Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Fire Jim Tracy - April 1st Edition

Fire Jim Tracy – April 1st Edition

Dusty Baker – 1st infraction

Infraction – Bunting
When – Bottom of the 8th
Score – Game tied 1-1
Situation – 0 out, Runners on 1st and 2nd

With the Angels & Reds deadlocked at 1 in the bottom of the 8th they had their first two batters reach base, pinch hitter Xavier Paul on an error by Howard Kendrick error, and a single by Shin-Soo Choo.  This meant that on a base hit by Brandon Phillips the Reds almost certainly would’ve given scored the go ahead run. 
However, Dusty Baker instead decided it was time to call for the bunt.

This is incorrect for numerous reasons, lets count them.

1 – Bunting is almost always a poor decision.  However, its even worse when you are bunting a base runner to third base.  When the go-ahead run is already on 2nd baes a hit is going to score him already. 
Lets take a look at Tom Tango’s great Run Expectancy chart to see what happened to the probability of scoring…
With a runner on 1st and 2nd and none out, you can expect to score at least one run 64% of the time.
With a runner on 2nd and 3rd and one out, that number stays fairly constant, only raising to just a shade under 70%.  However that is just referring to the likelihood of scoring 1 run.  The chances of scoring multiple runs drop precipitously. 
However, those numbers are in the average situation.  This certainly wasn’t that.
2 – Brandon Phillips is a good hitter.  Since 2007, 5 of those 6 years he’s posted a wRC+ of 100 or more.  Meaning he’s been better than average almost every year.  These aren’t the guys you should be calling to bunt. 
3 – Joey Votto was on deck.  In case you don’t know, Joey Votto is very good.  Votto, in my opinion, is the best hitter in the National League.  By bunting Phillips, all Baker did was open first base, and invite Votto to be intentionally walked.  Of course that’s indeed what happened.  This took the bat out of the team MVP’s hands.

Result –
Votto was intentionally walked.  Chris Heisey struck out.  Jay Bruce struck out.
Zero runs scored.

Dusty Baker – 2nd infraction

Infraction – Bunting
When – Bottom of the 11th
Score –Game tied 1-1
Situation – 0 out, Runner on 1st.

Leading off the 11th inning, Joey Votto reached first on an error by shortstop Erick Aybar.  With Chris Heisey at the plate, Baker again called for him to bunt.  Going back to the Run Expectancy chart, by calling for this bunt, the expectation dropped from 44% to 41%.  However, much like the last time all this did was invite yet another intentional walk to a dangerous hitter.  This time it was Jay Bruce who was walked, bringing 2nd year 3rd baseman Todd Frazier to the plate.  Now, while Frazier had an excellent rookie season, undoubtedly he’s a worse hitter Bruce.

-Jay Bruce was intentionally walked.
-Todd Frazier struck out.
-Pinch hitter Jack Hannahan grounded out.
-Zero runs scored
Dusty Baker – 3rd infraction

Infraction – Inept Bullpen Usage
When – Top of the 13th
Score – Game tied 1-1
Situation – 2 out, Bases Loaded

Dusty Baker, decided that he hadn’t done enough with the two previous bunts to ruin the game.  In the 13th, reliever JJ Hoover was pitching his 2nd inning of the game.  The question you may be asking is…
Don’t the Reds have a great bullpen? 
Why is JJ Hoover pitching important innings when the game is on the line? 
Well, it’s the 13th inning, so they must’ve run out of relievers right?
No, that’s not the case at all.  Remaining in the bullpen was primary left handed setup man Sean Marshall, as well as right handers Logan Ondrusek, & Jose Arredondo.  Hoover had walked two batters (one intentionally), and hit another to load the bases, but Baker left Hoover in the game regardless.  Sigh.

-Chris Iannetta singled in the winning run. 
-The Reds lost

Bud Black – 1st Infraction

Infraction – Bunting
When – Top of the 1st
Score – Tied at zero
Situation – Runner on first, zero out.

While there are more damaging errors that I’ll detail over the course of the year, I don’t think I’ll find one more frustrating than this.  The first batter of the Padres season Chris Denorfia led of with a single.  The second batter of the game Evereth Cabrera was called on to sacrifice bunt him to 2nd base.  If this was the 9th inning of a tie game, I’m all for it.  At that point, you should be playing for one run.  However in this situation, you’re essentially killing any chance you have of setting up a mutli-run inning, and not really increasing your chance of scoring that one run by all that much.
This decision shows no awareness of game situation, nor the math that’s been done on the effectiveness of bunting in general.  Also, it tells your #2 hitter, in his first at bat of the year that you have no confidence in his ability to get a hit.  Just a terrible decision.

-Yonder Alonso grounded out.
-Carlos Quentin walked.
-Jedd Gyorko grounded out.
-Zero runs scord

Walt Weiss – 1st Infraction

Infraction – Inept Bullpen Usage
When – Bottom of the 10th
Score – 4-4 Tie
Situation – Bases Loaded, 1 out

Its nice to see Walt Weiss picking up where Jim Tracy left off. 
Weiss fell into one of the classic managerial traps you will see through the year.  In a home game, he refused to use his closer in a tie game.  In the 10th inning, instead of turning to closer Rafael Betancourt, Weiss opted instead to go with Adam Ottavino.  After Ottavino struck out Norichika Aoki, but then hit Rickie Weeks, intentionally walked Ryan Braun, and then unintentionally walked Aramis Ramirez to load the bases. 
Now, its one thing to not use your closer to start the inning, but now once your pitcher has loaded the bases without giving up a hit.  At this point, you have to go to Betancourt.  Weiss didn’t do that, and shockingly the Rockies lost.

-Jonathan Lucroy hit a sacrifice fly
-Rockies lose

Ron Gardenhire – 1st Infraction

Infraction – Inept Bullpen Usage
When Top of the 8th
Score – Twins trailing 3-2
Situation – Bases loaded, 2 out

Left handed reliever Brian Duensing had loaded the bases in the top of the 8th inning, on a single, a walk, and an intentional walk surrounding a sacrifice bunt by Andy Dirks.  At this point, Ron Gardenhire decided to pull Duensing, and go back to the bullpen.  Since it’s the 8th inning, and it was an incredibly high leverage situation, you’d expect he’d turn to his setup man Jared Burton. 
Instead, for no reason he turned to Josh Roenicke.  Objectively, there is zero case that can be made that Roenicke is better than Burton.  I don’t know what Gardenhire was saving him for.  The game had just 1 out left in the 8th, so even if you thought you’d take the lead, the closer Glen Perkins would be coming in from the bullpen.  I don’t understand why this happened.  It’s a real head scratcher.

- Josh Roenicke threw a wild pitch, a run scored

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