Cito Gaston's return to the helm in Toronto has been nothing short of fantastic for the Jays. Many have cited his experience as the key factor to their success, many have cited his calming influence. Maybe, though, it's just that he doesn't mess with stuff too much:
Toronto has sent a pinch-hitter to the plate only five times this season, fewer than any club in the AL. Despite conventional wisdom that says managers should play the percentages (bat righties against lefties, etc.), Mr. Gaston prefers to stick with his starters. Rather than making a knee-jerk replacement of a lefty hitter like Lyle Overbay (pictured) when the other manager brings in a left-handed pitcher, Mr. Gaston simply stands pat.
The numbers support Mr. Gaston's strategy. So far in 2009, AL pinch-hitters are batting a paltry .187 AVG/.275 OBP/.301 SLG, compared to the average AL starter that is batting .268/.340/.428.
This is a very simple game: You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. Cito Gaston seems to get that. Guys like Jerry Manuel who can't help themselves from making five substitutions when none will do don't seem to get it.