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Monday, March 25, 2013

Polanco’s new lineup role: Protecting Stanton?

Could you please pass the Stanton…and pitch to Polanco.

The Marlins don’t have a prototypical cleanup hitter to slot behind Giancarlo Stanton. Manager Mike Redmond is considering more of a tidy-up hitter.

Placido Polanco hit fourth behind Stanton in Monday’s 6-3 Grapefruit League loss to the Tigers, a team that during the regular season will have the ultimate three-four duo in Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

“It’s one of those things where we’re going to have a lot of different guys hitting probably in a lot of different spots,” Redmond said. “I like Polanco hitting there. He gives you a veteran bat, a guy who puts the ball in play. He can hit behind runners. He can hit and run. He handles the bat well and might be a nice fit behind Stanton.”

Absolutely – if Stanton was a leadoff man. Polanco was born to hit second. Major league managers have written Polanco’s name in 1,656 starting lineups. In all but 436 of those he’s been slotted in the two¬ spot. The only other place Polanco has logged triple-digits is as a leadoff hitter (126).

...He does have eight plate appearances spanning nine games in that spot, including one each season from 2000-‘02. His lifetime numbers in the four hole: 0-for-7 with two RBI and a strikeout.

“I don’t think they expect me to be hitting home runs now because I’m hitting fourth,” Polanco said. “It’s something they have in mind and they’re trying now. That’s what spring training is for, to try different things.”

Added Redmond: “If they’re going to pitch around [Stanton] at least it gives us a guy we know is going to put the ball in play and can drive in runs. Sure, it’s not going to be via home run, but it’s going to be a professional at-bat and a guy that can kind of keep the line moving.”

Repoz Posted: March 25, 2013 at 04:53 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: marlins

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 25, 2013 at 05:10 PM (#4396167)
I am setting up an OOTP league for the 1994 season and I had to laugh when I saw hitting behind Barry Bonds was....Todd Benzinger. Hahahaha.
   2. The District Attorney Posted: March 25, 2013 at 05:14 PM (#4396176)
Why not LoMo? At least people will take him seriously if he looks like he's having a good year.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 25, 2013 at 05:17 PM (#4396178)

Why not LoMo? At least people will take him seriously if he looks like he's having a good year.


Out til mid-late April.
   4. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: March 25, 2013 at 05:19 PM (#4396184)
I was gonna pitch around Stanton, but with Placido Polanco on deck, I just can't take that chance.
   5. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: March 25, 2013 at 05:26 PM (#4396192)
They should just lead Stanton off. He's not going to get a pitch to hit with anyone on base so they may as well maximize his at bats. I'm guessing he wouldn't care for that of course.
   6. Covfefe Posted: March 25, 2013 at 05:48 PM (#4396223)
I think this only works if the neighborhood from the on-deck circle to batters box is especially dangerous and Polanco knows karate.
   7. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: March 25, 2013 at 05:48 PM (#4396224)
Didn't they watch Polanco the last couple of years? The toaster has been on extra crispy ...
   8. cardsfanboy Posted: March 25, 2013 at 06:17 PM (#4396266)
Didn't they watch Polanco the last couple of years? The toaster has been on extra crispy ...


By last couple of years I think you meant last year. As the guy was still a plus player even in 2011.
   9. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: March 25, 2013 at 08:31 PM (#4396348)
cfb, yeah, make that the last 1.83 years. He had a fantastic April 2011 and was pretty wretched offensively the rest of the year.
   10. Cooper Nielson Posted: March 26, 2013 at 07:07 AM (#4396514)
The Marlins don’t have a prototypical cleanup hitter to slot behind Giancarlo Stanton. Manager Mike Redmond is considering more of a tidy-up hitter.

Gotta admit, that's a pretty good line. Polanco does seem like a tidy fellow.
   11. Dan Posted: March 26, 2013 at 07:38 AM (#4396521)
Is Polanco's profile, even when he's hitting decently, the worst imaginable for protecting Stanton in any capacity? It's hard to think of any hitter who'd be less likely to drive in a runner from first after a walk (intentional or otherwise). Polanco's not even likely to hit a deep enough double to score a runner from first, never mind a home run.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: March 26, 2013 at 03:59 PM (#4397006)
Well, last year Stanton was mainly "protected" by Carlos Lee (79 OPS+) and, before that trade, a mix of Morrison (91), Ruggiano (144) and Dobbs (89).

Is Polanco's profile, even when he's hitting decently, the worst imaginable for protecting Stanton in any capacity?

