Clint Hurdle's Managerial Tendencies (Part Two)

Since, statistically speaking, Hurdle in his career generally has gotten his hitters the platoon advantage significantly less often than most managers, I thought I'd look at his teams one by one to see why.  I looked mainly to see whether there were LH hitters playing every day who shouldn't have been (Garrett Jones Syndrome), and whether there were bench players, LH or RH, who could have been leveraged better.

2002:  Hurdle took over 22 games into the season.  He inherited four lefty-hitting regulars:  Todd Helton, Larry Walker, Todd Hollandsworth and Juan Pierre.  Helton and Walker were stars and weren’t going to be platooned.  Pierre also was an everyday player, but he sat occasionally against tough LHPs, and he was playing mainly for his speed, anyway.  Hollandsworth was platooned.  There were no switch-hitting regulars.  The Rockies had a handful of righty-hitting outfielders at various points, only one of whom, Gabe Kapler, was any good.  Kapler’s limited playing time wasn’t concentrated against LHPs.  Two other RH-hitting outfielders, Mark Little and Benny Agbayani, were used to counter LHPs to some degree.  The Rockies acquired RH-hitting Jay Payton at the trade deadline and he got very hot, so Hurdle played him nearly every day.  Hurdle had a bunch of different infielders at different times, but all were righties except switch-hitter Greg Norton, who was primarily a pinch-hitter and who was used primarily against RHPs.


2003:  Two LH-hitting regulars, Helton and Walker.  No regular switch-hitters.  There were some switch-hitting infielders on the bench who could have platooned with the RH-hitting starters, but teams don’t usually platoon middle infielders because defense is an important consideration, and none of the Rockies’ bench players were much good.  The one significant LH-hitting bench player was Mark Sweeney, who was mainly a pinch-hitter throughout his career.

2004:  Two LH-hitting regulars again, Helton and Jeromy Burnitz, who had 37 HRs and 110 RBIs and so wasn’t a platoon candidate.  Walker was hurt a lot and then got traded.  There was one switch-hitting regular, Aaron MilesBrad Hawpe came up late in the year and played almost exclusively against RHPs.  Hurdle platooned some at catcher.  The starter was RH-hitting Charles Johnson and the backup, J.D. Closser, was a switch-hitter.  Closser played fairly often and mostly against RHPs.  There were no other bench players who would’ve been useful to platoon with the mostly RH-hitting regulars.

2005:  This was the year in which Hurdle appears to have platooned the most.  Helton was still on hand and Miles was still the lone switch-hitting starter.  Hawpe missed a couple months due to injury and was mostly platooned when available.  Cory Sullivan was mostly platooned in center.  RH-hitting outfielder Dustan Mohr was used heavily against LHPs.  There were a couple of very bad switch-hitting infielders on the bench, but no other good candidates for platoons.

2006:  Aside from Helton, the only LH-hitting regulars were Hawpe, who was platooned some, and Sullivan, who was strictly platooned.  There were no switch-hitting regulars and no platoon candidates on the bench.  Closser was the backup catcher for part of the year and played almost entirely against RHPs, as the other catchers were RH hitters.

2007:  The two LH-hitting regulars were Helton and Hawpe.  Hawpe had a big year and played most games despite being awful against LHPs, but Hurdle still sometimes sat him against lefties.  The one switch-hitting regular was Kaz Matsui.  Much of the time, the team had very little LH hitting.  Sullivan spent part of the year in the minors and lost his starting job to Willy Taveras.  He didn’t play much, but when he did he rarely faced LHPs.  Taveras had a decent season at the plate and the Rockies loved his defense, so it’s understandable that he wasn’t platooned more with Sullivan.  The other RH-hitting outfielder was Matt Holliday, who had a huge season.  LH-hitting Steve Finley was on the team for a while and played some, but not a lot, against LHPs, but hit .181 and was released.  Two other LH hitters, Ian Stewart and John Mabry, were available briefly and used mainly as pinch-hitters.  Mabry was used exclusively against RHPs, while Stewart faced LHPs about a quarter of the time.

2008:  The two LH-hitting regulars were again Helton and Hawpe.  Helton was hurt half the year and Hawpe sat occasionally against LHPs.  This time Hawpe hit LHPs almost as well as RHPs.  There were no switch hitters and no platoon candidates among the LH-hitting backups, outside of Stewart.  He played about 40% of the time and sometimes faced LHPs, but usually not.  Stewart mostly took over the 3B job after Helton was hurt, with Garrett Atkins moving to 1B.  Utility infielder Omar Quintanilla, a LH hitter, wasn’t a platoon candidate because he didn’t hit anybody well.  LH-hitting outfielder Scott Podsednik had a bad year and didn’t play much, and seldom faced LHPs.  LH-hitting outfielder Seth Smith spent about half the year in the majors and played almost exclusively against RHPs.  Smith is a corner outfielder, so he couldn’t be used in a platoon with Taveras in center, and the corner outfielders were Hawpe and Holliday.

2009:  Hurdle was fired 46 games into the season.  One thing that hurt him was his failure to do something about his 3B situation.  Atkins was in the process of falling apart at the plate, but Hurdle kept him in the lineup instead of at least platooning him with Stewart.  Hurdle DID start getting Smith increasing playing time against RHPs and used RH-hitting Ryan Spillborghs heavily against LHPs.  He continued to play Hawpe much of the time against LHPs, although Hawpe hit them better than the main righty platoon candidate, Spillborghs, did.

Generally speaking, it appears to me that Hurdle seldom had personnel that was conducive to platooning.  His LH-hitting regulars were usually the sort of players whom nobody would platoon.  In some cases, mainly Hawpe and Pierre, he'd sit a LH-hitting regular occasionally against LHPs.  He did platoon, or semi-platoon, with players such as Johnson, Smith, Hollandsworth and Sullivan.  He tended to have mostly RH-hitting middle infielders, most of whom were mediocre hitters at best, but he lacked good LH- or switch-hitting alternatives, and middle infield platoons probably aren't that common, anyway.  Hurdle never had many switch-hitters other than crappy utility infielders, so that hurt his platoon percentages.  On the whole, Hurdle's decisions to platoon or not seem to have made sense.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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