Tejada’s stats by batting order position show some patterns. As an eighth-position hitter, Tejada has 198 plate appearances, 34 hits, 2 home runs, 32 walks, and 31 strikeouts, for a .213/.354/.288 line. In other order positions, he has 128 plate appearances, 27 hits, 0 homers, 14 walks, and 30 strikeouts, giving him a .245/.320/.275 line. Let’s assume, for the moment, that that .320 OBP line is Ruben’s true mark. That means his mark at the 8th inning should be, with 95% probability, somwhere in the range of .320 +/- .066, or somewhere between .254 and .388. Obviously, .354 is in that range. In fact, the .034 difference is about 1 standard error out, meaning there’s about a 70% chance of achieving that mark by chance alone.

In other words, it looks like there’s a statistically significant effect for Ruben batting in the 8th position. If we remove Ruben’s 9 intentional walks received in the 8th position and replace them with 2 hits and 7 outs, we’re left with a truly terrible .297 OBP, which is surprisingly even worse than his OBP while batting elsewhere, and one within one standard deviation of his .320 mark. That is, of course, a worst case scenario, assuming he wouldn’t walk at all in those 9 appearances. If he walked 3 out of 9 times, as his other stats would indicate, that would put him at a still not great .313 OBP.

Filed under: Baseball Tagged: OBP, Ruben Tejada ]]>

The first is to look at the bare number of extra-innings losses. The Miami Marlins, with an extra-innings record of 6-9, hold that honor. That gives them an extra-innings win-loss percentage of .400, which isn’t great, but it’s well within the realm of chance. In fact, if extra-innings games really are a statistical crapshoot, then margin of error for 15 games is about .130.

There are a few teams that do worse in extra innings than Miami, assuming you ignore the number of games played. Both the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays are 1-3 in extras for a win-loss of .250, and the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers aren’t much better with records of 3-8 and attendant win percentages of .273. Those are still within the margin of error for such a small sample size. In fact, almost no teams are statistically better than chance in extra innings – only the Orioles, with a .786 win-loss mark in 14 games, are statistically outside the margin of error.

There are a few teams that are much worse than even their scores would lead us to expect. These are teams with really lousy pythagorean luck – that is, their runs allowed and runs scored predict they’d have a much better record than expected.

The unluckiest team so far has been the Chicago White Sox, with a Pythagorean expectation in extra-innings games of .450 and an actual win percentage of .286, for a mark of -.164. Texas and Toronto each come in at .159 and .156, respectively, with the Dodgers, the Nationals, the Reds, the Mariners, and the Cubs all coming in at -.100 or worse. The Giants are the luckiest team, with a luck number of .222.

What reader questions would you like me to address? Use the form below to make a request!

[contact-form]Filed under: Baseball Tagged: extra innings, free baseball, reader questions ]]>

The Mets have a perfectly cromulent rotation – Jonathan Niese, Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler, and Jacob deGrom are currently in the rotation, and Daisuke Matsuzaka, Dana Eveland, and Carlos Torres each have the capability to function as a swing starter – and a bullpen that is slowly becoming more reliable. Though the Mets are allowing a below-average 3.8 runs per game, they’re also scoring a below-average 3.9, indicating that the highest marginal benefit is probably to disassemble Colon for a bat or two.

Trading Colon would leave a hole in the starting rotation that could be filled with one of the bullpen arms; Eveland and Josh Edgin are both operating as lefty bullpen arms, so Eveland might be the more reasonable choice. In the alternative, a AAA starter, rather than a bullpen pitcher, might be promoted. In either case, that leaves a net zero change in the balance between bats and arms. With Wilmer Flores up from Vegas, we can avoid the unfortunate situation of Eric Campbell playing shortstop again. Wilmer may also be able to help by keeping Campbell out of defensive-replacement scenarios, allowing him to focus on pinch hitting. Alternatively, grabbing a low-budget DH player to function as a professional pinch hitter would also be an option, and allow Flores to continue to develop in Las Vegas.

Essentially, the team needs to start supporting its pitchers more consistently. Dropping Colon would eliminate some variance in run support and open up the possibility of using the extra budget room to develop more run support.

