Late Game Management

Dave · August 23, 2006 at 7:48 am · Filed Under Mariners 

We won! Woohah. However:

This isn’t anything we haven’t pointed out before, but since I said good things about Mike Hargrove’s line-up before the game last night, I have to point out how terribly he managed the end game.

Seattle – Bottom of 8th Score
Ron Villone pitching for New York
R Cano at second base.
E Perez walked.
W Bloomquist ran for E Perez.
Y Betancourt sacrificed to pitcher, W Bloomquist to second.
K Johjima hit for R Rivera.
K Johjima grounded out to third.
I Suzuki intentionally walked.
T Bohn hit for C Snelling.
T Bohn struck out swinging.

The inning starts out well, with Eduardo Perez getting the leadoff base on balls, which the announcers will tell you always comes around to score. They’re wrong, as you’ll see later, but it comes around to score even less often when the manager bungles the rest of the inning.

Using Tangotiger’s Win Expectancy chart, we see that the M’s are in a good situation. Tie game, bottom of the 8th, runner at first and nobody out, they have a WE of .673. In other words, the M’s would be expected to win this game two out of three times, considering they have 6 outs to go vs the Yankees 3 outs, and they have the potential winning run on base with no men out. It’s a good spot to be in.

Bloomquist pinch runs for Perez, which is totally defendable, especially if you’re going to have him steal second. If Bloomquist steals second, the WE raises to .738, a six point increase. If he gets thrown out trying to steal, the WE drops to .559, an eight point decrease. For the steal to make mathmatical sense in this situation, Willie would only need to be successful about 60% of the time. He’s 75% on the season and 85% for his career. Posada’s throwing out 36% of base stealers this year, and 30% for his career.

No matter how you break it out, the math works. Bloomquist is probably around 80% likely to swipe the bag there, which makes the reward well worth the risk.

Instead, the Mariners decide to have Willie stand on first and ask Yuniesky Betancourt to lay down a sacrifice, getting Bloomquist to second but using an out in the process. The WE goes from .673 to .656, a 1.5 point decrease. Yes, the runner is now in scoring position, but the Mariners are actually less likely to win the game now than they were before the bunt, because we’re running out of outs and are still tied.

The sac bunt to get the runner from first to second, especially when the runner is a base stealing threat, is a bad managerial decision. And Hargrove does it all the freaking time. If you want Betancourt to lay one down, have Bloomquist try to steal second first. Then, if he’s successful, bunt Willie to third. That’s okay, if you have to bunt. Getting the runner from second to third with less than two out is a big deal. But stop with the bunting a fast runner from first to second. It hurts the team’s chances of winning.

Then, of course, he compounds the problem with the absurd but totally predictable decision to pinch-hit T.J. Bohn for Chris Snelling. We like the fact that Bohn is here instead of Jones as the designated late game defensive replacement/pinch runner, but let’s not fool ourselves – he’s not much of a hitter. He’s vulnerable to breaking balls, chases pitches out of the strike zone, doesn’t make great contact, and has only gap power. Of course, he’s right-handed, while both Ron Villone and Chris Snelling are left-handed, so it was the by-the-book move to make.

It was just the wrong move to make. Chris Snelling can actually hit. He’s never shown a platoon split in the minors. He doesn’t have a swing that is exploitable by LHP’s. The M’s, needing a base hit to take the lead heading into the 9th inning, replaced a good hitter with a poor hitter, all in the name of getting a platoon advantage. A good LHB is a better bet against a good LHP than a bad RHB is. Mike Hargrove consistently fails to grasp this concept, and Bohn predictably struck out. Asking a kid to make his major league debut in that circumstance isn’t fair anyways, and having him pinch hit for a superior hitter is just foolish.

George Sherrill pitching for Seattle
T Bohn in right field.
K Johjima catching.
J Damon flied out to right.
J Mateo relieved G Sherrill.
D Jeter singled to right.
B Abreu struck out swinging.
A Guiel hit for C Wilson.
A Guiel walked, D Jeter to second.
A Rodriguez struck out swinging.

I’ve railed on this decision so many times, it’s not funny, but it has to be pointed out, because Mike Hargrove simply fails to grasp this concept, and it’s such an easy one.

When you’re the home team, and you go into the 9th inning tied, there can never be a save situation. Ever. It can’t happen. If you win, it’s going to be a walkoff win. You will never have a lead to protect. It’s fundamentally impossible.

