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Dr. Lineup: All-Star Break Rundown
Reggie Yinger | Tuesday July 10th, 2012
Joe Maddon has kept busy with lineup changes in 2012. (US Presswire)
Joe Maddon has kept busy with lineup changes in 2012. (US Presswire)
With the All-Star break upon us, it signifies the first half of play in the big-leagues is coming to an end.

Based upon data that we collect on a daily basis here at Baseball Press, I wanted to review lineup and starting pitcher information to view what teams were doing during the first half of play. 

Whether it be due to injuries or poor performance, the data I found was interesting. I'm certainly not concluding that this data can predict future implications the rest of the season, but rather I'm just putting the data out in the open as a fun exercise.

Starting Pitcher Carousel 
The first three and a half months were interesting for some teams and their starting rotation. The San Diego Padres used 13 different starting pitchers while the Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins each used their original five from Opening Day. Below is a full table of teams and their starting pitchers used.

Team SP
SD 13
COL 11
MIN 11
KC 10
TEX 10
TOR 10
DET 9
CWS 9
NYM 9
TB 8
BAL 8
BOS 8
HOU 8
MIL 8
OAK 8
Team SP
NYY 8
ARI 8
LAA 7
ATL 7
PIT 7
SEA 7
PHI 7
CHC 7
WSH 6
CLE 6
LAD 6
STL 6
SF 6
MIA 5
CIN 5

-As mentioned above, the Padres lead the way with 13 different starting pitchers. With the exception of Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez, the Padres have lost three starting pitchers from their Opening Day roster to the disabled list with serious injuries. San Diego even converted reliever Andrew Cashner to a starting pitcher, but of course, he was also placed on the disabled list recently with a strained lat.

-Continuing down the list in the National League West, the Colorado Rockies have abandoned the traditional "five-man" rotation in favor of a four-man rotation with the expectation that each starter will give them 75 pitches per outing. The quantity of starting pitchers seems to be a reoccurring theme for the Rockies, as they used 14 different starters during the entire 2011 season, something that could easily happen again in 2012.

-The Texas Rangers have had no issues with their batting lineup (see below) - but have used 10 different starters, including the recently signed veteran Roy Oswalt.

-For all of the shoulder and elbow issues the Toronto Blue Jays pitchers have had, they've used a total of ten starting pitchers. Ricky Romero and Henderson Alvarez are the only remaining starters from the Opening Day roster.

-Interesting enough, the top five teams that have used the least amount of starting pitchers thus far all belong in the National League. Terrific pitching staffs and training staffs or just luck? It's likely a little of both, as the Marlins used 11 different pitchers during all of 2011 (5 in 2012).

-One of the more consistent pitching teams are the Philadelphia Phillies. Even with injuries to star pitchers Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay earlier this year, they've used seven different starting pitchers. They also used a total of seven different pitchers in 2011.

Lineup Madness
With teams playing over 80 games before the All-Star Break, some big-league managers have used different lineups for almost every game while other managers have rolled out the same lineup day in and day out. Rays manager Joe Maddon leads the majors with over 80 different lineups during the first half of play, while Rangers manager Ron Washington has used the fewest number of lineups with 42. Below is a full table of games played and lineups used*.
 
Team Games Lineups
TB 87 82
ARI 85 77
SD 87 76
SEA 87 74
LAD 87 73
BOS 86 73
NYM 87 73
OAK 86 72
DET 88 72
PHI 88 72
PIT 85 72
STL 86 70
HOU 86 69
COL 85 68
BAL 86 68
Team Games Lineups
LAA 86 67
ATL 86 67
SF 87 66
MIN 86 65
MIL 85 65
TOR 86 63
CIN 86 61
MIA 86 61
KC 86 61
CHC 86 60
CLE 86 57
WSH 84 53
NYY 85 48
CWS 86 44
TEX 88 42
*Games played and lineups played may vary due to postponed games. We capture lineups for every game, as if there are no rain-outs. Data also ignores the No.9 batter in the lineup for the NL only (usually the SP).

