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Gaby as an everyday player (for now)? And what if Matheny improves?

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BRADENTON, Fla. –  Neal Huntington suggested on Sunday it remains possible the Pirates find a left-handed hitting complement for Gaby Sanchez. I don’t think Jose Tabata or Vin Mazzaro are going to be the pieces that accomplish that but stranger things have happened. The Boston Globe suggests Mike Carp is a target. I reported back in December the Pirates had some interest in Ike Davis, though Davis is sidelined with an injury at the moment likely delaying his move. The search continues. But it could continue until after Opening Day. So until then what should the Pirates do?

The Pirates want to find out if Andrew Lambo can play. I think he’ll be on the 25-man roster. But this is not a team in development mode. At this point can the club justify giving him the lion’s share of plate appearances in a platoon? He’s unproven and he’s in the midst of an awful spring.

What perhaps makes the most sense with the present roster makeup is starting the season with Sanchez receiving the majority of work at first base.

How does this make sense you ask? Have you seen Sanchez’s platoon splits over the last two years? Yes, I’m quite familiar with them and they are extreme.

But perhaps they are so extreme because Sanchez is a platoon player.

Perhaps becoming a platoon player is also a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps it makes splits even more extreme.  Sanchez’s theory as to why he’s been poor against right-handers the last two seasons is this: he hasn’t seen many of them.

“I don’t think players lose skills (in a platoon), but you still have to train your body, you still have to train your swing,” Sanchez. “It’s tough when you’re in a platoon role and all you’re doing is facing lefties, and then in that eighth and ninth inning … you are facing your one righty every third day. It’s not an easy thing against a guy who is throwing 97 mph in the eighth and ninth inning.

“You’re not seeing the arm angle. You’re not seeing the arm action on a daily basis. It’s tough.”

A convenient narrative?

Perhaps. I thought so initially … but his numbers back up the story.

Sanchez’s numbers against right-handers:

Team                       Year PA OPS

Marlins                 2010 479 .742

Marlins                  2011 503 .742

Pirates/Marlins 2012 215 .577

Pirates                   2013 196 .619

More work might him better against RHPs. I mean this is pretty logical on the surface. The question then is, is an improved Sanchez better against RHPs than Lambo?

Can Lambo better a .742 OPS against right-handers? Sanchez has proven he can reach that level. Maybe he can again.

Who’s on first? Maybe it should be Sanchez. Maybe he can be better against right-handers, maybe he can be competitive against them if he simply sees more of them.

 

UH-OH NL CENTRAL, WHAT IF MATHENY IMPROVES AS A MANAGER?

StL Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz notes today some areas in which  Cardinals manager Mike Matheny can improve … and one of them is defensive shifts.

The Cardinals’ one glaring weakness is defensive inefficiency and if they close that gap up they could be a 100-win team. Keep an eye on this early this season.

- TS

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Comments

  1. NMR says:

    From the start, a pure platoon – Lambo getting every at-bat against RHP, Gaby getting every at-bat against LHP – has been an assumption made by people outside the Pirates organization more than something the Pirates themselves have said or alluded to.

    For one, 64% of Gaby’s attempts as a Pirate have come against RHP. They clearly aren’t afraid to use him in that role.

    Second, they’ve said they want to see if Lambo can hit. Lambo hasn’t shown a platoon split as a minor leaguer, so why would the organization immediately limit him to one as a pro? Regardless of position, Lambo has to hit against lefties to know if Lambo can hit lefties. Seems rather obvious.

    Third, Gaby does not have to hit as well as Lambo to be the better choice at 1B. One can reasonably assume that his defense will be better than Lambo’s, likely appreciably so. Defense still counts in real baseball.

  2. MorselPix says:

    Would like to buy in to that narrative, but the truth is, Gaby has faced far more right-handers in 2012-13 than left-handers (365 vs. 198 AB’s), and delivered a robust .205 batting average. That’s not “one right-hander every third day.”

    I am skeptical of the cherry-picking philosophy of the platoon. There’s great value in allowing a player to get into a routine and hopefully a good groove. But as you say, Travis, the Pirates are not in development mode. Giving Gaby the job full-time seems like a bigger gamble than Lambo.

    I like Carp.

  3. NMR says:

    How does the total number of at-bats prove the distribution, Morsel?

  4. Gaby Sanchez’s comment make little sense. He had more ABs against RHP last season than vs LHP. Why can he stay sharp in 125 plate appearances against southpaws but 190 PAs against righties isn’t enough?

