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Dr. Lineup: 2012 Regular Season Lineup Analysis
Reggie | Wednesday October 10th, 2012
Davey Johnson and the Nats had little to worry about in 2012. (US Presswire)
Davey Johnson and the Nats had little to worry about in 2012. (US Presswire)
With the 2012 Major League Baseball season in the books, it's time to look at lineup data for the season, searching for interesting rotation and lineup trends. I examined the same data during the All-Star break during the month of July. You can view it here.

Based upon all the data collected here at Baseball Press for every game this season, I've run some different lineup/rotation queries for all teams searching for interesting notes, facts, and occurrences.

Whether it be due to injuries or poor performance, the data I found was interesting. This is simply a fun exercise to make the data available and has nothing to do with team performance or predicting a team's future performance in the postseason.

Starting Pitcher Carousel 

Google Visualization API Sample

-No real surprises among the top teams with starting pitchers used. The San Diego Padres battled injuries to their rotation most of the season, and with being a young team, they were exploring opportunities for the future. However, the Colorado Rockies used 14 different pitchers likely due to their change to the "4-man" rotation early in the season and 75 pitch count limit for their starters.

-The Baltimore Orioles used 12 different starting pitchers during the regular season, and were the only postseason team to use more than 10 different starters during the regular season. The next closest team were the Oakland Athletics (exactly 10).

-For all teams this season, the average number of starting pitchers used was 10.1. The highest number belonged to the aforementioned Padres (15) and the fewest amount belonged to the Cincinnati Reds (6).

- The Seattle Mariners pitching staff is led by the fantastic Felix Hernandez. Besides King Felix, the Mariners used six additional starting pitchers that combined for 4.5 fWAR according to FanGraphs.com. They just need some offensive help to kick start that team.

Lineup Madness

Google Visualization API Sample
*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 Tampa Bay Rays were leading the majors in lineups used prior to the second half of the season and that same trend continued into the summer, as they led all teams with 152 different lineups. Last season, the Rays used 133 different lineups, but Rays manager Joe Maddon is known to mix and match his lineups based on matchups, defensive skill, and birthdays.

-For all the injuries the Washington Nationals dealt with early on in the season (Jayson Werth, Mike Morse, Jesus Flores, etc) - the team used the third fewest number of different lineups (95) and the least amount among all National League teams.

-On average, the number of different lineups used by all teams in 2012 was 122. Tampa Bay leading the way with 152 and the Chicago White Sox with the fewest at 76.

Win Percentage vs. Total Lineups Used

Thanks to a request via Twitter from Daniel Mack, I've decided to plot out the total winning percentage vs. total cumulative lineups used for the season.

Google Visualization API Sample
Sorry for the large chart, but I wanted to include every team.

-Lots of data here (obviously). I think it's fun to look at Joe Maddon and the Rays. Although the team has one of the best pitching staffs and bullpens in the American League, Maddon can still tinker with his lineup (over 90% of the time) and manage to win ball games in the tough American League East.

-Overall, teams/managers had a different lineup around 75% of the time during the entire 2012 season.

-The Texas Rangers used the same lineup a majority of the season (48% difference) which included the slumping Michael Young (77 wRC+) either at the DH role or at first base and even shortstop. Although the team made the faux playoffs (one game wildcard) - if Mike Olt or Jurickson Profar had those starts, the Rangers could have been better overall. You really see the decrease in win percentage (regardless of lineup) during the second half of play.

-The Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians were nice stories during the first half of baseball. Appears once Neil Walker was injured in August, the team really hit a rough patch of games. Of course that, and the fact that starting pitcher James McDonald came back down to earth.
ReggieReggie is a writer and the co-founder of Baseball Press. He enjoys fantasy baseball and hates when players bunt in baseball.