Last week, I first encountered David Pinto's Lineup Analysis Tool. In a post today at Baseball Musings, Pinto feeds Tom Tango's "Marcel the Monkey predictions" for the 2008 Cubs into his run-scoring projection machine, and he reports the following results:
It looks like the Cubs get a nice offensive boost in 2008. Not only does (Kosuke) Fukudome help set the table, Geovany Soto may not last long in the number eight spot. That's a great prediction for the catcher, and if he lives up to that, the Cubs pitchers can count on much better run support in this season.
Pinto also reports that when examining the output of all the possible permutations of the Cubs lineup, he found a huge difference between the best case scenario (5.25 runs per game) and the offense produced by the likely Cubs lineup (4.92 rpg; I presume this would be the lineup Lou Piniella offered at the Cubs Convention).
Of the difference, Pinto says:
Mostly it comes from using two projected power hitters at the top (Alfonso Soriano) and bottom (Soto) of the lineup, when they should really be in the middle.
Pretty sound logic, I would say. I'm one of the millions of Cubs fans who believe it's managerial malpractice to plant Soriano and his lifetime .327 on-base percentage atop the Cub batting order, when his big bat could produce so much more thunder farther down in the lineup.
As for Soto, based on his Pacific Coast League numbers last season (.353 AVG/.424 OBP/.652 SLG) and how he performed for the big club after his call-up, I'm looking forward to seeing him as the everyday catcher in '08.Still, there's a part of me--the serial pessimist part--that wonders if the real Soto isn't the one whose numbers before 2007 were these: .261 AVG/.343 OBP/.370 SLG.