there's a stark difference between a motto and an entire baseball philosophy. But either way, look it up, they ranked at-or-near the bottom of the league in stolen bases and sac bunts. They didnt like to give away outs, getting on base and keeping men on base was what they were about. The numbers back it up that they refused to take risks with those baserunners.
The rest of the moneyball philosophy is good, but it's got its flaws like anything else. I still stick to my belief that when managers manage based solely on stats and not around the situation presented at the time, they do their teams more harm than good.
opening day for the yankees. Man on 2nd and 3rd (I believe with 2 outs). Girardi consults that ridiculous fucking binder on the bench with allthe matchup info you could ever ask for. Instead of going after Sean Rodriguez, Girardi chooses to have CC Sabathia WALK Rodriguez. Why's this? To get to CARLOS FUCKING PENA. any reasonable fan would ask "why?"..so did all of us Yankees fans. You know why? b/c Girardi saw that in an extremely small number of plate appearances (i think 4?) that Pena had against CC, that Pena had no hits.
Sabathia walked him...Pena hits a grand slam. Again...he managed opening day as if it was game 7 of the world series, because of a small sample size.
Managing by the numbers is a deadly game.
Well, I have two comments on your example.
1. Small sample sizes are inherently dangerous. I would never recommend coaching based on small sample sizes. In fact, when I'm watching a broadcast and it shows the hitter v pitcher match-up history I laugh. Because unless they have faced each other around 150-200 times, the information is practically worthless. Sabermetrics stresses always being weary of small sample sizes and I never commented on that so I don't even really know why you brought small sample sizes up. Every piece of data that I have stated or quoted is based on years of collecting data. That is why I was so patient with Pujols as an Angels fan. Because with baseball, stats don't stabilize in 40 games.
2. I'm sure Giradi wanted the Pena Sabathia match-up not because of their previous "history" of 4 at bats, but because of the lefty lefty match-up. He did it based off platoon splits. And there is significant data when it comes to platoon splits. Pena for his career is a .209 hitter with 74 HRs against lefties but a .249 hitter with 189 HR against righties. Or if you are into advanced statistics he has a .375 wOBA against righties vs a lowly .320 wOBA against lefties. If you don't know what wOBA is just know that the average hitter has about a wOBA of .330 (it is sort of like BA but gives added weight to different hits, so it basically takes into account 1B, 2B, 3b, HR, BB, K). Platoon splits are significant and I think Giradi's decision was sound. Just because something doesn't go right every time does not mean the methodology isn't sound and the right decision was not made. Now, you could argue that Giradi was overcoaching and micromanaging too much, but I think his decision making process was sound and you can't fault him for it.
In a previous post I mentioned how platooning is underutilized by managers. Giradi is one of few good managers IMO who uses it. My hero Joe Madden is another.
I actually kinda agree with WallOfShame here and his statistics/figures/percentages/whatever are correct. Sacrifice bunting is stupid, boring and dated. Teams love when they get bunted on, that should be the teller right there. You are literally giving an out away for the sake of a base. I just don't think it's worth it in the year 2012 to give up outs.
On top of that, teams should always be looking to score more than one run so the guy at the plate scoring should be just as important as the guy already on base.
Stealing on the other hand, isn't boring. Sure thing stealers should steal more and non-sure thing stealers should steal less, I can agree with that but as far as it being stupid or what not, I don't really agree.
I regret my statement on stealing being "stupid" because like 4 people have commented on that. Stealing is much more open to interpretation because the REs aren't quite as drastic. I still think, as a general rule, that stealing is a bad idea. But, if you have a guy like Mike Trout then, yes, steal some bases. I am of the opinion that advancing one base is not worth the risk of an out unless its practically a sure thing.
One more note on sac bunting: The run environment now-a-days is WAY, WAY higher than it was at anytime other than the steroid era. So using strategies that were employed decades ago when runs were scarce in a current environment where many more runs are being scored is silly. Which, JM, you sorta commented on.