  5. NorthPirateFan says:

    Anyone arguing FOR Sanchez being given the chance to be the everyday first baseman is ignoring several pertinent facts. First, the Pirates already did try it last year in the early part of the season and it was a disaster. As NMR points out 64% of his appearances as Pirates have been against RHP making the argument that he hasn’t hit RHP well because he doesn’t face RHP bogus right out of the gate.

    Second, some people seem to be misusing words to make their case. Hitting “better” is not the same as hitting “well” so while it maybe accurate to say Sanchez hit “better” in the past the numbers he put up are utterly unacceptable for a first basemen even at their best. Again, as I’ve pointed out before, given that in any typical season a full time hitter will face RHP about 80% of the time, even if Sanchez could return to those levels that’s a whooooooole lot of really poor results for a team whose offense can not afford them and that leads to …

    Third while Sanchez did hit RHP “better” but not well in the past, he did so outside of PNC Park. His numbers at PNC last season, which include his excellent work against LHP, were similarly unacceptable for a first baseman coming in with a .752 OPS. I don’t have access to more detailed breakdowns but I’d wager that if we look at Sanchez’s performance against RHP at PNC they are by far the worst of a bad set of numbers and anyone hoping for him do better while playing in a park that bleeds power from guys just like him is fooling themselves into believing what they want to believe.

    And last, while I get that everyone is into the hopelessly unmeasurable value of defense these days the idea that defense at his first base is valuable enough to look past terrible offense for the position is just silly. I can begrudgingly accept that at some positions, SS CF etc, some offensive output can be surrendered for defensive superiority. The idea however that defense at the least important defensive position on the field is worth that much … that’s about as anti-Sabermetric as it gets these day.

    My big fear is that if Sanchez gets the bulk of the plate appearances to start the season again, the insane pitching the Pirates benefited from last year won’t be there in 2014 and by the time the Pirates realize the mistake they made the season will all but be out of hand.

    Also, this whole argument serves as further evidence that despite Clint Hurdle’s talk of adopting new ideas, he really hasn’t bought into objective analysis as much as he claims. Like Barmes before him, Sanchez has been one of Hurdles favorites since the Pirates acquired him and has been trying to install him as the regular first baseman since day one despite all the evidence of what a mistake doing so is. This time around I don’t see a pitching staff that will bail Hurdle out of his numerous poor choices on the offensive side of the game.

  6. NMR says:

    Again, how does the total number of at bats say anything about the distribution?

    And as for how he stays sharp against lefties, nobody is saying that he is equally talented batting against each type of pitcher. He is clearly better against lefties.

    The question is whether or not he can return to being average against righties, which he was for two full seasons.

  7. Andrew says:

    This is quasi-relevant to the blog post but if there is one thing that I find aggregating is that when looking at platoon splits people assume that the split is automatically is a skill, the St Louis writer does that in his article is discussing Shane Robinson and his apparent reverse platoon split, which is based on 200 and 180 PAs, saying Matheny should not use Robinson against LHP as a pinch hitter.

    If your predicting or projecting splits the accepted method is to regress the split against the league average, with the amount of regression determined by the number of PAs against same handed pitching. Now this involves some algebra which can be difficult so I think it is better to look at a player’s career split and understand sample size (end rant.)

  8. NMR says:

    Fine post, North, but you’ve completely ignored the blog topic Travis presented.

    Read the title again: “Gaby as an everyday player (for now)?…”

    Read the last sentence of the first paragraph: “So until then what should the Pirates do?”

    Finally, well, yeah, this one is pretty self explanatory: “The question then is, is an improved Sanchez better against RHPs than Lambo?”

  9. Andrew says:

    I agree with this North, I always wonder where the causality lies in platoon skill, I think it is plausible that Sanchez has gotten worse with less practice but .740ish OPS from a first basemen is below average for his position, so that sort of justifies the decreased opportunity.

    If you regress Sanchez’s spilt he would be projected to hit at .309 wOBA level against RHP, coincidentally his career average, so .700 OPS, I think that set a fairly low bar for Lambo or another left handed hitter to surpass.

    Defense certainty can be measured, more complex phenomena have been measure we’ve discover gravity ripples from less than a trillionth of a second after the big bang. However, I agree defense is less important at first.

  10. NMR says:

    Very much agreed.

    I think sample sizes, in general, are the biggest error people make when looking at splits.

    Gaby Sanchez has had less at bats in the last two years against righties than James Loney had in 2012 alone.

  11. Gaby’s ABs against RHP came in 96 games last season. ABs against LHP came in 64 games. Does that say anything to you about the distribution?

  12. Jim S. says:

    I think maybe everyone agrees more than we are giving one another credit for in this discussion.

