RBI Production by Lineup Spot: NL West

A player’s spot in the lineup is crucial to the amount of RBI they accumulate. What’s even more important is the production of the player hitting in front of that player. Have I stated the obvious? Probably. But, it’s easier to write down analytical laws in an agreeable way than it is to actually take a look at the data. In this post, I’m going to investigate the RBI production of players who had at least 100 plate appearances on teams in the NL West according to their most common lineup spot. Let’s see if hitting in the three spot is more productive from an RBI standpoint than the one spot, as they say it is.

The first step was to go to each team’s Roster Resource Lineup Tracker page and download the excel workbook. Next, I wrote some code in Python that would skip across each column and output the mode, or most common, batting order position for each player. Next, I merged in the player’s 2021 stats and put it all together in a table. A quick thing to note; the production listed in these tables is not isolated to one specific lineup spot, it is that player’s full 2021 stats. So, when you see Manny Machado with 106 RBI but a batting position of three, that does not mean that all 106 RBI came from hitting in the three spot. The batting position just tells us where that player batted the most in 2021. Lastly, I’ve included PAs so you can see the reason for RBI fluctuation among these hitters.

San Diego Padres

2021 Padres Production by Lineup Spot
Name PA RBI xwOBA Most Frequent Lineup Spot
Manny Machado 640 106 0.380 3
Fernando Tatis Jr. 546 97 0.406 2
Jake Cronenworth 643 71 0.344 3
Eric Hosmer 565 65 0.325 5
Trent Grisham 527 62 0.310 1
Tommy Pham 561 49 0.354 1
Adam Frazier 211 11 NaN 2
*Players with at least 100 PAs.

Results

Adam Frazier’s production above is only reflected by what he did post-trade. Otherwise, we see that the players with the most RBI hit from the three, two, and five spots most often. It was good to be Manny Machado. He had the second-most plate appearances with men on base (285), behind Jake Cronenworth (296) who lead the team in that category. Eric Hosmer followed with 258.

Fantasy Perspective

A new manager in southern California could swap players around, but it’s a good bet that Machado will continue to get ABs in productive lineup spots. Whoever is batting behind Tatis is sure to get a little boost in RBI production, but the Padres need Grisham to get on base more often if he is going to hold down the leadoff spot.

Colorado Rockies

2021 Rockies Production by Lineup Spot
Name PA RBI xwOBA Most Frequent Lineup Spot
C.J. Cron 547 92 0.362 5
Ryan McMahon 596 86 0.324 5
Charlie Blackmon 582 78 0.357 3
Trevor Story 595 75 0.333 3
Brendan Rodgers 415 51 0.309 2
Raimel Tapia 533 50 0.279 1
Connor Joe 211 35 0.371 1
Garrett Hampson 494 33 0.290 1
Yonathan Daza 331 30 0.292 2
*Players with at least 100 PAs.

Results

We see the same results; players hitting more frequently in the three spot top the list. However, in this case, C.J. Cron tops the list, hitting from the five spot most frequently. With Tapia and Hampson leading off, McMahon (282 PAs), Blackmon (281), and Story (274) still had the most opportunities with men on base. But the production out of those three helped Cron, who came in fourth on the team with 251 plate appearances with men on base.

Fantasy Perspective

While Steamer has McMahon projected for 10 less RBI (proj. 76) in 2022, it is more in line with 2021 for Blackmon (74) and actually gives Story (88) more, but that could be due to the unknown of where he’ll play. If you’re a fantasy manager who streams Colorado hitters, pay close attention to where they are linning up in the order to be sure to get more production.

Arizona Diamondbacks

2021 Diamondbacks Production by Lineup Spot
Name PA RBI xwOBA Most Frequent Lineup Spot
Eduardo Escobar 400 65 NaN 3
David Peralta 538 63 0.293 4
Ketel Marte 374 50 0.371 2
Pavin Smith 545 49 0.316 1
Carson Kelly 359 46 0.343 4
Christian Walker 445 46 0.311 4
Josh Rojas 550 44 0.298 1
Josh VanMeter 310 36 0.275 2
Kole Calhoun 182 17 0.292 2
Tim Locastro 133 5 NaN 1
*Players with at least 100 PAs.

