Monday, May 31, 2010

Rox Talk - Week 8

The Week That Was
A 4-2 week against the D-Backs and Dodgers. The Rox currently stand at 26-24. Four games back from division leading San Diego in fourth place. Currently 15-9 at home and 11-15 on the road, the Rox have outscored its opponents 242-204 (expected wins is 29 versus historical wins at 22). On pace for 84 wins with 784 runs scored and 661 runs against. Playoff indicator (Runs scored/Runs Against ratio) is 1.19 (>1.16 indicates high playoff potential).

Nice week at home. With May coming to a close the Rox have stayed in the race. With June coming around the Rox should smile. Historically the Rox have played 0.460 in April, 0.441 in May, and 0.495 in June. June has some tough series. Lead off in San Francisco (1-2) then a weekend series in Arizona (2-1). Return home for four against Houston (3-1) then have homer happy Blue Jays (2-1) in for a visit. Off to Minnesota's (0-3) new park (we hated the old park) then return home for the Brewers (2-1) and Red Sox (2-1), who aren't dead yet, actually playing like our Rox lurking in the bush. This is followed by a trip to SoCal to visit the Angels (2-1) and then San Diego (2-1). A 15 - 12 month (one game in San Fran was today 5/31)? Will we see Huston Street? Taylor Buchholz? Jorge de la Rosa? Huge pitching assets that really could help during the hot summer months.

Periodic Chart of the Rox
Everyone like periodic charts especially us chemists. So what do you get when you add some baseball stats into the mix? See below (for a larger version go here). To rank the players I took WAR and added it to WPA. Why? Well there are only 109 players (I need 118 players) with a WAR above 0.7 and two I couldn't accept that Dante Bichette was 70th in WAR and 3rd in WPA. Combined puts Dante in the top 5.
The above table is straight ranking. My next chart is by position. Little tougher to put together.
Just for fun...the Major League WAR leaders.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rox Talk - Week 7

The Week That Was
A 3-4 week against the Cubs, Astros, and Royals. The Rox currently stand at 22-22. Four games back from division leading San Diego in fourth place. Currently 11-7 at home and 11-15 on the road, the Rox have outscored its opponents 206-185 (expected wins is 24 versus historical wins at 20). On pace for 81 wins with 758 runs scored and 681 runs against. Playoff indicator (Runs scored/Runs Against ratio) is 1.11 (>1.16 indicates high playoff potential).

Well this was the week I thought the Rox might make a run. Playing three sub .500 teams I thought a 5 - 2 week should be expected. Unfortunately the offense decided to take the week off for the most part. As much as I want to berate this team I just can't do it. I mean the team is playing .500 baseball...they are only 4 games out...nothing has clicked and yet they find themselves still within striking distance with 118 games still to be played. Sure you hate to see the big offensive players struggling, the defense committing 25 errors, and pitching staff that has been saved by U-Ball but even with all this you have Beimel having thrown 14 2/3 scoreless innings, Corpas having regained his closer roll, Francis looking like 2007, CarGo for the most part continuing his playoff pace, Helton still getting on base, Hawpe still hitting, and Olivo hitting dingers. Day to day it stinks watching the Rox struggle but I think the bigger picture is that this team has a tremendous upswing when all parts start working together. Plus throw in Street, Buchholz, and de la Rosa. Warn the NL now because come September I think this team will be unstoppable (or maybe Vegas knew something we didn't...remember Rox over/under was 83 games...; (

First Quarter of the Season
Back in March I provided an overview of 2010 projections comparing Bill James, Marcels, and CHONE. I added ZiPS later. Each of these projections provided at bats, plate appearances, run scored and wOBA for each hitter and innings pitched, runs allowed, and FIP for each pitcher. Taking each of these data points and averaging them I put together a projection for a Rox projected lineup. Since we passed the 40 game mark, we are approximately a quarter of the way through the season so how do the projections stack up to the real data (i.e. CarGo has scored 24 runs this year so far so he is projected to score 83).

