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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Conlin: Ryan Howard should sit in Game 6 for the good of the Phillies

For the Good of the Order….appoint a new ####### bill1chairman!

I NEVER THOUGHT I would write these words:

Ryan Howard should be accorded the same best-for-the-team logic that impelled Phillies manager Charlie Manuel to bench slumping leftfielder Raul Ibanez in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against nasty lefthander Madison Bumgarner.

...In eight postseason games, baseball’s most prolific cleanup hitter since he was the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year, has produced zero RBI. And he has been a liability on defense. The same slow-to-heal-completely left ankle sprain that caused him to miss 17 games and be ineffective for more than 2 weeks after his return to the lineup is probably as responsible for his poor footwork in the field as for his inability to drive properly off his back leg while hitting.

...So, yeah, Ryan Howard’s No. 1 booster - me - would play Sweeney at first tonight and move Game 5 hero Jayson Werth into the No. 4 hole behind Polanco. Howard can always come off the bench to potentially do damage when the Giants start the bullpen shuffle.

Repoz Posted: October 23, 2010 at 12:26 PM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fantasy baseball, giants, phillies, sabermetrics

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   1. zachtoma Posted: October 23, 2010 at 12:48 PM (#3673378)
Classic panic move. I like the Giants chances immensely if something like this happens.
   2. alkeiper Posted: October 23, 2010 at 01:23 PM (#3673399)
Victorino is hitting .150 in the series, Utley is hitting .158. Howard's OPS for the series is .871. I wonder if his lack of RBIs are a function of the guys hitting in front of him.
   3. michaelplank has knowledgeable eyes Posted: October 23, 2010 at 02:09 PM (#3673413)
Victorino is hitting .150 in the series, Utley is hitting .158. Howard's OPS for the series is .871. I wonder if his lack of RBIs are a function of the guys hitting in front of him.


The crazy thing is, TFA acknowledges this:


Ironically, Howard stroked a ground-rule double to left-center and a line single to center off Giants lefthanded-Phillies killer Jonathan Sanchez in Game 2. But nobody was on base for either hit.

...

In eight games against the Reds and Giants, Howard is 8-for-28 for a deceptively decent .286. But this is Ryan Howard we're talking about, a colossus who can and has carried this ballclub for weeks at a time. Three of his hits have been doubles opposite the shift.



... and concludes, I guess, that the guys in front of him would, I dunno, play better if Mike Sweeney replaced Howard.
   4. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: October 23, 2010 at 02:10 PM (#3673416)
I wonder if his lack of RBIs are a function of the guys hitting in front of him.

And that Howard hasn't hit a home run in over a month. :)
   5. ColonelTom Posted: October 23, 2010 at 02:13 PM (#3673418)
This might be the dumbest idea I've ever heard. And I've read a lot of Bill Conlin articles.
   6. rLr Is King Of The Romans And Above Grammar Posted: October 23, 2010 at 02:46 PM (#3673432)
Charlie Manuel seems like a rube, but he's not dumb. Bill Conlin, he's dumb.
   7. S.F. Giangst Posted: October 23, 2010 at 02:46 PM (#3673433)
when the Giants start the bullpen shuffle


Completely precluding a complete game or eight innings by Sanchez.
   8. Angel (Pagan) of Harlem Posted: October 23, 2010 at 03:13 PM (#3673448)
It's remarkable someone could write a "bench Howard against Sanchez" column without mentioning Howard's poor career numbers against lefties (.232/.314/.452), and Sanchez's good numbers versus lefties (.663 OPS against). If the Phillies had a lefty-mashing alternative to play first, there might be an argument to be made. But since they don't this column is useless.
   9. Roger Cedeno's Spleen Posted: October 23, 2010 at 04:03 PM (#3673474)
Hey, Lance Berkman is available now...
   10. Lassus Posted: October 23, 2010 at 04:42 PM (#3673486)
Hey, Lance Berkman is available now...

Allowing trades during the post-season could be the idea that Hiestand & McCarthy are looking for!

