Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Definition of Insanity

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Benjamin Franklin


Perusing the box scores this morning, I saw this on the top of the Reds' lineup from yesterday:
Patterson cf 4 0 0 0

And here I thought that Dusty had learned something from his time in Chicago...

Baker should know better than this. He tried the Corey-as-leadoff-hitter when he ran the Cubs. It didn't work then, and after one game it's not working now.

Dandy Don Baylor was the genius who first developed the concept of Patterson the Leadoff Hitter. Baylor's reasoning -- Corey's fast, and should be able to beat out lots of bunts for hits.

Completely absent from Baylor's reasoning -- does Corey know how to bunt for hits? Or get on base, for that matter?

Patterson had spent his amateur and minor-league career hitting in the middle of the lineup, where he put up some decent power numbers, but showed little inclination for ball four (the pitch, not the book). And, as you can imagine, a guy hitting in the middle of the lineup is only rarely called upon to beat out a drag bunt for a hit.

No matter -- Baylor proclaimed that Patterson's speed made him a great candidate for leadoff man, despite the fact that he didn't have the skill set to do the job. When Baker came in '03, he batted Patterson mostly third or sixth. Is it a coincidence that Patterson was having a helluva season before he ripped his knee to hell?

With Patterson healthy in 2004, Baker was committed to batting him at the top of the lineup. By then, we had D-Lee and A-Ram, so maybe we didn't need Patterson hitting in the middle of the lineup. But check out Patterson's 2004 splits:

Batting #1: 245 AB, .261/.317/.486
Batting #2: 196 AB, .260/.310/.403
Batting #7: 116 AB, .319/.389/.509
Leading off an inning: 166 AB, .253/.283/.422

I challenge even the most die-hard Moneyball haters out there to look at that stat breakdown and tell me with a straight face that this is a guy that you'd want to have leading off the game for your team.

It was during the 2004 season that the media starting ragging on Patterson for being a bad person and a bad ballplayer. It wasn't long before Cub Fan started believing what was in the paper, and by the end of the year it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Patterson wouldn't be sticking around.

Was it Patterson's fault? There's been some talk that Patterson is "uncoachable," so it's conceivable that he bears some culpability for his career path.

But I put more of the responsibility on Cubs management. They tried to shoe-horn Patterson into a role (top of the lineup guy) that he was patently unprepared to handle. And then they expressed surprise that he couldn't handle it.

A better option would have been to stick him lower in the lineup and let him develop. The Orioles did that, and he put up decent numbers -- not good enough to make anyone forget Willie Mays, but good enough for Dr. Phil to start whining about how stupid the Cubs were for letting him go.

This year, Patterson and Baker and together again. And Baker still is laboring under the impression that Patterson can hit leadoff. Under Dr. Franklin's definition, one could consider Baker insane.

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