30 September 2009
Ron Gardenhire is generally regarded as a good manager. He is a likable man and a likable manager, but that doesn't mean he isn't second-guessed.
Yesterday, in both games of a crucial doubleheader, Gardy made some questionable decisions. From an ill-advised suicide squeeze to not bringing in Jose Mijares to face a lefty, Twins' fans are split on Gardy. Most like the man, some can't stand his managerial tactics.
It's accepted wisdom in baseball that left-handed pitchers perform better against left-handed hitters than right-handed hitters, and vice versa. There are obviously exceptions, however, and a manager's judgement is usually best, so I'll let this one slide.
But some claim the so-called "small-ball spirit" Minnesota supposedly possesses accomplishes as much as the War of 1812 and should be stopped.
Should the Twins "progress/regress" into more of a station-to-station team; being patient at the plate and waiting for the pitcher to hang a pitch that you could belt over the outfield wall?
While there are plenty of home-run hitting guys on this Minnesota team, patience is another matter entirely. The Twins average 3.87 pitches per plate appearance, with Joe Mauer and Nick Punto (!) leading the way with over 4.16 and Carlos Gomez and Delmon Young bringing up the rear with around 3.53. The league average is actually just 3.84, but the Twins would need more patience if they wanted to completely eliminate the bunting and sacrificing from their "playbook."
If you haven't read the classic book, "Weaver on Strategy," I highly suggest you do so. Originally written in 1984, the short book describes how Earl Weaver, who sports a career .583 winning percentage and 13 seasons where his Baltimore Orioles finished either first or second in their division, manages a baseball game. His biggest weapon? The three-run homerun.
Of course, in order for that three-run homerun to be your greatest offensive threat, you'll need quite a few baserunners in front of your power hitters. Not surprisingly, "only one Weaver team failed to receive more bases on balls than its opponents," according to the book.
Theoretically, how would implementation of this strategy work for the Twins? Would the lineup be order similar to, or very different from, what is generally regarded as a "solid" lineup?
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