(Actually, the insanity of it would be kind of awesome.)
   11. The District Attorney Posted: October 23, 2010 at 05:15 PM (#3673501)
Someone suggested platooning Howard to Bill James a little while back, and Bill was about as receptive to the idea as he was to using the abbreviation "BABIP" ;-)
by platooning Howard, you're risking the self-confidence and trust of a guy who drives in 140 runs a year like clockwork. There's no way I'd risk it.
You've got Ryan Howard, job #1 is to make certain that you KEEP Ryan Howard, and keep him happy. You don't start giving his at bats to Steve Soucheck¹ [sic]. I would almost guarantee you that, if Charlie Manuel DID start taking away Ryan Howard's at bats to pursue a platoon advantage, it would lead to his being fired within a year and a half.
(in response to the question "If Ryan Howard is so unhappy that he walks after his contract expires, well, that's a risk a team must be willing to run, no?")

No.
It is really, really difficult for me to imagine a player who drives in 143 runs a year being so ineffective against lefties that you would want to sit him down.
platooning Ryan Howard would be risking very large losses in order to pursue relatively small gains. Ryan Howard's... career is the very large item that could be seriously damaged or lost.
and perhaps most relevantly:
(in response to the question "Not to single out any particular player, but I have noticed a lot of lefty sluggers who struggled mightily versus lefties for their career. And I agree that for a few runs difference in the regular season, it may well be a good idea to just leave them be. But what about the playoffs? Every run can be crucial there, so wouldn't you have to make a move if you can get someone with say 200 points better OPS in there?")

Howard's OPS against lefties is high 700s. You're not going to beat that by 200 points with some guy who has just been sitting around all year, waiting for a chance to play.
Honestly, I remain very skeptical that that logic holds up. I do know that Charlie Manuel always hits Ryan Howard cleanup against lefties, rather than Jayson Werth, who is both a better overall hitter and a righty who has routinely killed lefties. Manuel also hit Howard cleanup against a lefty starter in the All-Star Game; in other words, he literally could have picked anyone else in the league, and he went with Howard anyway. There is absolutely no way in hell that Manuel is benching Howard now.

¹ Steve "Bud" Souchock platooned with star lefty hitter Vic Wertz in 1951-52. James cites this as an example of "losing track of the big picture", as I believe he had also done in the first Historical Abstract.
   12. DCW3 Posted: October 23, 2010 at 05:40 PM (#3673509)
If nothing else, those excerpts demonstrate the complete irrelevance of Bill James in 2010.
   13. Nasty Nate Posted: October 23, 2010 at 05:46 PM (#3673512)
A lot of the things in #11 seem to be predate Howard's big extension.
   14. PreservedFish Posted: October 23, 2010 at 05:56 PM (#3673515)
he literally could have picked anyone else in the league,


Not true.

[/literally police]
   15. The District Attorney Posted: October 23, 2010 at 06:04 PM (#3673516)
A lot of the things in #11 seem to be predate Howard's big extension.
Nope, the extension was in late April, and the discussion was in July.

Not true.

[/literally police]
I kinda disagree. Manuel did get to pick players to the team, right? I mean, I don't know how the league would have reacted if he wanted to add Tony Abreu or something, but at least theoretically, if he thought someone else would have been a better cleanup hitter vs. Price, he could have picked that guy...
   16. Tripon Posted: October 23, 2010 at 06:07 PM (#3673517)
My question is why is Placido Polanco batting 3rd and not Jayson Werth?
   17. Nasty Nate Posted: October 23, 2010 at 06:11 PM (#3673521)
Nope, the extension was in late April, and the discussion was in July.


thats weird. How could they "lose" Howard, and why would they care if "he walks after his contract expires" in 2018
   18. robneyer Posted: October 23, 2010 at 06:17 PM (#3673524)
Steve "Bud" Souchok was really good against lefties.
   19. The District Attorney Posted: October 23, 2010 at 06:32 PM (#3673533)
Steve "Bud" Souchok was really good against lefties.
Both of you! S-o-u-c-h-o-c-k! :-) Yeah, Bill acknowledges that:
In a sense, it worked. Soucheck hit 11 home runs in 1951, in just 188 at bats--almost certainly more than Wertz would have hit. The only thing is, it didn't REALLY work. Wertz, decidedly unhappy with being platooned, fell off with the bat, his OPS dropping from .941 to .894. He was traded to St. Louis in mid-season, 1952--surely suggesting conflicts with the manager. [Manager Red] Rolfe lost the respect of his team. The Tigers fell off to 73-81 in 1951, and 50-104 in 1952. Rolfe was fired early in the 1952 season, and never managed again.
Certainly, my immediate reaction to reading that was:

1. Even acknowledging that Wertz' On-base Plus Slugging theoretically should have gone up due to the platoon, falling from .941 to .894 still seems like something that could have just happened. (I note that his Batting Average on Balls In Play was .304 in 1950, .281 in 1951, .283 career.)

