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Must Read of the Day: How Joe Maddon Constructs the Lineup

Chicago Cubs News

162 times a year (plus some playoff games, if we’re lucky), we here at Bleacher Nation jump to analyze the Chicago Cubs lineup as soon as it comes out.


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And about 160 times a year, someone, somewhere complains about the particular order or defensive alignment of the players. It’s okay, though.

No, really. I genuinely understand the frustration, even if I often disagree with it. Fans are emotional beings with ties to certain players and thoughts about where and when those players should hit. What fans don’t have, though, is an intimate knowledge of player health, detailed scouting reports on the competition both today and in the future, or an advanced analytics team that can rival any in baseball, and inform decisions on where each player should or shouldn’t hit.

But Joe Maddon does.

The Cubs manager has all of that information at the tip of his fingers – plus, of course, a lifetime of baseball experience – and he invited ESPN to watch how he uses it to concoct a Cubs lineup everyday. And I’m telling you that it’s your must-read of the day.


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(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

I’m going to leave the majority of the details alone, so you can go give a great piece the full-treatment, but there is one thing I wanted to share, that I found absolutely fascinating. The Cubs “geeks” have apparently created their own statistic that measures the projected success for each batter against that day’s opposing starter. Joe Maddon calls it his lineup “cocktail,” as it’s a mixture of different advanced statistics, splits, and analytics all blended together.

The cocktail has been scaled to something that looks like batting average, wherein a .300 score/rating means something good and .200 means something bad. Obviously, Maddon takes much more into consideration than just this, but this is a perfect example of the front office “geeks” turning their advanced analytics into something easily and quickly digestible and user-friendly.

At the end of the day, Maddon suggests that the resources provided to him by the Cubs takes what used to be 4-5 hour, painstaking job and makes it both easier more effective. It also, apparently, gives him some time to add a funny picture or article to the lineup email that gets sent around as soon as he’s done. Yeah.


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So like I said, if you have any interest on what went into the Cubs’ lineup on any particular day, you’re going to want to give this article a read. It’s a fascinating peek behind the curtains of something we may ultimately take for granted.


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Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.