Saturday, January 16, 2010
CAIRO Projected 2010 AL East Standings as of January 16Obviously it's way too early to make much of these, but here's how I have the AL East projected with CAIRO given current rosters and my estimated playing times.
W: Average projected win total
L: Average projected loss total
RS: Projected runs scored
RA: Projected runs allowed
Div%: Percentage of times team won division
WC%: Percentage of times team won wild card
PL%: Percentage of times team made the playoffs (Div% + WC%)
Although it looks like Boston's offense is on par with the Yankees superficially, it's not once you consider the park factors. The Yankees are probably about forty runs better than Boston offensively in a neutral park right now, although the converse applies to the pitching staffs.
Interestingly enough, for all the talk about Boston's great defense, they're not even the best defense in the division, with Tampa Bay projecting close to 20 runs better than Boston.
Anyway, expect lots to change before we can really have useful projected standings, so please don't take these too seriously.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
So How Good Might the 2010 Red Sox Defense Be?As Yankee fans, we generally keep an eye on our divisional rivals in the North East. In 2009, the Red Sox fell short of a strong Yankee team before bowing out to the Los Angeles Angels of California in the ALDS. While the Red Sox had a good overall season winning 95 games and taking the wild card, one area where they were pretty poor was on defense.
Here's how the Red Sox rated at each position defensively in 2009 using standard zone rating and UZR.
zRS: Defensive runs saved above average using zone rating
uRS: Defensive runs saved above average using UZR
aRS: Average of zRS and uRS
The primary big disparity between ZR and UZR is the Green Monster. Standard zone rating counts chances off the wall as playable for some bizarre reason, whereas UZR does not. Shortstop also seems diametrically opposite. When UZR is better than zone rating, it usually means the position saw a higher than normal distribution of difficult chances. Zone rating treats all chances the same, whereas UZR adjusts for batted ball velocity, handedness of the batter/pitcher and GB/FB tendencies which should help adjust for the difficulty of chances.
Because of the issues with LF and SS, the Red Sox were probably closer to a -14 team than a -36 team. Either way, they weren't very good.
Jason Bay has generally not been a good defender, and as a Met he's no longer their problem. Even though Jacoby Ellsbury is really fast and looks like a good defender, the metrics were less than impressed. Mike Lowell's hip issue severely impacted his lateral range, and it looks like he's not long for Boston at this point.
In signing Mike Cameron, Adrian Beltre and Marco Scutaro as the replacements for Bay, Lowell and Nick Green, the Red Sox signed three players who are good defenders. Adding them to Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and J.D. Drew who are all good defenders appears to turn a Red Sox weakness into a strength.
So how much of a strength is it? Here's how CAIRO has what looks like their primary roster projected offensively and defensively.
BR: Absolute linear weights batting runs based on estimated playing time, not adjusted for position.
Outs: Outs made while batting. Team outs should add up to around 4100 over a full season.
BRAR: Batting runs above replacement level at position.
RS: Runs saved compared to average, using an average of zone rating and UZR pro-rated to projected playing time.
WAR: Wins above replacement (BRAR + RS).
Moving Ellsbury to LF from CF makes him a plus defender according to my projections, so it looks like the Red Sox can run out a defense that is at least average at every position (I'm not including catchers for now, so Victor Martinez may change that). If these numbers are to be believed, the red Sox have probably made themselves 40 to 50 runs better defensively with the moves they've made this offseason.
Standard caveats about defensive metrics having more uncertainty than offensive or pitching metrics apply here, so don't take this as definitive proof or anything.
I haven't really finalized their pitching depth chart so I'm not going to post it yet, but with the one I have worked up they look like a .598 Pythagenpat team right now, which is .025 points worse than the Yankees were when I ran their numbers. That's the difference between a 97 win team and 101 win team in a neutral league, though we probably want to knock off a couple of wins frome each team to account for being in the AL East.
So right now, I still think the Yankees are better by a few games, but in a 162 game season that's not much of a difference, and of course a lot can change between now and the end of the 2010 season.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
2009 AL/NL Postseason Batting Stats Through Game Four of the ALCS
|Chan Ho Park||PHI||NL||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000||0.00|
wOBA: Weighted on-base average, a rate version of linear weights scaled to OBP.
braa: Linear weights batting runs above 2009 AL/NL postseason average (not position or park-adjusted). So far in 2009 the AL averages are .238/.315/.394 and .322 wOBA. This is calculated as player wOBA minus league wOBA divided by 1.15 (which gets us to the difference in run values per plate appearance between player and league) then multipled by # of PAs.
You know what'd be tight? If our number three hitter hit better than our backup catcher going forward.
Anyway, while our natural tendency is to focus on the people who are doing poorly, like Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano, having the top three offensive players (Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada) in the AL postseason has been a nice thing.
Here are the team totals for offense.
Are we still allowed to complain about the offense if they've been better than anyone else in the AL? I say yes... I forgot to do the team pitching in yesterday's post, so here it is.
fip: Fielding independent pitching. Regresses batting average on balls in play to average by focusing on HRs, BBs and Ks by a pitcher.
rsaa: Runs saved above average, calculated as lg RA (in the postseason) minus pitcher RA divided by nine times IP by the specific pitcher.
Yay Yankee starters.
Yay Yankee relievers.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
2009 AL Postseason Hitting Stats Through Game 2 of the ALCS (plus AL/NLCS probabilities update)
wOBA: Weighted on-base average.
BRAA: Batting runs above average using linear weights. Average is for what all AL teams have combined for in the postseason so far (ALDS and ALCS).
Yeah, maybe we shouldn't be complaining about the Yankee offense...
I said I was going to write about some annoyances that came out of yesterday's game, but it looks like you all have beaten me to it.
So far it hasn't come back to haunt the Yankees, but I think that Joe Girardi is a little too quick with the hook on his relievers. While you should exploit platoon advantages where it makes sense, if you bring in Joba Chamberlain to get the last out in the seventh and he does it, why must you automatically pull him for Hughes, especially if there's no match up reason for doing so? Chamberlain and Hughes can both be effective for longer outings, and I think using up three or four relievers to get out of one inning can handicap the team if the game goes longer.
And here are the latest Monte Carlo playoff probabilities for the two leagues.
|Team||CS Win Odds|
|Team||WS Win Odds|
Monday, October 12, 2009
2009 ALDS Run Values for Pitchers
RSAA: Runs saved above average (postseason lg RA - pitcher RA divided by 9 times IP).
The pitchers are dominating the hitters so far in the AL postseason. Aside from Phil Hughes and Damaso Marte (who got bailed out by David Robertson and Mark Teixeira after allowing three hits to two batters), the Yankee pitching is kicking ass. Of course, it helps that they faced the worst of the AL postseason offenses.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Looks like we know who’ll be playing the Twins in the 2009 ALCS, although Baseball Prospectus still gives the Red Sox a 15% chance of winning this round.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Updated Division Series Odds Through Games of October 10, 2009
|Team||DS Win Odds||G/L|
|Yankees (up 2-0)||94.0%||5.9%|
|Angels (up 2-0)||83.9%||18.2%|
|Dodgers (up 2-0)||82.7%||-1.1%|
|Phillies (tied 1-1)||59.9%||-4.2%|
|Rockies (tied 1-1)||40.1%||4.2%|
|Cardinals (down 0-2)||17.3%||1.1%|
|Red Sox (down 2-0)||16.1%||-18.2%|
|Twins (down 2-0)||6.0%||-5.9%|
G/L: Gain/Loss (percentage change in probability of advancing to the next round since the prior run on Sept 9)
The NLDS odds changed slightly even though both series were idle because the Monte Carlo simulator makes random tweaks in the winning percentages during each iteration to account for the volatility of how a team may actually play over a small sample.
The key numbers to look at are the ones in the AL, where the Yankees and Angels made big gains by going up 2-0 with their wins tonight..
Thursday, October 8, 2009
2009 ALDS Preview: Satan’s East Coast Team vs. Satan’s West Coast Team
Here’s a quick look at the Twins’ possible opponents for the next round…Red Sox
The plucky underdogs from New England finished with the third-best record in the American League and took the wild card by eight games. Let's see how they look as presently constituted.
Although the Yankees ended up finishing eight games ahead of Boston, the actual difference between the two teams is more than likely smaller than that. Here's how their position players project for the ALDS, using my guess at the postseason roster (which isn't finalized yet).
PA: Estimated plate appearances for the series, assuming it goes the distance.
pwOBA: projected weighted on-base average, a rate version of linear weights
09wOBA: 2009 actual wOBA
Diff: 09wOBA minus pwOBA. As a rough rule of thumb, a difference of .010 in wOBA is worth about five runs over 600 PAs.
BR: Estimated batting runs for the series using linear weights for estimated PA
Outs: Estimated outs for the series based on revised projection and estimated PA
dRS: Defensive projection over 150 games using an average of zone rating and UZR for non-catchers, and for 120 games using a system similar to the one described here for catchers.
Keep in mind that these projections are for Fenway, which boosts run-scoring even more than DNYS. So even though the raw numbers look better than any other team's, once you adjust for park they go down a little. Still, this is a good offensive team, especially if they are starting Victor Martinez at catcher. In a neutral environment they're probably a little worse than the Yankees, but better than any other team in the postseason.
I know we like to mock the media's fascination with the Red Sox, but they deserve credit for how they've put their team together. In Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis they have two players among the best at their positions in baseball that they've drafted and developed themselves, and while additional farm product Jacoby Ellsbury is overrated because of his speed, he's a pretty valuable player on offense. The only player on offense that is below average is probably Alex Gonzalez, although we can probably add Jason "C" Varitek if he gets any starts.
So yeah, they can hit. What about the defense? Funny you should ask. The Red Sox weren't a very good defensive team this year if you go by the numbers (-17 UZR, -36 ZR). The ZR number is "not" adjusted for Fenway's disgraceful LF wall, the normal effect of that is around 15 runs, so they're probably closer to that -17 UZR number.
Jason Bay is pretty bad in LF, and it's not just a Fenway thing. His numbers in Pittsburgh since a knee injury a few years ago were also not that good. Jacoby Ellsbury "looks" good, and he had decent numbers before this year, but for whatever reason his numbers aren't so good this year. I'd probably split the difference with him. He's probably not as good as Red Sox fans think, but he's also probably not as bad as this year's numbers indicate. Pedroia, Youkilis, Alex Gonzalez and J.D. Drew all probably classify as good to great defensively. Mike Lowell used to be a good defender, but his mobility has been hampered by his hip injury. Overall, they were a below average defense in 2009 but they project around average now.
The pitching staff of the Red Sox gets a lot of attention, as well they should with somewhere in the order of 12 different aces. Here's how they look.
pRA: Projected runs allowed per nine innings
pERA: Projected earned runs allowed per nine innings
pFIP: Projected Fielding independent pitching
sIP: Estimated innings in the series
sR: Estimated runs allowed in the series based on revised projection and sIP
The Red Sox haven't officially announced a game 4 starter so I put Matsuzaka in there. If they are down 2-1 I could see them going back to Lester.
