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Monday, April 22, 2013

Washington Times: Looking at Jayson Werth’s 3-0 double play from the eyes of those on the field

At the heart of the Washington Nationals’ 2-0 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday was one at-bat that left Jayson Werth sitting in front of his locker staring into the abyss.

With runners on first and second and no outs, and left-hander Scott Rice having thrown six straight balls—and seven balls in his last eight pitches—Werth swung at a 3-0 pitch and ground into a double play. It squashed the Nationals’ best scoring chance, though hardly their only one, and left him dejected. [...]

“I just got caught up in the moment,” Werth said. “Just really, looking back, trying to do too much. Trying to win the game right there. I can sit here and talk about the situation but, I just tried to do too much. The situation got the best of me. Probably one of the dumber things I’ve done on the field in a while.

bobm Posted: April 22, 2013 at 08:52 PM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nationals

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   1. thetailor Posted: April 23, 2013 at 12:00 AM (#4422968)
The most baffling baseball play I've seen this year, and I can't offhand think of any that I saw last year that were worse either. Is there really any mental error you can make worse than this and not lose? A 3-0 count, facing a truly terrible lefty, where if you walk you've got the bases loaded and nobody out.

Werth's GIDP was worth 19.8% WPA for the Mets and it'd be even more accounting for the count and the intangibles that WPA can't account for. If not for the GIDP you're looking at having to consider bringing in Parnell for a six out save or for the eighth inning alone and hope he can strike everyone out. It was a gift.
   2. SoSH U at work Posted: April 23, 2013 at 12:27 AM (#4422973)
The most baffling baseball play I've seen this year, and I can't offhand think of any that I saw last year that were worse either.


More baffling than a guy who attempts to steal third and winds up stealing first instead?

   3. STEAGLES is all out of bubblegum Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:33 AM (#4422986)
Probably one of the dumber things I’ve done on the field in a while.
questions abound...
   4. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:35 AM (#4422987)
#2,
Yeah, that was all kinds of weird and awesome at the same time. Best part of course was when he got nailed trying to steal 2nd after stealing 1st.
   5. Greg K Posted: April 23, 2013 at 03:29 AM (#4422997)
I remember last year Werth almost started* a brawl with the Cubs by swinging at a 3-0 pitch in a blow out.

*I use the word "started" liberally here. Werth's actions were the trigger, but the Cubs being whiney losers was the key ingredient.
   6. Lassus Posted: April 23, 2013 at 08:18 AM (#4423037)
I would like to use this opportunity to point out that the Mets are ahead of the Nationals in the standings.
   7. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: April 23, 2013 at 08:32 AM (#4423039)
Werth was just expanding the strike zone and not looking for the walk. Like all good hitters are supposed to do. Right?
   8. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 23, 2013 at 08:41 AM (#4423042)
Without seeing the pitch I'll just say that I wish MLB players swung a LOT more on 3-0 than they currently do. Obviously it should be a very targeted situation where you look for one very specific pitch in one very specific location but it drives me nuts when guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark are taking all the way. You probably aren't going to get a more hittable pitch than the 3-0 pitch and sitting idly by while it splits the plate in half just seems like a bad play to me.
   9. Lassus Posted: April 23, 2013 at 08:50 AM (#4423046)
Without seeing the pitch I'll just say that I wish MLB players swung a LOT more on 3-0 than they currently do.

I still remember Delgado hitting one of the most massive no-doubter bombs I've ever seen off Koo on a 3-0 pitch.
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:11 AM (#4423053)
Without seeing the pitch I'll just say that I wish MLB players swung a LOT more on 3-0 than they currently do. Obviously it should be a very targeted situation where you look for one very specific pitch in one very specific location but it drives me nuts when guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark are taking all the way.

I feel like the 3-0 strike zone is so big, that you don't actually get such great pitches to hit. Add that to the extra anxiousness factor when you do get the 3-0 green light, I think most hitters in most situations are better of taking.

