Tony LaRussa’s 10th Inning….an esoteric thought
I promised myself I wouldn’t pile on to Tony La Russa just for the CLICKS!
Ah fuck, well here we are….I’m not perfect. I, like the rest of yous were aghast by the events that transpired on Wednesday afternoon. Events that lead to a 1-0 White Sox loss to the Reds. I wasn’t actually watching the game. I was in the office, ducking between meetings, ingesting the game on MLB’s trusty old gamecast.
One element of the 10th inning that really stood out to me was Leury Garcia getting caught stealing 2nd base with one out and a runner on 3rd (that runner being Liam Hendriks, LMFAO). It was instantly vilified on the interwebs, well, basically with everything else Tony does. I’m not here to defend Tony. I think the guy is a jag bag in general. I told Josh Nelson on a recent Twitter Spaces that we did that I think LaRussa is a jag-off. But in the current climate, it has been hard for me to judge his actual decisions. White Sox fans have Ricky Renteria levels of mania whenever he makes a move that goes wrong.
What the fuck were they thinking?
Regardless, Garcia stealing in that spot seemed preposterous to me. The twitter mob then pulled the rope back and forth on whether that was Garcia choosing to steal on his own (LET’S BLAME THE DUMB PLAYER WE HATE) or La Russa telling him to steal (LET’S BLAME THE DUMB MANAGER WE HATE). Then the blame game became clearer when in his post-game presser La Russa denoted that he called for the steal.
OOF!! Tony called for it!! DUMBASS! Case closed, our manager is senile, and all of your narratives about him are 100% accurate.
I still couldn’t shake that this single decision bothered me. When you see something that totally doesn’t make sense, you have two choices. ONE – You can proclaim the person making the decision in an IDIOT. TWO – You can try and figure out what you are missing before proclaiming the person making the decision an IDIOT (sorry to go all quasi Karl Popper on yous).
This point was further influenced by watching Chorizy on the FromThe108 podcast (above), he said (paraphrasing). “When there are new rules, those are the places that are fruitful with edges for the manager. Not knowing the new rules inside out is a giant failure for a manager who is supposed to be one of the best.“
Extra Innings Run Expectancy (Current Rules)
I searched high and low for one of those fancy run charts based on situation for the 2020 & 2021 extra inning run expectancy. I have come up empty so this analysis could be more perfect with that. Maybe not, the sample sizes are pretty tiny right now. That being said, I was left with a choice of Tom Tango’s run expectancy chart from 2010-2015 (chart included above) or the chart below which I lifted from this BLOG.
Luckily for me, the differences in calculation are immaterial. So Let’s look at this situation. Leury Garcia deciding to steal 2nd base with one out and a runner on 3rd base (Liam Hendriks, OOF!) in the top of the 10th inning. The White Sox current run expectancy, is basically the same right now as it was when the inning started (using Tango’s chart 1.130, vs 1.10 when the inning starts).
If my mathaments are right, Leury Legend needs to be safe 76% of the time when trying to steal 2nd. Leury Legend’s lifetime stolen base totals (before he gets caught in this game) were 58 out of 73 or 79.5%. That’s substantially above the amount needed to make this profitable. Now, I for one am a guy who has written about trying to stealing bases when EVERYONE KNOWS YOU ARE GOING!!! READ THAT HERE. But this situation seems like the opposite for two reasons.
Everyone and their mamas thought it was incredibly stupid that Leury was running. I know I did until I just ran some numbers above. I’d categorize Leury running (at least from my amateurish position) as opportunistic and not expected.
There was a runner on 3rd base (Liam Hendriks, l0lz). Now I know the point was beaten to death on the interwebs that the other team doesn’t think Liam Hendriks is going to be part of a double steal. I agree, but if you are the catcher, you might have the slightest bit of hesitation knowing that if you sail one you just gave the other team the lead. I don’t think it’s likely he’s not throwing to 2nd in this spot, but I think there are at least some percentage of the time that he’s thinking twice and either eating it, or not giving his quickest throw to 2nd.
The combination of the two reasons, lead me to believe that this play was actually a decent gamble. One other thing we need to remember, is that in a spot like this, the White Sox probably shouldn’t be playing specifically one run strategies. This isn’t a normal 9th inning spot where the game is tied. The other team is going to start their half of the inning with a runner on 2nd base, which based on the chart above (which I’ll bring back below) gives them a 1.10 run expectancy for that half inning.
In totality I think the play where everyone (including and especially yours truly) thought the manager was a fucking moron, was actually a good play, with positive expectancy. It just didn’t work. I don’t know if the manager has his shit together or not, for me the verdict is still out and it’s little things like this that will probably keep me interested in finding out for awhile.
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