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  1. I’d be tempted to go with Octavio Dotel. Prior postseason and closer experience are major pluses, and Benoit has a tendency sometimes to get changeup-happy and lose control of a game.

    Comment by Dan — October 24, 2012 @ 11:54 am

  2. Yes, prior closing experience is of the utmost importance. That’s why Brian Fuentes is so good.

    Comment by DominicanRepublican — October 24, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

  3. I don’t really understand what your point is. What does Brian Fuentes being a bad closer have to do with anything?

    Comment by Dan — October 24, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

  4. He’s saying that the past experience means next to nothing. Studies show that he’s probably right. Last year Motte had no post season closing experience and was just fine. Feliz had experience as a closer on a WS team in 2010 and melted down in the WS, in game 7 no less, the following year.

    Comment by jpg — October 24, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

  5. As Cameron has suggested, Leyland needs to leave his starters in as long as possible and then go with the advantageous matchups. When your bullpen is as volatile as the Tigers’ is, you can’t afford to have a #1 closer. The guys I trust the most are Alburquerque and Dotel. Alburquerque hasn’t established enough history to be considered a top flight closer, and Dotel has been prone to meltdowns in the past.

    Comment by Jason B — October 24, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

  6. Typo – “because Coke was one of the very worst pitchers in baseball against left-handers this year” should probably read right-handers.

    Comment by Dave K — October 24, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

  7. Belt should be batting 5 in front of Pence 6. Crawford (8) can’t hit at all, but Blanco (7) is passable vs. RHP and that alternation makes winning platoon as hard as possible for DET. Plus all of their scheduled starters are RHP, so bumping Belt above Pence is probably right anyway. (Given that Bochy will never put an appropriate hitter in the 2-hole).

    Comment by Calvin — October 24, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

  8. What is wrong with Scutaro in the 2-hole? And I’m asking to be educated, not to contradict. I mean, he’s no Ryan Theriot. He gets on base at a decent clip, (2nd highest in the lineup) and I don’t think anyone would argue he’s one of the 3-5 best hitters in that lineup. Is there some sort of rule for 2 hitters that he’s awful at that I don’t know about? Again, asking to be elucidated.

    I think that managers are going to like putting a slap hitting middle-infielder second for a long time and it will be a terrible decision a lot of the time (hey, Ryan Theriot) but I don’t see why it is with Scutaro.

    Comment by Marcus Andrews — October 24, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

  9. It will certainly be fun to watch, mostly because I don’t trust Jim Leyland to manage a bullpen batter-by-batter. I’m afraid we’ll get Coke against the heart of the Giants order because he thinks Willie Hernandez has been reincarnated.

    Moreover, he doesn’t know who his best RH reliever is, and I don’t either. My gut is with a well-rested Benoit (who, I think, was overused in the AL Central race and the ALDS), but your mileage may vary.

    Comment by Jason — October 24, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

  10. That was game 6.

    Sorry. I just can’t ever forget game 6.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — October 24, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

  11. I actually love that Valverde forced Leyland’s hand – the guy has a great baseball mind, and has been managing for decades – he shouldn’t need the crutch of a “closer”. Manage batter-by-batter based on your experience and feel for the game…he’s a much better manager when he has to think outside the box (ie. Boesch melts down, so he figures out a way to make Berry & Garcia contributors).

    Comment by Ian — October 24, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

  12. Scutaro is far far far better than Theriot, Crawford, Arias, or Burriss who all got multiple starts in the 2-hole this year. Having Scutaro in the 2 isn’t really worth worrying about beyond a nitpick level- Bochy probably gave away as many runs in one PA sac-bunting Cain with 1st and 3rd one out the other day as he did playing Scutaro in the 2 every time combined. Having any of those other four in the 2 is borderline criminal.

    You generally want your best hitters in the 1/2/4, your next two in the 3/5, and then in decreasing order from there out (putting the P 8th is an idea, but Crawford is bad enough that it doesn’t much matter) with the exact placement depending on skills (BB% and speed plays better in leadoff than cleanup, power plays better in cleanup than leadoff, high GIDP plays worse in the 3 than the 5, etc). And obviously there’s some value to not giving away platoon on a platter in the late innings, and since SF basically has nobody who can PH for the top 7, you have to plan for that from the get-go. If you rank the hitters vs RHP, Scutaro should come out 6th, and I don’t see how any case could be made for top-4 (Posey, Panda, Belt, Pagan.. he’s worse overall than Pence but at least has a very different skillset), so he just doesn’t belong second, but it’s a much smaller problem than putting Theriot and friends up top.

