Let's get something straight: I disagree with Tony LaRussa (pictured at left -- in the bunny outfit) a large percentage of the time. His hair is stupid. He likes Styx in a non-ironic way. And perhaps worst of all, he has taken and passed the bar exam.
But the goal of batting the pitcher is not to get him more at-bats (even though, in theory, it does -- before he's replaced for a pinch-hitter at least). Rather, the goal is to put Albert in a position to bat with runners on more often. But has this actually happened?
During the Cardinals' thrashing of the Braves on Friday night, I had some time to do some quick calculations. I asked a very simple question -- how often does Albert come up with runners on now, and how often did it happen in seasons past?
2008: 241 PAs with runners on/498 PAs = 48%
2007: 317/671 = 47%
2006: 298/631 = 47%
2005: 332/697 = 48%
So, uh, yeah. Maybe I'm not asking the right question, but I can't see a whole lot of difference, can you? The bottom line, as far as I can tell, is that batting the pitcher eighth isn't that big a deal one way or the other with regard to Albert's mashing opportunities.
And maybe Tony knows this, but does it anyway just to annoy Cardinals fans, writers, bloggers, et al. I could almost respect that.
*He also might go down as the second-winningest manager of all time, but that's neither here nor there.