These words were spoken by a manager in his post-game interview last night after he pulled a struggling star player for a pinch-hitter in a RISP spot,
“It’s one of the worst things you can do as a manager—pinch-hit for a star, especially one of the elite power hitters in the game. But my job is to try to win the game.”
It really does not matter which former World Series manager spoke those words above as that should be universal among all managers in that same situation. It worked out for the manager as the pinch-hitter came through and singled home a run and kept the line moving.
The player who was pulled for the pinch-hitter responded in the post-game with these comments,
“That’s the first time I have ever been pinch-hit for. I always think I’m the best choice. I think everyone in this locker room does. But he’s the manager, and I respect his decision. It is what it is.”
Now here is the situation with Dusty Baker from last night regarding whether he should have pinch-hit in the 8th inning in a 1-0 game for his struggling hitter (Danny Espinosa) with the best contact hitter in baseball (Daniel Murphy .347 BA) who happened to be available for a pinch-hitting situation when one of the worst contact men in baseball was set to hit with runners on 3rd and 1st and 1 out.
Yes, we knew Daniel Murphy was available last night to pinch-hit as he would pinch-hit one spot too late. The Nationals did not even need a hit to score the tying run, just a productive out to score this run. Danny Espinosa struck out and statistically that surprised nobody as Espinosa is 4th in the NL with 158 strikeouts. Yes, Espinosa homered the day before, but he was not facing Jose Fernandez who is the best pitcher in his home park in the Majors and leads the Majors in the K/9 stat:
As for the strikeout of Espinosa, Jose Fernandez threw him 2 dead-red fastballs that Espinosa could only foul off, then he struck him out on a pitch that was not even close to the strike zone.
Here is what Dusty Baker said after he was asked by the media about his thinking behind batting Espinosa,
“Dead air space…………….”
Baker said nothing because Baker was never asked the question by the assembled media.
Not every move by a manager will work out even when the odds are increased by statistical probability. That is what makes baseball such a great game, but the manager’s job is to win the game.