And you think that was bad?

Posted: October 29, 2013 in In-game strategy, Managers, Pinch hiting, Pitching

Last night I lambasted the Cardinals’ sophomore manager, Mike Matheny, for some errors in bullpen management that I estimated cost his team over 2% in win expectancy (WE). Well, after tonight’s game, all I have to say is, as BTO so eloquently said, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

Tonight (or last night, or whatever), John Farrell, the equally clueless manager of the Red Sox (God, I hope I don’t ever have to meet these people I call idiots and morons!), basically told Matheny, “I’ll see your stupid bullpen management and raise you one moronic non-pinch hit appearance!”

I’m talking of course about the top of the 7th inning in Game 5. The Red Sox had runners on second and third, one out, and John Lester, the Sox’ starter was due to hit (some day, I’ll be telling my grandkids, “Yes, Johnny, pitchers once were also hitters.”). Lester was pitching well (assuming you define “well” as how many hits/runs he allowed so far – not that I am suggesting that he wasn’t  pitching “well”) and had only thrown 69 pitches, I think. I don”t think it ever crossed Farrell’s mind to pinch hit for him in that spot. The Sox were also winning 2-1 at the time, so, you know, they didn’t need any more runs in order to guarantee a win <sarcasm>.

Anyway, I’m not going to engage in a lot of hyperbole and rhetoric (yeah, I probably will). It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that not pinch hitting for Lester in that particular spot (runners on 2nd and 3rd, and one out) is going to cost a decent number of fraction of runs. It doesn’t even take a genius, I don’t think, to figure out that that means that it also costs the Red Sox some chance of ultimately winning the game. I’ll explain it like I would to a 6-year-old child. With a pinch hitter, especially Napoli, you are much more likely to score, and if you do, you are likely to score more runs. And if on the average you score more runs that inning with a pinch hitter, you are more likely to win the game, since you only have a 1 run lead and the other team still gets to come to bat 3 more times. Surely, Farrell can figure that part out.

How many runs and how much win expectancy does that cost, on the average? That is pretty easy to figure out. I’ll get to that in a second (spoiler alert: it’s a lot). So that’s the downside. What is the upside? It is two-fold, sort of. One, you get to continue to pitch Lester for another inning or two. I assume that Farrell does not know exactly how much longer he plans on using Lester, but he probably has some idea. Two, you get to rest your bullpen in the 7th and possibly the 8th.

Both of those upsides are questionable in my opinion, but, as you’ll see, I will actually give Farrell and any other naysayer (to my way of thinking) the benefit of the doubt. The reason I think it is questionable is this: Lester, despite pitching well so far, and only throwing 69 pitches, is facing the order for the 3rd time in the 7th inning, which means that he is likely .4 runs per 9 innings worse than he is overall, and the Red Sox, like most World Series teams, have several very good options in the pen who are actually at least as good as Lester when facing the order for the third time, not to mention the fact that Farrell can mix and match his relievers in those two innings on order to get the platoon advantage. So, in my opinion, the first upside for leaving in Lester is not an upside at all.  But, when I do my final analysis, I will sort of assume that it is, as you will see.

The second upside is the idea of saving the bullpen, or more specifically, saving the back end of the bullpen, the short relievers. In my opinion, again, that is a sketchy argument. We are talking about the Word Series, where you carry 11 or 12 pitchers in order to play 7 games in 9 days and then take 5 months off. In fact, tomorrow (today?) is an off day followed by 2 more games and then they all go home. Plus, it’s not like either bullpen has been overworked in the post-season so far. But, I will be happy to concede that “saving your pen” is indeed an upside for leaving Lester in the game. How much is it worth? No one knows, but I don’t think anyone would disagree with this: A manager would not choose to “save” his bullpen for 1-2 innings when there is an off day followed by 2 more games, followed by 100 off days, when the cost of that savings is a significant chunk of win expectancy in the game he is playing at the present time. I mean, if you don’t agree with that, just stop reading and don’t ever come back to this site.

The final question, then, is how much in run or win expectancy did that non-pinch hit cost? Remember in my last post how I talked about “categories” of mistakes that a manager can make? I said that a Category I mistake, a big one, cost a team 1-2% in win expectancy. That may not seem like a lot for one game, but it is. We all criticize managers for “costing” their team the game when we think  they made a mistake and their team loses. If you’ve never done that, then you can stop reading too. The fact of the matter is that there is almost nothing a manager can do, short of losing his mind and pinch hitting the bat boy in a high leverage situation, that is worth more than 1 or 2% in win expectancy. Other than this.

The run expectancy with runners on second and third and one out in a low run environment is around 1.40. That means that on the average with a roughly average hitter at the plate, the batting team will score, on the average, 1.40 runs during that inning, from that point on. We’ll assume that it is about the same if Napoli pinch hit. He is a very good pinch hitter, but there is a pinch hitting penalty and he is facing a right handed pitcher. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter. It could be 1.2 runs or 1.5 runs. It won’t make much of a difference.

What is the run expectancy with Lester at the plate? I don’t know much about his hitting, but I assume that since he has never been in the NL, and therefore hardly ever hits, it is not good. We can easily say that it is below that of an average pitcher, but that doesn’t really matter either. With an average pitcher batting in that same situation, and the top of the order coming up, the average RE is around 1.10 runs. So the difference is .3 runs. Again, it doesn’t matter much if it is .25 or .4 runs. And there really isn’t much wiggle room. We know that it is a run scoring situation and we know that a pinch hitter like Napoli (or almost anyone for that matter) is going to be a much better hitter than Lester. So .3 runs sounds more than reasonable. Basically we are saying that, on the average, with a pinch hitter like Napoli at the plate in that situation, runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, the Red Sox will score .3 more runs than with Lester at the plate. I don’t know that anyone would quarrel with that – even someone like a Tim McCarver or Joe Morgan.

In order to figure out how much in win expectancy that is going to cost, again, on the average, first we need to multiply that number by the leverage index in that situation. The LI is 1.64.  1.64 times .3 runs divided by 10 is .049 or 4.9%. That is the difference in WE between batting Lester or a pinch hitter. It means that with the pinch hitter, the Red Sox can expect, on the average, to win the game around 5% more often than if Lester hits, everything else being equal. I don’t know whether you can appreciate the enormity of that number. I have been working with these kinds of numbers for over 20 years. If you can’t appreciate it, you will just have to take my word for it that that is a ginormous number when it comes to WE in one game. As I said, I usually consider an egregious error to be worth 1-2%. This is worth almost 5%. That is ridiculous. It’s like someone offering you a brand new Chevy or Mercedes for the same price. And you take the Chevy, if you are John Farrell.

Just to see if we are in the right ballpark with our calculations, I am going to to run this scenario through my baseball simulator, which is pretty darn accurate (even though it does not have an algorithm for heart or grit) in these kinds of relatively easy situations to analyze.

Sound of computers whirring….

With Lester hitting, the Red Sox win the game 76.6% of the time. And therein lies the problem! Farrell knows that no matter what he does, he is probably going to win the game, and if he takes out Lester, not only is he going to bruise his feelings (boo hoo), but if the relief core blows the game, he is going to be lambasted and probably feel like crap. If he takes Lester out, he knows he’s also going to probably win the game, and what’s a few percent here and there. But if he lets Lester continue, as all of Red Sox nation assumes and hopes he will, and then they blow the game, no one is going to blame Farrell. You know why? Because at the first sign of trouble, he is going to pull Lester, and no one is going to criticize a manager for leaving in a pitcher who is pitching a 3-hitter through 6 innings and only 69 pitches and yanks him as soon as he gives up a baserunner or two. So letting Lester hit for himself is the safe decision. Not a good one, but a safe one.

After that rant, you probably want to know how often the Sox win if they pinch hit for Lester. 79.5% of the time. So that’s only a 2.9% difference. Still higher than my formerly highest Category of manager mistakes, 1-2%.

Let’s be conservative and call it a 3% mistake. I wonder if you told John Farrell that by not pinch hitting for Jon Lester his team’s chances of winning go from 79.5% to 76.6%. Even if he believed that, do you think it would sway his decision? I don’t think so, because he feels with all his heart and soul that having Lester, who is “dealing,” pitch another inning or two, and saving his bullpen, is well worth the difference between 77% and 80%. After all, either way, they probably win.

So how much does Lester pitching another inning or two (we’ll call it 1.5 innings, since at the time it could have been anywhere from 0 to 2, I think  – I am pretty sure that Koji was pitching the 9th no matter what) gain over another pitcher? Well, I already said that the answer is nothing. Any of their good relievers are at least as good as Lester the 3rd time though the order. But I also said that I will concede that Lester is going to be just amazing, on the average, if Farrell leaves him in the game. How good does he have to be in order to make up the .3 runs or 3% in WE that are lost by allowing Lester to hit?

A league average reliever allows around 4 runs a game. It doesn’t matter what that exact number is – we are only using it for comparison purposes. A good short reliever actually allows more like 3 or 3.5 runs a game. Starting pitchers, in general, are a little worse than the average pitcher (because of that nasty times through the order penalty). A very good pitcher like Lester allows around 3.5 runs a game (a pitcher like Wainwright around 3 runs a game). So let’s assume that a very average reliever came into the game to pitch the 7th and half the 8th rather than Lester. They would allow 4 runs a game. That is very pedestrian for a reliever. Almost any short reliever can do that with his eyes closed. In order to make up the .3 runs we lost by letting Lester hit, Lester needs to allow fewer runs than 4 runs a game. How much less? Well, .3 runs in 1.5 innings is .2 runs per inning. .2 runs per inning times 9 innings is 1.8 runs. So Lester would have to pitch like a pitcher who allows 2.2 runs per 9 innings. No starting pitcher like that exists. Even the best starter in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, is a 2.5 run per 9 pitcher at best.