    Gaby does not appear to be the definitive answer for 500+ ABs vs. RHP as our 1b. We should expect more than .740 OPS from our 1b. I would also say that Gaby turned 30 in Sept, and is a few years removed from hitting RHP even moderately well. I don’t think he will automatically get better with more ABs vs. RHP. I also don’t see anyone here saying that he definitely would improve.

    At this point, it may very well be that Gaby is the best option the Pirates have vs. RHP. That is why Travis and NMR have said “for now.” For now implies to me “until we find something better or until he shows he can do better.”

    I believe the Pirates should continue to explore LH-hitting 1b options, and I also believe they are doing that. It may have something to do with them floating the notion that Snider, Mazzaro and Tabby are all being considered for trade. We probably need a back-up catcher, but we also appear to still need someone we can trust with 500+ ABs vs. RHP as a 1b.

  13. Jim S. says:

    Oh, and Matheny can get better with shifts. But, he will still have Holliday in LF and Craig in RF a lot.

  14. Jim S. says:

    Agreed, but where are you drawing the line? He has had 409 PAs vs. RHP over 2012/13. What is the magic number where sample size is relevant?

  15. Jim S. says:

    Ok, now my brain really hurts, Andrew. :-)

  16. Andrew says:

    This is a good summation.

    With sample size larger is always better, there is no one point, the size of sample determines how much you regress toward league average, at least that is my understanding from reading people much smarter than me that do baseball analysis for a living

  17. FWIW, most ratios in hitting stabilize at samples sizes of 200 PA or less. K%, BB%, contact rates, line drive %, and GB% are all stable at 200. Avg and slugging take a while to stabilize because BABIP and HR/FB rates are highly volatile. But 200 PAs is a pretty good size to know what a hitter is at a given point of time.

  18. Nate83 says:

    There are a lot of variables involved here. Including how many of those 409 at bats came with him coming in as a defensive replacement and getting just one at-bat in the game. How many at-bats where in back to back games against right handers.

    If he can get back to his 2010,2011 stats against right handers I do think it would outperform Lambo and a majority of the trade targets we have been talking about. I know there is no guarantee he can get back to that but if Lambo is just horrible I’m willing to see what Gaby has to offer for 30 games or so before hitting the panic button.

  19. Nate83 says:

    In 2010 and 2011 he had OPS of .779 and .788. What can we get that is available to trade for that dramatically improves that. I see a lot of inconsistent players but not many guarantees. At what point does a player have to become platooned. Logically you can argue the entire starting infield should be platooned. You don’t have enough roster spots do that and it better be a dramatic improvement to warrant taking up a roster spot. NMR did a good job of pointing that out yesterday.

    The best solution is to get a legitimate first baseman that actually has put up good numbers consistently for at least a couple years and have Gabby as the backup getting 150 at bats a year. The only name I’ve heard mentioned even close to that is Adam Lind. Nobody being talked about is consistent enough to get 500-550 at bats and be what we expect from a first baseman. It’s not that I love the idea of Gabby getting those 500 at bats it’s more that I don’t see another option that excites me. Josh Bell please work through the system quickly and become a first baseman so we are not having this conversation in 2016.

  20. Jim S. says:

    Thanks, Hidden. I honestly don’t know, which is why I asked. Gaby has basically had 200 PAs vs RHP the last 2 years.

    Nate makes a good point that when the PAs occur. If a guy plays everyday for 50 games, then never plays again, I suppose that is different from getting 7-8 PAs every week all season.

  21. Andrew says:

    Hidden I disagree with this characterization, there is no inflection point when a sample becomes stable, larger is always better, and line drive rate does not stabilized around 200 PAs, maybe you meant FB%. I certainly agree that strike outs, and walk are more informative in smaller samples, I just do not like the idea that there is one point when a sample flips from unreliable to reliable.

    In terms of splits you regress %50 to league average split when a LHH has 600 PAs against same sided pitching, or RHH 2200 PAs, if a hitter has less you regress more.

  22. Jim S. says:

    I hear you about 2010/11, Nate. But, in 2012/13, he performed far below that in 400+ plate appearances. If I really was confident we were going to get .780 OPS, I’d say call off the dogs, save the roster spot, give him 650 ABs. Do you think Huntington and Hurdle believe that is what we will get? I don’t.

    In 2012/2013, we got:

    2012 – .566 (215 plate appearances)
    2013 – .619 (194 plate appearances)

    That averaged out to about .590. Let’s say he gives us .600 OPS in those 500+ plate appearances vs. RHP. Can somebody smart tell us how many less runs that will lead to vs. a guy that gives us .750 (which isn’t even good)?

