Sunday, March 9, 2008

Yost and McLaren: Out (of the box) and proud

Brewers' manager Ned Yost has decided to bat catcher Jason Kendall ninth this season:

"We've done studies on this," Yost said. "It's not just that we come up one day and say, 'You know, Jason Kendall's gonna hit ninth.'

"You've had a lot of smart people looking at it and crunching numbers and seeing if, numbers-wise, it made sense."

Those smart people decided that batting Kendall ninth, a departure from the conventional baseball wisdom of batting the pitcher in the final spot, did make sense. They thought it gave the Brewers an edge, which should translate into an opportunity to score more runs.

"More runs means more wins," Yost said. "Sometimes, you've gotta get outside the box a little bit."

Mariners' manager John McLaren is not disdainful of Bill James:

"It’s intriguing,” McLaren said of James on Friday, “because I like baseball. New things, out of the box type stuff, you’d have to be foolish not to take a look at it.”

James’ genius has been his ability to shake down stuffed-shirt thinking and change traditional bromides with unassailable numbers. McLaren is taking a similar approach in Peoria.

He contemplates a Seattle batting attack that last season was a case study in inefficiency – the Mariners were last in the league in walks, and despite winning 88 games, were outscored by 19 runs – and he’s drawn some conclusions.

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