Let’s go another route. Remember that I said Lester was probably around a 3.5 run pitcher (Steamer, a very good projection system, has him projected with a 3.60 FIP, which is around a 3.5 pitcher in my projection system), but that the third time through the order he is probably a 3.80 or 3.90 pitcher. Forget about that. Let’s decree that Lester is indeed going to pitch the 7th and 8th innings, or however long he continues, like an ace reliever. Let’s call him a 3.00 pitcher, not the 3.80 or 3.90 pitcher that I think he really is, going into the 7th inning.

In case, you are wondering, there is no evidence that good or even great pitching through 6 or 7 innings predicts good pitching for future innings. Quite the contrary. Even starters who are pitching well have the times through the order penalty, and if they are allowed to continue, they end up pitching worse than they do overall in a random game. That is what real life says. That is what happens. It is not my opinion, observation, or recollection. A wise person once said that, “Truth comes from evidence and not opinion or faith.”

But, again, we are living on Planet Farrell, so we are conceding that Lester is a great pitcher going into the 7th inning and the third time through the order. (Please don’t tell me how he did that inning. If you do or even think that, you need to leave and never come back. Seriously.)  We are calling him a 3.0 pitcher, around the same as a very good closer.

How bad does a replacement for Lester for 1.5 innings have to be to make up for that .3 runs? Again, we need .2 runs per inning, times 9 innings, or a total of 1.8 runs per 9. So the reliever to replace him would have to be a 4.8 pitcher. That is a replacement pitcher folks, There is no one on either roster who is even close to that.

So there you have it. Like Keith Olbermann’s, Worst person in the world, we have the worst manager in baseball – John Farrell.

Addendum: Please keep in mind that some of the hyperbole and rhetoric is just that. Take comments like, “Farrell is an idiot,” or, “the worst manager in baseball,” with a grain of salt and chalk it up to flowery emotion. It is not relevant to the argument of course. The argument speaks for itself, and you, the reader, are free to conclude what you want about whether his moves, or any other managerial moves that I might discuss, were warranted or not.

I am not insensitive to factors that drive all managers’ decisions, like the reaction, desires, and opinions of the fans, media, upper management, and especially, the players. As several people have pointed out, if a manager were to do things that were “technically” correct, yet in doing so, alienate his players (and/or the fans) thereby affecting morale, loyalty, and perhaps a conscious or subconscious desire to win, then those “correct” decisions may become “incorrect” in the grand scheme of things.

That being said, my intention is to inform the reader and to take the hypothetical perspective of informing the manager of the relevant and correct variables and inputs such that they and you can make an informed decision. Imagine this scenario: I am sitting down with Farrell and perhaps the Red Sox front office and we are rationally and intelligently discussing ways to improve managerial strategy. Surely no manager can be so arrogant as to think that everything he does is correct. You would not want an employee like that working for your company no matter how much you respect him and trust his skills. Anyway, let’s say that we are discussing this very same situation, and Farrell says something like, “You know, I really didn’t care whether I removed Lester for a pinch hitter or not, and I don’t think he or my players would either. Plus, the preservation of my bullpen was really a secondary issue. I could have easily used Morales, Dempster, or even Breslow again. Managers have to make tough decisions like that all the time. I genuinely thought that with Lester pitching and us already being up a run, we had the best chance to win. But now that you have educated me on the numbers, I realize that that assumption on my part was wrong. In the future I will have to rethink my position if that or a similar situation should come up.”

That may not be a realistic scenario, but that is the kind of discussion and thinking I am trying to foster.

MGL

Comments
  1. Dez Bryant says:

    Uehara and Tazawa are on fumes, as both have said publicly. [ http://dailybaseballdata.com/cgi-bin/bullpen.pl?lookback=7 ]. Breslow is a mess. Zero point zero trust in anyone else. You keep typing “save the bullpen” when it’s pretty clear he is avoiding the middle relief, same thing maybe.. I don’t think so. Say what you want, but with 3-4-5-6 coming up, I think every single person on the Red Sox team felt that was the correct call, and that counts for something beyond your WE tables.

    Great argument, loved reading it, 99/100 would play it that way, but after taking the lead there with Ross’ hit, I don’t think anyone else thinks it was a “worst manager in baseball” move. Not pinch hitting for Workman was far worse.

    • Dez Bryant says:

      P.S. will keep reading even if I am not welcome back.

      • MGL says:

        Haha, You’re more than welcome to stay. I appreciate the feedback even if it conflicts with my point of view! I could be wrong, as always.

    • chuckb says:

      You know who else was on fumes at that point? Adam Wainwright, who has just allowed a double to Ross, had runners on 2nd and 3rd, was over a hundred pitches, and had the ultimate support of his manager to give up as many runs as possible before Ortiz batted that inning. Wainwright was on the ropes and a big hit by Napoli — or Carp if you prefer the platoon split — would’ve probably put the game nearly out of reach whether Farrell decided to use Tazawa, Workman, Breslow, or even Peavy. The hit by Ellsbury may have bailed Farrell out. It wasn’t an example of his brilliant baseball strategy. Farrell got lucky that Matheny didn’t go to Siegrist, who was warm and ready in the pen, because 3-1 is a lot different than 2-1.

  2. ChuckO says:

    I don’t think Farrell was being stupid when he let Lester bat. I think he was looking out for himself. IMHO, that’s what’s behind most incorrect managerial decisions. The “group think” position on letting Lester bat is that he’d only thrown 69 pitches, or whatever the correct number was, and that he’s your stud, so you should stick with him. Hence, Farrell made what was the most conventionally defensible choice by letting Lester bat. It may be true that his bosses are savvy when it comes to baseball analytics and would understand lifting Lester for a pinch hitter, but that’s not the only thing that Farrell had to worry about. He has to manage with one eye to the players’ opinions of what he is doing, and I am willing to bet that there probably wasn’t a player in the dugout who thought that it would be a good idea to pinch hit for Lester. If the clubhouse turns against a manager because they don’t like the way he’s handling the team, he may well be fired to appease the players, even if the front office approves of what he’s doing. That’s something managers are going to consider. I’m not defending the managers who make stupid decisions based upon conventional thinking, but I am saying that, when it comes to understanding managerial decisions, you have to consider the “cover your butt” factor.

    • JB1026 says:

      Farrell is still the manager, the General, he has to take whatever abuse the fans, media, and FO through at him. But I believe a true leader is the type of person that can tell someone to eat a pile of crap in a way that makes the person eager to ask for seconds as well. Managers have to have trust and players have to trust managers.

    • MGL says:

      I agree with everything you just said. When I criticize a manager or call him “stupid” for decision like this one, I don’t really mean it. All I ask (in a hypothetical world) is that managers are able to make informed decisions. In this case, even if he knew and believed that leaving Lester in would cost his team 3% of a win on the average, as you said, he would still probably make the same decision. However, in many cases that is not true. There are many instances where a manager could and would make different choices than they do if they understood and knew the correct information.

  3. DaveB says:

    Thanks for posting this, MGL. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person wondering about the WE numbers while last night was unfolding. I prefer sentiment and story over what might be called “perfect strategy” so I was glad to see Lester left in. I don’t have much of a rooting stake in this WS, just want to see great things happen. And leaving lester in was more fun for me as a viewer.

    that said, where can I read about the correlation between times through the order and pitch count to that point? It would seem logical that a pitcher going through the third time on pitches 100-120 would fare worse than a pitcher going through the third time on pitches 80-100 or something similar, but maybe the times through the order overwhelms any (possibly weak) signal from pitch count.

    • MGL says:

      I don’t know of any research that looks at times through the order AND pitch count. It is on my list of things to do.I am guessing that as you say the times through the order penalty is much stronger than any mitigating or exacerbating factors related to pitch count. Also, pitch count is closely associated with batters faced so it is unlikely that there would be a great disparity. When a pitcher faces the leadoff batter for the third time, I would guess that 95% of the time he has thrown between 60 and 80 pitches.

  4. Harold says:

    “Lester, despite pitching well so far, and only throwing 69 pitches, is facing the order for the 3rd time in the 7th inning, which means that he is likely .4 runs per 9 innings worse than he is overall, and the Red Sox, like most World Series teams, have several very good options in the pen who are actually at least as good as Lester when facing the order for the third time, not to mention the fact that Farrell can mix and match his relievers in those two innings on order to get the platoon advantage.”

    Here is the problem with this right here, and it is the reason every single Red Sox fan, even those who are saber-minded, agree 100% with Farrell. You are talking about the Red Sox relievers in the abstract, and not in the specific options Farrell had to record the 9 outs they would have needed to record. There is NO WAY they had “several options who are at least as good as Lester when facing the order for the third time.” Maybe that would be true in regular season, statistically. But with a margin for error so low, that is not a risk Farrell was taking.

    The Cardinals this year had a .332 wOBA vs. RHP this year, 3rd highest in baseball. Vs LHP? .295, the fifth worst. The Red Sox have 3 LHP relievers in the bullpen, none of which were a good option. Doubront pitched 2.2 innings Sunday, so he was unavailable. Breslow has faced 7 total batters this world series and recorded 1 out, a sac fly back in game 2 and has an 8.59 bb/9 this postseason. Farrell has ZERO faith in him at this point. And lastly there is Franklin Morales, who had a 5.33 bb/9 in the regular season and has only faced 9 batters this postseason and let 5 of them reach base.

