Statistical sampling and the nature of the game of baseball are two concepts that make this sport frustrating to follow. There are so many variables that account for teams playing either above or below expected levels.
Dramatic scenes such as the Rockies come back from the dead last year is an exhilarating, rip-roaing good time. On the flip side, under performance is a difficult, distressing, process. Like a crash on a crank binge, we’re feeling the downside right now and it is not much fun.
We know the Padres are a better team than the way they’re producing. Nobody predicted 95 wins, but a last place team this is not
Phantom over at Gaslamp Ball takes a closer look at the pitching we’ve faced, and the parks in which we’ve played.
First off, he averaged the ERA+ of starters each NL west team drew so far. However, if we want to determine the ability of pitchers faced without involving our own play, this may not be the best idea. If a pitcher we’ve faced more often has a high ERA+ this early in the season, it could easily be due to our own crapulence rather than the ability of the pitcher.
That said, he gives us the names of pitchers we’ve faced twice, and we know based on their history they’re good players. This left us at a disadvantage.
Phantom’s second subject, analyzing the park effects of our games, is an important consideration when looking at raw numbers. Our boys in blue sport a .234 / .302 / .336 line so far this season, which looks bleak compared to .251 / .322 / .411 last year. I’ll use my own method in this analysis, and take the easy route with OPS+which adjusts for ballparks for me.*
Last year’s Padres OPS+ was 101, reflecting poorly on those who think the team’s offense was below average. This year’s club sports an OPS+ of 79 which reflects poorly on the offense itself.
What about Runs?
Baseball Prospectus uses a modified version of the Pythagorian run equation (dubbed Pythagenport) to a team’s expected wins. This is a method of removing luck when judging wins and losses.
|Team||W||L||AE Runs||AE Runs Allowed|
They take the number of runs scored versus runs allowed, and adjust it according to variances in the teams’ batting line. Then they adjust to the quality of the hitting and pitching abilities of opponents played to determine “adjusted equivalent runs scored” and “adjusted equivalent runs allowed” (AEqR and AEqRA) .* Their calculations suggest we have played slightly unlucky in these regards, but not of enough significance to much yowsers in my trousers.
*By the way, those asterisks are there because data like park factors and opposing team adjustments need more innings before they can be relied on. That’s a good thing though, it gives our boys more opportunity to bounce back.
Matt and Mud were wondering on the air today about a batter’s propensity to foul pitches off on full counts. Baseball-Reference PI can calculate by player, unfortunately I don’t know how to do it inclusively. Individually, the contact percentage in my informal study seems to vary wildly by player and batting count.
I’ll take this opportunity to ignore their question and talk about something I find more important: expected outcome by count. Tango has some work on the subject.
Expected outcome at 3-2 count:
Think of wOBA as something like OPS, an all inclusive type stat but set to the scale as OBP. So .340 would be about average, etc.
The predicted outcome of wOBA and OBP on a 3-2 count makes sense inherently. A batter won’t be as productive overall with fewer than three balls, and will be more productive with 3 balls and fewer strikes.
What strikes me as odd, is the slugging drop off on a 3-2 count compared to 2-1, or even a 1-0 count. You’ll have to click over to Tango’s site to see the entire table.
My thinking is that hitters are so asked to attempt to make any kind of contact (protect the plate) with two strikes. This means they’re more likely to just toss the bat in front of the pitch, even with 3 balls and a walk imminent. Hitters face a seemingly irrational scorn for looking at strike three, which appears especially strange on full counts. This may correlate with Matt and Mud’s theory of more foul balls on counts that are full.
One note from Tom Tippett: be careful to differentiate between the “through” count data with the “at” count data. The advantages to hitter friendly counts and disadvantages to pitcher friendly counts are skewed all funky like unless you look at the “through” count data. Otherwise the context and meaning of the rest of the at bat is lost.
Tough loss today for the Padres. On the plus side, Brian Giles is off to a fantastic start.
12:45am: The Rockies just recorded the final out of the Padres’ turn in the 20th, and I decide it’s necessary to completely ruin whatever online reputation I have left. I will live blog my thoughts as they happen, mostly unedited. Hopefully my rambling will make as much since in the morning as they do now.
