A stat costs Reds a win

by Shaun

Dusty Baker’s loyalty to his closer and the save statistic and perhaps an imaginary platoon advantage probably cost the Reds a game yesterday.

With his team up by three runs with one out in the ninth and the bases loaded, Baker removed his best reliever of 2010 so far (Arthur Rhodes) for his closer (Francisco Cordero).

Now, I know we don’t have a significant sample to work with but Rhodes 17 strikeouts and 4 walks against 58 batters this season.  Brooks Conrad, the batter for the Braves, is a switch-hitter.  Lefties have 2 hits and 7 strikeouts in 17 plate apperances against Rhodes this season.

Batters have hit .282/.352/.436 against Cordero this season.  He’s been worse against lefty hitters (.355/.444/.452 in 37 plate appearances).  But Cordero is the “closer” so he has to come in in the save situation.

Yes, it was a fluky win for the Braves.  But it’s hard to imagine that Baker made the best move in that situation.  He simply made the conventional move, which also happened to be the wrong move.  In Baker’s defense, he’s probably not the only manager in baseball who would bring in his closer in a save situation rather than stick with his best pitcher with the game on the line.

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58 Responses to “A stat costs Reds a win”

  1. Raul Says:

    Or he could have left Arthur Rhodes in the game, and if Rhodes blows it, we’re sitting here wondering why Cordero wasn’t in the game, which leads to all sorts of questions about Cordero’s status as a 12 million dollar closer who doesn’t have the faith of his manager when the game is on the line.

    What else? Oh yeah. Conrad really smoked that one. A slap hit the other way that bounced off Nix’s glove to barely go over the fence.

    Dusty Baker, total douche.

  2. Shaun Says:

    Raul, that’s why you stay away from results-based analysis. The only question we should ask is, was Cordero a better option than Rhodes. To me it’s pretty clear he was not, regardless of the results of the decision.

  3. Raul Says:

    Once again you missed the point, Shaun. This is becoming an unfortunate habit.

    My post alludes to what Dusty Baker may have been thinking.

  4. Shaun Says:

    Right. And my point is that Dusty Baker was wrong. I understand Baker’s reasoning and what he was thinking; but that doesn’t change the fact that his reasoning was flawed and his thinking was wrong.

  5. Raul Says:

    Speaking of results-based analysis…I know all about it. In fact, I basically mentioned as such regarding David Wright’s double to right field yesterday.

  6. Shaun Says:

    Any manger’s job is to give his team the best chance to win the game. That’s all he can do. He can’t control the results, so the results are irrelevant.

    He chose to put in his closer instead of leaving in his best pitcher, therefore he did not make the move that gave his team the best chance to win.

    Was it an awful move? Probably not. Would most managers make the same move? Probably. Was it clearly the wrong move? Yes.

    If Rhodes is in the game and he blows it, Baker can point to the fact that Rhodes has been dominant in 2010 and he’s been particular dominant against lefty hitters while Cordero hasn’t. That sounds a heck of a lot better than, “Rhodes is our best reliever but Cordero is the closer and makes a lot of money.”

  7. Shaun Says:

    I don’t mean to pick on Dusty Baker and the Reds. This is a problem in all of baseball. Mangers make moves in order for certain players to add to a certain statistical category instead of making moves that best give their teams a chance to win.

  8. John Says:

    “With his team down by three runs with one out in the ninth and the bases loaded, Baker removed his best reliever of 2010 so far (Arthur Rhodes) for his closer (Francisco Cordero).”

    I think you mean up by three runs.

    And no, I’m sorry, that’s not what happened.

    First off, if Baker’s only concern was getting saves for his closer or something, he could’ve brought in Coco when the bases were loaded and the Braves were up by 6 (after three straight singles to lead off the inning). Sounds odd, but if you enter that situation and give up 5 RUNS OR LESS, you earn yourself a save since the tying run is in the hole, just as it is when you enter in the ninth inning of a 3 run game.

