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Angels Win via Plunk-Off April 12, 2014

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Let’s just get this out in the open. The Angels won last night when Jeurys Familia hit Hank Conger with a pitch, forcing DH Raul Ibanez in. It’s a shame, since it unfairly reflects on Jeurys – the bases were loaded because he allowed Ibanez to single and followed up with a wild pitch, sure, but Familia tossed a groundout that was unfortunately productive when David Freese moved Ibanez over to third. The two walks that followed were Terry Collins managing from the Joe Maddon book, intentionally loading the bases to keep a double play available with a force at any base. (I’m surprised he didn’t bust out a five-man infield to guard against grounders.) It was also Familia’s longest career relief outing and his longest outing in the majors since he started on October 1, 2012, and went four innings.

The Mets have benefited from the occasional plunk-off in the past; current Dodgers utilityman Justin Turner led the Mets in HBP in 2011 with ten savage beanings, including a walk-off plunk from Oakland’s Brad Zeigler on June 22.

There were some odd moves made in the dugout. Kyle Farnsworth, who Collins is treating as a reliable veteran, pitched only a third of an inning. Jose Valverde was of course left in the bullpen in order to keep him fresh him for a save situation, although the utility of that going into extra innings is debatable. Valverde and Farnsworth had each pitched a full inning the previous night in Atlanta. Long man Carlos Torres was used early in the game. That meant that the only arms left in the bullpen were Familia and John Lannan, who last pitched to a single batter on April 9th, before Collins would have to go to a position player or starter. It’s up in the air whether Collins made the right decision, but it’s questionable to me why Terry is using Lannan in a left-handed-specialist role; Lannan’s splits are worse against lefties than righties. Lannan is a career starter and should be treated as a long-relief man. To my mind, Familia hasn’t shown he’s ready for long outings, because he’s still a young pitcher, and Lannan would have been a better choice to start the eleventh inning.

Don Kelly, Utility King June 30, 2011

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Super utility dervish Don Kelly is this year’s second inductee into the prestigious* Spectrum Club, which loyal readers if any will recognize as the group of players who have played both pitcher and designated hitter in a given season. Kelly pitched a perfect third of an inning (for those keeping score at home, that’s one out) against the Mets last night during a 16-9 Tigers loss.

Kelly’s lifetime pitching statistics: 0.1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 HR, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 BF. That batter was Scott Hairston, who flied out to Austin Jackson at center.

Kelly came in after David Purcey, the Tigers’ last arm in the bullpen, pitched the last out of the eighth and the first two of the ninth. In his one inning, Purcey gave up five hits, four runs (all of them earned), two walks (one intentional), and no strikeouts. Purcey’s ninth inning started promisingly when Justin Turner grounded out and Carlos Beltran flied out, but David then gave up a double to catcher Ronnie Paulino, walked Jason Bay, and then allowed Angel Pagan to double, scoring Paulino. At that point, Jim Leyland called on Kelly, who took care of Hairston to end the inning.

That makes three utility pitchers thus far this year. Of the position players who pitched, Wilson Valdez, Mike McCoy and Don Kelly have each played at least three non-pitching positions. Valdez has  played at second base, third base, and shortstop; McCoy has played second, third, shortstop, center field, and left field; and Kelly has played first, third, left, center, and right. They’re three of the four pitchers with fifty or more plate appearances. (Roy Halladay is the fourth, with exactly 50 PA this year.)

Over the course of his career, Kelly has been a utility ubermensch, playing every position except catcher. As a lifetime .242/.287/.341 hitter, Kelly needs to be versatile defensively to keep himself working. That’s essentially the same way Mike McCoy keeps his job. Kelly had never pitched professionally before.

*not a guarantee

Justin Turner Takes One For The Team June 23, 2011

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.
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The Mets’ Justin Turner quite literally took one for the team last night when he wasn’t trying to get hit, but, oops, managed to get plunked in the bottom of the 13th inning with the bases loaded. Brad Ziegler was the losing pitcher for Oakland. It was the first game-ending hit by pitch since last year, when Mariano Rivera nailed Jeff Francoeur for the loss in a September game.

In 185 plate appearances this year, Turner has been hit three times. The other two were both by Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton, eleven days apart; Morton is not especially known for hitting batters, since he, too, has only been involved in three hit batsmen this year. (The third plunking was Dane Sardinha.) It was the Mets’ only go-ahead HBP this year, and the only one of this year’s six go-ahead hit batsmen to occur in extra innings.

Turner has a way about him. He’s hit ten go-ahead RBIs this year (and yes, a hit by pitch that forces in a run is an RBI), which accounts for a little over ten percent of the Mets’ 95 go-ahead RBIs. Only Carlos Beltran, with 13, has more. It’s also the Mets’ only game-ending RBI this year. I guess Turner will take what he can get.