    I think they are talking a big game about Gaby hitting vs. RHP, because that is what you do when you don’t want to seem panicked. But, I believe they are working toward finding someone else. And, as much as we all agree ST stats don’t reallly matter, how a guy looks at the plate in ST when he’s a rookie who also happens to not have supple hands probably does matter to a GM with a team that is expected to contend.

  23. Gaby Sanchez would have more ABs against righthanders if he earned them. Very simple.

  24. Travis,

    You were not here at the beginning of last season, but Gaby Sanchez had a hot Spring Training.
    Although the Gaby Sanchez/Garrett Jones platoon was supposed to be the play, right field was a mess.
    Gaby Sanchez started the year playing every day, against righties and lefties, with Garrett Jones mostly manning right field. It appeared Gaby had earned the playing time at 1st Base (except, as National Mart of Records likes to intone: Spring Training stats mean nothing!)

    After Gaby hit at or below .100 for the first 10-14 games, Garrett Jones was back at 1st Base against righthanders.

    Fool me once: shame on you.
    Fool me twice: you won’t get fooled again (according to George Bush) or:
    Fool me twice: shame on me.

    That’s a scary and already failed badly possibility you are proposing.

  25. Jim S. says:

    Group question (off topic):

    I am in a HR pool. We pick one guy each from 8 groups of players that are projected to hit similar #’s of HRs. We get credit for the amount of HRs our guy in each group hits during the year, and our total score is the amount of HRs of all of our guys added together. So, it is strictly about HR and nothing more.

    One group has Prince, Longoria, Pedro, Joey Bats and Goldy. I have to pick the one guy who I think will hit the most HR. Who would you pick? I am down to either Pedro or Goldy.

    Another group I’m struggling with has Ortiz, Tulo, Harper, McCann, and Pujols. I’m toying with going with Harper there. I think he may have a monster year.

    How about Votto, Justin Upton, Puig, Cespedes, Rosario?

    Ok, one more. Beltre, Bruce, Abreu, Car-Go, Adam Jones. Who would you pick there?

    Would love to have everyone’s choice in each group.

  26. JohninOshkosh says:

    Interesting about Matheny. I am of the school that teams should employ a “defensive coordinator” coach in the dugout. A guy sitting there with a tablet to monitor defensive positioning. A lot more to it these days than morning notes and what kind of pitch the pitcher is going to throw. Way more statistical information available-far more than a manager can keep in his head.

    Plus, I think one of the developments in baseball in the sabermetric era, is an appreciation for the importance of defense and defensive positioning.

  27. Jeff B. says:

    Jim-

    I’d go with Pedro, Harper, J. Upton and Bruce.

  28. Oshkosh b’Gosh,

    Imagine how much worse the Brewers would be if they had not been employing these defensive placements for the last 3-4 seasons.

    Hey, I think/fear the Brewers are going to real good this year. Their starting lineup has some pop, especially if Ryan Braun hits like last year pre-suspension, when apparently he was juice free. And they have Lohse and Garza to head up their starting pitchers.

    Not automatic losers like last two years!

  29. Nate83 says:

    I would go with Joey Bats, Harper, Upton, Car-Go.

    Bruce may be a safer pick to play the entire year and hit at least 25 in the last group.

  30. JohninOshkosh says:

    Yeah, I posted that thought about the Brewers last week. Not many easy outs in the lineup and a fairly solid top three in the rotation. As with most clubs, a lot of questions at 4 and 5 in the rotation and the bullpen.

    I think NMR projected a .500 club. That seems reasonable, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they climbed above that a bit.

    They will put runs on the board, though.

  31. I agree that more is better. A sample size is considered reliable when the correlation is .70, and many rates do get there well before 200 ABs. I believe you are correct on LD%. The early studies on that were wrong. I think when you look at samples sizes and reliability it shouldn’t be just to try an regress the numbers. I’m looking to see if a skill has changed. As an example, how many plate appearances do we need from Pedro to know if he is truly improving his K rates? If K % reaches a .70 correlation at 60 PAs that is good place to start. How has he done over his last 60 times at the plate? Are the K rates dropping? etc..etc..etc…

  32. Nate83 says:

    I’m a big believer in muscle memorization and repetition making a huge difference. I’m not sure he gets to that .740 playing everyday but I think he gets closer to that then the .590. I’m not saying it’s ideal but I’m really not confident any of the guys we are talking about getting can do much better and the last time I checked the Pirates are not trading for Prince Fielder like the Rangers did. I’m also factoring in that it was acknowledged that Gaby was not healthy in 2012 and he may be in the best physical condition of his career this spring.

