It's a well-known, time-honored tradition that baseball players celebrate their team's entrance to the playoffs by poisoning themselves (and their teammates) with large quantities of alcohol. The aftereffects of those champagne showers—besides stained, stinky clubhouse carpet—leave managers with no choice but to send out the B-team the following day. In recent years, this phenomenon has been christened the hangover lineup.

Now that the postseason dance card is full and all the regular-season-related bubbly has been spilled, it's time to ask the important questions—like who had the worst hangover lineup?

To answer, we took each team's submission and compared them to each other, as well as to the team's clinch-day lineup—as a way to "control" for the average lineup quality. Because many of the players involved had limited big-league playing time leading up to their day in the starting lineup, we've opted to use PECOTA's rest-of-season projections in place of real-world numbers. Yes, using seasonal projections after the season is odd, but the topic's seriousness demands the best estimate of each player's true-talent level.

One more note: the teams that were compelled to use their best all the way through the season's end (for positioning and/or qualifying purposes) were excluded from the exercise. Now, onto the results.


Clinched on: 10/1

Hangover lineup:

CF Brett Gardner
2B Rob Refsnyder
DH Alex Rodriguez
LF Chris Young
3B Chase Headley
C J.R. Murphy
RF Jose Pirela
1B Austin Romine
SS Brendan Ryan

Median TAv: .270

Minus clinch-day lineup: .000

The Yankees approach everything with professionalism, including hangover lineups. If you're wondering how this group is equal to the Yankees' clinch-day lineup, the main reason is the latter didn't include Brian McCann, Chase Headley, and Jacoby Ellsbury, meaning it itself was an approximation of the club's everyday nine. A few more reasons for the evenness: 1) PECOTA likes Pirela (.265) more than you'd expect, given his heretofore poor performance in the majors; and 2) since the measure of central tendency is the median, not the mean, the Yankees' other changes mostly canceled out each other (e.g., Headley for Didi Gregorius versus Romine for Greg Bird). Hangover status: Up and at 'em.


Clinched on: 9/29

Hangover lineup:

LF Carl Crawford
SS Jimmy Rollins
3B Corey Seager
RF Andre Ethier
2B Chase Utley
1B Yasmani Grandal
C Austin Barnes
CF Joc Pederson

Median TAv: .274

Minus clinch-day lineup: -.003

An old Yankee, Don Mattingly stayed true to his pinstripes by using his mostly standard set. There were a few exceptions, however: Barnes made his first start in three weeks; Seager slid over from his usual perch at short to catch some action at the hot corner; and Grandal made his second start of the season (and of the week) at first base. The Dodgers have so many talented, versatile players that it's hard to crack wise on this group—what are you going to do, joke about one of the league's former top double-play combinations because they got old? Hangover status: Slept past noon.


Clinched on: 9/30

Hangover lineup:

CF Thomas Pham
2B Greg Garcia
LF Randal Grichuk
1B Matt Adams
3B Mark Reynolds
RF Brandon Moss
C Tony Cruz
SS Pete Kozma

Median TAv: .265

Minus clinch-day lineup: -.004

This group would look a lot worse if we took fielding into account, given Mike Matheny used his Zduriencik defense—that is, he used three first-base types at once. You might be surprised that this lineup comes close to one that had Matt Carpenter, Jason Heyward, and Jhonny Peralta (note: Matt Holliday and Stephen Piscotty were absent from the clinch-day lineup), but there are valid reasons for the small gap. Namely, PECOTA likes Garcia (at the plate) more than it likes Kolten Wong, and the worst hitters in either lineup, Kozma and Cruz, were present in both. Hangover status: Couldn't find their keys.

