NY Sports Dog: Tatis-Murphy Platoon: the Right and Wrong Way

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tatis-Murphy Platoon: the Right and Wrong Way

This may be sacrilege amongst the Mets faithful, but the very thought of Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis platooning in LF in 2009 makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

It can be done--it most likely will be done--but it must be done right.

The right way to do this will take a keen mind, situational awareness, and more than just a hunch.

The wrong way to do this would be to trot each guy out against a lefty (Tatis) or a righty (Murphy) and leave it at that.

In the vast majority of platoon situations, a manager has two players of equal talent that have strengths and weaknesses. The players usually bat from opposite sides of the plate and hit a certain type of pitcher well, and another poorly. The platoon is designed to take advantage of both players strengths and create "one great player out of two good ones."

The problem with that is it often fails to produce the desired results.

Let's look at Tatis and Murphy and see if the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Fernando Tatis, RH Hitter, 2008:

vs RH: 167 AB, .287 BA, .353 OBP, .527 Slg, .880 OPS, 10 HR, 28 RBI
vs LH: 106 AB, .311 BA, .393 OBP, .415 Slg, .809 OPS, 1 HR, 19 RBI

Daniel Murphy
, LH Hitter, 2008:

vs RH: 121 AB, .306 BA, .391 OBP, .455 Slg, .846 OPS, 1 HR, 14 RBI
vs LH: 10 AB, .400 BA, .462 OBP, .700 Slg, 1.162 OPS, 1 HR, 3 RBI

Right away we see the issue--Tatis hit righty's and lefty's with almost equal effectiveness, but his power is down against lefty's. When you view his career splits, the numbers are equal. In other words--he doesn't fit the mold.

So let's dig a bit deeper, and look at both players home and away stats:

Tatis:

H: 143 AB, .350 BA, .409 OBP, .545 Slg, .954 OPS
A:
130 AB, .238 BA, .327 OBP, .415 Slg, .742 OPS

Murphy:

H: 67 AB,
.284 BA, .380 OBP, .463 Slg, .842 OPS
A:
64 AB, .344 BA, .417 OBP, .484 Slg, .901 OPS

More obvious disconnects. Tatis thrived at Shea and Murphy thrived on the road. We'll have a new park in 2009, so we'll have to see if this was more psychological than anything else.

One last key to these player's differences--type of pitcher.

Each fared well against average and finesse pitchers, but against power pitchers, Murphy, with his short stroke, has an enormous edge.

Tatis:
73 AB, .229 BA, .297 OBP, .361 Slg, .658 OPS
Murphy: 35 AB,
.314 BA, .467 OBP, .543 Slg, 1.010 OPS

So what's the answer for Jerry Manuel? If I was manager these thoughts would factor into my lineup card:

1. Tatis and Murphy must be used situationally
2. This platoon won't work as a strict lefty/righty
3. Play the hot player when it fits
4. Consider making Tatis the primary leftfielder and get Murphy 60 starts at multiple positions
5. Utilize Murphy's eye as the team's primary pinch-hitter
6. Start Murphy in LF vs all power pitchers
7. Pay close attention to the home and away numbers and monitor for trends

This "platoon" can work, and work well, but it must be done right.

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1 comment:

Mr. Met said...

Very nice breakdown. This is why we should get Adam Dunn.

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