CC Sabathia: walking S-Rod was the right move

Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn’t waste any time in pissing off his detractors yesterday when he ordered an intentional walk of Sean Rodriguez, a lifetime .230 hitter, with first base open to load the bases and pitch to Carlos Pena, with a career .487 slugging percentage. The move backfired as Pena hit a grand slam to put the Yankees down 4-0.

After the game, Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia said that Girardi made the right call.

“I knew I had some success off (Pena), but like I said, it’s a lefty so I knew if I make the right pitches then we get out of it,” CC told Chad Jennings of the Journal News. “… It was a lefty, so I felt like it was the right move.”

Rodriguez hits well against lefties, a .363 lifetime OBP and a career .787 OPS, while CC has done well in the past against Pena. However many fans questioned it due to the fact that CC obviously didn’t have his normal command that day and forcing him to load the bases put even more pressure on him. He fell behind in the count and and was forced to throw one right down the middle that Pena crushed. Many just felt like pulling such a move so early in the game was unnecessary.

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3 Responses to CC Sabathia: walking S-Rod was the right move

  1. Mike Sommer says:

    I hated the move when it was made. I'd much rather give up the two-run single to Sean Rodriguez than the grand slam to Pena. You make a mistake to one guy, it's most likely a single…to the other guy, he hits it out.

  2. David K. says:

    Hello, dum dum. is anyone in there? Has Girardi noticed what Carlos Pena does all the time against the Yankees? This guy used to make a career against us. You should never intentionally walk someone to get to a Yankee killer with the bases loaded. Then too, it's the first inning of the first game of the season. It was a terrible move. Don't put any stock in what C.C. says after the game. What's he supposed to say, that it was the wrong move? Girardi blew this game himself.

  3. Billy O. says:

    I just went and did the math on this by looking up stats at baseballreference.com. Basically, Mike Sommer is right. While Pena's batting average dips badly against lefties (particualarly going by last year's stats) his home run rate per plate appearance actually does not by any significant amount. Over his career, it dips slightly, but still not a lot. So yeah, while his odds of getting a hit of any kind against lefties are pretty bad, he's still just as likely to put it in the seats against them. Sean Rodriguez on the other hand has a batting average that is significantly better against lefties, but he's still far less likely to put it in the seats in any given plate appearance.

    Unfortunately I had trouble finding any good stats on how loading the bases raises run expectancy in the following at bat, but I would imagine the added predictability causes it to go up significantly more than just the addition of another baserunner alone would. If we factored in the odds of winning a game after being down 2-0 vs. 4-0 at even that early point in the game, something tells me these numbers may not make Girardi look very good.