Facing a situation where the Yankees had the middle of their order coming up, including two hall-of-fame RHBs, Mike Hargrove went with Julio Mateo instead of J.J. Putz. Why? Because it wasn’t a save situation, and J.J. is our closer.

This basic lack of understanding drives me insane, and Hargrove has done this repeatedly. Melvin did it too. It’s absurd, and the fact that a guy whose job is to make strategic decisions to help his team win can’t understand the concept is mind boggling to me.

Yes, it worked, and we won – huzzah. But we won despite the late game management of Mike Hargrove, who actually made it less likely the team would prevail. He made three lousy decisions in the span of 10 minutes, and the Mariners managed to overcome all three. But if you’re looking for reasons why the M’s suck in one run games this year, look no further than their manager. It’s nights like this that serve as glaring examples why Mike Hargrove just doesn’t belong inside the M’s dugout.


100 Responses to “Late Game Management”

  1. colm on August 23rd, 2006 10:57 am

    Terrytory. Hah! Such drollery.

    Let’s cut to the quick here. Hargrove is a purblind* moron who has no business managing a peanut stand, much less a major league baseball team.

    In fact, I’d guess there were peanut vendors right there at Safeco last night who would have made better decisions than these.

    (*According to
    2. slow or deficient in understanding, imagination, or vision.
    That’s more appropriate than I knew when I wrote it.)

  2. scraps on August 23rd, 2006 10:59 am

    A note about grammar and conversational writing:

    Most of the folks who comment here are easily understood, whether or not they observe the formal grammatical niceties. Some have more viivd voices than others — every one of the authors on this site has a vivid voice — and often a vivid writing voice is actually less grammatical by the formal rules.

    Every once in a while, someone passes through here who cannot make himself clear. We’ve had one of those in the last few days. The writing is incoherent, a collection of bleats carrying fuzzy ideas that we try to guess at (and usually the content of the thoughts is no better than the expression). When one of those folks starts commenting, he’ll often get told to fix his grammar (and spelling and punctuation) if he wants to get taken seriously.

    But the grammar isn’t really the issue: it’s the thoughts. The fellow who has been commenting hasn’t got coherent thoughts to express. Writing grammatically is well beyond him. Writing, grammatically or otherwise, is the shape of thoughts. Whether you choose to express those thoughts formally or idiomatically is a matter of style. When we tell an incoherent writer that he lacks grammar, what we are really trying to tell him is that he needs to sort out his thoughts before he writes. But if you have no difficulty understanding what someone is saying, there’s no need to harp on conversational choice in phrasing. Formal grammar is one road to clear writing: but the goal is clear writing (and clear thinking), however one gets there.

  3. tangotiger on August 23rd, 2006 10:59 am

    As for the reverse platoon split, we also looked at this. Of all players from 2000-2004, Ichiro is #1 in terms of having the smallest measured split. (Next is Mark Grace, Larry Walker, Alex Cora, Johnny Damon.) And Ichiro is way ahead of them.

    Until this point, we would establish Ichiro as having a positive platoon split of 4 OBP points. (For a typical LHH, it’s around 25 points or so). That is, even though he had a measured REVERSE split of 33 points, we have to infer, because of sampling, that it was a +4. That still leaves him as the guy with the smallest platoon split.

    However, if we were to add in his 2005 and 2006 seasons, he likely would come in with a reverse platoon split, and be the only MLB to be like that.

    It’s also possible that if we knew more about Ichiro, that his true platoon split would be even more in reverse. As it stands, until that happens, we have to treat Ichiro as a LHH, drawn from that LHH sample, and regress his performance heavily towards that mean.

    If you want to include an additional parameter, one that is fairly unique, that may override the fact that he is a LHH.

    Ichiro is a problem case for half of all research studies because of his apparent uniqueness.

  4. Safeco Hobo on August 23rd, 2006 11:00 am

    Could one make an argument that based off mechanics alone players like Ichiro and Doyle (short stride and very quick hands) would be affected less by the LOOGY than traditional LH pull hitters like Thome or Ortiz?

    Not to say they are better hitting Lefties, just not as bad as other left handed hitters vs. left handed pitchers.

  5. scraps on August 23rd, 2006 11:00 am

    Tangotiger: Thanks! Okay, I need this book.

