If you followed my tweets last night, you know the answer. They both did something very wrong, got away with it, and then got punished for something that was not their fault!
Disclaimer: I actually believe that there is a good chance that OJ is not guilty and that his oldest son Jason, was the real culprit. Check out this book if you are interested in another point of view. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether the information in the book is made up or not. If it isn’t, there is a whole “nother” side to the story.
(If you want to “skip to the chase” go to the 6th paragraph from the bottom starting with, “So let’s see if…“)
Well, that was rich. We went from a mildly funny joke to a serious “ting.”
Back to baseball. Rob Neyer beat me to the punch on this one, but he has not told you the whole story either. So I am here to tell you the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to do so well back in the day.
Rob talks about Matheny’s mistake of not using Choate, his LOOGY, against Ortiz in the top of the 6th inning with a runner on first and 2 outs. That wasn’t the big mistake. The mistake was letting Lynn, the starter, start the inning and pitch to Ellsbury, Nava, Pedroia, and Ortiz. It was the the start of Lynn’s third time through the order. We all know about the “times through the order” penalty for starters. I, and many others, have been talking about this a lot lately, It is the new Moneyball (not really, but that sounds cool).
On top of that, 3 out of the first 4 batters due up that inning are lefty batters (Nava is a switch hitter, much better from the left side). And, Lynn has a pretty big platoon split, mainly because he throws from a three quarter arm slot, which is fairly unusual for a RH pitcher. Nonetheless, he is excellent versus RH batters and very mediocre versus lefties. The third time through the order, he is close to replacement level versus lefty batters. So, essentially Matheny’s choice starting the 6th inning, was to have a replacement level pitch pitch to 3 of Boston’s first 4 batters and a slightly better than average pitcher (even against a righty, the third time through the order, Lynn becomes almost average) for the other one. That is not a good choice in the 4th game of the World Series is.
So his decision was really fait accompli long before Big Papi stepped to the plate. Now, you don’t want to bring in Choate to face Ellsbury because then he has to face Nava (or a pinch hitter like Napoli) from the right side, and then Pedroia from the right side, before he faces another lefty in Ortiz. And you do not want Randy Choate anywhere near a right handed batter. I mean if he just walks by a righty in the clubhouse, I think a ball goes careening off the walls. He is terrible against RHB. Just awful. Worse than replacement. Your right- handed grandmother would be better.
So let’s see, does Matheny have someone in the pen, who can get out lefties and righties. Hmmm. Let’s see. No, I don’t…Wait a minute. There is this guy named Siegrest, I think, who throws with his left hand, can fire the ball into the catcher’s mitt oh, maybe 95 mph or so. Let’s see, his career (albeit in a small sample) wOBA against lefties is .195 and .216 versus righties. You think maybe this guy is the man for the job? To face 3 lefties, a righty and a switch hitter who can’t hit lefty pitchers? Or would your rather use a near-replacement level pitcher in Lynn?
Oh yeah, Lynn is throwing a 1 hitter so far and Siegrest once gave up a home run to Ortiz (I think it was a couple days ago, but I’m not sure – like most managers, I have little long-term memory anymore).
Yeah right! Having given up a home run to Ortiz is worthless as far as pitching to him now, and the fact that Lynn is pitching a one hitter has almost zero predictive value and doesn’t negate the fact that he is likely a crap pitcher facing the lineup for the third time, with 3 out of the first 4 lefties to boot!
Anyway, you know what went down. Lynn retires two batters, gives up a hit and a walk to Ortiz (pitching to Ortiz was the piece de resistance of Matheny’s utter cluelessness), Maness comes in to pitch to Gomes ( fine move, but too little, too late) and bang!
But, let’s not worry at all about the results. The correctness or not of his moves has nothing whatsoever to do with what ensued in that inning or whether the Cards lost the game or not. A decision is to be judged solely on what we know at the time it was made. It was only ironic that when he finally brought in the right pitcher, everything blew up in his face.
For the record, if you were not following my tweets last night, just as be brought in Maness to pitch to Gomes, and after I had been screaming bloody murder, I tweeted this.
Let’s see if we can figure out about how much win expectancy Matheny cost his team by his “non moves” in the 6th, since, really, that is the only thing that counts in terms of evaluating his decisions - not how it turned out (please, memorize that and recite every night 10 times before you go to bed).
Overall, I project Lynn as a pitcher who allows 75% league average runs versus RHB and 108% versus LHB. That’s a large split for a starter. Compare that to Bucholz, who is 88% and 100%. The third time through the order, a good rule of thumb is to add 10% to those numbers. So Lynn becomes an 85%/118% pitcher, not too good, especially the latter number.
Siegrest, on the other hand, is terrific against both RHB and LHB. I have his projection as 83% and 54%, respectively. Compare that, BTW, to Choate, at (wait, get a barf bag ready) 165% and 68%. You don’t have to take these numbers as the gospel. There are certainly error bars around them, but it doesn’t really matter. We know about the times through the order penalty, we know that Lynn, at his best, is no Adam Wainwright, we are pretty sure that Lynn has a large true platoon split, and we are pretty sure that Siegrest is a really, really good reliever with very small platoon splits.
The average leverage during these 4 batters was around 1.25. So any run impact we get is multiplied by that number. Against Ellsbury, the difference between Siegrest and Lynn is around .07 runs. You’ll just have to take my word for it since it is 2 in the AM and I am tired of writing. Nava, around the same even though he is a switch hitter, since he hits almost like a lefty only. Pedroia is around a .002 difference only. And Ortiz is around .08. These are all ballpark numbers, no pun intended. Add them all up and multiply by 1.25 (the average LI), and we get a grand total of .22 runs or .022 wins, which is 2.2% in WE.
That is huge folks! Ginormous! A couple of days ago in a post I wrote on SBN, I think, I constructed a set of criteria for what I called Category I, II, II, and IV mistakes by a manager. Category I contained the most egregious ones, and I think I said that those cost 1-2% in WE. I can’t imagine making any mistakes that cost a team more than that.
I may have to invent a new category.
I am afraid OJ’s got nothing on Matheny!