12:50am: I can’t believe how many innings the Rockies have started with 0 or 1 outs and guys on. The Rockies just ducksnorted one, Matt Vasgersian’s term, and mine, into shallow center just beyond diving Iguchi’s glove.
12:55am: Right after P-Mac’s base running blunder in the bottom of the 13th, I began planning my post about Bud Black’s base running strategms to write about after the game. Well, this little extra innings contest put a wrench in those plans, so I’ll slyly work that in here.
To lead off the 13th, Paul McAnulty smoked a double off Matt Herges. While rounding second, you can see him glance up toward third base coach Glen Hoffman for instructions, double take, then pick up his pace to try and stretch the double into a triple. Of course, with the ball in his hand Garrett Atkins had time to eat a sandwich before tagging P-Mac out at third. When Paul got up, his eyes were fixated on Hoffman, and gave the coach a bitter looking glare before walking back to the dugout. It seems McAnulty was sent by Hoffman, probably with Black’s aggressive baserunning strategy in mind.
This gets me thinking of a couple earlier plays from this year, which also seemed strange at the time but might corroborate my theory. The biggest was Iguchi tagging for second against the arm of Michael Bourn and getting thrown out by a few feet.
Going for just one extra bag on a hit just doesn’t seem worth it. Especially in the freaking 13th when base runners and outs are so valuable.
1:03am: Padres history! We’re in the 22nd Inning, the longest ever! Experience it!
1:05am: This is fun. I kind of want this to keep going, now that we’re here, even if the Padres don’t win. The novelty will be worth it. Go big or go home as far as I’m concerned, we’re not getting these 6 hours back anyway. Scanlan and Weisbarth have been entertaining us on the set of the postgame show. We’ve watched the guys check myspace, sleep on their desk, now they’re playing quarters.
Man of steel Clint Hurdle is giggling to himself. Now I’ve seen everything.
Maddux is still wearing his glove.
1:09am: I feel like such a rebel. MLB’s new media rules disallow updating a blog more than once every inning. Please don’t anyone tell padres executive Chris Long what I’m doing. He seems like a pretty cool guy and I don’t want to piss him off. You can tell the other executives though, I’m not afraid of those guys.
Damn, Taveras scores off a double by Tulo. I’m not sure if it’s losing the game or losing the novelty I’m most concerned with. Two errors allowed Taveras on base, then advanced him to third.
1:14am: I hope this post goes down in history with this Padres game. I deserve it. Greeney just plunked by Kip Wells with no outs. Lets keep this thing going. I want to see some sleepwalking.
1:17am: Bard hits into a dp. This dosen’t look good.
On a related (not at all) note, why are fans still sitting in the outfield? You could get away with watching from the bullpen at this point in the game.
1:19am: McAnulty walks with two outs. The entire game rests on the bat, yes you read that right, the bat, of Glendon Rusch.
I love watching releivers bat. They’re so cute and akward, falling all over themselves. This game’s been wonderful in terms of reliever at bats.
1:22am: And Rusch strikes out looking in the bottom of the 22nd. I hope you all enjoyed this little experiment into my subconscious. I enjoyed writing it, and I enjoyed the principal of breaking an MLB rule while doing so. Cheers.
PS: Leave a comment!
update: Joe Sheehan from Baseball Prospectus has a comment:
…with a runner on second and no one out, you have a 62.5% chance of scoring one run. With a runner on third and no one out, you have an 82.7% chance of scoring one run. With one out and no one on, you have a 16.5% chance of scoring one run.
Was in attendance for the Padres-Rockies contest on Tuesday the 15th. The 6 run 6th for the Padres was an absolute blast thanks to doubles from Brian Giles, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Hollywood Jim Edmonds. Though by far the most exhilarating play of the 6th inning was a walk from Khalil Greene. You read that right. No? Fine, look it up. It really happened.
edit (4/16): Far be it from me to admit being wrong about anything, but the guys at the ‘Snorts point out Khalil walked not once but twice that inning. I figure that this much discipline from Khalil is so rare it warrants an admission. Enjoy.