  6. matu on August 23rd, 2006 11:02 am


    I watched the YES broadcast here in NY (I return to Seattle in 3 weeks) and it was one of the first mariner games I’ve seen this year (been out of the country) and Bobby Mercer and Ken Singleton both said it was a ‘good clean slide.’ They even talked about Ron Fairly and how the Mariners seemingly don’t have the will to win. gee, ya think? Mercer actually reminds me of Fairley but he was the PBP guy and I’d take him over Rizzs any day in that capacity. Singleton was better than Valle and Hendu. Although I cannot STAND the other Yankee broacasters. John Sterling and Michael Kay are just annoying.

  7. Josh on August 23rd, 2006 11:04 am

    Sure, the 3rd/1out vs. 2nd/0out isn’t a huge advantage. If you look at it in percentages, it’s 0.677% increased odds of winning. One might, essentially, consider that equivalent to one game per season (fully played out under such circumstances). 1/162 would be 0.617%. I’ll still take that over 0.000%. Make a lot of sound, smart plays over the course of a season to marginally improve your odds when you can, and you’ll separate yourself from where you would have been, over time.

  8. LB on August 23rd, 2006 11:05 am

    #53: Would you be able to validate Ichiro’s reverse split by including his numbers in Japan?

  9. Dave on August 23rd, 2006 11:06 am

    Could one make an argument that based off mechanics alone players like Ichiro and Doyle (short stride and very quick hands) would be affected less by the LOOGY than traditional LH pull hitters like Thome or Ortiz?

    Sure, that’s a scouting argument. Shin-Soo Choo is always going to struggle to hit lefties because he has a long swing. Snelling’s short stroke and quick wrists should minimize his problems against LHP’s, at least in comparison to other LHB’s. But his uppercut swing will make him somewhat vulnerable to pitches up and on the inner half. Karstens went after him there several times last night with success.

  10. tangotiger on August 23rd, 2006 11:15 am

    58: The only place I know to get the data is here:

    And there’s no split data. If you have it, send it over, and I’ll ask Andy will run it through his programs.

  11. vj on August 23rd, 2006 11:21 am

    I think in comment 32 tango makes the point I was trying to make about the bunt situation. When critizising the decision to have Betancourt bunt you need to look at all possible outcomes both for bunting and hitting for Betancourt facing a LHP of Villone’s calibur, establish their respective likelihood and take it from there. In the words of the hardballtimes article linked by Dave:
    “Of course, the application of actual strategy (should he bunt or not?) depends on a lot of other factors, such as the skills of the batter, the pitcher and the baserunner, the following batters in the order, the game conditions and probably a number of other things. But Win Probability sets the baseline for evaluating each event on the field.”
    If one wants to defend Hargrove, one would argue that when batting, Yubet is about twice as likely to make an out which would hurt the win expectancy to a stronger degree than when he sacrifices. And he’s not highly likely to hit an extra base hit that would score Bloomquist.
    I don’t have the data or time to do a calculation for all possible outcomes and their likelihood (Tango, I suspect it might be in your book) but imagine that when you consider sample sizes, its basically a toss-up whether you have Yubet bat or bunt.
    BTW: In updated win expectancy tables, this game will count in favor of the home team winning for the scenarios before and after the bunt.

  12. zzack on August 23rd, 2006 11:24 am

    The bunt thing doesn’t bother me too much. Like someone pointed out, there are quite a few managers that would do that and seems like a reasonable thing to do when you have an average hitter (Yuni) bunting followed by two good hitters (Kenji & Ichiro) trying to get a single to score the run. Playing it safe, so to speak, also eliminates the chance of you (meaning Hargrove) looking like an idiot to casual fans and the media when Willie get’s picked off or thrown out and you’ve “run yourself out of the innning.”

    Of course, it doesn’t mean Hargrove can’t still look like an idiot for pinch hitting for Snelling and bringing in Mateo.

  13. LB on August 23rd, 2006 11:27 am

    #60: Thanks, I’m surprised that the split data for Japan isn’t easily available. (Don’t they play some kind of fantasy baseball over there?)

  14. Jack Howland on August 23rd, 2006 11:36 am

    The front office loves the concept of “Productive Outs”. Firing Mark Hargrove will not change this philosophy. Chances are good that the new manager will play these situations the same way.

