Cards Skip a Chance to Turn a Superstar Human

We begin with some acknowledgements. First, a baseball game is never entirely won or lost based on a single event, a single match-up. Certain events can be of massive importance, but they’re massive because of the context, and the context is established by other events, that would’ve led to different outcomes given different outcomes. So many different things contribute to a game result. An impossible, uncountable number of things, some of them things you’d never consider. Perhaps you’ve recognized that baseball is complicated. This isn’t checkers. Checkers is also complicated.

Second, managerial decisions tend to have their significance exaggerated. As MGL is fond of reminding us, most managerial decisions lead to very minor swings in win expectancy, which of course is the only thing that matters. Certain decisions are worse than others, and some can be relatively major in a good way or a bad way, but at the end of the day it’s still up to the players on the field, and pitchers are always going to have the advantage over hitters, save for the most extreme of circumstances. When managers get ripped to shreds, there tends to be a lot of results-based analysis, and that’s by and large worthless.

Third, the Cardinals were crushed on Sunday when Jonny Gomes went deep against Seth Maness. It happened with two on and two out in the sixth inning of a tie game, and Maness is right-handed and Gomes is right-handed. That was actually a pretty good matchup for the Cardinals. Maybe it wasn’t the best possible matchup — maybe Mike Matheny should’ve gone to Carlos Martinez — but Maness was in a good position, and he was a better bet than a tiring Lance Lynn. In isolation, that was just a bad result. Maness put a sinker in a terrible place, after four consecutive sinkers way down in the zone. Here’s the original target, with the red dot marking where the pitch went:

manessgomes

Or perhaps you’d prefer an image showing where the pitch went, with the red dot marking the original target:

manessgomes2

Far more often than not, Maness retires Gomes, and the game stays tied. Then we might be talking about something else, because Seth Maness usually doesn’t put his sinker where he put it in a 2-and-2 count. But the real issue isn’t Maness vs. Gomes. It’s what happened in the sixth before that, and it’s what didn’t happen in the sixth before that.

Lynn threw 89 pitches. Out of the gate, he was phenomenal. He ran into some problems in the fifth, and by the end of the frame he’d thrown 79 of his pitches, working through the order twice. We probably don’t need to point out another time that starters get progressively less effective as they work through the order again and again. Lynn has shown a wide career platoon split, shutting down righties but getting exposed by lefties. In the top of the sixth, the Red Sox would send up a lefty, a switch-hitter who’s a lot worse from the right side, and a righty. After the righty would be a lefty. There was an argument for something Matheny didn’t do.

Matheny elected to leave Lynn in. What would’ve been best would’ve been going to Kevin Siegrist. Siegrist is a lefty, and he’s a lefty capable of handling righties, and he would’ve been fresh, whereas Lynn wasn’t. This was the first mistake, and another demonstration of Matheny’s unfortunately slow hook. I’ll grant, though, removing Lynn after five would’ve been aggressive. The next mistake wouldn’t have required aggressiveness to get right. The next mistake was a mistake in what should’ve been an obvious situation.

Credit to Lynn: he retired the first lefty. He retired the switch-hitter batting from his strong side. The guy he didn’t retire was the righty, Dustin Pedroia, which put a runner on first with two outs. Up next was David Ortiz, and here’s the game’s most inexplicable .gif:

ChoateOrtiz.gif.opt

That’s David Ortiz batting against Lance Lynn in the sixth inning of a tied World Series game with Randy Choate throwing in the bullpen. Lynn actually had no intention of challenging Ortiz, and he issued a four-pitch unintentional intentional walk. That’s not a terrible outcome of that plate appearance, for Lynn, but what it did was push the go-ahead run into scoring position. Matheny recognized that Ortiz is really good, so he just elected to skip an opportunity to try to get him out. He liked his odds with Maness against Gomes, and I’ll grant his odds there were good. But Matheny didn’t properly understand what his odds would’ve been with Choate against Ortiz. Choate could’ve been the answer. Choate should’ve been the answer.

Here’s Matheny, after the game:

The move to force the go-ahead run into scoring position by walking Ortiz seemed at odds with having Choate warm in the bullpen.

“He was ready; we just weren’t going there,” Matheny said.

I don’t know, either. A little more, on Ortiz:

“I think they’re all watching and realizing that he’s tough to get out right now,” Matheny said. “We’ve got to figure out a new game plan and execute our pitches. But good hitters are going to get hits sometimes, even on good pitches. So we’ve just got to be careful and make sure we’re making our adjustments. We’ve got guys who can get him or any hitter out. But there’s definitely times when it’s a little more difficult and he’s locked in.”

