Second-guessing Scioscia – Week 2

Welcome to Second-Guessing Scioscia! As you might have surmised, it is a look back at some of the questionable decisions that Mike Scioscia made in the last week. This isn’t because we dislike Scioscia, in fact, MWAH is officially pro-Scioscia. However, we do realize that Scioscia is not infallible and hope to use this series to bring light to the decisions in which Scioscia went wrong. At a minimum, it will help us all come to a better understanding of what goes on during games but maybe, just maybe, we’ll get lucky and this will somehow make Scioscia more self-aware of his more chronic managerial missteps.

4/8/14 – Sticking with Pujols in the three-hole

Albert Pujols started off the season in a miserable slump. In 31 plate appearances, he posted a .200/.226/.333. IT WAS THE END OF THE WORLD. At least according to a segment of fans who, naturally, deemed that this slump was more than they could take and that Pujols must (MUST!) be removed from the three-hole posthaste.

Scioscia didn’t do that though. Really, he shouldn’t have. What this faction of fans was falling victim to was the “hot hand” effect. In this case, it was a cold-hand, but the same premise applies. The problem with trying to ride a hot hand or get away from a cold hand is that you don’t know when their streak of hot/cold is going to end. No manager, no matter how good he is, is psychic.

Unless there is a clearly understood physical reason for Pujols going cold, like his plantar fascitis last season, you can’t just bump him down the order because he was cold at the time. Had Scioscia done that, Pujols would’ve been batting sixth in the order against Seattle. His two homers would’ve then not been as timely because Scioscia couldn’t have known they were coming.

Ah, but you say you would have moved Pujols up after the first game. Are you really that fickle? A week of badness gets you demoted, but one good game and he gets his job back? That hardly seems fair, does it. Besides, that one game could be a fluke. Maybe Pujols just got lucky. If managers were that reactionary to slumps and hot streaks, lineups would be in a constant state of flux and that isn’t good for anyone.

See, sometimes I second-guess Scioscia in a positive way. I can be nice, too.

4/5/14 & 4/9/14 – Cowgill leading off
Collin Cowgill
I can also not be nice. Why the f@#! is Collin Cowgill leading off ever?

When you look for a leadoff hitter, you typically want someone with a high OBP, probably not too much power and good speed. Mostly though it is the high OBP. How does that job description apply to Cowgill?

Cowgill can do some good things, but none of those things are hitting. He has 386 MLB plate appearances and a .236/.287/.329 slash line to show for it. He does have a few years of putting up good numbers in the absurd run environment of the PCL, but that isn’t much to hand his hat on. Even if you just consider Cowgill as an option at leadoff against lefties, the metrics don’t indicate that he has a particular edge there. In the minors, his OPS versus lefties was .840 but was .878 against righties. Where is the platoon advantage?

In his defense, Cowgill has a posted a .351 OBP against lefties in the majors versus .246 against righties, but there is a pretty big small sample size warning there. Let’s just say that, at a minimum, Cowgill being capable of serving as an even average platoon leadoff guy is still open for debate.

I’d consider this tolerable if it was just a circumstantial thing with Scioscia trying to field a lineup in the wake of Hamilton’s injury, but Cowgill actually hit leadoff on the 5th when the team was healthy and facing the Astros. Sadly, I think we are going to be stuck seeing a lot more of this lineup arrangement now that Hamilton is out.

Garrett Wilson

About Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson is the founder and Supreme Overlord of and editor at The Outside Corner. He's an Ivy League graduate, but not from one of the impressive ones. You shouldn't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he is angry.