Kapler’s Latest Head-Scratcher in 4-2 Loss to Mets

Today is the Home Opener for your Philadelphia Phillies and the question that sits at the top of every fans mind is, will Gabe Kapler receive a rain off boos during his introduction? After people stopped complaining about the Phillies game airing on Facebook yesterday, there was a moment in the bottom of the 6th inning that caused fans to scratch their heads yet again.

With the game tied at 2, relief pitcher Drew Hutchison started the 6th inning after Aaron Nola pitched 5 innings and threw 87 pitches. Hutchison had a bad start to the inning when he allowed to quick batters reach on base which then brought up Mets shortstop Amed Rosario. The problem was not pulling Aaron Nola and bringing in Hutchison, the problem was how Kapler aligned the defense for Rosario.

With runners on the corners and the game tied, Kapler decided to make Nick Williams take what seemed like 20 steps toward the infield to play shallow right field. There must be statistics and analytics that back up this decision, but the result shows that you cannot put all of your faith on a computer screen.

Amed Rosario, who batted in the 9th spot of the order for the Mets yesterday, entered the game with a total of 177 major league at bats. Rosario made his major league debut last season and only played in 46 games. The point here, there is not that much of a sample size to collect data where anyone can make a move that Kapler made yesterday.

With Nick Williams playing shallow right field, Rosario was able to hit a line drive that sailed way over his head. The ball easily reached the fence and Rosario, who has a ton of speed, was able to take his time as he jogged into 3rd base for a 2-run triple. If Williams was playing at normal depth in right field, he makes the play easily and only 1 run would have scored from the sacrifice fly. After the triple, Hutchison was able to get out of the inning and the Mets would not put another run on the board the rest of the game.

There is a home for analytics in baseball. You could argue that baseball has the strongest impact from analytics over the other 3 major sports. However, like all sports, there is such thing as an eye test and also the “old school” way of doing things. We are used to seeing a shift for a left handed bat, we are used to seeing outfielders play deep for certain hitters, but what we saw yesterday was concerning. In the end, Rosario is a major league shortstop. He is not only there for his fielding, but also his ability to hit and run. To make Nick Williams play that shallow shows that there was an error in Kapler’s analytics.

Unfortunately for this argument, the Phillies never pushed back with their offense. Whether it was a 3-2 game or a 4-2 game, the offense could not score a run after their 2-run 3rd inning. In just 2 games against the Mets, Phillies hitters struck out a total of 22 times. Not only are the strikeouts alarming, but only having 8 hits total in both games is something to be concerned about. Hopefully when the weather starts to warm up, the bats will start to come alive and we will forget about some of Kapler’s decisions.

Soon we will all get tired of pointing out what Gabe Kapler does on every single night. Right now, Kapler is lucky because of the other sports teams around him. Villanova won a National Championship, the Flyers are pushing for the playoffs, and the Sixers are winning night in and night out. There is so much good going on in Philadelphia right now that people are looking away from the bad… for now. When the NBA and NHL seasons come to an end, all eyes will be on this Phillies team, and all eyes will be on the next move made by the young manager.

 

- Andrew Salciunas - Phillies Contributor for 975thefanatic.com

Producer of The Mayes and Myrtetus Midday Show - Monday-Friday 10:00a-2:00p