Braves 8, Marlins 5

Atlanta Braves vs. Florida Marlins – Box Score – August 08, 2011 – ESPN.

Wow, this game had everything. The continuing Streak. Power-mad, inconsistent umpiring. Fredi actually arguing balls and strikes. Helmet tosses. Scott Proctor, setup man extraordinaire. Derek Lowe winning a game!

The Braves took the lead in the second with a nice two-out rally. Michael Bourn‘s infield single scored David Ross. Martin Prado drove in Jose Constanza with a ground-rule double that obviously would have scored Bourn as well, but it didn’t matter as Freddie Freeman singled in both Bourn and Prado. 4-0.

Lowe, who allowed two hits and two walks in the first but didn’t allow a run thanks to a caught stealing (speed kills, all right) and a double play, had an Episode in the third. He allowed three straight singles to load the bases, then after a strikeout walked Giancarlo Stanton with the bases loaded. A ground ball wasn’t double-play material allowing a second run to score, but that was it for the Marlins and managed to be Lowe’s only Episode of the night.

In the fifth, after Dan Uggla extended his Streak with another infield single and Chipper Jones followed with another one, Alex Gonzalez hit a towering fly ball over the stupid wall to make it 7-2. Uggla drove in Bourn with a sac fly in the sixth to make it 8-2.

Cristhian Martinez pitched the seventh and eighth. He allowed one hit, a homer to Greg Dobbs in the eighth to make it 8-3. Then enter the Proctologist, with a masterful Roberto Hernandez setup job to get Craig Kimbrel a chance at a save. Walk, strikeout, homer, walk, it’s 8-5 and the tying run is on deck. Kimbrel came in and got two strikeouts. Don’t expect anything to come of this. Proctor has the sort of job security associated with Supreme Court Justices and Chris Berman. He could kill John Malone’s dog, roast it, serve it on the team plane with a side of steamed poison ivy, and get away with a warning.

Fredi was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the fourth. Freddie Freeman was ejected for a helmet toss in the eighth. Both ejections were by Hunter Wendelstedt, whose strike zone was inconsistent all night. He trains other umpires.

145 thoughts on “Braves 8, Marlins 5”

  1. Proctor surely has to have the pictures… and those pictures really have be mind boggling.

  2. Maybe Proctor could share one of the pictures with Heyward? I know good players don’t typically need them, and I don’t think Heyward needs the whole package, but maybe just like one would get him out of the 4th outfielder role.

  3. Also, how cold is Proctor’s hand right now? That hand has to be colder than ice. I bet every hand in Gwinnett is hotter than his.

  4. 2 for 4 with a run scored, Petey. But hey, keep howling at the moon if you must. Whatever makes you feel smarter than the other kids, man. Anything to keep from enjoying a player playing well for your so-called favorite team, right?

  5. I just caught some highlights and man, Uggla was flying down the line on that infield single! Really impressed with his hustle, tonight and all season long.

  6. I just caught some highlights and man, Uggla was flying down the line on that infield single! Really impressed with his hustle, tonight and all season long.

    I read that the hitting streak doesn’t count because his current BABIP is not sustainable.

  7. Add Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke to the list of people w/ proctor level job security.

  8. I’m sure next season we’ll all have a good laugh reminiscing about the days when Constanza started games instead of Heyward and how that decision was actually defensible.

  9. @5 – What Constanza’s doing is pretty cool, I think we can all agree. And feeling smart isn’t the goal here, let me assure you of that. My only intent was to vent some frustration over watching my favorite player rotting on the bench for reasons that I completely disagree with.

  10. @11 – You know what? When you’re willing to frame it as an emotional response to a favorite player being benched I’m far less likely to poke and pick at the scab.

  11. Understood, Morrie. But Mac has very few dead-red rules. “No politics” is one of them.

  12. @jc_bradbury J.C. Bradbury
    when the stock market is down, invest in lottery tickets. #FrediFinancialAdvice

    Ha! Doubly topical!

  13. Thank God Boscan ain’t really hitting or F. Gonzalez might start him over McCann after he comes off the DL. Gotta play that “hot hand.”

  14. @14
    Sam, he also has a rule where there are no personal insults. You pointing out rules to others seems a bit contradictory.

  15. I rarely make personal insults. People sometimes misunderstand me and take my insults to their weakly argued and irrationally held positions as attacks on their persons. This is just another way in which they are wrong.

  16. I don’t need anything from you, Ryan. You guys have turned me into this bogeyman just because I ask you to defend your blind assumptions about the team rather than accepting the group-think at face value. I’m here to talk about baseball and the Braves, which is what I do pretty much 99% of the time that I post to this forum.

  17. Hey, guys, remember how the Braves won tonight? That was cool!

    ETA: Tonight’s recap was fantastic, Mac. Thanks again for everything you do here.

  18. Totes magotes, Sam. Bowing to the superior intellect and dead-on debating of Sam and accepting my wrongness simultaneously. Continue your 1% personal insults.

  19. I wish I was smart enough to realize that in season stats are meaningless but stats for a 5-7 day span are not.

  20. You err in believing that my position is that stats from 5-7 day spans are meaningful.

  21. Sam has cleverly sidestepped this seeming inconsistency by saying, earlier tonight, that it’s not the stats that prove the hot streak, it’s the pure essence of it which is so apparent when watching the games. This moves the argument back to some shakily subjective ground, but he has the benefit of Fredi agreeing with his subjective judgement. So it really comes back down to whether you think Fredi is actually Frediot or not. Fredi’s intelligence is the war of which Constanza v. Heyward is just one battle.

  22. If Fredi’s intelligence is the war, Sam is the crazy Imperial Japanese Army soldier holding out in jungle until 1990.

  23. Thanks for the recap, Mac.

    I have never seen so much hand wringing over benching a guy who is OPSing 720, and we’re in August. And the guy that’s playing in his place is, you know, on fire.

  24. Arizona lost. 4.5 game lead on Arizona and St. Louis.

    Also, the Pirates are now 10 GB in their division and 11.5 GB of us. They really fell off a cliff and have a 10 game losing streak.

  25. And yet nobody seems to have a problem with the other corner outfielder who is also hitting like shit.

  26. And the guy that’s playing in his place is, you know, on fire.

    Since when does a handful of games constitute “on fire”?

    He’ll crash and burn sometime like every other career minor leaguer. Eventually the reasons why they were minor leaguers for so long get exposed.

  27. Most likely yes he will crash and burn, but why not ride him out until he actually does?

  28. Pete @ 27 – it’s not a “clever sidestepping.” It’s the crux of the issue. It’s the meat of the failure of your analytic model. I’m not attacking anyone or insulting people. If you want to have this conversation rationally I’m more than willing. Of course, it seems your side of the aisle is more interested in accusing me of “insults” while themselves running around and pretending that the term “Frediot” is itself an argument of merit.

    Adam, @ 31 – if they sat Prado against the RHP tonight and played an OF of Constanza, Bourn, Heyward you wouldn’t hear me complain.

    Dan, @32 – if you’re unwilling to admit that the sky is blue or that the sun rises in the east, we can’t have a conversation. Of course Constanza is ‘on fire.’ If he’s not, then that phrase has no meaning.

  29. I attended a model UN conference with Hunter in high school. He went to a Catholic school in Daytona Beach. He was very preppy.

  30. I am all for Constanza playing since he is hot, but Prado could use a day off or two here and there as well considering he is like 4-28 on the road trip or something like that.

    The Constanza thing is cute, but the Braves are not going where we want them to go without a healthy and productive Heyward.

  31. I am more worried about the Cards than the DBacks. Puljos could go on a six game winning streak by himself any day now.