Filed under: Baseball Tagged: Bartolo Colon, Mets ]]>

Filed under: Baseball Tagged: Mets, Tales of Interest ]]>

Interestingly, Travis Wood is another pitcher who has twice this year had at least as many RBIs as the margin of victory for his team – once in April, once in May, and once in June – although in one case the save was blown. Dan Haren and Edinson Volquez each have two games as well, although Volquez only nabbed one win. A handful of other pitchers have at least one RBI in one-run games as well.

So, Madison, mea culpa. I’m sorry I ever doubted you.

Filed under: Baseball Tagged: Jacob deGrom, Madison Bumgarner, Pitchers batting ]]>

That got me thinking – which teams do the best at converting quality starts into wins? Which teams are the worst? What’s the relationship? I grabbed all of these numbers and put them together into a spreadsheet in order to play with them.

First, a quick review of terms: A cheap win is a pitcher win in a non-quality start. A tough loss is a pitcher loss in a quality start. “Luck” is whatever I happen to be measuring at the moment, but today ‘luck differential’ refers to the difference between the percentage of wins that are cheap and the percentage of losses that are tough; in other words, luck differential = 100*[(CW/W) - (TL/L)]. For an individual pitcher, these are fairly random occurrences – no pitcher in MLB today hits reliably enough to consistently earn himself cheap wins – but it seems that aggregating by team allows for the quality of batting to smooth out over a large number of games.

The Texas Rangers lead the league in this sort of luck differential, with 4 of their 38 wins coming cheaply for over 10% cheap wins but only 2 of their 55 losses tough (3.64); the Atlanta Braves have the worst luck differential in the league with a high proportion of tough losses (17/42, or 39.53%) and a low number of cheap wins (3/50, or 6%) for a total of -33.53. The Mets themselves convert less than 50% of their quality starts into wins for the starting pitcher.

These numbers are indicative of a general trend. The more quality starts a team has, the more negative its luck differential is (ρ = -.72 – an extremely strong correlation) and the more wins a team has, the more negative its luck differential is (ρ = -.20 – a bit weaker). Essentially, teams with more quality starts generate more wins (ρ = .56), regardless of the fact that sometimes they lose those quality starts, too. Surprisingly, the Mets have a -21.67 luck differential, one of the most negative in the league, probably due to the fact that they convert so few quality starts into wins.

Filed under: Baseball, Economics Tagged: quality starts, Zack Wheeler ]]>

There’s an endogeneity problem in stating that Colon gets better when he’s allowed to pitch longer, since obviously his better pitching is the cause, not the effect, of going longer into the game. Nonetheless, Colon demonstrates a strong pattern of underperformance in the first inning. His ERA is a striking 8.47 in the first inning and literally half that – 4.24 – in the second (stats NOT INCLUDING last night’s game). Colon’s best inning is the third, but he’s serviceable through the remaining innings as well. His first inning involves facing the most batters, as indicated by the huge spike in total bases; he just has trouble getting opposing batters out during the first. He’s structurally different, too: he gives up nearly 3/4 of a base per plate appearance in the first, and every first-inning plate appearance is worth one-fifth of a run. Part of this tracks with Colon’s shifting BAbip, which spikes along with his per-plate-appearance stats – it looks almost exactly like the graph of total bases per plate appearance – but you can’t blame defense for numbers like this.

There’s not much explanation for this. It’s the sort of pattern you’d expect from an inexperienced pitcher who doesn’t warm up properly. He didn’t have the same problem last year or the prior year, when his first-inning ERA was reliably 3.00. This is difficult to pinpoint, but maybe Colon should take some advice from Daisuke Matsuzaka and do a three-hour warmup.

Filed under: Baseball Tagged: Bartolo Colon, Stuff Gary Cohen Says ]]>

When the Mets released Kyle Farnsworth, I celebrated. Although he’d converted 3 out of 4 save opportunities, he was a waste of money for an unpredictable arm. He’s been wildly inconsistent throughout his career and wasn’t worth the money the Mets had decided to spend on him.