Results

Once again the hitters who lined up at three and four the most often were the most productive in the RBI department. Speed at the leadoff doesn’t translate to xwOBA at the leadoff and some of these managers might want to consider who get’s the leadoff spot. I think I may have just found my next article…

Fantasy Perspective

When you see that Salvador Perez hit 121 RBI in 2021, quick math will tell you that almost all Diamondback players recorded less than half of that. Perez did accumulate 665 PAs, so that’s an unfair comparison. But, David Peralta just barely makes the top 100 among hitters with at least 500 PAs at 98th. There’s not much to look at here. But, I think we can agree that had Ketel Marte and Carson Kelly been healthy this year, it would be a different outcome.

San Francisco Giants

2021 Giants Production by Lineup Spot
Name PA RBI xwOBA Most Frequent Lineup Spot
Brandon Crawford 549 90 0.356 5
Mike Yastrzemski 532 71 0.316 2
Brandon Belt 381 59 0.374 4
Buster Posey 454 56 0.361 3
LaMonte Wade Jr. 381 56 0.347 1
Wilmer Flores 436 53 0.312 5
Evan Longoria 291 46 0.352 5
Darin Ruf 러프 312 43 0.379 4
Alex Dickerson 312 38 0.335 4
Austin Slater 306 32 0.335 1
Tommy La Stella 242 27 0.339 1
Kris Bryant 212 22 NaN 5
Mike Tauchman 175 15 NaN 1
*Players with at least 100 PAs.

Results

A lot of crazy things happened in San Francisco in 2021. But, the RBI/Most Frequent Lineup Spot results seem to fit the narrative. You do see that the Giants really moved their players around in the order, playing more matchups and remaining unpredictable. They also had a lot of depth that would come in at different stages, leaving their opponents to game plan accordingly.

Fantasy Perspective

It’s going to be much harder to predict with any accuracy who will get the most three spot PAs in 2022. Expect Gabe Kapler to continue doing what he does and moving his players up and down the order. But, don’t count out the production that can come from veteran hitters who defy the aging curve.

Los Angeles Dodgers

2021 Dodgers Production by Lineup Spot
Name PA RBI xwOBA mode
Max Muncy 592 94 0.406 2
Justin Turner 612 87 0.359 3
Will Smith 501 76 0.363 5
Chris Taylor 582 73 0.329 6
Mookie Betts 550 58 0.356 1
Corey Seager 409 57 0.393 2
Albert Pujols 204 38 NaN 4
Cody Bellinger 350 36 0.281 4
Trea Turner 226 28 NaN 3
*Players with at least 100 PAs.

Results

Muncy, Turner and Smith; hitters are gonna hit. For most of the year it was Mookie Betts or Chris Taylor batting leadoff. But once Trea Turner came around, that changed. The utility man, Taylor, was a great producer in the bottom half. I would assume the biggest issue with batting from the three spot in LA would be the risk that the one and two hitters may have already scored.

Fantasy Perspective

Draft Dodgers.





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Joe Wilkeymember
5 months ago

Some of this is affected by the hitter though, yes? You could put someone like David Fletcher in the 3 spot in San Diego and he wouldn’t get 106 RBI, since he’s almost all singles. He would get more than if he were batting in the 9 spot, but it’s relative to a baseline production of the hitter.

I actually did a study using the last three years of data (2018-2020) regarding R and RBI based on lineup spot and you can predict a batters RBI total pretty accurately out of the three spot using just HR, K, and PA. For players with more than 100 PA in the three spot, I was able to use my model to predict RBI for this year with an RMSE of less than 6 RBI and an adjusted R^2 of 0.943. If you use 1.373*HR-0.131*K+0.106*PA, you can pretty accurately predict RBI for the year for batters in the 3 spot.

I mean, I suppose this is obvious, and there’s a certain amount of selection bias in who a manager puts in each lineup spot, but it still depends on the hitter as well, I would argue much more so than who is in front of him over the course of a season.