  33. Jim S. says:

    I see them having a decent shot at going above .500, Groat. Bullpen is still a concern, and I also think their organization does not have a lot of arms to fall back on if a starter or two goes down. But, that lineup should produce runs. I could see them batting the Bucs all season.

  34. Jim S. says:

    Thanks, Jeff.

  35. Jim S. says:

    Thanks, Nate. Bautista is a guy I love, but he has had the nagging injuries the last couple of years. Durability is key in this thing.

  36. Nate83 says:

    I agree with both of you. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Brewers outperformed the Reds this year.

  37. Nate83 says:

    I thought about that especially with the Harper group because most of those guys have injury history. In the end Bautista is the only guy I think is capable of 50 HR’s. I think he can outpace the field when healthy by 10 HR’s. To me it would be worth the risk but that is just me.

  38. Andrew says:

    I agree, my point was academic some might say pedantic, I just know that I read more than a few baseball analysts who do not like the way the split half reliability studies were or are presented.

  39. Nate83 says:

    10-14 games? You are ready to write off a player batting against right handers after 2 bad weeks of play. I’m sure Cutch went through a 10 game stretch like that last year. Maybe even two of them. I know Pedro has more then a few of these stretches each year. Walker would have been platooned 15 times over his career using that sample size. If Lambo fails what options out there outperform what Sanchez did over his 2010 and 2011 years when he was a full time player?

  40. I haven’t picked my season records and standings in the Central yet . . . .

    . . . . but I am right now leaning toward picking the Brewers to have a better record than the Bucs.

    Bucs have lost Burnett, Byrd, Morneau, Garrett Jones, and Fort from last year, and their only two additions: Stewart is on his way to the Disabled List and Volquez is on his way to the Convenience List.

    At least Andrew Lambo is looking good in Spring Training [Spring Training stats don't matter, right?!] . . . .

  41. Nate83 says:

    Andrew are you using up your entire word of the day calendar in one day? Between pedantic and whatever you said about gravity ripples earlier today you are adding way to much intelligence to this blog.

  42. Andrew says:

    Bautista, Tulo, Rosario, and Bruce, but what do I know, if you are worried about Joey Bats, Goldy is a safe pick.

  43. NMR says:

    Great review, Jim. Don’t disagree with a word you said.

  44. NMR says:

    Now I don’t blame you for staying generic what-so-ever, but don’t we have to determine WHY his performance was so much difference in order to predict whether or not that will continue moving forward?

    Is it good enough to just look at results?

    I don’t think so.

  45. Jim S. says:

    I don’t think we’ll win 94 again. I haven’t really looked at the whole thing yet, though.

  46. NMR says:

    John, your mind is ahead of the times! The Nats just hired a defensive coordinator-type coach this winter, first in MLB history.

  47. Jim S. says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I think I’m going with Goldy and Bruce for sure. Tulo scares me because he always goes down for a significant part of the year. I like Rosario. I think I might go with him. Votto was not great with HR last year.

  48. Jim S. says:

    You’re right on Joey Bats. He can go for 40 in his sleep.

  49. Ghost says:

    I’d go with the guys just hitting their stride and still with the most upside.

    Toss up between Pedro and Goldschmidt
    Harper
    Puig (This group was hard, but who knows what Puig’s ceiling is!)
    CarGo

  50. Nate83 says:

    It tells me he had a lot of games where he either started against left handed pitching and faced a right handed reliever later in the game or possible came into a game the team was leading for defense and faced a right handed reliever. 196 at bat for the entire year spread over 96 games means he probably only had one at bat against a righty in more then half of those games. If he started 50 games against righties he that’s at least 150 at bats so he had 46 at bats in the other 46 games.

    So being conservative he started maybe 50 games out of probably 135 games against righties because the Pirates had very few games against left handers last year. He obviously hits lefties better and is a perfect platoon candidate. The problem is nobody the Pirates are targeting is a good platoon fit. At least not in my opinion. I think there is some upside to Gaby and he can outperform his 2012-2013 numbers if given consistent at-bats.

  51. Jim S. says:

    Probably not. If they can analyze Gaby and determine that they think he will produce as well as he did in 2010/11, then I can live with it. They know a lot more than I do by just looking at numbers.

    My concern with big platoon splits, though, is more on the righty hitter more than the lefty hitter. For instance, NW and PA are both pretty bad vs. LHP. But, at least we only see LHP 20% of the time. When a righty hitter can’t hit RHP, then we have an 80% of the time problem.

  52. Jim S. says:

    Thanks. I must have swerved into some logic.

  53. Nate83 says:

    Couldn’t it be argued that Fox is the Pirates defensive coordinator.

