Thursday, November 19, 2015

From the Handbook: Molitor tactically, Part II

Part II of these managerial posts compared Paul Molitor to his predecessor. What about compared to the rest of the league?

Molitor was neither first nor last (with one exception) in any of the categories tracked by Baseball Info Systems. He wasn't often in the precise middle either.

He used 75 pinch hitters, for example; this is near the bottom of the American League in rankings, but almost twice as many as Kansas City's Ned Yost deployed. He allowed a starter to throw more than 110 pitches seven times; only Buck Showalter of Baltimore had fewer, but only three AL skippers topped 20. He used 124 different lineups; the league average was 128. (Yost used just 83, a remarkable figure for the 162-game season.)

I wrote the other day in some detail about Molitor's use of relievers on consecutive days; while he did that far more often than his predecessor, his 123 RCD was fourth in the AL and therefore not out of of step from his colleages. (The leader was Mike Scoscia of the Angels with 145; he had six relief pitchers he used on consecutive days at least 15 times each.)

Molitor's platoon advantage stat -- 59 percent -- was below average, but not close to the bottom. That was Brad Ausmus of Detroit at .47 percent; the Tigers had a very right-handed lineup. Five American League managers had lower platoon advantages than Molitor. Still, considering how often Molitor had at least two switch-hitters in his lineup, 59 percent is lower than I expected to see.

The one category in which Molitor was the trailer: he had the fewest "slow hooks" in the American League, with 27. My sense of the slow hook stat is that managers who rack those up have at least one starter they trust more than their bullpen who is nevertheless having a difficult year. Robin Ventura of the White Sox had the most slow hooks (66) in the AL; he had Jeff Samardzija. Ausmus was second (59); he had Justin Verlander pitching to a 6.62 ERA into July. Molitor trusted his bullpen more than those managers did and didn't insist on getting more innings out of, say, Phil Hughes.

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