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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals pitchers hitting eighth vs. ninth not good for them

A cursory glance at how the St. Louis Cardinals pitchers batting eighth compares to when they bat ninth by season does not leave a positive impression.

Chris Carpenter's 2009 grand slam (AP Photo/Al Behrman)The lesser-noticed of this week’s lineup changes by St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is the return of the pitcher hitting eighth. Having been used extensively in multiple seasons now, it is more familiar than the revolutionary idea of moving Matt Holliday into the number two spot. Holliday had never batted second, even as a pinch hitter, in his first 915 career games – until now.

Prior to Wednesday’s game, La Russa noted a reason to bat the pitcher eighth is to increase the chances that Holliday will come up with runners on base – the ninth and first hitters.

The pitcher himself is surely not the only or even the primary reason for the lineup change, yet the data shows that batting eighth has a marked negative impact on the pitchers’ results. In three of the four years in which there were significant at-bats in both spots, the pitchers performed substantially better when hitting ninth (in bold below).

St. Louis Cardinals, pitcher batting eighth vs. ninth, average and OPS

PH8 PH9 PH8 PH9
BA BA OPS OPS
2010 0.143 0.150 0.348 0.400
2009 0.135 0.163 0.338 0.439
2007 0.216 0.185 0.495 0.449
1998 0.106 0.192 0.327 0.445

Here are the detailed stats during the La Russa era, with pitcher hitting eighth listed first. As always, thanks to researcher Tom Orf for the data.

PH8 G PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF ROE GDP BA OBP SLG OPS
2010 18 47 42 6 1 0 0 0 2 0 11 0 3 0 0 3 0.143 0.182 0.167 0.348
2009 55 137 126 17 3 0 1 5 2 0 47 1 8 0 1 1 0.135 0.155 0.183 0.338
2008 153 379 325 57 10 1 2 30 15 0 139 0 38 1 1 7 0.175 0.211 0.231 0.442
2007 55 116 97 21 0 0 1 7 4 0 52 0 15 0 0 0 0.216 0.248 0.247 0.495
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
2001
2000
1999 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000
1998 78 191 161 17 3 1 2 15 9 0 70 0 21 0 2 4 0.106 0.153 0.174 0.327
1997
1996
PH9 G PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF ROE GDP BA OBP SLG OPS
2010 47 111 100 15 3 0 1 6 4 0 32 1 6 0 0 0 0.150 0.190 0.210 0.400
2009 101 244 208 34 8 1 2 12 7 0 65 2 27 0 1 1 0.163 0.198 0.240 0.439
2008 2 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000
2007 97 201 173 32 6 0 1 13 5 0 57 1 22 0 2 3 0.185 0.212 0.237 0.449
2006 150 364 305 53 9 0 2 23 18 0 98 2 39 0 1 6 0.174 0.225 0.223 0.448
2005 152 393 344 56 12 1 2 22 17 0 94 0 30 2 8 4 0.163 0.201 0.221 0.422
2004 156 381 337 53 11 0 0 18 9 0 108 1 30 4 7 7 0.157 0.179 0.190 0.369
2003 152 382 319 65 11 2 2 27 15 0 108 3 44 1 9 4 0.204 0.246 0.270 0.515
2002 156 365 320 52 9 0 2 15 10 0 115 1 33 1 6 4 0.163 0.190 0.209 0.399
2001 156 370 326 44 12 0 2 22 13 0 135 0 31 0 3 1 0.135 0.168 0.190 0.358
2000 152 398 333 45 2 1 3 17 26 0 122 0 39 0 7 9 0.135 0.198 0.174 0.372
1999 155 360 323 47 10 1 0 15 7 0 124 0 30 0 6 5 0.146 0.164 0.183 0.346
1998 77 195 167 32 2 0 0 4 11 0 58 0 17 0 0 2 0.192 0.242 0.204 0.445
1997 155 359 321 64 12 1 0 23 15 0 106 1 22 0 0 2 0.199 0.237 0.243 0.480
1996 160 399 335 58 13 0 1 27 17 0 140 1 44 2 5 4 0.173 0.214 0.221 0.435

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