Laurila: Players’ view: Does lineup protection exist?

From SABR member David Laurila at FanGraphs on May 5, 2015:

Lineup protection may or may not exist. Studies suggest it doesn’t, at least not statistically, but many within the game insist it does. In their view, the pitches a batter sees are influenced by the batter on deck. Almost all agree that situations play a role, but beyond that, just how much effect is there? The question was posed to six pitchers, four hitters, and two managers (both of whom are former catchers). Here are their responses:

Madison Bumgarner, Giants pitcher: “I should look over at the on-deck circle a lot of time, but my pride gets the better of me. I can’t remember a time that I looked over there and was actually smart about the situation. It should be that way. It’s a hard thing to do. You don’t want to give in, I don’t want to give in.”

Kevin Cash, Rays manager: “A lot of those questions have been asked about Longo (Evan Longoria). You have the guy who protects, you have the guy who gets the benefit of having protection, and then you have the really good hitter who does both. We factor in protection, but it’s not just having that one guy in front of him, or behind him. That’s not the driving force when making a lineup.”

Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays infielder: “I think it’s like this: If you’ve been around a little bit, people are going to pitch to you the way they’re going to pitch to you. But when you have guys behind you, they’re going to be more apt to make mistakes in the strike zone. They’re going to be more aggressive throwing strikes, but not more aggressive throwing fastballs. They’re going to throw their pitches, but they’re going to throw them more for strikes.”

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Originally published: May 5, 2015. Last Updated: May 5, 2015.