The Reds bounced back tonight after the crushing defeat Thursday at the hands of the Braves. Laynce Nix got a little redemption, hitting a homer and two doubles one night after the walk-off grand slam by Brooks Conrad in the Braves stunning seven-run ninth glanced off Nix's glove. After seeing the replay today, I wondered today why Heisey wasn't inserted as a defensive substitution in the ninth inning yesterday.
The obvious answer is that the score was 9-3 entering the ninth last night - a seemingly insurmountable lead. Dusty Baker was probably looking at it as an opportunity to get his little-used bench players some playing time in a low-leverage situation and not as a lead that needed protecting. That seems perfectly rational too, as fangraphs listed the win expectancy (WE) as 99.8% at the end of the eighth inning. Even when Cordero was summoned with the bases loaded and a three run lead, the Reds had a WE of 81.5%.
Looking beyond the obvious answer though, I found another answer. Laynce Nix is actually a pretty good left fielder. I wasn't aware of this, and he certainly didn't look it on the replay I saw. I looked him up on fangraphs though, and found that Nix has a career UZR/150 of 10.0 in left field. Not only that, but prior to last year with the Reds, Nix's most significant playing time came as an above average center fielder with the Rangers for the better part of the 2004 season. That season, Nix put up a 4.2 UZR in 875 innings, ninth-best among all players who logged 850 or more innings in center field that year. On what should be an excellent defensive team - surprisingly, fangraphs lists the team UZR as -0.5 so far in 2010 - it is easy to overlook the solid defensive play of Nix.