FanPost

In Defense of Randall "Pink" Choate


It's easy to scapegoat Joe Maddon's decision to bring Randy Choate in the game to turn around Jorge Posada prior to Curtis Granderson's plate appearance. After all, Choate was brought into this organization as AAA LOOGY depth behind Brian Shouse

Choate has a poor FIP for his career vs. right-handed batters for a reliever, 4.85 to be exact. Choate's K/9 drops from 9.78 vs lefties to 4.52 vs righties while his uBB/9 rises from 2.85 to 3.42. That may not tell the whole story. After all there is another highly valued skill among relievers, the art of inducing groundballs.

For his career Pink has induced 53.9% groundballs vs lefties, and 57.1% ground balls vs righties. In 2008, we traded for a $3 million dollar reliever with a similar skill set, though right-handed. Chad Bradford recorded a 67.2% career ground ball rate vs righties and a 55.7% ground ball rate vs. lefties. He has a career FIP of 2.81 vs. right-handed pitching and a 5.45 vs. lefties. In 2008, he faced twice as many righties as he did lefties.

Neither pitcher has any ground to stand on for facing opposite-handed hitters if we use FIP as the only evaluator. What if we introduce some defense into the equation? Choate pitches with sink when he is on which helps minimize home run opportunities. He has allowed  0.7% of LHB faced to hit home runs. You might expect someone who can only face batters of the same hand to see a big spike versus opposite handed hitters, yes? RHB achieved a  a home run 1.3% of the time. I didn't break down each other pen option's splits but here are the total HR% for the rest of the 08 pen: JP Howell 2.5%, Lance Cormier 1.8%, Grant Balfour 2.1%, Dan Wheeler 5.0%, Joe Nelson 3.8%, and Brian Shouse 4.8%.For his career vs. a sample size of 465 major league RHB, Choate allowed a lesser home run rate at 1.3% than any 2008 reliever's total HR allowed rate which includes same handed match-ups.

With a runner on first, Pink represents the Rays' best chance to induce a double play regardless of opposing batter's handedness. I don't disagree with the notion Choate had thrown more pitches in the previous game than he is used to. Fatigue may have been a factor. With an above-average defensive infield, a reasonably low walk rate, and a monster 57% ground ball rate, Randall "Pink" Choate can be a situational option for the Rays vs. a right-handed batter. Unfortunately, the one in a hundred had to happen today in a 2-1 ballgame. As Pink said himself said courtesy of @SunSportsRays,  ""I really can't explain the last 2 days...I'm a sinkerball pitcher and the ball ain't sinkin'. It causes bad results."

This post was written by a member of the DRaysBay community and does not necessarily express the views or opinions of DRaysBay staff.

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