If the pitcher can't find the zone, it's a no brainer.
   11. ColonelTom Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:16 AM (#4423057)
Production!
   12. BDC Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:21 AM (#4423064)
Perhaps it's a bit of both: he saw a good pitch and couldn't get around on it. Lots of mental errors are half physical, to paraphrase Yogi Berra.
   13. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:29 AM (#4423068)
Perhaps it's a bit of both: he saw a good pitch and couldn't get around on it. Lots of mental errors are half physical, to paraphrase Yogi Berra.

Right. Was it a 90 MPH fastball right down the middle? If so, Werth didn't do anything wrong. Of course, if the pitch was anything else...
   14. Spectral Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:04 AM (#4423106)
Aren't hitting numbers on 3-0 basically monstrously good? Granted, there's massive selective sampling in that very few bad 3-0 pitches are swung at, but I don't think giving an experienced hitter that understands the situation a green light is a bad idea. The problem isn't Werth swinging at a 3-0 pitch, it's swinging poorly at a 3-0 pitch.
   15. TJ Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:05 AM (#4423109)
"Of course Werth was right to go after that 3-0 pitch! He's not paid to walk, he's paid to hit!"
Brennanman & Brantley, Cincy
   16. bunyon Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:26 AM (#4423143)
Without seeing the pitch I'll just say that I wish MLB players swung a LOT more on 3-0 than they currently do. Obviously it should be a very targeted situation where you look for one very specific pitch in one very specific location but it drives me nuts when guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark are taking all the way. You probably aren't going to get a more hittable pitch than the 3-0 pitch and sitting idly by while it splits the plate in half just seems like a bad play to me.

As snapper suggests, if the pitcher is wild, no, it isn't a good idea. If the pitcher has good command and has missed three close pitches, yes, I think swinging, selectively, 3-0 makes good sense. Given the situation in this game, it was a terrible decision .
   17. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:49 AM (#4423160)
Aren't hitting numbers on 3-0 basically monstrously good?


Any non-2 strike hitting numbers are monstrously good, because strikeouts are not part of the denominator. The huge jump in OPS at 3-0 and 3-1 is that now walks become part of the numerator. Batting average stays about the same as the other no strike counts, slug goes up a bit. But OBP, which for other non 3 ball counts is merely BA, goes up 600 points.

2012 MLB Splits by count (OPS):

0-0 .885
1-0 .910
2-0 .964
3-0 1.781
0-1 .811
1-1 .844
2-1 .893
3-1 1.330

The worst is 0-1, in which the average hitter who puts the ball in play hit like Curtis Granderson did last year (.811 OPS, 117 OPS+).

   18. Esoteric Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:03 AM (#4423177)
For the record, the pitch that Werth swung on was Ball 4. It wasn't particularly close, either.

Werth has a lot of plate discipline and sees more pitches per AB than pretty much anyone in the Majors, so aside from the soul-crushing context of this particular failure, I'm willing to forgive him. It's not a habit of his. But urgh, what a time to behave uncharacteristically.

The Washington Post also had a very good article about this particular at-bat, where Werth both acknowledges it was an inexcusable ####-up and then, intriguingly, explains the thought process that went into the decision. It was clearly the wrong decision in this case, but the more interesting takeaway is that his discussion of the process itself makes clear Werth normally thinks very carefully about the strategy of his ABs.
   19. Spectral Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:06 AM (#4423186)
Thanks for that, Miserlou. I suppose that should have been really obvious, but it just didn't occur to me at all.
   20. Nasty Nate Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:10 AM (#4423192)
When I saw the title of this thread I struggled for a second to figure out what kind of double play could be scored 3-0.
   21. bunyon Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:12 AM (#4423196)
The Washington Post also had a very good article about this particular at-bat, where Werth both acknowledges it was an inexcusable ####-up and then, intriguingly, explains the thought process that went into the decision. It was clearly the wrong decision in this case, but the more interesting takeaway is that his discussion of the process itself makes clear Werth normally thinks very carefully about the strategy of his ABs.

