What I Learned from Today’s Game

Today was a good sports day in Philadelphia with the Eagles winning by a slim margin over the Detroit Lions and the Phillies needing all nine innings to overcome the Washington Nationals thanks to a Jayson Werth walk-off home run. Aside from it being an exciting way to finish out a series sweep before welcoming the division rival Atlanta Braves, it was also a learning experience. Well, maybe not learning so much as reinforcement, but still — here’s what I noticed.

Charlie Manuel’s in-game strategy is awful.

Back on September 15, the Phillies led by a score of 9-4 entering the eighth inning against the Florida Marlins. FanGraphs had the Phillies as 97 percent favorites. At that point, it may be wise to use some of the less-popular relievers like Danys Baez. Who does Manuel call upon? Ryan Madson. Of course, Madson did as he was told and got three outs rather quickly and the Phillies became 99 percent favorites.

Sure, Madson may be fresher than he normally would be at this time of the year given his two-month vacation after he broke his toe, but if you get a chance to rest your best arms, you do it.

Fast forward to today. Seventh inning, Phillies trailing by one run, still with a 31 percent chance to win. Who does Manuel call upon? Danys Baez. And, of course, Baez did what he does best: he gave up a home run, putting the Phillies behind 5-3. When the inning was over, the Phillies were given a 22 percent chance to win.

It got worse. In the eighth inning, Manuel called on J.C. Romero, who has arguably pitched as badly as Baez. After a double, a walk, and a single, the Phillies were down 6-3 and only nine percent to win.

To recap:

  • Ryan Madson, 2.42 SIERA, used with 0.11 leverage index.
  • Danys Baez, 4.78 SIERA, used with 1.02 leverage index.
  • J.C. Romero, 4.82 SIERA, used with 0.53 leverage index (became as high as 1.01 by his own doing).

It wasn’t the first time Manuel unnecessarily used Madson. On August 29, he came in with another 5-0 lead in the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres. On August 22, he pitched the eighth inning against the Nationals with a six-run lead. That’s just going back one month. Overall, he’s come into the game:

  • With tie game: 8 times (16%)
  • With team ahead by one to three runs: 23 times (47%)
  • With team ahead by four runs or more: 10 times (20%)
  • With team trailing by one to three runs: 5 times (10%)
  • With team trailing by four runs or more: 3 times (6%)

So, in 26.5 percent of Madson’s appearances, the team has either been ahead or behind by four or more runs. That is poor leveraging of arguably the most important reliever (and unarguably the best) in the bullpen.

Blanton, by inning
Inning Opp. OPS
1 0.895
2 0.691
3 0.605
4 0.436
5 0.852
6 1.007
7 1.302

Additionally, Manuel chose to use Greg Dobbs as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning with the Phillies trailing 4-3. They were only 2-to-1 underdogs at the time and the leverage index was 1.16. Dobbs had an awful .260 wOBA going into today’s game. Manuel chose to use him instead of Ross Gload and his .359 wOBA on the season. Manuel eventually did use Gload but it was in the eighth when the Phillies trailed 6-3 and the leverage index was just 0.79. Although Domonic Brown is still nursing an injury, he was available in “emergency” situations. Call me crazy, but I’ll take Brown at 40 percent health over Dobbs at 100 percent any day, especially if all I’m looking for is a home run.

Finally, Charlie Manuel yet again left Joe Blanton in too long. It has been a feature all year long: Blanton tires around the sixth inning. Some examples of Manuel not realizing this:

  • May 3 (first start since being activated from disabled list): Allowed one run through six innings; allowed three in the seventh. To be fair, two of the runners were inherited by Nelson Figueroa and were allowed to score.
  • May 8: Allowed no runs through five innings; allowed three in the sixth.
  • May 15: Allowed two runs through six innings; allowed three in the seventh.
  • May 20: Allowed one run through six innings; allowed six in the seventh.
  • May 26: Allowed one run through five innings; allowed three in the sixth.
  • July 4: Allowed two runs through six innings; allowed three in the seventh.
  • July 16: Allowed one run through five innings; allowed two in the sixth and was brought back out for the seventh.
  • July 21: Allowed one run through six innings; allowed one run in the seventh.
  • July 31: Allowed three runs through five innings; allowed one run in the sixth.
  • August 18: Allowed one run through five innings; allowed one run in the sixth and was brought back out for the seventh.
  • September 2: Allowed four runs through four innings; allowed two runs in the fifth.
  • September 7: Allowed three runs through six innings; allowed one run in the seventh.
  • September 13: Allowed no runs through five innings; allowed one run in the sixth.
  • September 19: Allowed one run through five innings; allowed three runs in the sixth.

