Second, why wouldn’t the managers know the game situation?
Seriously, dude? All of the things a manager has to keep track of combined with a 14-inning game? Combined with another manager being intentionally, and uniquely deceptive.
I am surprised that the bench coach, or whoevers job it is to look at the lineup card continually didn’t say anything. But a double-switch in previous innings of an extra-inning game would be something that quite a few coaches/managers would overlook … especially when AMac would have been batting behind Tabata in every other at bat during the game.
What is infuriating from a fan’s perspective is that managers are paid primarily to know the situation at all times and to make decisions accordingly.
Listen to yourself, man.
Hurdle took a chance on Friday, and succeeded because he understood his job duties more than his counterpart.
Eric, I think you need to step back and look at your comments. Hurdle tried something that happens what 1 out of every 5 seasons? 10 seasons? 20 seasons? Ever? … and Tracy was supposed to know?
Technically, you are correct, the manager is ultimately responsible for every situation and scenario. But then, to “fit the bill” a manager has to essentially be perfect or inhuman. Makes me wonder if Hurdle would have tried this with any other team … other than the one that he used to work for. It’s pretty damn shady.
As long as you apply the same extremely high standard to your own performance, you are justified (IMO) to do the smae with others. But, if not, then this seems like holding a manager to a ridiculously high standard given the circumstances. Frankly it sounds like something a person would say if they didn’t know any better … like when they guy next to you at the game says out loud “why doesn’t this bum just throw 9 strikes and get the inning over with already?”.
Comment by CircleChange11 — April 11, 2011 @ 9:29 am
I don’t think it’s too much to ask of a manager to know something as basic as the other team’s batting order, double switch and all. That’s what the guy gets paid to do. Yes, he’s human, and he made a mistake. It’s easily explained that way, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay. When I do something wrong at my job, I get rightly criticized for it.
Comment by Jack Weiland — April 11, 2011 @ 9:36 am
Exactly, it would be like justifying a mistake I make at work because it’s really deep into tax season. It makes sense because I’m human but it doesn’t make it right.
That’s to say: it’s not the end of the world, it’s more funny that Hurdle snookered him like that … but it shouldn’t have happened. Bad on Tracy, good on Hurdle. Don’t overstate the author’s message here. Nowhere does he state Jim Tracy sucks as a manager, just that he blew it on this one. Which he did. Fact.
Comment by Jack Weiland — April 11, 2011 @ 9:38 am
I still can’t say for certain if he fell for this tactic or not. It was a long game and the odds were in Morales favor. Maybe Hurdle wanted the pitcher’s spot up next inning. In all likelihood this situation didn’t occur. Unless…. Jim Tracy admitted to the Press he got jipped.
Comment by My echo and bunnymen — April 11, 2011 @ 9:41 am
Which it would never suit him to do … so I guess we’ll never know. Seems strange that you would knowingly pitch to Tabata with the pitcher’s spot up next, though.
Comment by Jack Weiland — April 11, 2011 @ 9:43 am
Tom Runnells: “Do you think we should pitch around Tabata here?”
Jim Tracy: “With McCutchen due up next? Are you crazy?
It’s absolutely Tracy’s fault, “dude”. I’m willing to wager at least 10 fans in the ballpark – and possibly many, many more – noticed the shenanigan. And if so, someone in the Rockies dugout should have.
“All the things a manager has to keep track of” most definitely includes being aware of lineups. I’m appalled that you even mention this. In my job I run a forecasting model and I have to keep track of thousands of inputs, and routinely am very under the gun with pressure to deliver results at the drop of a hat. If I were to deliver faulty results and then complained that I had too many things to keep track of, well, that complaint wouldn’t go far.
Agreed. It’s a snake move, but I love it. This is the kind of stuff that makes baseball real and takes it beyond WAR graphs and data analysis. I fucking love baseball.
Comment by Jack Weiland — April 11, 2011 @ 10:05 am
Jose Tabata’s career extra base-hit average: .074. His AAA extra base-hit average is .081.
I don’t know recent league-wide batting averages for pitchers, but in 2008 NL pitchers batted .139.
