Tag Archives: giants

The Morning Edition (August 4, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • A fine start by Haren leads the Brewers to victory
  • Price goes 9 again, but the Rays need a hit from Myers in the 10th to win
  • The Sox back Peavy in his Fenway debut
  • Liriano walks 5, but doesn’t allow a run as the Pirates beat the Rockies
  • Oakland beats Garza and the Rangers, 4-2
  • Braves beat the Phillies in 12
  • Maxwell’s 12th inning HR lifts the Royals

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Santana goes against Wheeler at Citi (1p Eastern)
  • McCarthy returns to the mound at Fenway (130p Eastern)
  • Holland and Griffin face off in Oakland (4p Eastern)
  • Alex Wood and Cliff Lee do it on Sunday Night (8p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Who is baseball’s worst baserunner?

There were some conversations on MLB Tonight on Saturday about bad baserunning and it made me curious. I often look at the top of the leaderboard, but rarely at the bottom. You can find more about some of the stats below right here, but they are all pretty clear. Entering Saturday….

Worst overall BsR (overall baserunning value): Allen Craig

Worst Basestealer (wSB, combines value of SB and cost of CS): Gerardo Parra

Worst Baserunner, not counting wSB (UBR = BsR – wSB): Allen Craig

Most Outs on the Bases (count of outs made when the player is not forced to the base): Allen Craig/Howie Kendrick

Extra Bases Taken (measures how often a player takes an extra base): Paul Konerko

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The Morning Edition (August 3, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Jose Fernandez strikes out 14 Indians to end the Tribe’s streak
  • Cards crush the Reds, 13-3
  • Bumgarner shines as the Giants beat the Rays
  • The Rockies and Chacin slow the Bucs

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Garza and Parker go in Oakland (4p Eastern)
  • Liriano tries to stop the Pirates mini-skid (7p Eastern)
  • Corbin goes against Peavy in Boston (7p Eastern)
  • Lincecum takes on Price (7p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Who do you like for the second wild card in the AL?

It’s not a lock that the Rays or Red Sox will occupy the division title and first wild card, but it looks like it based on how they are playing. But right now the Orioles, Indians, and Rangers are all essentially tied for the final spot. I think the Rangers are the best team and they’re likely to healthier on the mound. Should be a fun race, even if it’s only for the right to go to the play-in game in order to make the real playoffs.

The Morning Edition (August 2, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Felix goes 7 innings, allowed 1 run and leaves with a 7-1 lead. The Mariners gave up 1 in the 8th and 6 in the 9th to fall to the Red Sox.

  • Darvish strikes out 14 batters, walks none, in 7 shutout innings
  • The Cardinals pummel the Pirates to salvage one of five in Pittsburgh
  • Hamels throws 8 shutout innings, Papelbon blows it
  • Norris is solid against his old club
  • Indians and Royals keep their winning streaks going as Raburn hits 2 HR
  • 11 K for Teheran as the Braves beat the Rockies

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Jose Fernandez looks to slow the Tribe (7p Eastern)
  • Bumgarner faces Archer (7p Eastern)
  • Shelby Miller leads the Cards into Cinci (7p Eastern)
  • Zimmermann tries to get back on track against the Crew (8p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Who do you like in the NL Central?

The Pirates, Cardinals, and Reds are all 60+ win teams and have clear paths to the playoffs. The Cardinals have the lowest floor, the Pirates are playing well, and the Reds are probably the most talented. But Cards don’t have Yadi, the Pirates are playing above their heads, and the Reds have Dusty holding them back. They’re all good teams and will likely all make it at least until the play-in game. My money is on the Cardinals, but it’s going to be fun.

The Morning Edition (August 1, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Essentially nothing happens at the trading deadline
  • The Pirates win their 4th game in 3 days against the Cardinals
  • Minor dominates as the Braves crush the Rockies
  • Three Astros pitchers I’ve literally never heard of shutout the Orioles
  • The Indians walk off on the White Sox
  • Beltre and the Rangers walk off on the Angels
  • Bailey dominates the Padres

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Sale takes on Masterson in Cleveland (12p Eastern)
  • Matt Harvey day! (1230p Eastern)
  • Someone named Zeke Spruill pitches against Darvish (7p Eastern)
  • Cain and Hamels in Philly (7p Eastern)
  • The Cardinals try to avoid a 5 game sweep in PIT (7p Eastern)
  • Felix faces the Sox (7p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Are you ready for the A-Rod coverage?