Although Josh Beckett projects slightly better, Lester is probably the best Red Sox starter. His projection underrates him because it still includes data from when he was recovering from cancer. If I were to go with my gut, I'd knock about 0.50 off his ERA and FIP, but I am not going to start making manual adjustments to my projections because I want to be as objective as possible. But yeah, figure Lester is better than his projection, and probably one of the top five starters in the postseason.
Beckett has a good postseason resume and generally has pretty good peripherals, but he's struggled some with the long ball this year. Whether it was a HR/FB fluke (12.8% in 2009, compared to 10.6% career) or a symptom of some back problems he's supposedly been having is probably the key question. Still, you'd be hard pressed to find a #2 starter who is as likely to dominate as Beckett.
Clay Buchholz has been hyped for a few years now and had shown both promise and awfulness, but he pitched pretty well this year for both Pawtucket and eventually Boston. He's already exceed his previous high for innings pitched in a season this year by about 40 innings so he may be starting to hit the wall as evidenced by his last two starts (8 IP, 13 H, 13 R, 6 HR, 3 BB and 10 K). It could also just be a blip.
Matsuzaka had a rough year after a very good (if somewhat lucky) 2008. He pitched well upon his return from the DL over his last four starts, with a 2.22 ERA and 4.23 FIP, but it's pretty tough to know what the Sox will get from him.
The Sox bullpen is probably the best one in the postseason. Their top five relievers have a collective projected ERA of 3.46 and the highest projected K rate of any of the teams at 8.77.
Overall, this roster and distribution of playing time has the best strikeout rate of all the postseason teams at 8.01 per 9. Their projected walk rate is 3.15 per nine, which is worse than all other teams but the Rockies and Dodgers. HR rate of 0.93 per nine is essentially middle of the pack.
In summary, here's what all that means.
|162 gm equiv||106-56|
#outs: 27 outs times # of games if the series goes the distance.
offense: Total BR for the series using # of outs
pitching: Total runs allowed by the pitching and defense for the series
defense: Estimated impact of defense over series
wpct: Estimated winning percentage for the team based on these playing time estimates and adjusted for home field advantage using the offense, pitching and defense plugged into Pythagenpat
162 gm equiv: wpct translated to a 162 game season
As much as it pains me to say it, the Red Sox are at the very least the second best team in the postseason if you penalize the Cardinals for playing in a weaker league. The difference in winning percentage between them and the Yankees is essentially due to home field advantage.
So how about their opposition?
A lot of analysts are fond of saying the Angels are an 86-90 win team who got lucky and exceeded their Pythagorean record this year. Maybe that's at least somewhat true, but it is irrelevant in the context of this series. Let's see what the team that's going to be playing Boston actually looks like.
|gary matthews jr.||lf||4||.257||.330||.401||.323||.315||-.008||0||3||-2|
The Angels were third in baseball in team wOBA at .352 (behind the Yankees at .366 and the Red Sox at .352). They were second in runs scored at 883 (behind the Yankees at 915) although that's partially due to a better performance with runners on base. Their context-neutral runs scored would have been around 50 runs less.
It starts at the top with Chone Figgins, who's a very good overall player. In fact, if you factor in defense and baserunning, he was probably the Angels' most valuable player at around 5.7 WAR despite not having much power. Although noted for his defensive versatility, he's essentially settled in at third base and has shown a very good glove, projected around +9 over a full season.
Our old friend Bobby Abreu had a good year offensively as well, slightly better than he'd be expected to do going forward. He gives the Angels a good OBP at the top of the lineup and has been credited with helping the Angels be a little more patient overall as a team. The Angels saw 3.88 pitches per PA in 2009 compared to 3.65 per PA in 2008, which translates to about 9 extra pitches per game. Defensively, Abreu was better than 2008 with the Yanks, but still bad, and he projects pretty bad going forward.
Torii Hunter had a decent year as well on both sides of the ball, although his projection would be for him to do a little worse in both areas.
Let's consider a player who's probably heading to the Hall of Fame. This player bats cleanup for a very good team and has been an MVP. In the postseason, this player has hit .240/.337/.293 in the postseason in his career. Yet, Chip Caray doesn't seem to feel the need to continually recite those stats. That's what Vlad Guerrero has done in the postseason in his career. It doesn't mean he's a bad postseason player or is unclutch, it just means that he's had 86 bad PAs. Just like it means for another former MVP who's probably heading to the Hall of Fame as well. Guerrero's projection may look a little generous given his 2009 performance, but he did hit .300/.347/.498 after returning from the DL on August 4th.
Juan Rivera and Kendry Morales both had solid years as well. Maicer Izturis is really more of a glove man, although he does project to get on base at a better than league average clip. Mike Napoli's low batting average is probably the reason he doesn't get a lot of credit for being one of the better hitting catchers in baseball, but he is. Erick Aybar's another mostly glove guy, and Howie Kendrick should also get some of the playing time at 2B.
Defensively, you have Figgins, Rivera, Morales, Izturis, Aybar and Kendrick as projected plusses, Hunter a little below average, and then Abreu and Napoli as less than great defenders.
And for the pitching...
Lackey gets the nod in Game 1, with Weaver in Game 2 and Kazmir in Game 3. It looks like Ervin Santana will be in the bullpen, so I gave the Game 4 start to Joe Saunders.
Lackey's one of the better pitchers in the league, I had him at 19th in the league in runs saved above replacement level, despite missing 5-6 starts. It could be his last hurrah as an Angel, as he's likely to be the best free agent starting pitcher available in 2010.
Jered Weaver backs up Lackey and he's also a good starter, probably on par with A.J. Burnett as a #2. Although Kazmir's overall 2009 looks ugly, he pitched very well for the Angels after being acquired from Tampa Bay. Looking at all the third starters in the postseason, Kazmir projects better than any of them.
Joe Saunders kind of reminds me of Andy Pettitte. He's going to give up hits and runs, but he'll pitch well enough to keep the Angels in the game most of the time.
The bullpen is going to be interesting to watch. The Angels have almost always had one of the better bullpens in baseball since Mike Scioscia took over, but that's probably not true this year. Brian Fuentes isn't awful, but he's a little shaky and probably not someone you want to see pitching when trying to save a one run lead in Fenway.
The wild card is Ervin Santana. The projection above has been converted to a relief equivalent, but he's got great stuff and could be the Angels' equivalent of Phil Hughes the reliever in the postseason.
The rest of the bullpen isn't too bad, with Darren Oliver, Jason Bulger and Kevin Jepsen around.
So how good are the Angels?
|162 gm equiv||102-60|
They're maybe a hair worse than the Yankees and Boston. So if someone tells you they're an 86 win team that got lucky, tell that person they are wrong.
So you have the equivalent of a 102 win team hosting the equivalent of a 106 win team. What happens if they play each other 10,000 times?
Red Sox: 53.1%
I don't really care who wins, because I think the Yankees can beat either team and lose to either team, so I'm just going to root for a five game series where each game goes 20 innings.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Is the AL East Rolling Over for the Red Sox?With the way Baltimore didn't seem to even put up a fight against Boston at home after taking two of three from the Yankees on the road, this question has been coming up a fair bit. Here's a look at some numbers to see if there's anything to it.
I'm just going to look at the plate appearances(hitters) or batters faced(pitchers) and wOBA for each of Baltimore, Tampa and Toronto versus Boston or versus the Yankees. Then I'll calculate the difference in runs given the wOBA splits.
|Baltimore||Boston Red Sox||689||.298||10|
|New York Yankees||673||.314|
|Tampa||Boston Red Sox||696||.328||-22|
|New York Yankees||556||.292|
|Toronto||Boston Red Sox||557||.287||14|
|New York Yankees||729||.317|
PA/BF: Plate appearances/Batters faced
wOBA: Weighted on base average
Diff: Run difference based on wOBA difference for the team versus Boston or New York
Offensively, both Toronto and Baltimore have been better against the Yankees, although Tampa Bay's been much worse, which essentially evens it out. Of course, the fact is that Tampa Bay is a better team than either Toronto or Baltimore so it's pretty freaking annoying that the Yankees can't handle them as well as Boston has.
And on the pitching side:
|Baltimore||Boston Red Sox||758||.392||-17|
|New York Yankees||715||.366|
|Tampa||Boston Red Sox||693||.323||11|
|New York Yankees||577||.340|
|Toronto||Boston Red Sox||567||.337||6|
|New York Yankees||726||.350|
|Baltimore||Boston Red Sox||6.87||5.96|
|New York Yankees||6.72||6.23|
|Tampa||Boston Red Sox||4.41||4.81|
|New York Yankees||5.25||5.76|
|Toronto||Boston Red Sox||4.67||5.15|
|New York Yankees||5.28||5.22|
These numbers are in terms of how the opponent has done against the pitching, so a higher wOBA means the pitching has been worse. Baltimore's again been awful against Boston pitching-wise, 17 runs worse than against the Yankees. Toronto and Tampa Bay both have higher wOBAs against the Yankees, but the difference in PAs means the run values are so far tilted towards the Yankees. That could change based on how the rest of the season plays out.
The fact that all three AL East teams have higher wOBAs against the Yankees could point to Boston having a better pitching staff, but the Yankees have held opposing teams to a wOBA of .311 compared to Boston's .314. Once you adjust for park, they are essentially even, so that's not it.
In total, the AL East isn't really rolling over for Boston, but you can make a case that Baltimore is. Jerks.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
MLB Monte Carlo Playoff Odds As Of August 30, 2009It's been about two weeks since I last posted these, so here's an update through today's games (sans Atlanta vs. Philadelphia).
W: Projected wins
1 Std: Win range within one standard deviation
RS: Projected runs scored
RA: Projected runs allowed
TmStr: Team strength (estimated using 1/3 YTD WPCT, 1/3 YTD Pythagenpat, 1/3 2009 Projection)
Div: Division title percentage
WC: Wild card percentage
PL: Div + WC
G/L: Gain/loss. Current playoff percentage minus playoff percentage on August 15. Greater than zero means improved playoff odds, less than zero means playoff odds have dropped.
The Yankees were already in very good shape for making the playoffs, but their odds moved up by a touch. The Monte Carlo simulations see the Yankees floor as 90 wins now, with a high of 111. That'd be sweet.
The biggest gainer over the last two weeks has been the Red Sox actually, who are playing well aside from when they play the Yankees. Since August 16, Boston is 9-2 and has scored 69 runs while allowing 44 against everyone but the Yankees. Against the Yankees, they went 1-2 and scored 29 runs while allowing 29. Overall, they're 10-4 since August 15. Their chances also have gone up thanks to the Rays going 8-5 and the Rangers going 7-7 (despite taking 2 of 3 from Boston).
Other big gainers are the Tigers who've moved from an 86.5 win pace to an 87.5 win pace while the White Sox went from an 81.7 win pace to a 79.0 win pace and saw their playoff chances drop by around 16%.. The Twins have now moved past the White Sox as the second most likely team to take the AL Central, although the odds are against them.
Not much really changed in the AL West, with the Angels continuing to run away with the division.
