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.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
In the sixth inning, the Phils had men on first and second with two outs. The score was 5-3, and Mike Fontenot (career OPS vs. RHPs .755) came to the plate. Chase Utley was available to pinch hit, but, presumably, he was not available to play defense. As a result, Manuel was obviously holding him out for a PH spot when the pitcher was due to bat. Had Manuel thought outside the box, he would have been able to pinch hit Utley for Fontenot, and then double switch Utley out of the game. Polanco would have moved from third to second, Wigginton from first to third, and either Luna/Mayberry/Ruiz to play first (Ruiz can also play third). In other words, defensive alignment should not have been a factor into allowing Fontenot to hit in this important situation.
Fontenot's .755 OPS vs. RHPs is not bad at all, but Utley's .900+ OPS vs. RHPs is obviously much stronger. Yes, Utley is past his prime, but so is Fontenot.
Allowing Fontenot to hit with two men on base and only ten outs remaining is irresponsible when you have Utley, Thome, and Ruiz all still available. Manuel has no idea if he will ever get another chance to get the lead-run to the plate; with only 1/3 of the game remaining and three awesome options off the bench, you simply cannot forgo this opportunity by failing to pinch hit. Fontenot was hitting seventh for a reason. Naturally, Fontenot failed to reach base, and the threat ended with zero runs in.
Utley was later used as a pinch hitter with one out and nobody on base. The score was still 5-3. Nice work, Mr. Manuel.
Now, that wasn't even the worst decision of the game! In the bottom of the ninth inning, with the Phillies down 5-4, Jimmy Rollins led off with a single against RHP Joel Hanrahan. Alright! Not only do they have the leadoff man on base, but he is a stolen base threat. Guess what else? Hanrahan has allowed 31 stolen bases out of 35 attempts since he converted to a reliever in 2008. That's an 88% success rate. Rollins, of course, has been well over 80% for his career. So, Rollins is going to run early in the count, right? WRONG. You clearly do not know baseball. Instead, Baseball Man Charlie Manuel called for a sacrifice bunt from Juan Pierre (or, he didn't tell Pierre to not bunt; either way, it's terrible managing).
Pierre was "successful" in his bunt, moving Rollins to second base while getting himself thrown out at first. Pierre bunted on the first pitch; Rollins never had a chance to steal second base. When Rollins was standing on first base with nobody out, the Phils had a 44% chance of scoring in the inning. When he was standing on second base with one out, the Phils had a 40% chance of scoring. Manuel has consistently allowed Pierre to decrease this team's chances of scoring runs, and it's about goddamned time for it to stop. I don't care if Domonic Brown throws every ball into the stands after it's hit to him; at least he tries to get on base when he bats.
Since Rollins is a well-above average base stealer, and since Hanrahan holds runners on base very poorly, let's put Rollins's success rate at stealing second at a generous 85% (below Hanrahan's career number). If he decides to steal second base, there's an 85% chance he gets to second base with nobody out. In this scenario, the Phillies would have a 63% chance of scoring. As a result, the Phillies would have had a 54% chance (.63*.85) of scoring by simply deciding to send Rollins to second base. Now, it is possible that Juan Pierre reaches first base on an error or a hit if he bunts. However, he can still bunt after the stolen base. Unlike from first to second, you actually increase your chances of scoring (albeit slightly) when you bunt from second to third with nobody out.
Let's summarize: deciding to steal second base increases your chances of scoring by about 22%. Deciding to bunt decreases your chances of scoring. What did Manuel do? Well, if you're here, you know the answer. Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence were unable to drive in the tying run off an MLB closer. Just shocking.
Tomorrow the Phils head to the new hell-on-Earth stadium in South Florida when Cliff Lee faces RHP Josh Johnson at 7:10 pm.