    Secondly, WHIP, ERA through 6 weeks notwithstanding, Cordero is your guy. He’s the person that you brought in to be the closer. Period. He’s been an all-star 2 of the previous 3 seasons. You don’t use him simply because you’re paying him; but you should recognize that the reason he’s making 12 million dollars (which is still way too much for a closer but that’s another debate) is that he’s the guy you go to when the game is on the line. Arthur Rhodes has been pretty sweet through 16 innings, great. He’s old as dirt and has spend the vast majority of his career in an odd sort of limbo between loogey and set-up man.

  9. John Says:

    me: “he could’ve brought in Coco when the bases were loaded and the Braves were up by 6″

    Should read:

    Reds were up by 6.

    See Shaun. You went and confused me.

  10. Shaun Says:

    John, you are right. The move was about saves and an imaginary platoon advantage.

  11. Raul Says:

    Theoretically, in today’s game, the closer is supposed to be his best relief pitcher. And by that thinking, it really doesn’t mean dickshit what 40-year-old Arthur Rhodes has done after 16 innings, Cordero’s coming in.

    Nobody questioned Terry Francona for bringing in Papelbon against the Yankees when Bard is pitching a lot better….then Papelbon gives up a homer to A-Rod.

    I don’t agree with how relievers are used today, but it’s the way it is.
    And I think it’s a little bit bullshit to question Dusty Baker based on what any reliever has done after up until mid-May.

  12. Raul Says:

    BTW,

    Mike Leake is doing very well.

  13. Len Says:

    Why isn’t dugout central on the baseball reference page anymore?

  14. Shaun Says:

    Raul, you and John make great points about sample size. However, Rhodes has just been so dominant that I think he’s clearly a better choice than Cordero with 9.4 K/9 and a 4.25 K/BB.

    Regarding that Yankees-Red Sox game, I think you could argue that the Sox used their relievers in a reasonable way. They used their best reliever with a 2-run lead in the 8th instead of waiting until the 9th when they may not have had a lead to protect. How many times to you see managers save their relief ace until they have a lead, except they never get a lead? It happened to the Mets in the 2006 NLCS. They lost a close Game 7 to the Cardinals and their best reliever never got in the game because there wasn’t a save situation.

  15. Lefty33 Says:

    “This is a problem in all of baseball. Mangers make moves in order for certain players to add to a certain statistical category instead of making moves that best give their teams a chance to win.”

    You know what Shaun, I actually agree with you 100% on that.

    But it’s a real catch-22 situation. Because in a way the manager doesn’t have that much choice but to do what’s conventional.

    With how most players’ contracts are laden with incentives, if enough guys on a team are not getting what they think they could or should get and they start to grumble, it won’t be the players out on their asses it will be the manager who gets replaced in favor of more of a “player friendly manager”.

    Also going with your best reliever does not always bear the best results.

    Last year the Phillies best reliever was Brian Madson. When he was used in set-up 7th and 8th inning “non-pressure” situations he was bordering on brilliant.

    When he was used in the closer spot during 9th innings when Lidge was hurt or ineffective he absolutely stunk more than even Lidge himself any time he was put in a game where a “pressure” situation existed.

    The manager also has to know his players. Some guys can handle certain spots. And some guys crumble.

  16. Patrick Says:

    Or if Lance Nix holds on to the HR, the Reds win. If you’re going to have a closer you HAVE to pitch him in that situation.

    This is a good example of looking at the box score after the fact and not watching the game.

    BTW, heading into interleague play;

    AL East +132 runs
    NL East +86
    NL West +76
    AL Cent -65
    AL West -67
    NL Cent -162!

    Even reaching home plate has an east coast bias.

    Len says; “Why isn’t dugout central on the baseball reference page anymore?”

    Good question….maybe. ….Tastes great!….less filling!….tastes great!….less filling!……

  17. Dean M Says:

    Len: “Why isn’t dugout central on the baseball reference page anymore?”

    Len, I’m wondering the same thing. Hopefully just a temporary glitch. Anybody have an answer?

  18. Chuck Says:

    Email Baseball Reference founder Sean Forman at sf@sports-reference.com.

  19. Chuck Says:

    Rhodes had pitched an inning the day before, with 13 pitches thrown.

    He had also pitched back to back on May 14 & 15, an inning both times there to.

    We’re talking about a soon to be 41 year old LOOGY who had pitched, FOR HIM, alot over the past week and quite possibly was gassed.

    He may have been unavailable for that game and told Dusty he could pitch a batter or two if needed. He only threw six pitches, so I’m pretty comfortable that’s the scenario, at least I’m sticking with it.

    It’s gotten to the point where baseball’s continual mis-management of pitchers is a joke, and it’s not just the Reds, or just the bullpen. It affects everyone equally.

    Quite frankly, I’m glad the Reds lost. I’m glad the Yankees beat Boston’s bullpen two days in a row.

    SOMEBODY, SOMEWHERE has to realize this nonsense is out of control.

  20. Shaun Says:

    Or if Lance Nix holds on to the HR, the Reds win. If you’re going to have a closer you HAVE to pitch him in that situation.

    This is a good example of looking at the box score after the fact and not watching the game.

    Baker would deserve the same criticism no matter the result.

  21. Shaun Says:

    Chuck, maybe that is the case with Rhodes. I don’t know. But I find it hard to believe if it was the case that he was gassed, that he would be in the game in the first place. But who knows for sure?

    I agree that bullpens are mismanaged all over baseball because of the save statistic and because of an over-obsession with platoon advantages. Platoon advantages certainly have their place but playing the match-ups is overdone, it seems to me.

  22. Shaun Says:

    Lefty33, if you look closely at Ryan Madson’s performance in save situations versus non-save situations last season, there is really not a huge difference, actually.

  23. Shaun Says:

    “Also going with your best reliever does not always bear the best results.”

    This is exactly true. A manager can’t control results. All he can control is whether he makes the moves that give his team the best chance to win.

    And, again, I’m not trying to single out Baker. This is more of an indictment of pretty much all managers worrying too much about the save statistic and overdoing playing the match-ups.

    The results of this game made it convenient to write about those things within the context of an actual game. But I think it’s just as stupid for a manger to make a similar decision even if the move works out.

  24. Shaun Says:

    Madson in save situations: 43 G, 173 PA, 41.1 IP, 40 SO, 10 BB, 2 HBP, 4 HR, 17 R, 4 SO/BB, .325 BABiP

    Madson in non-save situations: 36 G, 147 PA, 36 IP, 38 SO, 12 BB, 1 HBP, 3 HR, 12 R, 3.17 SO/BB, .311 BABiP

  25. Dean M Says:

    Shaun: “But I think it’s just as stupid for a manger to make a similar decision even if the move works out.”

    A manager’s success or failure is based on whether or not the “move works out.” It can’t be “stupid” if it works out.

  26. Shaun Says:

    Dean M, if a manger makes a “stupid” move that works out, I think that’s more good fortune than a good move.

    By the way, I don’t know if “stupid” is the right word. I don’t think Baker’s move was horrible. I may come across a little harsh. But I certainly don’t think it was the move that gave his team the best chance to win.

  27. Lefty33 Says:

    Madson in save situations: 43 G, 173 PA, 41.1 IP, 40 SO, 10 BB, 2 HBP, 4 HR, 17 R, 4 SO/BB, .325 BABiP
    Madson in non-save situations: 36 G, 147 PA, 36 IP, 38 SO, 12 BB, 1 HBP, 3 HR, 12 R, 3.17 SO/BB, .311 BABiP

    ?????????????

    As usual Shaun that’s not what I said.

    I’ll make it simple.

    In 2009 Ryan Madson saved 10 games. He had had 16 save chances. He blew 6 out of 16, or 37.5% of his save chances.

    He had as many blown saves as Heath Bell. Heath led the NL with 42, and had 48 chances.

    Madson’s percentage in ’09 was complete crap.

    He sucked when given the ball in the closers role last year. I saw pretty much every one of his appearances. When he was in tight save situations, he clearly pitched very tentatively and he tried to finesse people with his average/decent change instead of blowing his excellent heat by batters.

    He took almost an entirely different approach than when he was used in the 7th or 8th innings.

  28. Lefty33 Says:

    Lidge and Madson blew 17 leads between them last year.

    The Phillies went to the WS, won the NL, and won the NL East in spite of their awful bullpen.

    I can’t imagine how they would have run away with the NL East and NL if they would have had a closer that actually didn’t suck.

  29. Shaun Says:

    Lefty33, what I’m saying is that essentially he didn’t perform all that differently in save chances versus non-save chances. If you had a problem with the Phillies using him in save situations, you probably should have had the same problem with the Phillies using him in a lot of non-save situations; he was essentially the same pitcher.

  30. Shaun Says:

    Lefty33, so he blew 6 saves. How many times did he get the loss or allow the other team to tie or take the lead in non-save chances? He got 2 losses in non-save chances, he had 3 more games where he gave up 2 or more runs and he had 5 more games where he gave up a run.

  31. Shaun Says:

    Lefty33, you can’t just look at save percentage and conclude that because of that Madson was more suited for the set-up roll. He had about as many outings in non-save situations in which he gave up enough runs to cost him a save had they been save situations. Hope that makes sense.

  32. Lefty33 Says:

    “he was essentially the same pitcher”

    You’re not even using real stats to compare the situations.

    He did not have 43 SVO in ‘09. He had 16 SVO. He blew 6.

    That percentage is awful.

    Show me the real numbers where the 16 SVO games are compared against his 63 non-SVO games and I think you’ll see a different pitcher.

  33. Lefty33 Says:

    “How many times did he get the loss or allow the other team to tie or take the lead in non-save chances?”

    I don’t care that’s not my point.

    My point is that Ryan Madson is a different pitcher when the Phillies try and use him as a closer than when they try and use him as a set-up man.

    6 out of 16 last year blown, and 2 out of 4 this year.

    And this correlates to this discussion in that for the Phillies, Madson may be you best pitcher statistically and stuff-wise but clearly he has issues be it emotional or mental that when a game is on the line in a save situation, the Phillies would be better suited rolling the dice with someone else (Last Year = Romero, Park, Durbin, Eyre) than use him.

  34. Shaun Says:

    My bad. Baseball-Reference.com’s numbers are way off for some reason. You look at 2009 splits and it says 43 games in save situations. Unless they have a different definition for save situation.

  35. Lefty33 Says:

    “Unless they have a different definition for save situation.”

    I’ve seen some sites count Holds as being part of a save situation.

    As you know, they’re not.

  36. Shaun Says:

    Lefty33, his 8th inning versus 9th inning splits don’t look all that different. His ERA and SO/BB ratio are better in the 9th inning. Of course it doesn’t separate out save opps versus non-save opps in the 9th inning.

  37. Shaun Says:

    Speaking of bad pitching moves, how about John Maine and the Mets?

    “John [Maine]’s a habitual liar in a lot of ways as far as his own health. He’s a competitor and a warrior and he wants to go out there and pitch. But you have to be smart enough to realize this guy isn’t right.”
    – Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen

    Why wasn’t he smart enough to realize he wasn’t right before the game started instead of letting him throw only 5 pitches?

    That organization is a mess.

  38. Seven Says:

    If a guy comes into a game in the 6th inning with his team leading by 10 runs, isn’t that technically a save situation when he enters the game? Or same thing if he enters in the 8th with a one-run lead. But what if the pitcher only throws to one batter in either of those spots? Does that take away the fact that he ENTERED in a save situation?