  32. Good thing about the Cardinals is that they get the Brewers a bunch in August. Hopefully, they will beat each other up. The braves go to St. Louis for 3 in September. That could be a big, big series.

  33. I’m actually more concerned about the Brewers as an opponent in the playoffs than I am about the Cardinals as a wild card competitor. But then things get too complicated. I suppose it’s important to remember that both the Cards/Brewers and Giants/D’Backs play a bunch of intra-divisional games against horrible teams.

    I’m staying on the Prado point because it’s a good test for the internal logic of Fredi’s thinking: if in fact we’re playing Constanza because he’s the “hot hand,” then Prado should sit against righties. Both Heyward and Chipper have been well above average against them this season, while Prado has not. If Heyward sits again tonight–or for that matter, if Constanza sits too–then Fredi is full of shit. That is, if that happens then it’s about the coaching staff either having a problem with Heyward personally or being so obtuse as to have missed that Prado has been just as cold, if not colder, than Heyward.

  34. If Heyward sits against–or for that matter, Constanza–then Fredi is full of shit. Then it’s about the coaching staff either having a problem with Heyward personally, or being so obtuse as to miss that Prado has been just as cold, if not colder, than Heyward.

    While I agree that Prado should sit vs. the RHP tonight, your conclusion about the coaching staff “having a problem with Heyward personally” fails to convince. I’ve seen no evidence that the Braves management or coaching staff have a problem with Heyward. That’s just internet paranoia, IMHO.

  35. 41 – I can’t imagine that they would have a problem with him, so in a way I agree. I’m just speculating, which is silly, admittedly, since it’s a speculation based on a contingency. So I’ll withdraw the paranoid conclusion and wait for whatever happens with the lineup tonight. Hopefully Heyward is in it.

  36. I would just say that I don’t agree with putting Prado in the same boat as Heyward. Prado has a better established track record, plus he’s just coming back from a layoff. We don’t know all the details of that, but there’s good reason to believe Prado is going to be hitting soon.

    There have been points this season where we would have killed for an outfield of Prado, Bourn, and Heyward, and we will have that soon enough.

    Constanza is like finding a $20 bill. It’ll be gone soon enough, but it sure was sweet to find it.

  37. Probably someone has already posted this, but just in case: http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/index.php/strategy-on-streaky-players-dont-trust-the-streak/

    Hot streaks aren’t predictive. Constanza is expected to crash headlong into a sub-.300 wOBA in literally every at-bat, which makes it crazy to start him over Heyward. Nor is Constanza generating such hard contact that we can point to reasons why this particular hot streak is different. He’s hitting a bunch of weak little fliners that could as easily be pop-ups to 2B as flares into short left field. The entire course of baseball history tells us that Jose is about to turn back into a pumpkin, and “arguing” otherwise on the basis of his past performance isn’t sharp, counterintuitive analysis, it’s pathetic superstition. Sitting Heyward to play the “hot hand” makes as much sense as benching Dan Uggla tonight because he washed his lucky socks.

  38. We might as well talk about politics because it couldn’t get much nastier than it is now. (Just kidding.)

  39. There’s an old economics joke about two economists walking down the street. They see a $20 bill in the gutter. One moves to pick it up, and the other says “Don’t bother. If it was worth anything someone would have already taken it.”

  40. One of the reasons why I want Heyward to play is that sitting on the bench is not helping his development. Obviously he’s been slumping recently but batting practice can only help so much. Since he has ‘franchise cornerstone’ potential the Braves should be doing their best to maximize that.

  41. Dear anonymous,

    that is just preposterous! you guys are ripping sam but he is just sticking up for his favorite team, the braves. Why are we not supposed to enjoy this guy hitting what, .400, with an ops over 1.000? Because Heyward is supposed to be the future and Constanza’s streak “should” be over at any time, according to statistical analysis?

    By your argument, Fredi shouldn’t have been playing him at all, and we probably would have lost more games. like maybe sunday’s, where he hit a home run and we won by 1. That’s just ridiculous! The guy is playing well. He is a Brave. Why do you not like that? I don’t understand this board sometimes.

    I love Heyward too, and i really hope he gets his shit together and fulfills his potential as the next great african-american mlb idol/perennial all-star. But there is no reason to continually rip Fredi or call him an idiot, for starting a guy hitting .421 and showing incredible speed.

    If i read your theory correctly, you think because Jose is hot, we should think ‘oh, it won’t last, he wasn’t anointed’ so he should be sent to the minors, and then we should play heyward, because he’s ‘due’ to start hitting better, because why? He’s just got natural talent that Jose doesn’t have? What sharp analysis. Thank goodness they didn’t hire you to be the manager!!

    Over time, yes, Heyward will be the better major leaguer. No one disagrees. But if your goal in writing out a lineup is to win today, why wouldn’t you pencil in the guy hitting .421 on the season? come on.

  42. @PeteOrr, Anon21, et al. – I love to see the intelligent, reasoned arguments regarding Heyward/Constanza. That said, this Sam Hutcheson character’s positions actually have little to no logical underpinning and thus appealing to reason is fruitless.

    My take on the matter: Playing Constanza over Heyward has not been the smart move, but it has obviously worked out thus far, and as Braves fan I’m happy that Constanza has succeeded and that, as a result, the Braves have won. However, Constanza’s past success is not a predictor of future success, and thus cannot justify continued benching of Heyward. In other words: just because you won the lottery once doesn’t mean you should invest your winnings in more tickets.

    EDIT: For a good example in the results of trying to ride out a streaky career minor league OF too long, see Chucky Thomas, circa 2004: http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/players/7364/splits;_ylt=AojQXUMWTGtjibeL_cFopnWFCLcF?year=2004&type=Batting

  43. Don’t get me wrong, Heyward deserves playing time. A lot of it. But so does Constanza. You can list statistics about whether or not he can sustain it (obviously he can’t at his level), but if you’re the manager, you figure out a way to get him in to the lineup. if you’re a real major league manager who gets paid to do the job, and not some internet poster fan who thinks they know better, you’re gonna put the spark in the lineup. History is full of that. How do you think Prado became an everyday player? He got on a hot streak that forced Kelly Johnson out of the lineup.

    If Jose was a shortstop you guys wouldnt have a problem with it. A month ago we had three outfielders hitting in the .230s range. Now we have bourn at .300, constanza at .400, and prado/heyward, at “proven hitters” status. It’s a good thing. Why all the griping?

  44. Yes, Thomas was ridden too long. No doubt. But he was awesome when he was on his streak. That’s the point. Constanza is still ON his streak! Don’t take him out now!

    Take him out in a week after he goes 0-4 in four out of five games. Heyward isn’t getting traded. If Constanza gets cold, we’ve got Heyward, Hinske, and plenty of options that we didnt have in the Charles Thomas era. We can take him out before he hits .211 for a month.

    But right now he IS hot. Surely you’re not saying Cox should have benched Thomas in July, because he was ‘due’ to decline? And don’t forget, the perception that he was a legit player led us to trade him for a little ace named Tim Hudson.

  45. @Troy – I think a lot of the bitterness re: Heyward benching comes from the sad fact that he’s hit poorly enough to convince Fredi to bench him. It’s not just that he’s sucked this season, it’s also that he’s casting some doubt upon his MVP-level, franchise cornerstone future.

  46. On Heyward v. Constanza.

    There are a couple of things in play here. Obviously Heyward is much more important to the future of this team, so it bugs a lot of us that Jason’s development suffers at the expense of playing the hot hand.

    At the same time, against a LHP you could argue that Jose gives the team a better chance to win that game especially in the midst of a hot streak (I know the streak is not predictive but ride it while it’s going and know when to get off). The Braves teams of the 90s seemed to be great at riding hot streaks from lesser known players for short periods of time. The problem is Jose at his best has the ability to contribute to team success. Jason at his best has the ability to carry the team.