With such an incredible day of baseball behind us it is sad to realize that a ridiculous amount of coverage will be focused on the impending attempt of MLB to ban Alex Rodriguez for life. A-Rod. The Yankees. The City of New York. Steroids. I’m surprised ESPN hasn’t melted already. Let’s talk about the games, okay? The Pirates have won four straight against the Cardinals and might grab a fifth today. The Pirates are going to finish over .500 and will likely make the playoffs. Woah.

The Morning Edition (July 29, 2013)

over Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

 

From Last Night:

  • Fernandez goes 8, K’s 13, walks none to lead the Fish past Cole
  • Ross narrowly out pitches Corbin to win in AZ
  • Cingrani and Capuano pitch to a draw before Puig sends everybody home
  • Wood shuts down the Giants, who waste a nice start from Lincecum
  • Gordon’s 12th inning bomb lifts the Royals
  • The Nats unload on the Mets, win 14-1
  • Lester leads the Sox to a 5-0 win
  • Toronto walks off on Houston
  • Jeter homers in his return, Soriano leads the Yanks to victory

What I’m Watching Today:

  • David Price tries to stay hot versus the Sox (6p Eastern)
  • Weaver faces Garza (7p Eastern)
  • Beachy makes his 2013 debut (7p Eastern)
  • Jacob Turner goes against the Mets (7p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Are the BioGenesis suspensions coming today?

Reports have the suspensions coming down this week, likely all at once. We’ll see which players are actually affected, which rumors were wrong, and which players have kept their names out of the press. The impact on the pennant race will be real, but likely not substantial because a given player can only have so much impacted over 55 games. Teams will scramble to find replacements, but the impact will be unpredictable. We’ve had months of speculation that was absolutely unnecessary, now we’re actually going to see something happen. Stay tuned.

The Morning Edition (July 27, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Tribe blows a big lead, but Ryan Raburn walks off to save them in the 11th
  • Minor out pitches Wainwright in a 4-1 win for the Braves
  • Rays shell CC, move into first place
  • The Royals finally cash in on a great start for Shields, beat the Sox
  • Huge 7th inning bails out Dickey in Toronto
  • Mets dominate the Nats in game one, but waster Harvey’s gem in game two as Zimmerman walks off
  • Chatwood strikes out 11 Brewers

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Darvish faces Masterson in Cleveland (7p Eastern)
  • Chris Sale faces the Royals (7p Eastern)
  • Bumgarner welcomes the Cubs to AT&T (10p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • How do you feel about Ryan Raburn?

Raburn hit a big 3 run walk off homerun on Friday, improving his season numbers to .273/.371/.533, good for a 153 wRC+ in 186 PA. He is now the Indians second best position player with 2.0 WAR which ties his career high for an entire season. I’ve always loved Raburn because he has the biggest range of possible outcomes of any human being I’ve ever seen. It’s equally likely that he hits 3 HR in a game as it is that he falls down the dugout steps and injures Jason Kipnis. He hits huge homeruns and makes the more untimely mistakes. There’s something quite compelling about that in my book. He’s also playing above average defense and walking 11.8% of the time. This guy.

The Morning Edition (July 22, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Harvey dominates the Phils over 7 innings, allows 3 H and 10 K as Lee struggles
  • Masterson flirts with a no-hitter in a 7-1 win over the Twins
  • Giants waste a great start from Bumgarner
  • Colon drops a CGSO on the Angels
  • Wainwright’s 8 strong innings lead the Cards over the Padres
  • Felix turns in 6 solid inning as the Mariners thrash the Astros
  • Peralta and Alvarez throw gems, but it takes a Gindl walk off in the 13th to finalize the Crew and Fish
  • Kershaw throws well, Zimmermann gets rocked in Dodgers win at Nats
  • Bailey K’s 12 but the Reds fall to the Bucs
  • Rays win…again

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Darvish comes to Yankee Stadium (7p Eastern)
  • Scherzer and Sale (8p Eastern)
  • Garza showcase continues against Skaggs in AZ (930p Eastern)
  • Lincecum returns to the mound for the first time since his no-hitter (10p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Should the Rays scare you?

