Monday, June 14, 2010

Rox Talk - Week 10

The Week That Was
A 4-3 week against the Astros and Blue Jays. The Rox currently stand at 33-30. Four games back from division leading San Diego in fourth place. Currently 19-12 at home and 14-18 on the road, the Rox have outscored its opponents 291-244 (expected wins is 37 versus historical wins at 29). On pace for 85 wins with 748 runs scored and 627 runs against. Playoff indicator (Runs scored/Runs Against ratio) is 1.19 (>1.16 indicates high playoff potential).

Well the interleague record continues to be awesome but we lose 3 of 4 to the worst team in the NL...go figure. That is baseball. Tracy keeps his streak alive...that is winning home stands. Now if we could only do that on the road. Wacky Denver weather this years continues to play havoc with us fans. I am sure the nightmare conditions would have been called earlier on Friday night if it hadn't been an interleague game. Have to feel sorry for Ubaldo Jimenez and giving up a couple of runs especially with a rainy night and wet ball. Either way it was still impressive that he got win number 12 under those conditions. When this season is over it will be interesting to see if the year of the pitcher survived for 162 games or if the first third of the year was a fluke. Will Jimenez be the symbol of the season like Bob Gibson's stellar season in 1968? Let's hope they don't decide to drop the mound another 5 inches.

Win Probability Added
I love win probability added. I discovered the stat back when I read Alan Schwarz's "The Numbers Game" I have been studying it ever since. It is a pretty esoteric stat but to me it boils the game down to batter vs hitter vs historical probability. Sure the pundits will say that WPA is meaningless that it doesn't truly present what a player can or statistically predict but to me it represents the beauty of baseball. While all events in a game are random, the underlying probability suggests that most baseball outcomes are very predictable, but every once in a while something magical happens...a hitter gets that base hit or a pitcher gets that strikeout. The big stats just sort of get muddled because at the end of season someone has 40 home runs but do you remember any of those or do you remember that ninth inning dinger that sent you home happy?

Last week the big news with the Rox was the inability for the offense to hit with Runner's in Scoring Position. Data would also suggest the Rox aren't scoring a lot of runs after the fifth inning (203 runs before the fifth versus 84 after the fifth through the ninth, compare this to 2009 when 433 vs 361 runs). Is our offense this maligned?

Another way to look at it is through the lens of WPA. Two components (offense vs pitching/defense) contribute to your chances of winning. Winning teams components equal 0.5 and losing team components equal -0.5. Baseball Reference conviently tracks these components so you can look at which component contributed the most to the Rox win. Of the 63 games played in 2010, the pitching component has been greater than the offense component 37 times. Of the 33 wins the pitching component has been greater than the offense 21 times. So in the bulk of the Rox wins the pitching has been the reason. In the 30 losses though, the components breaks out 14 vs 16 in pitching and offense (the component contributing the least to the effort) which at least suggests to me that we can't blame the hitting on everything! So the figure below shows each of the Rox game plotting the hitter and pitching WPA per game. Top data points in purple are the wins and bottom points in grey are the losses. Red dots indicate the .25 mark which would suggest an equal effort on the part of the offense and the pitching/defense.

Guess the thing that jumps out to me first is the fact that we haven't won a game without a positive pitching WPA. Although to have this happen you'd probably have to have a ninth inning meltdown by the staff followed by a two out walk off homer...Rox haven't had too many of those. It also seems the wins are more tightly grouped versus the losses. Will have to revisit this after the end of the season. Below is just another way of looking at the data plotting individual pitching or offense WPA with wins.

NY Times Keeping Score
Beautiful graph by NY the simplicity of it.

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