Posted October 26, 2012

Joe Knows: Leyland, Bochy at top of their games so far in World Series

Bruce Bochy, Detroit Tigers, Jim Leyland, San Francisco Giants, World Series
Buster Posey, Prince Fielder

Prince Fielder was gunned down at the plate trying to score from first base on Delmon Young’s double into the corner in left. [Christian Petersen/Getty Images]

After each World Series game, Joe Sheehan will offer his quick-take analysis on a key moment or decision that shaped the outcome of the game and, potentially, the Series. For more from Joe, check out his newsletter and follow him on Twitter

The idea behind these nightly post-game pieces is to break down managerial decisions that change the course of each World Series game, particularly to isolate a mistake that may have been made that affected a team’s chance to win. Small decisions can have large ramifications when you have just seven games left to play. We’ve been treated, in this and recent Octobers, to the tactical adventures of Ron Washington, Mike Matheny, Joe Girardi and other managers who seem to act at random, and at times have substantially reduced their teams’ chances of winning.

Well, we may have picked the wrong time to launch this bad boy, because the 2012 World Series has featured a pretty good pair of managing jobs to date. Oh, you can nitpick a decision here or there from Thursday night’s Game 2 — Detroit’s Jim Leyland traded the go-ahead run for two outs in the seventh, and intentionally walked Pablo Sandoval in the eighth — but there’s been nothing clearly wrong out of him or San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy in either game.

Frankly, the worst decision we’ve seen in two games was by a third-base coach on Thursday night. The Tigers’ Gene Lamont sent Prince Fielder — who was slowing down as he pulled into third base — home on Delmon Young’s second-inning, no-out double. The move was far too risky given the lack of outs and Fielder’s lack of speed, and Lamont giving the signal late only made the situation worse. Fielder was out on a close play, Detroit did not score in the inning, and didn’t get a runner to scoring position the rest of the night.

Lamont’s poor choice aside, what we’ve really seen the last two nights is that managers can make the right choices and have them still not work out, because the players still play the game. Take Leyland’s late-game machinations. Twice, he made pitching changes designed not only to get the platoon advantage but to exploit Bochy’s failure to balance his lineup. In the seventh, Leyland brought in southpaw Drew Smyly to face Brandon Belt, the first of three straight lefthanded batters. In the eighth, he called upon long-time righty killer Octavio Dotel to face Buster Posey and Hunter Pence. These were strong tactical moves that reduced the Giants’ chance to score . . . but they scored anyway. Both Smyly and Dotel walked the first batter they faced, making their situations worse and leading to single runs in each inning in a 2-0 loss.

So often this postseason we’ve seen a bad decision lead to a good outcome. Last night, we saw good decisions produce bad outcomes. It may be small consolation for Tigers fans, but their manager has been doing a good job of giving his team the best chance to win. Sometimes, all the blame goes to the players.

– By Joe Sheehan

5 comments
dinohealth
dinohealth

SPORTING NEWS PLAYER OF THE YEAR GOES TO MIGGY CABRERA! Listening to Chris Bahr, this was more a Trout-should-have-won presentation, than a celebration of an Epic Achievement in Baseball! They sound pathetic and apologetic, over there! When 200 of your peers, who play this great game day in, day out, think you are the best, that says a lot more than jaded stat sheets. Frankly, Miggy beat Trout in OPS (is that new generation enough for you?), batting average, homeruns, and RBIs, while carrying his team to the Division Title, their only way to get in the Playoffs, with a memorable stretch-run performance in September. The first Triple Crown in 50 years, was only a by-product of this singular, MVP performance, all season. Trout is out fly-casting and swatting flies during the Playoffs, while Miggy's MVP performance has taken his team, now, to the World Series! If you left it up to his peers, MIggy, would get even more votes for MVP, than he did for Player of the Year! I just hope Verducci, and the rest of you guys, have the largeness to recognize these facts, and hope you vote(d) Cabrera for MVP! I also think you all ought to make your votes public, and, not hide behind the screen! Other than that, yep, Tigers better get going, or else, all the hype you guys generated, will undergo a role-reversal of historic proportions! Nice story, Joe; somebody has to report on the Tigers, and Leyland has done a great job! As for the third bas coach, he made the right call. If Fielder's foot had not come up, off, home plate, he would have been safe! Can't blame the call for that. I might also add, Tigers do not have any errors yet, so, it has not been any great defensive difference. Also, you all hyped Verlander as the "best pitcher in baseball" (in his own words he tells us that he did not have a great season) and gave the Tiger pitching rotation the edge because of the way they performed in the Playoffs; they were average to above-average during the season! As for Verlander, there were a lot of other pitchers that had better seasons than he did this year, that probably would not have left a WS game with an 11.25 ERA! :-)

Rick G2
Rick G2

BUT, you can blame the Tiger's 3rd base coach.......

dinohealth
dinohealth

@Rick G2 Nah, Fielder would have been safe if his foot had not come off the plate (up). Coach made the right call at third base. However, Fielder is clearly no track star right now...:-)

brad.chis
brad.chis

I thought Leland's call to have the infield at double pay depth worked out well.  The ball was hit to the right of the second baseman....if he's playing in, then the ball gets through and one run scores and the bases are still loaded.  As it turned out he got out of it with only one run, which unfortunately turned out to be the winner.

 

Brett_Buck
Brett_Buck

You left out Dusty Baker trying calling a steal of 3rd for Jay Bruce in the NLDS clincher. They probably still would have lost but that pretty much put an end to the game. As a long-time Giants fan including the Dusty Baker era, that didn't greatly surprise me. Of course he did get the Reds to the NLDS in the first place...

 

  The only minor mistakes I have see so far in the WS were by Bochy, actually - Mijares and Kontos yesterday. I was going "oh no no no, not Mijares!" but when you have a seven-run lead I suppose you can afford to save some of the good guys for later.