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Just The Sports: What Are You Doing?!!!!!

Just The Sports

Saturday, July 08, 2006

What Are You Doing?!!!!!

During tonight's Devil Rays-Yankees game, in the seventh inning with one out and Melky Cabrera on second base. Scott Kazmir is pitching for the Devil Rays and Derek Jeter is coming up to bat for the Yankees. Does the Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon elect to let his staff ace pitch to Derek Jeter? Of course not; that would make too much sense. Instead, he tells Kazmir to intentionally walk Deter Jeter, putting runners on second and first, in order to face Johnny Damon and get the vaunted lefty vs. lefty match-up. By walking Jeter, Maddon increased the Yankees' run expectancy by .215 runs (according to 2006 data).

When I saw him doing it, I knew it was a bad idea, but Maddon had done the same thing earlier in the game and gotten away with it so obviously he felt he could do the same again. The fact Andy Phillips was the next batter up the first time and Johnny Damon the second time must not have registered in his mind.

Intentional walks are bad ideas 99.9% of the time, but doing so because of a perceived handedness advantage in match-ups is asinine. If Maddon had taken the time to check, he would have seen Damon bats .298 AVG/.413 OBP/.429 SLG in 84 at-bats against left handed pitchers. From 2003-05, Damon hit .293 AVG/.350 OBP/.413 SLG in 624 at-bats, making this such of match-up useless. Over his career, Damon has always hit virtually the same against left handers and right handers. So what does Damon do against Kazmir?

He gets a triple, allowing both Cabrera and Jeter to waltz (not literally) across home plate. Congratulations, Maddon. You failed at playing the percentages in baseball because you did not understand them.


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