« Colby Does Not Love PECOTA | Main | Texas Rangers Prospects 46-54 »

February 02, 2009

Ron Washington Perplexes Me Sometimes

Per the Dallas Morning News,

The reality is manager Ron Washington believes [Josh] Hamilton is better suited as the No. 3 hitter, batting behind Michael Young. It isn't that Washington doesn't believe Hamilton can handle the cleanup spot. He just thinks Hamilton can do even more damage hitting behind Young and Ian Kinsler.

Numerous studies have shown that batting order doesn’t matter much. Certainly, the difference between batting Hamilton third or fourth isn’t huge. That said, if I’m the manager, I agonize over those decisions, because it’s my job to gain every possible advantage, no matter how small. No problem there.

Here’s the problem:

"The No. 4 guys gets off-speed stuff," Washington said on Monday. "Look back and Milton handled more off-speed stuff than fastballs. Hamilton handled more fastballs than breaking balls because they didn't want to put Hamilton on base and let Milton hurt them."

This is not true! Proportion of fastballs seen, per Fangraphs:

Frank Catalanotto 66.6%
Milton Bradley 65.9%
Ramon Vazquez 63.8%
Marlon Byrd 63.2%
Gerald Laird 62.2%
Brandon Boggs 61.2%
Michael Young 59.5%
David Murphy 57.7%
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 57.4%
Ian Kinsler 57.2%
Christopher Davis 55.3%
Josh Hamilton 53.4%
Hank Blalock 53.2%

Among Rangers with at least 200 at-bats, Bradley saw a greater proportion of fastballs than anybody but Frank Catalanotto. Hamilton saw fewer fastballs than anybody but Hank Blalock. Based on Hamilton’s playing time, the difference between him and Bradley is 328 fastballs, about two per game. That’s significant.

Again, it doesn’t matter too much. But I’m not reassured that Washington might be making batting-order decisions based on beliefs that can be discredited with just a little internet sleuthing. This isn’t the first time that he’s bewildered me.


Posted by Lucas at February 2, 2009 12:10 PM