Those Who Fail To Learn From History Are Doomed To Repeat It- The Story of Game Two of the 2017 World Series.
It was the right time to remove him, says baseball’s modern strategy. Proving baseball’s modern strategy stinks.
There’s a lot about the political and cultural divides in the country today, but what about the generational divide in baseball?
Modern-day analytics have diminished the role of the starting pitcher. And that has meant longer games, fewer stars in the game, and strategy that sometimes defies logic.
On Wednesday in Game Two of the World Series, Los Angeles starting pitcher Rich Hill is taken out after four innings in which he allows only one run in four innings and has thrown 60 pitches, 42 of which were strikes. He had allowed three hits and struck out seven.
But because he would have been facing the Astros for the third time through their batting order, Hill is taken out of the game.
The reason why is once a hitter faces a pitcher the third time, his stats go up. According to Michael Lichtman of Baseball Prospectus, a hitter facing a pitcher for the third time in the order has a .362 on-base-percentage, up from .354 the second time around.
Sounds reasonable. But then why don’t we take out the pitcher every time he goes through the order? Because the second time around a hitter’s on base percentage rises nine points from .345, an larger increase than the third time through the order?
We do that in the late innings, so why not the early ones? Why are they less important? Let’s have a 20-man pitching staff, eliminate the concept of a starting pitching rotation altogether and just go with the pitcher who has at least two days rest and the best stats against the opposing team because he’s only going to be out there for nine hitters, maximum.
Let’s go all specialization! Let’s bring back courtesy runners, not seen in the majors since 1950, as a nod to the “traditionalists.” Let’s adopt the designated hitter because we will have to totally eliminate any reserve players on the bench due to the additional pitchers the new way must place on a roster, much like how we now have 12 and 13-man pitching staffs whereas 35 years ago the Chicago White Sox and Tony LaRussa tried to go with eight (five starters and three relievers).
Pitcher retires all nine hitters he faces with seven strikeouts? Get him out of there! He’s nearly up to 50 on the pitch count and we want to use him twice more this week!
Owners will like this because they’ll be able to pay pitchers less money. Pitching will actually get worse because in this new strategy they won’t develop a third or fourth pitch. Nor will they have a bulldog mentality of “This is MY game and I’ll be damned if you take me out of it, Skip!”
Instead, we will have “Hey, I’m the best fourth-inning lefty on this team! I am the fourth inning! I’ll be damned if you take the fourth inning away from me!”
And all because somebody figured out, horrors, a pitcher will actually be less effective as he tires through the middle innings, but strangely not through the late ones, because hitters’ stats somehow go down the fourth time they face a pitcher.
But instead of realizing this is where we’re going with the absurd modern strategies of baseball, writers like Craig Calcaterra, who had a problem with the Atlanta Braves unfurling an American flag when they opened Sun Trust Park, are championing the removal of Hill after four innings, pointing to the third time around rule.
Other media types are blasting Steve Garvey- Dodgers Royalty- for suggesting the Dodgers played “Millennial Baseball” in Game Two.
They did, and look what it got them. They ran out of pitchers when the game went into extra innings and lost 7–6 to the Astros. The series is now tied.
And while Hill had faced just 105 third-time around hitters this year, it should also be mentioned batters are hitting .158 against Hill in those plate appearances this season. He’s actually been AT HIS BEST when facing a lineup three times through the order.
Back in 1981 the Dodgers were in the World Series and they won it in large part because in the sixth game New York Yankees manager Bob Lemon pinch-hit for Tommy John with two outs and a couple of runners on in a 1–1 game in the fourth inning. After Bobby Mercer failed to deliver, pitcher George Fraizer came in the fifth, promptly got bombed and lost his third game of the series, and after a Hot Stove League of criticism Lemon was fired 16 games into the 1982 season, never to manage again. The Yanks didn’t make it back to the Series for another 15 years.
Those who fail to learn from history are surely doomed to repeat it!