Evaluating a Bill Hall/Mike Lamb Platoon

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Evaluating a Bill Hall/Mike Lamb Platoon

Balking Traditionalism

When I read “In The News” today about the potential idea of a Mike Lamb/Bill Hall platoon at 3B, I knew immediately that I would not be a fan. The fact of the matter is that Mike Lamb is just not the kind of hitter that you’d like making up the lefty side of the platoon.

One problem is Lamb’s hitting, but I’m more worried about the fact that Lamb is on a heavy decline at 3B. Looking at UZR, we see totals of 7.5, 0.2, -17.2 for the last three years, with no reason to think that it would climb above average. CHONE projects him as a -12 run fielder over the course of 150 games.

However, we do have to consider the fact that Billy has had some mighty struggles against RHPs lately. So, I decided to take a look at what kind of leverage we could gain by using Lamb and Hall in a strict Lefty/Righty platoon.

The first question I asked myself when I examined this was what kind of PA numbers to expect for each player in a strict LH/RH platoon.

I took a look at Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder’s splits for PAs, as they were the least likely to be pulled for a pinch hitter or benched because a certain-handed pitcher was pitching and these are the kinds of numbers the Brewers saw last year.

Braun: 478 vs. RH, 185 vs. LH
Fielder: 461 vs. RH, 233 vs. RH

Naturally, each of them sees relievers that match their handedness a little bit more, so this makes sense. For simplicity’s sake, let’s just take the average and scale it to 700 total PA. (Note: I used ratios, not absolute values for this. The difference is minimal.)

Total: 484 vs. RH, 216 vs. LH

The next thing to do is to project each player’s splits. I used a system similar to that of Marcel: Weigh each of the three previous seasons 5/4/3, and then add in two seasons of 650 PAs of the league average.

Here’s what I come up with. I have not looked at Lamb’s vs. LHP splits because I don’t want to cry.  The defensive projections are from CHONE. The replacment adjustment for the NL is 20 runs per 162 games.

BRAA = Batting Runs Above Average, FRAA = Fielding Runs Above Average, POSADJ = Positional Adjustment, REPADJ = Replacement Adjustment, WAR = Wins Above Replacment.

Player Vs. PwOBA PA BRAA FRAA POSADJ REPADJ WAR
Lamb RHP 0.329 484 0 -8.94 1.73 13.83 0.63
Hall LHP 0.369 216 7.51 -0.33 0.77 6.17 1.35
Platoon Both - 700 7.51 -9.27 2.5 20 1.98
Hall Both 0.325 700 -2.43 -1.08 2.5 20 1.81

So it turns out that if these projections hold, we stand to gain .17 wins by using this platoon. Using a market value of 4.84 M$/win, that’s worth 828K. So, if Lamb is signed for any more than this, I’m not a fan of the signing.

The main problem is that Lamb can’t play defense. That, compounded with the fact that Lamb’s numbers vs. RHP are actually below average for that of a left-handed hitter (they’re average overall, but below average just isolated for lefties), it’s clear that Lamb isn’t the man for the job. 

Either we need to sign a guy like Eric Hinske, whose splits vs. RHP are above average, or we need to sign a guy like Joe Crede, who doesn’t have stellar numbers against RHP but can field like crazy.

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