    The only realistic options would be Tazawa, Workman, and Koji. And while Koji is lights out, Taz and Workman are not. Tazawa has been great this postseason, but that is because Farrell has used him very, very deftly. He gave up a lot of hard contact this year. Workman has a very pedestrian 1.33 k/bb this postseason.

    This is where there is a gulf between you and Farrell. The fact is that Farrel had zero faith in his bullpen bridging the gap to Lester, and I agree. There is absolutely no way the Red Sox’ bullpen going forward from the bottom of the 7th on would have been equally as effective as Lester. It would be one thing if it was the top of the eighth, and the bullpen would of needed to record 6 outs. But it was the top of the 7th and the bullpen needed to get 9 outs, starting with the Cardinals 3-4-5 hitters.

    You are oversimplifying the likelihood of the Red Sox bullpen pitching 3 clean innings. You are assuming that the bullpen would be able to do it easy. Maybe I am just a nervous Red Sox fan, but that is a very stupid assumption, in my opinion.

    • MGL says:

      While I am not insensitive to the desires abd opinions of the Red Sox Nation, you are rebutting my argument about fault thinking on Farrells part with faulty thinking of your own and more faulty thinking by Farrell.

      My whole thesis is that Farrell made his decision because he thought that Lester pitching for an inning or two more gives his team the best chance of winning the game (and saving his bullpen for 1 or 2 more games). I am demonstrating how that is wrong. Then you tell me that I am wrong, because Farrell thinks that using Lester gives his team the best chance of winning. Huh?

      If you are telling me why Farrell did what he did (doesn’t trust his available pen), fine. If your telling me that that is correct and rational thinking, well, I have to respectfully disagree.

      • Harold says:

        First of all, it has nothing to do with saving his bullpen. I don’t understand where you are getting that from, you are inferring it completely on your own. As far as I know, Farrell didn’t say anything about how that factored into his decision after the game. There are only 2 games in the season after tonight, and a day off today. We already know that he didn’t mind using Koji since he used him for 4 outs anyway. Breslow and Tazawa, who have been Farrell’s go to guys in the postseason, threw a combined 10 pitches the day before. Workman didn’t throw a single pitch. I don’t see how Farrell was trying to save his bullpen.

        Secondly, we have a fundamental disagreement over whether or not Farrell’s thinking is faulty. I understand that you think Farrell’s logic is faulty and you have laid out your reasons. I am saying that your reasons for why this is faulty are simply not strong enough because you assumed in your original post that Lester going through the order his 3rd time around will be just as effective as the Red Sox middle relief. I just don’t agree with that at all, not with the way the Cardinals destroy RHP compared to LHP, not with 9 outs to go, and especially not with the mediocrity the Sox middle relief has been recently. You apparently trust Workman/Breslow/Tazawa far more than Farrell or any Red Sox fan does. Good luck.

        I don’t mean to come off combative, and maybe you are right that the bullpen isn’t as bad as I believe it is. It’s just baffling to me that you would say this move is so incredibly egregious that you would call him the worst manager in baseball, considering the circumstances.

      • Steve says:

        I think what he is telling you is, at present, using normal numbers (such as 3.0 r/9) to model expected performance of the Sox bullpen today, against the middle of the Cards order and the potential for favorable PH match-ups too, is probably not as accurate as it would be under normal conditions.

        What Farrell knows that the model does not account for (other than maybe in aggregate) is that the Sox bullpen is tired, and in some cases are not throwing the ball particularly well right now. Napoli struck out almost 190 times this year. The increase in likelihood in scoring that run may model, in a generic model, as outweighing the decrease in likelihood to preventing the Cards scoring with Lester out of the game (obviously if that actually increases, then, even moreso). But in the real world, with the trusted relievers both fatigued and seen by the Cards multiple times, Napoli a high strikeout risk, and the middle of the order coming up next against whoever the first Sox reliever would be, the amount of variability in the RE and WE results that the model suggests might be pretty high.

  5. Florko says:

    I think the bottom line, and the easiest way for me to phrase this is that Farrell and the Sox almost purposefully didnt score runs. One of the if not the most important at bats for the Sox in the game and they have Lester at the plate. When you have a chance to score runs and win a game you take that chance, especially when you have a saber friendly front office behind you. I dont understand how these mistakes, and yes it was a mistake can happen over and over again how is know one telling him!!

    • Harold says:

      Ok, I will present 2 scenarios to you. Let’s ignore the fact that Ellsbury had an RBI and assume he made an out. Top of the 7th, 1 out, 2nd and 3rd, up 2-1:

      Scenario A: Lester hits, makes an out, Ellsbury ends the inning, Red Sox are up 2-1 with 9 outs to go and Lester still pitching.

      Scenario B: Napoli PH, hits a sac fly, Ellsbury makes an out, Red Sox up 3-1 with 9 outs to go and only the bullpen.

      Farrell believed that scenario A will result in a win more often than scenario B even though they are conceding a run. And that has to do with his complete lack of faith in his muddle relief against the Cardinals lineup. There is a chasm between how you are viewing the Red Sox middle relief and how John Farrell views them. The likelihood of the Sox middle relief giving up 2+ runs is much greater than Jon Lester giving up 1+ runs in that situation, for reasons I have already listed. And all of this assumes that PH Napoli works perfectly and the run scores, which is far from a guarantee.

      People are getting too cute with the managing here. The more I read the original post, the most I start to think it’s a troll. Worst manager in baseball? Give me a break.

      • MGL says:

        There are no two pitchers on the planet such that one of those pitchers would have a greater win expectancy with a 1 run lead than the other with a 2 run lead. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one, as the saying goes!

      • chuckb says:

        It’s entirely possible that Farrell believed that the likelihood of his middle relievers giving up 2 runs was greater than the likelihood that Lester would yield 1. If he did, however, he’s just wrong. He either is overvaluing Lester’s ability the third time through — facing the middle of the order against a series of the Cards’ best right handed hitters — or he is undervaluing his middle relievers.

      • Florko says:

        The odds of lester giving up 1 is greater than the pen giving up 2

  6. Kenny Mostern says:

    It would be really helpful if you would answer the question about whether the penalty really comes from times through the order or whether it really comes from pitch count (or exactly where in the middle it lies). This is presumably testable – I don’t know how to do it, but you do, and laying it out would go at least part of the way toward addressing this disagreement.

    • MGL says:

      It is definitely times through the order and not pitch count. However, as I said above in my response to another reader, I do not know to what extent (I suspect not much) pitch count might exacerbate or mitigate the effect.

      Don’t forget that when facing the lead-off hitter for the 3rd time, 69 pitches is roughly an average number of pitches. So there is no reason to think that he would not experience the “3rd time through the order” penalty at that point.

      And, as I clearly said in the article, that isn’t even much if a critical factor. Even if we assume two things that the historical evidence does not support – one, he will have no penalty (and I have no idea WHY we would assume that), and two, his 6 innings of good pitching suggests continued good pitching (and again, the historical evidence debunks that claim), it is still a large mistake, WE-wise to let him hit.

      • Dale Sams says:

        If through the order has more effect than pitch count, and a team has a reasonably good BP, then would you say the Sox are being too passive by taking good pitches to drive up an ace’s pitch count, and they should be ‘looking for their pitch’ rather than just automatically taking?

        • MGL says:

          I have said many times that it is generally counterproductive to try and elevate pitch counts in order to encourage that a starter be removed early. Then again, I don’t really think teams or batters do that. There is an optimum approach at the plate for each batter. I don’t think that any batter alters that approach in order to affect the pitcher’s pitch count. If a player or a team advocates having a patient approach or seeing lots of pitches, it is because they think that is better for their offensive output. The gain, even if there is one, of a batter trying to increase pitches per PA in order to affect the starting pitcher, has to be so small that it would not be worth altering an otherwise optimal hitting approach. Teams may say that is what they are doing or why they have a patient approach, but they are either making that up or they aren’t doing it for that reason but think they are.

  7. scapistronteve C says:

    In your conversion of runs to wins you used a factor of 10. I understand this was done to be most favorable to Farrell, but in reality a value of 7 or 8 could be realistically used.

    I was hoping to see Carp and not Napoli bat there. Napoli does have the better projection than carp even given the handedness, but it would allow for another double switch later if Carp where used.

    After Xander got on I was hoping Drew and Ross would make outs so Farrell wouldn’t be in a position to make the decision he did. If there are two outs and a runner on first and you want to leave Lester in, fine.

    • MGL says:

      Yes, a runs to wins factor of less than 10 is probably more appropriate because of the lower run environment (we don’t know that for sure).I was going to use something less, but it really doesn’t make a difference and 10 is easier!

  8. Guy says:

    MGL: How bad a decision (if it was one) do you think the Cards made in letting Wainwright pitch the 7th? Seems to me he should have been pulled after 6 (and letting him pitch to Ellsbury was a terrible call).

    Also, do you have any thoughts/observations on how the two teams handle the shift against LHH? It appears to me the Sox have very effectively shut down Carpenter, while Ortiz manages to regularly punch groundballs through the right side. Maybe it’s just that Ortiz has hit the ball harder and/or to better locations, but I wonder if StL is using a non-optimal shift. Any thoughts?

    • MGL says:

      No idea about the shift. None whatsoever. Seems like it is being used reasonably optimally. Obviously Ortiz has gotten “lucky” with the number of hits he has gotten to the right side. I don’t see how you can stack up any more players on the right side.