I don’t think Tracy’s move was all that bad. Tabata is off to a hot start, although that should mean absolutely nothing to fangraphers, unless of course it is indicative of improving power, certainly possible for a (putatively) young player and prospect of his caliber.
Tabata gettinga single or walking anyway of course wouldn’t change the calculation at all, since that would be the same result as intentionally walking him.
I can certainly understand not wanting to put the tying run at second base when the chance of a single by a pitcher is almost twice that of Tabata getting an extra base hit. Assuming one of the pitchers left for the Pirates was at least an average major league hitting pitcher.
Circle Change is way off. Every manager knows where the pitcher’s slot is in the lineup……that is ingrained into NL ball….fans, ushers, vendors know where the pitcher’s slot is. You plan 3-4 batters ahead for this.
Comment by LionoftheSenate — April 11, 2011 @ 10:24 am
What no one is considering here is the pitcher who was on the mound. He had just walked JOSH RODRIGUEZ on four pitches, and you know Garrett Olsen would not swing his bat at all, making Morales throw three strikes. The chances of Morales failing to do so is much more than nonzero. The Giants tried this in 2009 against the Rockies, and Adam Eaton walked in from of a walk off grand slam by Spilborghs.
Essentially, you’re weighing probabilities here. Which is greater, a tabata xbh (he had 2 in 31 AB coming in), or the added probabilities of a walk to the pitcher or lucky bloop hit. It really isn’t as obvious as you make it out to be. Not with a rattled headcase pitcher out there.
It’s certainly questionable, but I believe to write a piece on a perceived occurrence is even more questionable.
Comment by My echo and bunnymen — April 11, 2011 @ 10:33 am
And the more I think about it, the LESS Tracy was wrong. Obviously, the outfielders were playing very deep to prevent an XBH. Even with two outs, the runner doesn’t always score on a double from first. Tabata’s double had to be more than just a double. It had to be 1) placed perfectly down the lines 2) placed perfectly in the gaps 3) carom off the wall. You can’t even just go with expected double percentage – it’s even less than that.
I’m not familiar with the stadium, but don’t most ballparks list the current lineups somewhere on the scoreboard? Maybe Tracy thought the scoreboard was wrong but it could serve as a failsafe to his lineup card in the dugout. At the very least he could have seen it and said “wait a minute, something is wrong here.”
Seems like over the top criticism for a situation that may occur once in a career (if ever). It’s nowehere near the same situation as a manager jostling the on deck hitter trying to bait a pitching change, or things of that nature. I’m not saying people should not be held accountable. What I am considering is the rarity and uniqueness of the situation.
Lots of people have to keep track of many things. Are any of them on the lookout for things that “never happen”? Or do we spend our greatest energies on the “most common aspects” that generally cause us problems?
The batting order switch would have been posted on the scoreboard, yes? If so, and even considering other things … then perhaps the pitching, batting, and bench coaches along with the manager should have recognized it, and I might be wrong in my criticism of the criticism.
Comment by CircleChange11 — April 11, 2011 @ 10:53 am
I agree, especially given the events that had preceded it. Morales had started the inning well, but after he bumped into Wiggington trying to catch the popup for the second out, he was clearly rattled. This was somebody who was known to have mental lapses before, and the next four pitches were all wide of the zone. In fact, the double by Tabata was set up by his lack of command: Morales got behind 3-1 and then grooved a fastball. Basically, given his mental state, Morales was going to have trouble getting a third out no matter what.
That said, I think I still would have preferred to try walking Tabata intentionally and then face the pitcher. I can see the reasons to do it either way.
“But a double-switch in previous innings of an extra-inning game would be something that quite a few coaches/managers would overlook … especially when AMac would have been batting behind Tabata in every other at bat during the game.”
That’s just not true. Neil Walker was hitting behind Tabata until the double-switch.
You know what? Forget my silly-ass comments. Completely wrong.
I was envisioning a different scenario than what actually occurred. I looked up the box score to see what I was missing.
The Pirates batting order was ….
For the manager not to notice that the #3 batter was in the on-deck circle while the #1 batter is at the plate is a BIG mistake. What I was envisioning is not even legal (McCutchen batting after Tabata all game, McCutchen being moved out of the game or out of that slot, and then going to the on deck circle as if he were still batting in that slot). All the Pirates did was “jump a slot” and Tracy should have caught it … as should have the bench coach, pitching coach, …. the answer was on the scoreboard.