Not to mention the little no hitter our boy Randall Christopher Wolf took for 6 and 2/3rds. It didn’t start until the 7th inning, but nervousness took over and my body was shaking watching the game. It’s hard to imagine what Randall was going through on the mound.
I have now attended a couple near historic games at Petco. Besides the Wolf almost no hitter, I also saw Mikey C’s near cycle, only to be denied the opportunity to finish it out due to his own awesomeness. My dad mentioned witnessing a cycle hit by the Tigers’ Travis Fryman in ’93.
But to the matter at hand. Matt Holliday was booed loudly by the crowd of ~23,000 before and during each plate appearance. I doubt the stadium harbored any deep resentment towards the guy, rather I’d like to think it was more of a fun boo than anything else.
We sat in left and witnessed a group growing both in numbers and obnoxiousness as the game progressed. The chanting seen above went on like that for innings. They got their haggle on too. It was a wonderful scene.
And I still have that stupid “guess the moving hat hiding the ball” music stuck in my head.
Welp, opening day has come and gone. Lots of teams are experimenting with the look of yesteryear. Not just once a year, but as alternates usually worn at home one day a week.
Speaking of throwback days, I think we’re ready as fans to take them up a notch. There should be beer for a nickel, use of the word “consarnit”, and a traveling freak show in the parking lot that charges two pence a gander.
4. “Classic” Indians look
Who doesn’t remember watching Indian teams of old ablazoned in these garbs? You? Me? Well, both, since they’re designed to look old but were never actually donned by the team. I wonder why they didn’t pick something the team actually wore?
3. Phillies bring classic up a notch
It’s official, the Phillies can’t get any classicer. The Phillies are the epitome of consistency with their look. They have no need to invent any crazy new schemes. No rainbow gradients, no sweater vests, no glitter. Just history, baby. And they look gorgeous.
2. Royals go powder blue
The Royals originally rocked these beauties from 1973 to 1992. These are the kind of cult classic jerseys Padres fans are familiar with. Ugly, but they’re our ugly. Check out Brian “Jose Mesa” Bannister with the matching blue fisher price glove. Someone has to explain that one to me.
1. Jays take blue all the way home
This isn’t your mother’s powder blue. Ok, I take that back. This IS your mother’s powder blue, since the Jays decided to take powder blue to the max. The fantastic campy wordmark and number font, plus the sweet pinwheel hat complete the look. Ultra Sacrificial Bonus Points™ for going with pullovers too.
The blue look in baseball dates back as early as 1941, by the Chicago Cubs believe it or not. The venerable Paul Lucas of the uniwatch blog elaborates on the bluistory for ESPN page 2.
It’s in the air. I can feel it. They’re coming. 2009. In fact, I propose we connect the dots on this one and wear a jersey from a different era every day of the week.
Here’s a fun little breakdown of the Baseball Prospectus’ 2008 PECOTA projections for two outfielders, chosen completely at random.
While we do have a couple months to make this decision, Headley’s gonna be ready to roll and he deserves a spot. Hairston hasn’t seen a full opportunity since 2004, and I think he will beat the alternative.
LeBlanc’s Changeup(s) In Fine Form (Baseball America)
Baseball America has an nice little writeup on Wade LeBlanc’s strategy on the mound. Sacramento Rivercats manager Todd Steverson entertains us:
“It was a little tough solving (LeBlanc’s) riddle. He seemed he had three or four different changeups he was throwing up there.”
Apparently, LeBlanc has two changeups but uses variations to change the speed and break. This creates the appearance of having an arsenal of changeups at his disposal. To go with his four seamer, curve, and change, the lefty is also working on a sinker to throw in the mix.
Freddy Guzman clears wavers (Mlive.com)
Former Padres 2004 season “savior” Fredford Guzman sent to AA Erie.
Kind of old news I know, there’s no need to rub it in.
Picking The Under – Josh Bard (Baseball Prospectus)
Nate Silver is “moderately skeptical” about Bard, citing his low power numbers as a threat to his OBP. Bard’s 28.6% line drive percentage so far this year should put a stop to that kind of attitude.
Does Trevor Hoffman struggle in non-save situations? (Hardball Times via Geoff Young)
Geoff Young is in your head, dispelling your myths. Nomaam over at the SOSD Padres forum thinks Trevor’s performance in tie games is worth a look, though the sample size issue here is even more extreme. In any case, he doesn’t see a difference in performance, though ERA and WHIP would make better indicators than wins and losses.
Deadspin has photos of some brown substance on on Jake’s middle and ring fingers, and possibly his thumb.
I tell myself I’ll never be one of those hometown homers who allows his defense mechanisms to continue telling himself what he wants to hear.
Part of me thinks it’s dirt. Honestly. I’m having trouble deciding how much of that is just my desire for it to be true. My heart wants to see dirt so badly, and the heart can take over the brain when it wants to.
The brain in me thinks we very well could be seeing pine tar. Why else would only three of his five fingers be covered in dirt? Positive steroid tests are blamed on a tainted dietary supplement, and pine tar is played off as dirt. That’s the system.
Which brings me to my biggest disappointment: the response.
“I laughed, to be honest with you. Anybody that wants to check me, feel free. There’s nothing on my hands that’s not supposed to be. I thought it was funny that it was such a big deal. I’ve got no problems with anytime anybody needs to check me.
Dude. Jake. Dude. You’re laughing at this? I don’t care if it is harmless dirt, or A-Rod swatting a ball out of Arroyo’s glove. After all this sport has gone through, cheating is not a fucking laughing matter.
Hearing that from Jake has brought me out of my attempt at rational analysis of my own analysis to the point of insane radio call-in ranting. Ok, I take that back. Not that far. Maybe Union Tribune article comment idiocy. That’s still pretty low.
This is a serious issue. Attempting to play it off this way rubs me painfully in crazy places. It makes Jake sound the opposite of innocent. Even if it was just dirt.
I did it. Well, I almost did it. I almost fell victim to the small sample size offenders brigade. And usually I find myself in the small sample size reminders battalion. It was a strange turn of events. Eventually I came to the startling conclusion that a sample size of 4 is rarely a good rationale on which to hedge a bet.
It sure is easy to do though. I mean, I fell into the trap, so what does that say. Take the 2007 MLB saves leader, Jose Valverde for instance. He blew 7 saves to the 47 he nailed down last year, performing magnificently. Now raise your hand if you expect our favorite living legend to compete with a 27 year old in his prime. And Trevor has 6 left.
A reduced role for Hoffy, and a better sample size is what we need fix this situation. Ray and I expect The Hoff’s performance to hover around average to slightly below average on the year. Not great, but definitely not worth asking the man who took less to stay in San Diego to hang em up. Friar Forecast looks at Pitch f/x, and determines his velocity is where it’s been in the past. 35-40 saves sounds about right, and folks, he’s still on track for them.
There’s more good news. The benefit of an aging living legend as a closer compliments the inefficiency of the position perfectly. The team keeps the best relievers–Heath Bell and Claiborne Meredith, for high leverage situations when they’re needed most. This way our boy Trevor enjoys the glory of being a closer role, without getting in the way when an out is most important.
I don’t expect the Trevor of old, but lets be real: a couple times last night he was inches from the third out. That isn’t anything a few more outings can’t fix.
The Exciting Conclusion
In case you missed it, Wade LeBlanc made a late inning run to edge out Kyle Blanks in our fourth best prospect poll. I know I was on the edge of my seat. Though that may be because I was on my way home to cry since I like Blanks.
If you want to buy me a slurpee or vote some hot Blanks action, the poll is still open, and I like blue raspberry. Well, anything but the Coke flavor. Honestly, the Coke machine is right next to the slurpee machine. If I wanted a Coke I’d buy the kind that doesn’t get stuck in my straw.
So don’t forget to vote in the new poll. Vote for Wade LeBlanc there too, just for spite.
The comments section now features snazzy-pants avatars. Technically gravatars, but I’ll forgive you. Gravatar means “globally recognized avatar”, so you won’t have to set up an account at every damn blog you comment to get the cool picture by your name. Once you have a gravatar account, anytime you use an e-mail address at a participating blog your avatar will show up. That’s it for now.