      Letting Wainwright pitch the 7th is not nearly as costly as letting Lester hit. Not even close. Think about the one PA to Ellsbury. Wainwright is a better pitcher than Lester. He is a run less than average per 9 pitcher. Third or fourth time thru the order after 100 pitches probably a .5 run better than average. Compare that to a lefty reliever who is going to be maybe 1.5 run below average. So that is a savings of 1 run per 9. That is .026 runs! Lester batting is 10 times worse than that! Bringing in a lefty reliever to face Ellsbury alone saves less than .5% in WE. There are no assumptions you could assert to make those “mistakes” even remotely close in magnitude.

      That is why it is amazing to me that I can crticiize Matheny for a slow hook with impunity but I can’t criticize Farrell for letting Lester hit!

      • TomC says:

        Well letting Waino pitch the 7th also meant that he led off in the bottom of the 6th. That’s a bigger problem than coming out to pitch again, though the combination is still not anywhere near the Lester PA.

      • SL says:

        “That is why it is amazing to me that I can crticiize Matheny for a slow hook with impunity but I can’t criticize Farrell for letting Lester hit!”

        Ain’t Red Sox Nation a wonderful thing?

  9. Dale Sams says:

    What do you think the chances are of Napoli (A guy who strikes out a billion times) against Wainwright (In what would be the most important AB of the game) getting in a run? I think it’s pretty damn low. And Napoli’s appearance removes any future Ortiz ABs. Now…Farrell can bring in Carp, but he absolutely would have used Napoli there.

    • MGL says:

      Carp or Napoli is fine. Chances of Napoli getting a hit as a guy who strikes out a billion times? Against Wainwright? Probably around 1%.

  10. Guest says:

    Can anyone clarify if the Sox had a reliever warming up in the top of the seventh at any time? There was no one throwing at the start of the inning, according to the Sox radio announcers. Farrell had decided that Lester was going to bat.

    • MGL says:

      Well, they did have Tazawa warming up at the beginning of the bottom of the 7th, presumably if Lester were to have gotten in trouble.

      We already know that Farrell likely had not intention of removing Lester. How does that factor in the argument as to whether he was right or wrong?

      • Guest says:

        It is clear that Farrell made his decision before the inning started, using the pitch count number — Lester was at 69 after six — and the Cardinal splits vs LHP numbers, rather than the Win Expectancy numbers you have calculated. While the Sox are sabremetrically proficient, I doubt they are churing those numbers in the dugout. ;-)
        When the count went to 0-1 on Ross, the Sox announcers noted that no one was warming and questioned whether Farrell would actually let Lester hit with the bases loaded, one out, and no runs in yet.
        After the Ross double, there are a variety of possibilities, and Farrell took the wrong one in terms of the math but maybe the right one in terms of psychology:
        1. Let Lester bat, and he makes an ineffectual out. Red Sox have the lead and one more chance to increase it.
        2. Let Lester bat, and he somehow produces a run with a gork over the drawn-in infield or something weird happens (not that anything weird has happened in this WS). If Lester somehow drives in a run, that is a crushing blow to the Cardinals.
        3. Pinch-hit for Lester with Mike Napoli or Mike Carp. Batter drives in a run or two. More Sox momentum, but they have to piece together five outs from the iffy part of the pen.
        4. Pinch-hit for Lester with Napoli or Carp, and the PH does NOT get the run home. This is a potential momentum swing back to the Cardinals, who no longer have to face the LHP that has been shutting them down.

  11. mcsnide says:

    Rather than “Worst Manager in Baseball,” maybe you could call it the “Joe Maddon Award.” That way people who haven’t been reading your stuff over the years don’t know it’s an insult.

  12. Sockmonkey says:

    The crux of the argument is that the manager overestimates how good his starter is (believing that he’s “on”) and perhaps underestimates his bullpen as well. So, I think you ought to address that more directly. You state that the third-time through the order penalty is universal, and I believe you. But the claim is basically that Lester, on that day, is not a 3.5 R/9 pitcher, but a 1.0 or 1.5 R/9 pitcher.

    Your view is that he’s a 3.5, and that his good starts and bad starts are noise around this estimate of his true skill. The alternate possibility is that he’s “on” some days and “off” some other days and, crucially, that his manager can tell the difference.

    Just sorting his starts by R/9 this year, we see that he had

    10 starts with R/9 <1.3
    7 starts with R/9 between 2.5 & 3.9
    16 starts with R/9 greater than 4.4
    (none with R/9 between 1.3 and 2.5 or between 3.9 and 4.4)

    Sorting by Base-Out Runs Saved gives similar groupings, and the same top 10 starts, far bettern than the other 23 starts.

    Now, I know the sample size is small, but it's also clearly not anything like a normal distribution.

    So, the questions is….is there anything we can tell from the early innings of those games? Is it plausible that Farrell knew he had "on" Lester? That, I think, is the more interesting question.

    • Sockmonkey says:

      I guess I should have noted that a lot of the discontinuity is just because 2 runs is twice as much as 1 run. It’s hard to come up with1.7 R/9, for example. So, maybe I should have shown the RE24 stats, or maybe you know a better metric to use here.

      Still, the claim should be measurable – is there information in the early part of the game that can tell the manager that he’s got “on” Lester, a ~1.2 R/G ace?

    • MGL says:

      No, the crux of my argument is that even if we assume that Lester is incrediby on that day and will continue to be, it is still a “technical” error to let him hit.

      Yes, as I said in the article, we can construct a scenario for Lester such that it IS correct. We can also construct a scenario for the Sun blowing up (like it will eventually) in the next couple of years. But neither one is supported by any evidence!

      First of.all, I don’t think that Farrell or anyone else with half a brain (about baseball) thinks that Lester is a 1.5 or a 2.0 pitcher. If he does, then he is even more ignorant than I thought.

      But, the point is that we can’t just make ump numbers and scenarios because we want to believe them. Truth has to be supported by evidence otherwise what’s the point. If truth is based on opinion and conjecture, then one’s man’s truth is another man’s falsehood, which means we know nothing about anything.

      The truth, at least that which is supported by the evidence is that we have no way of knowing whether a pitcher is going to pitch better or worse than his overall stats (projection actually) suggest, based on previous innings of work.

      If you want to suggest to me that, well, Farrell can tell from the way he pitched, that is not supported by the evidence.either. What I mean by that is when we look at the historical data and we look at when managers have determined that starters can go an extra inning or two after having been pitching well (presumably the manager can “tell” in these games too that the pitcher is “on” that day, otherwise he is more likely to take him out), we see normal (actually worse than normal because they have faced the order several times already) pitching in subsequent innings! What does that tell us?

      Basically I cannot discuss something intelligently unless all parties are dealing in facts or in logic associated with facts.

      • Sockmonkey says:

        I’m working backward from the fact of Farrell’s decision. His claim has to be that he knew he had the “on” Lester, who dominated in 10 of his regular season starts, allowing less than 1.5 R/9, and not the guy who didn’t dominate in the other 23. And his comments seem to bear that out, that’s what he was thinking.

        I’m wondering how easy that is to refute. I mean, it’s one thing to say there’s no evidence to support that, but then I’m pretty sure there’s no evidence to support that Lester was, at that moment, a 3.0 R/9 pitcher or a 4.0 R/9 pitcher.

        “Unfortunately, I can’t refute someone’s claim that there is a supernatural God or that Bigfoot doesn’t exist either.”

        • Brian says:

          Why 10 starts on one side and 23 on the other? Is there any reason for those numbers? Or is that where you slice the cake so that it best supports a particular argument?

          • Sockmonkey says:

            The idea is simply that pitchers have good starts and bad starts (and mediocre starts) , and Farrell thinks he knows what he’s getting.

            So 10 doesn’t matter. It happens to be that he had 10 starts where he gave up 1 or 0 runs.

            • Sockmonkey says:

              Below, Eric van M makes my point more clearly and more generally. We assume player performance is randomly distributed around a mean, and it’s clearly not.

        • MGL says:

          As I said to Eric, where is the evidence that a pitcher’s distribution of performance is predictive, and if so, how predictive, i.e., exactly what kind of distribution is our best estimate for next year (or next game or next inning)?

          I mean half of all of sabermetrics involves providing evidence that virtually nothing in the “conventional wisdom” sphere has much predictive value. That is the default position because it is true 99% of the time. There is a heavy burden on anyone who claims predictive value to things like home/road splits (outside the normal HFA), day/night splits, batter/pitcher matchups, distribution of performance, i.e., consistent, not consistent, bi-modal, etc.

          Provide me the evidence and count me as a believer! Until then, meh!

          My old professor in college, the famous Carl Sagan, once said, “Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our wonder.”

          • Sockmonkey says:

            ” exactly what kind of distribution is our best estimate for …..[the] next game or next inning?”

            You’ve got an answer to this question, too, and it’s just as unsupported by evidence as any other projection. Correct me if I’m wrong.

            I’m pretty sure R/9 allowed by start does not follow a normal distribution for most pitchers (and it clearly doesn’t for Lester). There are necessarily long tails, starts where runs allowed are high and innings pitched are low. And in good starts, there’s the zero lower bound. For relievers, this is magnified by SSS.

            Season-long projections (even very good ones like yours) are a very blunt instrument for modeling a start or an inning.

            I agree about claims that can’t be tested, which is why I wondered in the first comment if we (OK, you) could test the idea that there’s information in Lester’s great starts.

            • MGL says:

              “You’ve got an answer to this question, too, and it’s just as unsupported by evidence as any other projection. Correct me if I’m wrong.”