Blanton appears to simply not be conditioned to pitch deep into games this year. The oblique injury that caused him to miss the first month of the season likely has a lot to do with that. That this hasn’t occurred to Manuel or anyone else involved with the Phillies after five months of watching Blanton pitch is baffling.

The other thing I learned today:

The batting average with runners in scoring position stat is the new batting average.

It’s the latest craze that statistically-oriented people are going to have to swat down. All season long, fans and media types alike have been pointing out that Werth’s production with runners in scoring position has been lackluster. And it has — his triple-slash line was .172/.339/.281 coming into today’s game.

However, rather than use it as intended — as a descriptive statistic — people have been using it to cast aspersions on Werth, portraying him as an “unclutch” player or saying that he is pressing because of his looming venture into free agency. The problem with that is RISP varies wildly from season-to-season so you can’t make any strong inferences about a player’s ability from it. Last year, Werth’s triple-slash line with RISP was .279/.407/.510.

RISP will end up hovering around a player’s overall production. Derek Jeter, known worldwide as “Captain Clutch” and “Mr. November”, has a career triple-slash line of .314/.384/.453. With RISP, it’s .303/.398/.428. In terms of OPS, that’s a difference of 11 points, a negligible difference.

Even Ryan Howard, widely regarded as a “run producer”, hits exactly the same over his career (.279 AVG, .575 SLG) as he does with RISP.

Those are my thoughts from Sunday’s action. Looking forward to an important three-game series against the Atlanta Braves. Check back tomorrow for a series preview with Peter Hjort of Capitol Avenue Club.

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100 comments

  1. Mike

    September 20, 2010 07:48 PM

    mph not innings

  2. Chris

    September 20, 2010 07:52 PM

    @ Scott G,

    No, like I said…he is still getting his work in. He will add adrenaline and more arm strength as we carry on. In no way has Madson been taxed.

    What bothers me the most is that IF all of these guys get rest heading into the playoffs via a Phillies early clinch all of the blogosphere will be dedicated to the “over-rested Phillies being cold, losing their edge, etc. etc. etc.” heading into the playoffs.

    That’s why being a manager is a lose-lose situation. You only look as good as the players who perform on the field. We can all second guess after the fact.

    Assuming that Madson’s arm is just going to fall off is pretty dumb…but not quite as dumb as comparing it to a player with a concussion.

  3. Scott G

    September 20, 2010 07:54 PM

    Mark,

    A 1 run deficit in the 7th is about 16 times more likely to win than a 5 run deficit in the 9th is to lose. Yes you’re winning, but a much wider range of pitchers can get the job done than can hold a team to 0 runs.

    Also,

    Why can’t you people accept that Werth’s RISP is unlucky even if he is the ONLY person in the world that has ever had THAT BIG A SPLIT? Ever see a bell curve before?

  4. Scott G

    September 20, 2010 07:58 PM

    Chris,

    How is it dumb to assume that since a player SEVERELY INJURED (concussion) is willing to “suck it up for the team”, then a pitcher with experiencing a little soreness in his arm wouldn’t do the same thing i.e. suck it up? Reading comprehension.

    Also, Madson is being taxed compared to his previous seasons; way to not read a word I wrote. Also, you will not hear a complaint from me about the players being cold because I don’t believe in that. I’m also not even proposing that you let him “get cold” because he can throw side sessions if it comes to the point where he’s not throwing much.

  5. Scott G

    September 20, 2010 08:02 PM

    Chris,

    Do players have access to unlimited amounts of arm strength potential? I sincerely hope that you’re not proposing that a pitcher is still stretching out his arm in September let alone after June, which I think is generous. If a player makes no mechanical adjustment, he DEFINITELY reaches his full arm strength within the first two months.

