We talk a lot about process and results when it comes to baseball. Obviously, the process is what you do and the results are what happens as a result of the process. The term can be applied a few ways.
We can apply the term when we talk about trades. A trade can be the result of great process–great statistical evaluation, great scouting, include the right players/pieces–but still fall flat because someone ends up performing differently than expected. I like to think of the second Javier Vazquez trade when I talk about a trade that represents good process with bad results. While it hurt a lot to give up Arodys Vizcaino, the trade was still, at its barest bones, good process: a young pitcher who, to that point, hadn’t pitched in a full season league, an outfielder who’s development had stalled and didn’t appear to fit on the team anymore, and a wild lefty reliever for an incredibly durable and effective starting pitcher. Well, when Javier Vazquez started throwing nothingballs instead of fastballs, the good process went down the drain of awful results.
On a more micro-level, we can apply it to an at bat. I’m pitching to someone and I make the perfect pitch against him, but he manages to put a good/bad swing on the ball and ends up with a sharp hit/BABIP Dragon-aided seven hopper through a hole somewhere. I had a good process, but my results weren’t desirable. The reverse can be true: I lay one in there, right over the middle, and a the guy swings under it and it finds a glove. Here, my process was bad, but my result was good. And yadda, yadda, yadda. You get it. How does this apply to the Yankees? Yesterday, after a nice day at Jones Beach, my girlfriend and I were driving home, listening to the win against the A’s. There were two “process vs. results” moments that caught my eye.
The first happened in the late innings when Eduardo Nunez reached base, was bunted over by Brandon Laird, and scored on a groundout by Derek Jeter. A run scored despite what my girlfriend and I thought was pretty bad process. Why, we both wondered, was Brandon Laird bunting? Joey Devine was horribly wild on Friday night and started off Laird’s plate appearance with ball one, let Laird squared on the next pitch. Eventually, he got the bunt down and the Yankees ended up “manufacturing” a run. At that point, they were ahead in the game and had a wild pitcher on the mound against them. Why help him out by giving him/Oakland outs, especially late in the game? Of course, the move (and the scoring of a run ‘without the benefit of a hit’)was lauded by John and Suyzn, and I’m sure it was lauded on TV and will be lauded in the papers that I won’t read today. This process wasn’t awful; playing for one run when you’re already up isn’t that bad. But given a wild pitcher and a hitter who has at least shown in the minors that he can hit for some pop, I would’ve rolled the dice. I should also note that Nunez scored on a grounder while the infield was in. This–the contact play as they call it–is something that I think is just beyond stupid, yet gets called a lot. This time, it happened to work. In the eighth inning, I think we saw the Yankees get a good result out of a not-so-hot process.
I’m sure there were some people questioning Joe Girardi for using Mariano Rivera for a four out save. Granted, there are concerns. Mo isn’t exactly young and he definitely wasn’t sharp yesterday afternoon. Still, the thought process is solid. The team was close to losing the lead in the top of the eighth, so the best relief pitcher was called upon. It didn’t go all too well–even though the Yankees ended up winning. I wasn’t checking Twitter or any game threads, but I’m sure there were people who questioned this. I’m of the opinion that bringing in the best available pitcher when the game is on the line is always the way to go (this could get us into a whole argument about relief pitching and its inefficiencies, so I’ll leave there).
Anyway, after we emotionally react (positively or negatively) to something the Yankees do–whether it’s a trade, a pitching change, etc.–we should always take the time to consider if that result, good for bad, occurred because of a god or bad process.
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