              I think we are going around in circles here, but I’ll try and address that. I don’t know the exact distribution of a typical or average pitcher’s results in an inning or game, or whatever sample. I assume that it is roughly normal with, as you say a lower boundary. And selective sampling (the more to the right, the less they pitch) will distort it as well.

              However, it is close enough to a normal curve that we can do an analysis of an expected pitching performance using an expected mean outcome. We might even be able to use an expected mean with very weird distributions, but I am not sure about that.

              It is trivial to create a graph/distribution of a typical pitcher’s one or two inning performance. I’l leave that to you.

              As I said, the default position is that a pitcher’s own unique distribution for a season or for a career (certainly for a season, sine we know there is more noise in the shape of that distribution the smaller the sample size) is not particularly predictive of his future distribution. That is what the evidence tell us – that in 99% (or whatever) of the cases where we try and use a player’s own “patterns” and “trends” we find that they are marginally predictive at best. THAT is why the burden is on someone to show evidence otherwise. You are also welcome to split a season’s worth of pitcher into 2 groups: One had a very bi-modal distribution of results. Two, had a very consistent or normal-like pattern of results. I will wager a large amount of money that you will not see much of a difference in their distributions in the following season or another time period. Try it!

              Now, even if we concede that Lester or any other pitcher is more likely to have a bimodal pitching distribution. It does not necessarily follow that because he has pitches 6 innings and allowed 4 (or 3) hits and 1 run, that his next 2 innings are MUCH more likely to be part of that “low runs allowed” distribution. Maybe 3% more likely. Or 1%. Or 15%. I have no idea. But you would still have to do some work to come up with a distribution of likely results in the next 2 innings or a mean result if you want to use just one number. Projecting any pitcher’s future performance in a game, based on his past in-game results, even for one who tends to have bimodal results, is NOT going to bifurcated, It is going to be way more complex than that.

              That’s really all I have to say on this. We are starting to talk past one another so I suggest we leave it alone.

              Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      • 34dizzy says:

        Grin… Stephen Colbert would have such fun ‘rebutting’ this:
        “The point is that we can’t just make up numbers and scenarios because we want to believe them. Truth has to be supported by evidence otherwise what’s the point. If truth is based on opinion and conjecture, then one’s man’s truth is another man’s falsehood, which means we know nothing about anything.”

  13. Dan J says:

    Hey MGL, I think there’s a minor mistake in your computation. You take the .3 runs difference between Lester and a PH and multiply by the LI of 1.64. I don’t think that is appropriate. The LI is higher than 1 partly because of the base-out state (2nd and 3rd, 1 out) and partly because of the inning-score state (top 7, 1 run lead). The difference of .3 runs is bigger than it would be in an average PA because of the base-out state. So when you multiply .3*1.64 you are double-counting the base-out state. Maybe this is why your back of the envelope estimate of 5% disagrees with your simulated result of 3%.

    By the way, does the simulator assume average players, or does it have the specific stats for the teams involved?

    • MGL says:

      Yes, I agree. I asked Tango about that. Either you use the difference in RE without multiplying by the LI or you use the difference in Lester and a PH in a random situation and then you multiply by the LI. That is one reason why I used the 3% from the sim rather than the 5% from my faulty calculation. Good catch!

      The sim uses actual players with their current projections.

  14. Hank G. says:

    If you are really interested in the kind of rational discussion that you propose, it might make sense to ease up on the “worst manager in the world” type hyperbole. It doesn’t matter how right you are if your intended audience is too offended to hear your message. General Billy Mitchell was as right as could be, but was virtually crucified by the Army.

    • MGL says:

      If you are offended by me calling John Farrell the “worst manager in the world,” then maybe you are not my target audience. And BTW, please read my “addendum” at the bottom of the post. In any case, my target audience are people who are interested in using rational thought and the scientific method to answer questions about baseball, If someone can’t or is unwilling to do that because they are offended by the style of my writing and my occasional hyperbole, that’s fine. I am not in a contest for most readers.

      • 34dizzy says:

        BTW, I’m really glad you’ve had time/inclination to do this blog, MGL. Mostly a lurker (aka silver king), I’ve enjoyed reading your comments for years, on fanhome onward.

        You explain ideas *remarkably* clearly, at least for how my mind works, and I really appreciate that. And your tone comes off generally entertaining to me, though I get why people are sometimes put off by it.

      • Hank G. says:

        Actually, my comment was in response to your addendum. You imagine having a “rational discussion” with the man you called the “worst manager in the world”. In your imagination, does insulting people facilitate having rational discussions with them?

  15. Dale Sams says:

    The guy who thought Gomes magically electrifies the line-up and started him over the guy with the fifth best OBP against righties in the league…..is being crucified for THIS?

    • MGL says:

      Hey, the argument that Gomes does indeed make the other players play better/harder is at least a plausible argument. I have not yet heard a plausible argument that would lead to Lester hitting being correct. If he had no “times through the order” penalty, it is still incorrect, unless someone wants to deny the math (and provide.some alternative math). If he was “on” and would continue to be “on” it was still not correct to let him hit, unless you arbitrarily and with no rhyme or reason claim that he is going to be the best pitcher on the planet in the 7th and 8th innings. As far as the argument that, “the saving of the pen” is valuable for the next 1 or 2 games, I have no problem with that, but at the very least you have to assert (and then provide some evidence or framework to support that assertion) that the whatever WE is lost in this game is more than made up for in the next game or two.

  16. birtelcom says:

    Is it of any relevance that Lester has over his career shown on, in the aggregate, essentially no difference between his overall numbers and his numbers the third time through the order? For his career, hitters the third time through against Lester have .a 314 OBP/.389 SLG compared to .320/.383 overall. I get that on average pitcher performance drops off the third time around, but is it possible that there are real talent variations (not just random noise variations) from pitcher to pitcher in this dimension?

    • MGL says:

      That is a good question and I don’t know the answer. Someone else asked me that yesterday. May answer was that I suspect strongly that it makes little difference what the pitcher’s own splits are. If nothing else, that is because the sample sizes are relatively small, and therefore there is too much random noise in them. At best, you would likely still have to regress those career numbers quite a bit (I am guessing) toward the league average for all starters, how much depending on the sample size of the career numbers.

      Please remember that, as I explained in the article, even if assume no times through the order penalty for Lester (and other things in his and Farrell’s favor that are not supported by the evidence, it was still a clear error to let him hit!

  17. Eric M. Van says:

    I didn’t disagree with the decision at the time. And I think it may either be justifiable analytically, or (more likely) much less bad then it seems.

    Let’s first reduce Farrell’s decision to its essentials. He used an admittedly tired Uehara to get four outs, so he needed to get five outs to get to him. Had he pinch-hit for Lester, that would have been some combination of Tazawa and Workman. Your analysis shows that, with our ordinary assumptions, there’s no way that the difference between Lester and T/W over five outs can approach the difference between Napoli and Lester in that one high-leverage PA.

    However, one of the assumptions underlying the assessment of the pitching downgrade is that player performance is more or less normally distributed around their observed means. It’s an assumption we make all the time and one that rarely gets us into trouble. But it is, arguably, very much not true here.

    It’s the less important side of the coin, but I’ll start with Lester, and point out that his 2013 performance has in fact been bimodal, with nothing occupying the mean. Scouting observations back that up. Nine starts with a 3.15 FIP and .246 BABIP, then 11 starts with a 5.07 FIP and .350 BABIP, then (after the ASB) 18 starts with a 2.94 FIP and .284 BABIP, 28% of that against the elite lineups of the post-season. (The correlation here of BABIP with FIP is not an accident; in fact, it may be statistically significant when done start-by-start.)

    But the big issue here is that relief pitching appearances, in the abstract, are not remotely normally distributed. There’s a huge tail to the bad side, but it’s obscured by selection bias, where managers stay away from a pitcher whom they think will be ineffective (and an injury risk) due to fatigue, with the extreme case being declaring them unavailable.

    In order to accurately assess the impact on WE of bringing in a pair of tired relievers, you would have to know their expected distribution of performance outcomes. And those distributions include a significant number of completely ineffective appearances, outings far below replacement level. That’s going to blow up the expected RA and hence our WE estimates, relative even to an assumption of a normal distribution centered around their RA plus some constant (say, 1.00) representing a fatigue penalty.

    A second assumption underlying all these calculations is that batter / pitcher matchups can be modeled accurately based on their performance means, and not only isn’t that true, it interacts with the first assumption. Tazawa has been prone to giving up the long ball, so the expected outcomes of him facing Holliday and Beltran are worse than assumed, and the expected outcomes of a tired Tazawa facing them may well be grossly worse.

    So the argument here then reduces to a disagreement between you and Farrell about the expected performance distributions of the tired Tazawa and Workman. And he of course is in possession of a great deal of information that you lack.

    I suspect that if you took Farrell’s sense of what he feared might happen if he went to Tazawa and Workman and quantified it, then did the best possible analysis, the new change in WE would still fall short of closing the gap. It is, after all, immense. However, I think it would be closed sufficiently far that we now have to factor in the psychological effect of the entire team’s confidence that Lester could get those five outs versus their (entirely justified) lack of confidence in Tazawa and Workman. Remember that they’re in possession of much of that missing information, too.

    And I think that the psychological impact of the team’s confidence in Lester versus a pair of pitchers they know are close to being cooked is easy to underestimate. There’s so much less for Ross to have to think about calling pitches, and less for fielders to have to think about in terms of positioning. The players’ confidence in Lester to get those five outs was almost certainly too high, and their anxiety over the bullpen getting them would probably have been exaggerated as well. But those psychological reactions have, I think, real consequences on performance that can’t be ignored.

