“I want a LOOGY” Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
LOOGY, (Left-handed One Out GuY). Almost every knowledgeable baseball fan knows the acronym. Every one of those fans knows there needs to be one in their bullpen. And not the slimy tobbaco stained kind you find lurking under the bench!
I would suspect Dave Dombrowski will actually make an attempt to get us one, contrary to previous statements. If he doesn’t, prepare for the ensuing rhetoric and balderdash about not really needing one since “Al Alburquerque gets left-handed batters out better than right-handed batters”. I believe there is much more to having a specialist southpaw in the pen than just statistics.
Same “hand-sidedness” strategy is almost a tradition in baseball. There are a lot of old school managers still around who believe that. Many managers will disregard the stats anyway and succumb to the same old antiquated thinking that has permeated baseball for over a century. Not every manager is as progressive as Joe Madden. Just maybe there is something to old school beliefs. Statistics actually do show that having a good LOOGY is a fantastic thing to have, but simply having one is a must.
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There may be less strategy in the Junior Circuit but this does not imply an absence of late-inning maneuvering and critical thinking. We know every possible victory is going to be extremely important in the AL Central in 2015.
Even the very presence of a looming LOOGY in the pen can affect an opposing manager’s decisions. Do you pinch-hit in the 7th? Won’t that shorten my bench? What will I do in the 9th, or worse, in extra innings? A whole cascade of events can occur with just the perception of a LHP waiting to trot out to the mound and mow down a hitter or two at the most inopportune time.
And when they get there? That’s when the stats hounds start to howl. A team’s LOOGY may not have a particularly good batting average against left-handed batters, but he could sport a high strike out or ground ball ratio. Maybe he doesn’t ever give up the long ball to his LHB brethren. Maybe he gets you out of an inning. Maybe he causes the opposing manager to think!
As to what we have that can be spun off as a potential LOOGY, hmmm’, not so sure we do. I see Kyle Lobstein more as a long guy. That essentially leaves Blaine Hardy, Kyle Ryan and Ian Krol. (N.B. no mention of Phil Coke here!) I think Krol is the most talented of the three but I’ll be surprised if David doesn’t find a subtle way of removing that last vestige of what may, arguably, be his worst trade.
There are a number of LOOGYs that are available as free agents. With Zach Duke and Andrew Miller out of the picture, those remaining free agents are not very exciting options. The oldest one on my list is Joe Beimel and as far as fitting the mold of a definitive LOOGY, he probably would be a slight preference over the youngest, Josh Outman. These two are the only lefty relievers out there who hold LHB to a sub .200 bat avg. Neither have a strong total k/bb ratio though Beimel’s ratio against LHB was excellent. If you want a lefty who doesn’t walk people, then Joe Thatcher could be your guy. He walked one left-handed batter all season in 85 plate appearances.
Regardless of how we get a LOOGY, we do need one. If only to play the “game” in late innings.