Third or Fourth? | The Process Report

Third or Fourth?

Joe Maddon spoke to the beat writers today before the game and gave this reasoning for putting Evan Longoria in the fourth spot of the lineup in tonight’s contest:


This is a topic we first covered back in January of 2011. Currently, Longoria has hit third in the lineup in 371 different games during his career and has a triple slash line of .261/.357/.500 over 1627 plate appearances.  He has hit fourth in the lineup 298 times and has a triple slash line of .283/.356/.511 over 1273 plate appearances. Maddon has hit him third in 49 contests this season and is using him in the fourth spot for the 87th time tonight.

When Longoria has hit third in the lineup, he has had at least one man on base in 797 plate appearances and has driven in 206 of them. In 625 plate appearances from the fourth spot of the lineup with runners on base, he has driven in 165 of them.  The table below shows how his batted ball outcomes compare overall versus the third and fourth spot in the order:


One of the reasons the team may be scoring more runs when Longoria is hitting fourth is due to his struggles hitting third this season. He has hit .226/.322/.462 in that spot of the lineup while driving in just 13 of the 103 runners that have been on base.  When Longoria has hit fourth in 2013, he is batting .305/.389/.496 and has driven 38 of the 167 runners that have been on base. In terms of percentages, he has driven in 13 percent of the runners on base out of the third spot while driving in 23 percent of the runners from the fourth spot. The Rays have scored 173 runs in the 49 games Longoria has batted third this season, which breaks down to a 3.5 runs per game average. In the 86 contests he has batted in the fourth spot of the lineup, the team has scored 451 runs, or 5.2 runs per contest. (correction- it is 406 runs in 86 games, or 4.69 runs per game)

If those numbers were predictive, then this switch would have been made weeks ago. As it were, it seems more like a move to jump-start an offense that is failing to produce runs despite a team on base percentage that is just five percentage points lower than what it was in July.


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