After seeing these infographics mapping stability in line-up construction by the A's and Tigers in 2013, I got to thinking about how the Brewers looked last year. While the frequent changes in the A's line-up can be attributed to playing lots of platoons, I suspected anything similar for the Brewers would be more about injury and suspension.
I might have been wrong about the suspension part, it turns out. The #3 spot was actually the most stable spot in the Brewers line-up, with Jonathan Lucroy taking over for the last third of the season, after a brief experiment of Carlos Gomez filling in for Ryan Braun. However, the Brewers' other big loss during the season, Aramis Ramirez, resulted in some chaos in the #4 position. It was the fourth most stable in the line-up, but well behind the top three.
|Average spot streak||no. of players in spot||3 most frequent|
|1||4.50||5||Aoki 133, Weeks 16, Gennett/Schafer 5 each|
|2||4.38||7||Segura 121, Aoki 13, Gennett 8|
|3||4.63||6||Braun 59, Lucroy 53, Gomez 29|
|4||2.53||8||Ramirez 85, Lucroy 34, Gomez 18|
|5||1.71||13||Gomez 48, Lucroy 41, Weeks 19|
|6||1.42||13||Gomez 25, Betancourt 20, Francisco 18|
|7||1.37||14||Betancourt 31, Weeks 27, Francisco 23|
|8||1.53||15||Betancourt/Bianchi 30 each, Schafer 26|
|Average line-up stability: 4.29/8|
Here's a chart of the consistency for the top eight positions in the line-up. Each blue block indicates that the player in that spot for that game also batted there in the previous game. At the bottom is a rolling three-game average of line-up stability, with darker blocks indicating more players in the same spot for consecutive games. The team had exactly the same position player line-up 15 times, and had no players in the same spots three times.
The top and bottom halves have pretty sharp divisions, helped at the top by the consistent availability and solid play of Norichika Aoki and Jean Segura. The bottom half was a mess, with more than a dozen players starting in each of those spots, as RRR flailed around for anybody who wouldn't trip over his own shoelaces on the way to first base. Does line-up stability matter? I'm not sure there's a theoretical reason to think so, but there is a slight positive relationship between the number of line-up spots that are the same as the last game and runs scored (r = .16). And things went crazy in the bottom half of the line-up during the May nightmare.
- Jean Segura had the single longest streak, starting in the #2 spot for 36 consecutive games, from April 23 to June 1.
- Carlos Gomez started at least once in each of the top eight positions. Scooter Gennett started in every spot except #4, including #9 in interleague games.
- Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado started in the same game 17 times.
- Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez started in only one spot each.
- Josh Prince started a game, trivia fans.
- Alex Gonzalez started 27 games before being shown the door, including one in the clean-up spot.
- At least he was cut. Yuni started 92 games, tied for fifth most on the team.