The answer is yes under certain conditions. First, if you cheer for the Rays, no the Rays should not scare you. Also, if you’re team is wildly out of the race, then you should just enjoy baseball and not sweat the standings. But everyone else should be worried because the Rays are dangerous. They probably won’t sustain a 17-2 pace for the rest of the season but they are putting the East on notice. On May 7th, the Rays were 14-18 and looked like they weren’t going to be able to provide their usually excellent starting pitching. Since then, they are 44-23, which is a 106 win pace. This is a good team that just had their rough stretch early, which is often a nice way to lull your opponents into a false sense of security. I picked the Rays to win the East and haven’t wavered. They are baseball’s 3rd best offense and 11th best pitching staff and have one of baseball’s best managers and easily the best GM. This is a team that should scare you. They have one of the game’s best in Longoria, an excellent super utility guy in Zobrist, the underrated Jennings, the young Myers, and the lightning in a bottle Loney. Not to mention the pitching is back. They Rays are hot and are only going to cool off a little.

The Morning Edition (July 11, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Wheeler great, Cain awful in a big Mets win
  • Another great start for Turner in Miami
  • The Angels unload on the Cubs, get a good start from Wilson
  • Lee gives up four solo homeruns in a loss to the Nationals
  • Toronto tops Cleveland after a wild 9th
  • Nova and the Yanks handle the Royals easily
  • Twins and Rays play deep into the night, Zobrist walks off

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Sale and Sanchez in Detroit (1p Eastern)
  • Zimmermann goes against the Phils (7p Eastern)
  • Bumgarner (underrated) and Marquis (overrated) face off in Petco (10p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • How should we pick the ASG starter?

There’s been some debate, as there always is regarding ASG stuff, as to who should start for each side. Harvey is the frontrunner in the NL because he is having one of the best seasons and the game is at his home park. It’s not a lock that he should start on merit, but he’s in the conversation and the hometown thing probably pushes him over. I think it’s safe to say Harvey, Wainwright, and Kershaw are the contenders, but depending on what stats you like, you can make a case that any of them are the best starter so far. But should it be about the best starter so far this season? Should it be about the best starter for the last calendar year? The biggest star? The guy who we judge to be the best, because the game does count? It’s not a clear formula. For what it’s worth, Wainwright is schedule to pitch Sunday so he’s probably out. Kershaw and Harvey are both “stop what you’re doing and watch guys” who are having elite years and are top 10 guys since the last ASG. If you’re asking for six outs, they can both get them with the best of them. Is there really a way to separate who should get the start if we don’t have a fixed definition. If Kershaw was far and away having a better season, it might be different, but they’re pretty even, so it just makes sense to go with Harvey…I think. Kershaw’s about to get $200 million. Harvey could have that in his future, but he has more work to do. Let’s go with Harvey.

A Case Study in Wins

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To bring you up to speed I’ve been laying out evidence over the last few weeks in an effort to help banish the pitcher win as a method for measuring individual performance. I’ve covered a number of topics such as:

The simple complaint with the win statistic is that it doesn’t measure individual performance but is used by people to reflect the quality of an individual. Wins are about pitchers, but they are also about run support, defense, the other team, and luck. We shouldn’t use such a blunt tool when measuring performance when we have better ones. I’ve provided a lot of evidence in the links above supporting this claim, but those have posts about the best and worst and about career long samples. Today, I’d like to offer a simple case study from 2012 to illustrated the problem with wins.

The faces I’ll put on this issue are Cliff Lee and Barry Zito, both of whom appeared on the lists above.

Let’s start with some simple numbers from their 2012 campaigns to get you up to speed. Lee threw more than 25 more inning than Zito and performed better across the board:

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Lee had a much higher strikeout rate and much lower walk rate.

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Lee had a lower ERA, FIP, and xFIP and if you prefer those numbers park and league adjusted, they tell the same story:

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If you’re someone who likes Wins Above Replacement (WAR) or Win Probability Added (WPA) it all points in Lee’s favor as well:

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By every reasonable season long statistic, Cliff Lee had a better season than Barry Zito. If you look more closely, you can see that Lee had a great year and Zito had a below average, but not terrible season. There is simply no case to be made that Barry Zito was a better pitcher than Cliff Lee during the 2012 season. None.

But I’m sure you can see where this is going. Cliff Lee’s Won-Loss record was 6-9 and Barry Zito’s was 15-8. Lee threw more innings, allowed fewer runs per 9, struck out more batters, walked fewer batters, and did just about everything a pitcher can do to prevent runs better than Barry Zito and he had a much worse won-loss record. Something is wrong with that. Let’s dig a bit deeper and consider their performances in Wins, Losses, and No Decisions.

