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Monday, January 08, 2007

Pitching Change Platoon Advantages

As some readers may be aware the Cubs had a really really bad season on their way to losing 96 games. They gave up 834 runs, good for second worst in the NL in no small part as a result of 60 starts being given to pitchers who had never seen big league time before. By comparison Houston gave 44 starts to newbies, Florida 40, and Tampa Bay 34 while Cincinnati had none at all.

While that may bode well for the future as the Cubs will now have some experience at the AAA level (Sean Marshall pictured on the left and Carlos Marmol particularly) they can draw from, it resulted in 2006 in Dusty Baker making 542 pitching changes, easily outpacing the previous record set by the Giants in 2004.

All of those pitching changes got me to wondering how frequently a manager tries to maintain the platoon advantage when making a pitching change. In other words, while The Bill James Handbook publishes the numbers for how often a manager maintains the platoon advantage when making out his lineups, I've never seen the numbers for pitching changes. I wrote and ran a simple script to count each pitching change and determine when the defense had the platoon advantage. The results are shown in the table below and as you can see the percentage varies from the mid 50s to the low 70s. Obviously, these numbers are heavily influenced by roster construction and the effectiveness of the pitchers the manager has to work with at any given time. It's not surprising to me to see the Cardinals near the top although I would have expected the Rockies to be up there as well as Clint Hurdle seems to like using LOOGYs even when they are manifestly ineffective (Ray King).

Team Changes PlatoonAdv Pct
SEA 429 309 72.0%
CHA 398 282 70.9%
DET 390 261 66.9%
CIN 475 317 66.7%
SLN 468 312 66.7%
CHN 542 360 66.4%
NYA 488 314 64.3%
TEX 489 313 64.0%
KCA 473 302 63.8%
BAL 472 300 63.6%
OAK 444 282 63.5%
MIL 427 271 63.5%
PIT 504 319 63.3%
MIN 421 265 62.9%
HOU 497 312 62.8%
SFN 438 271 61.9%
ANA 380 235 61.8%
CLE 376 232 61.7%
ATL 522 321 61.5%
TOR 481 292 60.7%
COL 498 302 60.6%
WAS 515 306 59.4%
SDN 475 276 58.1%
BOS 454 262 57.7%
TBA 444 256 57.7%
FLO 435 249 57.2%
PHI 500 286 57.2%
ARI 461 256 55.5%
LAN 454 252 55.5%
NYN 473 252 53.3%


Tangotiger said...

Great stuff Dan. I always like straight-forward ideas but that takes alot of work to compile, and gives you a great insight.

In a similar vein, Andy looked at when PH are brought in:

From Andy's sample, 78% of PH had the platoon advantage. Your list for pitchers is 62%. Of course, when a closer is brought in, the manager is not looking at the platoon advantage. As well, in blowouts, the manager is not looking for platoon advantages.

Can you break up your list based on whether the pitcher is the "ace" or not, and whether the score is within 4 runs or not?

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