What it seems like is that Matheny is putting a lot of emphasis on Ortiz’s good numbers so far in the Series. What it seems like is that Matheny is putting a lot of emphasis on Ortiz picking up hits against both Siegrist and Choate. It seemed like Matheny wanted to avoid Ortiz altogether, and under some circumstances you don’t want to let him beat you, but the thing about superstar David Ortiz is that under the conditions that were presented, he wouldn’t have been superstar David Ortiz. He would’ve been a far worse hitter in an identical body.

What’s a decent window for meaningful platoon-split data? Five years? Over the last five years, David Ortiz has posted a .411 wOBA against righties. He’s posted a .343 wOBA against lefties, in more than 900 plate appearances, and he was worse than that this past season. That’s not even the amazing part. Randy Choate was warm, or he could’ve been warm with a delay tactic, and Choate is a veteran lefty specialist. Over the last five years, Choate has allowed a .217 wOBA to lefties, in more than 500 plate appearances. To drive the point home, against Choate lately, lefties have batted .165/.238/.234. That’s basically what people have batted against Craig Kimbrel.

Ortiz has been considerably worse against lefties. Choate is a considerably above-average lefty, against lefties. What might we have expected from a showdown, had Choate been brought in? The Book Blog comes in handy. Plugging in their respective platoon numbers, I get a .235 expected wOBA for Ortiz. That’s similar to the numbers posted this year by Jeff Francoeur, Jeff Mathis, Brendan Ryan, Pete Kozma, and Clint Barmes. Regress a little bit, or make other small adjustments, and you might come away with something like a .270 expected wOBA. The point isn’t the specific number. We’ll never agree on a specific number. The point is the idea of the number. No matter what you do, as long as it’s reasonable, you end up at Randy Choate and the Cardinals having excellent odds. You end up with Matheny not having to just take his chances with Gomes, because he could’ve retired the guy in front of him.

Maybe you think Ortiz is unusually able to hit against Choate, but I don’t know why you’d believe that. And Choate has made a whole career out of facing tough lefties in important situations. This was exactly the kind of situation that called for Choate to be used, and instead he was used in the seventh to pitch to Jacoby Ellsbury with two out and none on. Matheny, it appears, was intimidated by Ortiz’s presence, and just didn’t want to deal with him. In so doing, Matheny underrated his own weapon in the bullpen, because pitchers are the other half of any batter-pitcher showdown. It’s about both the guy at the plate and the guy on the mound, and the guy at the plate isn’t himself against same-handed pitchers, and the guy on the mound could’ve been a guy built specifically for those very circumstances.

And if Ortiz were to reach against Choate, well you usually use Choate for one batter anyway, and then you can still go to Maness for Gomes. And you still have a lefty in the bullpen in Siegrist.

There was no reason for Ortiz to just be put on. The Cardinals had an opportunity to turn a superstar hitter into an ordinary human. They passed it up, and the next batter after that did his best to win the game. The Cardinals didn’t lose because Mike Matheny didn’t use Randy Choate against David Ortiz. The Cardinals lost because of lots of things. This is one thing they easily could’ve gotten right. So easily, in fact, I don’t at all understand the inaction. Last December the Cardinals signed Choate to a guaranteed three-year contract.



Print This Post



Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Ted
Guest
Ted
2 years 9 months ago

I agreed with the move. This article makes it seem like you haven’t been watching the games. Ortiz has been spraying line drives and hard hit balls all over the field this entire series. Not to mention he holds the moniker of one of the greatest clutch hitters of all time.

Hot and cold streaks are a real thing for hitters. Balls that come off your bat do not do so randomly only to even out at your career numbers. Hitters have times when they are ” locked in”. That is when they feel confident and see the ball better than when they are slumping. Ortiz is l

Todd
Guest
Todd
2 years 9 months ago

A locked-in David Ortiz still doesn’t deserve an IBB with two outs and a runner on first.

kevinthecomic
Guest
kevinthecomic
2 years 9 months ago

Your comments make sense except for two things:

(1) Clutch hitting does not exist.

(2) Hotness/Coldness does not exist.

These are both well documented.

Ruki Motomiya
Guest
Ruki Motomiya
2 years 9 months ago

Clutch hitting does exist, simply by definition of the fact that getting a hit in a clutch situation is, by definition, clutch hitting. The question is whether clutch hitting is a repeatable skill or random variation.