    While Constanza’s been hot, Jason has shown signs of life lately and we could be stunting his resurgence by leaving him on the bench.

  47. The Nurse Ratcheds around here lamenting the success of Constanza completely befuddle me.

    What’s not to like? He and Bourn in the lineup together give the Braves a unique weapon that is and has been very useful in helping the Braves through a difficult patch wherein Chipper, McCann, McLouth and Prado have been banged up or missing entirely.

    Is it enough to beat the Phillies in the playoffs? Probably not. But the little that Heyward has been contributing won’t get the job done, either.

    If Heyward would commit to the swing discipline that Freeman commands, he’d earn those at-bats. Until and unless he does so, the smart managerial move is to play him in spots and ride whatever hot hand comes your way.

  48. i agree, Nick. Thanks. I too, am a bit depressed by that. But there’s a reason ‘sophomore slump’ is in the lexicon. i tend to be an optimist and think that he’s just got to work through it. Let’s hope he gets together with his dad or chipper’s dad or charles thomas’ dad or somebody and figures it out, let’s say, in time for september.

  49. @49/Troy:

    that is just preposterous! you guys are ripping sam but he is just sticking up for his favorite team, the braves. Why are we not supposed to enjoy this guy hitting what, .400, with an ops over 1.000? Because Heyward is supposed to be the future and Constanza’s streak “should” be over at any time, according to statistical analysis?

    We’re ripping Sam because he’s stirring the shit without contributing the slightest shred of actual evidence, logic, or argument to support his dumb positions.

    You are free to enjoy Constanza’s unlikely success. I’m enjoying it. He’s a fun player to watch. But yes, according to “statistical analysis,” the only reliable way to know anything about baseball, his good fortune is due to run out right now.

    By your argument, Fredi shouldn’t have been playing him at all, and we probably would have lost more games. like maybe sunday’s, where he hit a home run and we won by 1. That’s just ridiculous!

    It’s got to be about process, not results. A manager’s job is to put his team in the best position to win; he doesn’t get to retroactively cite unlikely small sample size results to support poor decisions. If we’re up 1 run on the Phillies in Game 7 of the NLCS and Fredi goes to Scott Proctor with O’Flaherty, Venters, and Kimbrel all available, that is a terrible decision even if Proctor gets three long fly balls that are barely hauled back from the top of the wall.

    If i read your theory correctly, you think because Jose is hot, we should think ‘oh, it won’t last, he wasn’t anointed’ so he should be sent to the minors

    Not quite. My point is that the hot streak is irrelevant, not that it is somehow evidence in favor of the proposition that Constanza cannot sustain his current level of success. It’s because Constanza has no talent, no track record, and has shown nothing to indicate that he has figured it out that he should be benched or sent back to the minors.

    then we should play heyward, because he’s ‘due’ to start hitting better, because why? He’s just got natural talent that Jose doesn’t have?

    Um, yeah. Heyward does have heaps more natural talent than Constanza. Heyward was the consensus #1 prospect in baseball last year, turned in a rookie season that was near historically great for a player of his age, and has had to play through injuries in posting a not-terrible (but obviously disappointing) line this season. His expected performance in every game, today’s included, is just miles ahead of Constanza’s, a career minor leaguer without a discernible major league skillset.

  50. In my fantasy league, one keeper must have two or fewer years of MLB service time. Who do I keep – Matt Wieters, Mike Trout or Heyward? Heyward was my keeper this season….whoops.

  51. Keep in mind Heyward hasn’t been THAT bad this year; a 98 OPS+, 101 wRC+, and plus defense, while disappointing, is not horrible. It’s not like he’s Melky from last year.

  52. I will argue that Constanza is not exactly the awful minor leaguer that some seem to think. In 7 seasons he went .290/.368/.356, obviously very little power but the 233 steals helps that a bit, not to mention solid defense and base running. He’s hardly Heyward but no slouch.

  53. Anonymous,

    again, i am a big Heyward fan. I’ve been a braves fan for 25 years and i have very high hopes for the guy. i dont like not seeing him in the lineup. But i still don’t follow your logic that he’s expected to do better in every single game than constanza.

    i guess your thought about the ‘process vs. results’ is my main annoyance with this board. To me, baseball is about the results, maybe more than other sports. Every day you get a win or a loss. Maybe you don’t care which the braves get any day, as long as they play your favorite players, but i care. Fredi cares, and i’m sure the players care too.

    Too often, we win, but everybody on here seems to complain. We didn’t win in a ‘sustainable’ way or something. Well, would it be better to be the pirates, who go out and get two big bats, develop greatand then promptly lose 10 games? i wish Heyward nothing but the best, but if he sits and we win the game, i don’t have a problem with that.

    I hope you really don’t think i was suggesting heyward DOESNT have more talent than Jose. I was simply saying that just because someone has the natural talent doesnt mean he’s going to produce better results EVERY game.

    You say Heyward is expected to be better every single day, according to your statistical analysis. Yet in reality, that isn’t the case. Over time, it will be. maybe more often than not. But the results show that constanza HAS been better than heyward in a game or two. i know you don’t care about results, so maybe you should go be a fan of Oakland, who has an uber-genius stat-crunching GM, but who loses 90 games every year.

  54. @ Dusty – If Constanza can keep up a good OBP, his defense and baserunning certainly make him MLB-worthy (basically the same argument that people were making on behalf of Success). However, seems as though most players with very little power have trouble maintaining a high walk rate in the majors, since the pitchers inevitably start pounding the strike zone and forcing the hitter to put the ball in play (see, e.g., Luis Castillo, Matt Young). That said, Constanza does appear to have more pop in his bat than Young did, so perhaps he can hit/walk enough to legitimately justify a 4th outfielder role going forward.

  55. @58 What you are saying is absolutely insane. “Statistical analysis” tell us Jason has had a severe regression this year, and has been putrid against lefties. There has been a VERY BRIEF period in which he has been sat against lefties for a guy who’s playing above his head. No one is recommending this continue once Constanza comes back to his norm.

    It’s not like Constanza got his chance at Heyward’s expense. He started in center and has moved around as needed due to his good play. You are severely discounting Constanza’s good hitting for this entire year. He hit well in the minors before being brought up.

    Following your logic, any number of average prospects wouldn’t have gotten the chance to prove themselves at the major league level because the managers stuck with their guys, even when they were obviously struggling.

    If this was happening to say, Mark Kotsay, no one would be crying about it. Here’s mark’s line from his time in Atlanta: 289/340/418/758. Those are better numbers than Jason is putting out, yet I don’t remember anyone giving him any praise and I can’t imagine anyone would have said a word if he’d have been sat in favor of a guy like Constanza for a handful of games. You all are having an emotional reaction because Heyward is “our guy”.

  56. after all this it must seem like i really like constanza and/or i have a lot of time on my hands (home with sick kid) but you know, that’s not really it.

    i guess more than anything, i am sticking up for Fredi (!!) i know, i know. But it just seems silly to call him stupid for making that move for a few games. now, if heyward is still on the bench come playoff time, i’ll have an issue. But just because 15 years from now more people will know Heyward’s name than Jose’s, strikes me as fallacious reasoning for benching the hot hand.

  57. Apparently the 1998 team is the NL’s best ever according to Dave Schoenfeld’s math skillz.

    Obviously, the ’96 WS hurts the worst, but after that, the 1998 NLCS against the Padres was the most painful playoff loss to me. What made it worse is that I went to school with Andy Ashby’s niece at the time, and lost a sizable bet to her as a result. She was not a gracious winner either.

    I forgot how terrible Galarraga was that series…and how much I hated Sterling Hitch(in his)cock

  58. Thanks, Bethany. i think that’s what i was trying to say. Really, we’re lucky we have such a guy so we can win some games while Heyward’s figuring his shit out.

