Opening Day Lineups. Also, OPENING DAY.

Good morning, Giants fans and exceptionally lost Saints Row players! This is Lies and Perfidy, new to the staff and very pleased to be here. A couple times a week I will be joining y’all for game recaps, series previews, or examination of whatever Giants-related nonsense happens to cross my mind. I hope that you all enjoy it as much as I am going to.

Today, I have the pretty sweet privilege of writing my first post for Opening Day. Besides filling me with unquenchable glee, Opening Day always makes me think of lineups past; in the Giants’ case, lineups past and how little resemblance they usually bear to the lineups that dominate the season. I started wondering how the Giants’ lineup continuity compared to their division rivals and if there was anything interesting to be gleaned from such a comparison. 

Of course, this isn’t exactly hard-hitting, in-depth analysis. A team is not defined by their Opening Day lineup, especially a pitching-heavy team like the Giants (who have had impressive rotation & bullpen continuity.) But there’s some powerful symbolism in being the Opening Day starter at your position; look at recent quotes from young players around the league, giddy about their first day on the diamond in front of the crowd for Game 1 of 162. I think it’s worth a look.

Note: as of publishing time, the Giants, Rockies & Diamondbacks have yet to submit final rosters for tonight’s games, and this post is thus based on informed speculation and subject to edit. But even if a couple names are swapped, I suspect the conclusion will still hold, as seen below.

 


Giants
2012: Pagan, Cabrera, Sandoval, Posey, Huff, Belt, Crawford, Theriot, Lincecum
2011: Torres, Sanchez, Huff, Posey, Burrell, Tejada, Belt, Sandoval, Lincecum
2010: Rowand, Renteria, Sandoval, Huff, DeRosa, Molina, Bowker, Uribe, Lincecum
3 years: Sandoval, Lincecum, Huff (3)
2 years: Belt (1)
1 year: Torres, Sanchez, Rowand, Renteria, DeRosa, Molina, Bowker, Uribe, Tejada, Crawford, Theriot, Pagan, Cabrera (13)

-The Giants are the only team in the NL West to use the same opening day starter for the last 3 years.
-Freddy Sanchez has been the Giants’ theoretical starting 2B every Opening Day for the past three years. He has started once.
-Nate Schierholtz. Poor guy.

 

Dodgers
2012: Gordon, M. Ellis, Kemp, Ethier, Rivera, Loney, Uribe, A. Ellis, Kershaw
2011: Furcal, Gwynn, Ethier, Kemp, Loney, Uribe, Barajas, Carroll, Kershaw
2010: Furcal, Martin, Ethier, Ramirez, Kemp, Loney, Blake, DeWitt, Padilla
3 years: Kemp, Ethier, Loney (3)
2 years: Furcal, Uribe, Kershaw (3)
1 year: Gordon, M. Ellis, A. Ellis, River, Barajas, Martin, Blake, DeWitt, Padilla, Ramirez, Carroll (11)

-Hey, that’s neat. Blake, Dewitt. I wonder if I can find another lineup with that trick?
-It is worth remembering that at the start of the 2010 season, the Dodgers’ weakest-hitting starting outfielder was coming off a .297/.352/.490 season. That was a good-looking outfield. Pity about how it all shook out.
-James Loney is a weird choice for part of the core of your team, but then, Aubrey Huff.

 

Padres:
2012: Maybin, Denorfia, Headley, Guzman, Hundley, Alonso, O. Hudson, Bartlett, Volquez
2011: Venable, Bartlett, O. Hudson, Hawpe, Ludwick, Headley, Maybin, Hundley, Stauffer
2010: Gwynn, Eckstein, Gonzalez, Blanks, Headley, Venable, Hundley, E. Cabrera, Garland
3 years: Headley, Hundley (2)
2 years: O. Hudson, Maybin, Venable (3)
1 year: Gonzalez, Eckstein, Gwynn, E. Cabrera, Ludwick, Hawpe, Alonso, Bartlett, Guzman, Stauffer, Garland, Denorfia, Volquez (13)

-It’s weird to think that Mat Latos never started Opening Day for the Padres.
-Chase Headley, Nick Hundley: Faces of the Franchise.
-Does everyone else have trouble finding interesting things to say about the Padres? It’s not just me, right?
-Here we go. The Padres are the only team in the NL West not to have the same “ace” (OD starter) at least two of the past three years. Makes sense.

