Monday, May 02, 2005

Leading with your Gut

Last night's game was an object lesson in why "guts" are overrated in baseball. As we have seen over the past few weeks, many statements have been made how Frank "looks at the numbers, but is not afraid to go with his gut." I am now convinced that the only meaningful information to be gleaned from these statements is that "Frank never looks at the numbers, he always goes with his gut." Let's look at the various intestines of Frank and others last night:

Frank's Gut -- He orders an intentional walk of Valent after Patterson's balk, even though the count is 1-2. The numbers might tell Frank that getting one strike on a 8th hitter is easier than 3 strikes on a pitcher, and it would start the next inning with the pitcher, but hey, his gut worked that time. As Dexys points out, his gut says take out Carrasco, even though a double-switch could have worked. His gut says waste a pinch-hitter with a sac bunt. And it said leave Ayala in even though he didn't have it and they needed a strikeout.

Guzman's Gut -- Assuming his steal attempt came from his gut and not Frank's, this "gutsy" move was a real stinker. ERV shows you have to have 70% chance to make this worth it, and in a 3-3 tie in the Eighth, I would add a few more points to that. Given, as the announcers said, a lefty was up, which makes it easier for Piazza to throw, this should have put the red light on.

Eischen's Gut -- Joey showed a lot of guts diving for that ball, and it's hard to knock a guy for a good hustle play, except that in baseball (unlike, say, basketball and soccer) unmitigated hustle can be a bad thing. Even if Eischen gets that ball and doesn't break his arm, he has very little chance of throwing the runner out. The heady play was to let Castilla take a chance at it, and if he can't do it, then bear down and get the next guy -- because if you get the next guy out, you earn back the 0.39 RV the guy on first took from you. Losing a decent, lefty reliever ain't worth the 0.64 RV he was trying to save.


At 11:37 AM, Blogger dexys_midnight said...

Well, I can't fault Eischen for what was most likely a pure instinct play--different from a "gut" call where you actually have time to process information--but you are right on all other counts for sure.
I was completely incensed at that intentional walk when it happened for the exact same reason. You not only have a 1-2 count on Valent, but the guy was hitting .130! You are going to give a pass rather than pitching to him there? I mean seriously, Frank, look at the information rather than going with a habitual "you walk a guy to get to the pitcher" automatically.

And as we all know, the fact that he got out of that inning is irrelevant. As the old saying goes: "Never confuse the result with whether it was the right decision."

Using your gut to manage every decision in a ballgame? I bet Vegas would love to get Frank at the blackjack table--I have 14 against a dealer's 10? Hmmm, my gut says he'll bust. I'll stick. 20. Darn, my gut was wrong again!

At 2:56 PM, Blogger DM said...

You're right about the Eischen play being an instinct one, but one of the fascinating thing about sports is transforming reason into instinct, and being able to make the right judgment in an instant. Baseball is especially interesting in that regard, because the players have so much time to think and have to transition from thinking to instinct and back so often.


Post a Comment

<< Home