  59. While Constanza’s been hot, Jason has shown signs of life lately and we could be stunting his resurgence by leaving him on the bench.

    The thing that makes managing difficult is making decisions that balance short term success against long term success. Yes, you need to get Heyward reps to get him out of his season long funk. Yes, there are ways to do that in the bigs. No, you don’t do that by sitting a guy that’s ripping off wins for you in the middle of a playoff chase.

  60. You are free to enjoy Constanza’s unlikely success. I’m enjoying it. He’s a fun player to watch. But yes, according to “statistical analysis,” the only reliable way to know anything about baseball, his good fortune is due to run out right now.

    This statement suggests to me that you don’t understand what statistical analysis can and can’t tell you.

  61. i guess your thought about the ‘process vs. results’ is my main annoyance with this board. To me, baseball is about the results, maybe more than other sports. Every day you get a win or a loss. Maybe you don’t care which the braves get any day, as long as they play your favorite players, but i care. Fredi cares, and i’m sure the players care too.

    Of course I care whether the Braves win every day. In the context of a specific game, I am all about rooting along for every pitch, every play. In the context of the particular game, I don’t care if Derek Lowe goes out there and strikes out 9 and holds the opponent to 1 run or if he gives up 4 but the Braves hold on to win it. A win is a win.

    However, when Lowe struggles, or when a key hitter looks utterly lost, or yes, when a career minor leaguer starts over Jason Heyward, I do worry. I worry because the season is a marathon, not a sprint, and while winning each individual game is the most important in-game outcome, there are ways to win which indicate problems that will prevent the Braves from winning in the future. Sometimes, those are just sad or alarming in ways that are difficult to fix, like Tommy’s meltdown on Saturday. Sometimes, they are alarming in ways that have an obvious fix. Into this category fall all of Fredi’s terrible decisions, including starting Constanza over Heyward, refusing to use his shutdown closer in a tie game on the road, and allowing Sherrill to face good righthanded bats. I worry about these bad decisions, and I get angry, because it would be easy for thousands of Braves fans smarter than Fredi to make the right in-game decisions.

    Too often, we win, but everybody on here seems to complain. We didn’t win in a ‘sustainable’ way or something. Well, would it be better to be the pirates, who go out and get two big bats, develop greatand then promptly lose 10 games? i wish Heyward nothing but the best, but if he sits and we win the game, i don’t have a problem with that.

    Per Dusty/55, sitting Heyward hurts the club in the longterm. Heyward will be a cornerstone for this offense long after Jose Constanza is playing AAA for some other organization, or washed out into the indy leagues. We don’t have the long-term option of platooning Heyward against lefty starters; he’s got to learn to hit them, and the best/only way to learn when you’re at the level he is is to face them in live-fire situations. So if you care about the long-term success of the Braves (which I would assume you do, since you’ve been rooting for them for 25 years), you should also be angry that Fredi is hurting the team’s chances down the road by stunting our young star’s development as a hitter.

  62. Or maybe his benching will humble him and give him that push to improve, like Cox benching Andruw Jones for not hustling in the outfield.

    at least we do agree on the closer-on-the-road thing. dang, that irks me.

  63. @49 The games that Constanza helped us win are house money. Playing Constanza until he hits a cold streak risks giving that back.

    Just like you mentioned, Heyward has more talent than Constanza. However, that’s not a ridiculous reason to play him over Constanza during the hot streak–it’s a sound one. Last year’s Jason Heyward would provide far more of a spark than the streaking Constanza, and regularly benching Jason could artificially prolong his struggles at the plate, hurt his development, or damage his relationship with the organization. Even if he’s OK with sitting against lefties, I doubt his agent and/or advisors share the same opinion.

    The only logical reason not to be playing Heyward as often as the other starters is if there is a structural problem with his offensive game. By this, I mean that there is either some kind of nagging injury which directly limits his offensive output, or some large problem with his swing that is impossible to fix with simple adjustments. Bobby V mentioned Heyward having a “minor-league swing” during an ESPN Sunday Night game, so if he’s right (and not just trolling) then perhaps there is something which needs addressing. Begs the question of how he was so successful last season and in the minors, though.

    One of those two problems would seem to mesh with the rumors of the Braves acquiring a corner outfielder before the deadline and sending Heyward to the minors. On its face, it would seem ridiculous to waste prospect resources in order to trade for an inferior player (Pence included) to replace Jason. However, if they needed to change his swing and needed to improve on the in-house replacements, then perhaps it would have been justifiable since the Braves are looking to make some noise in the playoffs.

    If one of those hypothetical problems is actual, then it seems the Braves have opted to slowly peel the band-aid rather than ripping it off. That would seem to indicate that if there is a problem, it’s either not fixable within the next two months or not serious enough that Heyward isn’t still the best RF option (perhaps only in a platoon role).

    So, to recap: if the Braves think Heyward is only slumping or needs to make a minor adjustment, then they should still be playing him every day. If they suspect a lingering injury or a major swing flaw, then they need to address it as soon as possible, whether that’s giving him another DL stint, sending him to the minors to work with a non-Parrish hitting coach, or continuing to platoon him and addressing the problem after the season.

  64. However, seems as though most players with very little power have trouble maintaining a high walk rate in the majors, since the pitchers inevitably start pounding the strike zone and forcing the hitter to put the ball in play (see, e.g., Luis Castillo, Matt Young).

    Luis Castillo was a good-to-above-average major leaguer for 10-12 years. He got old, lost his legs and was played far beyond his expiration date by the Mets, but he’s hardly equivalent to Matt Young.

  65. The games that Constanza helped us win are house money. Playing Constanza until he hits a cold streak risks giving that back.

    Managing human beings isn’t a day at the roulette wheels.

  66. One of Heyward/Constanza is a vital piece to the Braves’ future and it ain’t the (nearly) 28 year old minor league journeyman.

    Constanza reminds me of Jeff Bennett: when he was called up and pitched 13 good innings at the end of the 2007 season and people on DOB’s blog were calling him a future #2 or #3 starter during that offseason.

  67. @Sam – agreed on Castillo, I was not trying to say he and Matt Young are the same thing. That said, Castillo’s game relies/relied upon OBP, not power, and once he lost his speed, his AVG went too and there wasn’t much left.

    In 40 PAs, Constanza has walked a grand, Francouer-esque total of once. If and when his BABIP drops from .441 (at present) back down towards .320 – .340, and his ISO from .158 (present) back down towards .070 (his minor league level), I hope the Braves have the good sense to realize that they’ve ridden Constanza as far as he’s gonna go.

  68. @Bethany/64:

    @58 What you are saying is absolutely insane. “Statistical analysis” tell us Jason has had a severe regression this year, and has been putrid against lefties. There has been a VERY BRIEF period in which he has been sat against lefties for a guy who’s playing above his head. No one is recommending this continue once Constanza comes back to his norm.

    But the point is that no one has the ability to predict when Constanza will revert to his norm. All we know is that his career minor league line, appropriately discounted for the higher quality of competition at the MLB level, is a much better predictor of success in any given game or plate appearance than a 9-game hot streak. There’s no reason to wait until Constanza “cools off” to bench him, when it is clear that the cool off is coming and more likely than not to commence at any given moment.

    Moreover, Heyward hasn’t just been sitting against lefties, although as Dusty/55 points out, that would be bad enough, given that Heyward needs to get chances against LHP in order to get better. Just last Wednesday, Frediot sat him against the immortal Chien-Ming Wang, a slop-throwing righty. Pure lucky socks “logic.”

    You are severely discounting Constanza’s good hitting for this entire year. He hit well in the minors before being brought up.