-The third base position has been a revolving door for the Rays this season due to an injury to Evan Longoria. Manager Joe Maddon has used everyone from Sean Rodriguez to Brooks Conrad at the hot corner position (7 different starters in all). In addition to third base, the Rays have used at least ten different players in the No. 4 hole, including Drew Sutton, Brooks Conrad, and Jeff Keppinger. Maddon has always been a "different" type of manager, playing the hot-hand for several stretches, rewarding players with a lineup spot due to defensive play, and simply playing a player because it's his birthday.

-Prior to the Rays taking over the top spot, the leader was the Arizona Diamondbacks. The D-backs, much like the Rays, have mix-and-matched their lineup most of the season. However, unlike the Rays, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson has kept the middle part of the order (Justin Upton and Jason Kubel) relatively consistent this season.

-Even though the Los Angeles Dodgers are in first place headed into the break, they've played musical chairs with the lineup due to absence of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Dee Gordon. Most of their lineups during the month of July have resembled a Cactus League game during Spring Training.

-For a while, the Milwaukee Brewers had a stretch of using a different lineup for 20 straight games. While this may seem like a lot, after reviewing the data, their 65 lineups seems in line with the rest of the league.

-The Washington Nationals struggled with injuries in the beginning of the season. In addition to injuries, the left field position appeared to be a who's who early on. Even with all the changes, the Nationals have used just 53 different lineups, good for the least amount of changes in the NL this season.

-With the exception of the Dodgers and the Pittsburgh Pirates, all first place teams at the break have used the least amount of lineups (Rangers, White Sox, Yankees, and Nationals). Does this mean that teams that use a regular lineup day in and day out are more successful? Likely no, but it's interesting to note. 

-Of teams that lead the wild card standings, the Baltimore Orioles have used the most lineups (68) and the Cincinnati Reds have used the least (61).

Men of Versatility
Every team in baseball has a "utility man". They're helpful when you want to give a regular player a day off or when you have a small injury. Below is a list of players that have started at different positions in 2012. I only listed the players with at least five starts at different positions (including the DH spot).
  
Player Team Pos
Josh Harrison PIT 5
Mark Trumbo LAA 5
Brian Bixler HOU 5
Brent Lillibridge CWS/BOS 5
Trevor Plouffe MIN 5
Elian Herrera LAD 5
Player Team Pos
Don Kelly DET 5
Greg Dobbs MIA 5
Brandon Snyder TEX 5
Matt Carpenter STL 5
Drew Sutton TB/PIT 5
Eduardo Nunez NYY 5

Up, Down, and Everywhere In Between
When a big-league manager doesn't have a "set" position for you in the lineup, he'll try to use you anywhere based on the matchup and prior success with a pitcher. Based on the overall lineup (mentioned in the second table) - you would think the Rays would have a lot of players in different lineup positions. The below table has a few Rays players in it, but former Ray John Jaso of the Seattle Mariners takes home the award for most positions used in a lineup used this season - he's been everywhere for the M's.

Player Team Pos
John Jaso SEA 9
Michael Saunders SEA 8
Matt Joyce TB 8
Brian Bogusevic HOU 8
Tyler Colvin COL 8
Chris Young ARI 8
Sean Rodriguez TB 7
Michael Brantley CLE 7
Jose Lopez CLE 7
Ryan Roberts ARI 7
Casper Wells SEA 7
Player Team Pos
Drew Sutton TB/PIT 7
Kelly Johnson TOR 7
Aaron Hill ARI 7
Joe Mather CHC 7
Will Middlebrooks BOS 7
Justin Maxwell HOU 7
Brandon Inge DET/OAK 6
A.J. Ellis LAD 6
Andy Dirks DET 6
Don Kelly DET 6
Nate Schierholtz SF 6
*Remember, this is based on starts in the lineup, not pinch-hitting appearances.

In closing, I fully expect these numbers to increase as the season marches on during the final months of play. It was a fun practice to write out, and perhaps we will revisit Joe Maddon's Rays when the season ends to view the final number of lineups he used in 2012. With teams falling completely out of contention in August and September call-ups shortly thereafter, I expect we'll see many more starting pitchers and unique lineups as teams will want to examine younger prospects.

I didn't publish all of the data due to article constraints, but if you would like to see a certain player or team, simply drop a line in the comments section.
Reggie YingerReggie is a writer and the co-founder of Baseball Press. He enjoys fantasy baseball and hates when players bunt in baseball.