In my haste to assert my wide-reaching baseball knowledge, I fell victim to the classic/laziest blunder possible: axiomatic thinking. In the comment section of the post below, I prattled on and on about throwing change ups to same-handed hitters and what not.
Luckily wise commenter Peter Gentleman jumped in and set me straight with a great post from the Baseball Analyst Archives. It turns out change ups don't have real platoon splits, that right handed pitchers throwing change ups to right handed hitters isn't the end of the world.
But I got lazy, I fell victim to the same tired thinking that astute guys like Overmanagin Joe Maddon and the like exploit. Joe Maddon doesn't stack the lineup with righties against Marcum because it gives him an explicit advantage, he does it because Shaun Marcum thinks it gives the Rays an advantage. I imagine hitters to as well. One can assume they're more confident that they can handle that type of pitch from that type of pitcher, perhaps they incorporate it into their plan at the plate.
The issue of confidence is impossible to quantify, but it really plays into the game in innumerable ways. A seed of doubt is the goal of every pitcher, make the hitter keep something other than "see ball, hit ball" in the forefront of their minds. Which is why a guy like Marcum —changing speeds and locations at will—is so effective with such iffy stuff.
It's the same reason you don't bunt into the extreme lefty shift - you're playing into the other team's hands. Even the finest David Ortiz bunt has zero chance of turning into a home run; you can't say the same when he swings away. Just like numbers show most pitchers aren't much worse when from the stretch, they often believe that they are.
The same thoughts polluted my brain this week as I tried to think of the best possible batting order for the worsening Jays offense. Traditional thinking says your best hitter in the third spot, masher at 4, fast/OBP guy leads off. More recent research shows 1,2,4 as the spots for your best hitters.
I tried to apply that thinking to an optimized Jays lineup but couldn't get past the traditional thinking. Adam Lind looks so good as the number three hitter, who cares that he's often hitting with two outs? The Jays make outs/hit dingers at such a crazy rate anyway; I don't think the order matters too much anyway.
So please accept my apologies for the earlier post and credit to Peter Gentleman for calling me on it. Hopefully Shaun Marcum and the Jays brass realize a good change is a good change, no matter who stands in the box. Hopefully Travis Snider's return can return the offense to its