    I am moderately discounting his adequate hitting at AAA, which is what you do with minor league lines. A .312/.361/.351 line at AAA is not going to get you released, but it’s also not a harbinger of major league success. His 6.9% walk rate was just ok, given that he brings no power to the table, and his walk rate has predictably tailed off to 2.5% in the majors.

    Following your logic, any number of average prospects wouldn’t have gotten the chance to prove themselves at the major league level because the managers stuck with their guys, even when they were obviously struggling.

    Jose Constanza is not a prospect, much less an average one. If Heyward were sharing time with Tyler Pastornicky (which wouldn’t make sense, since Pastornicky plays SS, but bear with me), I would consider this decision more defensible, although still bad on balance. That he’s actually sharing time with a 27-year-old who has never shown anything outside the minors is strong evidence that Fredi Gonzalez should be rushed to the head trauma unit.

    If this was happening to say, Mark Kotsay, no one would be crying about it. Here’s mark’s line from his time in Atlanta: 289/340/418/758. Those are better numbers than Jason is putting out, yet I don’t remember anyone giving him any praise and I can’t imagine anyone would have said a word if he’d have been sat in favor of a guy like Constanza for a handful of games.

    Mark Kotsay never had a single season that was even in the same ballpark as Heyward’s 2010. The comparison does not work.

    @Sam/70:

    This statement suggests to me that you don’t understand what statistical analysis can and can’t tell you.

    Oh, please tell me what it is that statistical analysis can and can’t tell me. I am simply dying to hear Sam Hutcheson’s insights on the methodological flaws in The Book’s comprehensive study of streak hitting. Hey, maybe you can work something up into an article, get it published in the Journal of Applied Statistics.

  69. Troy at 62 (and anybody else still having trouble at understanding the “play Heyward more” side of the Heyward / Constanza dilemma),

    If you have a pair of dice and roll you CAN get any number from 2 to 12. And, it is chance that is involved, not skill. But you can’t get 15 or 1 or 0. That is beyond the range of the possible.

    Let’s say you have just rolled 2 three times in a row. Then, somebody says “I will pay you 500 against your 100 to roll any number you pick”, what number would you pick? And, there IS a right answer. That answer is 7. Seven is a 1 in 6 chance. six and eight are each 5 out of 36 chances. And, your “hot number”, 2, is a 1 in 36 chance.

    The problem is that the people saying “ride the hot hand of Constanza” have no basis any more certain than luck involving dice to predict it will continue for even 1 plate appearance. Has Constanza communicated with the mystical ghost of Roy Hobbs to gain some added “oomph”? Is there anything about his “game” that a major league pitcher, pitching coach, catcher, and advance scouts hasn’t already deciphered effectively (which fact apparently WAS deciphered in the minor leagues)?

    The dispute is fundamentally do you believe a “hot streak” beyond a player’s proven (and a 7 YEAR minor league record is, for these purposes, proven) ability is a REAL phenomenon? I do not. Absent injury, Heyward is more likely to produce more offensively in his next plate appearance than Constanza. I am taking 7 and you are taking 4. Sometimes, you will win. You can’t predict when. more times I will win.

  70. Constanza will eventually regress to the mean and Heyward will be fine. The Braves know what they have in Heyward and I’m sure are delighted to have him. How could you not be? His talent is obvious. Constanza has played well and I have enjoyed watching him. Everyone needs to chill out.

  71. Of course Constanza is ‘on fire.’ If he’s not, then that phrase has no meaning.

    Horse hockey. It’s a few games, nobody is “on fire” over such a small number of games. Gonzalez currently has a 9-game hitting streak and two home runs in the past two games; yet no one here is crazy enough to claim Gonzalez is “on fire.”

  72. @75,

    The house money analogy (which I’m rather ambivalent about) was in response to riding Constanza while he’s hot and benching him only after he’s had a 2-15 streak or thereabouts. Sounds like gambling to me.

    On the topic of man-management, how does floating the Heyward-to-minors rumor through team mouthpiece DOB rate? Somehow I doubt Jason (or agent, etc.) appreciated that one, even if the logic behind it were sound.

  73. Anon21, baseball, like most other competitive enterprises, is a game of utilizing slight advantages repeatedly. The study you cited doesn’t say that hot and cold streaks aren’t predictive; it says that the predictive value is slight.

    If you act on a slight advantage repeatedly, it adds up. If you always play the hot guy in borderline cases, the aggregate effect will be more wins for your team. I’m all for playing the hot guy. Even if it doesn’t work this time, doing it consistently will add wins to the club.

  74. @78

    You are so far in la-la land it’s not even worth writing an essay to point out the multitude of ways that you are wrong about this.

    The fact still stands that people are complaining over starting the guy who’s playing better, and that will never not be insane.

  75. @84, I don’t know about never. If you’re the superior team in a playoff series, you probably want to stabilize your production as much as possible and play the established regulars over the hot hand. Over a 162 game season, however, it’s worth taking advantage of the mild predictive ability of a streak, even if it’s risky in each individual case.

  76. @Bethany – just to be clear, nobody here is claiming that the Braves would have been better off playing Heyward instead of Constanza over the course of Constanza’s hot streak. Obviously not. Point is though, going forward, Heyward is still a better bet to help the Braves win, and so he should play.

  77. Tom overstates the reach of statistical analysis. Quoting his work from The Book simply repeats his mistaken assumptions.

    Statistical analysis provides no valid framework for this question.

  78. @83/JoeyT: Baselines, my friend. 5 points of wOBA bonus to Constanza, 5 points deficit to Heyward. ZiPS RoS puts Heyward on a .368 wOBA, so we’ll knock that down to .363. It puts Constanza on a .297 wOBA, so we’ll bump that up to .303.

    Still crazy and indefensible.

    @Bethany/84

    You are so far in la-la land it’s not even worth writing an essay to point out the multitude of ways that you are wrong about this.

    That’s a fairly roundabout way of conceding that I’m right, but I guess I’ll take it.

    @87/Sam:

    Tom overstates the reach of statistical analysis. Quoting his work from The Book simply repeats his mistaken assumptions.

    He overstates the reach of statistical analysis. And he relies on mistaken assumptions.

    Well, I’ve got to say, you’ve really turned me around on this whole statistics business, Sam. I thought maybe they had something there, but now I see that I was wrong, so very wrong. Your useless, unsupported argument by assertion has overthrown the last three decades of systematic study of baseball.

  79. Jose Constanza would have been great playing in St Louis or Houston in 1982. Freddi wishes he could manage like in those days, because it keeps him involved and active, unlike waiting around for 3-run home runs, which he and his batting coach apparently hate. Constanza and Bourn are like Freddi v1agra, keeping him in a constant state of arousal.
    I think this may be a good thing for Heyward though – for the first time probably in his life, he’s going to have to work out of a slump and earn his way back into the lineup. Part of his character-building.

  80. I wonder how many of the people aghast at Constanza’s playing time were part and parcel to the “Play Gregor Blanco!” bandwagon.

  81. @86 Jason is playing, just not against lefties. It should be pointed out that Jason has a 167/263/310 /573 line against lefties this year. Just so we’re clear.

    But hey, don’t let statistical analysis get in the way of defending your favorite prospect, right Anon? Keep on defending a guy with a sub 600 OPS against lefties. Go on, and I’ll just watch. It’s clear that you’re so right.

  82. @88, I’m not sure about your assumption set.

    1) I’m not sure you should knock Heyward at all, and that would help your argument. Hoewever, I don’t know if you credit Constanza enough.

    2) The more important point is that there’s some feedback. Every time Constaza hits, say, a line drive, that adds another positive ML data point that ZiPS did not get a chance to consider. His LD and K rates are really good in his short time in the bigs, and those are your two best BA Predictors.

