In the series opener, Boone allowed a single to the lefty Carl Crawford to load the bases before striking out the switch-hitting Jarrod Saltalamacchia (LOL) and the righty Darnell McDonald. Yesterday he gave up the homer to lefty Jacoby Ellsbury that basically won the game for the Red Sox. Now, Logan did rebound to get both Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz after the homer, but by then the damage was done. Coming into the series, left-handed batters were hitting .235/.300/.425 in 91 plate appearances off the Yankees’ lefty specialist. Effective, but not exactly lock down given the power numbers. On the other hand, righties were hitting just .216/.286/.255 in 56 plate appearances off Logan.
Of course, Boone did have a little bit of a revelation in Cincinnati after Alex Rodriguez pulled him aside and told him to have a plan for each pitch, and since then he’s been much better. After tagging him for a .300/.391/.425 line in his first 25 games (.167/.259/.167 vs. RHB), lefties have hit just .200/.289/.489 off Logan in his last 26 games (.267/.312/.333 vs. RHB). Definitely some big time improvement, though he’s still giving up far too many extra base hits to same-side batters. A lefty specialist allowing a .289 ISO to lefties over half his season workload is … awful.
Since that point, Logan has continued to struggle against lefthanders, who are now hitting .261/.317/.478 against the supposed lefty specialist. However, righties continue to flounder against him, to the tune of a .591 OPS. This odd split makes it seem like he has failed to do his job, despite a very solid overall line. Boone has pitched to a 2.92 ERA, 10.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, and perhaps most importantly, only 13 of 53 inherited runners have scored against him (That’s 25%. League average is 30%). The obvious dilemma that the Yankees and Joe Girardi are faced with is that while his overall line makes him one of the better relievers on the team, his poor performance against lefties makes it difficult to keep using him as a LOOGY. What should Girardi do?
The answer is straightforward: unless there is a legitimate explanation for a pitcher who has been very good against lefties and very poor against righties in the past to suddenly reverse his platoon tendencies, the Yankees should continue to use Logan as their LOOGY. Platoon splits for bullpen arms tend to be very fickle, being that reliever statistics are by nature a small sample and cutting them in half to look at platoon numbers further whittles down the amount of data being analyzed. If Logan discussed mechanical changes that would for some reason reverse his platoon abilities, I would obviously be willing to lend more credence to the 2011 numbers. Absent that sort of information, I think it more prudent to assume that the platoon numbers will return to their expected state in the future.
Ask yourself a simple question: do you think Girardi should start using Logan exclusively against righties, being that he has been excellent against them thus far this year? I am certain that most of you would be against that plan, some of you emphatically so. The reasoning is obvious, in that I doubt that many people believe that Boone’s success against righties is anything more than a small sample size anomaly. His numbers against lefties should be treated with similar skepticism. Girardi should continue to use Logan as the LOOGY throughout September in the hope that Boone’s platoon split corrects itself. If it doesn’t, Girardi can reassess his options against lefties for the postseason, possibly eschewing the use of a LOOGY altogether.
Update: One thing I neglected to look at when I wrote this post was Boone’s peripherals by platoon split. As Mark Smith of IIATMS noted on Twitter, Boone’s xFIP against lefties is much better than against RHB (2.80 to 3.88). He further suggested that some of the odd numbers discussed above can be attributed to the fact that BABIP and LOB% are quite volatile for relievers. Boone’s K and BB rates are much better against lefties, and he has been victimized by a high HR/FB rate and an inflated BABIP against them. This is simply more evidence to support the idea that Logan should continue to be used solely against lefties.
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