Sunday, 7 August 2011

The Problem with MLB Managers

Photo by Keith Allison licensed under Creative Commons
Why is it that 90% of MLB Managers feel that they need to bat rookies so low in the lineup. Do they feel like there is too much pressure, like the rookies won't be able to handle more "responsibility" or are they just plain old-fashioned.

So then what is it about rookies that just "makes" managers bat them in the 7th, 8th, or 9th spot, it doesn't make any sense. Just because he hasn't seen MLB pitching that doesn't mean that he isn't any good, many of the top prospects being called up can make immediate impacts as sometimes one of the better hitters on a team. Take Dustin Ackley for example, when Ackley was called up in his first game Eric Wedge batted him 7th. Just think about this scenario for a second, you are in a pennant race, you are half a game back out of first place in the AL West and you bat your best hitter 7th; say what. Yes, you've got it 7th, not 6th, not 5th, not 4th, and not 3rd, you bat your best hitter 7th. Thats not even the worst part, the player they batted 5th Chris Pegauro at that point in the season he had a .214 average and a horrid .713 OPS, nuff said.

Now looking to a more Jays relevant example Brett Lawrie. He's a player who has absolutely killed PCL pitching, the Jays hyped him up so much and then you go and bat him 9th, why? It makes absolutely no sense, he is probably the most hyped prospect in Blue Jays history and you stuff him in the bottom of the lineup where he doesn't belong. Ok the Jays do have a good lineup and it is his first game so maybe John Farrell can get a gimme for that one. How bout the second game, let's see where is Brett batting oh wait of course it is 9th. And this time its even worse he batted 9th when our backup catcher Jose Molina batted ahead of him. Sure you can point to his .300+ average, but that is in very limited plate appearances, there is absolutely no way that Brett is a worse hitter than Jose Molina, even in his second MLB game.

Ok fine you can point to the fact that you don't want to embarass the veteran (stupid unwritten rules), but even then how do you bat Brett Lawrie behind Eric frickin Thames. In the last 7 days Eric Thames has registered 1 hit in 21 at bats and that warrants batting him in the number two spot. So if that is all you have to achieve to bat in the number 2 spot then how is it that Brett and his .459 wOBA (in AAA) warrants the ninth spot. It makes absolutely no sense. If anything you should be batting Colby Rasmus second (not Eric Thames) and put Lawrie in the 6th spot right behind Lind and EE. There he is absolutely without a doubt more valuable player to the team. He is lucky that in his first couple games there has been runners on base for him, but if he continues to bat behind Aaron Hill, Jose Molina etc. that won't be the case.

The problem is this Brett Lawrie nonsense isn't even the end of it. Since the beggining of the season JP Arencibia has had to put through with hitting in the bottom half of the lineup. Where he has hit 18 homers tied for the league lead by catchers. But guess how many of those were solo bombs not 5, not 10, 13. Thats 72% of his home runs that were hit when no one was on base. Do you know why no one was on base because the two guys who have most often hit in front of him are Juan Rivera and Aaron Hill. Two guys whose combined OBP's average out to .293 and whose combined home run totals is 11. Granted JP's OBP is actually worse than that .293 mark, but at least there would be runners on base when he hits his homers, it isn't like Aaron Hill is taking advantage of that spot in the lineup so why not change it up.

The consensus conclusion should be that for whatever reason despite being SABR savvy and whatever else it seems as if the managers of baseball still stick to their old ways when we are obviously moving to a new generation and if they don't move with us then soon enough they will get left behind. Maybe there is some underlying thing that no one outside of baseball knows about, but from the sidelines it seems pretty obvious that these decisions that are being made are bad ones. I don't care if someone is a veteran or not, if he is good he gets a high spot in the lineup if he isn't, well then bump him down . The only manager who I can honestly say that I look at on a regular basis and say "hey he's doing a good job" is Joe Maddon manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. He is consistently using statistics to help his team and he is always playing the percentages (and walking Damon to face Longoria is not playing the percentages John). So kudos to you Joe because you are one in a million and you definitely stand out from the rest, I hope that we as a baseball society can progress from the current mediocrity of MLB managing.

Any Opinions, Arguments, Criticisms? Let me know in the comments below.

Follow me on Twitter @HouseOfTheBB

1 comment:

  1. i agree 100% - sometimes a don't know what Farrell is doing. I thought he would be a smart numbers and statistics, logical kind of guy but he makes some baffling lineup moves and i haven't seen the kind of inspirational leadership in the pitching department that i had expected. I'm holding back judgement until mid next season but it would be nice to see a manager who at least seemed to understand sabermetric concepts. Quite frankly, i thought AA hired him because he was of the same makeup of Joe Maddon but i am becoming more and more skeptical.