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Bleacher Reconstruction & Ticket Sale Update - February 25, And Fun With Numbers

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Before I tell you about David's latest set of photos, taken yesterday in and around the first day of ticket sales (he had a very good wristband number!), here's some more fun with numbers, and a good lesson in why number-crunching doesn't tell you everything about winning baseball.

Hat tip to both The Cub Reporter and my SB Nation colleague Larry at Viva El Birdos for pointing me to this fun little device, Steve's Lineup Toy. You can plug in numbers there from 2003 to 2005 to see how many runs a specific lineup would generate (at least in theory).

There's another version located here where you can use two different 2006 projections to come up with predicted runs scored totals for this year. Projections, of course, are just that, projections -- so I ran a number of different ones just for grins.

Using this actual 2005 lineup from June 29 vs. Milwaukee, a lineup most of us cringed when we saw it: Patterson, cf; Perez, ss; Lee, 1b, Burnitz, rf; Ramirez, 3b; Walker, 2b; Hollandsworth, lf; Barrett, c; Wood, p -- the toy says it would generate 5.0 runs per 27 outs. (I had to use another hitter in place of Wood since he wasn't listed, so I chose Greg Maddux).

The toy, of course, didn't make the lineup the way Dusty did; it ordered it Walker, Barrett, Lee, Ramirez, Burnitz, Perez, Hollandsworth, Patterson, Maddux.

Entering the proposed 2006 starters for Opening Day gives this "best" batting order: Cedeno, ss; Murton, lf; Lee, 1b; Ramirez, 3b; Barrett, c; Walker, 2b; Zambrano, p (!); Jones, rf; Pierre, cf

Sure, Z's a good hitter, but seventh? And that lineup generates 6.5 runs per 27 outs, pretty darn good and FAR better than last year's. Now, of course Z isn't going to bat seventh, and the toy doesn't let you put in your own lineup. Incidentally, replacing Cedeno with Miguel Tejada generates 6.7 runs per 27 outs, while still having Pierre bat ninth.

OK, what about putting these players into the 2006 projection toy? Problem 1: no pitchers are listed there, so you have to choose a "poor" hitter (TCR suggests Neifi, but I put in Jose Macias, who -- I presume -- would generate pitcherlike numbers, and does indeed get the #9 slot). That lineup reads: Pierre, cf; Murton, lf; Lee, 1b; Ramirez, 3b; Barrett, c; Jones, rf; Walker, 2b; Cedeno, ss; pitcher.

That lineup generates, by projection, 5.7 runs per 27 outs, still far higher than 2005's rotten lineups. Swapping Tejada for Cedeno raises it to 5.9. Actually, that above lineup wouldn't be a bad one at all.

Will Dusty use it? Ever? Doubt it. The lineup toy works in this way:

The Lineup Toy uses the following method for suggesting a lineup: 1. Put the best OPS in 3rd 2. Put the best remaining Slg in 4th 3. Put the best remaining OBP's in 1st and 2nd (with the better Slg in 2nd) 4. Arrange the remaining players in order of descending Slg
Now, that's not a bad way to do things -- but is that real-world? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Is that always the BEST way to construct a lineup? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Number-crunchers sometimes forget that baseball isn't played inside a PC, it is played on a field with real flesh-and-blood human beings.

Anyway, fun little diversion on a Saturday.

Speaking of lineups, I learned from this Arizona Republic article that in spring training games, NL teams can use the DH in their home park if they get permission from the opposing team. The Reds did this last year with Ken Griffey, Jr., and the Giants are apparently going to do it with Barry Bonds. According to the article:

The process will be easier this spring, because major league general managers agreed in November to drop the provision that N.L. teams must petition the commissioner's office to use designated hitters at home. Now, all a team must do is inform the umpires and the opposing club before each game. There's a caveat: The visiting team can veto a home N.L. team's request to use a D.H. It can elect to let its pitchers hit while allowing the home N.L. team to employ a D.H. Or it can also use a D.H.
This being the case, I don't understand why every team wouldn't do this every game. In spring games, pitchers rarely bat anyway.

Also, I got mine over at Humbug for stealing his anagram idea the other day. Hey, I even admitted I stole it. All in good fun, right?

Finally, here's another photo update. The first few photos are of the ticket sale; the rest are updates of the construction. You'll actually be amazed at how much was done in just the 24 hours since I took pictures on Thursday. The timeline has also been updated.

Top: line at ticket windows; staging area for wristband winners before they go to the windows; more ticket windows (note White Sox flag on construction truck parked on Clark); more construction trucks and ticket buyers

Middle: crane loading equipment onto RF structure; brick wall on Sheffield; LF, with view of brick wall and back fence; closeup of wall in left-center (Waveland)

Bottom: CF restaurant under construction; closeup of Sheffield wall; wider view of Sheffield wall; this is where the wall will end and the new bleacher entrance will begin

Photos by David Sameshima