Probably, I assume the thinking is not that Polanco will provide power but that Polanco (well, Polanco ca 2004-8) hits 300 with good contact and will at least drive home the guys on-base that Stanton didn't get the chance to drive in. Sort of a Tommy Herr thing. Of course it's not 2004-8 but then it is the Marlins and baseball rules still apply a pretty stiff penalty if you don't bat someone 4th.
   13. Ron J2 Posted: March 26, 2013 at 04:31 PM (#4397037)
#11 I guess the thinking is that most IBBs happen with a runner in scoring position and that batting average is the strong part (relatively speaking) of Polanco's offense.

He may not be particularly good at making them pay for walking Stanton, but that's not all of the story.

I doubt it matters much. First of all, teams are always reluctant to hand out IBBs when they're leading and I think the Marlins rate to be trailing a lot. And as a general rule, IBBs to Stanton don't rate to be bad for the Marlins.
   14. Covfefe Posted: March 26, 2013 at 07:32 PM (#4397183)

He may not be particularly good at making them pay for walking Stanton, but that's not all of the story.

I doubt it matters much. First of all, teams are always reluctant to hand out IBBs when they're leading and I think the Marlins rate to be trailing a lot. And as a general rule, IBBs to Stanton don't rate to be bad for the Marlins.


I agree actually... in fact, hasn't "lineup protection" been one of those things that has supposedly been disproven?

However - one thing I do wonder about...

Stanton is just 23 -- and he doesn't really walk a whole lot now, while he does tend to K quite a bit. Any chance this has the slightest impact on his development?

I.e., while teams certainly don't like to hand out IBBs... I would wonder if pitchers are going nibble a whole lot more and there aren't more than a tiny handful of seasons where a pitcher decides he'd be perfectly fine wasting 4 in the dirt. Given that Stanton seems to be a relatively free-swinger as it is -- is there any danger that this sort of season long of frustrating ABs turns him into Pete Incaviglia?
   15. Ron J2 Posted: March 27, 2013 at 04:12 PM (#4397846)
#14 There's no evidence of what David Marasco called "strong protection". That is to say, there's no evidence that an unprotected hitter will put up worse rate stats.

There is plenty of evidence that "weak protection" is real. IBBs will absolutely go up if a hitter is not protected.

But game state is a huge part of IBBs. The relative skill of the hitter and the guy protecting him only explains about 45% of the variation in IBB rates. Teams just don't like to hand out IBBs when they have a lead (with good reason) no matter how much better the batter is than the guy on deck.

Yeah. Barry Bonds was an exception. But good as Stanton is ...

   16. Covfefe Posted: March 27, 2013 at 04:29 PM (#4397866)
#14 There's no evidence of what David Marasco called "strong protection". That is to say, there's no evidence that an unprotected hitter will put up worse rate stats.

There is plenty of evidence that "weak protection" is real. IBBs will absolutely go up if a hitter is not protected.

But game state is a huge part of IBBs. The relative skill of the hitter and the guy protecting him only explains about 45% of the variation in IBB rates. Teams just don't like to hand out IBBs when they have a lead (with good reason) no matter how much better the batter is than the guy on deck.

Yeah. Barry Bonds was an exception. But good as Stanton is ...


The thing regarding Stanton is -- as 'good' as he is, his strengths as hitter from my POV are that 1)he's got tremendous power, and 2)his youth and skills are such he can take advantage of that tremendous power.

But - he's not Tony Gwynn or Ted Williams, or Barry Bonds if you like.... Stanton certainly doesn't have a poor walk rate, but it's not superlative at this point either and he does strike out a fair bit. I don't really care about the K's - but just from what I can see, I see a talent, powerful, relatively selective hitter who does what most good power hitters do: Wait until he gets the pitch he knows he can drive.

With someone like Polanco batting behind him, he's almost certainly going to get a ton less of those -- and most pitchers with MLB-style command are more likely to groove a mistake when they know they need to throw a strike. It's hard for me to see virtually any circumstance where a pitcher feels the need to throw a strike to Stanton... Outside of some late inning, bases loaded tie game or whatever -- I think I'd spend the whole AB nibbling or getting him to chase. I wouldn't even be trying to catch anything but the black against him. Why bother?

The big question to me is what does that do his development as hitter? Does he develop bad habits, and as such, become especially prone to becoming say, a young Sosa who never met a breaking pitch low and away he didn't like? Does he become an Adam Dunn - who basically developed the patience to become a 3TO guy - forever waiting on his pitch or a mistake, wracking up both Ks and BBs in record numbers? Or - does he become Pete Incaviglia? There's a pretty fair gap in offensive value between Inky and Dunn.... and probably just a big a gap between what Stanton could be and Dunn has been.

I suppose this might be the season where we find out whether Stanton is going to become "great" (or stays "great", recognizing that he's already one of the best OFs in baseball) or slides into merely "good".

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