Blogservations 07/17/09, Phillies 6, Marlins 5

Whereas Game 1 was a debacle in every way that a baseball game could be considered a debacle, last night was just a frustrating evening all along. With the rain delay knocking the game into the late evening and the Marlins down by three when the delay came, I had lost a good deal of hope. To my surprise, I saw in the 9th that they were tied and hurriedly settled in to my couch to watch. Here’s a few thing I wanted to talk about.

The intentional walk.

Intentional walks are getting a lot of review these days, since the walk of Victor Martinez at the All-Star Game Tuesday night. Tommy Bennett of BtB linked a bunch of responses over at his Daily Box Score section. Tom Tango has his own insight on the move, and while browsing his site, I found a piece written by Mitchel Lichtman on whether the intentional walk is worth it (Part 1 and 2). Late in the game these sorts of things get muddy, as WPA jumps drastically as compared to early in the game. In any case, all good reads, so you should check them out. Here’s the money quote for Tango on the IBB in a case with a much more plausible reasoning behind it than Fredi’s IBB last night.

3. In The Book, Andy has a nice chart. On p.306, Andy shows the threshhold for walking a batter compared to the talent level of the batter on deck. “Top 8 –3 1” (meaning top of 8th, runner on 3B, 1 out), under the “Tie” column, he shows “1.40”. This means that the wOBA of the batter at the plate has to be 40% higher than the wOBA of the batter on deck. If based on the platoon advantage, we expect the batter on deck to have a .300 wOBA, then the batter at the plate would need at least a .420 wOBA to make this an IBB call.

I have yet to purchase my copy of the “The Book,” as I shall be getting mine for free when I sign up for my new credit card, but when I do get it, I would love to see what the wOBA of the next player should be for the intentional walk to be fair. In Lichtman’s Part 1 article, he states that the platoon advantage for a pitcher is worth about 17 points of wOBA. Last night, the Marlins had a runner on 2nd and two out, with Phillies backup catcher Paul Bako, a lefty hitter, at the plate against Marlins long reliever Burke Badenhop. The choice was made to intentionally walk Badenhop in order to get to the next hitter, right hander and All-Star replacement Jayson Werth. The decision elicited an angered cry on my part.

Jayson Werth’s wOBA: .378, career .361
Paul Bako’s wOBA: career .274 (his season numbers are derived from 31 plate appearances, so they aren’t even close to significant)

That is no 17 point difference in wOBA. Let’s look at career splits.

Werth’s career slash line vs. right handers: .248/.344/.413, 1370 PA
Bako’s career slash line vs. right handers: .240/.317/.320, 2041 PA

This isn’t rocket science folks. Werth was a far superior baseball player, even if his platoon split was bad, and Werth’s platoon splits were as bad as they came a few years back. He’s improved against right handers enough to be a regular starter, while Bako is a backup catcher. The ridiculousness of this move amazes me to no end. It was one of the dumbest, if not the dumbest thing that happened last night. And sure enough, it did not pay off, as Werth singled in Chase Utley from second and gave the Phillies a two-run lead. It was only ironic to have that run be the difference in the game. Whoever made that decision, whether it came from the dugout or the battery team themselves, needs to review what the platoon advantage really provides. No one in their right mind would walk a backup catcher to get to a superior hitter because of the platoon advantage. It’s simply ridiculous.

A second straight unlucky start by Nolasco

Ricky Nolasco suffered another tough outing where his peripherals looked fine but his performance did not match. He bunched up seven hits and gave up a home run, but Ricky also struck out five while walking two, not his best K/BB ratio, but a solid one. The last two games Nolasco has given up the long ball, and so far it seems to be the difference between his good and bad starts. I thought perhaps location had been somewhat of an issue, but check out these charts for the hits recorded by Raul Ibanez, Werth, and Pedro Feliz in the fourth inning against Nolasco.

Against Raul Ibanez
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Against Jayson Werth
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Against Pedro Feliz
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You can’t fault the location of those hits. Ibanez hit a ball well outside the zone for a soft liner, Werth took a pitch low and on the outer half of a single, and Feliz dug out a low slider for a hard hit double. Perhaps the slider to Feliz hung a bit, and but the other hits were just good swings on good pitches, which isn’t particularly in Ricky’s control. It certainly was not his best outing, and it is unfortunate that it came after a legitimately poor outing against Arizona, but the Ricky Nolasco bandwagon should still be full.

Chris Coghlan flashed some power.

It says nothing of his future power, but it was good to see Chris Coghlan get a nice swing on something over the plate.

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There was nothing particularly wrong with Cole Hamels’ pitch, as the fastball was in the low 90’s and one of the better velocities of the at-bat. The location was terrible and Coghlan turned on it, something we haven’t seen for a while. Coming into the majors, Coghlan looked like a classic weak-hitting middle-infielder type, but he’s been miscast as a left fielder and asked to do more than he probably could. We can’t expect much in the way of power from Coghlan (more on his expectations in a later piece) but ideally we’d want to see an ISO of around .130 or so, and you figure with his line-drive looking swing and good doubles rates so far this year that he can reach that total given full playing time. I’d like to see that type of bat (low power, decent OBP) in the middle infield where the positional adjustment won’t hurt his offensive value, as he’s not currently a good or even decent defensive outfielder. We’ll see how the Marlins manage him and his outings as the season goes on.

Tags: Burke Badenhop Chase Utley Chris Coghlan Jayson Werth Miami Marlins Paul Bako Pedro Feliz Philadelphia Phillies Raul Ibanez Ricky Nolasco

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