  6. Chris

    September 20, 2010 08:04 PM

    It’s “dumb” because there’s no evidence that says if you throw a bit more often than the year before that you’re automatically going to get hurt…and then lie about it. It’s ridiculous honestly. Many people believe that pitching more actually causes better health and stamina.

    An injury is a freak thing. Did resting Strasburg help him???? Inventing the term “overuse” doesn’t build a case.

  7. Chris

    September 20, 2010 08:05 PM

    The bottom line is this:

    Can you look in the mirror and say that you talk to Ryan Madson? You evaluate his bullpen sessions? You chart his results daily? Do you think you know more then Manuel and Dubee from the comfort of your couch?

    If are in the clubhouse and are getting the inside scoop on how every player is feeling, who’s available, and exactly what the strategy is then carry on…don’t let me get in the way of you monitoring the bullpen.

  8. Brad.

    September 20, 2010 08:51 PM

    I’m with Scott G. (And btw, where’s your blog? Can’t find it.)

  9. hk

    September 20, 2010 08:59 PM

    Brad,

    Click on his name or click on Charlie’s Manuel, the third one listed under 1. Phillies Blogs.

  10. Scott G

    September 20, 2010 10:43 PM

    Chris,

    The point is, no one knows how Madson is feeling. I don’t think you read what people are writing. If you’re Madson, and you realize you’re the only reliable arm in the pen, you are VERY likely to keep anything bothering you to yourself because you think it’s best for the team. Injuries can be freak accidents or can be caused by continual wear and tear.

    It’s VERY possible that he finishes the year without a problem. However, the more he’s used the worse the chances of that are. You can insist the more a player is used the better, but throwing a baseball is NOT a natural motion for a human being. It wears on one’s arm/shoulder.

    You must acknowledge that there is some point at which activity for a pitcher is detrimental to him. I think you overestimate what that limit is. Why if a pitcher throws 2-3 days in a row does a manager decide he is unavailable the next day? Because he realizes the body can only take so much.

  11. Jim

    September 21, 2010 12:41 AM

    Sorry, don’t really want get into the specifics of the discussions in this thread. However, I have just one comment… Didn’t know Bill’s site turned science fiction on me, the way all of you talk about stuff that don’t even happen in “fantasy” baseball.

  12. Cutter

    September 21, 2010 08:07 AM

    I see no evidence that Lidge’s injuries are due to “overwork.” It may have much more to do with him coming off offseason surgery, or the simple fact that sometimes pitchers get hurt.

    As for Madson, maybe Manuel uses him too much, but he’s also easily the most effective reliever.

    My only issue with using him with large leads is that he might then not be available the next day when the team has a one run lead.

    Why are we speculating that he’s hurt or going to get hurt?

  13. Chris

    September 21, 2010 08:41 AM

    @ Scott G,

    So your philosophy is that Dubee and Manuel can’t trust Madson, how he feels, and how he looks. They should operate under the assumption that he is a liar that doesn’t care about his health (because a football player with a concussion, that causes confusion, entered a game). Is that it?

    What am I not reading? You are inventing the term “overwork” and subjectively applying it to a pitcher without a single fact.

  14. hk

    September 21, 2010 09:02 AM

    It’s impossible to say whether someone’s been overworked or not until they either do or don’t injure their arm. However, I think Cutter’s hit on the bigger issue of why it makes no sense to use Madson in games where the Phils are leading by 4 runs in the 9th, namely that it might make him unavailable in the next game or two when he’s needed in a more highly leveraged situation.

    While I am fequently critical of Charlie’s use of Madson, I give him a pass for not using him on Sunday. With Madson having thrown 28 pitches in a long inning on Saturday night, I was fine with Charlie not using him Sunday to make sure he was rested in case he was needed last night with the Braves coming to town. I’m not sure why he felt compelled to use Baez, but I was okay with giving Madson the day off.

  15. hk

    September 21, 2010 09:12 AM

    It’s ironic that most of the commentors who are against WAR believe in the existence of clutch-ness as both WAR and being clutch are descriptive, not predictive. WAR takes what happened and rolls it up into one little statistical ball showing a player’s value in the given time period. Clutch-ness takes what happened and classifies how a player performed in certain situations. The composition of both are somewhat open to interpretation. In WAR, there are variations on what defensive and pitching metrics to use. With clutch-ness, the beholder can use stats based on RISP, RISP with 2 outs, late and close situations, etc.

