Do Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman deserve blame for having Hideki Matsui come to the plate with the game on the line again, and once again failing? Why does he keep getting important at bats? And should he even be on the roster?
The defense of Maddon and Friedman is that Matsui is but one bench player, and his at bat was just one in a game filled with bad at bats.
It is just one at bat, but it was also the most important at bat of the game, by far. Here are the most important at bats of the game yesterday, measured by Leverage Index (1.00 is average, see full list here)…
- Hideki Matsui, 2 outs, 9th inning – 6.33 (popped out)
- Jeff Keppinger, 2 outs, 9th inning – 4.80 (walked)
- Jose Molina, no outs, 8th inning – 4.15 (ground ball, advanced runner to 2B)
- BJ Upton, 2 outs, 8th inning – 4.10 (popped out)
But is Matsui’s one at bat in the most important point of the game more important than the collective importance of the 3-4 at bats other hitters had in the game? Here’s a look each players total LI (add up their LI for each at bat), and the average for each plate appearance during the game (pLI)…
What we see is that Jeff Keppinger’s four plate appearances, when added together, were more important than any other batter. In fact, BJ Upton and Jose Molina (thanks to their at bats in the 8th inning) also had higher total LIs than Matsui.
So who is right? Everybody! Woo hoo, everybody wins!
Yes, several other players had a bigger impact on the outcome of the game. But it does seem fair to question why the last guy on the bench, a guy that hasn’t had a hit since July 1, is being given, what is, the most important at bat of the game, by far.