Eric, my bad. Apology.
Comment by CircleChange11 — April 11, 2011 @ 11:05 am
Didn’t “The Book” answer the question of walking somebody to get to the pitcher? If memory serves it’s usually a negative expected value play so even if he knew the pitcher was up next it was technically correct to pitch to Tabata. Not that that’s what people usually do and if I’m misremembering please correct me but that’s my understanding.
There were widespread reports that Tabata had bulked up this off-season, so it might be reasonable to think that he’ll hit for more power this year. Of course those reports can be filed with all the other “best shape of his life” reports.
About the Pirates pitchers, none of them can really hit worth a lick; I think the best career average is Kevin Correia at .122, though there’s also Evan Meek’s mighty 480 wRC+ in two PAs (single and a walk). Quite likely Hurdle would’ve let Olson bat in order to try and squeeze out another inning, and his career BA in minuscule sample size is .167.
As a Pirate fan, I dearly want to believe that Tracy got snookered. He isn’t popular in Pittsburgh.
The real real hero is probably Jeff Karstens, who pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings after the Ross Ohlendorf left in the third inning, or (per WPA) Chris Resop, who pitched three scoreless high-leverage innings — though both walked three and gave up two hits, so they were pretty lucky as well. Would’ve been ugly if they hadn’t eaten those innings. Or Tabata and his .469 WPA (he also homered).
I don’t know why this point isn’t getting more attention. Eric and Jack seemed to have made up their mind that pitching to Tabata is clearly the wrong choice without (seemingly) looking at any numbers, at least any numbers that have been shown here.
Furthermore, the article takes the position that since not pitching to Tabata is such a clear choice (even though when you look at numbers it might not be at all) that a manager must be lying and was duped and therefore didn’t do his job well.
Eric, your criticizing a guy for something you assume happened because you perceived his choice to be certain way without looking at any numbers.
I can’t imagine they would have walked Tabata with 2 outs and a runner on first. That’s not worth it. Yeah the pitcher is bad, but you would face the pitcher to lead off the next inning. Tabata is more of a singles guy anyway.
Obviously in hindsight it would have been better to walk him.
I’d have to check the tables, but I think walking someone to get to the pitcher decreases the chance of one+ runs scoring, no matter what it does to the expected number of total runs. And in this case the chance of one+ is all that matters. You can argue that he’s setting things up for the NEXT inning (the pitcher will bat eventually), but in terms of this inning only, chance of one+ runs only, it’s perfectly reasonable to walk someone to get to the pitcher.
Comment by Doug Lampert — April 11, 2011 @ 11:50 am
Pirates fans will tell you that Tracy does suck as a manager and that they are very happy they now have Colorado’s former manager and Colorado has theirs.
I find it a bit unlikely that Tracy didn’t know, it would be a fairly egregious and lazy mistake, but was shocked that he pitched to Tabata in either case.
Dude, it’s criticism. He failed to do his job. Hardly over the top. Unless I’m wrong and the headline of this title is “Jim Tracy The Stupid Stupidhead and Why He’s Such a Stupid Person In General and Insofar As His Entire Baseball Career Is Concerned.”
Comment by Jack Weiland — April 11, 2011 @ 12:08 pm
I think it is important to clarify. The Pirates had NO pitcher left so the batter was going to be Garrett Olson. He was staying in the game. Olson hasn’t batted since 2009 and has 6 career ML at bats. Doesn’t guarantee the out, but is an important part of the story.
I haven’t read The Book, but I’d assume they considered the pitcher batting 9th, so you’d be walking a #8 hitter. In this case, you’d be walking a decent hitter – so I would think that’s not nearly as bad.
Comment by vivalajeter — April 11, 2011 @ 12:11 pm
The quality of hitter doesn’t matter as much as you’d think. I think the conclusion in The Book is that the walkee would have to be on the order of an all-star quality bat to make a walk worthwhile. The point about preventing one run more than preventing a big inning is important, though. I forget exactly what the numbers say but it’s possible that in a one run situation walking the hitter to get to the pitcher is correct.
dtoddwin — Was Meek hurt? I was thinking he was available, but if he wasn’t then the only option was whichever starter was throwing that day (McDonald, I guess), and you’re right that Hurdle would want to get more innings out of Olson first.
