Gibby Jumps the Shark
“I like everything about Wilkerson,” Toronto skipper John Gibbons said prior to Wednesday’s game against the Angels. “We’ve been winning with him in there. He’s a very good outfielder. He’s got a good eye at the plate.”
Gibbons is right about the fact that the Blue Jays have been winning with Wilkerson in the lineup, particularly when he occupies the leadoff spot. In games where the outfielder has served as the team’s No. 1 hitter, the Blue Jays are 5-3.
A winning record with a particular (currently worst on the team) hitter at the top of the lineup! Well, that’s just fucking scientific! I’m glad to see the team is putting so much effort into talent evaluation.
The Southpaw is all over this monstrosity, and I’m right on board with the last paragraph. There was a time when I had Gibby’s back when people ascribe him a ridiculous level of responsibility for the team’s play on the field, or play back every single move he makes with the benefit of hindsight (apparently Rolen should have bunted instead of striking out last night with runners on the corners. I’m serious). And I really do believe that the only thing more irrelevant and obsessed over than a team’s manager is the order of the lineup.
But even minutae can stack up when you do the exact freaking opposite of what you’re supposed to. And this shit about who you like and who “plays the game the right way” should be left to commentators desperate to fill air time.
Another one of my pet peeves is small sample matchup data. For some reason, while we’ve managed to swallow that when John McDonald hits .500 for the first two weeks of the season it does NOT mean he’s going to win a batting title because there is a serious amount of luck in hitting, going 6-12 lifetime against a pitcher (or something equally ridiculous) is enough to conclude that a batter has a serious advantage against that pitcher.
“The Book” does a great job of tearing this particular statistical myth down and showing why you need wayyyyy more evidence than you think of an advantage to mean anything. So earlier this week I almost cried when I read this:
Even with a left-hander on the mound, Shannon Stewart did not get a start last night, with Matt Stairs in the lineup against Jamie Moyer.
“We’re going with the guys who have hit Moyer,” manager John Gibbons said.
Stairs went into the game 10-for-32 against Moyer, including two doubles and two homers. Stewart, who came on for Kevin Mench in the fourth inning, is hitting just .238 with four extra-base hits this season but has been 6-for-22 on this trip.
Sigh…so forget about him the platoon advantage (which is really, truly, absolutely, real and very consistent among most players), evidently this particular lefty is no problem due to a statistical sample about as reliably predictive as a Ouija board. The result? A smashing victory for the forces of math and right. Stairs went 0-3 with 2 K’s against Moyer.
The trifecta was a few weeks ago when he sent Vernon Wells to second with nobody out and a man on third when they really could have used an insurance run. He knew it, too…
“Not a sound baseball move,” Gibbons said later, with a chuckle. “But then, these aren’t sound times, either.”
So bash away, Troglodytes! Make up whatever crazy shit you want about how Gibby’s pitching changes are the only thing between this team and the playoffs, maybe even throw in some lowbrow comments about his drawl. A manager who starts consistently breaking sacred rules of his craft is dead to me. (Not that there’s anyone better out there…)