    Even taking all of that into account, you could be right, but I don’t think it’s any kind of slam dunk.

  83. 90,

    Sam,

    I never was big on playing Blanco. I saw almost exactly the same skill set as Constanza (actually, Constanza MAY be a little better, particuarly in the field). However, one must remember that some of the “play Blanco” came as far back as when Raul Mondesi and Brian Jordan were covering the corners at BA’s of 220 or less, obp’s of 280 or less and little SLG. Some of the pro Blanco movement came after Schafer hurt his wrist and then before and after McLouth was acquired.

    Since Andruw faded and then left Atlanta, NO centerfielder that the Braves have played (before Bourne) has been above average defensively and only McLouth could have ever been projected to be above average offensively.

    Utilizing your comparison is like treating Heyward as if he is the flotsam playing centerfield for the Braves over recent years. There is no comparison. If Constanza were replacing a player unlikely to exceed a 720 ops, then play him. If he is replacing a player likely to exceed 800 ops that can play the position in the field above average, then Constanza should sit.

  84. @58 – ‘It’s got to be about process, not results.’

    Really? MLB is a very results oriented business. We are talking about a team in a race to the post season, right? Your assertion that Jayson Heyward’s long term development is more important than the team using playing its most productive players to win games is absurd. If this were the Padres or the Astros you would have a great point but last I looked the Braves are in the play off hunt. Jayson Heyward is the future but right now Jose Constanza is simply out playing him.

    Of course the root of this argument is the inexplicable virulence of the criticism Fredi Gonzalez gets here. Ask any baseball professional this question ‘How has Fredi Gonzalez done this season?’ And they would say ‘Awesome!’ His team is in the playoff hunt despite injury, sophomore slumps, his second baseman taking March, April, May and June off, and then more injury. Ask anyone on Braves Journal and they would say ‘Horrible!’ The guy has the nuts to replace a guy ‘hitting’ .222/.317/.403 with a red hot minor leaguer who is sure to fail soon. The stats say so! Geez guys get real.

  85. Well, I’ve got to say, you’ve really turned me around on this whole statistics business, Sam. I thought maybe they had something there, but now I see that I was wrong, so very wrong. Your useless, unsupported argument by assertion has overthrown the last three decades of systematic study of baseball.

    You snark and spit and snarl sarcastically, but you’d be wise to consider the limits of your tool set. Just because you have a hammer doesn’t mean everything in the world is a nail.

    Statistics is good at predicting likely aggregate performance over large samples. Statistics is useless at predicting who is the best player to play in a given game, or three.

  86. Honestly, I’ve been kind of coming around to Fredi. I was kind of ticked earlier in the year, but that was mostly due to his consistent placement of Proctor, who was clearly bad, in high-leverage situations. Now that he’s finally gotten over that, I’m finding that many of his other decisions are closer calls than I think at first.

    I would probably be pretty happy with him if we could just have him sign a pledge that says, “I will not instruct a player to bunt unless it’s the bottom of the 8th or later in a one run game, or the player is facing an extreme defensive shift.” (That second part is “the McCann clause.”)

  87. Fredi is far from perfect. He loves the bunt too much. He’s been too loyal to Proctor. But he is far from the “Frediot” cartoon his detractors here paint him as. You get the feeling that a contingent of people believe that a modestly robust programming routine, supplied with wOBA and minor league equivalencies could adequately run a ML club.

  88. I appreciated that he batted Chipper fifth in favor of Freeman for the time being. Recent performance being worthy of reward, and all that. If only that applied to the dominant subject of conversation here….

  89. #98 – yeah. You’d think that the Braves were 11.5 out of it by now. Me thinks that we Braves fans are a tad bit spoiled.

  90. Apparently it’s all my fault. My audacity of questioning the vocal minority who hate Fredi Gonzalez above all else has killed babies or something.

  91. “You are so far in la-la land it’s not even worth writing an essay to point out the multitude of ways that you are wrong about this.”

    Actually, very little about what he wrote is “la-la land.” I think it’s a pretty damn good post. Here are the main points Anon has made, most of which are still being ignored:

    (1) Heyward is the better play going forward

    (2) Heyward has also recently been sat against a righty

    (3) Constanza’s AAA numbers, even this year, are not great.

    (4) Constanza is not a prospect

    (5) Mark Kotsay provides an inadequate point of comparison

    (6) Sam’s statement that “you don’t understand what statistical analysis can and can’t tell you” is both obnoxious and unfounded.

    I fail to see how any of these points are that crazy. As both a historian and a person in the world, I see quite a bit of crazy around me, especially lately. But these points–no, they’re pretty sound.

  92. “And how f**king dare anyone talk bad about Fredi, after all he’s been through. Leave Fredi Gonzalez alone right now! I mean it! Anyone who has a problem with him, you deal with me because he’s not well right now. All you people want is more; more, more, more, more! Leave Fredi alone! You’re lucky he even manages for you b*st*rds! All you people care about is winning, he’s a human!”

    /Sam

  93. #103 – I don’t think its ‘high standards’ its that everyone expects Fredi to manage by the SABR handbook. The poor bastard probably didn’t even take statistics in school. Despite what downeasterJC says the ultimate measurement of a manager’s success is the team’s win/loss record. Fredi is doing a hell of a job.

  94. @106

    1. Not against lefties, at least not at this point.

    2. ONE righty. Seriously, he sat once against a righty and it’s the end of the world.

    3. They are solid and show an improvement over previous years.

    4. This matter why? The fact that JoJo Reyes was a prospect didn’t carry him very far, did it?

    5. He’s a very adequate comparison, as he was performing better than Jason is currently, and at CF. There’s also the small fact that he had more than one good year under his belt at the Major League level.

  95. 1. Yes he is. it’s also probably better for his development, especially when you consider his fantastic numbers against lefties in the minors (he needs more experience at the MLB level).

    2. Never said it was the end of the world.

    3. Not that solid, and 27-year olds don’t have much room for improvement–unless they add power.

    4. It matters insofar as it’s a response to this point: “any number of average prospects wouldn’t have gotten the chance to prove themselves at the major league level because the managers stuck with their guys, even when they were obviously struggling.” He’s not a prospect, not even an average one.

    5. Not an adequate comparison considering age, room for growth, etc.

  96. Earl Weaver wasn’t some big stathead, but he figured out that it’s probably not a great idea to give up an out for a base in the middle of the game.

  97. @108

    The fact that Fredi attended the last SABR convention in Atlanta gave people hope that he would manage via sabermetrically approved concepts. That he has proven to be a conventional manager in many ways has been a disappointment in some quarters.

  98. Bethany/92

    @86 Jason is playing, just not against lefties. It should be pointed out that Jason has a 167/263/310 /573 line against lefties this year. Just so we’re clear.

    Just so we’re clear, he sat against Wang, the righty, for no discernible reason.

    But hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of defending your favorite incompetent manager, right Bethany? It’s so clear that you’re right.

    93/JoeyT

    The more important point is that there’s some feedback. Every time Constaza hits, say, a line drive, that adds another positive ML data point that ZiPS did not get a chance to consider.

    I’ll have to check, but I believe that ZiPS RoS re-runs every night, such that it should be current as to his game yesterday.

    His LD and K rates are really good in his short time in the bigs, and those are your two best BA Predictors.

    His line drive rate is 18.2%, which is probably below average or right at average. (No readily accessible authoritative source for MLB average line drive rate, but I got 19% from http://www.sbnation.com/2010/6/5/1502692/fantasy-baseball-line-drive-rates)

    Johnny/95

    Really? MLB is a very results oriented business.

