Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Cliff Politte - One Inning Pitcher

One of Hawk Harrelson's favorite things to say on the air is that a manager needs to learn what a player can and cannot do, and once he learns that, he should not ask players to do something they cannot do. Mostly, he's talking about bunting when he says that, but that proverb should apply in every situation.

One of the things I've observed over the year is that while Cliff Politte might look great in his first inning of work, if the Sox try to stretch him into a second inning, he tends to get hammered. Since this was only my observation, I thought I'd check it against his stats this year.

And the data shows that, indeed, Politte gets especially wild and hit hard when the Sox ask him to come out and pitch in a second inning. For whatever reason, stamina, mindset, or something else, Politte doesn't respond well when he's sat down after completing an inning.

Over the course of the season, Politte has pitched in more than 1 inning 14 times. I broke Politte's performance in those outings down into two categories: Situation 1, where he comes in mid-inning in his first inning of work, and Situation 2, in which he comes in to start his first inning of work. I then aggregated Politte's performances in those second (or third) innings by category. [Note - The first game of the year (the debacle at Kansas City) fell into both categories - he came in for one out in the 7th, pitched the entire 8th, and then started the 9th. I put the 8th inning in "Situation 1" and the 9th inning in "Situation 2."]

Here's what I found:

Situation 15422 63 3.60
Situation 2 4 1/37 9 7 4 7 14.54

Total After 1st Inn.

9 1/3 11 11 10 10 10 9.64
Total 1st Inn.31 2/3 28 12 12 11 27 3.41

As you can see, Politte has a 9+ ERA when he comes out for a second inning. Although he has done OK in Situation 1, he has done especially poorly when he has pitched a full inning before coming out for a second inning (Situation 2). His walk rate is extremely high in those second innings of work (10 in 9 1/3 inning), whereas his walk rate in his first innings (11 in 31 2/3 innings) is relatively good. His hit rate is not appreciably different in those second innings, but the large number of walks really does Politte in.

I would think by now - mid-August - Ozzie should have learned that he cannot ask Cliff Politte to pitch in more than one inning.

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