Real Men of Genius, August 31st
Today’s nominee: Rockies’ manager Jim Tracy. Here’s the setup: the Rockies and Giants enter the bottom of the 8th inning tied at 2 after a home run by Melvin Mora in the top of the inning. Andres Torres leads off the bottom of the 8th with a home run, making it 3-2 Giants. After a Freddy Sanchez bunt single and a throwing error by the pitcher, the game state was as follows: no one out, runner on 2nd, 3-2 Giants lead. Joe Beimel comes in and gets Aubrey Huff to strike out. Good work so far by Jim Tracy. Joe Beimel then walks Pat Burrell intentionally.
Now, does this increase the chance of a double play? Yes. Does that in turn increase the chance of allowing no runs from this point forward? Yes. But it also increases the chance that several runs score. On average, the run expectancy for a man on second and one out is roughly 0.725 runs per inning. The run expectancy for runners on first and second and one out is 0.971 runs per inning. Those numbers are from the run expectancy tables published in The Book; for last night’s game, the numbers were 0.64 and 0.86 runs per inning, respectively.
So yes, the chance of getting out of the inning unscathed goes up, but you’ve given the offense a free runner on base. Obviously allowing no runs to score has a great deal of value to the Rockies in this situation. Giving up multiple runs though effectively ends the game. Now normally I wouldn’t get too worked up about this. Cody Ross was on deck for the Giants, so worse things could happen; HOWEVAH, if the Rockies didn’t get the double play, the Giants’ best hitter, Buster Posey, was on deck. Ross walked (love it when you get a walk right after an intentional walk), and Buster made them pay.
I like Jim Tracy. He got a raw deal in Pittsburgh, did a fairly good job with the Dodgers, and seems to run the Rockies well. This move, though, was not his best.