 

Diamondbacks
2012: Bloomquist, Hill, Upton, Montero, Young, Kubel, Goldschmidt, Roberts, Kennedy
2011: Bloomquist, Johnson, Upton, Young, Miranda, Mora, Montero, Parra, Kennedy
2010: C. Jackson, Drew, Upton, LaRoche, Reynolds, Montero, Young, Johnson, Haren
3 years: Upton, Young, Montero (3)
2 years: Kennedy, Bloomquist, Johnson (3)
1 year: Haren, C. Jackson, Drew, Kubel, Goldschmidt, Roberts, Miranda, Mora, Parra, LaRoche, Reynolds (11)

-Chris Young, Justin Upton, Miguel Montero. Yeah. I’d build around that.
-I’d like to remind everyone that Willie Bloomquist, who has a career triple-slash of .264/.317./337, was pursued hotly by the Giants and turned them down to re-sign with Arizona. There was a bidding war. Now he’s leading off on Opening Day. Willie Bloomquist!
-I’m sorry, I’m not done talking about Willie Bloomquist. He hit almost exactly his career average  in 2011 (.266/.317/.340). BR and Fangraphs both hated his fielding. He was offered two years by the Giants. Willie Bloomquist!!!!!!!11

 

Rockies:
2012: Scutaro, Fowler, Gonzalez, Tulowitzki, Helton, Cuddyer, Hernandez, Nelson, Guthrie
2011: Fowler, Smith, Gonzalez, Tulowitzki, Helton, Wigginton, Lopez, Iannetta, Jimenez
2010: Gonzalez, Smith, Helton, Tulowitzki, Hawpe, Iannetta, Stewart, Barmes, Jimenez
3 years: Gonzalez, Tulowitzki, Helton (3)
2 years: Fowler, Smith, Jimenez, Iannetta (4)
1 year: Scutaro, Guthrie, Cuddyer, Hernandez, Nelson, Wigginton, Lopez, Stewart, Hawpe, Barmes (10)

-So close! Who wants to tweet Ian Stewart and ask him for his twin sister Iannetta’s number?
-The Core Three pattern is obvious now, and I gotta say, it’s a tough call between Colorado and Arizona.
-Seeing Marco Scutaro as a leadoff hitter made me make a weird face, and then actually consider his high-OBP ways and realize it’s no weirder than Carlos Gonzalez, leadoff hitter.

 

Conclusion: it’s actually very similar across the board. Representing by Opening Day starts, almost all of the NL West has a core of 3 players surrounded by a widely rotating cast of support. The primary difference is in players who have been around for two years, or were around for 2010-11 and then jettisoned this year. The Rockies win the sweepstakes there, which fits with the vague image of them in my head. Likewise, the Padres are the exception, with only two players in the OD lineup for the past three years; unsurprisingly, the Padres are constantly developing and then trading talent, sort of like a palette-swapped Oakland.

Really, the interesting thing to be drawn from all this is just how similar all five teams have been over the last three years, when it comes to who they run out there to start the season. I had the preconceived idea that there would be bigger gaps (mostly based on my experience as a Giants fan), so it’s kinda heartening to see that the entire NL West is basically just a swirling mess of candy shell surrounding a chocolatey core of homegrown talent, high-priced stars, and Aubrey Huff.

That concludes this experiment in list-making. Thanks for reading, and now…let’s play some BASEBALL.

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