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How improbable is a division win for the Mets? September 22, 2015

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Sports.
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Following a brilliant, but short, start behind Jonathon Niese, the Mets won a 4-0 game against the Braves last night. Terry Collins made some of us hold our breath, lifting Niese after only 88 scoreless pitches, but went straight to the lights-out portion of the bullpen. Addison Reed worked for a few minutes, followed up by Tyler Clippard returning after a five-day layoff. Clippard allowed a single to Pedro Ciriaco and then threw two wild pitches to allow Ciriaco to third, but nonetheless stranded him to hold the 4-0 lead. Since every win counts, Terry brought in Jeurys Familia to close the game.

Last night’s win pushed the Mets’ magic number down into Ed Kranepool territory. It makes sense that Collins is managing this as a must-win series, for two reasons. He obviously lacks some confidence in the Hansel RoblesBobby ParnellEric O’Flaherty portion of the bullpen, but he also wants to have the division clinched before Washington comes to town.

If we sweep Atlanta, then even if Washington doesn’t lose a game, our magic number drops to 5. From there, taking 3 from a four-game series against the Reds and 2 of 3 from a terrible Phillies team clinches the division. Giving up a game to Atlanta means having to sweep the Reds or Phillies instead, or relying on another team to help us, to clinch before the Nationals arrive. Since the end of the Mets series, the Nationals have scored 57 runs and allowed only 28 in 7 games against the Marlins and 3 against the Phillies.

Just one loss to Baltimore gives the Mets significant breathing room, because the Nationals play Philadelphia 3 times, the Reds once, and Atlanta three times before they meet the Mets. A team with some momentum could easily take those 7 games. A number of different possibilities exist to get a loss there:

  • The Sunday (the 27th) 1:35 PM game against the Phillies, following a 4:05 Saturday start
  • The one-day visit to Cincinnati (Monday the 28th) in between Philadelphia and Atlanta
  • The Atlanta series, where a few solid players combined with no remaining off-days might push Washington over the edge

Again, it’s incumbent on the Mets to win their remaining series. One more from Atlanta, 3 from the Reds, and 2 from the Phillies mean Washington only needs to drop one game some time between now and the end of the season for the Mets to win the divsion. This is looking promising.

Burnett, Hughes, and Playoff Rotations October 12, 2010

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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There was much discussion of the Yankees’ specialized playoff rotation for the American League Division Series. As is conventional in the ALDS, Joe Girardi went with a three-man rotation. CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte were locks; the third starter could have been A.J. Burnett, Javier Vazquez, or Dustin Moseley. Girardi went with young All-Star Phil Hughes in the third slot. That, of course, led to a sweep of the Minnestoa Twins to advance to the American League Championship Series.

First of all, I think it was probably the right decision. Hughes pitched 176 1/3 innings and gave up 82 earned runs, for an ER/IP of about .47. In Burnett’s 186 2/3 innings, he allowed 109 runs for an ER/IP of about .58. Surprisingly, Burnett allowed 9 unearned runs for a rate of about .048 unearned runs per inning pitched, whereas Hughes had only one unearned run for a rate of about .006, but of course those numbers probably don’t say anything significant. With 730 batters faced, he allowed about .11 earned runs per batter, or about 1 earned run every 9 batters faced, while Burnett’s 829 batters faced mean he had similar numbers of .13 earned runs per batter and 7.69 batters.

Most importantly to me, Hughes was much more predictable. Burnett faced, on average, 4.68 batters per inning pitched, with a variance of .92. Hughes faced over half a batter less per inning – 4.13 – and had a variance of .33. That means that not only did Burnett allow more baserunners, but when he was off, he was very off. Although the decision gets tougher when you have a higher BF/IP and a lower variance, Hughes was both better and more consistent in a similar number of innings, so he has to get the nod.

(That said, it’s shocking that such similar numbers produced one 18-8 pitcher and one 10-15 pitcher.)

The only question now is what order to pitch the announced four-man rotation for the ALCS. Of the choices,

OPTION 3
Sabathia
Hughes
Pettitte
Burnett
Sabathia
Hughes
Pettitte

seems clearly superior to me. It allows Burnett to start but avoids starting him twice, gets Hughes in play quite often, and puts the very reliable Andy Pettitte in play for a potential Game Seven. The linked article lists as a con that Pettitte is considered the number 2 starter, but at the Major League level a manager can’t be concerned with such frivolities. Besides, Pettitte is an established company man. I’d be surprised if he balked at a rotation that both maximized the team’s chances to win and put him in position to be the clutch hero.

Incidentally, this option lends itself to using the same rotation in the World Series. Option 2:

Sabathia
Pettitte
Hughes
Sabathia
Burnett
Pettitte
Sabathia

leaves Sabathia unavailable to start Game 1 of the World Series and might put Pettitte on short rest depending on the schedule to start Game 1. I can’t see starting the Series with Hughes or Burnett.

Quickie: MLB Playoffs by Pitching Statistics February 23, 2010

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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It’s cold out today. Last night, Buffalo was covered in a thin layer of freezing rain. I’m trying to stay warm by turning up my hot stove the way only an economist can – crunching the numbers on playoffs.

I’m re-using the dataset from my Cy Young Predictor a few entries ago in the interest of parsimony. It contains dummy variables teamdivwin and teamwildcard which take value 1 if the pitcher’s team won the division or the wildcard respectively. I then created a variable playoffs which took the value of the sum of teamdivwin and teamwildcard – just a playoff dummy variable.

Using a Probit model and a standard OLS regression model, I estimated the effects of individual pitching stats on playoffs. Neither model has very strong predictive value (linear has R-squared of about .05), which is unsurprising since it doesn’t take the team’s batting into account at all. None of the coefficient values are shocking – in the American League (designated as lg = 1), teams have a higher probability of making the playoffs because there are fewer teams, and although complete games appear to have a negative effect, the positive shutout effect more than makes up for that in both models. I’m interested in whether complete game wins and complete game losses have differential effects – that will probably be my next snowy-day project.

Results are behind the cut.

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