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Thursday, October 24, 2002

The World Series on Fox - Game 4

Virtual Manager Poll:  What Was Ray Liotta Smoking?

Pre-Game

We’ll leave the raging debate over baseball’s greatest “moments” to another forum.  Major League Baseball organized the event, and probably selected the emcees: actors Billy Crystal, Andy Garcia and Ray Liotta.  It’s somewhat humorous that Liotta was probably chosen for his role in Field of Dreams, in which he played Joe Jackson. Thus, Major League Baseball invited banned players Pete Rose and Joe Jackson onto the field at the same time for its “Greatest Moments” celebration.

Speaking of Ray Liotta, his segments were painful to watch.  Perhaps to supplement his dwindling acting income, he has secretly been taking gigs as PA announcer at local tractor pulls.  Maybe some clubhouse jokester told him his microphone was broken before he took the field.

When FOX turned its attention to the game, things got a little better.  Game Four’s broadcast was generally better than the Game Three fiasco.  Still, there’s plenty of room for improvement in the way FOX presents a baseball game.  The question is whether anyone realizes there’s a need for improvement.

Top 1st

Super slow motion is a really cool thing.  It was clear that the pitch from Kirk Rueter brushed Eckstein’s uniform.  Joe Buck rightly pointed out that he should have been awarded first base-something a lot of casual fans might not have known.

Bottom 1st

It’s interesting that Lackey is the fifth pitcher in history to start a game on his birthday, but it would have been nice to see a list of the other four, and how they fared.

When the leadoff man reaches base, Tim McCarver jumps into the fray by saying he doesn’t believe the Giants should bunt.  That’s obvious to a lot of people, but the postseason makes managers do crazy things, and McCarver does a good job of explaining the reasoning against playing for one run so early.

It’s easy to point a finger at the announcers, but a lot of the problems with FOX broadcasts center on the director.  There’s no understanding of what we need to see when a play is happening.  When Aurilia gets a base hit to right field, the camera cuts away from the right fielder as he prepares to field the ball, so we can see a shot of Lofton rounding second base.  If Lofton falls down, it’s a great shot.  Otherwise, it’s a lot more important that we see the play in the field.  Another split-second and we could have seen the defensive play before having our attention shifted to Lofton.

When Jeff Kent fails to reach base, Joe Buck blames the intentional walk to Bonds on Kent.  It’s true that Kent isn’t doing much for the Giants’ offense, but it seems pretty clear that Bonds would be getting walked anyway.  If Kent had singled, it likely would have set up another first-and-third situation, and we know Mike Scioscia will walk Bonds under those circumstances.

McCarver wouldn’t be nearly so annoying if he didn’t go out of his way to “prove” he’s smart.  It was nice to be informed that the last World Series grand slam was hit by Tino Martinez in 1998.  But that’s not enough.  After Buck has apparently decided to move on with the broadcast, McCarver chimes in, “...off Mark Langston.  On a 3-2 count.”  Thanks, Tim.  We all bow to your superior intellect.

Top 2nd

Let’s not rehash the whole Pete Rose thing.  But it was interesting that FOX’s “Virtual Manager” poll was, “If Pete Rose apologizes, should he be allowed back into baseball?  Even a lot of hard-core Rose haters agree he should be allowed back if he admits he bet on baseball, so the wording of the question pretty much assured the positive outcome (81% yes).

On a side note, it was pretty funny when the camera cut to a shot of Bud Selig on the phone, and the announcers wondered aloud whether he was answering the Virtual Manager question.

McCarver rightly points out that Kenny Lofton was the wrong person to catch a fly ball to left-center, because Barry Bonds had the easier throw to the plate on a sacrifice fly.

Bottom 2nd

We all knew it was only a matter of time before FOX pulled out its silly “Toy Story” reference on Rueter (who’s nicknamed “Woody”).  Are Buck and McCarver so hard up for material that they have to use the exact same graphic and the exact same jokes as they used in the NLCS?  Apparently so.  Normally, we could complain about the fact that the full-screen graphic obscured the view of the field for several seconds between pitches.  But since this is FOX, all we missed was a close-up of Dusty Baker’s son’s ear.

Top 3rd

When Kenny Lofton leaped at the wall on the Troy Glaus home run, he appeared to be upset with the fan who caught the ball.  But FOX’s director cut away so quickly, we couldn’t see if Lofton said anything.  And the replay didn’t last long enough to see anything either.  Did I imagine Lofton’s angry reaction?