  16. Scott G

    September 21, 2010 09:27 AM

    hk,

    I thought that was what I was arguing. If not explicitly here, it’s what I’ve been commenting on relentlessly in previous posts on this site and my blog. My original point for being “overworked” is that you should leverage when you use him because if you use him in a 4 run game one night, it’s very possible that he won’t be as effective or available the next night in a 1 run game. When you compound this over a number of nights (San Diego and Colorado series), it get’s much worse/frustrating.

  17. hk

    September 21, 2010 10:08 AM

    Scott G,

    We agree. I was just saying that I’m okay with Charlie not using Madson on Sunday while I thought (and maybe I misinterpreted) Bill was saying Charlie should have used Madson to keep the game close.

  18. CH Phan

    September 21, 2010 11:50 AM

    I knew that even though Werth started the hitting in one game, had HRs in all 3 games, had RBIs & runs, stole a base, was left on base a number of times, & literally won the last game (when Ryan Howard didn’t do it) that only Bill Baer & possibly one or two others would credit him. All that needs to be said is WERTH DID IT; under pressure; w/a runner in scoring position; in the bottom of the 9th; in a game they were losing but badly wanted to win to keep the Braves 3 down.

    I’m laughing b/c I knew other posts would expend energy researching numbers from the nether regions of the universe in order to bring Werth down in some way. Failing that, they speculate on his mental state.

    After living several places I think I can say only Phillies fans do this; specifically using the “fan” portion of that phrase as their basis for obsessive focus of negativity. No player has been as scrutinized from every direction as Werth this season. If his RISP number is the only thing that’s suffered, then the guy is superhuman to have withstood it.

    Speculating on the state of anyone’s head is beyond ridiculous. Please stop that. The next thing we’ll read is that psychics are involved.

    If they are, then they know what I’M thinking.

  19. hk

    September 21, 2010 12:19 PM

    CH Phan,

    Be prepared for responses that claim that Werth’s Sunday HR was not clutch because Howard was on 1B and, therefore the HR was not with a RISP.

  20. Chris

    September 21, 2010 01:03 PM

    I haven’t really read anything that said Werth isn’t good or hasn’t been clutch…just that he let a 100+ RBI season slip away from him for some unknown reason(s). He’s been good, could have been absolutely fantastic.

  21. Scott G

    September 21, 2010 02:47 PM

    This has been his best season. He has been pretty fantastic. He didn’t want to hit 100 RBIs because he doesn’t like how the fans touch the ball in play.

    I’m clearly kidding, but if you’re reading this, and you sit in seats where you can potentially touch the ball in play, you need to understand when is a good time/bad time to interfere with a ball in play.

  22. Cutter

    September 21, 2010 03:02 PM

    Really, am I the only one here who remembers Werth’s horrific slump?

    The one that prompted his manager to speculate that impending free agency might be affecting his play?

  23. hk

    September 21, 2010 03:57 PM

    Cutter,

    While the media, the front office and the manager often spoke about Werth’s slump, the numbers don’t back up the claims. Did he have a few tough weeks? Of course, but who doesn’t? Werth’s month-by-month traditional stats show the following:

    April .325 BA / 3 HR’s / 14 RBI’s
    May .271 BA / 6 HR’s / 19 RBI’s
    June .286 BA / 4 HR’s / 14 RBI’s
    July .305 BA / 2 HR’s / 8 RBI’s
    August .294 BA / 3 HR’s / 8 RBI’s
    Sept. .274 BA / 6 HR’s / 14 RBI’s

    He’s having a much better year than last year with a higher BA, OBP, Slugging % and more XBH.

  24. Jim

    September 21, 2010 03:59 PM

    @Cutter,

    Yeah, that’s because unlike your casual fans, a lot of the people here don’t subscribes to “If the newspaper printed it/ESPN said it/manager commented on it, then it must be true” theory of supporting your argument.

