The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Was Intentionally Walking Sean Rodriguez to Pitch to Carlos Pena in the First Inning Defensible?

After sleeping off my annoyance about how the season opener went, I thought I’d look at the statistical implications of Joe Girardi’s tactical decision to walk Sean Rodriguez to get to Carlos Pena with runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the first inning yesterday.

The first thing I’ll say is that previous batter/pitcher matchup statistics are generally not predictive, as shown in The Book.  So to me, the most relevant statistics are these CAIRO wOBA projections.

Rodriguez: .305 overall wOBA, .322 vs. LHP and .295 vs. RHP
Pena: .340 overall wOBA, .308 vs. LHP and .353 vs. RHP

The next thing I’d look at is run expectancy.

Using the run expectancy numbers from 1993-2010 we see that a team with two outs and runners on 2nd/3rd is expected to score 0.280 runs.  With two outs and the bases loaded, they’re expected to score 0.334 runs.

So is it better to face a .322 wOBA hitter (Rodriguez vs. a lefty) with a run expectancy of .280 or a .308 wOBA hitter (Pena vs. LHP) with a run expectancy of 0.334?

Actually, forget wOBA.  Let’s use linear weights instead.

Here are the linear weights values for the primary offensive events with runners on second/third and the bases loaded.

MOB 1b 2b 3b hr bb k out
-xx 1.17 1.46 1.62 2.07 0.23 0 0
xxx 1.38 2 2.4 2.86 1 0 0

I don’t know why the RE for the HR isn’t equal to base runners plus batter, although I’m guessing Jorge Posada’s base ruining is involved in some way.

And here are the percentages of times Rodriguez and Pena would project to do each of those things vs. LHP.

split vs. lhp 1b 2b 3b hr bb out
Rodriguez .129 .059 .005 .016 .116 .646
Pena .102 .030 .003 .039 .117 .689

Multiplying those percentages times the run expectancy for that situation gives us this.

split vs. lhp 1b x RE 2b x RE 3b x RE hr x RE bb x RE out x RE RE
Rodriguez .151 .086 .009 .033 .027 0 .305
Pena .141 .060 .008 .110 .117 0 .436

Add it all up and you see that the RE for pitching to Rodriguez with runners on second and third is lower than the RE for pitching to Pena with the bases loaded.

These REs for the values of a single, double and triple don’t factor in the outs, which means that we should probably expect a higher percentage of runners to score from second and third with two outs since they’ll be running on contact.  That probably closes the gap some.  But this shows me that it was likely not the right move to walk Rodriguez to get to Pena.

--Posted at 9:25 am by SG / 61 Comments | - (0)


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So who gets fired? DFA’d?

[1] I’m going to go with Stewart. Sure he wasn’t involved directly. But I’m pretty sure he’s responsible.

So, the rational justification is he based the decision on the batter more likely to commit an out, rather than result in a run(s). I can buy that line of thought.

[1] Your input is not productive and is detrimental to the quality and readability of RLYW. Please use the edit function to add value.  Otherwise, I’m not going to continue to pay to read this site.  You’ve been warned.

Here’s the question: worse decision, loading the bases in the 1st or the 9th?

I am seriously pissed that Girardi didn’t do this analysis in his head in the 90 seconds he had to make a decision.

So after all my complaining as to when Opening Day finally was - I didn’t realize the game was at 3 PM (odd time - especially given the holiday for 2 religions yesterday) - and so I missed the whole game.  For this I am glad.  Otherwise I might have started an “Occupy Binder” movement…

[5] The 9th there was no choice. It was obvious Mo was off, and wasn’t going to get a K. He created the situation where a GB would prevent runs.

I still say the single on the 3B side is a ball any non-decrepit SS gets to. That was the out that got away.

I thought Pinella made a good point when he mentioned that Sabathia hadn’t yet pitched to a left handed batter before Pena came to the plate with the bases loaded.

I could see making the decision to walk the bases loaded later in the game but not in the first inning.  Just more terrible in game managing by the worst manager in the game.

Worst opening day evah!  Can there be any doubt that the Yankees are on the verge of collapse?  The theoretical possibility of 0-162 remains ... possible.

[10] Relax. So long as our hopes for success hinge on CC and Mo…uh…hmmm.

Well anyway, tonite we’re sending out our shiny new offseason acquisition, The Undefeated Hiroki Kuroda (bet you can’t spell that without checking). So it’s looking good.