Over in the JV league, the Cardinals and Giants were the biggest gainers of the last two weeks. The Cardinals now have the best odds of any team to take their division. The NL wild card race is shaping up as an interesting one with less than one game separating the Giants and Rockies according to these simulations after the Giants swept Colorado this weekend. They have three more games against each other in mid-September. Meanwhile, the Marlins and Cubs have essentially dropped out of playoff contention at this point,
Saturday, August 22, 2009
2009 Yankee Splits vs. Boston Through the First 13 GamesYankees' offense vs. Boston
|First 8 games||329||288||31||77||14||0||10||29||33||67||9||0||.267||.343||.420||.764|
|Last 5 games||232||203||45||69||16||1||11||45||26||33||1||1||.340||.414||.591||1.005|
Yankees' pitching vs. Boston
|First 8 games||68.3||78||55||46||13||9||48||65||6.06||6.27||334||.287||.404||.515||.919|
|Last 5 games||51.0||37||19||17||5||3||30||46||3.00||4.61||217||.204||.323||.320||.643|
Friday, August 21, 2009
Behind Enemy Lines
For the better half of the 2009 MLB season I have been covering games for STATS Inc. I mainly enter game data off the broadcasts and occasionally analyze specific pitch data when called upon.
In June, STATS had an opening for a live press box reporter. They asked me if I would be interested. I don’t need to tell you my response. It turned out that the offer was somewhat bittersweet, however. The only opening they had at the time was at Fenway. I took it without hesitation.
I had only been to Fenway once in my life. My 15 year old Connecticut All-Star team had made the regionals in Pittsfield, MA in the Summer of 1995. Our success was mainly due to Craig Breslow’s left arm and my uncanny ability to bunt. Our gracious Massachusetts hosts awarded every team with a trip to Fenway at the end of the Summer. On September 3rd, Tim Wakefield pitched 8 strong innings of 4-hit ball to beat the California Angels 8-1. I was indifferent. I was more concerned with eying the scoreboard, as the Yankees were blowing an 8-5 lead against the A’s in the Bronx (a game they would eventually lose 10-9 in 10 innings with Eckersley getting the win).
My first game as a press box reporter came on Sunday, June 20th this year, between the Braves and the Red Sox. And who else should be the starting pitcher for the Red Sox but Tim Wakefield. That’s right, my second game ever at Fenway, 14 years after my first, and the same guy is toeing the mound. Somehow Nick Green would manage a walk-off HR in the ninth to win the game for Boston.
I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t the best opportunity I’ve ever had. That may sound kind of sad. But, I really do appreciate every game I get to cover (even if I have to suffer through “Dirty Water” after the last out). And two months after my first game, the powers that be finally saw fit to assign me a Yankees-Red Sox game. I have been planning to make the most of this opportunity, particularly by posting to RLYW things I think some of you all might find interesting. When the Yankees take BP, I’ll try and go down and snap a shot or two, or even get some audio to post. I hope I can bring you something worthwhile.
Postseason Odds Implications of this Weekend’s Yankees/Red Sox Series
Using my aforementioned Monte Carlo simulator and running 10,000 iterations of each scenario:
If the Red Sox xweep
Yankees: 92.0% Div, 7.2% WC, 99.2% PL
Red Sox: 6.9% Div, 62.0% WC, 68.9% PL
If the Red Sox take two of three
Yankees: 94.7% Div, 4.5% WC, 99.2% PL
Red Sox: 4.9% Div, 64.2% WC, 69.1% PL
If the Yankees take two of three
Yankees: 96.0%Div, 3.8%WC, 99.9%PL
Red Sox: 3.9%Div, 66.6%WC, 70.5%PL
If the Yankees sweep
Yankees: 98.6% Div, 1.4% WC, 100.0% PL
Red Sox: 1.3% Div, 66.5% WC, 67.8% PL
Div: Odds of winning the AL East
WC: Odds of winning the wild card
PL: Odds of making the postseason (Div + PL)
The Importance of The Upcoming Boston Series, Part DeuxAbout two weeks ago, I looked at the Yankees/Red Sox series using revised projections and pitching matchups to predict that the Yankees would win 2.3 of the 4 scheduled games. Of course the Yankees ended up sweeping Boston to open up a commanding lead in the AL East.
At this point, up by six games in the loss column with 41 games to play, the division is the Yankees' to lose. If The Yankees go 21-20, they end the season at 97-75, and Boston would have to go 28-14 to tie them. However, if the Red Sox are able to sweep this series, their task becomes a lot easier.
Realistically, as long as the Yankees win one of the three games, they should be in good shape over the rest of the season, but let's see how the games break down. I'm going to use the best starting lineups for both teams, as well as the top relievers, even though we know bench players and lesser relievers will likely see some time as well.
The lineups are essentially the same, with the Yankee lineup projected to score around 6.4 runs per 27 outs and the Red Sox lineup projected to score around 6.3. Now onto the pitching matchups.
Friday, August 21: Pettitte vs. Penny
I won't run through all the math, you can go to the linked post in the beginning if you want to see how it works, but thanks to the home field advantage, Boston rates as a slight favorite in this game, as the Yankees' probability to win this game is 46.9%.
Saturday, August 22: Burnett vs. Tazawa
I didn't have Tazawa projected this year, so I'm using his MLE and his MLB performance as his projection.
The Yankees rate as slight favorites in this win, as their win probability is 50.3%.
Sunday, August 23: Sabathia vs. The Guardian of Playing the Game the Right Way
Another close one, with the Yankees as very slight underdogs with a win probability of 48.2%.
Regardless of the win probabilities, I think the Yankees should be able to take one of the first two games, and they have a decent chance of taking both. The Sunday game is a tossup, as both pitchers are capable of shutting down the other team.
Now, bear in mind that I have it on good authority that you CAN'T PREDICT BASEBALL. So I have no idea what will actually happen.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
The Importance of This Red Sox Series
You may or may not be aware that there’s a somewhat important series coming up between the Yankees and the Red Sox. After a 5-4 road trip where the Yankees were able to maintain a 2.5 game lead, here’s a look at how things stand.
Yankees: 65-42, 58.7% Div, 29.4% WC, 88.1% PL (chances at winning division, wild card, and making playoffs respectively)
Red Sox: 62-44, 36.7% Div, 41.4% WC, 78.1% PL
So let’s run through the possible outcomes:
Red Sox sweep
Yankees: 65-46, 31.4% Div, 45.4% WC, 76.8% PL
Red Sox: 66-44, 62.1% Div, 28.0% WC, 90.0% PL
Me breaking lots of stuff.
Red Sox take three of four
Yankees: 66-45, 43.4% Div, 42.5% WC, 85.9% PL
Red Sox: 65-45, 50.2% Div, 38.1% WC, 88.4% PL
Me breaking a fair amount of stuff.
Red Sox and Yankees split four
Yankees: 67-44, 60.7% Div, 30.3% WC, 91.0% PL
Red Sox: 64-46, 33.6% Div, 48.1% WC, 81.6% PL
Me breaking a thing or two.
Yankees take three of four
Yankees: 68-43, 69.4% Div, 24.8% WC, 94.2% PL
Red Sox: 63-47, 25.5% Div, 51.4% WC, 76.9% PL
Me slightly happy.
Yankees: 69-42, 80.2% Div, 15.9% WC, 96.1% PL
Red Sox: 62-48, 15.6% Div, 53.4% WC, 69.0% PL
Me very happy.
The Yankees realistically don’t have to win this series to remain solidly in the playoff hunt. Even if they get swept, their playoff odds still look to be around 77%. Split, and they are better off than they were entering the series.
However, after dropping eight of eight to a team that I’m very comfortable is no better than them, I think they need to win this series just to shut some people up.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Guarantee RevealedBack on April 27, I made the following proclamation.
My bold prediction: The Yankees will beat the Red Sox at least once this season. Book it.
The Yanks had dropped their third straight game against Boston in 2009 at that point. Of course, they've since lost another five games, and are winless in eight games. If we assume the two teams are essentially equal talent-wise, the odds of that happening are around one in 250.
Anyway, since we're all getting antsy about the Yankees ever beating Boston, I figured I should take my guarantee one step further and reveal the game the Yankees will win. I've decided it will be part of the upcoming four game series at home.
I could have just done this using POOMA, but I think it's better if I go about it empirically. So the first thing I did was re-project the starting lineups for both teams going forward, then figured out how many runs per game we would expect each lineup to score in an average game based on these new projections.
I'm giving the Red Sox their best possible offensive lineup here, which means sitting Mike Lowell for Victor Martinez and Jed Lowrie for Nick Green. That lineup projects to score around 6.0 runs per game.
This version of the Yankee lineup looks to be a touch better than the Red Sox's over 27 outs, at 6.3 runs per game. And yes, I'm aware that the starters won't play all four games for both teams, but this is all hypothetical anyway.
The Yankee defense has actually been better than Boston's this year, according to both ZR and UZR. However, I've incorporated the defense into the pitching projections that follow so I won't treat it separately here.
The next thing to do is estimate runs allowed per game by the pitching staff. The assumption here is that each starter will pitch around their average innings pitched per start in 2009 while allowing their re-projected runs allowed pro-rated to those innings. Remaining innings to get to nine will be filled by the top relievers on the team, using one inning for closer, one inning for setup man, then remaining innings to be adjusted accordingly. Obviously, the top relievers won't pitch in every game, but they should pitch in any game with a lead. Since I'm trying to figure out the probabilities of winning each game, I'll stick with the top relievers exclusively.
Thursday, August 5: Smoltz vs. Chamberlain
And yes, I'm aware that pitchers can't pitch 5.2 innings or 0.8 innings, but innings have to add up to exactly 9 so that's how I made it work.
Since we now have an estimate for runs scored per game and runs allowed per game for both teams, we can use Pythagenpat to calculate an estimated winning percentage, then use log5 to estimate the probability of each team winning that game.
For the Red Sox, that means their Pythagenpat exponent for this game is (6.0 + 4.06)^.287 = 1.94, and their estimated winning percentage is 6.00 ^ 1.94 divided by (6.00 ^ 1.94 + 4.06 ^ 1.94) = .681. For the Yankees, their Pythagenpat exponent for this game is (6.3 + 3.73)^.287 = 1.94, and their estimated winning percentage is 6.3 ^ 1.94 divided by (6.4 ^1.94 + 3.73 ^ 1.94) = .734. Before factoring in homefield advantage (+ 0.02 to home team winning percentage, - 0.02 to road team), that means the Yankees should have a 55.3% probability of winning this game. Add in homefield and the probability would go to 59.3%.
Friday, August 6: Beckett vs. Burnett
As fascinating as the detailed breakdown of the math involved surely is, I'll just put the estimated winning percentages here.
Yankees: .510, .550 HFA
Saturday, August 7: Buchholz vs. Sabathia
Yankees: .577, .617 HFA
Sunday, August 9: Lester vs. Pettitte
Yankees: .494, .534 HFA
So overall, here's what the numbers say.
|Sat, Aug 8 - Sabathia vs. Buchholz||.577||.617|
|Thu, Aug 6 - Smoltz vs. Chamberlain||.553||.593|
|Fri, Aug 7 - Beckett vs. Burnett||.510||.550|
|Sun, Aug 9 - Lester vs. Pettitte||.494||.534|
Good news, as the Yankees should win 2.3 games against Boston over the weekend.
