Tuesday, August 16, 2005
More Twins Thoughts
Twins Minor League Report
What are the Odds??
Good morning everyone! I'm back to "normal" blogging.
Well, to answer the title's question, here are the odds after every play of last night's Twins/White Sox game. Around Opening Day, Stick and Ball Guy sent me a link to a very interesting website called the Win Expectancy Finder. (Win expectancy data stolen outright from Phil Birnbaum's site, which was derived from Retrosheet game data of every major league game from 1979-1990.) Basically, they looked at every box score from every game for that 12 year period, and figured out each situation. Home Team Batting, Bottom of the 3rd with a one run lead, One Out, Runners on First and Third. What are the odds that the Home Team will win that game? Well, based on every single time that situation presented itself during that time frame, it is safe to say that the Home Team won 308 out of 397 games, or 77.6%, where that situation occurred. Probability is fun to work with, particularly in baseball. For instance, a guy may come into an at bat against a pitcher he is 1-47 against in his career. There may be runners on 2nd and 3rd and two outs, and that same hitter is 0-52 in his career in that situation. But on any given night, said batter could get a two-run single off of the pitcher to win a ball game. That is what makes the game so interesting.
Anyway, what I did is tracked each play throughout the entire game last night. As you can see, when the game started and Shannon Stewart stepped in the box, the Twins had a 48.4% chance of winning the game. When Jose Contreras struck Stewart out, the Twins odds of winning dropped to 43.6%
And so on. Every batter came up in a unique situation. It was also interesting that when Nick Punto stole second base, it changed the situation from runner on 1st with X outs, to runner on 2nd with X outs.
Of course, each time the Twins scored, their odds of winning greatly increased. And finally, when Joe Nathan got Geoff Blum to fly out to left and end the game, nothing could happen or change. There was a 100% chance that the Twins would win!
But what else happened throughout the game that was interesting?
Carl Everett walked to put runners on first and second for the Sox in the bottom of the first. With just one out and Paul Konerko batting with two strikes, Ozzie Guillen decided to put the runners in motion. It backfired as Konerko popped to 1st base for a double play to end the inning, and you can see that graphically around the number seven. The White Sox hurt their chances of winning on that one play by 11.9%.
According to this, the White Sox best chance of winning the game came after Geoff Blum had a leadoff double in the 3rd inning. But as you can see, Kyle Lohse got the next three batters out in a row, without Blum so much as advancing to third (so much for little ball, right?).
That brought us to the top of the 4th. When Punto singled to lead off the inning, the Twins odds jumped to 52.5% When he stole second base, it jumped to 57.8% And a Mauer walk put it just under 60% When Justin Morneau hit into a fielder's choice to create a 1st and 3rd, one out situation, the Twins odds were at 59.5% Next, Matthew LeCroy walked, which actually decreased the Twins odds of winning to 57.7% I suppose the theory behind that is that with the bases loaded, the odds of an inning-ending double play increase?
And then came the statistically and actual play of the game. With Lew Ford at the plate, he drilled a two run single down the left field line that left runners still at 1st and 2nd. The Twins went from 57.7% chances to 76.5% chance of winning. That's an 18.8% change!
Next Michael Ryan singled to right to re-load the bases and increase the Twins odds to 83.3% Of course, that doesn't factor in that any runner other than Matthew LeCroy would have scored from 2nd!
Michael Cuddyer struck out to make two outs and the bases still loaded. That dropped the Twins odds. However, Brent Abernathy came up big with his two out, two run single to right field. That increased the Twins odds to 92.3% and gave them a 4-0 lead.