  54. Ghost says:

    Not sure about the Brewers, Groat. They might have more pop than us, but I actually think the Pirates’ O will be improved. Don’t know how 1st base will shake out for us, but I think will have double-digit HR production from every other everyday position on the field. Walker will have a higher BA than last year, and so will Pedro. As for pitching, we are deeper than the Brew Crew in every aspect.

  55. Nate83 says:

    Ghost I agree the Pirates have very good depth throughout the line up. I mentioned this last year. Top to bottom the team is a threat to hit a home run except for Barmes last year. Mercer even has the ability to hit 10-15. I think they finished 3rd in the NL in home runs last year and that was while playing at PNC park for home games. The best way for them to increase their offense is to strike out less and improve their RISP average. The strike outs may be a little harder but the RISP should be able to be improved.

  56. NMR says:

    Well, considering the internet is a thing, we can pretty quickly determine the sequence of events that ACTUALLY happened.

    Gaby Sanchez started the first THREE games of 2013, two of which were against RH starters. Only twice did he get more than three consecutive starts the rest of the season.

  57. NMR says:

    I mean, it certainly could depending on your definition of DC, but Fox isn’t actually in the dugout, involved with in-game decisions.

    The guy the Nats hired will be, from what I understand.

  58. Ghost says:

    Good points all. I became more sanguine about Pedro down the stretch last year when I saw the signs he was trying to use the whole field as well as did, in fact, bring down the strike outs. Lambo will still have a big learning curve in front of him, but as long as the team culture around him now is now dedicated to a more disciplined approach, Lambo too will benefit. Heck, it might even rub off on Marte.

  59. Nate83 says:

    I assume the Nationals will be using the same data the Pirates did to employ their defensive shifts. I have to imagine the data tells you before the game where to play certain players during certain situation and that is all part of the pre-game scouting report. I can’t imagine in-game decisions would come into play to often in terms of shifts. It should be determined well before the game. You only have 8 possible pitchers you can use and the other team only has 13 possible batters. Nothing should catch you of guard, anything you would need to know should be available in a binder with tabs for each player.

  60. MorselPix says:

    NMR, you’re right–bad writing. I should say, “You can’t accumulate 365 AB’s vs. RHP’s over 2 years facing them once (or even twice in a game) every third day.”

    B-R says he only started 60 games in 2013, and while I’m not going to look those up, I’ll bet nearly all were against LHP starters. So I’m starting to see how Gaby felt like he didn’t see righties on a regular basis. Still, he ended up with plenty of reps vs. righties in 2012-13. Don’t see why we can expect significantly better results in 2014.

  61. NMR says:

    Oh I certainly agree with that, Jim. But conversely, an improvement on the long-side platoon – which we’ll be hoping and praying happens to Gaby – has the greater impact.

    We know why Pedro sucks against LHP, he strikes out eleventy bajillion percent of the time against them. We know why Walker isn’t very productive against LHP, he has zero power from the right side.

    Not sure I’ve ever heard anyone come up with an actual reason Gaby’s performance has dropped so severely against righties, though. Any thoughts?

    FWIW, Gaby’s BABIP against RHP dropped 49 points – from .283 to .234 – between ’10/’11 and ’12/’13. Maybe there is a completely legitimate reason for that. But if not, man, theres a whole bunch of regression to be had right there alone.

  62. NMR says:

    “You only have 8 possible pitchers you can use and the other team only has 13 possible batters.”

    Nate, thats 104 distinct combinations. For each game. Without even factoring situation.

    Not sure you’re considering the amount of data that would have to be looked over, presumably by the manager, in order for your scenario to be realistic.

  63. Jim S. says:

    I believe the Pirates hit the most HR in the NL on the road last year.

  64. Jim S. says:

    Ghost:

    I like those choices, espcially Pedro and Goldschmidt. Can’t go wrong with either.

    Car-go had a nice year when I picked him last year. Harper looks like he could explode this year.

    Puig, to me, is a wild card.

  65. NMR says:

    That’s fair, Morsel. And I agree, we shouldn’t “expect” Gaby to get better.

    But as I mentioned to Jim below, before we say whether he will or not shouldn’t we first ask why? What caused that drop? And can it be fixed?

    Works the opposite way as well. Mike Carp, for example, was 51% better last year than the year before. Are we to just assume that will continue?

  66. Travis Sawchik says:

    Not saying I completely buy in, Morsel, but Sanchez would say platoon stats are misleading because he’s starting against LHPs and seeing No. 4, No. 5 type starters multiple times. Against, RHP he’s usually coming in for one at bat against a late-inning power arm.