I’m of the opinion that it is a skill, but that it is overblown and, like pitchers who can consistantly beat their peripherals, rare. I’ve also been wondering if maybe we just aren’t defining clutch right (Maybe clutch would be more viable if we instead count it as the ability to maintain normal statistics in “clutch” situations?).

I think that, regardless of clutch hitting, one could make an argument for saving Choate for later vs. Ortiz (Though he was not used this way…but that would just mean that was the poor move), given Gomes struggles vs. righties career-wise and the fact that the first two pitches to Ortiz were not blatantly intentional.

NS
Guest
NS
2 years 9 months ago

I like that definition of clutch. Rather than some extra ability that is introduced in high-leverage situations, it is simply an ability to maintain rather than wet the bed.

It’s still incredibly difficult to distinguish that skill from variance, but it’s at least a more intuitive definition for me.

leeroy
Guest
leeroy
2 years 9 months ago

I think people fall into the trap of using clutch as a counting stat, rather than a rate stat. Ortiz is viewed as “clutch” by the average media person / fan because he has a lot of hits in high leverage playoff situations. He has all of these hits because he is an elite hitter on a good team. Naturally he will get more chances and do more with them than a bad hitter, or a good hitter on a bad team. So basically, clutch is the RBI of postseason play.

kevinthecomic
Guest
kevinthecomic
2 years 9 months ago

It might be your opinion that clutch hitting is a skill but, unfortunately for you, the data does not support your opinion.

Anon21
Member
Anon21
2 years 9 months ago

“I’ve also been wondering if maybe we just aren’t defining clutch right (Maybe clutch would be more viable if we instead count it as the ability to maintain normal statistics in “clutch” situations?).”

That’s only an “ability” if the average major-league hitter performs worse in high-leverage situations (however you want to define “high leverage”). Does he?

RC
Guest
RC
2 years 9 months ago

“That’s only an “ability” if the average major-league hitter performs worse in high-leverage situations”

The average human being performs worse at pretty much everything under high stress, so I’d be really surprised if it wasn’t true for MLB players.

Steve
Guest
Steve
2 years 9 months ago

I like your definition. But it will not satisfy the clutch lovers who will point to the outsize performances of Beltran and Ortiz.

As a performer (music) I offer another hypothesis. No hitter can possibly be at their maximum level of concentration during every at-bat the whole season. Therefore, their regular season numbers may be ‘deflated’ from their maximum potential.

Some players may only be able to consistently achieve their maximum concentration when they have the extra pressure of the postseason. I am pretty sure this is the case for me as a performer, and for me it’s not possible to ‘fake’ this pressure.

Please feel free to rip my hypothesis to shreds!

Anon
Guest
Anon
2 years 9 months ago

(2) Hotness/Coldness does not exist.

It absolutely does. Ask Hanley Ramirez whether a cracked rib will make him perform below his talent level (aka coldness).

Even without injury, talent level is not constant. Mechanical characteristics of a swing, general comfort level, ability to focus, etc. all can change and affect results.

kevinthecomic
Guest
kevinthecomic
2 years 9 months ago

Being injured and being cold are two different things.

My comments regarding hotness/coldness pertain to their predictive value. Just because a player is currently hot (or cold) does not mean that they will continue to be hot (or cold). Hotness/Coldness is random.

Again, this is well researched and well documented.

Anon
Guest
Anon
2 years 9 months ago

There are varying levels of injury, soreness, and fatigue (or lack of these things) that can affect hot/cold streaks.

Hot/cold not being predictive does not make it random. Variance being unpredictable due to a lack of information is not randomness.

What is the point of saying something is well documented? Why not just link a study?

Brandon
Guest
Brandon
2 years 9 months ago

Generally, the statement “well documented” on fangraphs can be conveniently changed to “adequately studied in The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball, by Tango et. al”.

The statistical analysis in that book is the go-to for whether or not common perceptions is baseball are true. Hotness/coldness simply does not exist, unless there are special circumstances (such as a cracked rib).

RC
Guest
RC
2 years 9 months ago

“Being injured and being cold are two different things.”

They are, but we often don’t know which one we’re dealing with. At this point in the season, EVERYONE is hurt.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 9 months ago

“At this point in the season, EVERYONE is hurt.”

