The Making of a Lineup and Keeping Players Ready by Derrick May
Ok. This blog is about an article I read about young Nick Williams and how analytics play a role in making Gabe Kapler’s lineup and other teams around the league. Playing the numbers game. This has been done for years along with gut feel. However, it has been ramped up more in recent years with less gut feel and more analytics.
In the past, player match up were used to make pitching or pinch hit decisions and occasionally when deciding to play your bench players. However, times have changed. Line ups and game decisions are being made more and more by analytics (computers) then by what a player is actually doing or what he actually feels like.
Confidence and feel are two of the biggest factors when playing and making a line up. I know what the numbers say and they don’t lie. However, on that particular day or particular moment a player may have the advantage over the other. Baseball is a beautiful game and the beauty of it is that the worst team can at times beat the best team and the worst hitter can hit a game winner against the best pitcher. It is all about the confidence and feel of each player or team that day. Everything isn’t always black and white because on any day, any team or any player can be at his best or his worst.
Back to Nick Williams and keeping a positive attitude. The best thing Nick Williams can do is to work on his skills to stay sharp anyway he can. Sitting and coming off the bench is the hardest thing to do in baseball, so he should use his spare time wisely. Having a process for improvement can help to stay ready, build his skill and maintain his confidence. Not being in the line up when you are a young player kind of sucks but you still have to be ready when the opportunity comes.
Now my thoughts on making a lineup. Continuity is very under estimated in the age of the computer. As players get into the season (old school alert) most like to know (or use to) if they are playing on a daily basis and where, for preparation reasons. It gives them a sense of confidence of knowing even if they go 0 for they will be in there the next day instead of pressing or needing to get a hit to find out if they are playing the next day. I had managers either tell me the night before that I was playing or that I wasn’t. Preparation is a big deal for players and the earlier they know the better the preparation.
Building confidence is like a slow rolling wave that keeps building momentum. It increases as you play consistently. One game builds to the next game and to the next and so on.
Momentum- “The strength or force that allows something to continue or to grow stronger as time passes.”
So, players are not robots they have emotions. Some have confidence, some are still building it and some are just looking for a vote of confidence. Through this age of the computer, players are still human and still need time to build confidence, prepare and develop. There are many elements to the game of baseball. However, there is one you can never replace and that is the “human element.”