I've gotten some good, thoughtful inputs on lineups so far. I want to roll them up into a season-long guess at how much time we'll see for each player at each position. The lineup, my reasoning, and a call for comments and corrections after the jump.
How we do
For the purpose of our analysis, a "full season" at one position (that is, one "Ripken" of playing time...) is 695 PA. I figure that even a thoroughly reliable, healthy starter will probably get, say, one game a week off. Playing 5/6s of 695 PA is about 590 PA. By way of comparison, the Nats with the most PA in 2008 were Guz (611) and Lasto (581). In 2007, Zimmy had 722 PA after playing all 162 games (he had 682 PA in 157 games in 2006). Anyhow, I give all "durable starters" 590 PA at their position, with the rest going to
Willie Harris a backup. If I'm not sure who's going to start at a position, either because we don't have consensus, we think he'll get hurt (coughNJcough), or there might be some "competition" for playing time, I'll give it to Willie Harris split it up as evenly as I can among the contenders. Further rationalizing below:
Not much controversy over the starting IF. Pretty much everyone had NJ (1B), AndyHands (2B), Zimmy (3B), Guuuuuz (SS), and Jesus (C). Zim and Guz all get 590 at their positions. I'd love to give NJ 590, but given his sad injury history, I think we have to hedge. It seems he has a 50% chance of getting hurt each season. If we figure he loses an average of half a season when he gets hurt, and he gets hurt half the time, we have to knock off 25%. I round that down to 400 PA for NJ out of general pessimism. AH is still a bit unproven, so I figure he'll probably be sharing his time at 2nd with veterans like Belliard or Harris or maybe even with Gonzalez; call it 400 PA. Catcher is a punishing position, so I give Flores a few extra innings off: he plays 500 PA.
The OF is a little trickier. Most agree on Dukes in CF (including 60% of the votes in the FB poll), though a substantial minority holds out for Milledge. Same holds true in RF: most agree Dukes should be there if he's not in CF; however, if Dukes is CF, should Lasto be in RF or should Kearns? There seems to be agreement on Hammer in LF, though some had Lasto there (and Willie Harris, of course, popped up in every OF spot). Also, Willl pointed out that Hammer is a likely candidate to fill in for NJ at 1B "when" he gets hurt (which we're assuming by giving him 400 PA). Here's how I propose to deal with it: Dukes get 2/3 of CF. AK gets 2/3 of RF. Lasto gets 1/3 of both CF and RF. Hammer gets 2/3 of LF, with Harris taking the rest and Hammer backing up 1B.
Taken together, our "backups" add up to a big chunk of playing time, so I'd like to get them right. Going in order, "Walk-off" Wil Nieves is the obvious choice at catcher (for some reason I got fixed on Luke "The Montzter" Montz in that spot), so we give him the other 195 PA behind the dish. At first, I figured Meathook would probably start a few games at first, maybe splitting time with Belliard, while Hammer fills in "when" NJ gets hurt. Let's call it 100 PA for Willingham and Belliard, and 95 for DY. On second, Belliard and Harris are probably good for 100 PA each, and we'll give the other 95 to Gonzalez. Gonzalez backs up Guz at short for 105 PA. For grins, we'll split Zim's days off between Gonzalez and Harris: 55 PA for AG, 50 for TAWH.
We've already filled the OF, so let's move on to pinch hitters. The WAR analysis assumes PHers get 340 PA, independent of people who sub into a position. I figured to give Belliard, Harris, and DY most of the PH, although Belliard already has 200 PA backing up IF spots, and TAWH is up to 380! Let's say DY gets 150, Belliard 120, and TAWH 70.
Here's what that translates into in terms of PA at each position:
- 1B: Nick Johnson (400), Ronnie Belliard (100), Josh Willingham (100), Dmitri Young (95)
- 2B: Anderson Hernandez (400), Ronnie Belliard (100), Willie Harris (100), Alberto Gonzalez (95)
- 3B: Ryan Zimmerman (590), Alberto Gonzalez (55), Willie Harris (50)
- SS: Cristian Guzman (590), Alberto Gonzalez (105)
- C: Jesus Flores (500), Wil Nieves (195)
- LF: Josh Willingham (465), Willie Harris (230)
- CF: Elijah Dukes (465), Lastings Milledge (230)
- RF: Austin Kearns (465), Lastings Milledge (230)
- PH: Dmitri Young (150), Ronnie Belliard (120), Willie Harris (70)
This is your job. Who has too much time? Who has too little? Who should be up there who isn't? Who should not be up there who is? Who's in the wrong position? If you've had enough of lineups, start thinking about the rotation and the bullpen, which is next up for discussion.
If you want to see what this means for our chances so far, check out the WAR spreadsheet. Click on the "WAS" tab along the bottom to see our projection (and check out the other teams, too, if you're interested). The projected average wins are on the right, and the little box below it shows the odds of getting to a certain level of wins (right now we have a 98% chance of 61+ wins, so last year was likely the low point). I used the batting stats from Marcels, and the rotation and pitching stats I have up there are half-baked nonsense--but it's got us at 75 wins!