Looking at these numbers, I'm therefore going to guarantee that the Yankees win the game on Saturday August 8, with the caveat that you can't predict baseball.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
ST. PETERSBURG—Joba Chamberlain took his new attitude on the road and kept the results coming, hurling eight strong innings, as the Yankees defeated the Rays, 6-2, on Wednesday at Tropicana Field.
Chamberlain returned for the second half refreshed, vowing to bid farewell to his earlier starting troubles. For a third consecutive start, he kept his word, continuing to mow down opposing lineups and turning in his best effort so far.
The 23-year-old right-hander limited Tampa Bay to just three hits in the contest, facing the minimum through the first four frames. Chamberlain walked two and struck out five, improving to 3-0 with an 0.83 ERA since he spent four days relaxing in his Nebraska backyard during the All-Star break.
Joba’s obviously the big story out of tonight’s game. Since the All Star Break, he’s put up an 0.83 ERA over three starts and 21.2 innings. He’s allowed 8 hits and has held opposing batters to a line of .114/.222/.200. He’s got a component ERA of 1.38. His FIP is 3.43, which is still very respectable, even if it it’s a bit higher than his ERA and CERA.
I sometimes overstate the importance of games, but this series was very important. The Yankees have now put the Rays in a position where they have to be eight games better than the Yanks over 60 odd games to catch them. Even if you believe the Rays are better than the Yankees (and most current evidence indicates that’s NOT the case), it’s pretty hard to make a case that they would be 21 games better over a full season, which is what they’d have to be over the rest of the season to catch the Yankees.
With Oakland taking two of three from Boston while the Yankees were taking two of three from Tampa Bay, the Yankees gained another game in the AL East lead. That they did it on the road against one of the better teams in baseball while Boston was playing one of the worst teams in baseball at home makes it even more critical. While the division race is far from over, the statistical outcome that should have been expected over the last three days would be Boston gaining a game. Further proof that you just can’t predict baseball.
So yeah, even though Chien-Ming Wang is done for the year, and even though Brian Bruney continues to disappoint, and even though Alfredo Aceves is fatigued, things are going pretty well.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Remaining Strength of Schedule for Boston, Tampa Bay and the YankeesI was curious about the remaining strength of schedule for the big three in the AL East to see if it would impact what looks to be a tight race for the division and wild card, so I played around with Bill James's log5 to see if I could estimate it. Regular readers are probably familiear with log5, but if you're not there's a good synopsis of it here.
Although the original formula is a little more involved, it can essentially be reduced to winning percentage = .500 + A - B (where A is the estimated WPCT of one team, and B is the estimated WPCT of the other team). This assumes the teams are in the .400 to .600 area, which is generally true in 2009 MLB aside from Cleveland and Washington.
So, I looked at the strength of schedule using a few different ways of estimating team true talent. I'm looking at games from July 20th forward. Team winning percentages are adjusted for home field advantage (add .02 to WPCT for the home team, subtract .02 from WPCT for the road team). 2009 projection data is adjusted for roster changes, but projections themselves were not revised.
2009 WPCT(33.3%), 2009 PythagenPat WPCT(33.3%), 2009 Project WPCT(33.3%)
|Team||GR||HGR||Opp W%||log5 W||Final W|
GR: Games remaining
HGR: Home games remaining
Opp W%: Estimated winning percentage of remaining opponents, adjusted for home field advantage
log 5 W: Estimated log 5 wins over remainder of season
Final W: Final estimated wins (YTD wins + log5 W)
2009 WPCT(25.0%), 2009 PythagenPat WPCT(25.0%), 2009 Project WPCT(50.0%)
|Team||GR||HGR||Opp W%||log5 W||Final W|
2009 PythagenPat WPCT(100.0%)
|Team||GR||HGR||Opp W%||log5 W||Final W|
2009 WPCT(50.0%), 2009 PythagenPat WPCT(50.0%)
|Team||GR||HGR||Opp W%||log5 W||Final W|
No matter which methodology you look at, the numbers say the Yankees and Red Sox essentially have the same schedule going forward, with Tampa's schedule about one game harder. Realistically, what this tells me is that head-to-head matchups are probably going to be the determining factor going forward.
On an unrelated note, Chris Jaffe from The Hardball Times asked me to help out with an article he wanted to write about the best teams to never win a World Series. Part 1 is up for anyone who may want to check it out.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Burnett allowed five runs (three earned) in just 2 2/3 innings and suffered his first career defeat against Boston, dropping a 7-0 decision on Tuesday at Fenway Park.
“It’s disappointing to everybody,” Burnett said. “I think the toughest thing is you come out of a game like that and you’ve got to look all of those guys in the face when you come in. That’s a feeling you don’t want to have.”
The loss was the Yankees’ sixth in six games this season against the Red Sox, giving both teams even records at 34-24 and equal shares of first place in the American League East with two games remaining in this midweek rivalry series.
Was it really too much to ask Burnett to keep the Yankees in the game for at least 3 innings? Then again, I guess it was too much to ask the Yankee offense to muster more than 2 hits all night.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
“We know why,” said Damon, when asked how the Red Sox had been able to coast through the first five games of the season series. “They outplayed us. They outpitched us. All of the games were fairly close, but at this point of the season, they’re a better team than we are.”
With their loss on Tuesday in the finale of an abbreviated two-game series, the Yankees have lost their first five games against the Red Sox for the first time since 1985. That year, the punishment was manager Yogi Berra’s job—he was fired one series later, after 6-10 start. The Yankees have not lost their first six contests against the Red Sox since 1912, when they finished the season 50-102 and were still called the New York Highlanders.
The Yankees are back at .500 with a record of 13-13. When #13 returns, can the real season begin?
Friday, May 1, 2009
April is the cruelest month. Well, maybe not exactly cruel in the case of the Yankees. But, the Bombers haven’t exactly hit the ground running in April the last few years. The Yankees were 14-15 in April of 2008; 9-14 in 2007; and 13-10 in 2006.
A record of 12-10, while not quite spectacular, is fairly good all things considered.
Here’s a quick glance at the Yankee’s month of April in 2009:
• Robinson Cano - Cano’s line of .366/.400/.581 is a bit of a surprise considering that one year earlier he sported a line of .151/.211/.236 and .270/.320/.337 in April of 2007. The Yankee’s second baseman has, with some exceptions, traditionally been a bit of a slow starter offensively. We heard reports of a hard-working Cano in the off-season. It appears that hard work has paid off.
• Nick Swisher - When Xavier Nady went down with an injury, Swisher got his chance to shine, as well as send Ozzie Guillen a message. Hitting .312/.430/.714, and sporting a 192 OPS+, the message is loud and clear. While you can expect Swisher to come back to earth as the season progresses, his contributions in April were certainly huge with Alex Rodriguez on the DL and Mark Teixeira struggling.
• Andy Pettitte - The off-season drama that was the “will they or won’t they resign Andy” took a back seat to the Teixeira and Sabathia headlines. However, through the first month of the season, the Pettitte signing has turned out to have had the most impact. The veteran left hander is 2-1 with a 161 ERA+ so far this season. Not bad from your #5 starter.
• Hideki Matsui - After a somewhat slow start, Matsui has settled into a nice offensive groove. With a few crappy games at the plate to begin the season, all we heard was that his balky surgically repaired knee was shot and he’d never be the same. Nineteen games worth of a .903 OPS may suggest otherwise.
• Brian Bruney - The guy was rolling. Sporting a .111 BAA with 12 strikeouts through 9 innings, Bruney was making his case as the setup man to Mariano Rivera. But a strained flexor muscle placed him on the DL. The good news is that it looks like he will be able to return to the team soon.
• Mark Teixeira - OK, so perhaps Mark does not deserve to grace Lee Van Cleef’s title category. However, he certainly hasn’t excelled in his first month in pinstripes. He barely escaped a sub .200 AVG for the month of April with a 1-4 night on April 30th, if that means anything to anyone. Personally, I am still concerned about the wrist injury he suffered early in the month; although there hasn’t been any word from the team that he is feeling any discomfort. Bottom line: Teixeira is a great hitter. If he’s healthy going forward, his production will pick up eventually. And if that happens to coincide with A-Rod’s return, OMGWTFBBQ!
• Xavier Nady - The loss of Xavier Nady to a right elbow injury was a hit on the Yankees’ depth. However, Nady will not need surgery and could return to the team by the end of May.
• The New Yankee Stadium Home Opener - Yeah, it might be a bit superficial, but a Yankee win in the first game at the new Yankee Stadium would have been nice. The game was within reach until an Orioles 9-run 7th inning. There’s your ugly.
• Chien-Ming Wang - Yeah, he’s been pretty bad. A 34.50 ERA through 3 starts speaks for itself. It’s tough to get a read on exactly what his major malfunction really is. After not pitching at all last year after his injury on June 15th, it is possible he’s just not fully recovered. Or perhaps Wang simply needs to iron out his mechanics. Whatever the case may be, he continues to work on getting back to form in extended spring training games, but it is unclear as to his exact return date.
• Sat. 04/18: CLE 22, NYY 4 - A 14-run second inning for the Indians pretty much took the Yankees out of the game early. But the worst part was the lack of a Swisher relief appearance.
• Sox Sweep Yankees - It was a brutal weekend featuring a Mo blown save, 25 Boston runs, and a steal of home by Jacoby Ellsbury. Better it happen in April than in September.
There are plenty of other goods that could be listed (Hughes call up and great start, Joba’s recent performance, Burnett’s first few starts, Melancon’s call up, Melky’s revival?, Phil Coke’s pitching), as well as a number of bads (Sabathia’s slow start, Burnett’s meltdown in Boston, Marte’s 15.19 ERA, Gardner’s inability to hit).
SG will hopefully post the log5 numbers for April, which will likely show the Yankees not too far off pace. As of today, PECOTA projects the Yankees with a better than 45% chance to take the AL East (highest % of any team) and a 74.21% chance to make the playoffs.
Bring on May!
Friday, April 24, 2009
TONIGHT - RHP Joba Chamberlain (0-0, 5.06 ERA) vs. LHP Jon Lester [stats] (1-2, 5.50). TV - NESN. Radio - WRKO-AM (680). 7:10.
TOMORROW - RHP A.J. Burnett (2-0, 3.20) vs. RHP Josh Beckett [stats] (2-1, 3.79). TV - Ch. 25. Radio - WRKO. 4:10 p.m.
SUNDAY - LHP Andy Pettitte (2-0, 2.53) vs. RHP Justin Masterson (1-0, 3.18). TV - ESPN. Radio - WRKO. 8:05 p.m.
