Putting Up With Fredi Gonzalez:
The day began on a good note for the new Braves manager as he was greeted with virtual pats on the back due to placing Jason Heyward in the second spot in the order. Even if it's just for a day, it shows he isn't completely ignoring logic or those that have clamored for it all season. However, that's where the good stuff ends.
Starting in the second inning, Gonzalez made perhaps the biggest mistake that he will make this season. With one out and the bases loaded, he asked Tommy Hanson, the worst bunter on the team, to attempt a squeeze bunt with two strikes and Eric Hinske on third. Hanson promptly struck out and Hinske was tagged out for the inning-ending double play, leaving the Braves down a run. The play was worth -.168 WPA, the biggest swing in the entire game. To say this was a crucial mistake is an understatement, and I cannot think of any way in which this could have been a smart decision.
"It’s one of those situations where early in the ballgame…Nobody missed a sign. That was a squeeze; we just missed a bunt. It’s one of those situations where the worst thing that could happen is he swung through it and when you’re not scoring runs you’ve got to try to make something up. That’s why they call it a suicide squeeze. It didn’t work this time."
To me, this is terrible logic. When you're not scoring runs on April 17, you sit tight and let your hitters work themselves out of slumps. You don't make video-game-like decisions that have the potential to be worth -.168 WPA in damage. Hanson should have been instructed to sit on his bat until he either strikes out or walks. There is no other way around this.
The other major mistake came in the eighth inning when, after Jason Heyward hit a homer to cut the lead to one, Chipper Jones walked with no outs. Gonzalez ordered Alex Gonzalez to bunt despite hitting two home runs Saturday and reaching on a single earlier in this game, and also despite having Matt Young and the pitcher's spot behind him. Where is the logic in this? Naturally, Young grounded out to move Chipper to third, and Brooks Conrad struck out to end the game.
More than what happened after the bunt is what that bunt actually cost the Braves in regards to their chances to win the game: -.052 WPA. So another Fredi decision that cost the team considerably.
Stat of the Day:
The Braves had four negative WPA plays of under -.100, three in the final two innings.
The Game Changer:
Tommy Hanson's failed squeeze bunt that resulted in a double play in the second inning, worth -.168.
(NYM) Francisco Rodriguez: .193
(NYM) Dillon Gee: .191
(ATL) Jason Heyward: .165
(ATL) Matt Young: -.179
(ATL) Brooks Conrad: -.158
(NYM) Angel Pagan: -.136
Courtesy of FanGraphs: