• Wild Thought: To Take The Pass, Or Not, When The Heat Is On?

    Posted by on June 18th, 2009 · Comments (17)

    There seems to be much talk in Yankeeland today about Alex Rodriguez taking a walk in the bottom of the 9th inning last night – with one out and the tying run on third base. Some feel that A-Rod should have made contact, somewhere in his At Bat, and driven home the tying run. And, others feel that A-Rod did the correct thing by not expanding his strike zone, etc., and taking the free pass.

    It’s funny, it spots like this, I always think back to a Yankees game from the 1980′s. It’s when Don Mattingly was in his prime and Bill White and the Scooter were doing the Yankees broadcasts. In this game, the Yankees were losing, and it was late, and Donnie Baseball came through with a huge hit – on a pitch that was up around his eyes. When it happened, Bill White went nuts. In praise of Mattingly, White went on and on about how Mattingly was a winning player, a team player, and a leader, etc., – because he knew that he was never going to get a good pitch to hit in that At Bat (as the other team didn’t want ‘the big man’ to beat them) and he took it upon himself to make something happen despite of those plans by the opposing team (and pitcher).

    I’m not 100% sure – but, I want to say it was the Yankees game of May 13, 1985. I do recall that it was a home game, at night, and it was when Mattingly was among the best in the game. And, I know that White stopped doing Yankees games after 1988. Looking at Mattingly’s homerun log, it appears that May 13, 1985 could have been that game.

    In any event, that’s today’s wild thought. In a big spot, should ‘the man’ on your team be happy to take a walk, if the other team is not willing to let him beat them? Or, are you like Bill White and feel that a winning and team player, a leader, should make it happen based on what he has to work with?

    Me? I see both sides of the debate. I understand, as a batter, how you shouldn’t chase pitches. But, then again, if something is close enough to make it happen…as a fan, I love it when our ‘man’ comes through with a hit in a spot like that, taking it on his own shoulders, rather than leaving it up to the next guy.

    It’s a tough call. But, a fun wild thought.

    Comments on Wild Thought: To Take The Pass, Or Not, When The Heat Is On?

    1. MJ
      June 18th, 2009 | 11:04 am

      as a fan, I love it when our ‘man’ comes through with a hit
      ——–
      Of course you do. But if Mattingly had struck out “on a pitch that was up around his eyes”, I don’t think you’d love it as much.

      Hitters should really try to never expand the strike zone and should only swing at balls they can handle. If that means that the next guy has to pick up the team, well, that’s just how it is.

    2. YankCrank
      June 18th, 2009 | 11:07 am

      It is a fun wild thought Steve, and the RAB guys actually put that question up today in terms of Win Expectancy. Was a walk as good as a hit in that situation?

      When 9th inning started: 9.7% chance of winning
      After Damon’s HR: 20.9% chance of winning
      Brett’s steal of 3B: 41.9% chance of winning
      When A-Rod walked: 46.6% of winning

      Looking at that, A-Rod walking bumped the Yankees chances of winning up, but not as much as an RBI hit or walk-off homer (duh) would have. So what those numbers show, thanks to the RAB guys, a walk was not as good as a hit.

      But back to the actual question, I think we need to be more realistic and specific. Alex is struggling, terribly, and most likely doesn’t feel great with the bat right now. The man behind him, Cano, has been red hot. If they wanted to challenge A-Rod with one pitch (which they did, and he fouled it off) then give him nothing else, i’m definitely ok with that. Then Robbie had a great AB and lost the battle. We had it in our hands, and it was because we took what they gave us and all we needed was one more hit. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

      If all was equal, I see both sides of the argument. But in last night’s case, I think Alex did the right thing and took what the pitcher gave him…which was one good pitch to hit, and a walk.

    3. YankCrank
      June 18th, 2009 | 11:11 am

      And let’s be honest, with the way Alex has been swinging the bat, would we all have really rather had him swing out of the zone on a pitch or let Cano have a shot at it? Alex is struggling so bad he can’t hit a pitch in the zone right now, and Cano can basically hit any pitch he swings at (whether that’s good or bad is another argument). I would have much rather taken my chance with Cano last night over Alex. I was happy when he walked.

    4. Raf
      June 18th, 2009 | 11:20 am

      FWIW, I uttered an epithet when Rodriguez swung @ the first pitch low and away…

      I am perfectly fine with a hitter taking a walk, if a pitcher is pitching around him.

    5. butchie22
      June 18th, 2009 | 11:21 am

      The good old days of Messer ,White and Scooter, those are some great memories. In the case of Arod, despite his hitting woes and such he got on base miracle of miracle. This was a case where walking (aka OBP) wasn’t as good as a hit BUT at the very least ,he didn’t strike out and there was a chance with Cano. I could chastise Arod for his lack of clutchness and the like BUT unlike last Friday he didn’t receive a gift from the so-called Baseball Gods so the walk was acceptable. The problem was from Robinson Cannot……

    6. YankCrank
      June 18th, 2009 | 11:32 am

      The problem was from Robinson Cannot……
      ——

      Robinson Cano is a tough player to criticize in that situation, to be honest. He had a very strong at bat in which he fouled away five or six tailing fastballs, all of which were 95+ mph. The double play was unfortunate, but it was a borderline pitch and it was hit really hard, just right at the SS.

      Honestly, I know it sucks losing a game to the awful Nats, but that 9th inning was executed very well by the Yanks. Leadoff homer, single, two stolen bases by Brett, Alex taking a walk that was given to him, then Cano battled with a big at bat and hit the ball really hard. Unfortunately, those hard hits sometimes go right at a player. He swung at a strike and hit it hard, how can we hate on Cano for that?

    7. Raf
      June 18th, 2009 | 11:38 am

      I was more concerned with not sending the runner, or Rodriguez not going when MacDougal wasn’t even looking @ him.

      Of course, he would’ve gotten his running in with all the pitches that Cano was fouling off, but it was worth a shot.

    8. June 18th, 2009 | 11:38 am

      @YankCrank -

      ever hear the expression that “In baseball nothing happens on average.”

      That’s my new answer any time someone mentions Win and/or Run Expectancy.

    9. Raf
      June 18th, 2009 | 11:47 am

      @ Steve Lombardi:

      That may be the case, but it’s human nature to remember Mattingly going deep, but not all the other times he made an out.

      Nothing may happen on average, but using average, there’s an idea of an outcome

      http://indiemaps.com/images/tedwilliams.png

    10. Pat F
      June 18th, 2009 | 11:50 am

      part of this too is that we’ve won so much late we almost just expect it. it really is incredibly even when we don’t win how many times we get the winning run to the plate/on base in the 9th.

      raf, couldn’t agree more on rodriguez not going. again, i wonder how much of this is him and how much of it is girardi. i hope girardi is sending him there and rodriguez just didn’t feel comfortable. either way, rodriguez has to be standing on second base in that spot. this has crushed us twice in the last three weeks (gardner not stealing in cleveland).

      steve – i may be mistaken, but didn’t you recently use WPA to try and make a point on swisher? pretty similar statistic…

    11. YankCrank
      June 18th, 2009 | 11:50 am

      ever hear the expression that “In baseball nothing happens on average.”
      —–

      I have heard that, and I was actually arguing against what the win expectancy %age said would have been best for the team. Maybe I didn’t make myself very clear, sorry, but what I was trying to say was even if the win expectancy dictated a hit or home run would have been better (again, duh), I was still happy Alex took what was given to him…a walk, because a hit would have meant taking the risk of swinging at bad pitches and Alex is having enough trouble hitting good pitches right now.

    12. Evan3457
      June 18th, 2009 | 1:03 pm

      OK…it has come to the point where we’re calling A-Rod a failure (or even questioning his actions, motives or character) for drawing a walk in the 9th inning of a game, a walk that represents the WINNING RUN ON BASE, and passing the baton the the team’s #5 hitter, who happens to be left-handed where A-Rod is right-handed (and facing a righty) and who happens to be as hot as A-Rod is cold, and despite his own failures in key spots, cannot be considered much worse in those situations than A-Rod himself.

      It’s time to STOP talking about baseball, and go read a book.

      Well, after the game getting underway as we “speak”, I suppose…

    13. MJ
      June 18th, 2009 | 1:13 pm

      That’s my new answer any time someone mentions Win and/or Run Expectancy.
      ——–
      Yet you’re happy to use WPA in your argument abotu Swisher a few weeks ago? Huh?

    14. Evan3457
      June 18th, 2009 | 1:31 pm

      MJ wrote:

      That’s my new answer any time someone mentions Win and/or Run Expectancy.
      ——–
      Yet you’re happy to use WPA in your argument abotu Swisher a few weeks ago? Huh?

      Not an argument.

      A criticism, an attack, a condemnation.

    15. June 18th, 2009 | 2:09 pm

      Hey, on the WPA thing…I’m learning and listening to you guys. And, trying to get smarter. But, instead of patting me on the back for that, you’d rather slam me for something that I did when I knew less…

      Wow. Very nice of you all.

      And, people like to piss and moan about me always being negative…

    16. MJ
      June 18th, 2009 | 2:36 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Hey, on the WPA thing…I’m learning and listening to you guys. And, trying to get smarter. But, instead of patting me on the back for that, you’d rather slam me for something that I did when I knew less…
      Wow. Very nice of you all.
      And, people like to piss and moan about me always being negative…

      I’m sorry you feel like I slammed you. I never saw you write anything about retracting or re-evaluating your stance on WPA/Swisher so how was I to know that you had begun to change your opinion on that topic?

      Pointing something out (as I did with an innocuous comment requesting clarification) isn’t slamming you but I’m sorry you took it that way.

    17. Pat F
      June 18th, 2009 | 5:52 pm

      in the same boat as mj. i wasn’t trying to slam you at all, just pointing it out. i hadn’t seen anything since your swisher post where you had mentioned reevaluating your stance on WPA, so i didn’t know anything had changed and thought the contradiction was worth mentioning.

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