Anything less than two out of three is unacceptable Yanks.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
If you didn’t know better, you’d think the Yankees were oblivious to this wretched economy and the Sawx were going overboard to make a statement for austerity. But the fact is both teams have operated the way they have this winter due to some unfavorable circumstances
How can Boston compete without a salary cap? Bud Selig, do your job…
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Every Friday night, Mark Teixeira and his wife, Leigh, have “date night” - dinner at their country club near their home in Texas. Two weeks before Christmas, it was more than just a chance to spend time together - it was the night Leigh Teixeira nudged her husband toward the Bronx.
Throughout his free agency, Teixeira solicited his wife’s opinion and she kept saying, “I just want you to be happy,” Teixeira recalled. On date night, Teixeira asked, “Everything’s equal, where do you want to go? She finally said, ‘I want you to be a Yankee.’”
God bless that woman.
As sweet as Teixeira’s reliance on his wife may seem to some, the Red Sox surely do not think it was cute. John Henry, the owner of the Red Sox; Larry Lucchino, their president; and General Manager Theo Epstein trekked to Texas to meet with Teixeira on Dec. 18, six days after Leigh revealed a preference for the Yankees. The Red Sox would not have sent three executives to Teixeira’s home unless they were confident about signing him.
Yankees Sign Angel Berroa
Thanks to DaPuj for the link.
Friday, December 26, 2008
An Early Look at the 2009 AL East
I used Sean Smith’s CHONE projections and built depth charts for offense, pitching and defense to get a rough idea of how the AL East would look right now on paper.
BR Batting runs using linear weights.
RS Runs saved compared to average on defense using CHONE’s projections, which are a combination of the standard zone rating that I use and John DeWan’s revised zone rating that is used on the Hardball Times site.
I did not use a replacement level for the bench here, I filled in the actual bench players for each team based on MLB.com’s depth charts. Playing time for the starters was primarily based on their projected playing time in CHONE, with the gaps filled in by the bench, ensuring that it all added up to 4100 outs which is the average of the outs made during batting by all teams last season.
Defense is already factored into the pitching projections that follow, so I did not double-count it. I’m just displaying it for informational purposes.
According to CHONE, the Yankee pitching will lead the division in Ks and fewest HRs allowed. You can see by FIP they project to be the best staff in the AL East, although defense looks like it will narrow the gap between them and Tampa pretty significantly. BTW, the Yankee pitching projection no longer includes Andy Pettitte, as the inevitable may have not been inevitable after all. Ya snooze, ya lose Pettitte.
So what do all these dorky numbers really mean?
RS: Runs scored
RA: Runs allowed
Pyth W: PythagenPat Wins
Pyth L: PythagenPat losses
Opp W%: Projected winning percentage for the other four teams in the division
This table lists the projected runs scored, runs allowed and Pythagenpat wins and losses for each AL East team. The Opp W% column is the Pythagenpat record for each of the four AL East teams besides the listed team. I use this to calculate an AL East penalty for each team’s record. Which is 38 - Opp W% times 76. That works out to:
I add that to the PythagenPat wins to get a revised win/loss record.
And there you have it. The Yankees do look like the favorite in the AL East by this particular methodology, although it’s by no means a runaway.
Monday, December 22, 2008
So Who’s Got the Best Rotation in the AL East Now (CHONE edition)?
One of the things I will freely acknowledge is that my CAIRO projection system is somewhat limited (as are all projection systems). That’s why I like to look at lots of different projections to get a feel for what other formulas and algorithms predict. Because of this, I’m going to look at the same question as I did yesterday regarding the best rotation in the AL East, but this time I’ll use Sean Smith’s recently posted CHONE projections instead of CAIRO.
One difference here is that Sean’s projections are not neutral, but are adjusted for park and defense. RSAR are still comparable since they’re park-adjusted, but keep the park and defense impact in mind when looking at the raw numbers like ERA.
RSAR: Runs saved above replacement-level
IP/S: Innings pitched per start
CHONE is more conservative than CAIRO on projected innings pitched both per game started and over a full season, so I had to adjust some pitchers innings up and there are more innings from the sixth starters to get each team to 162 starts. Also, CHONE’s replacement level is lower (worse) than CAIRO’s, so the RSAR totals are bigger here, although it’s all relative so it’s not a problem.
CHONE likes Boston’s rotation a little more than CAIRO, primarily Beckett and Matsuzaka. Overall, CHONE says the Red Sox rotation should save 163 runs above replacement level using my estimated playing time.
Tampa is basically even with Boston at 162 RSAR, although David Price’s projection is a lot more pessimistic here. That’s mitigated by better projections for Shields, Kazmir, Sonnanstine and Garza though.
Lower innings across the board here for everyone, but the Yankee rotation still looks like the class of the AL East with these numbers, although the gap narrows from the 6 wins I had with CAIRO to 4 wins.
And here’s a final comparison of the CHONE totals.
Looks like further encouraging data to me, at least on the starting pitching front.
Reader zellyanks91 emailed me an interesting blog entry he wrote about his interaction with Phil Hughes on a baseball card forum. Hughes seems like a really good guy from reading this.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
So Who’s Got the Best Rotation in the AL East Now?
With the Yankees’ signings of C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, many pundits are saying they now have the best starting rotation in the AL East. Let’s use CAIRO to see if that’s actually true or not. With all due respect to Baltimore and Toronto, I’m leaving them out of this analysis.
Here’s a look at Boston, New York and Tampa’s neutral CAIRO projections. These are not adjusted for the AL, for park, or for defense in order to have a level playing field for comparison. The neutral league I use is 2% worse than the AL. For now I’m assuming good health for every team, so I’m using only the top six starters on each team’s depth chart and pro-rating the teams to 162 starts.
RSAR: Runs saved above replacement-level
IP/S: Innings pitched per start
Jon Lester’s projection in particular is probably too pessismistic since it includes his 2006 and 2007 which were severly impacted by his illness. Still, until we have more data we shouldn’t expect him to continue to pitch as well as he did in 2008, although I’d probably bet on him to be around his 65% projection (neutral: 3.81 ERA, 30 RSAR). Matsuzaka’s 2008 ERA was way out of line with his peripherals, and CAIRO expects him to regress back towards those peripherals quite a bit in ‘09, as do I. The ERA projections go up once you move the pitchers to the AL and Fenway, but this is a pretty good rotation.
Obviously, Tampa’s a media darling now after their meteoric rise in 2008, although several statheads saw it coming beforehand. They also look to have a pretty solid rotation now, fronted by James Shields and Scott Kazmir. Edwin Jackson’s gone, replaced by David Price, whose projection is based on a single year’s data and is probably not very useful. He could be a lot better, or he could be worse, but he’s definitely got the talent to be a difference-maker in Tampa’s rotation.
Yeah, adding C.C. and A.J. looks pretty sweet on paper here. I’m including Andy Pettitte here based on this article that says Pettitte’s return is ‘inevitable’. Joba’s projection is probably too optimistic, but he’s a bad-ass regardless.
Assuming health out of Burnett, Chamberlain, Wang and Hughes, this rotation projects to blow away Boston and Tampa, to the tune of 6 wins above replacement. Part of that is in a better rate performance (ERA of 3.72 vs. 4.19 and 4.24), but there’s also an important factor here that could have a cascade effect. The Yankee rotation projects to have four separate pitchers who would average 6.2 to 6.9 innings per start. None of the other teams have more than one such pitcher. That means fewer bullpen innings, which helps a) rest the pen b) keep the ball away from the worse pitchers in the back of the pen.
Of course, I’ll again reiterate that this assumes good health which is a massive assumption, although the same holds in varying extents for Tampa and Boston. I’d also be interested in seeing what other projection systems besides CAIRO say.
Here’s a final comparison of the totals for each of the three teams.
This doesn’t mean the Yankees should be favored to win the AL East by any means. We have to look at the bullpens, offenses and defenses and how they all fit together. Before doing that though I’d assume Boston is still the AL East favorite, with the Yankees probably ahead of Tampa now, but a lot can change over the next three months. Now, if the Yankees can sign Teixeira, they probably jump ahead of Boston.
On a completely unrelated note, Sean Smith has opened a new website for his CHONE projections. Sean’s projections are some of the better ones out there, and are completely free. You can check it out at baseballprojection.com
Monday, December 8, 2008
LAS VEGAS - The Yankees came out of their Sunday night meeting with coveted free-agent pitcher CC Sabathia feeling “encouraged” about his interest in signing with the Yankees, a team official said this morning.
General manager Brian Cashman headed a Yankees contingent that included manager Joe Girardi, and met with Sabathia and his agents here Sunday night. That meeting left the Yankees feeling better about their chances of signing Sabathia. Their thinking now is that he is not opposed to play in New York.
They’ll continue to keep in touch with Mark Teixeira, to keep the heat on the Red Sox (who really want him) and in case their pitching plans fall through. If they can’t get the run-preventers they want, the Yankees’ theory goes, then maybe they can load up on run-producers and try to make up for a pitching shortfall with added offense. Not the most sound theory, but who knows. Maybe more pitching will be available in July.
I had no idea the Red Sox really wanted Teixeira.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Slimmer and SlimmerUnfortunately (or maybe fortunately), real life intruded in my blogging and Yankee watching over the last few days. So I really have nothing to say about the sweep by LA of A, except that I completely expected it and am thus not really that angry about it.
A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at the Yankees' upcoming schedule using log5 to give us an idea of what we should reasonably have expected. Here's how the Yankees have done relative to expectations since then.
|Date||Opponent||Exp W||Exp L||Act W||Act L|
You probably didn't need fancy numbers to tell you the Yankees are playing like crap. They were 2.5 games worse than expected over this 14 game stretch. The Yankees entered play on July 28th 3 games behind first place Tampa Bay in the AL East and 1 game behind Boston for the wild card. Now, they are 8.5 games behind Tampa Bay and 4 games behind Boston for the wild card, and are looking up at Minnesota as well.
As long as the Yankees are mathematically alive I'm not going to write them off, otherwise I may have to deal with Jeter is King reading me the virtual riot act again, but let's face it, it's bleak.
First, let's look at the division. The Rays are 71-46. If they go 22-23 over their remaining 45 games, the Yankees would have to 30-14 just to tie them. There's another problem. Tampa has six games left with Boston. So when those teams are playing the Yankees will not be able to pick up ground on one of the teams ahead of them.
The wild card is still in play, but there are four teams that have better records than the Yankees in Tampa Bay, Boston, the White Sox, and Minnesota. Two of those four will likely win their division, but the other two will be the Yankees' chief competition. The Rangers are 2.5 games behind the Yanks but could also end up in the mix, although their schedule is pretty rough going forward.
The cold hard facts are that statistically, the Yankees' odds of making the postseason at this point are slim, and growing slimmer. It won't be the end of the world if they fail to make the postseason, but it sure will be disappointing.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Replacing Manny Ramirez with Jason BayAlthough it's not finalized yet, there are pretty strong rumors that Manny Ramirez is heading out of Boston in a series of trades that will end up with Jason Bay manning left field in Fenway. My first reaction was, great, Manny kills the Yankees, but realistically, if you look at the numbers, it's a fairly even swap, perhaps even a slight upgrade.