Can we stop saying ridiculous things like this? It’s patently false. Some players are dinged up, some trying to play through various ailments if not sidelined altogether. Many others are fine and aren’t hurt in the slightest. This is one old saw that needs to be retired.

Grammar Guy
Guest
Grammar Guy
2 years 9 months ago

@Brandon: Tom Tango et al. The et isn’t shortened, the al. is.

RC
Guest
RC
2 years 9 months ago

” Many others are fine and aren’t hurt in the slightest. This is one old saw that needs to be retired.”

If it needs to be retired, find some evidence against it. Pretty much every interview with a player or manager says they’re all playing hurt.

Frankly, after playing close to 180 games at this point, I’d be surprised if any of them aren’t sore somewhere.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 9 months ago

I don’t think you understand how evidence works. *You* staked the claim. Prove it (with actual evidence, rather than a hackneyed saying).

68FC
Member
68FC
2 years 9 months ago

Hotness and Coldness do exist

The mental aspect is a huge part of baseball. When a hitter is hitting well, he is confident and will hit better. When a hitter is on a cold streak, he questions himself and that can cause him to hesitate just enough to throw him off so that he doesn’t make good contact. Granted major league hitters are some of the best in the world at minimizing how much that effects their performance, but it is still present.

Aaron Murray
Member
2 years 9 months ago

Wow, Ortiz is I. That’s pretty awesome.

Ted
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

Ortiz is “locked in”

MW
Guest
MW
2 years 9 months ago

Managers, man. Doh.

oknow
Guest
oknow
2 years 9 months ago

Do you over think your bullpen moves in games? Do you or someone you know ever get asked tons of questions after games about why you warmed pitchers up to not use them? Do you have fireballing young pitchers who could come in and get you one out at any point you needed, but you don’t use them? Do you feel like the manager before you was a brilliant tactician and you try to measure up by trying other things that may look strategic but are just foolish? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may have: La Russa Inadequacy Syndrome or LRIS. LRIS afflicts 1 out of every 29 baseball coaches in America. Its symptoms include keeping starting pitchers in too long, not playing match ups, and consistently losing postseason series you are ahead in. But now, there is a cure, and it is called Be Your Own Man. BYOM is available without a prescription all you have to do is not worry about your predecessor and rock game 5 with moves that your gut tells you to make. You got all kinds of guts in the world (you took a pitch to the face and didn’t even notice!), let them out. Side effects may include not living up to a legend of the steroids era of baseball. But…whatever, right?

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 9 months ago

Awesome, except by “1 out of 29” you mean “26 out of 29” or thereabouts.

Julian
Guest
Julian
2 years 9 months ago

What happened to the 30th coach in America? Was he not surveyed?

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 9 months ago

He was having a root canal for listening to the 5th dentist who told him not to floss.

jruby
Member
Member
jruby
2 years 9 months ago

Seems obvious to me:

He’s in Canada, managing the Blue Jays.

Todd
Guest
Todd
2 years 9 months ago

“Second, managerial decisions tend to have their significance exaggerated. As MGL is fond of reminding us, most managerial decisions lead to very minor swings in win expectancy, which of course is the only thing that matters. Certain decisions are worse than others, and some can be relatively major in a good way or a bad way, but at the end of the day it’s still up to the players on the field, and pitchers are always going to have the advantage over hitters, save for the most extreme of circumstances. When managers get ripped to shreds, there tends to be a lot of results-based analysis, and that’s by and large worthless.”

This is all true.

But.

When you talk about players “executing”, you’re talking about something that not only requires skill, but also involves executing in the face of competition. You can “fail” to execute simply because the other guy succeeds, without necessarily screwing anything up yourself.

Managerial errors, in contrast, are completely unforced. There’s no reason for it, no “tipping your cap to the other guy”. There’s just… rage.

Chcago Mark
Guest
Chcago Mark
2 years 9 months ago

I’m sure you see both sides here Jeff. Matheny chose the worse hitter in the better match-up for his team. Gomes is a career .319 woba hitter against righties. It was .329 this year. He chose the better match-up against the cold hitter. Additionally, instead of using two pitchers to get one out or even two (suggesting Maneness starts the 7th) wasn’t a bad idea. And avoiding Big Pappi anytime ain’t a bad idea. I agree with his decision.

NS
Guest
NS
2 years 9 months ago

It’s a marginally better match up, but it’s in a significantly worse situation. That’s the problem.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 9 months ago

^^This. Sums it up beautifully in sixteen words.

