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Longball vs smallball: what are the advantages of each?

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  • Longball vs smallball: what are the advantages of each?

    I'm trying to gauge how you folks feel about this unending debate. Should a powerful lineup that has sluggers (Cards, Yanks, BoSox, etc) also employ bunting, base stealing (including double steals), sac flies, take that extra base, etc? Should they manufacture runs? Or should they wait for someone to hit a double?

    I was reading this article below about and decided to ask aloud how this. One major issue amongst several Yankee fans, myself included, is an inability to get runners across. In one game a few days ago, we had Damon on 3B, Jeter on 2B to lead off the 1st, then each of Sheffield, Rodriguez and Giambi--the power guys--all whiffed in succession.

    Would someone have asked a slugger to bunt or ground out to 1B/2B to move the runners, plating Damon from 3B and Jeter moving over to 3B? If you folks could provide detail as to how you view what should've been done as it pertains to your own teams, please do so.

    Here's the article, even if it's not necessarily the best one for what I'm discussing here:

    Longballs make for short memory
    For openers, this sure had quite a closing.

    On a spectacular sun-splashed spring afternoon in the Bronx, the Yankees put 54,698 of their adoring fans and Opening Day dignitaries and power brokers through the full gamut of emotions - joy, frustration, disbelief, despair, hope and ultimately exultation - in finally grinding out a victory over the pesky Kansas City Royals, who proved to be more than just convenient sacrificial lambs for the benefit of King George and his celebrity pals.

    Oh, it started all right, with Johnny Damon, in his first Stadium at-bat as a Yankee, doubling to lead off the first and Jason Giambi homering later in the inning to give Chien-Ming Wang a quick 3-0 lead. And it sure ended all right for the festive-minded Yankee zealots when form finally prevailed with Derek Jeter's game-winning three-run homer off 21-year-old newly minted closer Ambiorix Burgos, capping a five-run eighth.

    But - oy vey - what transpired in between those two homers! It was enough to bring a funereal pall over the packed Stadium. Cheers turned to stunned silence and even a scattering of boos as Wang, after methodically recording eight ground-ball outs through the first three innings, suddenly encountered problems keeping the ball down and, as Joe Torre noted: "They let him know about it."

    Beginning with Reggie Sanders' one-out homer in the fourth, the Royals began hitting Wang hard, tying the score 4-4 in that inning and forging a 7-4 lead by the seventh after Tanyon Sturtze came on and surrendered a first-pitch homer to rookie Shane Costa, a ground-rule double to Mark Grudzielanek and an RBI single to Sanders. But it wasn't just the pitching that had turned everything unexpectedly sour and somber.
    Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting. 2007-11 CBA
    Rest very peacefully, John “Buck” O'Neil (1911-2006) & Philip Francis “Scooter” Rizzuto (1917-2007)
    THE BROOKLYN DODGERS - 1890 thru 1957
    Montreal Expos 1969 - 2004

  • #2
    Me personally, I think its all a matter of the situation. The Red Sox were, as an organization agist stealing and bunting, and then Dave Roberts makes maybe the most pivotal and historic stolen base in history to start the 4 game comeback.

    In the situation you site call me crazy but I'm going to let Sheff, A-Rod and Giambi swing away every time. Its just bad luck that they couldn't get the run in.

    I also think much like the Yankees and Red Sox, its based on who your personel is on your team and in that given situation. If Coco Crisp is on second with now outs and Lorretta is up, that will present a much differet set of oportunities than if Ortiz is on Second and Manny is up.

    Quite honestly I really believe that you have to be flexible and react to situations/oportunities as they arise and not pigeonhole yourself into strictly adhereing to a certain way of thinking.
    Get out the Vote!!!


    • #3
      Go with your strength

      Nothing wins post-season games like solid pitching. All other aspects of the game are important during the regular season, and perhaps the principal feature of a consistently successful team is doing the little things right. Bernie getting caught off base on a pop-up is a prime example of what not to do, leaving men on base is another, and my own personal peeve is a pitcher issuing walks like they are jury duty summonses. The long ball gets the kids off the street and brings them home, but then so do squeezes, sacrifices, and gapper doubles. I think a good manager goes with his teams' positive characteristics; if you have long knockers in the heart of the order, you wait on the three run homers. If on the other hand, you have speed demons at the top you move them with small ball tactics in close games, but these are guidelines, not hard and fast rules. There is no substitute for solid, smart defense, far more than any offensive emphasis, in my book.

      I think there is a bigger difference between teams that pay more attention to the little things, as opposed to a team that succeeds only with homeruns and strikeout pitching, than longball v. smallball offense. I prefer speed and lots of stealing, hit and runs, sac bunts, and plate discipline, as opposed to the swing for the fences strategy, but it doesn't work for and old gang of sluggers who have either lost a step or never had one. Although I haven't really watched the Yankees yet this season, and haven't really answered your question, I think the most important thing during the regular season is staying away from big innings, and not making bonehead plays on both offense and defensively.
      Baseball is a ballet without music. Drama without words ~Ernie Harwell


      • #4
        I go back to my old philosophy
        Pitching wins in the playoffs but Offense will get you there and Your Bullpen and defense is always important.

        Small ball will win in the playoffs while the longball is going to get you in it. You can`t be one dimensional if you want to win a championship unless you are in a division like the NL West were you can afford to just do small ball. Chicago last year had pitching that was incredible but they couldn`t have won the Central without the longball. They had a great Bullpen as well. So you can`t be one dimensional. Look at the other AL division winners. The Angels are the exception from my rule since they have only 1 power hitter one of the reasons for this is their division. Other than the A's their was no competition and they play the same style. The Yankees had power and a lights out closer. To cap it all off their defense on the left side of the infield wasn`t bad either. They couldn`t pass the Angels in the playoffs because of their SP. Chicago was already discussed. Boston also had very good power but other than Damon they couldn`t play small ball so they couldn`t pass Chicago. They also possesed shaky SP>

        So in conclusion in my confusing ranting way I have told you Small ball is better in the playoffs and long ball is better in the regular season.
        2009 World Series Champions, The New York Yankees


        • #5
          Obviously it all depends on the situation. I generally don't like the bunt, but if you're in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth and have a runner on second with nobody out, it can be a good move. On the other hand, the other day the Yankees had Damon sac bunt with guys on first and second and nobody out and a struggling pitcher on the mound. That's just a waste of an out. Stolen bases can be valuable, but only if the success rate is high enough. Overall, i'd take the team of sluggers every time. The Yankees are going to leave a lot of guys on base this year, but that's because they're going to have so many guys on base. How often do the smallball teams finish near the top in runs scored? Usually they're just called smallball teams when they don't score that much and have good pitching. As much as the White Sox were thought of as a smallball team last year, they relied on the homerun as much as anybody. I know the argument is that smallball helps you win close games, but i'm pretty sure there have been studies done on that, and i'll try to dig one up. One counterexample is the Yankees of the past few years. They always perform well in one-run games and outperform their pythag record despite claims that they don't know how to play smallball and are over-reliant on homeruns.


          • #6
            Here's one study that looks at the effects of many variables on pythag winning pct:

            Here's one on what works in the playoffs that seems to support the smallball theory:


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