    Comment by Calvin — October 24, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

  13. Blah, response a couple of posts down

    Comment by Calvin — October 24, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

  14. If only FOX used similar diligence in deciding the announcing crew.

    Comment by David G — October 24, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

  15. I appreciate the response and I understand all your points but respectfully disagree with the assertion that Scutaro is the sixth best hitter in their lineup against right handers. Now small sample size caveats apply for all of these stats (especially Scutaro because this is taking only his Giants stats because that’s easiest to sort) but just looking at WRC+ against right handers Scutaro has actually been the best since he joined the Giants.

    Now I don’t think WRC+ is the be-all end-all stat, but it’s pretty good and he’s got a 142 compared to 128 for Posey, 120 for Pablo, 119 for Belt, and 118 for Pagan and 83 for Pence (again small sample only Giants stats) . Yes, this is a lot of unsustainable BABIP luck but you tend to have a higher average when you never strike out (seriously, 5.8% k rate vs. righties) and he hits a decent amount of line drives (28%). Again, this is partially scorer bias and might be overstating, but he’s been very good. I think you could make a very compelling argument that he’s been the second best hitter since he joined the Giants.

    I know you said it’s not a big deal that he’s there but I think you’re under-selling Scutaro. He’s probably worthy of batting second. I’d set the lineup up really close to how Bochy has it using your criteria (I’d bat Belt fifth not 6th but marginal difference overall). There are many things to complain about with managers and many lineup decisions Bochy has made that have been spotty at best, but as of right now he’s coming really close to an optimal lineup given his personnel if you ask me.

    Comment by Marcus Andrews — October 24, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

  16. Given Benoit’s recent penchant for giving up long balls, I’d rather give Valverde another chance … if he makes a mistake, it will likely be a single (or a walk), and then you could get him out of there without necessarily giving up a run.

    Comment by Tiger fan — October 24, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

  17. You can’t weight that small a sample that much when you have his whole career of doing nothing like that, and even just his total 2012 splits, where his other home park was Coors of all places, he comes out 103 wRC+. He has (assuming you’re right) hit the best since coming over, but that doesn’t mean I’d bet on it happening again tomorrow. It’s obviously way more likely that he’s running hot for awhile than that he miraculously transformed from a crappy first half to a David Wright/Matt Holliday level of hitter.

    But even if you take Scutaro for what I think he is (much closer to his last few years or even 2012 numbers than YTD SF numbers), he does have good OBP (and non-K) skills, and if you’re going to put somebody in front of your best hitters, at least let it be a guy who’s good at getting on base and deficient in power and not the other way around (you want your best hitters up in higher run-leverage spots obviously, and that means men on). The lineup would be reasonable if he put Belt 5th, both because he’s better against RHP and because it’s basically the perfect anti-platoon lineup and you can’t get that without throwing a pure RHB up top. But when he can’t even flip Belt and Pence for completely obvious reasons, it doesn’t give me much faith (that and having seen a ton of his other decisions through the years) that he even has any idea what he should be trying to do with his lineup or how to do it.

    Comment by Calvin — October 24, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

  18. “he hasn’t anointed Coke as his new closer yet”

    ….so rub him down with oil and send him out there then! …I remember when Leyland anointed Kenny Rogers with pine tar in the 2006 ALDS. They guy was lights out!

    Comment by Jason H. — October 24, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

  19. An “outside the box” option might be to use Scherzer as Closer in Game 1, even for 2 innings. Then use the committee in Game 2-6. Then Scherzer and Verlander in Game 7. Then they’re only stuck with platoon matchups in 5 games out of 7. For platoon matchups it could be Dotel and Valverde against righties, Coke against lefties and Benoit against switch hitters and lefties. Benoit actually has a slight reverse platoon split for his career. Overall, as long as Dotel and Valverde are the ones facing Posey, I think that’s about all Leyland can do.

    Comment by Ivan Grushenko — October 24, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

  20. Pence should be batting in some instructional league.

    Comment by Bryan — October 25, 2012 @ 10:04 am

  21. The problem with that is that Leyland invented The Box.

    Comment by chuckb — October 25, 2012 @ 10:51 am

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