Re: JBJ may be an offensive liability
posted at 12/18/2013 7:48 AM EST
In response to notin's comment:
In response to solareclipse's comment:
Huge Earl Weaver fan, and we don't disagree. Weaver changed players in groups, not just one guy or the other, and time wasn't divided based on the Lefty or righty factor alone. He used to go with the hot hands. Weaver is a great study, but he'd be run out of baseball by today's facist media and politicians and community organizers.
Let's talk Weaver, I like that subject.
I can talk Weaver. Earl Weaver would not have wanted Rajai Davis. Period. Not for how you think he should be used.
Weaver was ahead of his time in many ways. His trademark “pitching, defense, and 3-run homers” emphasized all the important aspects of what we now know as WAR. “3-run homers” was his sneaky way of letting us know he loved hitters who get on base a lot. However, he did not like patient hitters and wanted his batters to hit away. He also had a very odd predilection for LHH catchers. No one knows why.
Weaver, like Bill James, eschewed such strategies as bunting, hit-and-run, and stolen bases. Weaver instead preferred to combine the SB with the hit-and-run in a play he called “run and hit,” the main difference being the runner was attempting to steal, and the hitter would ignore this and hit anything he felt he could. Again, he liked aggressive hitters. (Former Sox 1B Coach Al Bumbry did steal 81 bases for a Weaver-lead team in 1979-1980, but this is not as impressive as it looks at first glance. The late 1970’s and early ‘80s were the heyday of the stolen base in MLB. That total placed him tenth in MLB over that stretch, and very far from leader Ron LeFlore, who had 175. LeFlore, Omar Moreno, and Willie Wilson all had double or more of Bumbry’s modest total.)
Weaver also hated bringing the infield in on defense, as he felt it gave too much advantage to the hitter. He preferred his chances with standard defensive alignments.
He was behind in his reluctance to accept pitch counts and his constant overworking of pitchers. Granted, this was in the days before heavily-specialized bullpens. But he also preferred a 4-man rotation over a 5-man rotation, with very simple logic - it’s easier to find 4 good pitchers than to find 5. However, he probably burned out a few arms a little bit earlier than need be with this logic, and his reluctance to accept that pitching in fact hurts pitchers. He did eventually use a 5-man rotation, but I am sure it bothered him on some level.
And, per our topic, Weaver was well known for his use of platoons, the most effective being his left field platoon of John Lowenstein (LHH) and Gary Roenicke (RHH). Lowenstein was a long-haired, gangly, bespectacled fellow who simply did not look like an athlete, but rather resembled a middle school science teacher - granted, a science teacher who could crush RHP. He was all but was useless against southpaws, however. From 1981 through 1984, Lowestein played in 432 games, but made only 8 starts against LHP. His counterpart, Gary Roenicke (older brother of Milwaukee manager Ronand father of Twins RHRP Josh) was a RHH powerhouse, but a horrendous fielder and could best be described as a lummox with a bad mullet. He was less graceful than a car accident, a nightmare in the field, and among the slowest runners in MLB. Roenicke once grounded into a triple play in Oakland where he was out at first by about 40 feet, causing A’s first baseman Dave Revering to remark “We could have gotten 4 outs if there was another man on base.” This complete lack of agility, dexterity and speed relegated Roenicke, despite his prolific power, to a reduced role of starting only vs. LHP. From 1983 through 1985, Roenicke played on over 350 games, but only started 60 times against a RHP. (Hot hand?) He did come into numerous games if teams tried to expose Lowenstein with a left-handed reliever.
Given the chance to sign Rajai Davis, I think Weaver passes. Weaver did not believe in platooning rookies for “confidence” so much as he believed in using platoons to cover weaknesses, such as Lowenstein’s inability to hit LHP and Roenicke’s inability to play the OF. Weaver would start Bradley full time, knowing that even if he does not hit 3-run homers, he still helps with defense. I believe Weaver would have pegged Bradley as the equivalent to the CF he inherited when he took over the helm of the Orioles – Paul Blair.
Those are my recollections and opinions about Earl Weaver.
Nicely done. Good post.
I certainly didn't get the "change players in groups" remark. As I recall Weaver's Orioles teams, the Lowenstein-Roenicke platoon was one of the rare positions where there wasn't an established starter. As I recall his teams, for the most part, the Orioles had normal regulars at most, if not all, positions.
To add, I remember in 1975, ther were games late in the year when he started Royle Stillman at SS on road games, giving him an at-bat in the first inning, which took an at-bat away from Mark Belanger, then put Belanger in at SS in the bottom of the first and went with him the rest of the game.