Thursday, August 10, 2006

As you certainly recall, Orlando Cabrera, earlier this season, reached base for something like 9300 straight games, causing Mike Scioscia to move him into the third spot of the order and get this mighty hitter more at-bats.

Breaking down The OC this year:
When?            AB   H   2B   3B   HR   BB   SO   AVG  OBP  SLG
Before streak 75 21 5 0 3 3 6 280 304 467
During streak 251 76 18 1 3 27 19 303 372 418
After streak 113 28 7 0 2 9 15 248 299 363
That performance during the streak was, of course, very nice. But since then, Lando Cabrissian has been returning to Earth, and with a vengeance.

The last day of the streak, Cabrera was hitting 298/357/429; his line now stands at 285/342/412. That's still an above-average performance, overall, which what happens you hit very well for half a season. But the fact remains that that performance, no matter how much it helped as at the time, doesn't reflect The OC's true performance level.

Behold Cabrera's offensive performance as measured by Clay Davenport at BPro. He has a .265 EqA this year -- .260 is average, so Cabrera is just above average. This would be his second-best offensive campaign ever.

Now, he might turn things around and get hot again, youneverknow. But the odds are against it.

Meanwhile, while The OC bats third and has been eating up outs for a month, Senor Juan Rivera bides his time in the fifth and sixth spots of the order, hitting 301/350/561 (a very good -- and tied for the team lead -- EqA of .296). Now, there's a chance Rivera is a bit over his head, as well, but this is a guy that's always had potential and has been searching for playing time, plus what excuse is there to bat The OC third against righties with Rivera in the six-spot?
vs. RHP, 2003-2006
Cabrera 1604 274 317 409
Rivera 781 292 344 489
Now, I'm not adjusting for the ballparks there, but Cabrera wo uld have to be hitting in Chavez Ravine in 1968 and Juan Rivera in Mile High in 1993 to make those lines equivalent, don'tcha think? (WARNING: Context comparison pulled from my bum, but still seems fundamentally sound.)

Now, lineup effects can be pretty small, so I don't want to overstate this (the difference between plate appearances you'd expect from your three-hitter and your six-hitter would be 27 plate appearances a season; over the 40 or so games we might expect to play against right-handed pitchers the rest of the way, that only comes out to six or seven PA). But it would be nice if someone at the helm were paying a little bit of attention. Rivera is hitting as well as Vlad so far this year, and while that's unlikely to continue, this is a guy that needs to be a key part of the lineup, not protection for a geriatric left fielder.

He also may just be fatigued.... I can't remember the last game he sat.
Just checked.... 111 starts in 115 games this season. pretty high for a guy who isn't s spring chicken anymore.
Interestingly, putting Cabrera in the third spot makes perfect sense if you believe in Cyril Morong's work. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the third is actually relatively unimportant. Rivera is more valuable in the fifth spot.
The writers of Inside the Book said that your three best hitters should bat first, second, and fourth. Third and fifth were for your next-best hitters.

I can live with Rivera batting fifth behind Vlad, despite the fact that DPs will likely go up. But batting him sixth against RHP seems a bit silly.
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