I do agree that at least half of the at-bats in the pitcher’s slot in the lineup will usually be performed by pinch-hitters, so it’s not a big deal. But then again, if that’s true, then how many more RBI opportunities will David Wright really get in such a configuration? Because at least half the time, the 9th slot in the order will be filled by a pinch-hitter, who may be a better OBP guy than whomever Collins considers batting there (i.e., Juan Lagares, Ruben Tejada). I GUESS there’s the possibility of one more RBI opp if you have a Lagares or Tejada batting 9th instead of the pitcher.

But then there is the issue of the #7 hitter getting pitched around, because the pitcher is batting 8th. Is that good or bad in situations when runners are on base? On the one hand, if the #7 hitter is patient and disciplined, he may be pitched around and walked because the pitcher is batting next. On the other hand, a less-disciplined batter in that slot might be more prone to making an out with the opposing pitcher throwing pitches outside the strike zone.

I don’t know the statistics regarding how many times a #7 or #8 hitter bats when there is a scoring opportunity. And, I’m not sure whether those stats are useful / apply if the pitcher is batting 8th, because such a lineup changes everything.

In the grand scheme of things, let’s assume that there is some kind of advantage of batting the pitcher eighth. How MUCH of an advantage is it? Will it result in as many as one or two more wins? Five? Is there any way to determine the advantage or disadvantage?

I really don’t know. I’m a firm believer of putting your very best OBP guy first in the lineup, followed by your very best hitters, with the idea that you want to give your best offensive players as many opportunities to help you as possible.

What’s your thought? Should the Mets consider batting the pitcher eighth on occasion? All the time? Why or why not? Answer in the comments.

13-14 Offseason

About the Author

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.

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