Sorry, this is a lame thread title, but I wasn't really sure how to articulate my point--- that was the best I could do
We talk a lot around here about "stats vs. tradition" etc.
While I still believe that managing a team is at least 50% intuition, people skills, timing....I have also become a staunch believer in maximizing percentages.
We talk all the time about how GM's and managers balance this out, but we rarely talk about the players.
Last night, something dawned in me in the 9th inning: Maybe the Reds players really aren't very smart. Maybe they don't understand the numbers. Or maybe I just don't understand the game?
Here's how I got started on this:
Top of the 9th inning last night, Reds down 5-2. Obviously, the percentages are completely stacked against us in that situation no matter how players approach their AB's. However, isn't the idea to at least give yourself the best CHANCE to mount a comeback?
Griffey leads off and takes ball one. He then pops weakly to third on an 1-0 count.
To me, that is maddening. It's really just plain stupid.
In that situation, reaching 1st base by any means necessary is the equivalent to hitting a HR. The only advantage to an extra base hit is staying out of a potential DP. So, IMO, the ONLY objective for Junior in that at bat is to reach 1st base.
We all know that even the best hitters connect for a base hit well below 40% of the time.
With a 1-0 count, why in the world do you not take in that situation? Even if it's a meatball down the heart of the plate, it would seem you would maximize your chances by forcing him to throw another pitch. Maybe on the 1-1 pitch, he misses the plate again...the deeper the count goes, the better.
Of course, if this same situation took place in the middle of the game, I would be signing a different tune. Totally different situation with a different objective for the AB.
And that's what baffles me about the Reds...the objective never seems to change.
After Griffey pops out, Phillips swings at the first pitch he sees. Eventually, he does manage to run the count full, but winds up striking out. I really don't have a problem with BP being a "hacker"-- it's who he is after all. But is it so hard to adjust your approach for a given situation?
Dunn comes up next. Again, swings at the 1st pitch. Winds up striking out. Now, Adam Dunn should NEVER be criticized for not be patient enough. I'm not saying that. But again, in that situation, I'm not sure he "knew" himself very well. The % of times Adam Dunn gets an actual base hit are pretty low. In that situation, you might as well take, take, take. In that situation, I'd actually rather see him go down looking than swinging. If the bases were loaded, I'd rather seem him go down swinging.
And that's what it boils down to for me. I'm talking about the Reds because they are the only team I watch this intensely throughout the season. Perhaps this a trend I really haven't noticed. But I'm using these examples because I watch the Reds.
Are they not smart enough? Too stubborn? Too embedded with old school-macho values about "going down swinging?" Too selfish? Or is it just the way it is and I'm the one that needs to change?