Mister
Guest
Mister
2 years 9 months ago

You could make this case if Papi was up with a runner on 2nd and 1st base empty, but not in the actual context of just having a runner on 1st. Walking Ortiz advanced the runner. So when comparing the 2 alternatives you have to ask “what is the likelihood that Choate allows Ortiz to do something WORSE than a walk that advances the runner to 2nd?”

I’d say it’s pretty unlikely. The most likely outcome is Ortiz gets out. After that, the most likely outcomes would be a walk or a single. Many of those singles would advance the runner to 3rd, which is worse, but not by a huge margin since there are 2 outs.

So how likely was it that Ortiz hits a double, triple, or home run off of Choate? Well less than 10%, I’d say.

RC
Guest
RC
2 years 9 months ago

“So how likely was it that Ortiz hits a double, triple, or home run off of Choate? Well less than 10%, I’d say.”

See, that’s the crux of this argument. A lot of us believe that number is very wrong.

It goes to whether you believe hot streaks are entirely random, and just a product of selection bias, or if players can get “in a groove” because of something external to luck (Health, getting a couple nights of good sleep, whatever).

I never played baseball at a high enough level to have any real evidence, but I know as a folk style wrestler, I had days where I just felt ‘on’, and days where I didn’t.

Mister
Guest
Mister
2 years 9 months ago

Yeah, I get that. I’m not in the camp that says hotness/coldness don’t exist at all. I just think it’s impossible to prove whether they exist or not, and if they do exist it’s impossible to quantify their effects.

I do know that human ability varies over time. The problem is that all the variation occurs in small sample sizes that are inherently meaningless for statistical analysis.

So when it comes to making decisions I tend to think hotness and coldness should be ignored unless the decision is otherwise a very close one.

Mister
Guest
Mister
2 years 9 months ago

I suppose it could be higher than 10%. Ortiz’s XBH% both this season and his whole career is about 11.7%. So it depends what you think Choate’s effect on that number might be, as well as the effect of Ortiz being “locked in,” if such an effect exists.

Mister
Guest
Mister
2 years 9 months ago

What on earth is a “folk wrestler?”

RC
Guest
RC
2 years 9 months ago

There are three main styles of wrestling, folk, which is done at the highschool and college level, Greco-Roman, which is done in the olympics mostly, and then whatever the hell the WWF does.

The differences between Greco-Roman and Folk are mostly in scoring differences, and what constitutes a pin.

buddaley
Guest
buddaley
2 years 9 months ago

I think that even if a fan agrees that Matheny should respect Ortiz’s ability and hot streak, walking him to put the go-ahead run in scoring position is overdoing it. Perhaps had the runner been on second it could justify pitching around Ortiz, but moving the runner there opens up too many possibilities for that run to score.

Chcago Mark
Guest
Chcago Mark
2 years 9 months ago

Yah, after I wrote my first part I wondered whether I would have moved the runner to second myself. Probably not. Pappi needed to get an extra base hit. Gomes only a single. You really needed me to tell you that, right? I’m not clear on your statement about a fans thoughts. We’re all fans. And I think that’s what we do here at FG, talk and debate it all. If Matheny is reading and more importantly taking our advise, he’s in for a short career.

Joel
Guest
Joel
2 years 9 months ago

Didn’t Ortiz get a hit off Choate in game three, or did I dream that?

anonymoose
Guest
anonymoose
2 years 9 months ago

Yes, and he homered off Siegrist in game one. And a disproportionate number of Ortiz’s at bats v lefties come against the best lefty in the opponents pen, thus making his pretty decent wOBA more impressive. And then there’s the fact that he was the only Sox hitter doing anything in the last 4 games. Choate may have been a better choice but it’s not as not by as much as presented.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
2 years 9 months ago

So that means he’s going to get a hit off of him in every plate appearance?

By the way, a single would’ve likely yielded no more runs than the walk did but at least pitching to him would’ve allowed for the possibility that the team would’ve gotten him out.

anonymoose
Guest
anonymoose
2 years 9 months ago

Well, the first two pitches to Ortiz were just barely low, especially considering the strike zone for the game. They didn’t blatantly pitch around him until the two breaking balls outside. So if the goal is to try to let Ortiz get himself out while not giving him anything to hit, the AB made sense. If one or both of those pitches had been called a strike you wouldn’t see the same decision to walk him.

NS
Guest
NS
2 years 9 months ago

I lost with pocket aces last hand. I’m folding them next time around.