    Finally, I think you may be underestimating the contribution of pitch count to the times-around-the-order split. I know that I had much more confidence in Lester going out there with 69 pitches thrown than I would have had with 90; I would have hurled a magazine in the direction of the TV had he let Lester hit with the latter. I’ve done one study trying to separate them (for an individual pitcher); once you control for batter quality, it’s pretty straightforward.

    Given all that, I didn’t have a problem with the move.

    • MGL says:

      I’m not sure I can comment on the first part of your argument. I don’t know what to say. Do you have ANY evidence that any of your assertions are true? For example, that a pitcher’s own distribution of results has any significant predictive value, and if it does, by how much? As you said, you might be precluded from proving that a tired reliever is terrible if you let him pitch, but if you can’t prove it, I am afraid that you can’t assert it, in my opinion at least. And who said that Workman was tired? I don’t recall anyone mentioning that. He was even going to use for a couple innings the other day (when he let him hit) and he didn’t. And what about Morales and Breslow? Or Dempster? Seems to me that your statements about tired relievers are crafted to support your argument rather than the truth, at least the truth as we think we know it at the present time.

      The ONLY thing I agree with, and I have said several times that I am not insensitive to it, is the idea that taking Lester out could have an adverse effect on team morale. Hard to quantify of course. If, just for a second, we assume that the actual effect in future or concurrent performance is negligible, do we want a manager to be afraid to do things like that for fear that he might not be as well liked by his players and fans (again, if we make the hypothetical assumption that it’s not worth anything on the field)?

      “Finally, I think you may be underestimating the contribution of pitch count to the times-around-the-order split. I know that I had much more confidence in Lester going out there with 69 pitches thrown than I would have had with 90;”

      This is clearly wrong. You are implying that 69 pitches is a low number for the 3rd time through the order, since the only think I am claiming is that he would have the normal 3rd time through the order penalty. I am not claiming that he is tired or that his pitch count is in the least bit high.

      69 pitches is exactly what you would expect – the league mean number of pitches after 18 batters. If he had thrown 90 pitches then he would likely be at the 4th time through the order or at the bottom of the 3rd time.

      If your implication is that the penalty is not as severe at the top of the lineup because there are typically fewer pitches thrown, well, I have no idea if that is true or not. It would not change my thesis though, if it were true.

  18. josh says:

    The win expectancy argument is easy to make, but far too narrow IMO as it completely ignores the unknowns, which I’ll get to later. First though, where is the evidence for comments like, “… and we know that a pinch hitter like Napoli (or almost anyone for that matter) is going to be a much better hitter than Lester.”? I agree that Napoli is likely a better hitter in that situation, but how much better? You’ve stated that Napoli is a “very good” pinch hitter, but with what evidence? You can argue with sample size here, but the only evidence we have are his 38 career pinch hit at bats in which he’s gotten a grand total of 4 hits. Of course, you don’t necessarily need a hit in that situation, but a sac fly instead, which I agree Napoli would be better suited for. However, you may be overstating the difference between Napoli and Lester in that situation. All that said, I generally agree that the win expectancy based solely on the numbers that we know is likely higher if you pinch hit. However, I’d push back that it is going too far to argue that the decision is clear solely because of the numbers.

    Back to our unknowns – Farrell could be working with a lot of information that we don’t have. Win expectancy is derived from multiple iterations and gives you a measure of the likeliest outcome based upon those iterations. However, baseball is situational and the Game 5 situation may have presented enough counter points to override the win expectancy argument. I don’t know what these unknowns could be, but perhaps Lester and Ross spotted weaknesses in the Card’s 7th inning batters. Perhaps Tazawa’s arm is tired. Perhaps Napoli had dirt in his eye. Who knows? My point is not that the win expectancy argument is wrong, but that to assume it is the end all be all decision point is wrong. And to criticize Farrell for ignoring it when if fact he may very well have considered it is also wrong. You may believe all of the unknowns should be trumped by what the numbers show, but with what evidence? It just seems too narrow a view of the circumstances.

    • MGL says:

      You lost me at:

      “First though, where is the evidence for comments like, “… and we know that a pinch hitter like Napoli (or almost anyone for that matter) is going to be a much better hitter than Lester.”

      and,

      “You’ve stated that Napoli is a “very good” pinch hitter, but with what evidence?”

      My response I guess, is, “What planet are you from?”

      • josh says:

        So a completely silly non-response to my reply. We can agree to disagree on those specific points regarding the magnitude of the difference between Lester and Napoli as pinch hitters, but that wasn’t the point of my comment in the least. If you took the time to respond to my comment I hope you read the whole thing because I agreed that the numbers probably indicate a higher win expectancy if you pinch hit with Napoli. However, to criticize Farrell as if he completely ignored that datapoint is jumping to conclusions and ignores the fact that he could be working with information to override the win-expectancy argument.

        You lost me at “John Farrell, the equally clueless manager of the Red Sox…” You can hide behind your hyperbole addendum’s, but words have meaning. If you’re going to criticize someone you’d better have a rock solid argument. You instead have tunnel vision. What planet are you from?!

        • MGL says:

          You are right. I should not have been so dismissive of your questions and comments and so rude. I apologize. Hopefully, you will continue to read my blog. I appreciate your comments.

          Let me see if I can respond to some of your arguments. I am not trying to be right – just to respond as best as I can, given the work that I have done over the last 25 years. Obviously you may or may not agree with some or all of my arguments as well – which is fine.

          “The win expectancy argument is easy to make, but far too narrow IMO as it completely ignores the unknowns, which I’ll get to later.”

          Ignoring unknowns is one thing. Science ignores unknowns all the time – because they are unknown. Sometimes it is able to approximate models of what it does not know and sometimes it does not. Unknowns do not make conclusions and theories in science wrong, but they are one of the things that make them malleable. As soon as the unknowns becomes known or less unknown, we modify our theories and conclusions. That is what science is all about. But one must be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water. Virtually very scientifc theory and even certainty in history is butt on knowns, unknowns, and everything in between. So assert that we cannot generate a theory or conclusion because we don’t know all the inputs or the values of the inputs is an assertion which would make it impossible for us to know anything. That being said, every conclusion and theory in science is subject to revision and sometimes complete repudiation. That includes everything that we think we know in sabermetrics – my conclusions about this decision is not an exception. In fact, it is the rule.

          “First though, where is the evidence for comments like, “… and we know that a pinch hitter like Napoli (or almost anyone for that matter) is going to be a much better hitter than Lester.”?

          I really don’t understand that question. We know what kind of a hitter Napoli is. He is a very good hitter. We know that Lester is an AL pitcher and likely a poor one at that. That is all we can do in these models is to “plug in” our projections for player. That typically works very well when we back test these models.

          I am not saying that Napoli is a good “pinch hitter”. He is a good hitter, period. We don’t have any evidence that there are good and bad pinch hitters, talent wise. Obviously in small and medium samples, players will be good and bad in pinch hitting roles, but we have no evidence that these are anything more than the variation we see in any hitter’s results over 20, 50, or 200 PA. We do have evidence of a small pinch hitting penalty. So. the assumption in these models, which, as I said, can be tested to see if they “work”, is that in a pinch hitting role, Napoli is expected to hit a little worse than he has hit over his recent career (actually expected to hit at the level of his projection, which includes aging, regression to the mean, etc.).

          “I agree that Napoli is likely a better hitter in that situation, but how much better? You’ve stated that Napoli is a “very good” pinch hitter, but with what evidence? You can argue with sample size here, but the only evidence we have are his 38 career pinch hit at bats in which he’s gotten a grand total of 4 hits.”

          I addressed that. We have no evidence that pinch hitters are any different than hitters with a slight penalty for sitting on the bench all game and then coming in “cold” for one AB. If we look at pinch hitters in all of history,we find that they hit slightly worse than they do when they play the whole game.

          We can easily model how much better Napoli is expected to be than Lester – around .32 runs in that situation. That means that if we play out that inning a million times, on the average the Sox will score .32 more runs with Napoli (or Carp – let’s not get fixated with Napoli – it could be any pinch hitter) than with Lester. In one inning, we must assume that the average difference will be .32 runs in order to create a model which can help us to answer the critical question – which alternative will lead to the Sox having the greatest chance of winning the game?

          “Of course, you don’t necessarily need a hit in that situation, but a sac fly instead, which I agree Napoli would be better suited for. However, you may be overstating the difference between Napoli and Lester in that situation. All that said, I generally agree that the win expectancy based solely on the numbers that we know is likely higher if you pinch hit.”

          Trying to figure out what you “need” or don’t “need” in that situation is not paricularly helpful in formulating a model which will helo to answer the question I posed above. the model must figure out the LIKELIHOOD of X number of runs scoring and Y number of runs being allowed with Lester pitching and with a reliever pitching and THEN we can estimate which alternative yields the best chance of winning for the Red Sox.

          “However, I’d push back that it is going too far to argue that the decision is clear solely because of the numbers.”

          You are asserting an opinion with no evidence to back it up. What do you want me or anyone else to do with that? Anyone can assert an opinion about anything. You wouldn’t yourself take someone seriously if they said to you, “I don’t think your marriage is going to last more than 5 years, or, “I think you are lousy at your job and you will be fired withing 3 months,” unless they had evidence to back up those claims, would you?

