A thread over at CCH got me wondering if anyone had done a comparison of the Cardinal offense with the pitcher hitting eighth compared to when the pitcher was hitting ninth. I figured I could do a rough calculation, see what the numbers told us.
First off, since the switch happened very early in August, I took the April-July numbers from ESPN.com’s stats page and used them for the pitcher-hitting-ninth group and the August-September for the pitcher-hitting-eighth. I didn’t figure a few games here or there would skew it too much.
No park adjustments, etc. done either. Like I said, this is just quick and rough.
Fairly obvious, right? The lineup switch worked and LaRussa should definitely consider it for 2008.
As a certain football commentator puts it, “Not so fast, my friend.”
Part of the problem with this comparison is that it wasn’t the only variable switched at that time. Remember, Rick Ankiel came up and started hitting lights-out at about the same time. So some of that change is probably due to a better bat in the lineup, at least.
Also, the change really didn’t increase offense, at least in comparison to what came right before. Look at this chart:
As you can see, the total numbers of the ninth-place group were severely weighted down by the lack of offense in the first two months. June and July, the offense started clicking and when the pitching matched it, the Cardinals went on a run.
I know there’s been statistical studies that back up LaRussa’s thinking in this matter. In fact, here’s a discussion of the change last year from The Hardball Times, which does a lot better job than I did comparing the change. Since there’s little variation either way, I have no problem with whatever LaRussa tries to do. At least he’s doing some innovative thinking instead of just accepting tradition without question.