Joel
Guest
Joel
2 years 9 months ago

My point isn’t to defend Matheny — I would have gone with Choate as well — but to show that the move has some merit. And if you’re going to be cleverer than thou, you should use a better analogy than that, ’cause Choate in the pen is definitely not two aces.

NS
Guest
NS
2 years 9 months ago

Right, it’s an extension of the same principle taken to an even more extreme context to illustrate the point: “what happened last time” is very close to meaningless.

RC
Guest
RC
2 years 9 months ago

on Pocket aces.

A deck of cards shuffled between hands is basically a random number generator. Human beings aren’t. They’re affected by stress, situation, external factors, etc. Almost all of these things degrade performance, more for some than others.

the hottest stove
Guest
the hottest stove
2 years 9 months ago

Ortiz’s hit against choate in the previous game was a 3-4 hopper through the infield, right? If we could have asked the cardinals before this at bat, would you be alright with a ground ball here, they certainly would have taken it… So why the sudden fear of Ortiz vs. Choate this time around?

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
2 years 9 months ago

Right. Besides, if he’s as “hot” and “clutch” as everyone says, a ground ball single is much better than the certain homer he would undoubtedly hit off of (insert generic right-handed pitcher here) anyway. If I were Matheny, I’d take the certain single rather than the certain homer.

Recency bias
Guest
Recency bias
2 years 9 months ago

“a cognitive bias that results from disproportionate salience attributed to recent stimuli or observations – the tendency to weigh recent events more than earlier events”

Ortiz has been absolutely on tilt this WS. Not only that, he took Siegrist out of the park in game 1 lefty on left. Choate should have absolutely been brought in to face Ortiz. But mentally, Matheny has in his head visions of destruction brought about by Ortiz because of all the recent painful memories.

“Siegrist OUT!” – Big Papi

Lucky managing
Guest
Lucky managing
2 years 9 months ago

If Clay Buchholz was stronger, he probably wouldn’t have been taken out for Mike Carp. If Mike Carp had still been on the bench, Matheny would have put in Choate to face Ortiz rather than Maness against Carp. How lucky….

Richard
Guest
Richard
2 years 9 months ago

I can see the logic of bringing in Choate to face Ortiz, but CMart over Maness would absolutely have been the wrong decision.

Yesterday was the first time in his career CMart had been used 3 times in 4 days, and he was shaky with control issues. Using him a 4th time in 5 days definitely would have been the wrong move.

wee162
Guest
wee162
2 years 9 months ago

It was the 6th inning. You only needed one more out to get out of the inning unscathed. If you use Choate there, he’s not available for Ortiz the next time up, and that could be a more crucial situation (let’s say bases loaded, tied ballgame, and you have to pitch to him there). Gomes knocks one out the park and from then on you are left playing to get everyone out so therefore Choate is used to get Ellsbury out.

I’m not saying it was the right decision, but it was only evident how big a decision it was because Gomes knocked one out of the park having shown nothing in the previous games, and it was against a severe groundball pitcher. If Ortiz next time up hits a home run when they use Choate in the 6th people would be saying “why use Choate in the 6th when you knew Ortiz would be coming up to bat again and you could have walked him”.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

Or you don’t use choate, the Red Sox score 3 runs, and it doesn’t even matter. That same logic is flawed for the same reason as waiting until the 9th to use your closer is flawed.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
2 years 9 months ago

Using Choate there would have offered the Cardinals 2 opportunities to get the last out of the inning without a run scoring as a hit or a walk (obviously) wouldn’t have given up a run. Instead, Matheny put all his eggs in Seth Maness’ basket and they got scrambled. It’s maddening for this Cards’ fan.

Larry D.
Guest
Larry D.
2 years 9 months ago

The only valid way to argue this point is to compare the win expectancy of Ortiz/Choate (runner on) with that of Gomes/Maness (two runners on). The article doesn’t do this; it discusses only the Ortiz side without considering the alternative. Perhaps it does so because we all know that Gomes hit a homer. If so, the writer shows at least as great a cognitive bias as the one it tries to attribute to Matheny.

Ruki Motomiya
Guest
Ruki Motomiya
2 years 9 months ago

I would be very interested in comparing the two.

Evan
Guest
Evan
2 years 9 months ago

I went to the website for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to see if anyone asked the follow-up question of why Choate was warming if Matheny had no intention of using him against Ortiz and why he continued to warm after Lynn began walking Ortiz considering there were no other LHBs worth matching up against until Ellsbury. Instead I found a column about how Matheny was too quick to remove Lynn.

