Monday, March 30, 2009

Rox Talk - Spring Training Win Percentage?

One week to go before it all becomes real! Aghhh this can be an incredibly long week. Things with the club start to take shape and get a bit more final. Looks like our deal for Holliday is going to be a one for one deal with Street the only one making the opening day roster. Smith and CarGo were sent to the minors today. Morales looks to be the 5th starter once again. Looking ahead I checked out the April schedule and realized it ain't going to be easy for our Roxs out of the gate.

Six games at Arizona, six games with Dodgers, three with San Diego, three with Philadelphia, and two with Cubs. I believe five of these teams had winning records last year (three made the playoffs). Also throw in the fact that we are miserable against the D-backs in April. They were like 20 - 9 out of the gate last year thanks to having a slew of games against us! Nothing like seeing Webb, Haren, and then the Philly's Hamels all in the first week of the season...Anyway if I factor in how we played these teams last year, then the Roxs would win about 6 games. My guess is that if the Rox come out of April with a 6 - 14 record, Mr Hurdle will be looking for work. Curiously I looked at our all time records against these 5 teams and historically we should win about 9 games. I would love a 9 - 11 record out of April. We are awful against Arizona (79 - 108, 0.422) and not much better against the Dodgers (109 - 140, 0.438) but do have a winning record against the Padres (127 - 122, 0.510). Why is it that we get Arizona and LA early on and not the Padres and Giants? I have been to 7 or 8 opening days and Arizona has been a common opponent? One more reason to hate the D-bags.

Quick little study on spring training and regular season wining percentage (too bad we don't play World Series games due to our March records). Looking at this year's record it doesn't bode well for the regular season. Factoring in that we always do worse then what we do in Spring Training that potentially means we will end up with about 57 wins this year! Maybe we will buck the trend this year...please!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rox Talk - Pitching and Decsions

An interesting comment was made yesterday on either ESPN or MLB Homeplate and that was that the Japanese specifically targeted the US defense in yesterday's win in the World Baseball Classic by specifically hitting towards Adam Dunn in right field. I've watched Ichiro hit and I think he can put the ball where he wants it and I've seen plenty of softball players do it but can a MLB caliber player do the same? The chart below shows the hits (blue dots) and outs (red dots). Looking at the chart, the Japanese certainly did hit to right field a lot. Whether it is statistically significant is probably debatable especially if you note the next chart which shows the US hits (blue dots) and outs (red dots). It would seem right field allowed for a lot more hits in general. Not for sure how Dodger Stadium plays, whether the hitters were left or right hand batters, and what the pitchers pitch and handedness for each situation indicated but I guess it makes for good commentary (or an excuse for the US team...)
Japan's Ball's in Play

USA Ball's in Play

Rox Starting and Relief Pitching Trends
Saw this nifty article and thought it would be interesting to run the Rox stats. The graph below shows the percent decisions by the starters and relief pitchers over the Rox's history. I also threw in the winning percentage to determine if there was any rhyme or reason to pitching at altitude. Generally it seems the Rox starter's are gradually getting more decisions. My guess is this is as much to do with getting deeper into games. In the last two winning seasons it did seem to indicate that having a decent bullpen helps. On average then we can expect that 69% of the decisions will go to the starters and 31% to the bullpen. As a side note 67% of the wins go the starters and 33% go to the bullpen...

Final graph is same basic figure as above but has the decisions per innings pitched. This graph would seem to indicate that if your bullpen gets more decisions your ballclub tends to do better or you win a lot of late inning games. I think for the Rox fans this kind of makes sense. If our starters could just keep us close we tend to win late (at least at home)?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rox Talk - Organization Grade

Big fan of the website Fan Graphs. Love there game day coverage and use of the win probability to chart a game. I remember the Rox down the stretch in 2007 and I was traveling so the only way to watch it was on the computer. This site saved me! Anyway last week they posted their organizational ranking of the Rox. Any sort of ranking has to be taken with a grain of salt. Do I think the Rox are the 23rd ranked team in baseball? Two years ago we were good enough to get to the World Series but of course the 22nd team, Detroit Tigers, were in the Series 3 years ago. I think objectively I would place them more in the high teens. I mean Seattle, Texas, and Baltimore couldn't be much better?

Ownership C - (I'd give them a D)
If anything the author went a little too light on our owners. To say we are getting by on a low end budget is somewhat of a misnomer. This year we are in the $70 million range and actually increased payroll. Don't think you can blame management on the Holliday move. He wasn't going to stay here and we weren't going to do another Helton deal. My frustration with ownership is their lack of involvement. They have held on to their GM and manager for way too long. They have ruined things for a town which once sold 4 million tickets in a year! They refuse to even think about going after a free agent or mid season upgrade. They lack imagination and excitement. Where are the Blake Street Bombers! Owning a team is about upping the ante each year and making splashes, creating excitement, and bringing showmanship to the park.

