Ken Rosenthal mentions my opinion in the on-going debate over lineup protection.
Kennesaw State professor J.C. Bradbury, author of “The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed,” argues that there is some downside to a powerful on-deck hitter. Fearing the on-deck hitter, a pitcher throws more strikes, issuing fewer walks, and better strikes, allowing fewer hits. The net effect is negligible; protection is a wash.
In most cases, that probably is true. In extreme cases, the difference between on-deck hitters is more tangible. Howard is an extreme case, the closest thing in the game to the old Bonds. Pitchers treated him as such when he got hot after the All-Star break, issuing him 77 walks — 32 intentional — in 75 games.
So, Ryan, is protection a myth?
“It is and it isn’t,” he says. “It all depends upon what the situation is. Obviously you have to go out there and try to still do what you can, be selective on pitches. But if they’re intentionally walking you, you want that guy behind you to come through.”
Did he just ask Ryan Howard about something I did? I’m guessing it’s just the way the article flowed. As a Braves fan, any lineup with Howard, Burrell and Utley scares me.
In my book, I discuss protection in the second chapter: “The Legendary Power of th On-Deck Hitter.” The chapter discusses a study that Doug Drinen and I did of protection using play-by-play data. Here is a post about our protection study.