The question of how many starting players on a baseball team is an interesting one. Most of us who watch professional baseball are aware that it is rare to see more than one starting pitcher and no fewer than three starting hitters on any given roster. Beyond those two positions, however, there are no fewer than four starting players on any given roster. As a result, the question of how many starting players on a baseball team is a delicate one. Fortunately, I have some answers.
In my opinion, the starting five is the one position on a team that is the most fragile in terms of its composition. Unlike the relievers or other lower-tiered position players, starters pitch at least seven innings every start. Furthermore, unlike some other positions, such as second basemen or short batters, starters rarely position themselves as fielders throughout an entire game. With that being said, starting pitchers face the most difficult decision making challenges because their success is often dependent upon getting the job done on the first pitch.
While some teams try to maximize their starting pitchers by utilizing a handful of starters and relievers in order to prevent runs from accumulating, other clubs prefer to ride the hot hand and rely upon a steady, experienced starter to deliver the goods on multiple occasions. With that being said, it is important for a team to choose its starting pitchers wisely. That is why I think it is smart to examine starting pitcher statistics as a way of figuring out the likelihood of a team's starting five members pitching the same number of consecutive starts during a particular season. This is not to say that a team cannot choose its starting five based upon different criteria, but I feel that using an offensive statistics service and projecting on a specific player's recent performance is a much smarter approach.
In addition to analyzing the starting pitchers' statistics, I also want to examine the batting orders in order to determine if a particular team relies too heavily upon one or two hitters. In today's game, advanced statistical analysis shows that teams are more likely to bat at the top of the lineup in order to generate runs. As a result, these hitters are utilized early in games and must be productive at producing runs with bat speed on which they depend. On the flip side, offensive prowess isn't everything. Many times a team will hit a poor-ball or weak-swing player and still win the game because it had more quality at-the-bat preparation than the opposition.
Baseball games are won or lost based upon managing the running games. It is very difficult to sustain offensive statistics if there are too many starting players on a team. If runners are playing defense instead of offense, then offensive numbers have little meaning. The importance of this concept has been stressed before, but few fans seem to understand it. If your team wants to know how many starting players on a baseball team, then it should be asking itself how many starting pitchers and catchers?
There is a need to evaluate every part of your club. A good manager knows how to manage the running game and maintain a high strikeout rate. He knows how to choose the right offensive players, while preventing injuries from affecting the pitching rotation. He knows how to adjust starting pitchers based on physical problems or performance problems that may arise during the season. All of these aspects should play a large role in determining the ultimate success of your baseball club.
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