Front Office C (average is being nice...)
O'Dowd has tried pretty much everything during is tenure here. He continues to throw things at a wall hoping something sticks. Bottom line is that talent wins games. We have had some decent talent but we haven't always pulled the trigger on being able to bring in that one piece that might make a difference whether it is the off season or mid season. If the Rox don't make it this year a new sheriff will be in town.

Major League Talent B- (I go for a B or B+)
Basically the team being fielded isn't all that different from a team that won 90 games two years ago. Granted a big bat in Holliday left but pitching has stabilized. Really the only thing we are truly lacking is a big league number 1 starter. We have a lot of 2-3s but the World Series two years ago really showed what a big arm can do for you. Throwing Francis out there for Game 1 was kind of embarrassing.

Minor League Talent B-
Talent is talent. I think bottom line is that all teams have about the same talent. Some bloom others fade away. You can throw a lot at scouting and stats trying to find that diamond in the rough but it is mainly just luck on whether any of these players actually help out the club. You think the Dodgers actually thought Mike Piazza was going to be a great one?

Overall C+ (Really can't disagree...)
I don't think too much of the "ifs" part though because that really applies to any team. Ifs that fall in favor lead to 90 win seasons, middle ifs turn into a decent year, and bad ifs turn into mediocre fall asleep season. On paper the Rox look a little thin in quality pitching, the bullpen is average, and offensively who knows. I don't think anyone would have thought we'd only score 747 runs last year but this year we should score more without our biggest offensive contributor? Bottom line that is why we play the game...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Rox Talk - Holds

The Rox seem to be playing better, of course they couldn't have played much worse! Throw the cliches out, but real baseball starts in less than a month.

Couple of items...

PECOTA (77 - 86), CHONE (78 - 84), Vegas O/U (77.5). Gee think Vegas as gotten hip to the ways of baseball projection statistics! I have to wonder still about these numbers. I mean I looked at the offense numbers and we should score runs. Of course with the loss of Francis and an injured Buchholz, we are probably going to give up our fair share as well. So playing .500 baseball isn't out of the question but does a healthy Tulo, a full time Iannetta, injury free Helton, and a lineup without Holliday really going to score more runs than the team did last year? Guess that is the million dollar question...

Think Holliday will make the trip down to Tuscon tomorrow?

Further statistification of baseball...I present the Hold. Wikipedia's definition is as follows:

A hold is awarded to a relief pitcher who:

1. Enters the game in a save situation;
2. Records at least one out;
3. Leaves the game without his team having relinquished the lead at any point.

Note that since the hold is not an official MLB statistic, the definition above can vary. One noticeable difference is that while STATS, Inc. requires the pitcher to record at least one out for a hold, SportsTicker does not have this requirement. This can result in discrepancies in hold totals between different sources. Rox hold leaders over the past 7 seasons (according to ESPN stats).
When historians look back, Fuentes will be one of O'Dowd's greatest steals. Obtaining Fuentes from Seattle in 2001 for Cirillo was a great deal. Seven years of service and 115 saves later he has to be one of our greatest pitcher. Especially his class in 2007 when Corpas took over and he served as set up man through the playoff push. Hope he continues to do well in LA.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Rox Talk - Runs Scored Per Inning

Well an 0 - 6 Spring Training start is certainly not what we were hopping least Holliday isn't hitting the cover off the ball for Oakland (yet?). And maybe our Rox are just tyring to save those wins for April.

Either way that is the joy of springtime one cares and it doesn't count. Moving on a few years back I noticed on retrosheet that they had a nice summary of the runs scored per each inning played during that season. I grabbed it and have been annotating it for the last few years for curiosity. Just recently I decided to play with it some and see what might fall out from it. See graph below.
The graph shows the total numbers of run scored per inning from 1993 - 2008. It is split to show Rox home (larger purple squares) totals versus away (smaller purple squares) and Opponents away (larger black boxes) versus home (smaller black boxes). One thing that immediately jumps out to me is the amount of runs scored in the first inning and then the corresponding drop in the second. This is the only real trend other than both home teams have lower runs score in the ninth versus the away team. Other thoughts - it is interesting that our pitchers tend to give up more runs in the 5th on the road and in the 6th at home. My guess is this is when arms tire or the bullpen comes in. We don't see this trend with the Rox's offense? Bottom line...better bullpen or perhaps a good bullpen does help you to win?