This is a reprint from my blog Dodger Math.
Recently, Oakland manager Ken Macha made the announcement that due to Mark Ellis' early struggles, he was going to start Marco Scutaro at second base with some regularity. Prior to this, I thought that Macha was a pretty good manager, in that he wasn't doing anything to actively hurt the team. So long as you put the correct nine names into the starting lineup, you're doing 90% of your job. His bizzare infatuation with Marco Scutaro, however, could end up being the downfall of the A's.
In his career, Scutaro is a terrible hitter as shown by his .253/.302/.385 career numbers. As a point of comparision, the man who is about a season and a half away from securing the title of "worst hitter ever", Neifi Perez, has put up a .269/.300/.379 line throughout his career. Scutaro can't hit, this much is clear. The only reason why Billy Beane hasn't traded Scutaro for a bucket of baseballs is because he can field (107 rate2 at shortstop, 103 rate2 at second). Even so, Mark Ellis is both better defensively (105 rate2), and despite all of his struggles, is actually hitting better than Scutaro this season (.690 OPS versus .614). Not only this, but the A's have an option other than Scutaro and Ellis, Antonio Perez. But, apparently, Macha's seen all he needs to see from him in his 16 plate appearances, and he's out of the question. Hell, the A's could call up Keith Ginter, who despite a horrific year for the A's last year, still is hitting .243/.329/.422 in his career, which would out produce Scutaro.
Ah, but Scutaro has an ace up his sleeve, his reputation for clutch hits late in the game. However, this simply isn't true, his .252/.313/.368 line in these situations from 2003-2005 shows that he's pretty much the same terrible hitter that he always is, even when it's close and late. (In 2002 and 2006, he was a combined 4 for 17, which would drop his average). But, for sake of argument, even though the numbers don't indicate it, let's say that Scutaro is a magical little elf who can deliver clutch hits time and time again. If this is true, wouldn't it be smarter to simply use Scutaro as a pinch hiter in these situations? After all, if his numbers were boosted by these situations (which they aren't) isn't he even worse early in the game?
Given how terrible Scutaro is, we can see Macha displaying the same mindset that lead Jim Tracy to leave Cesar Izturis in the leadoff spot despite a .200 OPS in June and start Jason Phillips at first. Scutaro is not good, Scutaro has never been good and every time he is allowed to start, he costs the A's some possibility of winning.