The sight of an American League manager trying to cope with his DH playing first base, his first baseman sitting on the bench and all of the various pitching and pinch-hitting choices at his disposal, whether they were made or bypassed, is one of the many takeaways of Game 3 of the World Series.
Might it one day be a thing of the past? Bud Selig says there’s no movement afoot to expand the DH into the National League, but he did note the folly of claiming that nothing will ever change yesterday:
My friend [Phillies chairman] Bill Giles once said to me, ‘You know, I like the controversy between the leagues. I think it’s good.’ Having said that, I did say three or four years ago that I had strong feelings on [expanded] instant replay. And, like everything else in life, you make adjustments and I now have somewhat different feelings. So I’m never going to say never to anything. But at the moment is there anything going on? No. If somebody has something to say, I’m glad to listen.”
Eventually I think it will be a point of financial negotiation, not a preference for the AL style of play over the NL that will rule the day and expand the DH into the National League. The union will see the value of a higher-paid player in the form of a veteran DH occupying a roster position than another reliever or bench bat. The league will continue to march on toward uniformity and the dissolution of historical relics that once distinguished one league from another. We’ve seen it in just about every other area where the AL and NL were once unique.
And while those of us who grew up more familiar with the NL than the AL may moan about it a lot, we’ll all get over it.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP