So Joe Girardi got blamed for last night’s loss for having A.J. Burnett intentionally walk David Murphy (.294/.455/.471 over 22 plate appearances) with 1st base open in the 6th inning, and a runner on base. Benji Molina hit a 3-run HR. The Yankees had been leading 3-2. Most stat heads and New York radio, TV, and internet personalities jumped all over this because they said Joe Girardi went against The Book. Well, which book? As far as I can see there are three books and a secret fourth book.
Book 1: The Traditional Book, also called the Cover Your Ass Book. This is the Old School Book passed down from years and years of doing the same thing. The MEDIA loves this book. It’s the book used in Little League and it contains axioms such as “Never Make the Last Out in an Inning by Stealing” and “Never Intentionally Walk the Tying Run With the Go-Ahead Run at the Plate”.
Book 2: The Stat Head Book. This is the up-and-coming book on the internet. Heck, the Hardball Times is actually selling it. Basically, Bill James- the great and wonderful Oz, said intentional walks don’t result in good outcomes most of the time. This book also says that A.J. Burnett’s failures against Murphy were actually an illusion because 22 plate appearances is a small sample size, and thus irrelevant. I believe you need at least 70 or so plate appearances to form a significant opinion.
Book 3: Tony LaRussa Baseball. This book values pitcher/batter matchups regardless of sample size, plus heavily values platoon matchups, including anticipating multiple pinch hitters and relief pitcher matchups. Very popular by managers because they try an emulate the great Tony LaRussa, these stats are what the managers today look at in their notebooks and binders in the dugout.
Book 4: Gut instinct, knowledge of players’ limitations and strength, creativity, and surprise. Some managers either don’t care what you think and will call untraditional moves, or like to stamp their own ego into the game.
Girardi violated Books 1 and 2, the most popular and respected books among fans and the MEDIA.
He followed Book 3 to the letter of the law, and used Book 4 because he had no faith in the relief pitchers, and felt AJ could get out of the 6th inning alive.
It still doesn’t explain the 10 runs the Rangers scored over 9 innings or the lack of Yankees hitting with RISP. It gives AJ the Free Pass ™ for giving up a 3-run HR.
Those who are going after Joe on this one are very frustrated and want an explanation for the loss, instead of just acknowledging what Derek Jeter has already acknowledged: the Rangers hit better and pitched better.
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