2. Based on that description, I was not convinced either that Wertz was traded because he was unhappy with the platoon ("surely" strikes me as a weasel word), or that the platoon was the reason Rolfe lost the team and was therefore fired. (Of course, James is writing a mailbag column here, not a book. Still, I am not familiar with the era and have not seen the evidence.)

It probably goes without saying that I do think benching Howard for Sweeney tonight would be phenomenally stupid. Because, it's (the 2010 version of) Mike Sweeney. And even if there were someone better as an alternative, it would be silly to all of a sudden do it in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series if you hadn't been using the guy all year.

I am not convinced, though, that the reason Ryan Howard can't be platooned is because he's RYAN HOWARD...
   20. DCW3 Posted: October 23, 2010 at 06:43 PM (#3673540)
1. Even acknowledging that Wertz' On-base Plus Slugging theoretically should have gone up due to the platoon, falling from .941 to .894 still seems like something that could have just happened.

Offense in the AL as a whole cratered from 1950 to 1951--the league average OPS went from .759 to .723. Wertz actually had a higher OPS+ in 1951 than he did the year before.
   21. robneyer Posted: October 23, 2010 at 07:04 PM (#3673552)
   22. robneyer Posted: October 23, 2010 at 07:04 PM (#3673553)
Did Rolfe lose the respect of his players because Wertz -- an All-Star, by the way -- was being platooned, or did he lose the respect of his players because the Tigers had the worst record in the league?

By the time Wertz was traded, Rolfe was actually gone, replaced by Fred Hutchinson, whose record the rest of the way was little better than Rolfe's.

I don't know why Wertz was traded, but it looks to me like more of a panic move than anything else, management trying to shake things up. It was a seven-player deal, with the centerpieces Wertz and pitcher Ned Garver.

This is one of those things where some primary research might actually be useful.
   23. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: October 23, 2010 at 07:17 PM (#3673558)
In a sense, it worked. Soucheck hit 11 home runs in 1951, in just 188 at bats--almost certainly more than Wertz would have hit. The only thing is, it didn't REALLY work. Wertz, decidedly unhappy with being platooned, fell off with the bat, his OPS dropping from .941 to .894. He was traded to St. Louis in mid-season, 1952--surely suggesting conflicts with the manager. [Manager Red] Rolfe lost the respect of his team. The Tigers fell off to 73-81 in 1951, and 50-104 in 1952. Rolfe was fired early in the 1952 season, and never managed again.


Did James really write that crap? Sounds like something from Mary-otty or Murray Chass. Did platooning Wertz cause Art Houtteman to go from 132 ERA+ to 87? Or Fred Hutchinson to go from 231 IP to 37? Did it force the trade of Hoot Evers (4.4 WAR in 1950), Geroge Kell (4.4), Johnny Lipton (2.8) and Dizzy Trout (3.6) to Boston? The 5 guys they got back contributed a whopping 0.4 WAR in 1952.

It takes a hell of a lot more than one unhappy good (not great) player for a team to go from 95 wins to 50 in 2 years. James used to make a good living debunking that crap.
   24. Walt Davis Posted: October 23, 2010 at 07:23 PM (#3673564)
This is one of those things where some primary research might actually be useful.

Never!! :-)

First, a 756 OPS vs. lefties is hardly bad for a leftie hitter. For his career, Thome is 763 (238/339/424); Josh Hamilton is 789. Adam Dunn is over 800 but his BA and SLG are pretty close to Howard's the difference is he still walks a ton against lefties.

Far more humorous though is the notion of Mike Sweeney as defensive upgrade at 1B.
   25. Matt Welch Posted: October 23, 2010 at 07:30 PM (#3673569)
I'm not sure you can accurately describe the Tigers RF situation in 1951-52 as a platoon.

Wertz started 103 of the team's first 115 games in 1951. Then he got hurt or something, missed 10 games, and Bud Souchock started every one in his stead. Last 28 games of the season, Wertz had 26 starts, giving him an overall 90% of the starts when he was healthy enough to play.