    He only started 30 games against RHP last season in which he had multiple plate appearances.

  67. Jim S. says:

    I was going to point to his BABIP being unusually low vs RHP. I think it is only about .268 for his career against them. Again, I could be mis-remembering. I don’t know other than that. But, as for why his BABIP would be unusually low? Well, he’s slow as molasses, and that’s not good for starters. Maybe his LD rate is very low vs. RHP? I don’t know.

  68. NMR says:

    We need Andrew and his xBABIP calculator!

  69. Or more recently in 2012, when he performed so well for the Marlins he was sent to AAA for half the season.

  70. National Mart of Records,

    Are you sure about that? Dang, my wife must be right: I’m losing my memory and going senile.

    Wait! I don’t have a wife anymore!!

    I would have sworn Gaby started a string of games on that long western swing to start the season!

  71. National Mart of Records,

    You are right; I am wrong.

    Gaby Sanchez start 5 of first 6 games of 2013 season, two of those against righthanders. His average plummeted to .059.

    Gaby then started only 2 of next 11 games, both against lefties.

    I quit looking after 17 games.

  72. Steelkings says:

    Uh oh……Based on …Roll eyes….Spring stats…..the Pirates could care less about how Lambo hits against left handers. He only has 6 out of 31 AB’s against left handers this spring. Perhaps its only Ironic that he has a BA of .000 this spring against Left Handed Pitching. Its likely Ironic as well that he did get a hit in his only AB last year against lefty’s.

    ONE

  73. Steelkings says:

    No…The question is over value. Gaby hitting from both sides doesn’t cost you a prospect or a roster spot.

  74. Steelkings says:

    Not very simple. This is a case of “you made your bed now lie in it”. The BMTIB has gambled on Lambo since winter ball. Now their choices are three. Stick with Lambo, Go full time with Gaby, or go to an outside source. Gaby going full time is the lesser penalty for a Lambo failure. An outside sourse at this point not only cost them Lambo, but someone else as well.

  75. Leo Walter says:

    Jim,I am not sure if Matheny can figure out how to shift Peralta to cover his extreme lack of range.

  76. Andrew says:

    Nate, you are giving way too much credit; I saw that gravity quote from a random retweet on twitter, I needed an example of something more difficult to measure and pedantic is from a Family Guy sketch.

  77. Andrew says:

    The xBABIP spreadsheet is on a laptop I don’t have right now, but Sanchez has high pop up rates and it went up against RHP in 12, 13. I think it is typical to have a BABIP spilt to reflect a hitters overall spilt. In Sanchez’s case I think he struggles with pitches that break away which would lead to poor contact and the .268 BABIP.

    To be frank I think Sanchez is just a below average hitter that has one great skill, he excels at hitting pitches that run in on him.

    By the way Fangraphs just recoded their split data and it is fairly awesome.

  78. Nate83 says:

    A computer spits it all out before the game. All the manager should need to do is know how to read a table of contents. I really wasn’t trying to disagree with you that this guy is the first official defensive coordinator in baseball. I was just pointing out that the Pirates may already be doing this without giving a title to it.

  79. Nate83 says:

    Usually when Family Guy is involves somebody probably gave too much credit. I do give you credit for watching Family Guy because it is awesome. I catch it when I can when the kids are not within earshot.

  80. NMR says:

    I’ll be honest, my memory was much like yours. Surprised me how few games he actually started at the beginning of the season.

  81. Sanchez against righties:

    194 PAs in 96 games – or 2.02 PAs against RHPs in those games played

    Sanchez against lefties:

    126 PAs in 64 games – or 1.96 PAs against LHPs in those games played

  82. NMR says:

    Hidden,

    Could you maybe explain narratively what you’re trying to say?

    In a purely mathmatical sense, the numbers you’ve presented tell us nothing about how the at bats were distributed over time, which I believe was the point Travis made.

  83. Nate83 says:

    I’m not saying his splits don’t scream for him to be platooned. I just think his splits would be closer to his 2010 and 2011 performances if he had more consistent opportunities against right handed pitchers. Since the Pirates have not found a solution and all the options that have been rumored are not that great and don’t come for free I personally don’t mind giving Gaby 30-40 games to rediscover his 2010-2011 form.

  84. Nate83 says:

    Steel, I think you stated my side of the debate perfectly and much more simply then I have.

  85. NorthPirateFan says:

    The question itself is the problem as it is based on a seemingly false premise … that being Gabby Sanchez MUST be part of the answer to the first base problem in any fashion.