Bottom 3rd

McCarver: “Molina is a catcher that hits, as opposed to a hitter that catches.”  Molina is certainly a catcher, but to say he “hits,” with that.596 OPS during the regular season, is a bit of a stretch.

McCarver again: “With Halloween only a week away, two nightmarish at-bats by Jeff Kent.”  Okay, this is McCarver being clever.  We understand that.  But he didn’t use this line until long after Kent had been retired, and three balls had been thrown to Bonds, and the subject of Kent had long since passed from our minds.  It’s no wonder McCarver says so many silly things, because he’s so concerned about thinking of the next clever thing to say.

Top 5th

FOX put some nice information on the screen in this inning, showing Major League batting averages on various counts.  Sure, it’s just batting average, but it was still good to see such a useful graphic instead of more Toy Story schlock.

Bottom 5th

If we’re going to complain about FOX’s incessant close-ups, I guess we should give them credit when their penchant for tight shots pays off.  And it paid off twice in this inning, once on the squib hit by Rueter, and again on the bunt by Lofton.  FOX provided a great replay showing the backspin on Rueter’s hit, and provided even better replays of that bizarre bunt hit by Lofton.  Ten years ago, we’d never have seen that view of the ball, and the debate would be raging about whether it was really fair or foul.

McCarver pointed out a base running mistake by Bonds, who failed to tag up on a fly ball/line drive by J.T. Snow.  Nothing wrong with that, but McCarver does tend to dwell on such things longer than necessary.  And he did it this time, too.

Top 6th

McCarver made a nice point that might have been lost on a lot of viewers if not for his comment.  He pointed out that Scioscia made a “strategic mistake” by trying to bunt with Gil, because it left Gil in the hole.  That goes beyond the analysis of whether the bunt’s a good idea or not, but shows a second level of thinking that often gets overlooked.  Of course, McCarver made the point after the fact, so it’s not clear he would have thought of it beforehand, either.

Bottom 6th

It’s the cast of Firefly!  I actually don’t mind this so much, as long as FOX gets in and out quickly, and gets back to the game.  As celebrity fan shots go, this one wasn’t too intrusive.

Top 7th

We’ve complained a lot about the director of FOX’s telecasts, and here’s another opportunity. If you ever wanted proof that the guys behind the scenes don’t know enough about baseball to give us good coverage, it came when McCarver noted that Reggie Sanders was creeping toward the infield in right field.  The director immediately went to a wide shot showing left and center field.  After McCarver conspicuously said “right field” again, the camera finally panned over to show Sanders.

Bottom 7th

Virtual Manager Question:  “Should the Angels pitch to Bonds?”  That’s an interesting question, I suppose, but it’s hard to answer until you know what Kent has done to lead off the inning.

Bonds came up and we got a shot of the Taco Bell raft floating in the water.  Is Taco Bell even a sponsor for the World Series?  Some guy deserves a big bonus over in their marketing department for getting all this free publicity.

At some point during this inning, the director called for a wide shot of the field-I think it was from behind the left-field fence.  It struck me that I naturally relaxed when the camera pulled back, and I realized I had been bombarded with nothing but non-stop fast-edit close-ups for several minutes.  Part of baseball’s allure is its relaxed pace, but FOX doesn’t let you feel that very often, because it produces baseball like a music video.  I suppose they have market research showing this is what works, but have they checked the ratings?  Baseball has a lot of problems, but couldn’t falling ratings conceivably be attributed to the way FOX shows us the games?  Just a thought.

Bottom 8th

McCarver needs to purge his brain once every 3 years.  Calling Francisco Rodriguez “Francisco Cabrera,” completely out of the blue, is a little scary.

Joe Buck mentioned that Reggie Sanders had no sacrifice bunts all season, right before Sanders popped out.  But neither he nor McCarver seemed to give it much significance.  At the time, that seemed to be a major flub, and the strategy of bunting with Sanders deserved more scrutiny.

At first blush, I thought J.T. Snow’s “slide” into home plate was one of the worst I’d ever seen.  But McCarver gets credit for pointing out that Snow was preparing to run over Molina, in case Molina tried to block the plate.

Top 9th

Someone tell the FOX director the difference between right and left.  This time, McCarver noted a “big hole on the right side,” only to have the director cut to a shot of the left side of the infield.

Adam Kennedy singled on the first pitch of his at-bat, yet FOX still managed to cut to eight different camera shots during that time.  During Brad Fullmer’s at-bat, FOX used 25 different camera shots, with no shot lasting more than six seconds.  But when the game ended, we were again treated to silence from Buck and McCarver, with pictures of the celebration at Pac-Bell continuing uninterrupted.