  25. Sanj

    September 21, 2010 04:10 PM

    I think people are losing sight of the actual argument with Werth. No one is debating whether he is a good player, he is a very good player. 5-tool players like Werth are rare in the game and should be coveted. However, he is not a great player, like Ryan Howard, who can whiff on a pitch and still hit a oppo-boppo because the hurricane gust of wind generated from his swing is enough to launch the ball into outer space. If Jayson were a great player he would have a nickname like “THE MAN” or “THE BIG PIECE”, what nickname does he have?

  26. Chris

    September 21, 2010 05:07 PM

    Month by month splits are fine to evaluate a player IMO, but Werth did have a stretch of 17 games where he hit just .185 (17 for 91) that I do believe also coincided with a 4-11 stretch for the Phillies that tucked them in 3rd base.

    Granted all players have bad stretches…I agree 100%. I’m just saying it’s also pretty easy to twist #’s by subjectively picking where you start and stop your math.

  27. Scott G

    September 21, 2010 05:13 PM

    I’ve been calling him Wolfman for the last 2 years. Baseball-reference.com has had his nickname listed as Werewolf for some time as well.

    Did I really dignify that with a response? I am easily baited, people.

  28. Sanj

    September 21, 2010 07:51 PM

    Why is a low BABIP simply considered unlucky? Why are all batted balls in play considered equal? Shouldn’t there be a stat like vBIP that measures the velocity of the ball that batter’s hit? It seems like that would be a better measure of lucky/unlucky, the harder a player is consistently hitting the ball, the more often they should get on base, no?

  29. Cutter

    September 21, 2010 08:18 PM

    @Jim

    It seems instead that a lot of people here subscribe to the “If the stats say he’s having a great year, than it must be true” philosophy.

    I realize that Charlie Manuel’s baseball acumen isn’t held in high regard around these parts, but I trust his opinion on whether or not one of his players has been struggling.

    @Sanj

    Fortunately, the theory that BABIP is pure luck has started to be discredited a bit.

  30. Chris

    September 21, 2010 08:52 PM

    For some reason my posts are all being moderated but I posted this earlier this evening…

    Month by month splits are fine to evaluate a player IMO, but Werth did have a stretch of 17 games where he hit just .185 (17 for 91) that I do believe also coincided with a 4-11 stretch for the Phillies that tucked them in 3rd base.

    Granted all players have bad stretches…I agree 100%. I’m just saying it’s also pretty easy to twist #’s by subjectively picking where you start and stop your math.

  31. Chris

    September 21, 2010 09:11 PM

    One of the greatest hitters to ever play the game (Ted WIlliams) is quoted as saying “Hitting is fifty percent above the shoulders” yet we’re not allowed to question a players psyche. I know I said that “all players slump” which I do believe. The part that I don’t believe is that all players MUST slump. There are millions of factors that could play a role, and citing “randomness” is a pure cop-out from people driven by numbers.

    In 2008 wasn’t there a million articles wondering why Chase Utley was missing power and RBI production in the second half? Speculation began about a hip injury. People began to attempt some critical thinking into why his power numbers had dipped from the first half. Rather than just speculate “randomness” (because his totals finished near career averages) it turns out people were RIGHT and Utley was playing through hip injury and needed surgery.

    Please, please don’t tell me that critically thinking about what ***MIGHT*** be causing a player to “under-perform” isn’t appropriate.

    Mental or physical, it makes no difference…there are factors besides “randomness” that limit players production.

  32. hk

    September 21, 2010 09:39 PM

    Chris,

    Isn’t it hypocritical to claim using month by month splits is twisting #’s by subjectively picking where you start and stop your math in the same post where you point out that Werth had a stretch of 17 games where he hit just .185 (17 for 91)? Beyond that, the issue that’s being debated isn’t whether Werth slumped or even if Werth is having a good year…the issue is whether Werth is clutch or whether clutch even exists. For the great majority of his career, Werth has performed fine in most definitions of clutch situations. This year, Werth’s struggled in those situations, so people are claiming that he’s not clutch. My only contention when this whole thing started is that he hasn’t come through much in clutch situations, but that clutchness is descriptive and not predictive. I suspect that now that Werth hit the walk-off on Sunday and hit a 3-run bomb and almost 2nd HR today, the Werth’s un-clutch talk will subside and we’ll put this debate to rest.