    Perhaps it will be clearer if I put it this way: decisions must be judged either a) at the time they are made, or b) over the long-term. If Fredi Gonzalez penciled me into the lineup tonight, you would join me in believing that he’s out of his goddamn mind. I would hope that assessment would not change if I hit a pathetic little dribbler 30 feet down the third base line that just kicked fair for a hit, got drilled by two pitches, and launched a pop-up to short that Bonifacio dropped.

    Sam/96:

    Statistics is useless at predicting who is the best player to play in a given game, or three.

    Here we come to the nub of it, and unsurprisingly you are wrong again. Statistics are not very good at all at predicting performance within individual games, but that’s because in infinitesimal sample sizes noise swamps signal. You know what techniques are even worse at predicting performance in individual games? “Gut,” “horse sense,” and all the other euphemisms for dropping the systemic component of analysis and imposing the human need for pattern on random data.

    You get the feeling that a contingent of people believe that a modestly robust programming routine, supplied with wOBA and minor league equivalencies could adequately run a ML club.

    No, not precisely. But a computer could easily spit out an optimal set of in-game decisions. The manager’s job goes beyond that, and most aspects are beyond any current machine’s capacity.

  99. I think alot of us here are more concerned with winning the argument than understanding what’s happening.

    I’d say it’s kind of a perfect storm, because it’s a chance to:

    1.) Side with Heyward (which we haven’t had much chance to do with the season he’s had)
    2.) Deride Fredi (which honestly, we have plenty of chances to do)
    3.) Argue with Sam (which as the person who has probably stooped lower than anyone in Arguing With Sam, I have to say, he hasn’t lost his head here. He’s not insulting anyone. Well, maybe a little bit. But he’s sticking to his point and not just calling names. So Kudos there, I guess.)

    But anyway. Heyward has not “been benched in favor of” anybody. He’s fallen in to a platoon; albeit a platoon with a lefty, who so far struggles less against LHP than Heyward does. But this is more about Constanza than Heyward, and I think we can all agree. Fredi wants to find AB’s for Constanza, and “Hey, lookie there, Heyward’s been terrible against lefties. I guess it’s Heyward’s day to sit for Constanza today.”

    Yes, Constanza is going to regress. But not JUST because history says his BABIP is unsustainable. Sure, BABIP has a lot to do with luck. But every event represented in all statistics still involved human decisions. Even though statistics tell us that players regress to their means, it doesn’t mean that it’s JUST a case of “luck always runs out.”

    Yes, players get hot and then cool down. MY feeling, as far as the player goes, is there are two major elements here: A.) Timing/mechanics being at the top of their spectrum (this usually regresses, as your mechanics and timing are always in a state of flux.) B.) The players approach being aligned with the way the pitchers are going to attack him (this usually regresses, as the pitchers keep guessing until they get you. Then you have to adjust your approach.)

    A hot streak, to me, is a comprised of varying amounts of these two elements (and probably others: confidence, prior history against certain pitchers, luck.)

    Constanza doesn’t seem to be really “raking,” I think he’s finding a lot of holes. Some of those will stop being hits and start being outs. The fact of his speed though means that just by putting it in play, he’s giving himself a good chance.

    I think the fact that he hasn’t walked much is VERY telling. Really, there’s not much chance to walk if you’re hitting .415 or whatever he’s hitting now. But it tells me that the league is still attacking him, trying to prove he’s Gregor Blanco, and not Michael Bourn. At the same time, I think he’d been very aggressive from the very start, trying to prove he could do something. This has lined up with the way they are pitching him. Now, he’s feeling confident, been having success with that approach, so he’s going to continue.

    I think the league will soon pick at him a little more, attack him a little less, try to get him to “get himself out.”

    We’ll see then if he’s able to be selective, and aggressive at the same time (or at least, figure out in each at-bat, which one of those approaches will serve him better.) I suspect he can’t, or else he wouldn’t be a career minor leaguer.

    But why bench him before the opposition figures him out? His BABIP will regress, but not JUST because BABIP is luck, but because pitchers will figure out how to disrupt his rhythm. Or they’ll figure out how to get him in to counts that force him to put different pitches in play. Whether that’s high fastballs, change ups away, or sweeping breaking balls. I don’t know. But I suppose we soon will.

    And if we never find out.. that’s a GOOD thing.

  100. Here we come to the nub of it, and unsurprisingly you are wrong again. Statistics are not very good at all at predicting performance within individual games, but that’s because in infinitesimal sample sizes noise swamps signal. You know what techniques are even worse at predicting performance in individual games? “Gut,” “horse sense,” and all the other euphemisms for dropping the systemic component of analysis and imposing the human need for pattern on random data.

    You are imposing your human need for pattern on random data and calling it a “systemic component of analysis.” Your “systemic component of analysis” is equally full of crap as my “horse sense.” That’s the whole bloody point.

  101. Oh right, sitting against one right hander clearly shows a trend. Just like that one homer Georgie hit is clearly going to be a repeating occurance. But please continue to use that SINGLE instance as factual high ground against a season of Jason’s suckage against lefties. You clearly haven’t been paying attention, as at no point have I claimed to be anything close to a fan of Fredi.

  102. But a computer could easily spit out an optimal set of in-game decisions. The manager’s job goes beyond that, and most aspects are beyond any current machine’s capacity.

    Those “optimal set of in-game decisions” actually involve players, with personalities, and follow-on consequences.

  103. @105- Sam, you’ve been arguing your point pretty darned well, with a pretty acceptable level of snark.

    It’s comments like THESE, that are simultaneously self-aggrandizing, generalizing and demeaning those that disagree, and, frankly, completely off-topic that really set people off. Just self-edit these ones before you hit ‘submit’

  104. internet, n., a forum of communication where individuals are expected to be simultaneously self-aggrandizing, generalizing, and demeaning to those that disagree.

    That’s from the dictionary. It’s a fact.

  105. Why the ragging on Charles Thomas? I looked at his game log for 2004 and it’s as I remember it: Mostly awesome, only at time average. Heck, on the last game of the season, he smacked two homers. Not bad.

    His postseason that year wasn’t very effectual but it wasn’t horrible either. He got on base 6 times in 21 plate appearances.

    I had a great time watching Charles Thomas play that year. It’s always fun to see an underdog come from out of nowhere and succeed, even if it’s just for a single season that nobody but his mom and some ardent fans will remember.

    And who else was on the roster that was going to do a better job than what Thomas did that year? DeWayne Wise? Damon Hollins?

  106. I am sorry Anon21, there is no way based on the results that you can prove that Fredi has been hurting the team by playing Constanza over Heyward. Baseball is a here and now results oriented business. Yeah, if YOU were playing the outfield in Heyward’s place I’d think Gonzalez was looney but if YOU put together a 4 or 5 game streak where you made a net contribution to a win and Heyward STILL wasn’t, I’d say let YOU get your run of luck or whatever out of the way and give the team a better chance to win games. Lost in all this is that Heyward, while an unquestioned talent, has been struggling all year. Its not like he has hit a late season slump or anything. Yes, Constanza will become Jose Constanza again but in the mean time Fredi has to play the team he feels like has the best chance to win.

  107. @122 – Lord almighty, please read and digest before you post. NOBODY is claiming that Heyward would have beaten the 1.000 + OPS that Constanza has put up so far. Rather, the argument is that on any given day, Heyward is a better bet to produce and help the Braves win.

    That said, the past is the past. I’m interested to know how many people honestly think that the best bet for optimal results for the Braves tonight is sitting Heyward again vs. a righty (Clay Hensley) in favor of Constanza.

  108. @123
    It’s Heyward’s birthday today. He’ll play tonight and probably have flu-like symptoms tomorrow (that’s if the players on the team have anything to say about how Heyward’s night goes).