Overall Grade: B-
This was an improvement over the Game Three coverage, mainly because FOX managed to take advantage of some of its strengths.  The close-up replays at key moments were very good.  McCarver and Buck each made some insightful points.  And we even got another extended stretch of silence at the end of the game.  The dizzy direction and McCarver’s prattling on about mundane trivia were still present, but it’s been worse.  And with FOX, that’s good enough for an above-average grade.

David Brazeal Posted: October 24, 2002 at 06:00 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Brian Posted: October 24, 2002 at 12:58 AM (#606921)
I think you give McCarver a pass on Bonds not tagging up. MCCarver went on & on forever. A breaking ball in the dirt was reason to blame Bonds for not going to third. Give it a rest! He would've jumped all ove rBonds if he was thrown out at third for the last out of the inning: "You never make the first or last out at third, blah,blah,blah".
   2. Rob Wood Posted: October 24, 2002 at 12:58 AM (#606922)
I humbly dissent. There is no way to comment on a game that McCarver broadcasts without commenting on McCarver's idiotic comments and quirks. McCarver so ingratiates himself into the broadcast in such predictable ways that he has now become a caricature of himself. I personally can attest to yelling at the TV numerous times during the game when McCarver said painfully idiotic things. (Don't even get me started on Joe Morgan.)
   3. Brian Posted: October 24, 2002 at 12:58 AM (#606923)
One more thing: "Aqua Frio" ? McCarver is bilingually idiotic.
   4. David Brazeal Posted: October 24, 2002 at 12:58 AM (#606930)
Stu,
I don't have any enlightening information for you about the home runs. When I commented on that, I was thinking of the percentage of hanging curveballs hit for home runs, as opposed to fastballs, like you said. I would think you're right--in raw numbers, more homers come on fastballs. But I think McCarver was just saying that it's easier to hit a home run on a hanging breaking ball. I was maybe overly snide about it because McCarver insisted on making it sound like a well-guarded secret that only 1% of "baseball men" understand, when it really seems fairly obvious.
   5. MGL Posted: October 25, 2002 at 12:58 AM (#606933)
I posted on FanHome a few days ago, the utterly ridiculous statement by McCarver that "contrary to popular belief, more home runs are hit on hanging breaking balls than on fastballs."

What he clearly said, whether he meant it or not, was that a majority of home runs are hit on hanging breaking balls, which is of course ridiculous for the reasons that two of you guys already stated (that a vast majority of pitches thrown overall are fastballs; therefore a majority, or at least a plurality, of HR's are hit on fastballs).

If he meant or wanted to say that "a higher percentage of hanging curve balls are hit for home runs than the percentage of fastballs (which is probably true)," he WOULD NOT have articulated it the way he did, and he would not have made the comment "contrary to popular beief", since most people, even casual fans, realize that a hanging curveball is more likely to be hit for a home run than a fastball in an unknown location...
   6. Bill Posted: October 25, 2002 at 12:59 AM (#606934)
Turn off the TV sound. Who needs it? We've been going to games for over a hundred years now without the commentary. Put on some soothing or raucous music. Have a conversation. Enjoy the silence.
   7. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 25, 2002 at 12:59 AM (#606936)
Pay the money to MLB, subscribe to GameDay audio, and listen to the local Giants' broadcast on KNBR.

-- MWE
   8. MGL Posted: October 26, 2002 at 12:59 AM (#606946)
This is a little off topic, but it is important and I wanted to make sure that it gets posted somewhere. If someone wants to re-post it somewhere else, that would be great. I'd like lots of people to read it. I posted it on Fanhome. I write lost of "quick' posts as opposed to "articles", so I apologize if it is not written real well.

The more that I think about it, and the more that I run different lineups on the sim, the more I realize how critical it is to bat your good hitters at the top of the lineup and your bad hitters at the bottom because of the disparity in the number of PA's each slot gets.

Many teams could probably add half a win a year or more simply by taking those crappy #2 (or #1 in some cases) hitters, like C. Guzman, moving them way down in the order and moving those decent #5 or #6 hitters up to the 2 spot or thereabouts.

I think what you gain by having a "properly juxtaposed" order (good OBP guy batting first, power hitters batting 3rd, 4th, or 5th, good speed at the top, etc.) is dwarfed by the gain of batting good hitters at the top and bad hitters at the bottom. For example, Guzman batting 2nd, rather than 8th or 9th, and getting 75 or more extra PA is a tough nut to overcome! And who knows (does a manager) what a "properly jusxtaposed order is, anayway? I don't, without running sims.

