With the 2021 MLB season quickly approaching, I wanted to use the simulator that I built last year to take people's preferred White Sox lineups and see which would produce the most runs over the course of a season. If you're new to this project of mine, check out the first iteration that happened last year. If not, mosey on down to the results below!
The response was not as high as last year, but it still had great participation from friends and White Sox Twitter folks alike. Here are the results with the average run totals for each lineup. As a quick reminder, I run each lineup for 10 seasons, and take the average of their simulated run totals. This ensures that the exercise gets to the core of the lineup's ability and isn't ranked on a very high or very low simulation. I would run more seasons, but it would take quite a long time so I cut down the number of sims to 10 for time efficiency's sake. Additionally, the numbers used to feed the simulator come from the ZiPS projections via Fangraphs' website.
As you can see, the lineups don't produce a ton of runs. This is primarily due to losing Eloy Jimenez to injury and to having young, unproven players like Andrew Vaughn and Zack Collins present in the lineups. Many of the top performing lineups have the common theme of Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, and Abreu sitting 1, 2, 3 in the lineup and Eaton and Madrigal closing out the lineup in the 8th and 9th slots. It's generally thought that having high On Base Percentage (OBP) players earlier in the lineup, followed by sluggers is one of the best ways to construct a lineup. Additionally, not having your worst hitters in the 8th or 9th slot is advantageous as it can allow for a higher likelihood of turning the lineup over with men on base. If Vaughn and Collins were swapped out for higher producing players, it's likely that we would have seen higher run totals from the sim.
I thought it would be fun to hand out some awards for those who took the time to think about and submit their preferred lineups. Take a look to see if your lineup was recognized!
The King of The Castle Award: James
James has participated in each of the last two years simulation contest! This year, his lineup came out on top and he should enjoy the weight and prestige that comes with this award. Be sure to look out for him walking the concourse, with a Modelo in hand, hitting up the speed-pitch at Guaranteed Rate Stadium in the near future.
The Winning Lineup
The Golden Goose Award: Rosene (Z)
Last year it was Goose who had the worst performing lineup. This year the award stays within the JCP coaching family with Coach Rosene. You'd think that after a lifetime of devoting himself to the game of baseball that the man would know how to construct a lineup...I guess he really leans on those assistant coaches, huh?
The So Strange It Might Just Work Award: Tej
When I saw his lineup, I thought that I should tell him to stick to his NFL analysis, but he's quickly become my go-to Twitter analytics guy...so I couldn't do that! Regardless, his lineup was the most wonky and least likely one we'll see this year, but I guess you can never say never with Tony La Russa running the show. Tej may just have me re-thinking my own strategies for lineup construction.
The Disappointment Award: Ben and Jeff
This had to have been the most surprising result of the simulation: two OOTP gurus somehow managed to create lineups that had the same average runs output and were at the bottom of the rankings! My guess is that it mostly had to do with including Garcia or Engel. With that said, the lineups are without Eloy and they showed creativity, but I expected more out of you! SMH and glad I'm still a tier lower than y'all in TWBA or else I wouldn't be talking smack right now.
The Wizard of White Sox Twitter Award: @SamR33v3s
They go by White Sox Truther on Twitter and by golly does it seem like they are telling the truth with their lineup. Finishing tied for 2nd is no joke with the brains and brawn that competed in this year's simulation contest. Thanks for throwing in your two cents and I hope to see you submit a lineup next year!
To wrap things up, we did run a few lineups with Eloy Jimenez in them and the best performing lineup scored 799 runs. There is little doubt that losing Eloy hurts, but there is hope that the Sox see contributions from key youngins like Vaughn, Collins, and Madrigal. Additionally, all eyes will be on Anderson and Abreu holding form and seeing Moncada and Robert reach their full potential. My pick to click for the season will be the Adam Platoon (Eaton/Engel) in right field. If they can give us net positive production, we should be in good shape. As always, thanks again for participating and Go Sox!