  33. Mark

    September 21, 2010 09:55 PM

    WORTH DEOS NOT HAVE COOOL NICNAEM! YOUR ARGUEMETN IS INVALD!

  34. Chris

    September 21, 2010 09:56 PM

    @hk,

    I intentionally did that to show how using monthly splits is no different than what I did. It’s basically cherry picking a start/stop time to make an argument for Werth…when the truth is he actually did slump, and the slump came at a part of the season where the Phillies needed him a lot when the team was really banged up and losing (thus him getting headlines). One could argue that his slump was very poorly timed, and with players being out it was a very “unclutch” time to fall on his face. It’s all subjective…but like I said I think there could have been numerous factors that led to his slump. 1) getting ripped by your manager 2)getting headlines 3)losing a supporting cast 4)randomness 5) a hidden injury?? My point the entire time in this forum has simply been to explain that critically thinking is allowed, and not everything has to be “random”. Werth’s a hell of a player, could have had a monster year had he capitalized on those RISP earlier. We’ll never know why he didn’t.

  35. Chris

    September 21, 2010 09:59 PM

    hk,

    I intentionally did that to show how using monthly splits is no different than what I did. It’s basically cherry picking a start/stop time to make an argument for Werth…when the truth is he actually did slump, and the slump came at a part of the season where the Phillies needed him a lot when the team was really banged up and losing (thus him getting headlines). One could argue that his slump was very poorly timed, and with players being out it was a very “unclutch” time to fall on his face. It’s all subjective…but like I said I think there could have been numerous factors that led to his slump. 1) getting ripped by your manager 2)getting headlines 3)losing a supporting cast 4)randomness 5) a hidden injury?? My point the entire time in this forum has simply been to explain that critically thinking is allowed, and not everything has to be “random”. Werth’s a hell of a player, could have had a monster year had he capitalized on those RISP earlier. We’ll never know why he didn’t.

  36. Scott G

    September 21, 2010 10:33 PM

    Chris,

    RBIs are not a basis for having a monster year. They are mainstream media focal points. He is having a monster year. The stats he can control that matter, wOBA for example, are the best of his career.

    Also,

    I can’t help but think that the Werth clutchness bashfest will continue because the world loves to bait me. Raul Ibanez had to have a huge 2-run double tonight to extend the Phillies lead to 5-2. Halladay eventually gave up 3 runs which essentially made Werth’s homer not enough to win the game. People will forget that Werth’s two out smash made Raul’s 2-run double possible, though.

  37. Chris

    September 21, 2010 10:48 PM

    At this point your really just making excuses for Werth, honestly. If the guy hits even moderately well with RISP (instead of 2nd to last in all of baseball) we’re talking about an MVP type season (.300+ Avg, 100+runs, 100+RBI, 25+ homers). Instead we’re again “just” talking about another VERY good season for Werth. Pretending like hitting 100 RBI isn’t a big deal is just foolish. RBI are what go on the board. It’s pretty sad what the state of baseball has come to when hitting .292 w/ 25 dongs is apparently a “monster” year. That’s just funny. The guy has OPS potential much higher than what he did this year, we’ll never know why he didn’t capitalize with RISP or hit as many homers this year. Your basically excusing Werth for not producing as much as Joey Votto, Robinson Cano, Matt Holiday, even though he’s every bit as good (or better) than those players. Maybe I’m getting a bit crazy and overvaluing Werth at this point, but even though the RISP stat is descriptive it’s a fact that it’s the reason he’s not in MVP talks. So why didn’t the RISP production happen? All I’ve said is that the answer isn’t “randomness”.

  38. Jim

    September 22, 2010 01:00 AM

    @Chris,

    Hmm, since the stats count things like hits and RBIs and runs and HRs and walks and stolen bases and outfield assists…. Yeah, actually, if the stats say you’re having a good year, you are. How do YOU measure a good year?

    And for the LAST time, for those who do NOT understand BABIP at all. BABIP is mostly luck for pitchers, but NOT for batters. It has been proven that hitters DO have some control over their BABIP, i.e. good hitters generally have better BABIP over lesser hitters. So, please, before you start an argument, understand what you’re talking about first. Maybe then you might sound somewhat intelligent for once.