As far as Bonds goes, I changed the sim (see previous Fanhome posts). I used to use the same algorithm for generating IBB's for every player (see below), including Bonds. Now, I walk Bonds every time a base is open no matter what the score or situation is. Other than that, his hitting profile (see the numbers above in another post - again Fanhome) doesn't change no matter what spot in the order he bats, nor does anyone elses. For everyone elses IBB's, it depends upon the score, outs, and BO position and the bater's "IBB projection" (essentially their IBB rate over the past 4 years - and yes, I know this can change, depending upon the team and a player's BO slot).

Anyway, for today's game (with Dunston DH'ing; actually, I'm going to go on record and say that Dusty will NOT DH Dunston today due to his, and most managers', need to do things differently to show the world, and their bosses, that a lot of "thought" - not necessarily quality thought of course - goes into decisions like these), here are the WE's and the average number of runs the Giants score for Bonds batting 1,2,3, or 4 in the order. I ran 100,000 games for each spot in the order.

(My guess is that the higher up in the order he bats, the better it is, as he gets more PA, and because he has good power AND a high OBP, it doesn't matter much otherwise in what position he bats.)

BTW, someone in a post asked me, rather sarcastically, "Don't you think Dusty knows that the higher up in the order a player bats, the more PA he gets?"

While I suppose they (all managers) know that or they could figure it out, the point is that they don't pay much attention to it, they don't think it matters much, and they (apparently) think that other things are more "important". The truth of the matter is, they just don't think this way at all - for example, "How many extra PA's will batting Bonds 2nd or 3rd add to the Giants RS and WE, versus how many RS will it "cost" them to change the current BO?" is not a question that goes through a typical managers mind at any time and in any way, shape or form. Dusty and most other managers just don't think this way, for whatever reasons. So to ask the question "Don't you think Dusty knows that?" is sort of moot and irrelevant.


Anyway...

1 (then Lofton, Aurilia, Kent, and Santiago): ANA .5181 4.51 RPG.

2 (Lofton 1, then Aurilia, Kent and Santiago): ANA wins .5098, SF 4.57 RPG.

3 (then Kent and Santiago): ANA .5169 SF 4.47 RPG.

4 (usual lineup): ANA .5204 SF 4.43 RPG.

4 (with Sanders and then Santiago, which would seem like the correct order - again, why would Dusty even THINK of batting Santiago ahead of Sanders, clearly the better hitter of the two?): .5169/4.45

Well, Sanders then Santiago was a no-brainer. Another example of Dusty's "stupidity" or stubborness or whatever you want to call it. I know .35 % in WE does not seem like much, but that's actually over 1/2 win per year and that's just one of dozens of stupid things that Dusty does!

Anyway, according to the (new) sim, the #2 spot is the best, followed by 1, 3, and 4. Why is it not surprising that Dusty would choose the WORST spot in the BO for Bonds?

The difference in WE between the #2 and #4 spots in the order is over 1.5 wins per season! That's huge!

Let's try and think of some things that would mitigate or even justify Bonds batting 4th:

1) If he refuses or hates to bat in any other order. I doubt if he would care whether he batted 3rd or 4th, and probably not 2nd. I've heard that he doesn't like to bat leadoff. Of course, you could always tell Bonds, "F**k you, you'll bat where I tell you to!" and hope that it doesn't affect his play.

2) I think it's pretty clear that the hitter in front of Bonds is going to get "protection". Now, whether Kent, Aurilia or Lofton would benefit more, less, or all the same, is not known. I think we can safely say that Dusty (or anyone else) does not know who ifanyone would benefit "more" by batting ahead of Bonds. There is no reason to think that it is Kent or even that it is the best hitter other than Bonds. And even if we did know that one player benefits more than another player, we would have no idea by how much! So without knowing if there ARE any differences and whom they might favor, we have to assume that all players hitting in front of Bonds would benefit equally, therefore this is a non-issue, at least until we could identify and quantify it.

3) The above assumption (that since no one knows, we have to assume that everyone/everything is affected the same) holds true for any other factor you might speculate influences your decision on where to bat Bonds.

Just for the heck of it, I ran 100,000 games with the Twins versus the Angels becuase I think that batting Guzman 2nd was so egregiously wrong. I had Mays pitching for the Twins and Appier for the Angels.

