Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Tigers showed off the fruits of Jim Leyland's earlier decisions in Wednesday's game.

- With Chris Shelton unavailable and Dmitri Young released for "performance-related reasons", Sean Casey was replaced in the lineup by Neifi Perez.

Perez, besides having a legitimate claim to the title of worst hitter in MLB history, is clearly not even the best middle infielder on the team. Omar Infante started16 games at DH this year. Setting aside the idiocy of handing the DH spot to your backup middle infielder, it is clear Leyland knows the guy can hit a lot better than Neifi.

- With Joel Zumaya having been used to "protect" a 5-0 lead in the eighth inning yesterday, Leyland turned to inferior relievers Wil Ledezma (7-4 Tigers lead, sixth inning) and Jason Grilli (7-5, seventh inning).

Neither of these was an extremely critical spot, but consider the difference between the following situations:

- 5-0 lead, bottom eighth. A's score a run. Their win probability increases from 1.6% to 4.7%. If they go scoreless, it is reduced to 0.5%.
- 7-5 lead, bottom seventh, two outs. A's score a run. Their win probability increases from 14.3% to 27.9%. If they fail to score, it goes down to 12.7%.

If you're counting at home, this means preventing a run is worth nearly four times as much in situation 2, since you have cost yourself 15.2% of a win instead of 4.2%. You can talk all you want about establishing the tone of the series or picking up momentum by icing down the first game; the bottom line is that intangibles do not increase the value of your appearance by 260%.

Also of note is that Fernando Rodney and Todd Jones each pitched an inning despite having thrown yesterday. If Leyland feels this game was close enough to get two of his three best relievers in there, why not the best one? Is he saving him for later with a two-run lead, but not with a five-run lead?

It doesn't make any more sense than using the first-base spot in your lineup to bat the worst active hitter in MLB.

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