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Deep Thoughts: adjusting to the major leagues edition

Aug 21, 2012, 9:41 AM EDT

Manny Machado AP
  • Manny Machado‘s first four games: 6 for 16, 3 HR, 7 RBI
  • Manny Machado’s next seven games: 4 for 24, 0 HR, 0 RBI

He has walked one time in 41 plate appearances.

The lesson isn’t that Manny Machado is no good. The lesson is that every rookie is going to get fastballs in the zone when he first comes up because the opposition likes to see what they got. Then, they adjust to the rookie way faster than the rookie adjusts to them and they get humbled. Unless their name is Mike Trout anyway.

  1. legacybroken - Aug 21, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    Mike Trout benefits from having The Pujols waiting in the on deck circle. If he didnt have that Trout would probably have a .290 to .300 batting average and this nonsense about him winning MVP over Miggy wouldnt be happening.

    • Alex K - Aug 21, 2012 at 9:54 AM

      So by that standard if Cabrera didn’t have Fielder hitting behind him he would be hitting .290-.300 and this nonsense about him winning MVP over Trout wouldn’t be happening. That sword cuts both ways.

      And wasn’t Braun supposed to really struggle with Fielder gone. I would love to struggle to the tune of .306/.382/.591.

    • danrizzle - Aug 21, 2012 at 9:57 AM

      You are precious. Lineup protection is inflating Mike Trout’s batting average by 0.050, eh? Not only that, but it only applies to Trout and not Cabrera, I guess. So Cabrera’s batting line is in no way affected by the .309/.403/.516 hitter next in Detroit’s lineup. (For your reference, Pujols is hitting .278/.340/.527 this year and generally bats third while Trout hits leadoff).

      • skids003 - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:56 AM

        I guess Babe Ruth wouldn’t have hit .356 without Lou Gehrig either. Good for the Babe he had him.

    • Glenn - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      I thought the whole “protection in the line up” thing was disproved sabermetrically a long time ago.

      • stlouis1baseball - Aug 21, 2012 at 12:37 PM

        Glenn:
        Although I disagree (make that…strongly disagree)…with everything brokenlegacy stated…I do NOT buy the hole “line up protection is dissproven” thing.
        I have witnessed it time and again with A.P. in a Cardinals uniform. I saw 1st hand a year or two ago when Matt Holliday busted out of his slump to start the season as a result of TLR moving him to the two hole. The guy who hits in front of A.P. is going to be force fed fastballs on a regular basis. That’s just the way it is.
        Dudes love hitting in front of A.P. as a result.
        If memory serves…either Morales or Kendrick was hitting in front of A.P. in the two hole to start the Angels’ season. Whichever one it was started out on fire.
        A little help Angles fans. Who was it that started the season hitting in front of A.P.?
        LegacyBroken:
        It was NOT Mike Trout. As a result, A.P. did not (and does not currently) wait in the on deck circle while Trout is batting.
        Cause’ again…A.P. hits 3rd and Trout leads off.

      • hardballtalkusername - Aug 21, 2012 at 11:04 PM

        Actually St. Louis it was Howie Kendrick hitting in the 2 spot, and he struggled a lot and they moved him down to 6 or 7.

    • bigleagues - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:12 AM

      Watch a game or two. Come back later and double down on that comment. Then be dismissed for good.

      • bigleagues - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:13 AM

        /\
        /\
        /\
        comment directed at legacybroken

    • paperlions - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:50 AM

      Um, yeah, you might want to check out Trout’s 2011 MLB performance….he was humbled.

    • thefalcon123 - Aug 21, 2012 at 11:28 AM

      Boooo sir….boooooo

      Here are like 50 examples of why hitter protection is stupid.

      Albert Pujols in 2009:
      with Ryan Ludwick/Chris Duncan hitting behind him: .320/.443/.674
      With Matt Holliday hitting behind him: .340/.442/.631

      Miguel Cabrera
      2010, with Boesch hitting behind him: .328/.420/.622
      2011, with Victor Martinez hitting behind him: .344/.448/.586
      2012, with Prince Fielder hitting behind him: .331/.397/.592

      How about Jim Edmonds. In 2003, batting in front of Pujols, he hit .229/.327/.557
      Batting behind Pujols, he hit .288/.403/.624

      2005 Gary Sheffield
      Batting in front of MVP Alex Rodriguez: .291/.379/.508
      Batting behind A-Rod: .295/.378/.538

      MVP Jim Rice killed the ball in 1978. Teammate Fred Lynn had a nice year too, posting a 133 OPS+.
      Batting directly in front of Rice, Lynn hit .275/.359/.463
      …batting behind Rice, well down in the lineup, he hit .306/.391/.503

      …and so on!

      • stlouis1baseball - Aug 21, 2012 at 12:43 PM

        Check out Matt Holliday’s numbers last year (in May I believe) when he hit in front of A.P.
        Holliday attributed breaking out of his slump to seeing more pitches to hit as a result of hitting in front of A.P. I don’t care about the guys hitting behind a player. Good hitters hit.
        Therefore, while I do understand people thinking line up protectection is exagerated (I don’t necessarily agree). So I would be far more interested in the numbers of the guys hitting in front of him. I am taking Matt Holliday’s word for it…and my own eyes. Dudes that hit in front of great hitters receive better pitches to hit. The reason for this is guys tend to not nibble as much. After all…the last thing you want to is walk a guy in front of an A.P. that is on top of this game.