Straw Man
Guest
Straw Man
2 years 9 months ago

St. Louis: The best baseball town in America!

abjohnson16
Member
abjohnson16
2 years 9 months ago

1. The BFIB thing is the deadest of all dead horses.
2. If you go looking to the major media outlet (of any market) looking for anything but lowest common denominator ‘analyses’ you are going to be disappointed.
3. If you happen to be at stltoday.com reading a baseball article and the byline doesn’t say Hummel, Miklasz, or Goold don’t waste your time.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

BFIB being the deadest horse: tell cards fans that.

olethros
Guest
olethros
2 years 9 months ago

The BFIB crap didn’t originate with the fans, it originated with the media and players.

http://www.baseballnation.com/hot-corner/2013/10/23/4954208/the-best-fans-in-baseball-origins-st-louis-cardinals

While some of the more mulletty factions of the fanbase have adopted it, and the team certainly has, because hey, free marketing slogan, the large majority of us are indifferent to or annoyed by the entire thing.

At this point, it’s just a stick for people who dislike the Cardinals to wield with little actual basis in fact.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
2 years 9 months ago

Hummel’s horrendous. Don’t read that drivel.

Adam W
Guest
Adam W
2 years 9 months ago

One thing that likely factored into the decision for Matheny is that Ortiz took Siegrist deep in garbage time of Game 1, and Siegrist has actually been even better against lefties than Choate has this season. (Microscopic sample sizes in both cases, of course.)

This is the bias of recency, of course. But you can understand why Matheny would be risk-averse in the World Series. Walking the other teams best hitter and bringing in an extreme groundballer to pitch to a guy who historically hasn’t hit righties all that well (Gomes is a career 94 wRC+ against RHP) is still a reasonable strategy, even if it’s not the best one.

The Boomer
Guest
The Boomer
2 years 9 months ago

Could Matheny have been expecting Napoli to hit for Ortiz to partially neutralize Choate? That isn’t reflected in his comments of course, and I doubt it’s a rational thought, but it might have been there.

Bryce
Member
Bryce
2 years 9 months ago

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 9 months ago

Well said.

Jonathan Clayton
Guest
Jonathan Clayton
2 years 9 months ago

Players choke and managers choke too. I’ve seen this just managing girls softball. The game moves too fast and you’re caught up in it and can’t make the decision you know without much thought is right. Farrell really can’t explain why he didn’t double-switch. Matheny can’t explain why he warmed up Choate and didn’t use him.

Larussa never thought he won a game for the Cardinals. His mantra was that he needed to give them “the best chance to win”. Matheny bucked the odds a bunch of times and got away with it because they’re just odds (e.g. CMart vs. Ortiz). Karma demanded he get burned for it and he did, spectacularly.

I still can’t believe we haven’t seen Shelby Miller. He should have been in in Game 3 after Allen Craig’s bases loaded pinch hit opportunity which could have put the game away for the Cards. Matheny is managing as if there isn’t anyone in the bullpen who could pitch innings 4-6 as well as his starters, and that’s just stupid. He’s watched the Red Sox get real value from their crummy fifth starter and gotten no value from his substantially superior one.

RC
Guest
RC
2 years 9 months ago

Miller and Doubront have pretty much identical FIPs.

And 10% of the batters that Doubront has faced haven’t been pitchers with .200 wOBAs.

bgburek
Member
bgburek
2 years 9 months ago

I understand that Gomes would have to be much worse than Ortiz to warrent a walk in that situation. However, I think that walking Ortiz was understandable considering that the last time the Cardinals put in an unstoppable lefty reliever (Siegrist), Ortiz killed the first pitch thrown to him.

Joe
Guest
Joe
2 years 9 months ago

This was a relatively low leverage spot, with two outs already recorded. My guess at Matheny’s thinking was that he could save Choate for a later, potentially higher leverage spot. So, he has Lynn unintentionally intentionally walk Ortiz and then has a R-R match-up with Maness and Gomes. In this case, it just didn’t work out. (Although, I think I remember Gomes really struggling with breaking balls. If that’s the case, why go with a sinker/fastball guy?)

The flaw in this logic is Matheny’s later use of Choate in a far lower leverage spot. I can’t explain that one.

Train
Guest
Train
2 years 9 months ago

If he weas saving him, why did he have him warming up?

