Challenging Hanley Ramirez is an unusual way to try to win a baseball game, but maybe Cooper figured that because the logical ways weren’t working, he’d try something completely different.
Coop, on walking Johnson to get to Hanley Ramirez:
“I don’t have a problem with that."
“That’s the first time I’ve seen it."
Yep. Nick Johnson has been intentionally walked four times this season. But never was he walked to get to the National League leader in batting average. Before last night.
Coop had Sampson intentionally walk Nick Johnson to get to Hanley Ramirez, who leads the NL with a .348 average, 7th in OBP (.412), 9th in SLG (.554), 7th in OPS (.966), 2nd in hits (139), 7th in total bases (221), 3rd in doubles (32), 7th in RBI (75), 5th in OPS+ (154).
This doesn't even take into account the fact that Ramirez is now hitting .421 with RISP (45x107), .406 with runners on 1st and 2nd, and .452 with 2 outs and RISP.
Now Johnson ain't no slouch, either. He's hitting .313 with runners on base, and .329 with runners specifically on 1st, but he's also "only" hitting .286 with 2 outs and RISP.
One other clue might be Sampson's splits among lefties and righties. Against LHBs (a group to which Nick Johnson belongs), Sampson this season is allowing a line of .306/.348/.407. Against RHBs (Hanley Ramirez), Sampson's line is .255/.325/.418. Sampson is a good pitcher, but Ramirez is tagging RHPs to the tune of .363/.429/.613, Johnson? .280/.402/.373.
Johnson is a good hitter, but I just can't figure out why Coop would try to get to Hanley Ramirez, and I think Coop overplayed his hand.