Cubs manager Joe Maddon went the first 122 games of the 2015 season batting his pitcher eighth and overall had the pitcher bat ninth only 12 times the whole year. Maddon is known for this, as he has long been one of the most Sabermetrics-friendly managers in the game. Lineup analyses have often shown that it’s inefficient to bat the pitcher ninth.
Maddon is leaning towards a return to orthodoxy, batting the pitcher ninth, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. This means that Addison Russell, who hit ninth 116 times last season, is likely to hit seventh or eighth.
It makes sense. While there is a solid argument to be made that, in a black-and-white world, batting the pitcher eighth is more optimal than ninth, the actual effect of doing so is rather small, as Mitchell Litchman — co-author of The Book — elaborated on last year. If a manager sticks to the plan for an entire season, it maybe adds two or three extra runs. Considering that teams score somewhere between 500-800 runs per season these days, it’s just not that big of a difference.