Tuesday’s intentional walk of Robinson Cano …

Justin SmoakLefty C.J. Wilson clearly wasn’t on board with Mike Scioscia‘s decision to intentionally walk lefty Robinson Cano to face the switch-hitting Justin Smoak, who wound up hitting the three-run double that pretty much decided the game. Asked if it felt weird to walk a left-handed hitter to face someone batting from the right side of the plate, Wilson said: “Yes. No more questions on that one.”

So, no more questions were asked.

But we can examine it a little further.

First, the facts …

Situation: 2nd and 3rd, 2 outs, T3, Mariners lead 1-0

Cano vs. Wilson: .389/.450/.611, 40 PA
Cano lifetime: .309/.355/.505, 10 yrs
Smoak vs. Wilson: .207/.281/.517, 32 PA
Smoak as RHH: .223/.294/.362
Smoak as LHH: .230/.324/.401
LHH’s vs. Wilson: .196/.278/.274
RHH’s vs. Wilson: .252/.336/.382

So, not only is Cano one of the most dangerous hitters in the game; he’s one of few left-handed hitters who has actually had success against Wilson. Smoak, meanwhile, has never produced like a first baseman should — and isn’t necessarily a dangerous cleanup hitter. The only circumstances that made this scenario remotely debatable are (1) Smoak was 3-for-5 with a three-run homer heading into that at-bat and (2) the end result wasn’t good for the Angels.

If Scioscia would’ve done the opposite and pitched to Cano, and Cano would’ve brought in the runs, he would’ve been hammered for the decision — and rightfully so.

“Robinson Cano is the guy you want to try to minimize as much as you can,” Scioscia said. “Justin Smoak, give him credit – got some big hits last night, got some big hits tonight. If that continues, then Robinson Cano will get some pitches to hit. But right now, you’re going to want Justin Smoak to swing the bat instead of Robinson.”

Wilson clearly wanted to face Cano, which is fine. He’s a competitor; he should want to face Cano. But that doesn’t make it right. And the end result doesn’t mean the decision to walk Cano was a bad one. I’ll take my chances with Smoak over Cano, every single time.

And Smoak would, too.

“No doubt,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you? I don’t care if it’s lefty-on-lefty or what. There’s a reason why they do that.”


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