Peter
Guest
Peter
2 years 9 months ago

Wait, did you just cite David Ortiz’s splits OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS? The same David Ortiz who clearly reinvented himself as a hitter in the middle of that span, whose 2009 and 2010 seasons (included in your range) were the result of essentially a different guy at the plate than those of the past three?

I don’t know how to quickly assemble the splits for Ortiz for the past three seasons, but that is the only relevant range if we want to get a good read on who Ortiz is now. Could you update this article to focus on that range?

And please don’t bring up Choate’s splits…that suggests that all hitters of a given type are the same. You do know it’s possible that a hitter such as Ortiz could be terrible against certain LH arm angles/pitch types/movements/etc and plenty good against others, yes?

Shield Wall
Guest
Shield Wall
2 years 9 months ago

This is a legitimate point, I’m fairly certain that Ortiz’ wOBA against lefties in the last three years is about .100 points higher than his wOBA in 2009 and 2010.

Shield Wall
Guest
Shield Wall
2 years 9 months ago

How much does walking Ortiz and pitching to Gomes change the run expectancy? Shouldn’t we also consider that Gomes’ numbers against righties are worse than Ortiz numbers against lefties? Or that Maness has a 2.80 xFIP against righties? You mention the wOBA lefties had hitting against Choate, but is Choate’s .228 BABIP in those situations really sustainable?

Strictly looking at this from a cold, calculated numbers perspective, I think the move was more understandable than you’re giving credit for. Then throw in the noise about Ortiz hitting .700+ in this series, his previous success against Siegrist and his career numbers against Choate and it’s more than understandable why a manager would have made the move. Just because we haven’t yet come up with a way to quantify a hitter having a hot or cold streak doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

Shield Wall
Guest
Shield Wall
2 years 9 months ago

And out of curiosity, what is Ortiz’ wOBA against lefties over the last three years? Isn’t it over .390?

Mister
Guest
Mister
2 years 9 months ago

I agree with this article, and I know that this doesn’t prove anything, but I can’t help but post this because I still remember this game from 2006. Maybe Matheny does too.

http://www.hittrackeronline.com/historic.php?id=2006_5

Mike Myers’ career splits: .299 wOBA vs. L, .368 wOBA vs. R.

Shield Wall
Guest
Shield Wall
2 years 9 months ago

Here’s what it essentially comes down to. In putting a runner on first and second with 2 outs, Matheny increases the chances of a run scoring by 21%. In doing so, he avoids pitching Choate (career 2.93 xFIP against lefties in 181 innings) against Ortiz (.382 wOBA against lefties the last 3 years) and instead pitches Maness (career 2.80 xFIP against righties in 43 innings) against Gomes (.310 wOBA against righties the last 3 years).

His choice was either pitch to a .382 wOBA hitter in a situation where a run scores on average 20% of the time or pitch to a .310 wOBA hitter in a situation where a runs scores on average 40% of the time. Without any way to account for Ortiz having hit well lately and Gomes haven’t hit poorly lately, it’s hard to justify the move.

Train
Guest
Train
2 years 9 months ago

Sample size selection aside, I think you are hitting the right point – regardless of match-up, moving the runner to scoring position was a baaaaadddd move.

Shield Wall
Guest
Shield Wall
2 years 9 months ago

The only problem is that increasing the run expectancy by 21% only decreases the Cardinals chance of winning by ~2%. And that’s before you account for the fact that Ortiz hits lefties better than Gomes hits righties.

RC
Guest
RC
2 years 9 months ago

“Without any way to account for Ortiz having hit well lately and Gomes haven’t hit poorly lately, it’s hard to justify the move.”

That’s the problem here, it’s basically something like

.4*X vs .2*Y, and you’re saying “We don’t know what the differences is between X and Y, so let’s just pretend it doesn’t matter”.

Yes, Ortiz has to be a HUGELY better hitter than Gomes for the decision to make sense, but frankly, I think at the current moment, he is.

Shield Wall
Guest
Shield Wall
2 years 9 months ago

I’m not saying it doesn’t matter, I’m saying we don’t yet know a way to account for it statistically. I, personally, think it matters and I’m a numbers guy.

Maverick Squad
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

With being hot or cold- an interesting stat Fox keep putting up is how Red Sox hitters have gotten their big hits while in slumps- eg. before his Slam against Det Victorino was 2-23 and Gomes before last night’s homer was 0-8.

wpDiscuz