The eyes of the baseball world were on Anaheim tonight watching Jered Weaver throw a no-hitter against the Minnesota Twins. It was an incredible performance and truly amazing to watch.
But it wasn’t the only rarity for the Angels in the game. No, something almost as incredible to behold was going on right underneath everyone’s noses, but it didn’t get nearly the same amount of publicity. Yes, I’m referring to the curious decision of Angels manager Mike Scioscia to bat Vernon Wells second in the lineup. Yes, that Vernon Wells.
Considering the kind of player Vernon Wells has been since he was traded to the Angel, this seems impossibly stupid. See Wells’ .248 OBP last season and .247 OBP this season entering the game. When lineups were announced before the game, it almost seemed like a hoax, which is probably why Angels communication manager Eric Kay felt the need to tweet out a picture of the lineup card as proof:
I’d like to believe that just off camera, someone was holding a gun to Mike Scioscia’s head in order to extract this bizarre form of ransom.
Alas, that isn’t the case. Scioscia quite simply decided that he was going to shun the sabermetric-friendly thinking that he never really embraced to begin with and, in his words, go “caveman on the lineup.” Apparently, on-base percentage was of little import to Cro Magnon man because that batting order is an affront to the post-Moneyball way of thinking. Not only is Wells a proven out-machine, so is the leadoff hitter Erick Aybar, who had a .239 OBP when the game started. Combine those two with the struggling Albert Pujols and the top three in the Angels’ lineup sported OBPs of .239, .247 and .255, respectively.
Given the struggles of the Angel offense so far this season, you almost can’t blame Scioscia for trying such a bizarre lineup. Still, constructing a lineup in ascending order of OBP seems wildly irresponsible. Naturally, the Angels scored a season-high nine runs. Of course almost none of that had anything to do with Wells who went 1-for-5 with a single and a run scored.
Knowing how Mike Scioscia likes to tinker with his lineup, this is his 22nd unique lineup in 25 games, this strange alignment may never see the light of day again. That’s probably for the best.