So, the rational justification is he based the decision on the batter more likely to commit an out, rather than result in a run(s). I can buy that line of thought.

Yeah, although his citing of Pena’s career #s vs. Sabathia as justification bothers me. 

Here’s the question: worse decision, loading the bases in the 1st or the 9th?

I was less upset about walking the bases loaded in the ninth.  At that point, the winning run was already on third and the extra runners were meaningless. You set up the force at home, and after the K you could have gotten out of the inning with a double play.

I’m not happy that Mo now has 2 walks on his ledger after having 8 all of last year though.

I’d say CC is unlikely to give three homers per 9 (and walk 4.5) this year, and it’s also pretty unlikely that Mo is going to have a .750 batting average against (and .833 OBP). Considering those are inarguably the two most consistent pitchers on the team, I’m way more happy about seeing fresh ARod, Jeter not hitting like an old man, Soriano not fucking up, and Robertson still having his Houdinism than I am concerned about two future Hall of Famers getting over bad performances (CC’s wasn’t even that bad, really) on opening day.

[6]  Sure, of course he didn’t.  Even if he wanted to he’d need a computer which isn’t allowed in the dugout.  But even if he had the difference is so marginal…good grief.  It’s not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, unless the Yankees miss the second WC to the Rays by one game…but boy was that overmanaging.

[12]  Don’t worry, in August, when he has only 4 for the year, it will be endless fodder for Kay.  “And two of those were intentional!”

Finally, and I know this is pot/kettle…can we all not complain about the complaining about complaining?  Just a modest Easter request. 

Although, what if the Angel of Death only passed over the houses of complainers?  Mel Hall, please provide exegesis.  And I hope your Pesach was merry.

[14] Should I have added a snark or sarcasm tag? I thought it was pretty obvious.

I think the default line of thinking with regard to putting on runners on base is that putting runners on base is bad. Often there are times when other factors outweigh that, but a manager’s default action should be to not walk Rodriguez in that situation, as there wasn’t a compelling enough reason to do what is basically a very counterintuitive thing. Same thing applies to bunting, which we should probably give Joe credit for not being quite as annoying as the last Joe with.

Lost in all of this is that Iguanez drove in 4 runs, and that’s frankly more than I was expecting from him all month.

[15] RLYW is no longer a blog that interprets snark.  If your arguments are not intelligent, they will be discounted.  Otherwise, carry on.  I am paying a lot to participate in this conversation, so please make it worth my while.

[6, 14] Can’t Cashman have an intern run all the strategies every AB and phone them in to Girardi?

[16] In a late game situation I understand the reasons for walking a batter for a matchup advantage. But in the first inning? That, to me, reeks of over managing.

[17] Overall, the game was more frustrating than disappointing (Mo aside) the offense looked OK and CC was solid outside of the first inning.

Actually, people printed hand-calculated log tables by the bushel back in the day.  The FO could just run the numbers for all situations before each series and print them out with an index.

[21]  That’s sort of what the binder is, I assume, but it would be sort of rough to on the fly sift through all the different analyses on paper, don;t you think?—lots of flipping.  The intern on the phone would be faster but no doubt MLB would kibosh it.  It’s more a question of which numbers are Girardi’s preferred method of evaluation.

Why AREN’T computers allowed in the dugout?  Seems awfully silly though no doubt most managers would eschew them—“the game isn’t won or lost in a computer!”

And j, I know you were being sarcastic, I was just springboarding off your snark.  If that even makes sense.

[23] You mean, “trampolining off”.

kronicfatigue, if you read this…good work sticking up for George Foreman. I agree.

SG’s analysis seems sound; however, the difference between pitching to Rodriguez and pitching to Pena isn’t that great in absolute terms.  It’s only .13 runs according to the table above.  So Girardi would have to make the same mistake about 8 times in order to cost his team even a full run.  Coupled with the fact that there’s really no way Girardi could have calculated the odds in real time, I’m not sure this stands as much of an indictment of Joe’s in-game management.

There’s also the psychological aspect.  CC seems like a pretty steady sort, but I don’t think it does a lot for a guy’s confidence—in the first inning of the first game—to in effect be told that “this guy’s too tough for you.”

[24] BOOM !

Or, maybe it should be “Oh, SNAP !” in keeping with the situation.

Pin and rilke, both on fire today.