People screw up. Smart people do really dumb things. This was a bad screw up but it wasn't unforgiveable.
   22. Chris Needham Posted: April 23, 2013 at 12:56 PM (#4423313)
There are two separate decisions here:

1) Whether it's ok to swing 3-0.
2) Whether to swing at that pitch.

2) is easier. No. It was a sinker low and away. Unlike Eso, I think it was a strike on the black. Regardless, it was a pitch he tried to pull -- a pitch you can't pull. He rolled over on it. Someone pointed out that there were something like only 11 3-0 GIDP all last year. Yay.

1) is the tougher question, and I think the answer is HELL YES. You have a crappy lefty on the mound against someone who can mash lefties. You have two left-handed bats on deck. And 3-0, you know you're probably going to get a BP fastball. I want my big right-handed bat swinging away every damn time there -- provided he's actually swinging at that BP fastball.

Werth usually has enough command of the strike zone to do well in that situation, but for whatever reason, he didn't ID the pitch properly, or was too eager... It didn't work out.

But I don't think the results from choice 2 invalidates the other likely correct decision.
   23. thetailor Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:01 PM (#4423321)
1) is the tougher question, and I think the answer is HELL YES. You have a crappy lefty on the mound against someone who can mash lefties. You have two left-handed bats on deck. And 3-0, you know you're probably going to get a BP fastball. I want my big right-handed bat swinging away every damn time there -- provided he's actually swinging at that BP fastball.


In a situation where the lefty pitcher is effective at getting lefty hitters out, I would agree with you. This is not one of those cases. It's unlikely that Scott Rice will prove effective at getting any batters out at the ML level ... and even if he did, I don't think he's shown as drastic of a platoon split as you might expect from a lefty reliever.

So yeah, #2, he shouldn't have swung at that pitch, and #1, also, swinging on 3-0 there was the wrong call against Rice.
   24. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:04 PM (#4423329)
When I saw the title of this thread I struggled for a second to figure out what kind of double play could be scored 3-0.

Ha, me too!

Can somebody explain to me what [2] and [4] are referring to?
   25. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:04 PM (#4423331)
Without seeing the pitch I'll just say that I wish MLB players swung a LOT more on 3-0 than they currently do.


I suggest you watch Dan Uggla bat and you will quickly change your mind.

EDIT: Actually, that's unfair. It's 2-0 where Uggla is frustratingly awful.
   26. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:04 PM (#4423332)
But I don't think the results from choice 2 invalidates the other likely correct decision.

The problem with your analysis is the pitcher was wild; he'd thrown 6 straight balls. You must make him throw a strike before you swing.

Even if he grooves 3-0, odds are, he's missing badly on 3-1 or 3-2.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4423336)
Can somebody explain to me what [2] and [4] are referring to?

This.
   28. bobm Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:10 PM (#4423340)
[24]

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/newsstand
/discussion/gif_brewers_jean_segura_steals_first_base

EDIT: RC Cola to SoSH
   29. Steve Treder Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:21 PM (#4423362)
The problem with your analysis is the pitcher was wild; he'd thrown 6 straight balls. You must make him throw a strike before you swing.

Even if he grooves 3-0, odds are, he's missing badly on 3-1 or 3-2.


Yes, and if he doesn't miss with the 3-1 or the 3-2, the chance of it being a get-me-over meatball are pretty good. The pitcher has just as nonexistent margin for error on 3-1 and 3-2 as he did on 3-0.
   30. rlc Posted: April 23, 2013 at 02:01 PM (#4423438)
Holy crap, Scott Rice made it to the majors. At last the strategy of letting Palmeiro walk after the '98 season has fully paid off...
   31. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: April 23, 2013 at 02:23 PM (#4423467)
Thanks guys. I was, ehh, 'busy' that day. What an amazing play.
   32. Papa Squid Posted: April 23, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4423492)
I can't offhand think of any that I saw last year that were worse either.


There was the time Brett Lawrie tried to steal home with the bases loaded and Jose Bautista up. That did not end well...

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