Friday, October 4, 2013

Barmes Benched? Or not.

Per Hardball Talk, the Pirates are benching shortstop Clint Barmes today in favor of better-hitting Jordy Mercer

Except it might not be a benching. Here are the Pirates' NLDS starters:
A.J. Burnett 1.35 1.90
Gerrit Cole 1.01 1.60
Francisco Liriano* 1.06 1.52
Charlie Morton 1.78 2.74
League Average 0.86 1.17
Team Total 1.14 1.55
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/4/2013.

GB/FB is the ratio of ground balls to fly balls. (Baseball-Reference includes line drives as fly balls. Some other sites don't.) GO/AO is the ratio of outs on the ground and outs in the air.

There are two things you should get from this table.

  • First, the Pirates get batters to hit balls on the ground a lot more than the average NL team. This isn't a surprise, as I posted a couple weeks ago.
  • Second, Gerrit Cole, who's pitching today, and Francisco Liriano, who'll start Sunday, are much less dependent on ground balls than A.J. Burnett and Charlie Morton.
So taking the good-field no-hit guy out of the lineup in favor of the guy with more offense makes strategic sense when you're starting pitchers who don't produce as many grounders. I'd assume that's the case here.

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