It's October, otherwise known as National Second-Guessing Month. Friday night, it was really easy to second-guess both Fredi Gonzalez and Don Mattingly. Saturday night, it was really easy to second-guess Bob Melvin, who apparently ordered Josh Reddick to lay down a bunt in the fifth inning, with runners on first and second and nobody out. I second-guessed the hell out of it; if you want to know how that went, just scroll through my Twitter timeline from Saturday night. But Mickey Lichtman, in his shiny new blog, makes a point that I completely missed: Even if Melvin had the percentages on his side -- which I really, really doubt -- the percentages almost certainly went away after Reddick took Verlander's first pitch for a ball. With the count in his favor, Reddick almost certainly should have been swinging away.
But you can read more in my tweets or in MGL's piece. Today I want to focus on something else that Mickey wrote about: Joe Maddon's strange decision to start Delmon Young in Game 2 against John Lackey, when Matt Joyce was available ...
With Young, TB has a 47.85% chance of winning the game. With Joyce, TB has a WE of 51.92%. That is a difference of 4.1%! That is enormous for one decision! If Mattingly gets lambasted for a .2% mistake (IBB’ing Reed Johnson to pitch to Heyward in Game 2 of their NLDS) , what should the reaction to Maddon be for something that is 20 times worse! To me, that is an instantly fireable offense! This is not like an errant IBB or sacrifice bunt here or there. Those decisions typically are worth less than 1% in WE. This is big time.
Plus, you can leverage Joyce if you start him. If a LH reliever comes in to pitch to him or is already in there, you can pinch hit a righty! Since Maddon is already playing Young against a righty, he is presumably there to stay against righty relievers as well!
I don’t like rooting against teams, but I really want Maddon to lose and it looks like I am going to get my wish!
Just one caveat ... If you fire your manager every time he does something that hurts your chances of winning by four percent -- mind you, we're talking about four percent on paper -- you'll run out of managers in an awful hurry.
Otherwise, I agree with Mickey completely. Delmon Young had a nice September for the Rays. That doesn't mean he's better than Matt Joyce against right-handed pitchers, unless there's really something wrong with Joyce. And if there's really something wrong with Joyce, what's he doing on the roster? If there's really something wrong with Joyce, why didn't the Rays pick up a left-handed hitter for the stretch drive and the postseason? Because, you know, there are more right-handed pitchers than left-handed pitchers?
I didn't understand why the Rays wanted Delmon Young in the first place, but I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt because they've earned it. Joe Maddon's taken it too far, though. I still think he's a great manager, but that doesn't mean he's not capable of the occasional big bad mistake. Obviously.