  15. LB on August 23rd, 2006 11:44 am

    #64: If only we could get them to refine their definition:

    Runner on 3rd, sac fly. Scores a run. That’s the best kind of productive!

    Runner on 1st, less than 2 out, strikeout. Stayed out of a GIDP. Kept the inning alive. That’s productive, too!

  16. rlharr on August 23rd, 2006 11:50 am

    re. #29, 34
    “Dave, when does sample size become meaningful? 200 plate appearances? 400, 600?”

    I disagree with Dave’s take on this. I would say that it doesn’t matter what you look at, you need an adequate sample size to determine ability statistically. If you want to say WFB is a good base stealer based on 51 attempts, well, I think you can say he’s no worse than a decent base stealer statistically (see below). Which you probably could have arrived at with less steal attempts from scouting!

    Rule of thumb: take the square root of the number you’re interested in to get an idea of the likely random variation in it. (This is a good approximation for anything you count, like hits, home runs, steals.) That is to say, if you think Player A is likely to average 200 hits in a season, take the squareroot of 200 (approx. 14). You should not be surprised if Player A gets anywhere between 200-14 = 186 and 200+14 = 214 hits.

    So applying this to Bloomquist’s steals: he is 43 of 51, or 84%. Excellent. If we take the squareroot of 43, it’s about 6.5, which suggests that statistically we cannot be too sure that Bloomquist is better than a 36.5 of 51 stealer – 72%, so still pretty good.

    So the answer to the question “what is a big enough sample size” depends on the what you’re looking at. For separating good base stealers from bad base stealers, 50 attempts appears to be plenty. However, for separating excellent base stealers (I’ll call that 80% or better) from decent base stealers (70%), it’s not enough.

    If we look at the example with hits above and assume that Player A had 650 at-bats a season, we see that his batting average could be expected to range from 0.286 to 0.329 just based on statistical fluctuation (i.e., not even considering injuries, changing abilities with age, etc.). There’s a pretty big difference between 0.286 and 0.329 you might think – but really it is a difference of only 4% of the at-bats. It takes more ABs to determine the batting average than steal attempts to determine the stealer’s ability because we’re interested in a much more exact answer. In the stealer’s ability a difference in success of 10% of attempts (70% to 80% success, for example) is big, but not huge. In batting average a 10% difference is huge (0.250 to 0.350, for example).

    (For those readers who understand a bit of statistics/probability jargon: for the Poisson distribution, the standard deviation is the squareroot of the mean, so +/- the squareroot would be the error bars you’d typically use for a Poisson distribution. While the distributions of things like hits and steals are not Poisson distributions, they are similar in some regards, similar enough to make the squareroot a decent yardstick for normal random variation.)

  17. tangotiger on August 23rd, 2006 12:09 pm

    #66 is right-on. However, if we know more about WFB, like, he’s actually a fast and smart runner, then we have to use that information. In a vaccum, WFB’s 43 for 51 and say some other guy’s 43/51 has to be treated exactly the same way. But, if one guy is fast/smart, and the other guy is not, then we know that we need to regress WFB to a different mean than the other guy.

    Ichiro hitting .350 over a 2-month period, and WFB doing the same is different, because we “know” Ichiro.

    So, even if we can’t accept his 84.3% rate as his “true” rate, it’s likely to be above 75% (just guessing).

  18. Mat on August 23rd, 2006 12:09 pm


    I think this is a common misconception amongst people coming from a strong stats background. Yes, it is possible, we can calculate the variance in the sample mean for a stat assuming that we know its underlying distribution (binomial is natural for lots of baseball stats), but that’s only the first step. After the statistical variance, we need to look at variance caused by systematic effects–park effects, strength of opponent effects, platoon effects, etc. The smaller a sample size gets, the easier it is to have an extreme set of systematic effects.

    Say over the course of a week, if the offense is going decent, Ichiro could get about 35 at-bats. Assuming he’s maybe a “true” .350 hitter the standard deviation in his sample mean for the week would be something like .081. But we know from experience that his average fluctuates a lot more than that statistical variance would expect. That’s because over the course of the week, Ichiro might wind up having to face some of the top run prevention teams in the league (say, the Tigers and the A’s). But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Maybe those teams are usually tough, but then on top of that it’s possible that he was at a platoon disadvantage for most of the week. And maybe one of those two teams each had a key defensive player come off the DL. So now we’ve got a lot of reasons to expect him to hit a lot less than .350, but that aren’t going to be captured in the statistical variance.

