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Strange Decision in Oakland

May 14, 2015

The Sawx were up 2-0 as Koji Uehara came on to close matters out in the bottom of the ninth yesterday. Flyout and a K took the As down to their final out when Stephen Vogt was sent up to pinch-hit for Billy Burns.

Vogt did his bit and drew a walk, which brought up Eric Sogard. Sogard meekly grounded out 3-unassisted, game over.

This desk does not understand pinch-hitting Vogt for Burns if Sogard is to be left to hit behind him. If the As are to have any shot at this game, two guys need to get on, and both those runners need to be plated. Burns-then-Vogt makes more sense than Vogt-then-Sogard because Vogt can hit a HR where Sogard almost certainly won’t.

Neither Sogard nor Burns have any power. Sogard is having a particularly poor season coming into today (111 PA, .271, .284 OBP, 0 HR) following a popless season last year (329 PA, .223, .298, 1 HR) while Burns is still effectively a rook (no HR in 50 career PA, but a slightly better .318 OBP).

Coming into the 9th, Burns was 1/3 today with Sogard 0/3.

There may not be that much to choose between Sogard and Burns, but Vogt already has 9 HR in 119 PA this season. That rate’s unsustainable but it means he might, just might hit a home run. For all intents and purposes, Vogt’s walk was almost as good as a HR as it turned out–he advanced on a wild pitch, taking the force at second away. But suppose for a minute Vogt had actually take Uehara deep. It’s only 2-1, and Uehara still gets to see Sogard.

Let Burns hit. If he doesn’t get on, well, game over. But if Burns does get on, pinch-hit Vogt for Sogard and give yourself an honest shot at tying things up with one swing of the bat.

Vogt pinch-hitting for Burns was the wrong play. I hope Billy Beane wasn’t watching. If he was, I expect he threw up in his mouth.

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