## Linkin' Ballpark: The Probability Of A Manager Considering Probability Edition

During yesterday’s Colorado Rockies / Philadelphia Phillies game, Colorado starter Jorge De La Rosa was due up in the top of the eighth inning with one out and Ryan Spilborghs on first base with the score tied at one. Rockies manager Jim Tracy let him hit, calling on the pitcher to attempt a sacrifice bunt.

It worked. De La Rosa got out, but Spilborghs advanced from first to second. Unfortunately for the Rockies, Dexter Fowler, at the top of the order, struck out to end the inning.

The Book blog highlights this situation asking how bad would Colorado’s relievers have to be to justify this move. In order to find out, you’d have to first calculate how much your win or run expectancy would increase by having a pinch hitter bat in place of De La Rosa, and then look at the expected difference in win or run expectancy by having a reliever replace De La Rosa before he goes through the Phillies batting order for the third or fourth time.

You can learn in the comments section that it wasn’t the brightest of moves by Tracy. Even taking the leverage index into consideration, a reliever would have to be about one run over 9 innings worse than De La Rosa to justify keeping the starter in the game.

However, what I’m most interested in is another comment in the thread from the author of the post.

Now, some people will say that you want to show your confidence in your starter and that is why you take him out.  I have no problem with that logic, however…

In order to incorporate that into the decision-making process, a manager would have to know 1 and 2 above.  He would have to know something like, “If I leave him in, I am giving up maybe 2 or 3 one hundreds of a win.  Is that worth it?”

If the answer is still yes, then fine.

I think this describes my thoughts on managerial decisions very well. I have no problem with a manager going against what the numbers suggest would be the right outcome from time to time because he’s much closer to the situation with the individual players, and hopefully having some understanding of what they’re capable of in any given situation at that time. I get that there are unquantifiable aspects of the game.

What I do have a problem with is that managers are making decisions without even the slightest bit of curiosity for the statistically likely outcomes.

I know I’ve written this before, but it’s hard to imagine another profession in which one could be allowed to show a blatant disregard for measuring likelihood, but actually be celebrated by critics, or reporters in the case of baseball, for not letting probability govern your decision making.

For the record, De La Rosa gave up the winning run to the Phillies in the bottom of the eighth inning.

And The Rest

With all of the questions over the last week about Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada’s age, it seems only fitting that Mariano Rivera would blow a save opportunity last night. Cue stories with headlines such as: Mariano Rivera . . . The Weakest Link?

Mark Teixeira will always love Baltimore. It’s probably the smell of hot dogs on the field.

And you thought the Yankees were showing signs of the lack of depth to their starting pitching by merely considering Kevin Millwood? Well, the Red Sox are now thinking about him, after the Yankees bid him adieu.

Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra uses PETA ranking baseball teams by their vegetarian food as an excuse to write an amusing anecdote about his encounter with the activist group.

Quick question: What’s more shocking: that Nate McLouth hit three sacrifice bunts in one game or that Nate McLouth is batting second in a Major League Baseball lineup?

Is it a coincidence that the San Diego Padres find their bats going cold whenever they play in their home stadium?

Do not expect to see Bryce Harper in the Major Leagues this season, unless of course, you’re really into setting yourself up for disappointment.

There were five shutouts pitched last night but I don’t think any were as impressive as Jake Peavy’s.

The Baltimore Orioles will get as much out of Randal Simon as they can.

K-Rod? More like \$-Rod. Amirite?

Philadelphia Phillies trade speculation is brought to you by Carlos Beltran’s availability and hysteria.

Finally, the Giants may consider moving Aubrey Huff over to third base so that they can recall Brandon Belt from Triple A. It seems crazy, but can it really be any worse than Huff in right field or at first base?