NLDS Game Four – Giants v. Reds

The lineups:

Giants
1. CF Angel Pagan
2. 2B Marco Scutaro
3. 3B Pablo Sandoval
4. 1B Buster Posey
5. RF Hunter Pence
6. C Hector Sanchez
7. LF Gregor Blanco
8. SS Brandon Crawford
9. SP Barry Zito

Reds
1. 2B Brandon Phillips
2. SS Zack Cozart
3. 1B Joey Votto
4. LF Ryan Ludwick
5. RF Jay Bruce
6. 3B Todd Frazier
7. C Dioner Navarro
8. CF Drew Stubbs
9. SP Mike Leake

That’s right. After back-to-back games of dreadful offense — over which the Giants compiled a grand total of five hits (two of which came only because the Giants were lucky enough to force yesterday’s game into extras), Bruce Bochy is sitting Brandon Belt in favor of Hector Sanchez. With the Giants’ season on the line, Bochy has opted to downgrade both the offense (Sanchez: .280/.295/.390, 86 wRC+; Belt: .275/.360/.421, 118 wRC+) and defense (Posey: #5; Sanchez: #111).

Not to mention that Lincecum, not Zito, should probably be starting this game. Obligatory reminder — Reds’ offense vs. right-handed pitching: 87 wRC+; Reds’ offense vs. left-handed pitching: 104 wRC+. Plus, their biggest left-handed threat — Joey Votto — hasn’t homered since June 24th.

Oh well. I fully expect Barry Zito to toss a shutout and Hector Sanchez to hit for the cycle because this is the postseason, after all — where chaos reigns supreme.

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13 thoughts on “NLDS Game Four – Giants v. Reds

      • What is the Giants record in games with the Hector/Posey lineup? How many runs per game has that lineup scored compared to the Posey/Belt lineup?

        I believe the Hector/Sanchez lineup is at least as good as the Posey/Belt lineup. Here’s why:

        1. For an equal BA and PA’s, the guy with the lower OBP will will have more hits and XBH’s that partially make up for the lower OBP no matter where he hits in the lineup.

        2. For hitters in the lower half of the lineup, the extra hits become more valuable in terms of run production compared to walks because the #8 and 9 hitters will tend to leave walked runners on base while the extra hits will drive in significantly more runs than the walks.

        Now, you can argue that Belt should be hitting at the top of the lineup, but we all know that ain’t gonna happen with the current personnel on the team.

        Add in the fact that it is probable that Posey has benefitted from being able to limit his catching responsibilities and still stay in the lineup.

        The whole rage thing about the Hector/Posey lineup being inferior is really over the top. The Hector/Posey lineup is not an inferior lineup and the people raging about it have a superficial understanding of baseball statistics.

      • “What is the Giants record in games with the Hector/Posey lineup? How many runs per game has that lineup scored compared to the Posey/Belt lineup?”

        There are so, so many factors that dilute this that it’s largely irrelevant. Just because Pablo happens to homer on a day that Hector is in the lineup doesn’t make the Hector/Posey lineup better.

        And what rage are you referring to? There’s no rage here. I just think the Giants are better off with Belt/Posey, for reasons I’ve explained. I’m entitled to my opinion.

        As for the point about XBHs, have you noticed that Belt has a higher ISO and SLG than Hector? And the walks — whether or not you think they matter as much as run value says, are certainly not to be ignored.

      • The rage I am referring to is not necessarily on your site, but when I see you parroting the same arguments that produce palpable rage on other sites, it bothers me.

        Once again, lineup position makes a huge difference and the lower half of the batting order tends to suppress the value of high OBP guys while enhancing the value of free swingers for an equal BA.

        Add up Hector’s and Belt’s RBI’s and Runs and divide by PA’s. You’ll see that Hector has actually been more productive even though they have hit very close to the same spots in the lineup.

        That is not an accident or some aberration of lineup context. Hector is at least as productive a hitter as Belt.

        I think there are some intangibles at play here too. Just my opinion based on a lot of observation, when Hector goes to the plate with RISP in a high leverage situation, he goes up there thinking he’s going to get a base hit and win the game. Belt, while he has improved in this regard, still goes up there hoping he won’t blow it.

      • 1) I’m not parroting anything. This has nothing to do with rage or other sites. If it bothers you, take it up with them.
        2) Lineup position: not only should Belt be in the lineup instead of Hector, but he should be batting higher.
        3) “Hector is at least as productive a hitter as Belt.” No, he quite obviously isn’t. And the notion that lineup order — a factor out of Belt and Hector’s control, by the way — makes up for the fact that Belt has been a significantly better hitter this season is absurd.
        4) “Just my opinion based on a lot of observation, when Hector goes to the plate with RISP in a high leverage situation, he goes up there thinking he’s going to get a base hit and win the game. Belt, while he has improved in this regard, still goes up there hoping he won’t blow it.” This is just silly narrative. I could just as easily say the opposite and I’d have as much of a case.

      • But Belt is not batting higher nor will he, so that’s a moot issue. The questions is do the Giants field an inferior lineup when Hector Sanchez replaces Brandon Belt. The answer is no it is not an inferior lineup the way it is constructed.

        Add up Hector’s and Belt’s RBI’s and Runs and divide by PA’s. Hector has produced more runs per PA than Brandon Belt while hitting in essentially the same place in the batting order. I’ll take that real production over some theoretical calculated production any time. One is what they should produce in a hypothetical lineup made up of identical batters while the other is what actually happened in real life.

        No you would not have a case that Brandon Belt is looking to win the game with a base hit because he is obviously not. He is looking to not make an out, a skill that has value but does not always perform well in certain situations, such as the second half of an NL lineup.

  1. One more point: Hector Sanchez has a Fangraphs WAR of 0.7 in 227 PA’s while Brandon Belt has a 1.7 in 472 PA’s. WAR is a counting stat. When normalized for equal PA’s, their WARs are virtually identical.

    • Well, 1) WAR is adjusted for position, and 2) the stat you cite is generous on Hector’s defense.

      It’s not a direct comparison between Hector and Belt. Posey is in the equation too.

      With one lineup, we have Posey’s 1B defense + Posey’s bat + Hector’s defense + Hector’s bat. With the other lineup, we have Belt’s 1B defense + Belt’s bat + Posey’s defense + Posey’s bat. I just can’t bring myself to believe that the Giants aren’t better off in every one of those facets when Posey is catching and Belt is at first.

      • You’re looking at team performance when it’s a matter of individual performance. It’s similar to arguing that the Giants have won Barry Zito’s last 12 starts, therefore he should be in the postseason rotation instead of Ryan Vogelsong.

      • No, it’s not because the Giants as a team allow fewer runs when Vogelsong pitches while they score as many or more with the Hector/Posey lineup. The argument I hear over and over is that the Giants LINEUP is inferior when Hector is in it. It is NOT inferior because it produces as many or more runs as the Posey/Belt lineup.

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