Charlie Manuel frequently makes poor strategic decisions. The 11-million dollar scoreboard in left field would probably do a similar job. We guarantee a post analyzing Manuel's decisions for every Phillies game. Please click on our aliases below to email us.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
The Phils lost last night to Toronto by a score of 3-0, thanks to some terrible defense yet again by Mike Fontenot and Hunter Pence. Oh yeah, they didn't score any runs anyway.
With a game like last night's where the team is dominated by a pitching staff, it's tough for the manager to make a mistake. Charlie Manuel, however, made sure he was not blameless on the evening.
In the bottom of the 4th inning with one out and a runner on third base, Manuel decided to play the infield back, even though the Phillies were already behind by 2 runs. The Phils' offense had managed exactly zero runs through the first 44% of the game against a strong starting pitcher, but Manuel assumed his team would be able to score 4 runs over the rest of the game. Is this logical? Well, considering the Phillies are averaging 4.4 runs/game, their run expectancy over the next 5 innings is 2.4 runs. If you play the infield back and concede the run, you're asking your offense to overperform the remainder of the game. That does not even consider that the Blue Jays' pitchers last night were above-average.
Playing the infield back with a runner on third only makes sense when you are ahead by 2+ runs late in the game, or you are trying to prevent a runner on second from scoring. Last night, of course, there was no runner on second.
Naturally, the batter hit a weak ground-ball directly to shortstop, which certainly would not have resulted in a run scored had the infield been properly aligned. Instead, the Blue Jays scored a cheap run, Jimmy Rollins made the easy out at first, and Vance Worley and the Phillies did not allow another run the rest of the game.
The Phillies obviously would not have won the game last night anyway, but their limited offensive threats would have been higher-leverage had they kept the score at 2-0 the entire game.
Nice job, Charlie -- you prevented the Jays from scoring that fourth run.