The first BO I used for the Twins, which is one of their traditional ones, was:

Jones
GUZMAN
Koskie
Ortiz
Hunter
Mientk
Mohr
Pierz
Rivas

ANA wins .6283 MIN scores 4.10 RPG.

The second BO was with Guzman moved down to the 9 hole:

Jones
Mohr
Koskie
Ortiz
Hunter
Mientk
GUZMAN
Pierz
Rivas

Interestingly, even though Guzman is the worst hitter on the team, the new numbers are:

ANA .6310 and 4.08.

Not as much difference as I expected (.43 wins per year), until I did the calculations below.

Bottom line, I think with any team, is that lineups DO make a lot of difference in terms of WE (what else is there other than WE?). (Where did we get the idea that BO does not matter?) The more a hitter differs in overall offensive value from an average hitter, or at least from the hitter who would "replace" him in various lineup combinations, the more moving a guy up or down in the order matters.

Moving Bonds up in the order, if nothing else, is so advantageous - because he is so much better than the player whom he would be replacing (120 runs per year, or .8 runs per PA better than the average bear). Even with Guzman, who is a terrible hitter, his replacement batter in the 2 hole (Mohr above) is only around 20 or 30 runs a year better, a far cry from Bonds' 120! In fact, the extra PA's for the 2 hole versus the 9 hole comes out to about 5 runs a year for Guzman versus Mohr (assuming that Guzman is worth around 25 runs less than Mohr per 160 game sor so), which is around .5 wins per year!

AGAIN, AND THIS IS SO IMPORTANT THAT IT BEARS REPEATING:

BECAUSE BONDS (AND TO A LESSER EXTENT, PLAYERS LIKE A-ROD), IS SUCH AN ANOMOLOUSLY GOOD HITTER, IT IS CRITICAL THAT HE BAT IN AS HIGH A SPOT IN THE ORDER AS POSSIBLE. EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE OTHER CONSIDERATIONS SUCH AS WANTING TO HAVE PLAYERS ON BASE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HIS POWER, BATTING HIM LOW IN THE ORDER, LIKE 4TH, IS DEVASTATING, AS EVERY SINGLE SPOT IN THE ORDER COST A HITTER AROUND 15 PA'S PER YEAR, WHICH FOR HIM IS OVER 10 RUNS OR ONE WIN PER YEAR (150 GAMES) - AGAIN, PER SPOT IN THE ORDER, ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL!

Speaking of Guzman, he is a perfect example (a much as I hate to use anecdotal, or "teeny tiny sample size", evidence) of a guy who has a career year in 2001, even though he had a terrible previous 2 seasons in the mjaors and fared no better in the minors, so everyone, especially the Twins, thought that this was the "breakthrough" year for him at age 23, which is probably one of the reasons why he batted 2nd all year, when in fact he ended up batting almost exactly what his projection would be, based upon several years of data - not just one, even the most recent one! It is an example of the danger of using small sample sizes to project future performance. Small sample sizes, no matter what the age or status of the player, or even what you "think" you observe about the player (I'm sure everyone was raving about Guzman last year - how much he had matured and improved, etc.), are fraught with large sample error, and as I said many times in the past, there's nothing that you or anyone else can do about it!

In fact, it is guaranteed that if you only use, or focus too much on, small, recent samples (as in Guzman's case) you will get fooled a certain percentage (the exact percetnage depending upon the standard error of the metric and your definition of being "fooled") of the time into over or underestimating someone's ability, and thus their projection. Even after last year's .814 OPS, Guzman was projected to be a sub -.700 OPS guy (terrible hitter). That's the way projections work. After this year, he is still projected to be a sub .700 OPS guy...
   9. MGL Posted: October 26, 2002 at 12:59 AM (#606948)
Game 6, how about that IBB to Bonds with 2 outs and a runner on first in the 1st inning?

No walk, Giants score 4.84 RPG and win .515.

Walk and the Giants score 5.22 and win .552

(Results of sim, 50,000 games.)

That is one of the worst plays you will ever see in a game! I take back everything I've ever said about Dusty. Compared to Scoscia, he is truly a genius!


   10. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 27, 2002 at 12:59 AM (#606951)
what else is there other than WE?

Short-term tactical considerations.

