Wednesday, 16 April 2014

2014 Game 8: Anything But Ho-Hum

Highest Leverage PA:     6.2, PA#80 Werth grand slam vs Marmol, Nationals 8th.
Highest LI Win Value:    .763, PA #80 Werth grand slam, Nationals 8th.
QMAX rating:             (7,7) for Zimmermann (Hit Hard).
Bullpen Award:           Goat's Head for Clippard.
Batters' Aggregate LI Win Values:
Werth          0.610
Zimmerman      0.279
Harper         0.257
Span           0.188
McLouth        0.055
Rendon         0.045
Lobaton        0.006
LaRoche       -0.044
Stammen       -0.049
Desmond       -0.050
After my lament last time about a rather dull game, the next one was quite the exciting ding-dong battle. Jayson Werth's Grand Slam appearance tops both the Leverage and Value chart. But the numbers also show that this game belonged to the batters. The fact that my two favourite Nationals' pitchers, Jordan Zimmermann and Tyler Clippard, earned rather poor ratings, pains me.

NB: I am sorry to slip so far behind. My mother is currently in a nursing home while she undergoes some treatments, and I am keeping her company. So my routines are badly disrupted as I have to deal with long-distance parenting, work and close-up visitations of the sick. So far I have been able to follow, on average, every other game, but posting to the blog remains problematic.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

2014 Game 7: Ho-hum

Highest Leverage PA:     2.3, PA#51 Johnson bunt vs Storen, Marlins 7th.
Highest LI Win Value:    .073, PA #19, Hechavarria caught stealing, Marlins 3rd.
QMAX rating:             (2,3) for Gonzalez (Success Square).
Bullpen Award:           None.
Batters' Aggregate LI Win Values:
LaRoche        0.075
Rendon         0.029
Harper         0.001
Moore         -0.005
Werth         -0.023
Espinosa      -0.026
Gonzalez      -0.032
Desmond       -0.035
Lobaton       -0.042
Span          -0.066
Beating the Marlins 5-0 did not do many people any favours, in terms of the kind of statistics I like to keep track of. The LI Win values are unspectacular, Gio Gonzalez' shutout wasn't quite good enough to make the 'Elite Square' and no-one came out of the bullpen to earn a Hero's Palm. Still, if you're the 'safe investor' kind of person, this was exactly what you came to the ballpark to see.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

2014 Game 3: All Hail The Z-Man!

Highest Leverage PA:     2.6, PA#56 LaRoche single vs Familia, Nationals 7th.
Highest LI Win Value:    .111, PA #12, Zimmerman HR vs Wheeler, Nationals 2nd.
QMAX rating:             (4,4) for Roark (Uncategorised).
Bullpen Award:           None.
Batters' Aggregate LI Win Values:
Zimmerman      0.220
Span           0.168
Werth          0.074
Espinosa       0.070
LaRoche        0.055
Rendon         0.042
Hairston       0.042
Frandsen      -0.003
Leon          -0.023
Roark         -0.058
Harper        -0.074
Desmond       -0.277
Zimmerman was the Star, Span continued on a tear, and the game was basically won by the hitters. Roark did not do badly, but his QMAX rating demonstrates a rather nondescript performance, which is still to be applauded.

(I had to return to my mother's abode in order to help her through some treatments, and in doing so had to clear a ton of work before I left. So I fell behind. I shall catch up as best I can, but I probably won't be current for a couple of days and may have to leave a gap in coverage.)

Friday, 4 April 2014

2014 Game 2: Gio's Day

Highest Leverage PA:     2.1, PA#62 Duda K vs Clippard, Mets 8th.
Highest LI Win Value:    .148, PA #31, Desmond HR vs Colon, Nationals 5th.
QMAX rating:             (2,3) for Gonzalez (Success Square zone).
Bullpen Award:           None.
Batters' Aggregate LI Win Values:
Desmond        0.108
Werth          0.088
Gonzalez       0.033
Rendon         0.025
LaRoche        0.021
McLouth       -0.005
Lobaton       -0.028
Span          -0.070
Zimmerman     -0.071
Harper        -0.094
There's a higher-leveraged incident than Lucas Duda's PA, which is an event that occurred in the Mets' fifth: Ruben Tejada was thrown out by Bryce Harper at home, trying to score off Juan Lagares' double. That was worth .120 of a win, which compensated for Harper's negative batting performance.

The Highest Leverage PA is low, reflecting the fact that the Nationals took charge of this game with Ian Desmond's home run in the fifth. (How much is he worth now?)

I did not watch the game, following on the radio as is most common for me, but the numbers suggest that Gio Gonzalez was the key to winning this game.

After Tyler Clippard walked Tejada (funny how the name of such an apparently disappointing player appears twice in this report), I was worried that he wasn't quite the Clippard I came to appreciate so deeply in seasons past, but he bounced back quite strongly. But none of the reliever's performances really warranted a Hero's Palm. I have decided retrospectively, however, to award one to Aaron Barrett for his Game #1 outing.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Baseball Hotbeds

In case this Nate Silver article hasn't got much circulation, I thought I'd post a link to it.