      • thefalcon123 - Aug 21, 2012 at 12:56 PM

        Holliday *didn’t* bat in front of Pujols last year, at all. http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/STL/2011-batting-orders.shtml

        I did find a 5 game stretch in which Holliday hit in front of Albert in 2010. http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/STL/2010-batting-orders.shtml
        Note that this is an *extremely* small sample size and shouldn’t really be viewed as proof on way or another. Regardless, what did Matt Holliday hit over that stretch…

        …222/.333/.333

        Yep, with Pujols as lineup protection, he hit worse. Over and over again, data shows that the concept of lineup protection is a myth. For some reason, myths in baseball refuse to die.

  2. ajcardsfan - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    Give him time, he’ll get there. I say next season is when we’ll see what he can truly do.

  3. The Rabbit - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    To be accurate Torii Hunter is usually in the on deck circle, but the idea of protection is overrated.
    Once Pujols settled in, he’s been the Phat Al we know and admire…and he doesn’t have All Star quality “protection”.

    • thefalcon123 - Aug 21, 2012 at 11:33 AM

      Albert Pujols, 2001-2005 with Jim Edmonds/Scott Rolen in their prime hitting behind him: 1.037 OPS

      2006-2009 with past prime Edmonds/Rolen/ and Chris Duncan/Ryan Ludwick/Rick Ankiel behind him: 1.078 OPS

      2010-2011 with Matt Holliday: .959 OPS

      What do these numbers tell us? That Albert Pujols peaked between the ages of 26-29 like 95% of baseball players and his performance didn’t have much to do with who was hitting behind him.

  4. thereisaparty - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    Protection theory is most likely a myth. No studies have ever shown any evidence of it existing in any meaningful fashion.

    And please ignore Miggy’s horrendous lack of range and poor defense when discussing MVP candidacy

    • bigleagues - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:18 AM

      Ill-conceived comment by legacybroken aside and everything . . . admittedly I haven’t read the sabermetric ‘studies’ on lineup protection . . . but I think Pitchers and Managers would have a very different take on conclusions that state it doesn’t exist.

      Otherwise, lineups could be assembled at random with a dart board and talk show hosts would have 50% less to talk about during the Major League season.

      • danrizzle - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:39 AM

        Lineup optimization is one thing; protection, another.

      • bigleagues - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:59 AM

        Lineup optimization is simply SABER-rebranded ‘lineup protection’ and now having gone and read through some of the ‘studies’ since my original comment – the difference is at best nebulous.

        Perhaps the biggest difference is that optimization states that your best hitter bats 1st, 2nd or 4th – not 3rd as has been tradition.

        That does get me curious as to how much different Wade Boggs career number would have been if he had batted 3rd for the majority of his career . . . the lineup slot he was most productive in, yet spent a little less than 1/4 of his career in.

      • thereisaparty - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:46 AM

        Why the single quotation marks around “studies”? Surely you are not implying that sound statistical and scientific methods are being ignored in these tests.

        Also, why do you believe managers act optimally?

      • cur68 - Aug 21, 2012 at 11:11 AM

        I think managers are trying to give their best hitters more ABs, thus you see them leading off games. I won’t deny that I think managers believe to some degree in lineup protection (it is, after all, tradition) and I think there is some effect on how the pitcher behaves in certain situations but, in my opinion, its largely meaningless. But until a lineup is assembled totally at random (perhaps by dartboard) and the assertion of no effect corroborated by testing, lineup protection theory (LPT) will play a part in traditional baseball thinking (and even if testing shows that it has no effect, some will claim they shot the whole thing on a studio on Earth anyways so they won’t believe it). In my opinion it doesn’t have a big effect: get all of your best hitters right at the front to maximise their ABs and, other than that, it makes no real difference who bats before whom.

      • Joe - Aug 21, 2012 at 11:21 AM

        “Lineup optimization is simply SABER-rebranded ‘lineup protection’ ”

        Actually, no. “Lineup optimization” means getting more plate appearances for your best betters, and getting the best mix of the on-base guys with the power guys.

        “Lineup protection” means you think Player A is getting better pitches to hit because he bats in front of Player B.

        “Lineup protection” has never made sense to me. The theory is that you don’t want to be hurt by Player B, so you give Player A more hittable pitches, with the result being that Player B is more likely to have men on base when he comes up. Why would you think that’s a good strategy?

      • thefalcon123 - Aug 21, 2012 at 11:44 AM

        “That does get me curious as to how much different Wade Boggs career number would have been if he had batted 3rd for the majority of his career . . . the lineup slot he was most productive in, yet spent a little less than 1/4 of his career in.”

        Oh Jesus Christ…what the fuck happened to this word.

        Boggs posted an .892 OPS in the 3 hole, compared to .876 batting 2nd and .841 batting 1st. True, he’s slightly better, but is it because he just naturally hits better third or is there another, far more logical reason behind this?