    Again, because it bears repeating at least until the Pirates (and Clint Hurdle more specifically) show they understand this with their play usage, any full time time hitter will see approximately 80% RHP and 20% LHP over the course of any season. Allowing your decisions to be dictated by the guy who only produces well in 20% of the expected chances is a bit myopic to say the least.

    Perhaps the best answer is that the Pirates should be looking for a full time player to replace Sanchez or a left handed version of Sanchez who will produce in the 80% of plate appearance and worry less about the 20% he might not.

    The Pirates are acting as if the “first base problem” isn’t one of their own making when in fact it is and only exists BECAUSE of the presence of Sanchez whom they acquired in the first place.

    It sure seems to me that Hurdle and Huntington are set on Sanchez being the first baseman and willing to jump through a bunch of hoops and contort themselves into awkward shapes to avoid the obvious truth: Gabby Sanchez is never going to be an adequate hitting first baseman on team that wants to contended and that is the real problem that needs to be addressed.

    Gabby Sanchez isn’t the solution to the problem, he IS the problem.

  86. NMR says:

    Oh, the Pirates should look for a 1B?

    Why didn’t anyone else think of that!

    Problem solved!

  87. The Gunner says:

    What a revelation from that North guy.

    Here is the bottom line: FOR NOW, Gaby will be the Bucco 1st baseman. Maybe he’ll platoon with Lambo or Ishikawa or maybe he won’t. Give it 6 weeks (if we can stand it that long) and see what happens. This should give you a pretty good idea about where everyone’s skillset is.

    Personally, I hope Lambo comes into his own and establishes himself as the man. He looked like he is coming alive in last night’s game.

  88. NMR says:

    It IS the first day of spring. Coincidence? Or coming out of winter hibernation? Probably a toss up. ;)

  89. The Gunner says:

    I think NH will go with what he has at 1B for a while before he makes any trades or major changes. I’m not a big fan of Gaby but, I hope he does OK – he does seem like a pretty nice guy.

    Also, there has been a lot of chatter about Tabata on these blogs the past couple days. Don’t know if you saw any of the game last night but, I couldn’t believe what great shape Tabby is in. He looked fairly chiseled last night and there was definitely no paunch around the middle.

  90. NMR, Travis said nothing about “distribution”. That was all you. The only thing Travis said was maybe Sanchez’s contention that more ABs against righties would make him better. My original point was Gaby is getting more ABs against RHP than vs LHP, and he is seeing them just as frequently if not more so. Why can he perform with limited ABs against LHPs but not vs RHPs? His performance has nothing to do with “rust” or lack of chances. I’m not arguing that his numbers won’t regress (or more appropriately progress) higher with more ABs. It probably will. But he will still be a bad hitter against RHPs because that is what he is.

  91. NMR says:

    You’re right, Hidden. I made the assumption that we are talking about the frequency in which Gaby starts against righties. Thought was was generally accepted baseball logic in these situations.

    And I’m not sure how one can come to the conclusion that he may regress toward the numbers he had as a full time starter while still claiming he will be a bad hitter, since he wasn’t.

    But I appreciate the reply, regardless.

  92. NMR says:

    Last night was my first look at these guys since October, and I agree, Tabby (and Snider) definitely caught my attention.

    Speaking of, did Pedro stand out to you at all? Whether real or perceived, he looked enormous to me. Not necessarilly in a bad way, either. I didn’t remember him being as thick in the shoulders and legs. Gotta be close to 250 lbs.

  93. The Gunner says:

    I didn’t notice much difference in Pedro. The game is on TV against the Yankees in on tomorrow night, I’ll have to check him out.

    I think Tabata might finally be starting to “get it” – so maybe we ought to hold on to him for a while longer & hope he doesn’t get injured like he usually does.

  94. NMR says:

    My wife didn’t, either. Must’ve just been me.

    And I agree with you on Tabby. Filling in so admirably during Marte’s injury (which unfortunately may happen more often than we’d like) earned Tabby a spot on the team in my mind. Glad to hear he showed up this spring ready to go.

  95. In person at Pirate City, Pedro looked 6-7 pounds heavier than last year.

  96. NorthPirateFan says:

    Well obviously they’ve thought about it but judging by the names that have been tossed around by the Pirates & media they certainly haven’t given it the consideration it’s due.

    Thus far virtually all the trade talk has been around player who are either only suited to be left handed parts of a platoon with Sanchez and/or long shots players who can be had on the cheap. The only named mentioned that MIGHT be a serious candidate to become a full time above average first base candidate for the Pirates is Justin Smoak and really it was brought up by local media as little more than some wishful thinking.

    If the Pirates do recognize the need and the proper way to address it, I certainly haven’t seen any indication of it this off season.

 
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