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  1. This situation may provide only marginal improvement but baseball history is full of players that excelled in this role and made a huge difference for their team. Gates Brown for the Tigers, Dusty Rhoades for the Giants, Manny Mota for the Dodgers. I’m thinking this is all about the “lightning strike” of that big base hit that wins a close game, a small chance is better than no chance at all.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — March 29, 2012 @ 9:59 am

  2. The point is, it isn’t a dichotomy between small chance and no chance, it’s a dichotomy between small chance and slightly smaller chance.

    Comment by everett — March 29, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

  3. Thanks for a thought-provoking article, Matthew.
    The more interesting decision to me is whether to pinch hit for a pitcher, especially a starting pitcher in an early or middle inning.
    I have no proof for this whatsoever, but it seems to me that a manager could do a lot for his team’s chances of winning a close game if he has a good pinch-hitter and the game is close in, for example, the bottom of the fourth inning with bases loaded and nobody out.
    One advantage might be that the starting pitcher, if one of the better ones, could be availabe to start another game sooner.
    A mathematical analysis of this, let alone an empirical study, would require an enormous effort. If a team paid a stat guy $50,000 to do it, it would be cheaper than a minor league player and perhaps worth more.

    Comment by Baltar — March 29, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

  4. It’s like playing the lottery, you get nothing if your ticket doesn’t win but you can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — March 29, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

  5. I don’t think you’d even need to look for that much leverage: your #4 or #5 starter leading off the 3rd at 0-0 could well be a good candidate to pull for a PH.

    Of course, roster construction could be an issue.

    If you could get the buy in from the players and essentially have something like a 3-man rotation and then 4 players sharing the fourth and fifth starts and long relief roles, I think this could add a win or so to plenty of NL sides.

    Comment by Aaron (UK) — March 29, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

  6. Except that you’ve already got a hitter up there, so you do have a ticket. It’s about trying to figure out which ticket is the better play, given everything you know. The argument is that given the situation, it’s often pretty darn close to a wash, and mainly about getting lucky and making the right guess at the right time.

    Comment by everett — March 29, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

  7. Agreed.

    Comment by Baltar — March 29, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

  8. “money can buy happiness”

    138,000 google hits.

    “money can’t buy happiness”

    1,800,000 google hit

    Comment by Slartibartfast — March 29, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

  9. Isn’t that what we love about baseball, beating the odds and bringing it home??

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — March 29, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

  10. “what is your point?”

    984,334,058 google hits.

    “I think you’re in the wrong thread”

    13,203 google hits

    Comment by Dexter Bobo — March 29, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

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