    By assigning only a statistical variance to a small sample, and not accounting for each and every systematic effect in play, you are overstating the confidence you should have in the conclusions you’re basing on that small sample size. That’s a complicated business, and until you do all of that work, you’re better off being extremely skeptical of conclusions based on a hundred or even a couple hundred at-bats.

  19. Eleven11 on August 23rd, 2006 12:11 pm

    Wow, interesting arguments! The Managers dilemma. Let’s suppose the Manager is aware of the WE but doesn’t like the Villone/Posada pairing to steal on. If he steals and fails, he’s got to start over with no one on. I don’t know the numbers but it is believed the bunt is a safe play with the right guy. So the question might actually be, was Betencourt, despite getting it down the right guy? Oh, I have never liked the sac bunt to get a decent speed runner to 3rd. He is in scoring position, hit the SOB in! At any rate, today is why I read the site, great discussions.

  20. rcc on August 23rd, 2006 12:22 pm

    Great discussion! So many people have interesting and informative things to say in this thread. The USS Mariner is the best baseball blog.

  21. Dr. Milos PHD on August 23rd, 2006 12:39 pm

    I thought I could go back to and see the replay of this sac bunt. Apperantly this year it is a pay feature to watch archived games. I don’t believe that was the case last year.

    I would be curious to see it, though, as I didn’t catch the game live. How was the bunt? Did Alex charge from third? Does Jeter move over to cover third? And if WFB takes off with the pitch does he have the kind of speed to go 1st to 3rd on a sacrafice?

  22. LB on August 23rd, 2006 12:41 pm

    #69: He is in scoring position, hit the SOB in!

    If hitting were that easy, MLB would be full of .400 hitters. The point of getting the runner to third with less than two outs is that you can score a run without “hitting the SOB in.”

  23. LB on August 23rd, 2006 12:44 pm

    #71: if WFB takes off with the pitch does he have the kind of speed to go 1st to 3rd on a sacrafice?

    Michael Johnson doesn’t have the speed to go from 1st to 3rd on a sacrifice, running with the pitch or not.

  24. Dave on August 23rd, 2006 12:54 pm

    I disagree with Dave’s take on this. I would say that it doesn’t matter what you look at, you need an adequate sample size to determine ability statistically. If you want to say WFB is a good base stealer based on 51 attempts, well, I think you can say he’s no worse than a decent base stealer statistically (see below). Which you probably could have arrived at with less steal attempts from scouting!

    Certainly, this is a case where scouting information is going to be available and accurate long before we have a big sample of SB/CS attempts, so scouting data for baserunning will probably trump statistical analysis in most cases.

    However, getting back to the point about variable sample sizes – in my opinion, one of the main reasons we need a large sample is to extract the contribution of players other than the person we’re evaluating from the totals. For instance, when Willie Bloomquist gets a single through the hole, some percentage was his skill, some percentage was the pitcher’s lack of skill, some percentage was the fielder’s lack of skill, and some percentage was chance (ball takes a weird hop, fielder blinks at contact and gets poor first jump, whatever). As we get a larger sample with a collection of other variables, we’ll be able to isolate Bloomquist’s hit skill more easily. Since his skill is only a fraction of the result, we need a big sample to get good data.

    A stolen base, however, is significantly effected more by the baserunner than a single, in my opinion. In a successful steal attempt, the credit breakout might be something like 70% runner, 20% catcher, and 10% pitcher. Or whatever – you can argue with the split, and maybe its 50/40/10, or some other combination, but the credit for the steal is certainly higher for the runner than it is for a batter getting a single.

    Thus, since the result is more representative of the runner’s skill than the hitter’s skill, the sample doesn’t have to be as large to filter out the impact of the other variables.

    Some results just show skills earlier than other results. Thus, I don’t think we can use a blanket “correct sample size” for each statistic. They’re all different.

  25. Eleven11 on August 23rd, 2006 12:57 pm

    LB-No real argument as from 3rd with less than two outs you can sac fly the guy, passed ball, go on contact, etc. etc. My dislike of it stems from you already have a guy in postion, I always hated to give up outs when managing. (I also pitched to a bunter under the theory that if he was going to give me an out, I’d take it)I like the WE theory, wish knew about it when involved. It adds information but is one part of the decision making.

