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More on last night's game: when to pinch hit?

You know how hard it is to find a picture of Ryan Goins batting? This is from spring training. There are hundreds of him fielding.
You know how hard it is to find a picture of Ryan Goins batting? This is from spring training. There are hundreds of him fielding.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Not that it was the important moment of the game, and not that we would have won if Gibby had made the right choice but.....


Bottom of the 9th, down by 2, we need a base runner and we have the guy up who is (arguably) the least likely to get on base. Behind him we have Russell Martin.

Managers do this constantly, they won't pinch hit to get someone on base but they will pinch hit to get more of a shot at a home run. Buck Martinez explained it last night, saying that they needed to get someone on base because they wanted to get Martin in to pinch hit. Martin's OBP is much much better than Goins. Why not put Martin in the spot to get on base, or any of the other guys who were on the bench who were more likely to get on base than Goins.

This drives me nuts, managers have this blind spot that ignores OBP still. They think getting on base is totally in the hands of the pitcher, not the batter. I would have rather pinch hit for Goins and left Carrera in to bat. He's .333/.406/.444. That's not the guy, in that sequence, that I pull for a pinch hitter.

This is one of those old baseball truisms that I wish would die. We wait for runners on base before we pinch hit. We can see the difference between Martin's power and Carrera's power, but we ignore that Russell's has been getting on base at a .387 rate while Goins has a .275 OBP (and I'd guess that, by season's end, it will be lower). Why don't managers notice that?

If I'm playing OOTP Baseball, I'd have pinch hit for Goins (though I'd likely have pinch hit for Pillar earlier in the inning, as much as I thought his bunt single attempt was a good idea). Pillar isn't getting on base much better than Goins (though I think, in the long run, he'd be the better bet to get on).

Now, just to side with Gibby once, there was a point,, in the 7th, with runners on second and third, 1 out, and Thole coming to bat, where Gibby could have pulled Thole for Martin, but I wouldn't have done it. For one, we were in front. And the pitcher was right-handed. But mostly because it was the top of the 7th and we were giving Russell a day off. I'd rather not have him catch 3 innings of baseball, on a day off. One inning ok, 3 is a third of a game and I would rather give him more rest than have the slight advantage of him hitting in that spot. Thankfully Thole took a walk and we did score a run in the inning, though, as it turned out, more runs would have been nice.

Of all the things I don't know about baseball, one of the ones I'd like to know is: how much better batters hit with the infield in, as opposed to with the infield playing normal. TV commentators will throw out numbers, I often hear "batters hit 50 points higher with the infield in", but I think that's just a number they make up.

I hate the infield playing in early in the game. I think giving up 1 run early in the game is much much better than setting up the possibility of giving up many runs. But perhaps the advantage to the batter isn't as much as I think. If batters only hit 10 points better, we should play the infield in more. If they hit 200 points better, we should very rarely bring them in.

If I was a manager, I'd want to know that number.

Last night, we played the infield in twice (that I noticed). The first one with Aaron Loup pitching, runners on second and third, no one out. Of course, the ball bounces past Edwin, for a double (does Aaron get more cheap hits down the lines than anyone else on our staff?), two runs score and we go from tied to down by two. If he was playing back, I think (I could be wrong) that he makes the play and, likely, one run scores. Being down one run in the bottom of the 7th is much better than being down two, but then, I'd guess playing the infield in there was the right move.

In the 9th inning, Steve Delabar in, he's gotten a strikeout, and then walked two and thrown a wild pitch, so we have runners on second and third again, this time with one out. Preston Tucker hits a ground ball right at Devon Travis and a run doesn't score (thanks for swinging Tucker). Next batter, Jonathan Villar walks (on 6 pitches, without taking the bat off his shoulder) (slight exaggeration, he took the bat off his shoulder, he just didn't swing). Thankfully Jake Marisnick swung at everything and Delabar got out of the inning. Steve had only walked 1 batter in his three appearances before yesterday, so I won't get on him, but throw strikes.

Anyway, there are a lot of moving parts to figuring the difference in batting averages with the infield in. Generally, the infield only comes in if the pitcher is in trouble, so obviously he isn't pitching well. With the infield in, I'd imagine the pitcher is trying for a strikeout, so that would throw off the numbers too.