First, here's how their offense compares, using their 2008 projections, their actual 2008 YTD performance, their revised projection for the rest of the season, and their final season totals.
|Rest of Year||181||31||52||11||0||10||39||27||42||3||0||0||.286||.388||.516||108||7.6||13.1|
|Year End Total||543||97||161||33||1||30||107||78||128||11||1||0||.296||.395||.527||111||26.0||42.4|
|Rest of Year||194||34||54||12||1||10||34||28||48||2||3||0||.277||.376||.508||106||7.5||13.3|
|Year End Total||582||105||164||35||3||32||96||87||134||4||10||0||.281||.379||.518||109||24.9||42.4|
BR/650: Batting runs by linear weights (not position-adjusted or compared to average)
pBRAA: Batting runs above average, position-adjusted
pBRAR: Batting runs above replacement, position-adjusted
Given the margin of error in these numbers, it's safe to say that those are basically equivalent projections. While Manny may seem like the scarier offensive player, it's because we've gotten used to the Manny that terrorized opposing pitchers during his peak. He's not that player any more, although still quite good. But 36 year old Manny is probably not significantly better than 29 year Jason Bay offensively, especially if you factor in the likelihood of better durability for Bay.
So the Red Sox get rid of a clubhouse issue and don't figure to lose much offensively because of it, although it's possible there will be an adjustment period for Bay that suppresses his value somewhat.
Then there's the defensive side of the equation.
GP: Games played
Inn: Defensive innings at position
PM: Plays made
CH: Fieldable chances as defined in zone rating
ZR: Zone Rating (PM/CH)
Diff: Plays made by an average defender subtraced from individual plays made
RS: Runs saved compared to average (Diff times run value for a play not made)
RS/162: RS pro-rated to 1440 defensive innings
You'll notice two sets of numbers for Manny here. The first set is his un-adjusted numbers for zone rating. However, there's a flaw with how zone rating is scored in Fenway which makes those numbers useless. Balls off the wall are considered fieldable for some bizarre reason. So what I did last year and what I'm doing this year is trying to figure out the rough impact of that. What I've found is Fenway zone rating is about .150 - .200 lower than everywhere else, so I re-calculate plays made for Boston LF by an average of Fenway's ZR and the league average ZR. On a full-season basis that's about a 15-20 run increase.
Anyhoo. Bay's not a very good defensive player, probably around the level of Hideki Matsui or so. Manny seems to be similar, maybe a few runs worse. So really, defense is a wash as well over one-third of a season.
The moral of the post? Don't
Friday, July 25, 2008
Yankees Acquire Nady and Marte
Look for a pair of roster moves overnight.. probably the end of J-Chrizzle and DesTroy Hawkins, I’d wager.
Oh, and the Yanks are playing some scrub team tonight. Discuss.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Where they stand
B-Pro gives the Yankees a little worse than a 9% shot at the playoffs with a 6.7% chance at the WC (9.1% PECOTA adjusted). The Red Sox average 95.3 wins, the Rays, 93.1, and the Yankees, 83.8. Should Tampa Bay continue to play as they are, I can see where the division leader ends up with 96 wins or less. Winning 97 games likely means a playoff spot.
Will the Yankees win 47 more games for a possible playoff spot? Going 47-20 over their final 67 games is really asking a lot. The more prominent question is will they score 47 more runs this season?
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Johan and the AL EastJohan Santana continues to be a topic of discussion during the Hot Stove season. Although there are probably other teams in the mix, the most likely scenario sees him going to either Boston or the Yankees, with Boston the probable favorite right now. Long-time lurker and first-time poster plank asked:
I'd love to see the standing simulations done with the proposed yankees and red sox trades for Santana. How far ahead would the Sox be with him? Would the Yankees pull ahead with Johan?
Since I take requests, I ran three sets of Diamond Mind Simulations, with three hypothetical scenarios:
Santana to the Yankees for Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera. While the Yankees would likely have to include other prospects in the deal, I don't have any idea which prospects they would be so I left that out of the equation.
Santana to Boston for Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie. Same deal with the prospects here.
Santana to Boston for Jon Lester and Jed Lowrie. Same deal again with the prospects.
First off, let's revisit the CAIRO/Diamond Mind simulations with no trades.
So this is our baseline to see what kind of a difference Santana would make, although I think it's a little bullish on the Yankees..
Let's look at scenario 1 first.
Getting Santana improved the Yankees by 11 runs allowed, and 1.5 wins. It took them from a 45% chance of winning the division to a 56% chance. This doesn't mean that Santana was only worth 11 runs above Phil Hughes, but it does mean this:
a) 220 innings of Santana vs. 160 innings of Phil Hughes plus 60 innings of Kei Igawa = 30 run upgrade.
b) Moving Johnny Damon to CF to replace Melky = -10 runs saved defensively (range plus arm)
c) Moving Hideki Matsui to LF instead of DH = -9 runs saved defensively
d) More AB for Jason Giambi and Brett Gardner, who would probably be the fourth OF if Melky gets traded= no net change in runs scored. Any upgrade from Giambi playing more (although I still restricted his playing time to about 300 PA per season) would be mitigated by more PA from Gardner.
So the Yankees upgrade their pitching by 30 runs and downgrade their defense by 19 runs, an 11 run overall improvement.
For Scenario 2 here's what happened:
Santana to Boston for Ellsbury+ improves Boston's pitching by about 25 runs (mainly replacing Wakefield and Lester innings). It changes them from a projected 97 wins to a projected 99.7 wins and improves their odds of winning the AL East to 61%. It's also worth noting that the Yankees got a win worse, ostensibly because they'd face Santana 3-5 times a season.
Lastly, scenario 3:
In this instance, Boston saved even more runs as they lost more innings by Lester and kept Ellsbury AND Coco Crisp which gave them a better defense when they were able to play the two together. This scenario improves the Red Sox's chances at the AL East to 66%.
So put it all together and what does it mean? Santana makes the Yankees a slightly better team than Boston although the difference is fairly small. If Boston gets Santana in either case, they gain a 3 win advantage on the Yankees. It is worth noting that the Yankees are still the second-most likely favorites to make the playoffs but once they get there they'd be staring at the specter of matching up against Santana and Beckett.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
A Log5 look at the AL Playoff RaceWith around 20 games left, here's a look at the rest of the season for the AL Wild Card contenders using Bill James's log5 method. For team winning percentage I used the average of a team's actual WPCT and Pythagorean WPCT. Home teams gets a .020 winning percentage boost, road teams get a .020 winning percentage debit
|8-Sep||at Royals||.57||.43||Mariners||.56||.44||at Tigers||.44||.56|
|9-Sep||at Royals||.57||.43||Mariners||.56||.44||at Tigers||.44||.56|
|11-Sep||at Blue Jays||.51||.49||Rangers (2)||1.20||.80||Athletics||.56||.44|
|12-Sep||at Blue Jays||.51||.49||Rangers||.60||.40||Athletics||.56||.44|
|13-Sep||at Blue Jays||.51||.49||Devil Rays||.64||.36|
|14-Sep||at Red Sox||.42||.58||at Twins||.50||.50||Devil Rays||.64||.36|
|15-Sep||at Red Sox||.42||.58||at Twins||.50||.50||Devil Rays||.64||.36|
|16-Sep||at Red Sox||.42||.58||at Twins||.50||.50||Devil Rays||.64||.36|
|17-Sep||Orioles||.67||.33||at Indians||.43||.57||at Athletics||.48||.52|
|18-Sep||Orioles||.67||.33||at Indians||.43||.57||at Athletics||.48||.52|
|19-Sep||Orioles||.67||.33||at Indians||.43||.57||at Athletics||.48||.52|
|21-Sep||Blue Jays||.59||.41||Royals||.61||.39||at Angels||.40||.60|
|22-Sep||Blue Jays||.59||.41||Royals||.61||.39||at Angels||.40||.60|
|23-Sep||Blue Jays||.59||.41||Royals||.61||.39||at Angels||.40||.60|
|25-Sep||at Devil Rays||.62||.38||Twins||.58||.42||Indians||.49||.51|
|26-Sep||at Devil Rays||.62||.38||Twins||.58||.42||Indians (2)||.98||1.02|
|27-Sep||at Devil Rays||.62||.38||Indians||.49||.51|
|28-Sep||at Orioles||.59||.41||at White Sox||.59||.41||Rangers||.58||.42|
|29-Sep||at Orioles||.59||.41||at White Sox||.59||.41||Rangers||.58||.42|
|30-Sep||at Orioles||.59||.41||at White Sox||.59||.41||Rangers||.58||.42|
The Yankees are in the driver's seat for the wild card according to these numbers at least.
I know there are some people out who are still holding out hope for a division title, but they're not considering Boston's schedule.
|8-Sep||at Angels||.44||.56||at Orioles||.63||.37|
|9-Sep||at Angels||.44||.56||at Orioles||.63||.37|
|10-Sep||at White Sox||.62||.38||Devil Rays||.73||.27|
|11-Sep||at White Sox||.62||.38||Devil Rays||.73||.27|
|12-Sep||at White Sox||.62||.38||Devil Rays||.73||.27|
|17-Sep||Tigers||.57||.43||at Blue Jays||.56||.44|
|18-Sep||Tigers||.57||.43||at Blue Jays||.56||.44|
|19-Sep||Tigers||.57||.43||at Blue Jays||.56||.44|
|21-Sep||Athletics||.61||.39||at Devil Rays||.66||.34|
|22-Sep||Athletics||.61||.39||at Devil Rays||.66||.34|
|23-Sep||Athletics||.61||.39||at Devil Rays||.66||.34|
|26-Sep||at Mariners (2)||1.02||.98||Athletics||.66||.34|
Boston has 12 of 20 games at home, and six games against the Devil Rays. Now, as Yankee fans we may think the Devil Rays are good, but they're not quite there yet. It would take an 8 game swing from expectations for both the Yankees and the Red Sox for the division to be in play. It's just not happening.
It doesn't really matter. I'm not a huge fan of the wild card, although it's less about the wild card itself and more about the implementation of it. Teams don't compete on a level playing field for the wild card with the unbalanced schedule and inter-league play, but that's a rant for a different day.
In my opinion, the key to grabbing the wild card for the Yanks is going to be those six games with the Orioles. They should in theory win 4 of 6 of those games. But they've been unable to do what they should have against Baltimore all season and this is where I could easily see them slipping a bit.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
I found this image in a Deadspin thread tonight… created by a genius who calls himself “Signal to Noise.” Enjoy.
Saturday, June 2, 2007
Yankees vs Red Sox: Hit Batters 2000-2006Red Sox
By request, here are the Yankees vs all opponents from 2000-2006
|Opposting teams hit by Yankees||#||Yankees hit by opponents||#||Ratio|
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
The March To 162 Wins…
Now of course, if everything had gone perfectly yesterday afternoon, it really wouldn’t make a difference. Opening Day is great because we’ve been deprived of baseball for so long, but it’s ultimately just another game, and it means no more than any other game.