  39. Chuck Says:

    If the Yankees sweep the Mets this weekend, come Monday Bob Melvin will be the new Met’s manager.

  40. Shaun Says:

    Chuck, I’m afraid it all starts with the owner and unfortunately it doesn’t appear he’s going anywhere.

    The best hope for Mets fans is that they somehow can get a smart GM that can convince the owner that a smart front office should run the show.

    A new manager would help, too, as evident by the fact that Maine was allowed to start then throw 5 pitches.

  41. Chuck Says:

    “If a guy comes into a game in the 6th inning with his team leading by 10 runs, isn’t that technically a save situation when he enters the game?”

    No.

    Lead can’t be more than three runs regardless.

  42. Shaun Says:

    Chuck, not true. A pitcher can get a save if he pitches 3 innings and he finishes a game his team wins.

    On August 22, 2007 Wes Littleton of the Rangers earned a save in a 30-3 Rangers’ win over the Orioles. The Rangers had a 14-3 lead when he came into the game in the 7th.

  43. Shaun Says:

    Littleton pitched three innings and completed a game his team won.

  44. Shaun Says:

    Oh, and he wasn’t the winning pitcher. Another important criterion in a 3-inning, unusual save where the game isn’t close.

  45. Chuck Says:

    You’re right.

  46. Lefty33 Says:

    “On August 22, 2007 Wes Littleton of the Rangers earned a save in a 30-3 Rangers’ win over the Orioles.”

    Thanks for that tidbit Shaun.

    I had never heard of that one.

  47. Hossrex Says:

    Are people in this thread really this stuck on the idea that Arthur Rhodes is such a good pitcher?

    lol… oh you guys.

  48. Raul Says:

    I have to be honest, the last time I can remember Arthur Rhodes, he wore a Mariners uniform.

  49. Chuck Says:

    Javier Vazquez pitches six innings of ONE HIT ball and throws SEVENTY pitches.

    70 pitches in six innings.

    And numbnuts Girardi takes him out.

    Then he brings in David Robertson, who throws five pitches, and comes out.

    Then brings in Damaso Marte, who throws three pitches, and HE COMES OUT.

    Now fat Joba’s in.

    Seventh inning, Yanks up 2-0, Girardi’s burned THREE relief pitchers in about two minutes.

    He’s a fucking idiot.

    He makes Buck Showalter look like John fucking McGraw.

  50. Chuck Says:

    Thankfully, Joba faced two guys who couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat.

    David Wright and Angel Pagan.

    They both struck out.

    Wright looking.

  51. Raul Says:

    Michael Kay is saying Vazquez came out because he hurt his finger during a bunt.

  52. Chuck Says:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100521&content_id=10294152&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

  53. Raul Says:

    Just one of those bad breaks for Vazquez, it seems.

    Although I’m a little confused because Vazquez had pitched in the National League for several years and should be used to laying down bunts, so I’m wondering where the ball was, or where his hands were when he was handling the bat.

    I didn’t see him lay down the bunt.

  54. Raul Says:

    Oh, David Wright.

    Life is not good for you, my friend.

  55. Lefty33 Says:

    “And numbnuts Girardi takes him out.”

    Here’s to overmanaging.

    Damn Tony LaRussa for putting the idea out there that every games boxscore should be two feet long because all eight relief pitchers must be either warmed or used nightly.

  56. Chuck Says:

    Ok, I’m willing to cut Girardi a break because Vazquez was pulled because of an injury, but it is still inexcusable to use three relief pitchers for three effin’ hitters.

    Girardi played the game for chrissakes, he should know better.

  57. Raul Says:

    I can agree with that.

  58. Patrick Says:

    Rays lead 10-6, Astros have 1st and 3rd, 2 outs, bottom of 9th, Soriano comes in and gets Pence to pop up, Soriano gets a save because the tying run is on deck.

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