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Jeff Baker signing: Updated Marlins lineup optimization

The Miami Marlins signed Jeff Baker primarily to serve as a platoon partner for first baseman Garrett Jones. What does his addition do to the team's evolving lineup optimization?

How does the addition of Jeff Baker change the Marlins' lineups this season?
How does the addition of Jeff Baker change the Marlins' lineups this season?

The Miami Marlins signed Jeff Baker to a two-year contract yesterday, and the reasoning behind it almost certainly rests on the team platooning first baseman Garrett Jones with the lefty-mashing Baker. On the surface, the move makes a lot of sense, given that Baker owns a career .298/.353/.522 (.375 wOBA) line against lefties. But as we know from projections, a player's true-talent platoon split is very likely to be smaller than the split he has displayed over the course of his career. It takes 2000 plate appearances against left-handed pitching for a right-handed hitter's career platoon split to represent half of what you would expect him to hit against lefties.

In other words, what you see is not always what you get. And that's why we here at Fish Stripes are here to do the math.

Just like we did in the last few iterations from this offseason, let's take a look at what the Marlins might run out there for a lineup with Jeff Baker facing lefties in place of Jones.

A Reminder

Remember the basic rules of optimizing the lineup.

Keep in mind that we have optimized the lineup recently after the Saltalamacchia signing. Fish Stripes readers by now should be aware of how we optimize batting lineups. You can read the rules again in the linked article, but the gist is that we want our best hitters batting first, second, and fourth, with our best on-base guy batting first and our best power guy batting cleanup. The other two top hitters can hit third or fifth interchangeably, and the rest of the roster fills out the lineup in descending order of quality.

With that being said, here is the projected right-handed lineup.

Right-Handed Lineup
1 Christian Yelich .343
2 Jarrod Saltalamacchia .322
3 Garrett Jones .322
4 Giancarlo Stanton .393
5 Casey McGehee .309
6 Rafael Furcal .300
7 Marcell Ozuna .294
8 Pitcher ---
9 Adeiny Hechavarria .273

This lineup is very similar to the last iteration we posted. There are some differences based on the changes in projections by the projections systems posted by FanGraphs, but the premise remains the same.

Left-Handed Lineup
1 Jeff Baker .334
2 Casey McGehee .326
3 Marcell Ozuna .314.
4 Giancarlo Stanton .418
5 Christian Yelich .300
6 Rafael Furcal .300
7 Adeiny Hechavarria .290
8 Pitcher ---
9 Jarrod Saltalamacchia/Jeff Mathis .277

The difference here is in replacing Donovan Solano, who would have started at third base with McGehee moving to first in the previous lineup incarnation, with Baker. The offensive improvement is evident; Solano is expected to hit a .306 wOBA versus Baker's .334 mark. Indeed, Baker is expected to hit lefties at the second-best mark on the team, behind only Giancarlo Stanton. In that respect, it is a good move to switch from Solano to Baker. In 91 plate appearances (a number we established was the number of appearances a platoon would take away from an otherwise full-time player), the difference between those two numbers is a two-run total, which means Miami is really only adding a fifth of a win with this signing.

Of course, there is also a drop-off in defensive caliber in the lineup, and that should be considered. Solano is at least an average third baseman, while McGehee likely is not. He is at least an even first baseman with Baker, and may be better given that Baker has struggled at multiple defensive positions as of late. Is the drop-off greater than a fifth of a win? I would be hard-pressed to tell, but my gut says that this is unlikely to be a major change positively or negatively for Miami.

Nevertheless, the Marlins have made their signing, and Baker will serve as Garrett Jones's partner for the next two seasons at first base. What do you Fish Stripes readers think of the new lineup?