Still, there was plenty of both good and bad yesterday. On the bad side, Carl Pavano wasn’t able to get out of the fifth inning, and the D-Rays seemed to let him out of trouble a few times. On the other hand, he did get let down by his defense several times, and Tampa Bay has several good young hitters in their lineup. They’re not the Red Sox, but there are a few guys who will be excellent hitters over their careers over there. It wasn’t really what we were hoping for at all from Pavano, but after two years, at least we got something. Pavano’s start was similar to the kind of starts Jaret Wright posted last year, but I think he can and will do better over the course of the season. If he stays healthy, I think he’ll help.
The defense sucked hard all day. Josh Phelps looked dreadful at first, but I was impressed with his approach at the plate. I’m fine with Mientkiewicz playing against the righties, but first base is a position where you can give up defense to gain offense, and Phelps should, at this point, start against every single lefty. If he puts up merely average first base numbers, the Yankees will be putting out one of the most dangerous lineups in history.
They might be doing that anyway. They worked 35 pitches out of Scott Kazmir in the first inning, and were able to chase him out in the sixth, giving them plenty of time to pound Tampa Bay’s weak ‘pen. But Kazmir didn’t really have his best control, and they probably should have scored more runs off of him. They did let him off the hook a couple of times.
I view A-Rod’s contributions as positive. He didn’t look bad making outs early in the game, his error in the first probably shouldn’t have been an error—it was a long run with a bad sky to look up into—and his eighth-inning home run was extremely impressive, not just in distance, but in where the pitch was. Alex is probably going to have a huge year, and he’s probably going to opt out. And the Yankees will probably let him go. Sigh. Hopefully they can at least get a ring with him this year.
I was very impressed with the bullpen. Bruney, Henn, Vizcaino and Farnsworth were outstanding, and Rivera was perfect. If yesterday was indicative of the quality we can expect from the bullpen, this is going to be a very good season. Even if you’re a pessimist, the starting rotation isn’t bad to begin with, it just lacks a great pitcher, and if this is the kind of relief they’re gonna get, “not bad” will be enough to win 100 games behind this lineup. If they can pull in Clemens… well, it’s way too early to really think about that.
Back to Rivera, he really did look amazing. Torre’s said he’s going to hold Mo for one inning at a time this year, but despite what he said about the bullpen, I really hope he backs off of that a little, and backs off of what he did yesterday even more. Rivera shouldn’t pitch with a four-run lead, though with an offday today it’s not really an issue, but when the Yanks are playing the Red Sox in Fenway in mid-September, and the tying run is on second with two outs in the bottom of the eighth… I want Mo in there.
Speaking of Boston, they got crushed yesterday, 7-1, getting shut down by Gil Meche. Gil Meche! Hahaha! Ahhh… watch him win 20 games and the Cy Young this year… and own the Yankees…
But honestly, Boston looked bad. But it’s Opening Day, and it doesn’t really mean very much at all. But hoo boy, am I glad that baseball is back.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Looking Ahead to 2007: Chien-Ming Wang
DATE: 3/25/2007 06:40:00 PM
“For a baseball fan to fail to see that strikeout rates are closely tied to career length, I would argue, is very much like a basketball fan failing to notice that basketball players tend to be tall.”
Bill James from The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract
No one can deny that Chien-Ming Wang’s career to this point has been successful. However, his K rate has been historically low, which is typically a poor indicator for career longevity. However, Wang has one thing that the majority of low K pitchers did not have, and that’s top-shelf stuff.
Wang’s projections for 2007 aren’t particularly good, mainly because he’s such a statistical anomaly.
Wang was great last year, saving 28 runs above the average pitcher. The projection systems think he’s going to lose 20 runs of value, although at least part of that is based on a projected shortfall of 40 innings. I do have concerns about Wang’s health, because he went from a career-high 150 innings in 2005 to 218 last season and because of the rotator cuff scare in 2005, but he was strong all year so it may not be that much of a concern. With the recent news of his hamstring injury, I guess I should have been concerned. It sounds like Wang shouldn’t miss more than 2-3 starts thankfully.
To me, Wang fits a profile similar to Mariano Rivera. There are players who operate in an area where projection systems designed for the collective major league baseball population just won’t work. I think the Marcel projection is probably the fairest one because of that.
Wang has succeeded despite his low K rate because he does two other things well. He has good control, and he keeps the ball in the park. Opponents have
slugged just .373 against Wang so far in his career. If he can continue to do that, he should be ok. Here’s how Wang’s ERA and FIP tracked over 2006.
Wang outperformed his FIP this season, but not to a level that would show he was extremely lucky in 2006. Wang’s FIP of 3.96 ranked 15th among ERA-qualified AL starters last season.
One thing Wang’s struggled with in his career to this point is pitching on the road. Here are Wang’s career Home/Road splits, including batted-ball types.
For whatever reason, Wang gets a lower percentage of grounders on the road. He gives up more fly balls and line drives as a result.
Wang’s lefty-right splits are not as extreme as I thought they might be.
Lastly, these splits are pretty interesting to me. Here’s how Wang has done based on the # of outs.
Here’s the link to the tables above for those who can’t see them on the blog.
For whatever reason, with two outs, Wang’s K rate spikes up considerably. This tells me he may have the skill to strike out batters more frequently than he has to this point, but is comfortable with his current approach since it’s working. It’s worth mentioning that even if you apply that 12.2% K/BF to all his innings, it’s still just a K rate of about 4.5 per 9 innings.
I know what the numbers say, but I also know what I see when I watch Wang pitch. Wang should be able to continue to succeed in the majors, although he may have to make some adjustments along the way if his current style stops working. I think he’s talented enough to do that, and I think he’ll be fine, perhaps with some growing pains as he makes those adjustments.
On a different note, Boston moved Jon Papelbon to closer after I ran the Diamond Mind Projection blowout, so I re-ran 250 with each of the four projection systems to see what it changed. I had to adjust Papelbon’s projections using Dan Szymborski’s tool for converting starters to relievers. I replaced Paplebon in the rotation with Julian Tavarez and Jon Lester pitching 50% each.
Here’s a comparison of the two runs.
Basically, there was no difference in the regular season. The improvement at the end of the game is mitigated by the weakening of the rotation. It does make Boston a better short-series team though.
Friday, September 15, 2006
The Meaningless Series with the Red Sox
With last night’s 7-4 win over Tampa Bay, the Yankees have won six straight games for the first time all season. In doing so, they also lowered their magic number for the AL East to six, which means that if they can take three of four against the Red Sox over the weekend, they can clinch the division against Boston at home, which would be pretty sweet.
Jeff Karstens was decent, aside from when he was facing Rocco Baldelli. I still don’t think Karstens has the makings of much more than a swingman or possible fifth starter, his stuff just seems short, but I love the fact that he is a strike-throwing machine and works quickly. Darrell Rasner relieved him to start the sixth, and was outstanding, throwing four innings and allowing only one hit, with five strikeouts. With Cory Lidle struggling, a case could be made for Rasner over Lidle on the postseason roster if Jaret Wright pitches decently over the rest of the season and claims the fourth starter spot in the playoffs.
The Yankees are in great shape heading into this series with the Red Sox. Even if they were to somehow get swept, they’d still have an 8 game lead in the loss column with 13 games to play. By moving Chien-Ming Wang’s start to tonight, they get to throw their three top starters at Boston.
Your matchups for the weekend:
Saturday: Game 1 - 1:20 PM ET
J. Beckett (14-10, 5.09) vs. C. Wang (17-5, 3.60)
Saturday: Game 2 - 8:05 PM ET
J. Tavárez (3-4, 4.74) vs. J. Wright (10-7, 4.60)
Sunday: Game 1 - 1:05 PM ET
K. Snyder (4-4, 6.54) vs. R. Johnson (17-10, 4.84)
Sunday: Game 2 - 8:05 PM ET
K. Gabbard (1-3, 3.13) vs. M. Mussina (14-6, 3.59)
Jorge Posada’s bruised up, the result of a HBP off his elbow. He’s listed as day-to-day. In better news, Mariano Rivera appears to be progressing and will probably throw a bullpen session this weekend. If that goes well he could see game action next week. I haven’t seen or read anything on Gary Sheffield, so I’d imagine he won’t be back over the weekend either.
Alex Belth brought this up on Bronx Banter yesterday, but tonight will be Jim Kaat’s last game as an announcer, as he’s announced his retirement. I think Kaat is a great broadcaster. He’s fair, impartial, not afraid to criticize, and knows as much about the physical aspects of pitching as anyone. Yeah, he’s a bit old-school at times, and some of his rants about pitch counts and Moneyball may be annoying at times, but I’ve always thought that paled in comparison to the good stuff he brought to the announcer’s booth every night. The man played for 25 years and had an amazing power of recall, able to remember intricate details of games from 40 years ago. I wish him the best in his retirement, and will miss him.
Wednesday, June 4, 2003
0-2 with Derek “Clubhouse Cancer” Jeter as Captain
Way to blow it, Yanks. They lost a game yesterday that they should have won, but blew, they lost a game today that they should have won, but didn’t capitalize on their clear advantage in starters, much as they failed to capitalize last Saturday against Bernero. They are playing like garbage, and right now they deserve to miss the playoffs.
I realized a couple of days ago, that if the Yankees win the World Series this year, I will be genuinely ecstatic about it for the first time since 1996. In 1998, ‘99 and 2000, it felt anitclimactic, as though winning the Series was an afterthought to 114 wins, beating the Red Sox, and the first Subway Series in 44 years. The fact that they were short series that the Yanks never trailed in added to that feeling. Perhaps 2001 would have felt special, but there was something special for me in ‘96.
Part of it was the fact that I had never seen the Yankees in the Series, let alone win it. I was 18 at the time, had my hopes dashed by the strike, was devastated by the ‘95 loss (I still can’t watch Edgar’s double, and I still hate him for it), and the fact that they trailed 2-0 in the Series—and looked so bad doing it, too—all caused me to not expect victory, and to appreciate it more. In ‘98, ‘99 and 2000, and to some degree in 2001, I expected them to win. Losing hurt more than winning felt good. Losing still affects me strongly, but I’ve stopped expecting that inevitable victory at the end of the season. Winning would feel good.
I can’t imagine what it would be like for a Red Sox fan when they inevitably win a World Series. There is something that a lot of older Red Sox fans have that I don’t encounter in the younger ones, almost a resignation. They want their team to win, but they feel as though they won’t. It’s not that they don’t expect victory—they expect defeat. My friend Jackie’s father—a BoSox fan—told her after the Yankees won a particularly tough game to get used to it, the Yankees always beat the Red Sox in the end. It’s not some irrational belief in a Curse, more like an acceptance of a fact of life. The sun comes up in the morning and goes down at night, we’ll all die someday, and the Yankees will always beat the Red Sox. Being young myself, I haven’t quite bought into that thinking completely, but it’s nice to think that someday I might be that certain of things.
But when Boston does win a World Series… it’ll probably make V.E. day look like a frathouse kegger.
Speaking of the Red Sox, they are one of the teams on the sabermetric bandwagon, with Toronto and Oakland being the other two hardcore teams. The Yankees are in the shallow end of the sabermetric pool with several other teams—not quite willing to go in the deep end. In the best-selling book Moneyball (which you can buy on the sidebar of my page…), there is a chapter about the A’s strategy last season of eschewing traditional scouting, and only drafting players who they had statistical data on, namely college players.