It’s clear why he was given the chance to close: in his first ten games, Kyle has a 0.96 ERA and a 6/2 KBB on a BAbip of .286. His next nine games before release tell a different story: he threw a 5.86 ERA, and yes, some of that is due to his BAbip jumping to .320. It was also due in part to his inability to throw strikes; he faced 36 batters on 138 pitches in the first ten games, 65% of them strikes; in his second block of games, he faced 35 batters on 137 pitches (almost identical) but his strike percentage dropped to 58% and his KBB fell to 4/4. (That basically means he took two Ks and replaced them with walks. Good for you, Kyle!)

Thus far, his time with the Astros has been mostly new Kyle, not old Kyle: 11 games, .280 BAbip, 58% strikes, and a KBB below 1. Thanks, Houston, for taking him off our hands!

Filed under: Baseball Tagged: Kyle Farnsworth ]]>

Said maintainer may be contacted on Twitter at @tomflesher and looks forward to attending a Rockies-Dodgers game this weekend, where with any luck he will see Chone Figgins pinch-walk.

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^{1} Not a guarantee.

Filed under: Baseball ]]>

First, the Dodgers knew what they were getting. The last time Figgins hit above the Mendoza Line (.200) was 2010, and he sat out 2013 entirely. No one brought him on expecting him to be an everyday player with a high batting average. What they had a right to expect was a player who reliably walks 10% of the time – well above the league average of 7.7% – and who won’t strike out very often^{1}. Thus far, Figgins has given them exactly that.

Although he has only hit once in his 15 plate appearances, he’s walked 5 times, with those walks spread out fairly evenly throughout the season. Those walks give him a tiny slugging percentage but an enormous OBP – hitting one out of every 15 isn’t bad if you’re walking five more, yielding an OBP of .400 (even with a SLG of .100). Figgins is low-variance – you can put him in to pinch-hit knowing that he’ll regularly walk. He may never hit a home run (and he hasn’t since April of 2012), but he’ll definitely walk regularly. (This is probably due to his being 5’8″ and it being impossible to locate a pitch in his strike zone.)

I have no delusions that Figgins is going to continue to walk 1 out of every 3 times he comes to the plate, but I also don’t think he’ll continue hitting quite so badly. He may not stay at .400 OBP all year, but he also won’t stay at a .100 batting average.

Just for fun, I dug up some other players who had seasons below .200 BA and above .375 OBP. **Matt Stairs** is the king here, getting 129 plate appearances in 99 games for Philadelphia in 2009. **Tyler Flowers** got around my “no pitchers and no catchers” restriction in 2009 by appearing in more than 50% of his games DH or PH. Otherwise, it would be easy to find catchers who are kept on the roster not for their hitting but for their defense, and since light-hitting catchers hit 8th, they’ll earn a lot of walks just based on position in the batting order.

Rk | Player | Year | PA | Age | Tm | Lg | G | AB | BB | SO | Pos | |||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

1 | Chone Figgins | 2014 | .400 | .100 | 15 | 36 | LAD | NL | 13 | 10 | 5 | 3 | .500 | *H/75 |

2 | Nick Johnson | 2010 | .388 | .167 | 98 | 31 | NYY | AL | 24 | 72 | 24 | 23 | .693 | *D/H3 |

3 | Tyler Flowers | 2009 | .350 | .188 | 20 | 23 | CHW | AL | 10 | 16 | 3 | 8 | .600 | /*2HD |

4 | Matt Stairs | 2009 | .357 | .194 | 129 | 41 | PHI | NL | 99 | 103 | 23 | 30 | .735 | *H/97D |

5 | Dallas McPherson | 2008 | .400 | .182 | 15 | 27 | FLA | NL | 11 | 11 | 4 | 5 | .764 | /*H5 |

6 | J.J. Furmaniak | 2007 | .364 | .176 | 22 | 27 | OAK | AL | 16 | 17 | 3 | 8 | .599 | /HD46957 |

7 | Michael Tucker | 2006 | .378 | .196 | 74 | 35 | NYM | NL | 35 | 56 | 16 | 14 | .700 | H7/93 |

8 | Brian Myrow | 2005 | .360 | .200 | 25 | 28 | LAD | NL | 19 | 20 | 5 | 8 | .610 | *H/3 |

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^{1}Probably due to being 5’8″ and it being impossible to locate a pitch in his strike zone.

Filed under: Baseball Tagged: Baseball, Chone Figgins, Dodgers ]]>