Blue Jays

Clinched on: 9/30

Hangover lineup:

CF Dalton Pompey
LF Cliff Pennington
RF Ezequiel Carrera
DH Chris Colabello
1B Matt Hague
C Josh Thole
3B Munenori Kawasaki
2B Darwin Barney
SS Jonathan Diaz

Median TAv: .248

Minus clinch-day lineup: -.024

Now here is a hangover lineup. We're cheating by comparing this bunch to the better of the Jays' two clinch-day lineups—mostly because this lineup is a thing of beauty that deserves the recognition. The best part? It's a tie between Pennington—a no-hit utility infielder—in left; the entire starting infield, including Thole (combined career MLB line: .242/.304/.317—or what would be the fifth-worst individual OPS in the majors, min. 500 plate appearances); and Pompey, whose second start in the majors since late April came as part of this unit. Oh well. Probably reminded him of Triple-A. Hangover status: Wore sunglasses all day.


Clinched on: 9/26

Hangover lineup:

CF Juan Lagares
SS Kelly Johnson
LF Michael Conforto
C Kevin Plawecki
RF Kirk Nieuwenhuis
3B Eric Campbell
2B Dilson Herrera
1B Anthony Recker

Median TAv: .260

Minus clinch-day lineup: -.028

So far as first timers go, Terry Collins topped John Gibbons. Conforto was the only regular involved, and he was moved up four spots to accommodate the rest of this beauty. Johnson received his first start at shortstop since, as best as we can tell, 2005 . . . when he was in Triple-A. Meanwhile Recker, the third catcher, got the nod at first base. Using the backup catcher and the backup catcher's backup is always a good play on throwaway days. Always. Hangover status: Mistook the hamper for the toilet.


Clinched on: 9/24

Hangover lineup:

CF Jarrod Dyson
2B Ben Zobrist
RF Alex Rios
LF Paulo Orlando
DH Jonny Gomes
3B Cheslor Cuthbert
SS Christian Colon
1B Drew Butera
C Francisco Pena

Median TAv: .243

Minus clinch-day lineup: -.030

But despite the best efforts of other managers, the undisputed king of hangover lineups is Ned Yost. Shoot, you know the Royals partied hard when Salvador Perez isn't in the lineup. Like Collins, Yost used two of his no-hit reserve catchers, including Butera—he of the career .188 True Average—at first base. Zobrist and Rios were the only regulars on display, although even that can be explained: Omar Infante was out with a strained oblique, and even an inebriated Yost isn't willing to put Terrance Gore in the starting lineup. Poor Gore. Hangover status: Mistook the toilet for the hamper.

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Lost: Dodgers 0-5 to Giants; Blue Jays 4-6 to Os; Royals 0-6 to Indians.

The Mets WON 8-1 over the Reds

The Yankees post-clinch game was postponed, the “hangover” line-up played on 10/3 as part of a double-header, lost to Os, and probably should not count.
In terms of regulars in the line-up, both the Blue Jays and Mets were more groggy than the Royals. Barney was the only one close to being a regular in the Blue Jays line-up given that he started the clinching game. However, Tulo was well enough to play the next day and did with Goins returning to second..
By the way, this was fun for a change.

The Baseball Prospectus brand to me stood for both leading edge insights and being the most fun. Both of those are now just memories - especially the fun factor. All your insights and fun might now in the podcasts, but I would need to retrain my life to listen to those.

You seem to be drowning in attempts to address the Fantasy baseball interest. I play Scoresheet baseball. Heck, I was Scoresheetwiz. I wish I could be helpful in explaining why your fantasy coverage is all so boring (to me, at least.) Perhaps, the fun of fantasy is interpreting real life and applying it to your fantasy game. You all are just stating the obvious - I so rarely see anything insightful, I've stopped reading it. Perhaps, it is too difficult to please all fantasy baseball fans as everyone has a different level of expertise at it. You seem to be going after the lowest levels. BP used to aspire to the highest levels.
Agree 100%. Get rid of the Fantasy obsession.

Also could stand to replace the snarky humor with something more witty.
Every Good Team will slump sometime during the season. I still feel BP is a good team, but I do agree; BP is the Nationals of MLB for 2015. A really disappointing season in reviewing just what we received as subscribers. Key BP people left and unfortunately they were not replaced with similar skills. Agree with the commentary, get back to the game itself, and ditch the fantasy BS. But we do know where we can find Fan duel....