The solid bar represents the average of the four projections and the red line is the 1st quarter pace. So above represents that CarGo is on pace for about 15 more runs then what the average projection had him before the start of the season. Obviously Hawpe's injury limited his time so his numbers are low and with Ianetta stuck in AAA he isn't scoring a lot of runs in the big leagues. The projections don't do the bench players much justice because they assume they will get a lot more starts and thus more runs. Based on this analysis the team is on pace to score 753 runs. Interesting to note that we have been whining about Tulo's power but he has gotten on base and scored a ton of runs in the first quarter. He is on pace to score 108 runs. Helton is trending lower but is currently on pace for -16 from his projection. My bet is as the season warms so will Todd.

In addition to the hitters the above graph shows the runs allowed for the pitchers. With the pitching flux this year it is hard to get a real feel for what this staff is capable of. Frances and U-Ball have been amazing. I mean if Jimenez keeps this pace he will only allow 28 runs. That is crazy! Relief pitching is such a crap shoot...look at Betancourt...light's out last year, this year struggling. Team is on pace to only allow 631 runs which would be a new team record. We shall see...

Based on projections the team is headed for about 87 wins. Little low to ensure a Wild Card or Division Title but still in the hunt!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rox Talk - Week 6

The Week That Was
A 4-2 week against the Phillies and Nationals. The Rox currently stand at 19-18. Three games back from division leading San Diego in fourth place. Currently 11-7 at home and 8-11 on the road, the Rox have outscored its opponents 179-152 (expected wins is 21 versus historical wins at 17). On pace for 83 wins with 784 runs scored and 666 runs against. Playoff indicator (Runs scored/Runs Against ratio) is 1.18 (>1.16 indicates high playoff potential).

Sometimes as fans we probably should be more realistic. Are the Rox where we want them? Perhaps when we think a team is ready to win the Division we tend to think the team should lead the race from Game 1. Not quite there after Week 6. But perhaps the glass isn't half empty...look above and Rox in previous years had 16, 15, and 15 wins. This year we have 19. Something to think about. Only 3 out of the top spot. A good start by Francis, the bullpen settling into their roles, and an offense that really isn't clicking. Throw in a wacky weather week with three rain outs, two potential doubleheaders, and binoculargate I guess we should be positive about the position our Rox find themselves in. I mean heck if we were leading the division we'd probably be whining that our team doesn't have a big enough lead. I'd rather come from behind then have the pressure of leading at the top.

Second Inning
A 162 game schedule can easily be broken into "9 innings" of 18 games a piece. Over the years I have tracked monthly averages and I am always amazed how similar the averages are. So this year instead of months I am simply tracking 18 game stretches to see if anything changes. The spreadsheet below shows the first and second inning.

Another 9 - 9 inning. Little more realistic record. Pitching staff allowed 15 more runs. Interesting to see we actually scored more runs on the road against our opponents especially considering the road trip was from San Fran, San Diego, and LA. Once again another glaring black eye for our bullpen which went 2 - 4. Jimenez continues to lead the way. Interesting to see Tulo jump up there with WAR. Wonder how much defense plays into that?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Salt Lake City Bees

Nice little ball park. Beautiful view from behind home plate. Love the accessibility of minor league baseball. Hard to believe the kids playing are only a step away from the big leagues. Love that there mascot is a bee with a bat! Hey and there cheerleaders are called Honey Bees...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Rox Talk - Week 5

The Week That Was
A 3-3 week against the Padres and Dodgers. The Rox currently stand at 15-16. Four games back from division leading San Diego in third place. Currently 7-5 at home and 8-11 on the road, the Rox have outscored its opponents 152-120 (expected wins is 19 versus historical wins at 14). On pace for 78 wins with 794 runs scored and 627 runs against. Playoff indicator (Runs scored/Runs Against ratio) is 1.27 (>1.16 indicates high playoff potential).

Wow what a maddening team. Win one, lose one, they are maddeningly consistent. Scary thing is their run differential would suggest they should be 19 - 12 right now! Instead we are mired in 3rd place treading water and not doing much of anything. Injuries have certainly been an issue. Pitching has been exceptional and awful (8 games with a game score of greater than 70 and 9 games with a game score of less than 35 -- 50 being an average start). Offense pretty good although I do have to side with Kizla in his column on Sunday in the Denver Post. Not so much the big signing but moving Helton to somewhere else in the order. I think a CarGo/Tulo tandem would be huge. If Helton's power continues to elude him in May, my guess is that by June the dynamic duo will be setting up Blake Street Bomber Part II. It is always hard for the organization and a player to realize that time has passed them by. Just ask Boston about Big Papi. I mean it is hard but Helton has to realize that for the betterment of the team sometimes you need to move along. We shall see, the team really isn't hitting on all cycles right now perhaps as it warms up the ball will travel some more!

