Nola is killing me. Absolutely killing me. He seems like a nice kid and he does carry a decent glove, but his bat is atrocious, And I think one day he will be a productive player for us, but that day is not today.
Let's look at some numbers. Nola has played in 29 games and started 15 of them. He's made 72 defensive outs, turned 7 double plays, and committed 3 errors. I don't know his number of innings so I can't figure out his Range Factor, but he's got a Fielding Percentage of .960. LeMahieu, splitting time at short and second, has played in 51 of LSU's 52 games. He has made 180 outs, turned 13 double plays, and made 8 errors. His Fielding Percentage is .957. Schimpf has played 51 games as well, 39 of them at second, and made 142 total outs, turned 14 double plays, and made 3 errors for a .979 Fielding Percentage.
I fail to see the massive defensive upgrade. But, Nola's defenders will point out, the team is 9-2 since he became the starter. Hey, let's play with logical fallacies! Just because A precedes B, it does not mean A caused B. Also, Nola has started 15 games, and LSU is 12-3 with him as a starter. Do we want to play this game? OK, let's. Let's look at LSU's record with certain players in the lineup...
5-1 when Haydel starts at first
9-2 when Helenihi starts at third
6-0 when either McGhee or Jones starts in left
9-1 when Landry leads off
12-3 when Helenihi starts
Nola is hitting 208/317/283. That's terrible. There's just no other way to say it. Jones is hitting 344/462/500. McGhee is hitting 308/341/462. Helenihi is hitting 281/373/422. Landry is hitting 267/357/511. Hell, even Pontiff is hitting 225/326/400. Objectively speaking, Nola is our worst hitter by a disturbing large margin.
The worst thing about having Nola in the lineup is that Mainieri knows he's a terrible hitter, so it gives him carte blanche to signal the bunt. Admittedly, I'd rather have Nola bunting than swinging away, but that's pretty much why he shouldn't be in the lineup. It allows Mainieri to manage to his worst instincts. It's a crutch he doesn't need.
Use Nola as a defensive sub in the last innings of a tight game? I'm all for it. But he shouldn't be anywhere near the starting lineup right now. He's a liability. The team is not winning because of Nola, it's winning because Dean has finally started hitting again and Coleman-Ranaudo is a ridiculous one-two punch.
Richard is concerned about our baserunning. Now when I was talking about aggression on the basepaths, I was talking not just about steals but about taking the extra base on basehits. Going from first to third on a single is one of the underrated skills that doesn't show up in the box score. But the rule of thumb on stolen bases is that if you aren't successful at least 70% of the time, you're hurting the team's run scoring bottom line.
Richard remembers the caught stealings because, well, he doesn't like the risk of anyone not named Jared Mitchell stealing and his mind automatically remembers the things which support his beliefs. People tend to remember the things which confirm their beliefs. The mind is pretty neat that way. But what is actually true?
LSU has stolen 94 bases on 125 attempts, for a success rate of 75.2%. First off, that's a ton of stolen bases. I can't remember an LSU team that ran this often. But let's even take Mitchell out of the equation, since everyone agrees he should have a permanent green light. Mitchell is 28 for 34, so the rest of the team is 66 for 91, a success rate of 72.5%. Not a huge drop, but a drop nonetheless, and one that gets us closer to the 70% threshold. Let's look at the success rates of our top base stealers:
Schimpf 16 for 21 (76.2%)
Landry 9 for 15 (60.0%)
McGhee 7 for 8 (87.5%)
Mahtook 7 for 9 (77.8%)
LeMahieu 7 for 9 (77.8%)
Hanover 5 for 7 (71.4%)
Cue music: One of these things is not like the others, one of these things does not belong.
Landry's been a terrible baserunner, which is one of the major reasons he's no longer playing. It's been a while since he's run us out of an inning. Schimpf may have run us out of a run this weekend, but he's been successful by and large on the basepaths, so I'm not concerned. His baserunning has been a net positive for the offense.
Even if we choose to remember the outs.
ETA: I forgot to point out that LSU went 4 for 5 this weekend stealing bases, which demonstrates my point about how our mind remembers the stuff which confirms our theories and discards the rest. For the record, here are the steals:
Schimpf and Dean complete a double steal in the sixth. LeMaheiu rendered the steals moot by hitting a three run homer.
Ochinko singled in the eighth with two outs and LSU up 4-0. McGhee came in as a pinch runner and stole second, which sort of backfired, as Florida intentionally walked to pitch to Nola, who promptly struck out Gibbs (GIBBS! They walked Gibbs to pitch to Nola)
Landry stole second with two outs in the 9th. It didn't matter.
Now, I think Pittman's right when he essentially suggests that a running game isn't all that helpful. I'd much rather have a team that has power than speed. But it's still nice to have.