Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Why Platoons Work

We sometimes get criticized because we only question Yost when his gut instincts are wrong. While that is completely incorrect, I figured today would be an excellent day to say the following:

Starting Bill Hall against righties is wrong.

It's a good day to say that because Hall has crushed righties the last two days, getting the "clutch" hit in each case off a right hander.

The decision to start him was still wrong.

Platoons work because you take two guys who could (if all pitchers were their opposites) start everyday and play them to their strengths. Generally, this leads to the two players in question getting close-to-regular at-bats and staying fresh. This not only gives you two players who are in the best position to succeed, but gives you two "starting" caliber pinch hitters on the bench who have been getting regular ab's.

Playing the hot hand negates this positive effect. By playing the hot hand, you necessarily prolong the bench time (and thus diminish the plate appearances) of the other. In this case, Branyan has gotten a scant 18 plate appearances in the last 14 days. The lack of work has shown, as The Muscle has struggled to a mere .690 OPS.

The case was no different when Branyan was first called up, and the Brewers faced a litany of right handed pitching. While this happened naturally as a result of the schedule, Hall struggled. In Branyan's case, the manager is potentially contributing the the struggle, which is unacceptable.

In baseball outcomes cannot be controlled, but situations can. By starting Hall against right handed pitcher, Yost is not maximizing the Brewers chances for success in the given situation. Regardless of the outcome, that is unacceptable.

Either stick with the platoon or trade Branyan for some middle relief. I demand his value be maximized!

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