[29] I feel kinda guilty that [28] doesn’t have some sort of foreigner language element to it to raise the intellectual contribution value. I don’t want Shaked to get any more riled up at me. If riled is the word I’m looking for.

[30] I believe the term you’re looking for is “whining like a little bitch”

[31] You mean “pleure comme une petite salaude.”

[32] Does speaking French count as adding value?  It’s tough to tell.  I wouldn’t want to offend the people that come here for quality.  We should tread lightly from here on out.  Wouldn’t want our complaints to masquerade as comments.

Page 2 is the masquerade page.

The SNY color guy sounds like DeNiro.

[35] Well. At least it wasn’t Take My Breath Away, I guess.

Cleveland and Toronto hate 9-inning games.

I think beyond the statistical reasons, it just didn’t seem to make sense to do it from a psychological reason, either. It’s the first inning of the first game of the season. If ever you’re going to have a pitcher not be at his sharpest, it is going to be the first inning of the first game of the season. So to put him into a position where he had no room for error just seemed foolish to me, especially since he had already walked a batter on pitches where it looked like he tried to hit Point A and missed.

So we have a pitcher who looks like he’s slightly missing the zone, a pitcher who is in his first inning of the entire season, and you’re going to put him into a situation where he can’t afford to miss the zone? All to avoid pitching to a shittier right-handed hitter with two outs? That just doesn’t make any sense to me, and sure enough, CC missed the zone on a couple of his early pitches, forcing him into a situation where he had to throw a strike and had to know that he couldn’t trust himself to hit the edge of the zone, so he would have to move the pitch further to the middle and, well, you saw what happens when a power hitter faces a pitcher who has to throw him a strike towards the middle of the plate.

WTF? Why is the Sox-Tigers game blacked out for me?  I’m in LA!


Early season jitters is also why I would have accepted pretty much anything from Robertson and Mo yesterday. If they fucked up, eh, it is their first game in action.

And both of them did, indeed, look shaky, although Robertson then ate the souls of the next three batters.

So I’m not worried about those guys. I wasn’t even worried about CC. I was just worried about each of them pitching their first innings of the season, and as we saw, all of them struggled in their first innings of the season.

I expect much better going forward from all of them.

[41] So to sum up, you’re not mad, you’re just disappointed?

Aw, gee, dad. That’s even worse.

TOR TV voices just announced “the dangerous Shelley Duncan.”

Hide your forearms.

Granderson down to 6, Swisher up to 2, Jeter DH’ing, Nunez at SS batting 9.


Also, since when did every spot in the line up become a ‘hole’ (WOE jokes aside)? The ‘hole’ was the guy who was behind the guy on the deck (‘in the hole’.) It used to be words like ‘leadoff’, ‘cleanup.’ David Cone went on and on about Jeff Keppinger batting in the ‘4 hole’.

Also, please tell me Lou Piniella is some sort of guest announcer and not employed in any full time capacity. Lou in the broadcast booth is way too close to the players for my liking.

Piniella is like Rex Hudler, only he really needs to smoke a big fatty.

I could watch people hit home runs off Josh Beckett all day long and not get tired.

And there goes another.  That was even more enjoyable than the first one.

Shameless plug alert: I started an arts, culture, and poetry blog and my last post was a one act baseball play that some of ya’ll may enjoy. The French formatting is off because of wordpress, by the way, for theatre fans, but there was nothing I could really do:

Oh and, Beckett getting deep fried today by the Tigers, ramble, ramble.

I started an arts, culture, and poetry blog

That earns you the right to make like, 60 “pull my finger” level posts before Shaked drops the hammer on you.

Use them wisely.

[47, 48] Stupid Selig mlb blackout, and I get stuck with KC-LAAaaaaaaoA.

You just missed Cabrera hit another homer.  I think Becky is about to go take a shower.

[52] In beer and chicken fat?

And then Fielder with his second of the day.  This is fun.

They are beating Beckett like a drum.  What a great day.

Chickenless Beckett is terrible.

Well, if I can’t watch the game, at least I can sneak over to SoSH and enjoy the bloodletting being unleashed on BobbyV.

[49] Ripped from the headlines?

I actually feel worn out after a mere 15 minutes of SoSH.

That’s some top notch complaining over there.

Over the last 3 years Rodriguez has .100 higher BA, .070 higher OBP, and .060 higher SLG% against lefties. It was the right move.

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