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Really? Thats Really What You Want to Do Here? Or, Life with Buddy Bell

Courtesy of Yahoo's play-by-play:

Top 9th: Kansas City
  • M. Sweeney popped out to shallow left
  • C.J. Wilson relieved J. Benoit
  • M. Teahen walked
  • E. Brown hit for A. Gordon
  • E. Brown grounded into fielder's choice, M. Teahen out at second
  • B. Butler hit for J. Smith
  • B. Butler singled to left, E. Brown to second
  • E. German singled to center, E. Brown scored, B. Butler to second
  • T. Pena Jr. hit for S. Costa
  • J. Huber ran for B. Butler
  • T. Pena Jr. grounded into fielder's choice, E. German out at second

1 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors
Kansas City 8, Texas 9

Yes, C.J. Wilson is left-handed. As a major leaguer, Pena's splits break down like this:

TPJ vs. RHP: .257/.277/.334
TPJ vs. LHP: .254/.273/.351

Ohh, now I get it. That totally overpowers the fact that since the All-Star Break Pena is hitting .211/.235/.268.

Yes, Costa is only hitting .125 against LHP's this season, but that is only in eight at bats. This year in Omaha, Costa has hit .261/.338/.362 against lefties. Not great, but not really evidence that he's completely helpless up there either.

Yes, in 2007 Huber only hit .235 against lefties in Omaha, but in 2006, again in AAA, he hit .346/.391/.605 against southpaws.

Brazell actually hit .344/.417/.656 against lefties in AA this season.

While in hindsight we can say that the lifting of Gordon "worked", Bell also burned Brown early in the inning, leading to the situation later. It comes down to, would you rather have Gordon and Brown both hit, or would you rather have Brown and Pena hit? Gordon is hitting a respectable .228/.278/.447 this season against lefties, and, like Huber, he mashed them last season in AA to the tune of .339/.371/.550.

The bottom line is that if you think Tony Pena Jr is the answer, your asking the wrong question, in the wrong language, to the wrong person.

The way the Buddy Bell's of the world can seemingly latch onto a devotion to lefty/righty matchups while ignoring much more basic statistical data is one of the quaint, but incredibly annoying realities of the game today. Out of all the information out there, you choose this to care about? This is like letting your girlfriend pick the movie from Blockbuster and she decides to pick a "guy movie" for you and comes back with Freddie Got Fingered or Death to Smoochy.

A relatively unstable concept like platoon splits is now right up there with the blind adherence to the closer role. Insanity. Look at Huber. Very few guys get locked into consistent platoon splits over the course of their careers, probably because there are very few left-handed pitchers, meaning the data just never gets meaty enough to say much.