John Russell’s handling of Lastings Milledge continues to be the most baffling bit of managing going on in the major leagues. But maybe that is another reason why the Pittsburgh manager is sitting with the worst record in the National League and second worse overall to the lowly Baltimore Orioles.
Russell continues to platoon the right handed hitting Milledge with lefty hitting Ryan Church despite numbers that say this is an extremely counter-productive move.
Milledge was hitting .276 overall heading into the all-star break. He is batting .318 against lefties and .255 against right-handers (42-265). Church is batting .194 against right-handers (24-124) and .156 against lefties for an anemic overall BA of .186.
But it gets worse. With runners in scoring position against the so-called righties he can’t hit as suggested by Russell’s maneuvering, Milledge is batting .361 (13-36) while Church is hitting .167 against right handers with runners in scoring position.
Looking at the other skills makes this platoon system even more senseless. At 25, Milledge is six years younger than Church. The Lakewood Ranch High grad is more athletic, better defensively, can cover more ground in the outfield and can run the bases so much better.
In the last seven days before the All-Star break, Church had 1 hit in 11 at-bats and struck out five times, but continues to start when a right hander is on the mound.
Church is a 14th round draft pick, who has a career .249 BA with runners in scoring position that includes striking out 130 times in 428 at-bats, which means he striking out every 3.3 times with RISP.
A first round, 12th overall pick, Milledge’s career batting average with RISP is .281 and with RISP and two outs .269. He has 69 strikeouts in 349 at-bats with RISP, which is a 5.0 ratio.
It makes you wonder if Russell is hoping to make one less person mad at him by putting Church in the lineup.