  39. hk

    September 22, 2010 07:22 AM

    Chris,

    During Werth’s slump, the only regular who was missing was Rollins – and Jimmy’s missed almost half of the season – making all of the others culpable for not picking him up while he was struggling. Of course, the media and the manager chose to single out the guy who’s going to leave after the season as opposed to everyone else in the lineup who was also struggling. One man’s slump does not cause a team to get shut out 3 straight times in Citi Field.

    I agree with you on the point that we don’t know why players struggle when they do, whether it’s mental, physical or randomness. However, when the full season statistics (tradtional and sabremetric) say the guy’s had a good season, it doesn’t make sense to point to small samples to conclude that he hasn’t (because he slumped for 17 games) or that he’s not clutch (because he had a stretch where he was really bad with RISP).

  40. Chris

    September 22, 2010 07:46 AM

    Jim,

    Really? Did you read what I said? I said he was very good, I said it’s a joke to say he had a “monster year”. He could have easily had a monster year by hitting with RISP…he didn’t.

    hk,

    All I did was list a few possibilities without looking, and the only one you countered was supporting cast. I wasn’t arguing for any of those in particular…my argument is that it’s more than “random” like Bill says.

    Why didn’t he hit with RISP? No one seems to have an answer…they just excuse it because he was still good. That’s not the point of the discussion, the point of the discussion is to try to understand why Werth failed in what I deem higher pressure situations this year. “Random” has been the only thing Bill has offered which I cannot accept.

  41. Cutter

    September 22, 2010 08:24 AM

    @Scott G

    “RBIs are not a basis for having a monster year. They are mainstream media focal points. He is having a monster year. The stats he can control that matter, wOBA for example, are the best of his career. ”

    Can we get over this obsession of stats that are “under a hitter’s control?” No statistic is truly completely under a hitter’s control.

    Doesn’t wOBA include a hitter’s walks? If a hitter is facing a pitcher with good control, he’s going to walk less. Is that within his control? No.

    @Jim

    “And for the LAST time, for those who do NOT understand BABIP at all. BABIP is mostly luck for pitchers, but NOT for batters. It has been proven that hitters DO have some control over their BABIP, i.e. good hitters generally have better BABIP over lesser hitters”

    Proven is a very strange word to use here, since the value of BABIP is still being debated. And pitchers have no control over BABIP? There are pitchers who pitch to contact, and are quite successful in doing so.

    And as for the Werth debate…

    If may be true that “clutchness” is truly variable from season to season, but most people aren’t arguing that Werth isn’t an overall clutch player. We’re arguing that he hasn’t been particularly clutch this year.

    While his overall stat line may look excellent, I can’t qualify Werth’s season as being great when he has failed so often with runners on base.

  42. hk

    September 22, 2010 09:33 AM

    Cutter,

    Is Ryan Howard having a great year? Before answering, please know that he’s hitting .197 this year with 2 outs and RISP.

    Whether or not someone’s having a great year should be all inclusive. Yes, Werth’s struggled in clutch (however one describes clutch) situations. However, he’s been so great with no one on base or with just a man on 1st that he’s still produced a line of .294/.384/.525.

    As far as the Werth debate is concerned, people (maybe not you) have been arguing that Werth is not clutch. I agree with you that, the last few games aside, Werth has not been clutch this year. However, I do not believe that his lack of being clutch so far predicts that he won’t be clutch in the future.

  43. Chris

    September 22, 2010 10:02 AM

    Ryan Howard having a “great” year? By what standards is “great”? He’s certainly been very good, be he’s probably only like the 5th best first baseman. Had he hit better with RISP and 2 out he could be mentioned in the same sentence as Votto…but he can’t.

    That’s all I’m saying about Werth. Good? Absolutely. Monster year? I don’t think so…but I think it was in his hands that he COULD have had a monster year if he had produced with RISP. Why didn’t he?

    I guess the standards are just so low now that “great” seasons no longer include hitting over .300.