Let’s start with something as simple as ERA. In Wins, Losses, and ND, Cliff Lee allowed fewer runs than Zito despite pitching his home games in a park that skews toward hitters and Zito in a park that skews toward pitchers:

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In fact, Lee’s ERA in Losses is almost identical to Zito’s in No Decisions. He allowed the same number of runs when he pitched “poorly” enough to lose as when Zito pitched in a “neutral” way. If we take a look at strikeout to walk ratio, it looks even more lopsided:

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Lee way outperforms Zito in the measure even if you put Lee’s “worst” starts up against Zito’s “best” ones. Let’s take a look at OPS against in these starts, and remember, Lee pitches in a hitters’ park and Zito in a pitchers’ park:

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Again we find that Lee pitches as well in Losses and Zito does in No Decisions and performs much better across the board. Not only does Lee allow fewer runs in each type of decision, he has a better K/BB rate, and a lower OPS against in pitching environments that should favor Zito.

Everything about their individual seasons indicates that Cliff Lee had a much better season than Barry Zito and when you break it down by Wins, Losses, and Decisions, it is very clear that Lee performed better in all of these types of events. Lee was unquestionably better. No doubt. But Lee was 6-9 and Zito was 15-8. Zito won more games and lost fewer.

If we look at the earned run distribution, you can clearly see that Lee was better overall, on average, and by start:

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You likely don’t need more convincing that Lee was better than Zito, in fact, you probably knew that from the start. Lee was better in every way, but Zito’s record was better. How can wins and losses be useful for measuring a player when they can be so wrong about such an obvious case?

Cliff Lee prevented runs better than Zito last season. He went deeper into games. More strikeouts, fewer walks, lower OPS against in a tougher park. He was better than Zito in Wins, Losses, and ND and often better in Losses than Zito was in ND. How can this be? It’s very simple. Wins and Losses aren’t just about the quality of the pitcher, not by a long shot. Even ignoring potential differences in defensive quality (Giants were slightly better) and assuming pitchers can control every aspect of run prevention it still isn’t enough. Lee was better and had a worse record. What good is a pitching statistic if it is this dependent on your offense? It isn’t any good.

Here friends, are their run support per 9 numbers. This should tell you the whole story:

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The Giants got Zito 6 runs a game on average and the Phillies got Lee 3.2. It didn’t matter that Lee way out pitched Zito, he still had no shot to win as many games because the Giants scored runs for Zito and the Phillies didn’t score for Lee. The Giants during the entire season scored 4.4 runs per game. The Phillies scored 4.2. This isn’t as easy as saying that pitchers on better teams win more often. Lee’s team scored much less for him on average and the Giants scored much more for Zito on average.

You can’t just say that a pitcher with a great offense will win more often, it comes down to the precise moments in which they score. How can that possibly have anything to do with the pitchers this statistic hopes to measure? It can’t.

If my global evidence about the subjectivity and uselessness of wins didn’t get you, I hope that this has. There is no justification for using wins to measure pitchers when something like this can happen. Lee was much better than Zito in every way, but if you’re using wins and losses, you wouldn’t know it.

And, just in case you were wondering, Lee was a better hitter too.

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The Morning Edition (July 10, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Hamels twirls a gem against the Nats
  • CC goes the distance, but Shields and the Royals hold off the Yanks
  • Josh Johnson has a good day, but the Tribe shut out his Jays
  • Machado homers, but the Rangers beat the O’s 8-4

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Jacob Turner takes the hill (1230p Eastern)
  • Wheeler and Cain (330p Eastern)
  • Gio and Lee from the left side (7p Eastern)
  • Miller faces the Astros, strikeout warning in effect (8p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • How much should we care about pitcher-hitting?

Dave Cameron threw out some tweets today regarding the (false) perception that the Pirates can’t hit citing that they are 11th in MLB in non-pitcher wRC+. However, their pitchers are comically and historically bad, as Jeff Sullivan noted earlier this year. So while the Pirates non-pitchers are almost in the top 3rd in wRC+, they fall off a bit when you add in their pitchers and are in the bottom third in runs scored. PNC is a pitchers park, but not in an extreme way. All told, it got me thinking. We don’t really think of pitchers as part of the offense, but they get 2-3 PA a game and can have a meaningful impact on the outcome of a game. I think it might be time to either add the DH to the NL or start seriously considering how much a team can benefit from pitchers who are good at hitting. We tend to brush it off, but might their be something to paying attention to how well a pitcher can hit? I don’t know, but it got me thinking.

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