A lot of people, I think, have misinterpreted the entire chapter. The A’s did not draft the best players in the draft. They did not even necessarily draft the best players that they could have selected. They did, however, select players who were had the safest high-yield while remaining affordable. They could have taken players with more potential, and even players with more potential that would likely reach that potential, but those players were out of their price range. The draft philosophy of the A’s would not have been the best one for the Yankees or Red Sox to follow, because they would be passing up on better players that they could afford. The Yankees can afford to draft a toolsy high school kid hoping he turns into A-Rod, the A’s cannot. The Red Sox can afford to draft a college star that both scouts and statheads see as a sure-thing, and sign him for $3 million, but the A’s cannot.
This is the core of the A’s philosophy: determining the value of every player, finding bargains, and avoiding risk. Traditionalists react with hostility towards the A’s, Jays and Sox because they use sabermetric statistical analysis to determine value. People like Richard Griffin, Phil Rogers and Joe Morgan seem unable to accept the fact that Major League Baseball is a business, and always has been, and if you’re not going to run your business as efficiently as possible, you’re a fool. Yes, the move towards OBP and SLG is going to make the game more boring, but the way to prevent that is not chase off the statheads, but to change the game. Make the parks bigger, deaden the ball, enforce the strike zone, raise the mound, and strategies like the sac bunt and steal become more viable, and the sabermetric teams will become more likely to use them. Taking the path that they are, Griffin and his compatriots are going to end up as baseball outsiders, because the A’s, Red Sox and Jays are running their teams intelligently, and they’re going to win and make money, two things that are going to attract every other owner in MLB down the line. It may take years, but it will happen.
Baseball people generally are allergic to new ideas. We are slow to change. ...it took years to persuade them to put numbers on uniforms. ... It is the hardest thing in the world to get big league baseball to change anything—even spikes on a pair of shoes. But they will accept this new interpretation of baseball statistics eventually. They are bound to.
-Branch Rickey, 1954
Tuesday, June 3, 2003
Strangely, I’m not pissed off
More proof that Jeter is destroying the Yankees. They name him captain, they go out and lose, apparently just to rain on his parade.
Strangely, I’m not pissed off. Normally, I would have had to destroy something to release my agressions about such a frustrating loss, but today…ehh. I think it’s because I hurt my back at work today, and don’t really care that much about a ballgame, or because my frustration was negated by my satisfaction at two other events today:
1) The Red Sox game was rained out. Normally, this would be a nothing event, but because it’s an interleague game, it will be made up in a doubleheader tomorrow, which makes it somewhat less likely that they’ll sweep the Pirates, and somewhat takes away from Boston’s slight interleague schedule advantage.
2) Sammy Sosa was ejected for corking his bat today, and might be suspended for the entire Yankees series, probably completely negating Boston’s slight interleague schedule advantage.
Sosa’s ejection will likely be discussed ad nauseam for the next week, at least, so I might as well get my word in fairly early.
You’re gonna hear a lot of mediots (*cough* Kornheiser *cough*) talking about how this “taints” the summer of ‘98, and it “taints” the 500 HRs. Well, it doesn’t, because it’s ridiculous to think that Sosa hit all those HRs because he corked his bat. First of all, he’s been on this HR tear for six years, and I’m pretty sure he’s broken several bats over that time. If he was corking the whole time, he’d have been caught by now. And second, corking the bat doesn’t make the ball go farther, it in fact reduces the distance the ball travels by about ¾%. Which isn’t really much, but it’s still a reduction and not an increase. What corking the bat does do is increase a player’s bat speed. Christian Ruzich over at The Cub Reporter quoted Robert Adair’s book “The Physics of Baseball”, so you can go over there and read about it (go over there anyway—good blog).
The other thing you’re gonna hear is the question, “why would Sammy Sosa cork his bat? He doesn’t need the help.” Well, no, he probably doesn’t, but people do all sorts of things that they don’t need to do because they are still getting benefit. For example, Congress just cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans. OH! And he shows his true political colors!
Back to the topic at hand, this shouldn’t damage Sammy’s reputation, either. I’m not saying it won’t, it just shouldn’t. He cheated. Big fucking deal. Babe Ruth corked his bat, too. It’s a ball game, get over it. He’s still a good guy.
As for Jeter being named captain…well, it’ll make Chrissy happy. I don’t think it makes any difference that he’s been “named” captain, because he was the leader of the team anyway. At least he’s not going to be wearing that stupid C, a la John Franco. That only looks cool in hockey.
Thursday, May 22, 2003
SportingNews.com : Yankees, Red Sox battling in AL East
Heh. Most fans are idiots.
A bad sign for the Yankees is that the Red Sox are just a game behind them in the standings even though Boston’s best hitter, Manny Ramirez, hasn’t even gotten hot yet.
New Prague, Minn.
Yeah, and Jason Giambi’s a .200 hitter.
Hey, Yankees and Red Sox: Don’t think you are the only ones competing for the AL East title. Don’t forget about the Blue Jays, one of the hottest teams in baseball.
Hey, Yankees and Red Sox: Don’t think you are the only ones competing for the AL East title. Don’t forget about the Blue Jays, one of the hottest teams in baseball.
Someone once said that a team is never as good as they look when they’re winning, or as bad as they look when they’re losing. Toronto will be a perrenial contender within two seasons, I’m sure, but right now, they’re a mediocre team that’ll finish at least 15 games off the pace.
Titles are bought in the AL East. Want proof? Watch the Yankees go on a buying spree if they lose a few more games. In baseball today, it is the Yankees and whichever team comes in second.
So the proof of your assertion is that you say the Yankees will do something in the future? Hmmm…
I think the Yankees and the Red Sox are the two closest teams in the league, but the Red Sox have one more thing going for them than the Yanks: team play. The Yankees seem to do most of their offense in one big inning with one or two good players each game.
So the Red Sox have the advantage over the Yankees in that they can’t win with only one or two players contributing. Huh?
I think TSN prints some of these just for laughs.
Sunday, May 4, 2003
Random thoughts that fell out of my head
So now, if Rocket wins his next two starts, he’ll be going for 300 at Fenway Park. Wouldn’t that be perfect? (and please note that I didn’t say ironic. Because it isn’t, and if you think it’s even close to being ironic, you’re an idiot.)
The Yanks lost their first series of the season today, which is of course my fault, because I mentioned it yesterday. Their record is now 23-9, which is a bit closer to reality. The other day the YES crew was discussing the possibility that the Yankees might actually be better than they’ve played so far. After all, Jeter’s out, Karsay’s out, Rivera just came back, Giambi’s in an awful slump, as is Godzilla. Well, that’s all true, but it really ignores why the Yankees are 23-9. Soriano, Johnson, Williams, Posada and Mondesi all have an OPS over .969, and the starting rotation has been consistently excellent, pitching well and pitching long, keeping the bullpen from being a factor. All those things will turn around a bit, and more than counter the return of Jeter, Karsay, Rivera and return to normal of Giambi and Godzilla. And that’s not even considering the relatively easy schedule the Yankees had in April. The Yankees are good, but they’re not better than their record has shown.
By the way, I don’t know if they corrected it on the broadcast, but the 1968 team did not start 24-6. I thought that sounded odd, too.
Soriano drew another walk today, bringing him up to 13 this season! Of course, he also went 0 for 3, bringing his average down to .345.
I saw a blurb in yesterday’s New York Post about how the Yankees are thinking about trading Erick Almonte for relief help after Jeter comes back (I say why wait?). According to this blurb, several teams think that Almonte can hit well enough to play third.
Huh? He’s barely hitting well enough to play shortstop. Eric’s batting .272 right now, but it’s a pretty empty .272. Giambi’s .195 is only slightly less valuable. As for his defense…well, he’s making Jeter look like a good shortstop. That’s pretty bad. The only reason the Yankees should consider playing him at third next year is because it would make Henson look like less of a dropoff. If the Yankees can get a half-decent reliever for him, I’ll be thrilled.
Yeah, leave it to me to always find something to complain about.
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Alfonso Soriano - The Exception To The Rule?
Guys who don’t draw walks and strike out a lot usually don’t have a very high batting average. This is because a low walk total and high strikeout total are indicative of a overly agressive batter, who swings at everything. Before long, pitchers figure that out and stop throwing them strikes. Either the batter starts to draw walks, or they start to make a lot of outs.
Alfonso Soriano batted .300 last season. So far this season, he’s been batting over .370. Many statheads are starting to concede that Soriano is an exception to the rule—a “Freak of Nature” as Aaron Gleeman dubbed him last week. Maybe. Maybe it’s still April, too. More importantly, simply saying that Soriano is an exception is not good sabermetrics (Yeah, like I would know what good sabermetrics is—but it’s not good science). If the rules don’t apply to Soriano, you have to find out why he’s different, and maybe that the rules are—*GASP!*—wrong!
Not that I’m saying they are. But then, there’s Soriano, hitting in the upper .300’s, crushing balls over the wall. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s facing lesser pitchers, and we should wait until the Yankees are done with Seattle and Oakland to make a judgement, or even until the end of the season. Some have said that it’s because he’s batting leadoff, and getting better pitches to hit, though that would require discarding another sabermetric theory—that protection doesn’t matter.
Here’s my crackpot theory. Feel free to disregard it.
It’s the bat.
No, it’s not corked. Well, probably not. But that’s not my point. I think it’s too heavy.
See, my theory goes like this. Because of the extra weight of his bat, Soriano needs to start his swing a little earlier, and has less time to recognize a pitch. So, he gets fooled sometimes by the movement of a pitch, and swings through a ball in the strike zone, or a ball that drops out of it. Further, he swings at anything in the strike zone, since, like Vlad Guerrero, he can crush anything in the strike zone. Thus the low walks, thus the high strikeouts without fishing for stuff in the dirt. The way to get Soriano out is not to throw him lousy pitches, but to throw him great pitches. Of course, that’s how to get everyone out, which is why Soriano isn’t more prone to extended slumps than anyone else.
A lighter bat would probably cut back on his strikeouts with this theory, but not increase his walks. That would take a change of approach. And he really does need to change his approach, because as great as he has been, his value has been limited by the fact that he makes so many outs. An approach at the plate more like Barry Bonds (or at least Jason Giambi, although he’s not a good example thus far, what with his slump), would not only lead to more walks, but better pitches to hit. That’s a nice thought.
In other news, the Yankees beat the Mariners tonight, but almost blew it in the 8th because they insisted on using Acevedo and Hammond rather than bringing in Mariano Rivera. Yes, I understand that it’s Rivera’s first game back, so you might not trust him quite as much in a situation with runners on base as you normally would, but this is exactly what Bill James is talking about. You bring in your ace reliever with a four-run lead in the ninth, and leave your lesser relievers to get you out of a bases-loaded jam with a one-run lead in the eighth. How does that make any sense?
In a related story, the Red Sox have blown only one ninth-inning lead this season. The problem with the Sox’s pen is the pitchers, not the system.
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