Barry Bonds comes up with a man on first and two outs in the first inning of a 0-0 game. If the manager decides to pitch to Bonds, he does so with the knowledge that the odds of getting him out are something less than 50%, and the odds of *immediately* going down at least one run are somewhere around 10% (based on Bonds's EBH percentage). More often than not, the manager will be faced with a situation where his pitcher will STILL have to get Benito Santiago out to stop the inning. If the manager walks Bonds, OTOH, he's guaranteed to be in a situation where the score is still 0-0, and if the pitcher gets Santiago out (which is significantly more likely than the chance that he will get Bonds out), he'll escape the short-term jam without damage, PLUS he's given his team a little psychological boost which may serve to carry over for an inning or two. Under some circumstances - particularly in a do-or-die postseason game - the short-term consideration becomes more important to the manager than the long-term implications of the decision. The long-term consideration probably is, as MGL suggests, that the team decreases its chances to win the game over the long haul. But the immediate effect of a decision to pitch to Bonds is that you are somewhat more likely to find yourself in a hole immedidately, plus still finding it necessary to retire the next hitter - and when you can't afford to lose, it might make sense to trade off the risk of the long-term disadvantage for the chance that you can escape unscathed by avoiding the guy who can dig you into a pit immediately. If you have to pitch to Santiago over half the time anyway, and pitching to Bonds offers the additional risk that you'll have to get by Benny just to keep your deficit at 1 or 2 runs, why not bypass that risk entirely?

I'm not suggesting that Bonds should be walked indiscriminately; the manager still has to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to win the game and that walking Bonds takes away one chance to get an out and (probably) will give Bonds an extra PA later. But the manager has to consider the short-term implications of his decision, as well as the long-term implications. WE covers the long-term implication but doesn't really cover the extent of the short-term tactical considerations that the manager faces.

-- MWE
   11. MGL Posted: October 27, 2002 at 12:59 AM (#606953)
Mike E., you do some good research, so obviously you are very astute, and then you come back with some ridiculous retort my "What else is there but WE?" comment!

I thought I was being rehtorical!

Do you know what WE is?

If we can calculate the WE at any point in the game, that determines the best decision by definition, IF OUR GOAL IS TO GIVE OURtEAM THE BEST CHANCE OF WINNING THE GAME!

All of the gobbledygook that you put in your post determines the WE and nothing else! Being down 2 runs x percentage of the time versus being down 1 run y percentage of the time or having a tie game z percetnage of the time (admittedly, different startegy alternatives have different frequencies for the various "ststes") all goes into the WE. You are confusing WE with RE. Sheesh!

There might be some other considerations but they have nothing to do with strategy vis-a-vis winning the immediate game - keeping players happy, keeping players injury-free, egos, keeping a job, etc., etc.
   12. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 28, 2002 at 01:59 AM (#606955)
If we can calculate the WE at any point in the game, that determines the best decision by definition, IF OUR GOAL IS TO GIVE OURtEAM THE BEST CHANCE OF WINNING THE GAME!

That wasn't what I meant by *short-term tactical consideration*. The short-term tactical consideration is *what do I do to get out of THIS situation with the least amount of damage?* In the case that I cited, the short-term goal was to maximize the probability of keeping the score at 0-0. If the effect of walking Bonds intentionally is to make it more likely that the team will exit the current inning with the score remaining at 0-0, then the team will probably make that choice EVEN IF it decreases their WE. And that's how teams tend to look at things in the real world - they want to get out of the short-term situation no worse off (or better off when they are on offense) than they are now.

Furthermore, these decisions are made on the basis of information that a simulator doesn't have available to it. The pitcher's strengths may match up poorly with the things that Bonds does well, and very well with the things that Santiago does poorly (for example, a ground ball pitcher facing Benito, who is a ground ball hitter, will usually do better than a fly ball pitcher will in that situation). With a runner on 1st, the 1B has to hold the runner on - but with runners on 1st and 2nd, he doesn't, allowing the defense to be deployed to cover more of the field and reducing the holes for Santiago. The quality of the bullpen behind the starter might be an issue, as is the quality of the offense - with a stressed-out pen where you need the starter to go a few innings, you might want to give him a breather by walking Bonds rather than forcing him to work to a relatively narrow success zone, and if your offense is going to have to scratch and claw for runs against the opposition pitchers you need to do whatever is necessary to keep the score low.

So before we assail a manager's decision as *ridiculous*, we should try to assess the strategic factors in the situation that affected his decision, and evaluate the possibility that there is a short-term tactical gain to be had that might offset the reduction in the WE. The WE is, after all, an estimate, based on a number of possible scenarios that follow the event - and I would suggest that those simulated scenarios are not all equally likely in the specific game context in which the event *actually* occurs.

-- MWE

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