          And by the way, the numbers are NOT clear. There are error bars around them. When the error bars encroach on the areas which include a decision being “right” or “wrong” then we are not very confident in our conclusions about the decision based on the model we construct. When even if we give the decision maker the benefit of the doubt in terms of the error bars, the decision still comes our wrong, then we can be much more certain. Not nearly 100%, just MORE certain. There could be many thing wrong with our model that could make our conclusion wrong even if we are very certain of it. Then again, there could be things in our model that are wrong that would make our conclusion even stronger! Just because our models are not perfect does not make them wrong!

          “Back to our unknowns – Farrell could be working with a lot of information that we don’t have. Win expectancy is derived from multiple iterations and gives you a measure of the likeliest outcome based upon those iterations.”

          Please read Guy’s beautiful response below to that argument. I can’t add anything. To sum up what he said, “If secret knowledge by a manager always trumps our criticisms, then I am out of job and so is every other armchair manager. By that logic, we can’t criticize any decision, and they must always be right. Let me add something to that. If there is a strong reason to believe the manager DOES or MAY know something that we don’t, we can either try and include that in our model, or we can alter or temper our conclusion. In this case, I would not put much weight into Farrell knowing anything that I don’t that would make my critique wrong, for various reasons which I don’t have the time to go into. His decision was perfectly plausible and something that almost all managers would do, without knowing anything that I or you don’t know.Managers don’t take out god starters who have been pitching well and have only thrown 69 pitches and have the lead. Whether that is technically right or wrong (and I have given much evidence that it is wrong in this case), they simply will not do it. They don’t have any rational reasons for doing it that way, other than the whole idea of showing confidence in your pitcher and your players in general, and preserving your bullpen (mostly in the regular season). I have conceded those points and said several times that I am not insensitive to them. Heck, I may have let Lester hit myself if I were his manager!

          “However, baseball is situational and the Game 5 situation may have presented enough counter points to override the win expectancy argument. I don’t know what these unknowns could be, but perhaps Lester and Ross spotted weaknesses in the Card’s 7th inning batters. Perhaps Tazawa’s arm is tired. Perhaps Napoli had dirt in his eye. Who knows? My point is not that the win expectancy argument is wrong, but that to assume it is the end all be all decision point is wrong. And to criticize Farrell for ignoring it when if fact he may very well have considered it is also wrong. You may believe all of the unknowns should be trumped by what the numbers show, but with what evidence? It just seems too narrow a view of the circumstances.”

          I don’t disagree with any of those points. As I have said many times and will continue to say. I am merely presenting the numbers with my assumptions. If my assumptions are wrong or someone disagrees with them, then the numbers change. Even when the numbers change, often my conclusions still stand because the mistake itself is so costly, In this case, I have tried to convey that. For example, even if we assume that Lester is a better pitcher for those 1 or 2 innings than I think he is, and/or even if we consider that whoever comes in for him is tired and will pitch worse than I project him, it is still likely that batting for Lester yields a higher win percentage.

          Criticizing me for calling Farrell names is a 100% strawman argument. What I call Farrell means NOTHING as far as the crux of my argument goes. Which is why I occasionally say ignore the description and focus on the argument! If someone wants to criticize me for making statements like that, fine. I have no problem with that. But that doesn’t change my conclusion. Everything else I wrote would be exactly the same had I said nothing about Farrell being smart or dumb, right or wrong. You cannot argue that because you don’t like what I said about Farrell, my argument and numbers are wrong, so I merely ask everyone to concentrate on the issues at hand and not on the rhetoric!

          Again, thank your for your participation and thoughtful comments.

      • Brian says:

        I was thinking the exact same thing when I read josh’s post! And then he tries to defend it below as if he made a reasonable argument worthy of consideration. Wow.

  19. Sockmonkey says:

    Thanks for the article and the back & forth.

  20. Guy says:

    Boy, the discussion of this post over at BBTF sure was depressing/discouraging. I made the following observation there, though I doubt many of the Farrell defenders will accept the implications of their position.

    “Many commenting here believe that Farrell had enough “inside” information not available to MGL or other outside analysts — about Lester’s future performance, the future performance of Tazawa or other relievers, and/or Napoli’s hitting performance — to make the decision to let Lester hit at least potentially correct. Fair enough. But I’m not sure they realize what an immense amount of hidden knowledge this theory requires. If the secret information available to managers has enough predictive power to make this decision correct, or even a 50-50 proposition, that basically means we cannot analyze or second guess any decision that any manager ever makes. The decision to pinch hit for Lester, using data and traditional quantitative analysis, is about as black-and-white as any decision a manager will ever make. Benching Allen Craig at DH in favor of Kozma would have a smaller negative impact on a team’s WE. If managers have enough secret knowledge to override the standard statistical conclusion here, then there is virtually no tactical decision that any manager will ever make that we can criticize from the outside. It will always be possible that the particulars of the situation, known only to the manager, made his decision correct.

    So take this position if you feel you must. But I hope all who do will at least be consistent and promise they will never again second guess any decision made by any MLB manager. Because by your own logic, you don’t possess enough information to evaluate anything that these men do.”

    • Brian says:

      Can we just move that comment to the top and make sure everyone reads it?

    • MGL says:

      Beautiful argument! Perfect! The other argument against this “secret knowledge theory” is, why would any secret knowledge be necessary in this case (and in many other cases). All managers and 99% of the general population (incorrectly) think that a pitcher who has pitched well will continue to pitch well. We have rock solid proof that that is the way managers (and virtually everyone else) think. If managers had knowledge such that they can tell when a pitcher will and will not continue to pitch well, it would show up in the numbers. It doesn’t.

      When we look at pitchers in the 7th, and 8th innings who are allowed to continue pitching because they have pitched well, we see that they pitch badly (well, at least worse than average – for them). So if managers think that they know when to leave in pitchers, we know that they are wrong. We know that when pitchers who have been pitching excellently are left in the game in the latter innings, they do NOT continue to pitch excellently – in fact, the end up pitching pretty badly.

      In addition, why would we even think that Farrell knew something about Napoli that lead to him not using him a pinch hitter? His decision had nothing whatsoever to do with Napoli or Carp (he could have used Carp too). It had to do simply with faulty reasoning. He simply thought (along with millions of other people, some of them just as smart or smarter than he is) that with Lester pitching and hitting he had a better chance of winning. He is not capable of understanding the impact of a pinch hitter, regardless of who pitches the next inning or two, in his team’s WE. It is a pretty complicated issue. In his mind, they didn’t “need” any more runs. He thought that all they needed was a pitcher to shut the other team down. He doesn’t understand that it is way more complicated than that, and that it requires a fairly sophisticated analysis to figure out which options yield the highest WE.

      I don’t know why it is hard to believe that his decision, in his mind, didn’t require any “insider knowledge.” It simply required absolutely normal, run of the mill, “manager think.” Virtually every manager would have done the same thing – with NO inside, secret knowledge. Occam’s Razor tells us to assume the simplest and most likely explanation. This is a perfect example. The simplest and most likely explantion is NOT that he didn’t trust Napoli or Carp to pinch hit or that he was scared to use his bullpen. It is simply that he thought, like all other managers, that pitching Lester for another inning or two, was his best option and gave his team the best chance to win. I’m sure there was a lot of risk aversion and other cognitive things going on there, but I don’t think that Farrell was consciously aware of them.

      This idea of managers having secret knowledge that we cannot possibly know is usually nonsense. I don’t know what it is that makes people think that. I really don’t. They often make poor decisions because they simply do not have the tools to be able to make the right ones. It is not a character defect any more than it would be a character defect for anyone but a trained, experienced, poker player to play skillful poker, or chess, or backgammon. Baseball managers are not chosen for, nor do they train for, their skill at managing optimally in a technical sense. Why would we ever assume that a baseball manager would know or be able to figure out “on the fly” the right strategies to use in a baseball game. I never understood why people think that. In my mind, the exact opposite should be the default assumption.

    • vivaelpujols says:

      It’s a really insipid trend going on at places like BBTF and even FanGraphs and BPro (from writers like Pizza Cutter and Matt Swartz) where analysis is dismissed entirely because “they have more information than us”. That may be true, but in the absence of a model allowing the team to incorporate that additional information, there is no rhyme or reason for the decisions made besides prioritizing a few specific factors over the whole issue.

      Raise you hand if you think Farrell has a model he uses to incorporate statistical information and his subjective judgments of each players ability on a given day.

      • vivaelpujols says:

        I shouldn’t say that Russell Carleton and Matt Swartz dismiss analysis entirely (that’s reserved for the bulk of the BBTF commenters). Rather they seem to give undue credit to decisions that may be made using inside information but do not use it any coherent systematic fashion.

  21. […] MGL says it cost Boston around 3 percentage points in win expectancy. Baseball Think Factory says you could argue about it for hours. After thinking about it, I can understand the defense of Farrell. I still don’t agree with the move, but I can at least understand it. Not only was Lester cruising, he also had only 69 pitches. It’s not so much that he should have been expected to keep cruising, it’s that he was very capable of pitching another two, maybe three innings with that tidy pitch count. With the way Farrell handled the bullpen (perhaps there were arm issues with Tazawa and Uehara) and the way guys like Breslow performed, maybe Farrell just needed the extra innings out of Lester and was willing to sacrifice the potential for more runs to get them. It’s not that crazy, especially compared to the rest of the managerial moves made in the series. […]

    • MGL says:

      So you are conceding the possibility that he was willing to sacrifice 3% in win expectancy. What was the upside? How was he planning on getting that back? I don’t understand your argument.

      My opinion is that his decision was “defensible” only because it didn’t “seem” like a big error and most managers (and fans) would have done the same thing.

      The whole point (one of them at least) of baseball analysis and sabermetrics is to identify when managers and fans are wrong in their views and opinions about the game.

