Situational hitting is such a rich part of the game. Apart from pitching (I'm biased), it has to be one of the main attractions to the game. Carson didn't have a clue of what I was talking about. He kept reminding me that there was a reason for the high salary premiums paid for HRs, slugging percentage, and of course, he threw in on-base percentage. Although Carson has made great strides in scouting the tools, he still has difficulty putting value on certain aspects of a player's game that aren't always measured by the statistical world of production.
To help him focus (or so I thought I was helping), I gave him several basic examples. With the bases empty and no outs, the at bat is different from the same situation with two outs. With two outs, the batter who finds himself in a 2-0 or 3-1 count should be looking to drive the ball in order to get himself into scoring position rather than taking a walk. If he takes the walk, his team will most likely need a couple two-out hits to score him. If he gets into scoring position, then only one two-out hit should be necessary to score him. [Of course, Carson argued with me on the philosophy of not taking a walk in that circumstance. Any tactic that could hurt a player's OBP had to be faulty. He was certain that he could find some statistical data that would prove more runs were scored with two outs from a 3-1 count which resulted in a walk than a situation where the ball was put into the field of play from a 3-1 count (ie. the team would be better off taking a walk instead of swinging for a double).]
Another example would be a man on third with less than two outs. The hitter needs to get the runner in from third. It doesn't really matter whether the infield is in or deep. I'm looking for a hitter that stays on top of the ball, controls his swing (no overswinging), and puts the ball in play. A simple grounder directed to the gap between third and second or first and second. No pop-ups or short fly balls. And for crying out loud, never get caught taking a third strike in this situation! [Of course, Carson was screaming for the deep fly ball that might have a chance to go yard. To him, if a player is going to put himself in a position to be thrown out on a ground ball, why not swing for the fences for a chance to score two runs. If he comes up short, then the team scores a run on a deep fly ball. For anyone who's played, it's much more difficult to consistently hit a deep fly ball. There's too much opportunity to hit it short or simply pop-up. Most MLB outfielders can throw out a tagging runner on a shallow fly ball. Just get it on the ground and the chances are that something good is going to happen. The batter might even get it through the gap and improve his precious OBP]
Now, I realize that a manager should dictate the situational hitting tactics used during the game but the player needs to be able to execute them. Generally, a team gets to the playoffs because they have good pitchers who can beat the other teams' good hitters more often than not. But a way for hitters to overcome dominating pitchers is to use situational hitting to their advantage. Once in the playoffs, it's my opinion that the team who executes situational hitting is more likely to win. I want players who are comfortable with the concepts and can execute them willingly and without hesitation.