  26. Dr. Milos PHD on August 23rd, 2006 12:59 pm

    LB, are you telling me you haven’t watched enough baseball to see this play executed? That’s why I asked if Jeter was covering third. I have seen it plenty of times when the base is left unmanned and the runner never stops at secound and takes the extra base before anyone can get back to cover it.

  27. Dave on August 23rd, 2006 1:01 pm

    Actually, rl, re-reading it, I’m not sure we disagree. I certainly wasn’t trying to claim that Bloomquist’s 85% rate was his true value. But I’m a lot more comfortable claiming that he’s a good baserunner based on 50 steal attempts than I would be making any claims about his hitting ability based on 50 at-bats, for the reasons I stated above.

  28. Mat on August 23rd, 2006 1:05 pm

    As we get a larger sample with a collection of other variables, we’ll be able to isolate Bloomquist’s hit skill more easily. Since his skill is only a fraction of the result, we need a big sample to get good data.

    You said it better than I did, but this is basically what I was trying to get across using more technical language.

    A stolen base, however, is significantly effected more by the baserunner than a single, in my opinion. In a successful steal attempt, the credit breakout might be something like 70% runner, 20% catcher, and 10% pitcher. Or whatever – you can argue with the split, and maybe its 50/40/10, or some other combination, but the credit for the steal is certainly higher for the runner than it is for a batter getting a single.

    One thing I would add, though, is that if we are sufficiently clever and have sufficiently good data, we might be able to figure out the breakdown pretty accurately and then adjust for it. A small but adjusted sample could be just as useful as a large but unadjusted sample.

  29. LB on August 23rd, 2006 1:06 pm

    #76: I misunderstood you. Clearly the defense has to have someone covering the base. I have already zapped the game from my TiVo, so I can’t tell you who was covering.

    I believe that a typical bunt defense with a runner on 1st is for the second baseman to cover 1st, the shortstop to cover 2nd, and the catcher to be near enough to 3rd to prevent the runner from doing what you describe.

  30. Typical Idiot Fan on August 23rd, 2006 1:06 pm

    Speaking of decisions (good or bad):

    Andrew Baldwin last night in Inland Empire:

    7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO, 9 Groundball outs vs 8 Flyball outs picking up his first win for us.

    It also looks like Bavasi hasn’t given up on Jorge Campillo, as he makes his first start for San Antonio tonight.

  31. LB on August 23rd, 2006 1:19 pm

    #75: The trouble with applying WE to lower levels of the game is that the numbers in the tables are derived from a league filled with elite players. As bad as, say, Charles Gipson is/was, he’s likely a better hitter than the guys you were managing. Of course, the pitchers in your league were probably a bit weaker, too.

  32. mntr on August 23rd, 2006 1:19 pm

    Ichiro also has a crazy swing and a slightly less crazy approach at the plate. I wouldn’t put alot past him.

  33. Eugene on August 23rd, 2006 1:36 pm

    Speaking of sample size, have we had enough to determine that Rivera is a terrible catcher or what? It seems he can’t hang on to the ball very well back there. We know he can’t hit, but I thought he was supposed to be a good defensive catcher. Of course, that’s how people usually describe a catcher who can’t hit. It sure doesn’t seem like he’s good defensively to me. I’m not going into the whole CERA thing which has already been discussed, I’m simply trying to access his ability to field the position.

  34. John in NV on August 23rd, 2006 1:43 pm

    Dave — Loved this post and all of this type of “in-game”; thank you.

  35. Eleven11 on August 23rd, 2006 1:45 pm

    LB-Well of course! Information is always useful if you understand it. OTOH, baseball is such a cool game in that there is some relativity. Skill sets at lower levels are not as diverse as you would think. With the odd all star thrown in, pitching, hitting and defense stay in some balance. I am not capable of managing a pro team but I can see similarities and situations that use the same solutions. I guess that is why I love it. A 12 year old on 60 ft bases get’s thrown out at first by two steps. A major leaguer gets thrown out by two steps at 90 ft!! Willie B gets thrown out either place…

  36. John in L.A. on August 23rd, 2006 1:48 pm

    “I would be curious to see it, though, as I didn’t catch the game live. How was the bunt? Did Alex charge from third? ”

    I, too have deleted it from Tivo, but if I recall correctly, Alex was a non-factor, the bunt was up the first base line.