Even Correia apparently gets a hit 65% more often than Jose Tabata gets an extra basehit. .122 to .074.
I posited this question to a non-saber-oriented fan and he said he’d have definitely walked a guy to get to the pitcher (I did not know if the Olson would have been the only hitting option). His reasoning was simply that pitchers aren’t paid to hang out in a clubhouse all day then come in and get a big hit off the bench. I thought maybe the old school line would be never intentionally walk the winning run into scoring position.
Gotta say, I do love Hurdle’s spin. He’s better at helping runners at third?? Didn’t think it would be possible to lipstick that pig.
I don’t know if the tables take into account that it wouldn’t just have been a pitcher batting, but a relief pitcher. With two outs, a reliever at the plate, I bring the OF in and make sure anything other than a fluke swing that finds the sweet spot of the bat doesn’t score the runner from second.
I can’t really see an argument in defense of Tracy here. Brilliant move by Hurdle, even if it didn’t affect the outcome.
Frankly, I was unaware of Hurdle’s move until I read about it after the game. But, in watching the game, I thought Tracy was nuts for pitching to Tabata.
Olson was Pittsburgh’s last reliever in the pen (with Meek hurting) and had already thrown 2 innings. While I would like to believe Olson is a good reliever, we all know that is a fantasy. As a Pirate fan, I considered it a miracle that Olson made it through 2 innings without being scored upon.
If it had been me, I walk Tabata and force Hurdle to let Olson bat (and as noted by others, Olson has little experience as a hitter), or I force Hurdle to chew up a starter scheduled to pitch later in the series.
If Olson bats (and likely fails to hit), you go into the 15th. Tulowitzki was scheduled to lead off the 15th, and I would be feeling pretty good if I was a Rockies fan about them having a chance to score against Olson (who often only pitches to 1 or 2 batters in an inning as a situational lefty). And, if it is a Pittsburgh starter rather than Olson (I am increasing my team’s) chances of winning in one or more of the remaining games of the series.
Hard for me to understand how anyone could support Tracy’s decision, regardless if he was snookered or not.
Comment by Small Sample Goodness — April 11, 2011 @ 2:56 pm
There are so many things wrong with this post that I dont know where to get started:
1) Math Fail – that walking Tabata was clearly the Mathematically correct thing to do (I’m fairly certain it was the wrong thing to do, but its certainly not CLEARLY anything).
2) Logic Fail – that putting McCutcheon in the ondeck circle CAUSED anything on Tracy’s part. Yes, Hurdle sent McCutcheon into the ondeck circle and yes Tracy pitched to Tabata. Assuming one caused the other jumps over the question as to whether they are even related and goes right into a complete logic fail. Its likely that Tracy never considered walking Tabata (right or wrong), its unlikely he would look at the ondeck circle rather than the scorecard, and its even further unlikely that seeing McCutcheon up next would actually fool him into anything. Its actually to the point of being a bit farfetched.
I credit Hurdle for doing everything he can to win. I credit the author for noticing that. I discredit the auther for ignoring the fact that walking Tabata offered no run expectation advantage (on this wonderful site of all sites) and for jumping to all kinds of conclusions about how Tracy arrived at his decision. I understand the excitement over the possibility that Hurdle won in some kind of major gamesmanship, but that an author on this site would ignore the facts in order to tell it leaves me disappointed.
The horrific batting of the average relievers factors in. With an average pitcher, the situation is “breakeven”, where you could go either way. Relief pitchers are horrible hitters, even for pitchers.
So, the debate changes to what gives the team the best overall scenario  relief pitcher at the plate with 2-on, 2-out or  relief pitcher leading off the next inning?
