Monday, April 28, 2008

Daylight Offense; National League Strategy

Two topics to cover today.

1) An often repeated "stat" about the Padres offense is that they hit better during day games. A few reasons for this theory are: players can see the ball better during the day; marine layer hasn't come in yet thus the ball travels better during the day.

I for one had subscribed to this theory myself. It seems relatively obvious that the ball will travel better if there isn't a bunch of sea water in the air. But do the numbers back up this theory? This past weekend the Padres played two day games, scoring 8 in one (a win) and 1 in the other (a loss).

A brief look at the Padres batting average in 2007 in day and night games does not show a similar advantage however. (Recognize that the stats compiled are for "day" games thus some of these games were not played at Petco, the point will be relatively the same).

Padres 2007 Day Games BA: .250; Padres 2007 Night Games: .251. Hardly a difference at all, and surprisingly, a better average at night (made more surprising by how many more night games they play generally).

Ok, but that's only BA. Perhaps a better test of offensive prowess would be to see the overall runs scored. So, let's take a look:

Day Runs Scored Avg: 4.5; Night Runs Scored Avg: 4.56. Again, no difference and if anything, a better average at night.

So do these numbers hold up in 2008 (recognizing the extremely small sample size).

2008 Padres BA at Night: .218; 2008 Padres Batting Average Day: .240. This is a substantial difference. However, I may add with the small sample size, the offensive output on Saturday may skew this number. Moreover, the lack of offense in the 22-inning game will likely skew the night numbers. Still, pretty big difference.

And Runs Scored:

2008 Padres Runs Scored Avg Night: 2.6; 2008 Padres Runs Scored Avg Day: 4.5
This is substantial and supports the theory that the higher temperatures during the day produce better offense. As all the Padres day games this year have taken place in 2008, and, as is common in San Diego at night, the marine layer comes in every night, its reasonable to equate the two.

Ultimately though, the Padres place a vast majority of games at night, so learning to hit during the evening hours is paramount.

National League Strategy

Not to sound like a broken record here but, Peavy pitched beyond admirable only to be tagged with the loss on Sunday thanks to one bad pitch. One 2-run homerun and the game was lost. What's worst is when the homerun was hit, there was a feeling that the Padres had just lost the game. Why? In part, their offense, which struggles on it's own. It struggles more when facing Brandon Webb, as it did on Sunday. But that's not to say the Padres were without chances, none better than the chance they had in the bottom of the 6th yesterday.

The Padres had loaded the bases with one out on two singles and a walk. This brought up the precarious situation of having the pitcher hit or pinch hit for him. At this point, Peavy was cruising along and, aside from one bad pitch, had pitched lights out. Still, at this juncture in the game, the Padres were down 1, 2-1 and the tying run was a mere fly-ball away from scoring. Bud Black elected to pitch Peavy.

In and of itself, I don't have a problem with this for a number of reasons. One, the bullpen needed rest. 4 extra-inning games will do that. Two, Peavy for a pitcher can handle the bat. Greene was the runner on third and so I thought while watching "hey, why not a safety squeeze." This appeared to be the idea as Peavy squared on the first pitch, taken for a ball. Ultimately, he struck out, Brian Giles grounded out and the inning was over.

This situation comes up a lot in the National League. The likely pinch hitter, Tony Clark, is certainly a better hitter than Peavy. If it were me, and my team was struggling to score off a great pitcher like Webb, I would pinch-hit. Monday is an off day so the bullpen will have that day to rest. The difference is one inning so I hardly think that one inning would save anyone in the bullpen. Moreover, against a Cy Young candidate, you don't waste your best scoring opportunity by having the pitcher hit, no matter how he is throwing on the mound. In the end, Peavy could have thrown a shutout for the remaining innings and it still would not have mattered without at least scoring the run from third in the 6th. When it goes wrong, it all goes wrong I suppose.


A now regular portion of the blog...Jim Edmonds should NEVER hit 5th in this lineup!!!!

Now that that is off my chest.

Padres take on the Phillies next on Tuesday. Full preview tomorrow.

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