Saturday, June 18, 2011

When Farrell Ball Actually Works

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Image courtesy of Daylife via Getty Images
John Farrell has certainly been criticized for playing an aggressive game which has been branded as "Farrell Ball". Think Moneyball minus Billy Beane and more bunts and steal attempts.

At times it's been extremely frustrating to watch Farrell give the green light to Corey Patterson with Jose Bautista at the plate, but this time it worked against the Reds. When John Farrell sent Patterson, it resulted in a run scored thanks to a Bautista double.

For once this strategy actually paid off, but here's why I think it was a very wise move to actually give Corey Patterson the sign to steal; prior to yesterday, Jose Bautista had 22 hits in the past 21 games.

All but 4 of those hits were singles, which means Jose Bautista been on a bit of a singles kick lately with 18 one-bagger's in the past 21 games. By putting Corey Patterson in scoring position, that allows him to score on a double.

This allowed John Farrell to play to the strength of his hitters. Jose Bautista hasn't been killing the ball lately, but he's still reaching base to a tune of .486, better than anybody else in the majors (including Joey Votto).

So if Bautista has been hitting a lot of seeing eye singles lately, I think it's perfectly acceptable to give Corey Patterson the green light and try to get into scoring position by stealing second base.

Farrell Ball is a sharp contrast to the Cito Gaston managing style we were accustomed to (AKA "CitoCity"), and it's going to be an ongoing process transitioning from the one managerial style to the next.

As aggressive as John Farrell tends to be when employing Farrell Ball, I'd much rather the Blue Jays run into outs being aggressive than just sitting back and waiting for something to happen.

I truly believe that is what has helped the Blue Jays rack up a 7-2 record in extra innings, because John Farrell is willing to push the envelope and put the pressure on the opposition.

Farrell Ball is not completely foolproof as we have seen both the highs and the lows an aggressive style of managing can provide. However, we have also been privy to the opposite end of the managerial spectrum.

The thing about the American League East is you have to squeeze every single drop out of your lineup to get wins. Sometimes, even 90 wins might not get you a spot in the playoffs, and that's when those early season one-run losses really come back to bite you.

Sometimes, John Farrell is guilty of over-strategizing or over-thinking things. But let's just say hypothetically the Blue Jays are still in the race come September, we'll be singing his praises for helping the Blue Jays pick up those ever-important wins like they did against the Reds last night.

When Farrell Ball doesn't work, it can be painful to watch. But when Farrell Ball does work ... it's a thing of beauty.

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