However, it was only the top of the fourth, and the White Sox still had six innings with which to get to Kyle Lohse. As you can see graphically, Lohse definitely struggled at times, putting men on base, but wiggling out of trouble. For instance, in the top of the 5th, Carl Everett led off the inning with a single. Paul Konerko came up and drilled a line drive to left. Shannon Stewart leapt at the fence to make a catch. Not sure it would have been a home run, but if it had, it would have decreased the lead to 4-2. Also, the statistical likelihood of a Twins win would have dropped to 68.4%. Instead, it remained at nearly 85%
Also, with one out in the fifth, Geoff Blum and Joe Crede had back to back singles. Crede's single gave the Sox a 10% better chance to win. When Timo Perez grounded out to 1st to put runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs, that gave 10% back to the Twins. But, Juan Uribe came through with a two out single to score Blum. However, Lew Ford made a perfect, one-hop through to Mauer who tagged out Crede for the inning's third out. Had Crede been safe, the Twins odds of winning would have dropped to 74% (probably even better considering Carl Everett was due up). Instead, they went to the next inning with an 85% chance of winning, and a three run lead.
In the 6th inning, Everett and Konerko each singled to start the inning. On Konerko's single, Everett got to third on a close play, but Konerko was thrown out trying to advance to second. The two consecutive drops you see next were first, when AJ Pierzynski was hit and second, when Aaron Rowand hit a sacrifice fly to CF off of newly entered Jesse Crain to cut the lead to 4-2. However, Crain got Jermaine Dye to fly out to end the inning.
In the 7th, Crain gave up a one-out baserunner, but you can see the 10% increased chances of winning show up immediately as Timo Perez grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. In the 8th, Juan Rincon came in and gave up a leadoff hit. But you can see how meaningful each of his three strikeouts were after that. Once Joe Nathan came into the game, it was pretty much lights out.
Top Plays of the Game:
1.) Lew Ford's two run single in the 4th (18.8%)
2.) Brent Abernathy's two runs single in the 4th (15.3%)
3.) Aaron Rowand's fly out to centerfield to end the 6th (15.2%)
4.) Paul Konerko's pop-up double-play to first in the 1st inning (11.9%)
5.) Timo Perez's double play to end the 7th inning (10.3%)
Top Twins Players of the Game:
1.) Lew Ford - +17.0%
2.) Brent Abernathy - +15.1%
3.) Joe Mauer - +5.7%
4.) Michael Ryan - +2.8%
Bottom Twins Players of the Game:
1.) Shannon Stewart - -13.7%
2.) Michael Cuddyer - -6.8%
3.) Justin Morneau - -4.8%
4.) Matthew LeCroy - -4.7%
Finally, it is interesting to follow the performance of Nick Punto in relation to his affect on the Twins odds of winning:
First At Bat - Line Out to 3B -1.5%
Second At Bat - Single - +4.7%
Steals 2B - +5.3%
Third At Bat - Single - -1.3%
Steals 2B - -3.2%
Fourth At Bat - 2 out single - -0.8%
Steals 3B - -0.5%
Fifth At Bat - Line Out - -0.4%
I just think that it is interesting that in two of his singles, it produced situations in which the Twins had a lesser chance of winning than while he was batting. It is also interesting that in two of his stolen bases, despite advancing a base, it also produced a situation in which history says his team has a lesser chance of winning. That is what makes statistics so interesting, and that is part of why all statistics must be taken with a grain of salt. They are history. They are a helpful predictor of the future. They do not tell you what will happen in the present.
UPDATE - I just checked out Will Young's Twins site this morning and see that he did the same thing as the game went on. Be sure to check out his site for his game thoughts!
I have marveled at this tool, the Win Expectancy Finder, all season, and last night was the first time I tried it out to see how it would look in an actual game. It is incredibly interesting, I think, and really highlights some plays in a game that sometimes may be completely overlooked, and makes them get the attention they deserve.
What do you think? If you have any thoughts, please e-mail me.
MORE TWINS THOUGHTS
Here are just some random thoughts from the Twins/White Sox game last night.
Jacque Jones is still not in the lineup because of his oblique injury. Hopefully he can get back soon because it has been almost a week since he has played, and if he is going to be out another week, well, that's almost the 15 days that the Disabled List would require. Clay Matvick announced the Jones will not play this entire series, but should be ready for their game at home against Seattle on Thursday.
I understand and appreciate the fact that Ron Gardenhire, like Tom Kelly before him, liked to get call ups into a game right away. Last night, Brent Abernathy was in the starting lineup at 2B. I have no problem with that. However, it meant that Nick Punto started at SS, and not Jason Bartlett. Unless Bartlett is still sick, I would be completely against this decision. When Jason Bartlett was brought up a few weeks ago, Gardy said that he would be the starter. Now that Juan Castro is on the Disabled List, there is no reason that Bartlett should not start. If Nick Punto were actually producing anything, it would be at least understandable. (Seth's Post-Game thoughts - Well, it certainly worked for this game. It probably means that Gardy will continue to play these two while Bartlett rots on the bench!)
In the early innings, I noticed that Jose Contreras is working much faster. Sure, his actual delivery is still very slow, but that was never the problem. The last time Contreras pitched against the Twins, I commented on how much time he took between pitches. I thought that it was bad for his fielders who couldn't help but get bored behind him. Now, he catches the ball, gets the sign, and starts his delivery.
All the talk about the White Sox being a Small Ball, or Smart Ball team, was really greatly over-preached and there really was nothing to it. Sure, they traded away Carlos Lee (who is still doing great, as he had with the Sox) for Scott Podsednik (who is on the Disabled List, but leads baseball in stolen bases). Sure, Frank Thomas missed much of the season with an injury, and now it sounds like he may never play again. However, they still have plenty of home run power in their lineup. Where GM Kenny Williams deserves credit (and yes, I will give him some credit!) is realizing that the team had not one with all that power and decided to do something a little different. The Sox can still win games with power, but they now also can win games with speed. It is a good combination to have, no matter what you hear. Really, small ball is the anti-Moneyball philosophy, and I don't think that the White Sox are really a small ball team in any way, other than Podsednik.
In the top of the 8th, with Michael Cuddyer on 2B and nobody out, Luis Rodriguez was asked to bunt. Some may not like the bunt, but the situation certainly called for it. My only argument is that Luis Rodriguez was batting, left-handed, and he could have pulled a ball to the right side to advance Cuddyer to 3B for Shannon Stewart to drive in. So, I will not argue the bunt at all. I actually was rather frustrated with L-Rod in this case. He took the first two pitches, one for a ball, the second for a strike. He looked as though he was looking to drag bunt the ball. Not a problem as maybe he was just taking a strike first, or seeing how the fielder's were going to move or rotate. However, he also tried to drag the one-strike pitch and fouled it off. When the situation is like that, simply square away and get a bunt down to advance the runner. The infielders are in and looking for the bunt, so the drag bunt will not get you a hit. Just get the job done. You have to assume that Gardy got all over L-Rod after that, and maybe he won't play now for a week or so... not that that is unusual!
The White Sox claim to play "Smart Ball." The A's and legions of bloggers and SABRmetricians adhere to the Moneyball philosophies. Such philosophies are all well and good. But, I am of the opinion, and certainly am not the only one, that believes that what really has made these teams successful is strong pitching. The A's of the past few years had Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. Rich Harden came onto the scene the past couple of seasons. The emergence of Dan Haren and Kirk Saarloos really has helped them in the last two-plus months of this season. Likewise, the White Sox are winning because of their pitching. Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland are having Cy Young caliber seasons. Freddy Garcia has been great as well. Jose Contreras has had more ups than downs. El Duque, Orlando Hernandez, has also been very solid when he has been healthy. But also, the White Sox bullpen has been great. Cliff Politte has been as good as any middle reliever in the game. Damaso Marte has been solid again from the left-side. And Dustin Hermanson took over the closer's role for Shingo Takatsu (who they have since released) and done great. Pitching is what wins. That is why the Twins and their fans should not feel so bad about their team right now. Their team ERA going into the game last night was just 0.04 higher than that of the White Sox. That is no surprise to anyone, I'm sure, as the offense has been the Twins obvious downfall. But it is comforting to know that Johan Santana, Brad Radke and Carlos Silva will be back in the rotation in 2006. Joe Mays, and possibly Kyle Lohse, will be replaced by Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano, making the rotation even stronger. Joe Nathan, Juan Rincon, Jesse Crain, and Matt Guerrier should all be back in the bullpen next year. Terry Mulholland and (hopefully) JC Romero will be replaced next year by the likes of Grant Balfour, Travis Bowyer, Willie Eyre, Jason Miller or others who can't be any worse.
Juan Rincon came in for the bottom of the 8th. He gave up an infield single to Juan Uribe. But then Carl Everett swung and missed at three straight pitches to strike out. I think he turned to Joe Mauer and asked, "What was that?" to which Mauer responded in fine Minnesota fashion, "Straight Gas, Homey!" (he really didn't. That was supposed to be a funny play off of Randy Moss's "Straight Cash, Homey" outburst last year.) Rincon then struck out Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski in complete dominant fashion.
Joe Nathan then dominated a perfect ninth inning, hitting 97 mph frequently for his 30th Save. Kyle Lohse pitched well again despite a large number of base runners to improve to 8-11 and drop his ERA to 4.17.
Here are the remaining pitching matchups:
Tuesday - 7:05 p.m. - Brad Radke (7-10, 3.71, 1.16, .271) vs Freddy Garcia (11-5, 3.64, 1.26, .259)
Wednesday - 7:05 p.m. - Johan Santana (11-6, 3.48, 1.04, .226) vs Mark Buehrle (13-5, 2.99, 1.17, .259)
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins, the Angels, the Orioles or anything baseball. Feel free to e-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Tuesday - Game 1 - RED WINGS 7, Pawtucket 8 - It wasn't a good night for a couple of the Twins biggest pitching prospects. Francisco Liriano gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk in just four innings. His first sub par AAA start. The Red Wings came back to tie the game at six and send the game to the eight inning, but Travis Bowyer came in and gave up two runs in the 8th, the big shot being a 2-run homer off the bat of Dave Berg. The Wings scored one in the bottom half, but it wasn't enough. Luis Rivas was 3-4 with a double and two RBI. Garrett Jones went 2-4 with his 19th double and 21st home run. Rob Bowen went 2-2 with a walk and two doubles. Josh Rabe was 2-3 with a walk. In between Liriano and Bowyer, Beau Kemp allowed three runs in just 1.2 innings.
Tuesday - RED WINGS 10, Pawtucket 9 - In Game 2, the Red Wings scored four seventh inning runs to take the 10-9 win. The biggest hit of the inning was a three run homer by Kevin West, his 16th. Josh Rabe hit his 9th. Jason Tyner had two hits. Nick Blackburn started for Rochester and it didn't go well. The first batter was Dustin Pedroia, and he hit a solo homer. That was followed b back-to-back doubles by Mark Bellhorn and Dave Berg. Adam Hyzdu got out, but drove in a run. Then Kelly Shoppach doubled, George Lombard tripled, and Luis Figueroa singled him in. It was 5-0 before a deep breath could be taken. Blackburn pitched through the third inning, in which he gave up three more runs, but all were unearned. JD Durbin gave up three hits and two walks in 2.2 innings. Ricky Barrett picked up the win by throwing the final 1.1 innings.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Tuesday - ROCKCATS - No Game Scheduled.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Tuesday - MIRACLE - No Game Scheduled.
Tuesday - SNAPPERS 2, Quad Cities 3 - Eduardo Morlan gave up just two runs on five hits and two walks in seven innings last night but still took the loss. David Winfree led the offense with a 2-4 day.
Tuesday - E-Twins - No Game Scheduled.
GULF COAST TWINS
Tuesday - GCL Twins 5, GCL Red Sox 3 -
On that note, I am going to call it a day! I hope everyone has a good one! As always, please feel free to e-mail me your thoughts on the Twins, the minor leagues, or anything you would like to discuss.
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