  109. Way back @ 71: “Sitting Heyward hurts the club in the longterm. Heyward will be a cornerstone for this offense long after Jose Constanza is playing AAA for some other organization, or washed out into the indy leagues”

    I guess the question is: how would you possibly know? Suppose Heyward had been hurt the last two weeks? (I mean, more than he actually is.) Would you feel his career had been set back immeasurably? Has BMac’s injury “hurt the team in the long term?” Of course not. playing a player somewhat less for a week or two, or even three, has about as much to do with the long term as Andruw Jones’ proclivity to party all night at strip clubs turned him into someone who couldn’t play baseball.

    As to whether “gut” beats stats in short periods of time, I’m going to defend Sam here (and I am probably the only guy posting here who is an actual statistician and a member of the American Statistical Association) how would you possibly know? Baseball isn’t roulette — it’s part roulette and part people. When you bet on red with $10, you can expect, with mathematical precision, to get about $9.50 back. But of course you’re either gonna get $20 or $0. The reason we know that gut feel doesn’t matter in roulette, even though some people win, is that we have a sufficient understanding of the process to prove it.
    We don’t have nearly that good an understanding of the baseball process. not even close. it’s a lot better than it was since Bill James came along (and he’s a hero of mine) but you can ask him: you can’t run a major league team day to day on statistics — you just can’t.
    There is a data base of exactly zero articles/analyses about whtehr or not actual managers made actual errors in going with or against the book in putting particular players in. That’s because there’s no real way to do the real counterfactual analysis without turning the players into roulette balls — which they aren’t.
    Do players get hangovers? Yes! Should you play a player who has a hangover? Who knows? nobody. That’s what managers are paid to do.
    Let’s take it the other way. If someone demonstrated that not playing Jason Heyward every day would put him into a Francouerian funk that would so damage his psyche as to make him an unuseful baseball player, then you should play him. Unless of course treating him as a Francouerian demigod so atrophies his skills that he has to ply them in KC. See? None of this was statistics-based — and coming from a statistician, that’s damn hard to admit.

  110. Honestly, I feel that Prado or Constanza is due a day off. If either of them sits, I’m fine with it. If Chipper sits, I’m disappointed, but I can understand it. If Heyward sits again, I think it’s fishy.

  111. Just for full disclosure purposes:

    If I’m the manager, Jason Heyward starts in RF tonight. Chipper starts at 3B and Constanza starts in LF. (If I were actually the manager I might flip Constanza out and start Prado in LF depending on what my coaches and players told me about whether or not Prado’s double last night was a sign he was getting more comfortable with his timing at the plate, after the long layoff.)

    But Heyward would play in RF tonight, in Sam-world.

    I think Fredi will play Heyward in RF tonight, as well.

  112. Wow. I never thought I’d miss that guy who droned on about wanting to sleep with Jordan Schafer’s sister and formed comments as though he was texting a 13 year-old.

  113. 127 – Me too.

    I also think Constanza will ultimately come back down to earth, much as Sam Fuld did after a hot few weeks in Tampa. My fear, and this is probably born of my having been a Braves fan for so long, is that Fredi will stick with him for much longer than he should. Much, much longer. To be sure, that’s NOT an argument against playing him now–there are other arguments for that, however derided they may be here. I just think it’s worth noting.

    On a broader level, I think there’s a bit of bias against Jason Heyward. He hasn’t lived up to expectations, he has a low batting average, his fielding doesn’t always look fluid, etc. He has been mediocre, yes, but Martin Prado has been equally mediocre–and nobody is talking about platooning him, despite the fact that Hinske and (if we’re just going to ignore sample size, roll with the “hot hand” theory, and look only at immediately past results) Constanza are both better hitters against righties.

    But who knows? Maybe Constanza will get some of Prado’s at bats now that Chipper’s back. It will give us more to talk about!

  114. @125,

    That’s a great analysis. Thank you Jonathan. It’s sort of the way I feel; statistics should be something that informs baseball decisions but they can’t be the decisons themselves.

    Frankly, if Heyward is so emotionally fragile that he can’t handle sitting on the bench for a couple of days (which I don’t think he is), he probably won’t be that good a player anyway.

  115. I have been reading comments on this site, and others, for a long, long time and never commented before. I have basically defaulted to this site for reasons I may explain later. Perspective; Braves’ lineup when I became a fan was Del Crandal(C), Joe Adcock(lB), Danny O’Connel(2B), Johnny Logan(SS), Eddie Mathews(3B), Andy Pafko(LF), Billy Bruton(CF) and Hank Aaron(RF). Among the pitchers were Warren
    Spahn, Lew Burdett, Joey Jay and Bob Buhl. Anyone identify with that? Probably not many! Anyway, this Constanza situation reminds me of the boost another outfielder, Hurricane Bob Hazel, brought to the Braves late in the season years ago albeit with more power. Did it last into the next season? Not really but it certainly helped them when they needed it. My advice would be to just enjoy it without so much existential angst.

  116. In an attempt to clarify my position (just in case people cared:)

    1. I don’t think SABR-metric analysis has any predictive value here; there’s no statistical case for playing Heyward over Constanza.

    2. I don’t think there’s a valid statistical argument for the “hot hand” continuing to be hot, per se. There’s no statistical case for playing Constanza over Heyward.

    3. I don’t believe Jason Heyward is so fragile a psyche that being benched for a “hot hand” is going to destroy his confidence long term. (Anecdotal evidence in support of this: the gigantic, obviously sincere smiles from the dugout last night.)

    4. Given that there is no statistical case for OR against either player in the short term, I believe the correct managerial decision is to reward the player who is producing (i.e. the “hot hand”) and continue to get him playing time. You do this not because you think he’s going to continue to hit above .400 for the rest of the year, but because you want to establish in your organization the truism “we reward results.” That this action also sends the message that “we don’t play favorites, even with franchise savior types” is also helpful.

    5. As I’ve said earlier, when Jose Constanza goes two games without getting a hit, I turn him into a fifth OF, personally.

  117. The whole ‘team Heyward’ vs. ‘team Constanza’ debate is pointless, as the Constanza crowd has already lost and just does not know it yet. It’s a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’ Constanza will flame out and Heyward will still be starting.

  118. @132 Since when has ANYONE argued that the platoon situation last long term?

    The argument is simply that, right now, while Constanza is playing well, it’s not a bad idea to start him against lefties over Heyward. That’s it.

  119. Thank you, Bethany. It would be more helpful is the anti-Constanza crowd (some, not all) could at least attempt to argue the arguments actually presented, in good faith, rather than resorting to trite stereotypes, cartoons and straw men.

  120. This argument broke my brain sometime last night, and I decided it was negatively affecting my enjoyment of baseball and perhaps even life in general. That being said, Heyward is sitting. Against a righty. Tonight. On his birthday.

    It’s got to be punitive at this point. He’s being punished for something, we just don’t know what. That or he’s in severe physical pain. These are the only options that allow my brain to heal.

  121. @125 – I agree with your post. Well written.

    @131 – Yes. I agree with you here. Succinctly conveyed.

  122. @ajcbraves David O’Brien
    Not to make fun. I seriously doubt Fredi even knows it’s birthday. RT @kidfabulous: @ajcbraves Heyward can’t even get in there on his bday?

    I seriously doubt Fredi even knows it’s Tuesday.

  123. Joey T., at 111,

    I saw an interview of Earl Weaver about 3 years ago that was elightening and hilarious.

    Weaver was and is a big card player, and learning the odds on card playing and applying those to baseball led to many of his approaches which represent the first frequent use of the more modern or SABR practices into field managing at the Major League level.

    Weaver got somebody (think it was Paul Blair) to deliberately alter his approach to raise his walks as high as he could. He avoided bunts and hit and run (not always, but mostly).

    It was a great read.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *