The Rocco/Hawpe Thing | The Process Report

The Rocco/Hawpe Thing

By R.J. Anderson //

Okay, let’s go through this. Brad Hawpe comes up with two outs and the bases loaded. Scott Downs is pitching and David Purcey is warming. Downs is death to lefties and good against righties. Purcey is about equally ineffective against both. Joe Maddon sends Rocco Baldelli out of the dugout and then puls him back when it comes to send someone to the plate. Hawpe strikes out and people go crazy thinking Maddon is incorrect it for not pinch hitting.

I think people are half-right.

Hawpe is not the typical platoon player that is completely helpless against southpaws. His career wOBA against them is .330. Over the last three seasons his wOBA versus them are .357, .338, and .361. Baldelli’s career wOBA v. lefties is .355 with .343, .386, and .305 being the last three years. Of course getting a read on Baldelli’s ability to hit lefties or righties or anything alike is equally difficult since he’s rarely played. His last major league at-bat came on October 2, 2009. He appeared in 23 minor league games this season with a line of .278/.295/.422 between High-A and Triple-A.

Neither potential or talent is static. Maybe Baldelli is a true talent .350 wOBA hitter versus lefties still, but honestly I doubt it. He’s probably closer to .340 nowadays and even that might be optimistic for someone who have some rust on his halo. For our sake, though, let’s pretend he is a .350 wOBA hitter. With the pinch hitter penalty, Baldelli drops down to a .315 expected wOBA. Even if you think Hawpe’s wOBA drops by .015-.020 points thanks to park, it’s largely a moot point and marginal upgrade.

What makes more sense is pinch hitting Kelly Shoppach in that situation. He has a career .401 wOBA versus lefties and .342, .442, and .397 the last three years. Even with the pinch hitting penalty, he’s a considerable upgrade. Not only can Shoppach rock southpaws, but the Rays had three catchers available tonight and the game was three defensive outs from being final. The odds of needing another catcher are slight and the odds of needing two are almost non-existent.

Maddon is usually dead-on with these calls, but I think he made the wrong call to send Rocco out because Rocco was the wrong guy. Shoppach should’ve gotten the call if he wanted to pinch hit.

Note: Maddon said in his post-game presser that he wanted to bluff Cito Gaston into pitching to Sean Rodriguez and that he was going Hawpe all the way.

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