A thought occurred to me as I was looking at the online box score for the Tigers-Angels game in progress tonight. The benches of the two teams looked pretty solid. I had just finished watching the Royals beat Cleveland (great game by Greinke!), and I wondered if the Royals’ starting lineup was as good as the benches of the two division-leading teams playing each other tonight. The Royals lineup was a fairly normal one, but the Angels bench did include a couple starters getting a breather–Kendry Morales and Mike Napoli.
In order to compare the two lineups I’m going to use each player’s 2009 wins above replacement as listed on Fangraphs. This is a fun exercise, so I’m not going to worry about things like playing time differences or true talent versus 2009 performance. Which lineup comes out on top?
Pos. Player WAR C Gerald Laird 0.7 1B Kendry Morales 3.0 2B Maicer Izturis 2.2 SS Adam Everett 0.1 3B Ryan Raburn 0.4 LF Marcus Thames 0.0 CF Gary Matthews -1.9 RF Clete Thomas 1.6 DH Mike Napoli 3.1 Pos. Player WAR C Miguel Olivo 1.3 1B Billy Butler 1.6 2B Alberto Callaspo 0.9 SS Yuniesky Betancourt -1.9 3B Mark Teahen 1.0 LF David DeJesus 2.7 CF Josh Anderson -0.1 RF Mitch Maier 0.2 DH Mike Jacobs -0.1
The Tigers-Angels bench lineup totals 9.2 wins above replacement in 2009. I put Ryan Raburn at third base and Maicer Izturis manning second. Both have played each position in their career, but Izturis has played more at second base this year, so I put him there and Raburn at third. This is actually a pretty decent lineup, except for Gary Matthews, Jr.
The Royals starting lineup totals 5.6 wins above replacement. Yuniesky Betancourt’s a black hole at shortstop, continuing a fine Royals tradition at that position, and the only real bright spot is David DeJesus, a solid defender whose bat has revived after a poor April.
Wow. It wasn’t even close. I didn’t expect the Royals’ lineup to win out when this first popped into my head, but I thought it might at least be a battle. No such luck.