Stadium Records
Well last week it was all time records against opponents. This week we have all time stadium records!

Some surprises:
1) Maybe we should play in Mexico more!
2) Glad Riverfront was torn down
3) Didn't realize we had a losing record at Mile High.
4) We don't like MinuteMaid park in Houston.
5) Interestingly a lot of the newer parks don't play so well for us.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Game 28 Thoughts

1) This caught stealing thing is getting out of hand. Twice Rox got thrown out with the heart of the order coming don't run yourself out of innings! Currently have been thrown out 12 times which leads the NL (only 61% success rate).

2) How weird is the run scoring this season? See the graph
Almost 80% of the runs being scored are accomplished in the first 5 innings!

3) Cook - Mr Inconsistent

4) Thank you Ian for making the night worthwhile

5) Hey guess what another extra inning game against San Diego...I wouldn't mind spending extra time in San Diego either

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Game 27 Thoughts

1) My thoughts went on vacation while visiting Las Vegas...I will return to my normally scheduled thoughts

2) Morales has 3 losses...Tracy needs to find someone who can shut the door. Betancourt isn't the same as last year either. Throw in the fact that the bullpen is being used way too much and this spells disaster

3) Of the starter's 6 no decisions the bullpen is 1 - 5 in those games...that is dismal...playoff teams win close games wannabes just find ways to lose

4) Flores made a great play at the plate to save the run, too bad it didn't mean anything...

5) In the last 3 innings our offense saw 5, 14, and 15 pitches. That is an average of 3.7 pitches per plate appearance. Talking about making it easy for the opponents...take more pitches make the pitcher throw strikes, work a walk, do something to get on base!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Rox Talk - Week 4

The Week That Was
A 2-4 week against the D-Backs and Giants. The Rox currently stand at 12-13. Four games back from division leading San Diego in third place. Currently 7-5 at home and 5-8 on the road, the Rox have outscored its opponents 126-102 (expected wins is 15 versus historical wins at 11). On pace for 78 wins with 816 runs scored and 661 runs against. Playoff indicator (Runs scored/Runs Against ratio) is 1.24 (>1.16 indicates high playoff potential).

Just an all around awful week. I think the 11 - 12 lost to D-Backs on Wednesday afternoon summed up the week for me. To give up the runs then come back and lead and then have it go to extra innings and lose...ughhhh! D-Backs have always been trouble (see below) and well winning in San Fran hasn't been easy. This is the first real trip through the West with games in San Diego and LA up on deck. Rox finished with a 11 - 12 record in April. I think that is what the Rox needed. Although they find themselves 4 games back I think the real contenders haven't shown themselves. May is the time to start playing better baseball. Nice start for Chacin. The depth of the team really is shown with the injuries and the fact that was reasonable players to fill in. A complement to the team and how it has been built.

All Time Records
During the broadcast back against the Marlins, a stat showed up to say that the Rox and Marlins were 72 - 72 against each other. I wonder what the other records happen to be. Below lists the records against all 29 teams.

Some surprises:
1) A winning record against the Padres and a miserable record against the rest of the NL West.
2) Worst record is against Atlanta, not a big surprise, remember we didn't beat them in 1993 an they were in our division!
3) Surprising we do so well against the AL
3) Can we move to the NL Central?

Helton in the Five Hole
Helton has gotten 75% of his plate appearances in the 3rd or 4th hole for the Rox. Over the weekend Tracy put Helton in the 5th hole. As Helton ages one has to wonder how long will we allow Helton to remain in his usual batting position? Helton had a nice rebound year last year but it has been pretty obvious that over the last few years Helton has not gotten the extra base hits he had in his early years. From 2000 - 2005 Helton extra base hits accounted for more than 40% of his hits since 2005 it has gone from 36%, 34%, 29%, 32% and 19% so far this year. The graph below shows Helton's on base percentage and slugging percentage over the years. Helton is my favorite Rox but when will he admit he might be better somewhere else in the order? He still is a hit machine...put him in the two hole!