    “Does Jeter move over to cover third?”

    I’m guessing Jeter was covering second and Alex third as soon as the bunt went to the first base side of the pitcher.

    “And if WFB takes off with the pitch does he have the kind of speed to go 1st to 3rd on a sacrafice?”

    No, not in my opinion. And certainly not in a way you could possibly plan on.

  37. Al Golagnic on August 23rd, 2006 2:07 pm

    Hargrove seems to be noticeably worse than even your average MLB manager when it comes to things like this. And we all know that there are plenty more bad ones out there.

    I wonder if he really is that much worse or just seems so because Dave does such a good job of breaking it down.

  38. Steve Nelson on August 23rd, 2006 2:16 pm

    Let’s assume that WFP takes off on the pitch (a “bunt-and-run” play) and the bunt is placed so that both the third baseman and the catcher have to play the bunt. Then Willie has a chance to take third if he looks in as he is going to second, sees that the bunted ball is placed so that both the 3rd baseman and the catcher are committed to the ball (and that the pitcher is not in position to cover third), and, observing all of thst, rounds second without slowing down and proceeds to third base.

    Alternatively, the situation is read by the rhird base coach, who signals Willie as Willie is en route to second that he should continue to third instead of sliding into second.

  39. Josh on August 23rd, 2006 2:19 pm

    But I’m a lot more comfortable claiming that he’s a good baserunner based on 50 steal attempts than I would be making any claims about his hitting ability based on 50 at-bats, for the reasons I stated above.

    I don’t have 50 on-hand, but his first 38 PAs after coming up in 2002 gave us this:


    Such a perfect example of how irrelevant it is going forward. I don’t recall exactly but I’d wager at the time a few announcers were frothing in delight. 🙂

    The Gritty Splinter!

  40. Steve Nelson on August 23rd, 2006 2:26 pm

    How about this thought on the bunt. Hargrove knows that having Betancourt at the plate in the late innings of a tie game with a runner on base is ripe for Betancourt to swing at any pitch that is remotely near the strike zone. Since by now every team in baseball knows that this situation amplifies Betancourt’s hacktasticness, Hargrove also figures the chances are real good that Betancourt will hack at a pitch out of the strike zone and hit a weak pop up or a groundball out (or DP).

    Hargrove tries to counter this by having Betancourt bunt Willie to second.

    Hey – it’s possible, isn’t it?

  41. Thingray on August 23rd, 2006 2:56 pm

    #88 – I have seen that happen before. I’ve also seen it happen where the runner starts on 2nd, the bunt is laid down, fielded and thrown to first, but the runner rounds third and keeps steaming home (little league style!).

    They’re rare plays, but occasionally through either laziness or lack of concentration on the defense, they do happen.

  42. pinball1973 on August 23rd, 2006 3:19 pm

    A thread about Hargrove’s obvious – even to the fans – mismanagement (and he isn’t even lucky)? Duh!

    Dear Mariners’ FO,

    Please remove Mike Hargrove from his position as manager. If he is released in the dead of night and dressed in one of the beer vendors uniforms perhas he can be safely whisked away to an undisclosed “safe house” until Mariner fans’ anger abates.

  43. rlharr on August 23rd, 2006 3:41 pm

    (re. statistics stuff) Yes Dave, Mat, I think we all agree. Mat, I did put in parentheses somewhere that this kind of analysis did not include injuries, etc., and I would certainly include quality of competition – Yankees or Royals – within the factors not covered by my argument. It only covers the random variation. And yes, the binomial is the actual distribution, I didn’t want to get into limiting values.

    I still stand by the squareroot as a rough first order tool, however. I do not claim that it gives you the actual standard deviation, but I think it a rare case when it does not give an appropriate amount of “uncertainty”. For instance, Mat, you argued that you need hundreds of at bats to judge something like batting average, but my earlier message showed that using the squareroot you would not even put much credence in a 650 at bat sample – after all, a 40 point difference in batting average is huge. The squareroot rule for 200 at bats for a 0.300 hitter would yield a range of 0.261 to 0.339. I expect if you looked at 200 at bat samples of 0.300 hitters you would find something like half in that range – less than you would if it were a true standard deviation, certainly, but at the same time representative enough to give a handle on the expected size of variation.

    That’s all I’m suggesting. A rough, easily-computed, first-order tool that can be used by the average reader.

  44. rlharr on August 23rd, 2006 4:12 pm

    re. Josh, #89

    “I don’t have 50 on-hand, but his first 38 PAs after coming up in 2002 gave us this:


    Such a perfect example of how irrelevant it is going forward.”

    There’s a difference here. What are we counting? The 0.455 is hits, so we’re talking about something like 16 hits in 35 at bats (+ 3 walks/sac bunts/whatever for the other 3 plate appearances). With stolen bases, the success rate is much higher. In WFB’s case there were 43 successful steals – that is a considerably higher number that 16 hits! You would need to get over 100 at-bats to get similar precision for a batting average estimate – and even then, you would find your estimate less than satisfying. Knowing that WFB’s successful steal rate is likely to be somewhere between 70% and 90% is enough to know that he is a decent to excellent base stealer. Knowing that his batting average is likely to be somewhere between 0.245 and 0.355 (about the range you would guess if he was hitting 0.300 after 100 at bats) would tell you almost nothing.

    Dave made a point above that we also have historical information to help us set limits. We know that 0.455 is extremely unlikely to be any batter’s true ability. (Of course, by that argument we would have said there was no way Bonds would ever have a OBP over 0.550 for a season, when, in fact, he did so twice, peaking at 0.609.)

  45. sokala on August 23rd, 2006 4:25 pm

    I was at the game last night and sitting behind Mariners dugout. I kept checking the boxes where Chuck, Howard and Bavasi hang out with my binoculars. Up through the Baek innings Chuck sat looking half interested. O’Faherty comes in and he jumps up and disappears.
    Flash forward to Bohn coming in and he (Chuck) is pacing back and forth making what looked like “sharp” comments to Bavasi who is along one wall in the box with body english that says he is not very comfortable. They were clearly not happy with Bohn coming to the plate. It appeared that they kept telling someone in the back of the box to go do something (hold the press release announcing Grovers release you suppose?).
    I often will check the activity in those boxes esp when trades are in the works as you can get a indication something is going on via the phone activity. In the years at Safeco, I have never seen Chuck or anyone else “pace” like last night. It continued to the end of the game. Something was up but didn’t happen.

  46. Thingray on August 23rd, 2006 4:50 pm

    95 – Interesting observation. Considering the circumstances, I hope that your impressions are correct!

  47. Nati on August 23rd, 2006 5:24 pm

    That’s a really interesting observation #95. I was wondering today if the FO could really be that oblivious to Hargrove’s mismanagement, fan perception, and/or extent of the damage he’s done, or just what the deal was. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, it occurred to me that maybe Chuck and Howard are obviously waiting til the end of the year to give themselves time to decide whether Bavasi goes as well.

  48. sokala on August 23rd, 2006 5:35 pm

    #96 and 97: Well we know they will never fire themselves so the manager is always going to take the complete hit (deserving or not). With a majority owner who ceded control to a corporation, it would take a majority vote or effort from the minor owners to force a change in the Howard/Chuck/Bill axis of evil. I assume Howard and Chuck would offer a compromise and offer Bill up like Grover and that might keep the owners at bay – if they really care. I think the only way the FO changes its dynamic is not a complete scorched earth approach but a surgical strike to take out the person(s) who set the charter. I think that is either Chuck or Howard or both. I guess one can dream….

  49. John D. on August 24th, 2006 12:41 pm

    LATE GAME MANAGEMENT – [Perhaps this has already been mentioned. (I haven’t read all of the previous comments.)]
    Another thing that concerns me is providing for enough pitching should the game go into extra inings.
    IMO, it’s wrong to have a reliever pitch only part of an inning in the late (or extra) innings, but managers have them do it, hoping that the game will end before they run out of pitchers. (You use up your relievers faster than you realize.)
    BTW, does anyone know how many innings most managers allow for? 12? 15?

  50. MickeyZ on August 25th, 2006 7:15 am

    I’m not sure that I agree that Putz is the obvious choice for a top of the 9th tied game. Yes, there can never be a save situation, but the chances of going into extra innings are good, and for all you know there is going to be a bases loaded no out situation in the top of the 16th you’ll need him for. Granted, putting in your worst relief pitcher is never a smart way to go, and it surely was worth putting Putz in once there were runners on.

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