Comment by CircleChange11 — April 11, 2011 @ 3:26 pm
Would love to see the WPA analysis and look at the odds of Tabata getting a double (not just the generic league average model) v the odds of walking him and the pitcher either getting a walk to extend the inning or a single (both of which are not zero). It was also not a certainty a double would get the run in (though with 2 out it’s pretty high)
It’d also be interesting looking at the WPA impact on the following inning with the pitcher leading off (vs clearing his spot). I know you don’t play the 15th if you give up a run, but if the impact was minimal, pitching to Tabata may not be as egregious as it is being portrayed.
As a site that typically rails on IBB (for good reason) and is usually data driven, you’d think an article like this would at least take a look at the WPA impact.
Anyone who has watched Franklin Morales knows that he has A stuff and a D- mental approach. Not a lot of pop psycology needed when you have seen this kid melt down so many times before, the last thing you ever want to do to Franklin Morales would is tell him to not throw strikes
These numbers don’t apply, because like Dtodd said, we had no other pitcher. Meek was out (not sure if Tracy knew this but he probably should have figured it out since he is our setup man and hadn’t been used by the 14th), so Olson would have been the hitter. You can bet the chances that either
1) Tabata gets an extra base hit that scores Rodriguez
2) Tabata gets a single that pushes the runner to 3rd, guaranteeing a bloop single wins it.
far outweigh the chances that
1) A relief pitcher with 6 career at bats gets a hit with an outfield playing very shallow that allows the runner to score from 2nd.
He hasn’t been anything like an All-Star bat since AA in ’08. And really the question is what the numbers actually say about the situation. Luckily, the situation has already been calculated. Unfortunately I can’t find my copy of The Book. I was just hoping that someone could look it up in theirs.
Given the inning, the rosters available, the overall “uniqueness” of the situation and I’m not sure how reliable WPA data would be. If you took all of the ‘similar’ situations in baseball history to base WPA upon…I’m guessing it is a rather inadequate sample size. Just a guess.
Seems this is more a discussion to be had by the baseball FAN, with or without baseball GRAPHS.
Actually, McCutchen had not batted immediately after Tabata at all during the game. Tabata bats leadoff, Walker bats second and McCutchen bats third. Walker had been taken out of the game a few innings earlier as part of a double switch and it had been pitchers or pinch hitters in that spot from then on.
All he had to do was look at the scoreboard in cf –
1 Tabata LF
2 Olson P
3 McCutchen CF
Comment by Brian Cartwright — April 12, 2011 @ 12:42 am
This seems like a perfectly reasonable critique. The manager has all the resources at his disposal to keep track of substitutions and batting order, including a giant LED scoreboard in the outfield. Keeping track of these details is something even a high school manager should be doing.
My point is simply that the author here did no less than makeup that Hurdle snookered Tracy. All we know is that Hurdle put the wrong guy on deck. We have no idea if it tricked Tracy or even that there was a worthwhile trick to be played (pitching to Tabata, in all likelihood, was just as good as walking him). If i want stretched truths and fairytales, I’ll go read Rick Reilly. I come here for actual analysis.
“Perusing the major league rulebook, and the section specific to batters, I found absolutely nothing to suggest that Hurdle stepped out of his legal realm. In fact, the word “deck” only appears in the rulebook twice: to define a save situation, and to indicate that an on-deck batter shall enter the batters box in a timely fashion.”
In Diagram 1 of the 2010 Official Baseball Rules the on deck circle is labeled as the Next Batter’s Box.
The next instance is in Rules 1.04 to 1.06 has “The catcher’s box, the batters’ boxes, the coaches’ boxes, the three-foot first base
lines and the next batter’s boxes shall be laid out as shown in Diagrams 1 and 2.”
Still, there seems to be no rules defined about the use of the next batter’s box.
Actually, it happens all the time. Generally, you’ll see the on-deck hitter taking actual practice swings (sometimes with the donut, sometimes with the sliding-weight bat, sometimes with just his standard lumber) while the hole-hitter loosens up his shoulders, back and hips using a bat to provide additional torque to these stretches.
Agreed. The original article is incredibly presumptive and lazy. This is an analysis site. Seidman needs to do the calculation before criticizing others for failing to calculate. Love that he has not responded to any of the comments that show his premise is massively flawed.
I’m not sure there is any baseball analysis author who has overstated/underanalyzed more than Seidman over the past couple of years. Many of his articles at BP (was he fired there?) were downright infuriating.