Creative and new ideas and solutions often seem to come along as a result of limitations. Limitations are what forced Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta to architect ‘Moneyball’ in Oakland in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
After the rest of the league seemed to catch up with the A’s in the mid-2000’s, they came storming back with a vengeance last season, surprising everyone and winning the AL West crown. That division title sent a message to the rest of the league: Moneyball is back.
3,000 miles away in Queens, another team is dealing with a set of limitations, and they could learn something from the club in Oakland.
Last season Bob Melvin, the A’s manager, was able to maximize the talent on his roster by utilizing 3-4 platoons at a time.
One which worked particularly well was the platoon of lefty Brandon Moss and righty Chris Carter at first base. The two combined for 37 home runs, 91 runs batted in, and an OBP of over .355. That is arguably more production than either player would have individually.
By taking advantage of the relative strengths of the players on the roster, Melvin guided the A’s to 94 wins and gave the mighty Detroit Tigers a run for their money in the ALDS.
And then there’s the team from Queens.
That team has struggled, partially because their manager, Terry Collins, hasn’t done what Melvin did to maximize the talent on the roster.
Take Collin Cowgill. He was a guy who hit .318/.412/.432 against lefties in 2012, and only .233/.277/.233 against righties.
Collins gave him equal playing time against lefties and righties. If he had been used as the right-handed hitting half of a center field platoon with say, Jordany Valdespin, there could have been some decent production out of center field.
Then there’s first base. Perhaps it’s time to think about instituting a permanent platoon at first, since Ike Davis can’t figure out how to hit southpaws. It might be a good idea to go to Vegas to find his platoon partner, either in the form of Zach Lutz or Josh Satin. I’d be more inclined to go with Lutz because of his power, his ability to also play third base and corner outfield positions, and is a bit younger. Also his fragility would not be as big of a factor in a part-time role.
Obviously a few roster moves would need to be made first for this to happen, Lutz and Cowgill would have to come up, meaning two players, most likely Juan Legares (who Collins plans to platoon with newly acquired Rick Ankiel) and Justin Turner would have to go down.
Keeping in mind the optimized lineup from last week, adding the platoons in, here are the two regular lineups for the Mets:
|Lineup vs. LHP||Lineup vs. RHP|
|David Wright||Mike Baxter|
|Lucas Duda||Lucas Duda|
|Zach Lutz||John Buck|
|John Buck||David Wright|
|Daniel Murphy||Daniel Murphy|
|Marlon Byrd||Ike Davis|
|Collin Cowgill||Rick Ankiel|
|Ruben Tejada||Ruben Tejada|
Not exactly lineups that will strike fear into the mind of any pitcher, but it could serve to help the Mets win a few extra ballgames this year and lift the team from a laughing stock to one with at least a semi-respectable record for the roster they have to work with.
 Before you go and slam me for this lineup in the comments, this was a very difficult one to put together. If Tejada can get hot, I can see putting him leadoff, dropping Wright to 2nd, slide Duda behind Murhpy, and put Byrd in the 9 spot.