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thinking about who comes in to play after a pinch hitter


Optimizing your bench - Case no. 97:

It’s the bottom of the 8th inning and we are down by two runs. The infielders on our bench are Derek Jeter and late inning defensive substitute Mark Ellis. Adam Kennedy – who was platooning with Jeter as our secondbaseman – is up, but a lefty reliever is on the mound. Billy Butler pinch hits. Derek Jeter, of course, comes in to play second base. In the bottom of the 9th, I need another pinch hitter for a left-handed batter. (It is Curtis Granderson who’s Scoresheet platoon disadvantage in 2011 is still extreme.) Mark Ellis is the last guy on the bench with a PH Rank vs. LHP. So, he gets used as a pinch hitter thus, through no fault of its own, the Scoresheet computer mismanaged Jeter and Ellis as much as it possibly could: Jeter is used for defence and Ellis is used for offence.

How could we manipulate the line-up card to handle this better?

A) No question I should have had more players available to pinch hit before Ellis, but due to injuries, a bad trade, and prospects not getting their call-ups, Ellis was who I was stuck with. Generally, I keep a deeper roster than most managers, so this situation is likely to happen to you at some point. Position player depth comes at the cost of bullpen depth and prospects, however, so choose your demise. Some conclude that prospects are over-rated, but they do make very good trade currency.

B) One could rank their defensive player (Ellis) higher as a player vs. LHP than the offensive player (Jeter), which in this case would make Ellis the platoon mate to Kennedy instead of Jeter. (Actually, since Ellis was traded to Colorado and began to tear up the N.L. in that thin air and the Mariners called up Kyle Seager to take over thirdbase from Kennedy, I made Ellis my every day starter. Of course, I missed most of Ellis’s first great week in Colorado, after which he went back to being a has-been Mark Ellis. So, I put Jeter back in the line-up vs. LHP hoping that Mike Trout’s call-up and Delmon Young’s return from the D.L. (see plan A) will prevent our needing Ellis as a pinch hitter.)

C) Another way around this is to give all your players involved a PH ranking. Of course, taking away your pinch hitting game is not worth avoiding this rare glitch.

D) From the Scoresheet side of things, I have always wondered if Scoresheet’s method of defensive substitution could be improved. Instead of listing the single defensive sub at each position, we could list the players who should come out for a sub – but that gets very complicated because you don’t always know what position a player will be playing. The line-up card could allow multiple entries for defensive subs at the same position, but even that is probably more complicated than the typical Scoresheet user would want. Neither change would fully solve this problem anyway.

E) The ideal solution from a user point of view would be to have the Scoresheet sim use the bench rankings primarily just for starting line-up substitutions. When a player comes in to play after a pinch hitter (which would still use the appropriate PH rankings), it could first check whether the defensive sub is available. I think that would be an easy fix. Next, it could check for the player who would make the best defensive sub by range factor. I don’t see Scoresheet’s programming god Dave Barton wanting to go that far as it takes some of the managing away and would be digging too deeply into the very well tested sim workings. In fact, I don’t think he’d even go for using the defensive sub idea, but I do think that is what we would prefer in more situations than not.

John Carter