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A Defense of the No Doubles Defense

October 28, 2011


I lamented Bob Geren‘s use of the no doubles defense numerous times this year. It seemed that the A’s had their outfielders playing in Contra Costa County more often than anyone should be, for example on May 5th I lamented,

“I get the no doubles defense, but they are playing way too deep. [Ryan] Sweeney had to run a mile and a half to get to that ball yet it still dropped in. Orlando Cabrera with a single that’d be an out any other time. Defense-independent pitching stats – this defensive positioning proves their worth.”

The A’s would lose that game to Cleveland 4-3, with Cabrera coming around to score on said single. The A’s played it trying to keep someone out of scoring position. There was one out, no one one when Cabrera got that bloop single. I get the thinking there, didn’t necessarily agree with it (in May our pitching still was looking near unhittable) but whatever, all in the past. For a great analysis of the A’s no doubles troubles of earlier this year, see this very good post at Athletics Nation.

But yesterday, in one of the more entertaining World Series games in recent memory, the Rangers employed a no doubles defense and I for once agreed with the thinking. You have two outs, men on second (Jon Jay) and first (Albert Pujols), Lance Berkman at the plate with the Rangers leading 9-8. The no doubles defense here does concede the tying run, but I think what Ron Washington was looking at was preventing the go ahead run from scoring. Go ahead run = night over for Texas, tying run = play some more possibly. I like that thinking. Maybe I am in the minority but I think Jay scores on a single anyhow (he is a not terrible 2.3 Bsr and had a career low 3.4 Spd though much higher in MiLB). Josh Hamilton was playing first and his 5.7 UZR/150 over the past three seasons makes for decent coverage of center field (in my mind that is the key part of the no doubles – having a center fielder with good range). Nelson Cruz furthermore had misplayed a ball that tied this thing in the first place going back and it is easier to go in that to go out. I think its a fair move. Ultimately the Cards tied it and eventually won, but I think Berkman’s single is perhaps a single regardless (it seemed like it might be in the Hamilton might have to dive range and that is a risk that also could potentially allow Pujols to score from first and have the Cards win).

This just stood out to me as for so much of the season I complained about the A’s no doubles approach – though in Oakland’s case it was to prevent guys from getting into scoring position late in close games – and here is one instance where most people are arguing against it but I think it was the very conservative but savvy move to make. Feel free to disagree!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. C.G.B. permalink
    October 29, 2011 3:43 am

    I agree with you, I think that was the correct thing to do. I just couldn’t figure out why the texas pitchers kept trying to bunt when it was obvious they couldn’t bunt and just made double plays because of it. Also what was with the strike zone in game 7? The ump kept calling low pitches strikes on texas but balls for the cards. Napoli even was complaining about it and had every right to.

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