  44. Jim

    September 22, 2010 11:47 AM

    @Chris,

    Explain to me how pitching to contact has ANYTHING to do with “Batting Average on Balls In Play.” Most “contact” pitchers are successful not because they somehow have some magical ability to lower their BABIP… they don’t. What they ARE doing is avoiding walks, which HAS been shown to be a reliable measure of pitcher performance. Read the article from Rob Neyer the other day about the Twins REALLY hating walks.

    I would assume you’re having these discussions with people because you want to convince people of your views. If so, then you might want to actually, I don’t know, try to substantiate them. If not, then you’re pretty much wasting space and time.

  45. CH Phan

    September 22, 2010 12:10 PM

    hk – Thanks for pointing to my RISP error. I write so quickly at work, to be honest I just don’t think. Sorry. But on my way home I had this sudden thought ‘Omg, I said RISP & Howard was on 1st. Damn.’ Shrug, it was done. I came here today looking to correct it & saw your post (I laughed).

    Sanj – The team calls Werth ‘JDub’. Thought everyone knew that. Also thought the werewolf ref was actually “WereWerth.” Enough of that stupidity.

    Jim – You’ve said a lot of what I was thinking & worded it all much better. Thanks.

    Aaaand JDub hit ANOTHER 3-run homer last night. Hm, let’s see that’s a lot of HRs in the last 5 games; when they were needed; when they counted the most; in Sept. Help me out here … we’re how many games ahead of Atlanta? Right. FIVE. Gee, this is the 3rd yr I’ve thought to myself ‘I’d hate to be w/o that guy riiight about now.’

    And just b/c he hired that heinous, rat-bastard Boras (the FO pushed him to it – oh yes – they did) that doesn’t mean he won’t re-sign w/the Phillies. Pls note; Domonic Brown’s agent is none other than – Scott Boras. So we know two things: 1) Boras CAN actually make deals with the Phils’ FO; and 2) one way or another RF will COST in the next 2 yrs or so. Pay now or later. If we can possibly backend some of the Werth contract (and I do think he wants to stay enough to do that on some level) then that gives Brown enough of a learning curve to platoon until Ibanez is gone. Maybe, MAYBE it could work.

    I’m just talking. He could be gone but I don’t think ‘All Is Lost’.

  46. Chris

    September 22, 2010 12:20 PM

    @ Jim,

    I have never said a word about BABIP

  47. Cutter

    September 22, 2010 03:53 PM

    @Jim

    Basically you’re trying to say that pitchers have no control over what happens when a batter hits a ball.

    Really?

    So when a sinker-throwing pitcher induces a ground ball, that was just pure luck?

    When a pitcher jams a hitter and causes him to pop up, that was nothing but a cooincidence?

    And using something that Neyer wrote to prove a point? That’s essentially like getting an endorsement for Catholicism from the Pope.

  48. hk

    September 22, 2010 04:14 PM

    Cutter,

    The sinkerball pitcher may induce more ground balls, but the point is that once the batter puts the ball in play, even off a sinkerball pitcher, the pitcher has little or no control over whether the ground ball goes right to the fielder or finds a hole. Over the course of a season / career, just about every pitcher ends up with a BABIP of close to .300.

    Arguably the two worst pitchers on the Phillies, Kyle Kendrick and Danys Baez both have better career BABIP’s than Roy Oswalt. Baez even has a better career BABIP than Brandon Webb, who was one of the best, if not the best, sinkerball pitcher in MLB prior to his injury.

  49. Jim

    September 23, 2010 01:27 AM

    @Chris,

    Yeah, just noticed I responded to the wrong person. My bad :)

  50. Jim

    September 23, 2010 01:40 AM

    @Cutter,

    No, I don’t mean read what Neyer said. Read what the TWINS said. I don’t know… A team who wins year in and year out and has the best record in all of baseball… They might know a thing or two about baseball.

    Pitchers have control over one thing… Whether the batter misses or hits. Weakly hit balls are what I consider “semi-misses.” But looks like Major League hitters don’t “semi-miss” much of the time to make even a small difference in BABIP, which would make sense: 1) they are freaking Major League hitters, so if they can see the ball to put the bat on it, they are probably gonna hit it decent enough; and 2) most “semi-misses” probably end up being foul balls. Essentially, your “examples” of weakly hit ground balls and pop ups are so few of the total that they are statistically insignificant, so the numbers would indicate.

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