Thursday, August 2, 2007

Fun with Splits: The Good Stuff

Dave Roberts tells a story about Maury Wills. The story -- and I'm paraphrasing -- says that Maury was advising Dave on the life of a base stealer. There will come a time, young Dave, when you will have to steal a base. You will know it. Your team will know it. The opposing team will know it. 50,000 fans in the stadium will know it. And Dave -- said Maury -- you will steal that base.

Of course, this happened to Roberts, famously, in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS when he was with the Red Sox, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Life is a little different if you're Juan Pierre. Oh, sure, he has those base-stealing moments, and they're great. But I have never been more sure of anything in my life than last night, eighth inning, nobody out, Furcal on first, lefty Steve Kline coming in to face Pierre, that Pierre would bunt.

Pierre has been taking a lot of heat in this space over his bunting and his hitting against lefties and his hitting against the Giants in recent days. This seemed to be the perfect storm of outmaking.... but Juan beat it out. Juan beat that bunt pretty hard, but ran hard down the line, Vizquel rushed the throw, and before you knew it, Dodgers were on first and third with nobody out. Pierre would steal second and before long victory was at hand.

And Pierre had already had a good day before that; with a grounder to the right side and a triple, he got Furcal home twice.

1. RBI grounder to second. #351.
2. RBI Triple!
3. Grounded to second. #352.
4. Bunt single to short. Stole second. Scored.

First, let me call Juan crazy. What in the name of sweet baby Jesus was he doing bunting in that situation? The Dodgers needed two runs, not just one. If recent history is any guide -- and it is! -- Juan was likely to get thrown out in that situation, leaving Furcal at second with one out. That would not have been good for the Dodgers.

But all that said, he got it done. He beat the throw. I can criticize the method all I want -- and I will, because it doesn't pay off nearly often enough -- but last night he got the results.

* * *

In honor of his good game, here's some of Juan's good splits.

He likes playing against Washington (remember that three-doubles-and-a-triple game?), Cincinnati, and, shockingly enough, the Mets. Against New York, in 28 at-bats, he has an OPS of .938.

When he faces a pitcher for the fourth time in a game, he excells, batting .448/.448/.517.

He's also pretty good against those pitchers that ESPN has labeled "finesse pitchers." I don't know who these guys are, but in 24 at-bats against them, Juan is hitting a quite fine .375/.400/.417.

In 9 at-bats with a man on third (first and second empty), Juan is hitting a Bondsean .556/.556/.889/1.445.

Oh, and lest we forget: in four at-bats in August, Juan is hitting .500/.500/1.000/1.500.

* * *

Yesterday, Juan's OPS against the Giants was .444.
Today, it's .531.

What a difference a day made.


jimbilly4 said...

I watched that game, but didn't note how the Giants were playing Pierre. If Omar is back far enough it might not be crazy. It certainly wasn't a close play. That is what the good bunters do, they wait for the right alignment to drop a bunt. If you know you get on 40% of the time if the infield is set up correctly it is actually a very good move. It is not like he had much of a chance to knock in Furcal.

That being said I have felt that one of Juan's biggest problems this year is that he has been a bad bunter. He does not wait for the optimal bunting situations but just does it whenever someone is on base in front of him. Teams know that and therefore his success rate has plummeted. It is entirely possible
the Giants, despite all previous evidence to the contrary, really did not think he would try a bunt in that situation.

PS: I think Juan just got lucky, but just wanted to throw out the argument that bunting in that situation is not always foolish. It is just usually foolish for Juan to do it.

jimbilly4 said...

By the way, haven't heard from 71and91 for a while. Think he will post if the Dodgers win tonight? Only if the D-backs lose (returning the D-gers to first)?

Or is it possible that he has just run out of variations on "71n91".

palmerdodger said...

Jimbilly hates the Dodgers.
How are the A'd doing?

Juan Cruz for Brad Halsey. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Humma Kavula said...

I believe that Vizquel was, in fact, playing back on Pierre -- or at least playing normal depth. I'm glad that he was, because it worked out for the team I root for...

You say that it is entirely possible that the Giants really did not think that he would try a bunt in that situation. If that's true, they are stoopid and deserved to lose this game.

I think it is more likely that Vizquel misplayed Pierre. I think everybody in the ballpark knew that Pierre would be bunting, EVEN IF Vizquel had been playing on the grass. So why wasn't Vizquel playing on the grass?

So this is a chicken-and-egg problem. Pierre was going to bunt no matter what, which is stupid. Vizquel played him back, which is more stupid. Because Vizquel played back, attempting to bunt for a hit became a smart play. The mind boggles.

Oh, and jimbilly: I believe that you have been outed as a Dodger Hater. I look forward to the presentation of your Official Dodger Hater credentials. I believe that the membership card came with your season tickets.

jimbilly4 said...

Possible Explanations for Palmer Dodger:

a) Palmer is actually 71and91's name.

b) A reference to Anastasia Palmer, who does Group Sales for the Dodgers. She is the person you contact if you want to get married at Dodger Stadium.

c) The Palmer style of handwriting that appears on the Dodger uniform.

d) A reference to Jim Palmer, who pitched a shutout versus the great Sandy Koufax as part of the Orioles' 4-game sweep of the Dodgers in 1966.

e) Some sort of oblique reference to using your palm on your "Dodger" in a Pee Wee Herman-type manner.

Dodger Hater? Hardly.
Troll Taunter? Yes. And for that I apologize, but it was either that or get something done today.

Humma Kavula said...

Confidential to JimBilly:

If you're calling it your "Dodger," you're not doing it right.

Er, insert Giants joke here.