        Teams don’t tend to bat young, powerless players 3rd in their lineup. Boggs become a #3 hitter after proving he was a fantastic hitter. Hence, his number are better as a #3 hitter.

    • stuckonwords - Aug 21, 2012 at 11:12 AM

      You must have read somewhere, perhaps a few months ago, how horrible Miguel was going to be at 3rd base, then logged it as fact forevermore. If you’d actually watched him play the 121 games I’ve watched, “horrible” could not be farther from the truth. He has handled 3rd base remarkably well…above average.

      Mike Trout has not only put up extraordinary numbers, he’s maintained it with staggering consistency. But to suggest that Miguel Cabrera has not done so as well is simply fanboy voting. Nobody…not Trout nor any other player…comes even close to driving in a greater share of his teams runs. Miggy never soared above a fence to take away another team’s run. There are legitimate points to be made for both guys, and neither deserves bashing. They’re the best baseball has to offer.

      • Joe - Aug 21, 2012 at 11:35 AM

        “Nobody…not Trout nor any other player…comes even close to driving in a greater share of his teams runs. ”

        Lessee, Miguel Cabrera has played in 121 (100%) of his team’s 121 games, and has mostly batted behind Austin Jackson (.392 OBP), Quintin Berry (.354) and (after an early flirtation with Brennan Boesch) Andy Dirks (.386). He’s collected 19% of the Tigers RBI.

        Mike Trout has played in 99 (81%) of his team’s 122 games, and has mostly batted behind some combination of Erick Aybar (.313), Bobby Wilson (.294), Peter Bourjos (.287) and Chris Ianetta (.326). He’s collected 13% of the Angels RBI.

        I’d say that Trout’s RBI number is pretty good given the circumstances.

      • thereisaparty - Aug 21, 2012 at 11:40 AM

        His range is laughable. Not sure how you can suggest otherwise. And he is nowhere near above average at the position. Hell, he has never even been even an average defender at any position. I am no Trout fanboy and think Miggy is the best hitter in the game. But talking only about his hitting (“this nonsense about him winning MVP over Miggy” – legacybroken) is ignoring major components of the discussion.

      • Jeremy Fox - Aug 21, 2012 at 11:42 AM

        Yes, Cabrera is a really good hitter–but do you really think looking at “share of his team’s runs driven in” is a good way to prove that? That stat is going to have a *lot* to do with how many guys happen to be on base when Cabrera comes to the plate vs. when his teammates come to the plate.

      • stuckonwords - Aug 22, 2012 at 10:40 AM

        @Joe

        MVP isn’t an award for “who would’ve been the best if they’d been able to play”. You can’t penalize Miguel just because Mike didn’t get called up until later. Also, there is a monumental difference between 19.3% (percentage of Tigers runs knocked in by Miggy) and 12.8% (percentage of Angels runs knocked in by Mike). It’s not a knock on Mike; it’s just a fact.

        You also can’t penalize Miggy because he has more guys on base than Mike (according to you). The vital stat, of course, is average with RISP. That’s how they get those RBIs. Miguel’s is .367. With 2 outs he’s a mind-boggling .447. Mike is .363 (obviously just as good) and .297 (not exactly .447). It’s not about who bats in front of them…it’s what they do, by the averages, that matters.

      • stuckonwords - Aug 22, 2012 at 10:46 AM

        @thereisaparty

        You said: “His range is laughable. Not sure how you can suggest otherwise.”

        Umm…because he’s got the 4th best fielding percentage in the league (3rd basemen), and the most putouts. You can’t have the most putouts if you can’t get to the ball. Even if you want to laugh it off by saying he gets more opportunities, then 4th best fielding percentage sorta smokes that argument.

      • stuckonwords - Aug 22, 2012 at 11:15 AM

        @Jeremy Fox

        Again…look at average with RISP. Forget how the other guys do. The question is how a player does when the opportunity arrises.

        What’s more, ordinarily I wouldn’t care about “percentage of team’s runs driven in”. When rooting for my team, I want the guys up and down the lineup to produce. Balance wins. But when the conversation is about MVP…the guy in the league who is most valuable to his team’s success…it is reasonable to consider that statistic. Miguel drives in 19.3% of all the runs the Tigers have driven in. Without Miguel the Tigers aren’t even playoff contenders, and that makes him as valuable to them as any player in the league is for his team.

  5. randall351 - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    Unfortunately for him he can’t face Royals pitching every game.

  6. bigleagues - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    Of course, Mike Trout kind of got a mulligan on the Rookie thing (historically great 20-year-old season aside and all).

  7. zsmyers1980 - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    2 of Manny’s homers were on curve balls…it’s not like he came up here sitting on fastballs down the middle…

    • paperlions - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:52 AM

      This is true….and they were horrible curve balls thrown by Hochevar that just hung there not doing anything, both at the top of the zone, both crushed.

  8. dexterismyhero - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.

    Oh, wrong Deep Thoughts!!!!!

  9. pdowdy83 - Aug 22, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Uh…Mike Trout was not very good last season when he was called up either. Just saying…

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