      You say that it was “not that crazy compared to the rest of the…moves…” Actually it was. If you believe my analysis is even roughly accurate then it was one of the worst moves of the series. It may not seem that way, but again, that is THE point of sabermetrics – to point out through the scientific process things that are NOT what they seem.

  22. MGL, that was actually part of a lengthy blog post I wrote largely on Farrell’s managing in the series. I didn’t necessarily mean for that clip to show up on your site, but apparently I still don’t know how the internet works.

    Anyway, since it did, I will respond. My only defense of Farrell, and I’m guessing this has been discussed possibly in the comments or other places (I haven’t read all the comments here), is that Farrell just wasn’t comfortable with his bullpen and felt it’d be tough to get through the game with it. He didn’t seem to trust Tazawa all series (I’m not sure why), Breslow had been bad and isn’t all that great anyway, Doubront probably wasn’t available, Uehara was apparently suffering from fatigue, etc. etc.

    While Lester isn’t a pro-typical ace anyway, with the Buccholz injuries problems, he kind of inherited that role down the stretch. And, like you mention, Farrell probably wasn’t even thinking about taking out his ace with only 69 pitches that early in the game when he was pitching well.

    I still disagree with his move, but after thinking about it further, it didn’t seem as crazy as I had initially imagined, even though the numbers certainly say it is a bad move. I could at least rationalize the move, even though I disagreed with it.

    • MGL says:

      Again, how it seems is not relevant to whether it was correct, incorrect, or how much it cost, saved, or whether it was break even. So let’s not conflate the two issues (how it seemed, and what it WAS). If you watch an expert professional poker player, if you play poker, but not for a living, and you are not an expert, his play may “seem” bad, but you are not in a position to evaluate it on its merits. You can “feel” anyway you want about it. Saying that his play “seems” crazy is fine, and is not a mis-statement. But it would be a mis-statement to equate how it “seems” with whether it is good poker or bad poker. I submit that anyone other than a professional baseball analyst (doesn’t have to be a professional of course, just an expert or at least a proficient one) may have an opinion about how Farrells move “seemed” but that is not relevant to whether it was correct or not.

      My definition of correct is simple and must always be kept in mind. It is simply the decision that maximizes the manager’s team’s chances of winning the game from that point on, taking into consideration all the effects of the decision(s) chosen or not chosen. And of course there are longer term considerations that may be relevant (e.g., it may be correct for a manager to give up 1% in WE in game X if by doing that he gains 2% in future games).

      My article has nothing to do with how it “seemed” to me or to you or to anyone else. Please keep that in mind. Anyone arguing that with me is arguing with a straw man, and I assure you that I have skin covering my bones and not straw! In fact, as much as I have lambasted “the move” it didn’t seem strange to me either (because all managers would do the same thing – managers often all make the same bad decisions, given similar situations)!

      That being said, what Farrell thought about his bullpen (like not “trusting” it) is also not relevant to me. I was not asking why Farrell did what he did. In fact, that is not a mystery. It is pretty obvious although we do not know exactly what went on in his mind at that moment. I am writing about what the bullpen was likely to do if summoned. Those two things may be completely different. For example, Matheny THOUGHT that Papi was a lot better than I am very certain that he was going into game 6, because he falsely believes in the power of small samples of recent “hot” hitting. That has been repeatedly debunked by very good research.

      Similarly, I am not going to side with Farrell on not “trusting” his bullpen any more than I side with Matheny about Papi. Farrell is also obsessed with small samples of recent performance (like Breslow), as most managers are. Now, if he or you is suggesting that some of the pitchers in the pen are tired and thus if called on to pitch, they would not pitch as normally projected, that is another story. That needs to be quantifed and put into the model to make that argument and then conclude that Farrell did not make a poor decision by allowing Lester to hit. Just saying, “Well, the bullpen is tired,” is not a credible argument against my conclusion. As I showed in my calculation, a replacement pitcher for Lester can pitch quite poorly and still not be expected to allow the same number of runs, on the average, that Farrell gave up, on the average, but letting Lester hit for himself.

      And I think, honestly that, “The bullpen was exhausted,” and, “He did not trust his pen,” memes, (again who cares whom he trusted – I am not asking or wondering WHY he did what he did), is a much exaggerated claim by everyone that wants to prove me (and other saberists and analysts like Tango and Dave Cameron and plenty of others) wrong. People with no expertise on a subject love to prove experts wrong. I have no idea how or why. That is not part of my DNA. If an expert says something, provides evidence, and I have reason to think that he is not a liar or a self-promoter, then I generally believe him until or unless some other expert provides me with a counter-argument (which I am always looking for, BTW). Aside from that, who the hell am I to argue with an expert on something that about which I am not an expert. Again that is not in MY DNA.

      I mean, come on. You seem to be a reasonable person and a Sox fan. Had Lester been pitching poorly or had he been at 110 pitches, do you think Farrell would have stood on the mound, holding the ball crying? Wondering whether he could possibly find someone to pitch 1.2 innings? I mean, come on man! He had Tazawa warming up at the start of the 7th inning! He was ready to bring him in if Lester would have faltered at all. He had Morales, Dempster, and Breslow available too. They are on the WS roster for something. They are not Tazawa or Koji (actually Breslow is a good pitcher who had like a 3 inning spate of bad luck), but as I showed in my model, you did NOT need a good pitcher for 1 or 2 innings because you would gain, on the average, enough runs by pinch hitting for Lester that you could affors to put a replacement reliever on the mound for an inning and change and still come out ahead!. An extra .3 runs for 1 or 2 innings can go a long way!

      • MGL, enjoy the back and forth. Just to be clear, I don’t disagree with your take and am certainly not one of those disagreeing just to be contrary, or challenge an expert, or anything like that. And, like I said, I actually totally agree that is was a bad move.

        My only point was that, after thinking about for a while after my initial frustration, I could at least understand why Farrell did it. Not to mention, the fact that probably 95 percent of managers would have done the same thing, I think, has to lower the criticism of Farrell slightly. I mean, he didn’t really cost the Red Sox anything over an average or even “good” manager, as they would have likely opted to make the same move/non-move that Farrell made in that situation. Not many current managers are going to take out their perceived “ace” in the fifth innings of a 1-1 game when he has a low pitch count.

        My only other thought was that it is sometimes difficult to actually include the exact context in these evaluations. What if Farrell felt that, incorrect as he may have been, he was going to get replacement level performance from his pen that night until Uehara. It’s a stretch sure, but let’s just say that Tazawa was dealing with some severe arm/tiredness issues, Breslow was mentally beat up enough to impact his performance, Workman was tired, etc. etc. Farrell wanted to use Lester alone as the bridge to Uehara.

        So Farrell was hell-bent on getting Lester through 3 2/3 more innings to get to Uehara. And he estimated Lester at, let’s say, a 3.5 RA pitcher in those innings and his bullpen as replacement level on that night which is, I don’t know, around 4.5? Couldn’t one argue, at least, that a context-dependent scenario like that would significantly change the win expectancy of pinch-hitting/not pinch-hitting for Lester there? .

        I understand I’m making some generous stretches — like the fact that Lester would be a 3.5 RA pitcher from the 6th into the 8th inning and that the bullpen was, on average outside of Koji, near replacement level on that night.

        Again, I’m not disagreeing with you, I was just essentially trying to rationalize why Farrell would let Lester hit there, and after some rumination, I could at least understand the move (doesn’t make it more correct, of course). His decision to let Workman hit in an earlier game “seemed” even worse to me because I felt that most managers would have pinch hit for him, therefore Farrell actually cost Boston something there compared to an average manager.

        • MGL says:

          A couple of quick things. It was 1-2 more innings he expected out of Lester. Yes, letting Workman hit was a big mistake, which Farrell admitted as such. I never did figure out how much that cost in WE as compared to the best alternative, so I cannot say which one was “worse.”

          Establishing worst case scenarios, like Lester is going pitch like a 3.0 or 3.5 pitcher in the 7th and 8th innings, which is likely not true, or that his replacement is going to pitch like a 4.50 pitcher, which is also probably not true, is fine for establishing boundaries or error bars, but that is not how we figure out what may be “correct” or not. For every worst case scenario, there is also a best case scenario. That has to be factored into the equation as well. On balance, the decision, I believe, was a costly one. To me, it doesn’t matter whether it was “excusable” or not, or how many other managers would or would not have done the same thing. I am not in a position to comment on that.That’s not my job! My job is to figure out the value of a decision relative to the optimal one. That’s just what I do. And I think I did a pretty good job of it in this case. This was an easy one. It was also one in which the alternatives were probably not even close in terms of WE (“close” in sabermetric terms that is, where a .5% percent is a typical mistake and a 2% one is a huge mistake).

          I am not referring to you, but it never ceases to perplex me how so many people will establish the worst case scenarios and then use those to prove an analyst wrong. Anyway, thanks again for the back and forth!

  23. MGL, you’ll have to forgive me, but in writing my blog post and in my comments here, I totally confused two situations. The time Lester hit in the 4th and the time he was allowed to hit in the 7th. I was referring to the 4th inning situation all the while, as I somehow confused it with the 7th inning situation.

    I’ll have to update my post, but I take back most of the comments I made here in a sense, as I obviously mixed up the two situations. I agree even more so now that allowing Lester to hit in the 7th was flat out wrong, and no wonder why I was so shocked when he was allowed to do so in the first place. I would have taken detailed notes if I had known there were going to be so many questionable decisions in the games and I was going to try to write about it a few days later. Anyway, thanks for the discussion and my apologies for the confusion.

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