In '52 Wertz started the team's first 16 games, getting off to a bad start: .190/.239/.508. In game 17, against a righty, he pinch-hit, then missed the team's next three games (against three righties). Cliff Mapes, not Souchock, played RF. In game 21, Wertz started, but was removed after 5 innings for Mapes. He then missed the next three games. I think it's reasonable to conclude, considering that he was still batting cleanup whenever he was in the lineup, that Wertz was hurting in some way between May 5 and May 13, during which time he played just 6 innings in 8 games. Especially since he proceeded to start 55 of the next 62. He got hurt again at the end of July, and missed 22 games. Came back, started all 4 games, then got traded. Take out that 8-game stretch in May, and Wertz started 91% of the time in RF.

From 1951-52, lefties started 30% of the games against the Tigers, and Wertz started 90% of the games in RF when he was healthy. That's not a platoon, is it?
   26. sunnyday2 Posted: October 23, 2010 at 08:00 PM (#3673584)
Allowing trades during the post-season

Like they do in town ball some places. If you win you get to pick 3 guys from the losing team. So Texas grabs, well, who? Cano. Jeter? Manny? And the Giants get Halladay and Oswalt, or the Phillies Lincecum and Cain. Now there's an all-star game.
   27. robneyer Posted: October 23, 2010 at 08:20 PM (#3673595)
Thanks, Matt. I sort of suspected that it wasn't an actual platoon; often, what looks like a platoon is really more about injuries, etc.

But why let facts get in the way of making a good point? ;-)
   28. Walt Davis Posted: October 23, 2010 at 08:30 PM (#3673598)
So Texas grabs, well, who? Cano. Jeter? Manny?

Huh?

I'll guess "Manny" is supposed to be Rivera, their #1 obvious choice. Especially if they're getting the Phils, Sabathia is choice #2. Then ... it seems strange to say it, but I think I'd go Swisher so he can play RF in the NL parks. (Possibly Gardner as general pest and defensive replacement/pinch runner.) Cano and AROD are better players but, realistically, the Rangers wouldn't sit Young and I think the defensive hit of Vlad in the OF is greater than any Kinsler-Cano upgrade (although I could well be wrong about that).

The Giants ... interesting. Halladay for certain. I'm not sure that Oswalt or Hamels is a big upgrade over Sanchez. I do want as many lefties as I can get to neutralize Hamilton as much as possible so Hamels is still on the board. But the Giants have pretty big issues at 2B and 3B which Utley and Polanco (defensively) would be nice upgrades to. Adding Jayson Werth's bat would also be nice. The Giants have the most flawed lineup of the surviving teams.

The Phillies ... Lincecum obviously. It's stunning to see Ruiz's line this year -- 302/400/447, 4.4 WAR to Posey's 3 in equal playing time, beating him across the board. I can't imagine Ruiz has really become that good but I'm not sure there's a big short-term upgrade (plus possibly upsetting your pitchers with a new catcher). So there's really nobody in the Giants' lineup who'd be an upgrade while the Phils have crap for LH relief, so I'd probably grab Sanchez and Bumgarner and stick them in the pen.
   29. bobm Posted: October 23, 2010 at 09:15 PM (#3673618)
[11]
in response to the question "Not to single out any particular player, but I have noticed a lot of lefty sluggers who struggled mightily versus lefties for their career. And I agree that for a few runs difference in the regular season, it may well be a good idea to just leave them be."


Just for fun, I looked at Ted Williams' splits on B-R.


I Split          G    GS   PA    AB    OPS tOPS+
I vs RHP as LHB  931       3242 2515 1.165 108
I vs LHP as LHB  442       1081   876 0.901  63   

vs RH Starter 1833 1722 7829 6133 1.152 106
  vs LH Starter  459  426 1959 1573 0.973  76


(From B-R: "vs Starter batting splits are for the entire game when the starter was LH or RH. These splits include any subsequent PA's against a reliever regardless of their throwing hand. These splits are a proxy for platoon splits for seasons we lack play-by-play data.")

Also, on Ted Williams' B-R page, in the biographical information section where it normally says "Buried:" for deceased players, his page reads, "Cryogenically Frozen." Creepy.
   30. The District Attorney Posted: October 24, 2010 at 05:39 AM (#3674517)
CONLIN CALLED IT!

*confetti and balloons drop from sky*

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