I like the way he has related Google searches to the size of television markets. This strikes me as one of the best methods people who have no money to pay for surveys have available to identify where the interest in baseball might be considered weak or strong. The results it gives largely meet my expectations. The Tigers are kind of average. The Cardinals and Reds are strong. The Diamondbacks and Marlins are weak. To me the anomalous results are the poor outcome for the Angels and the strong showing by the Pirates. Silver noted that there might be some kind of problem with the way the data is accumulated for the Angels. Pittsburgh, however, has always seemed so much a Steelers' town, and has done so badly until very recently, that its appearance ahead of the Reds, Tigers and Indians looks incredible.

Sad to say, the Nationals rank pretty poorly, behind even the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

2014 Game 1: Denard of Menthon?

My intentions to write a few posts during the Spring Training season were undone when my mother developed a grave illness. Posting may be erratic this season, as usual.

Highest Leverage PA:     5.5, PA#69 Span 2B vs Parnell, Nationals 9th.
Highest LI Win Value:    .363, PA #69, Span 2B vs Parnell, Nationals 9th.
QMAX rating:             (3,3) for Strasburg (Success Square zone).
Bullpen Award:           Goat's Head for Tyler Clippard.
Batters' Aggregate LI Win Values:
Span           0.431
Rendon         0.205
McLouth        0.109
Lobaton        0.106
Espinosa       0.081
LaRoche        0.057
Desmond        0.013
Werth         -0.004
Strasburg     -0.024
Harper        -0.043
Ramos         -0.087
Zimmerman     -0.277
Not only did Denard Span have the highest-leveraged plate appearance of the game, he also had the second-highest, in the 7th against Rice. He delivered both times. Denard rescued a floundering Nationals' effort. Let's toast him with a cask of brandy!

Despite a difficult start, Stephen Strasburg still managed to keep his appearance in the QMAX Success Square, just. So he did his job.

Matt Williams showed great confidence in rookie hurler Aaron Barrett, who entered the game with the highest leverage at stake of any of the relief pitchers the Nationals used. However, he was facing some of the weaker hitters in the Mets' lineup at that point, so the risks were lower than they might have been.

(My title alludes to the patron of a certain breed of rescue dogs.)

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Late Thoughts About the Fister Trade

Last week, Dave Cameron at Fangraphs.com published lists of the ten best and ten worst trades of the past off-season. It probably comes as no surprise to find the trade between the Tigers and the Nationals that sent Doug Fister to Washington in return for a prospect with possibilities and roster filler that addressed some key issues within the Tigers' likely 25-men topped both lists. There was a lot of head-scratching at Baseball Think Factory to the amount of 309 comments. It was nearly the transaction that relaunched this blog, even. (In fact, I came closer to writing about the Mets' signing Curtis Granderson.)

Cast your mind back eleven-and-a-half years ago, to June 2002. Dave Dombrowski had a few months earlier fired Randy Smith and become general manager. The Expos were still in Montréal. That horrible Tigers' 2003 season was still in the future. At that time, Dombrowski sent a key member of the Tigers' pitching rotation in a three-way trade that netted him a prospect pitcher, a reliever and a prospect slugger. It was a better return than he got for Fister, but Jeff Weaver was a better-paid pitcher. The players the Tigers got were all relative disappointments in that Jeremy Bonderman did not quite live up to expectations, while Franklyn German and Carlos Peña fell well short.

The thing is, at the time rumours swirled around that Weaver was being exiled from Detroit. A month later, we were able to read more detailed allegations of the kind of behaviour that Dombrowski (or possibly Mr Ilitch) found unwelcome in a member of the Tigers' team. (Note the name of one of the players allegedly using profanity on that occasion was the Tigers' rookie manager for 2014, Brad Ausmus, back then the team's catcher.) The question is whether Fister created some kind of issues in the clubhouse. The answer is that I haven't been able to find any, despite a vague memory of him saying or doing something I thought was a bit much during 2013. (No, as much as I would like to, I am not going to wade through all the 2013 Tigers' broadcasts using my MLB GameDay Audio subscription.)

Using the 2002 Baseball America Prospect Handbook, the Tigers' got back for Weaver the #1 (Peña) and #9 (German) prospects for the Athletics, plus the Athletics' #1 pick in the draft. In 2011, in trading for Fister, the Tigers sent their BA-ranked #4 (Francisco Martinez), #7 (Chance Ruffin), #19 (Casper Wells) and #26 (Charlie Furbush) prospects, and got lefty David Pauley as well. At the time those who knew their baseball knew that Fister was doing an excellent job for the Mariners, so the question becomes how does the haul the Mariners got in 2011 compare with the Tigers who came over from the Nationals? In 2013, the Nationals sent #18 (Ray) plus their #10 from 2012 (Lombardozzi) and the Athletics' #29 (Krol). Ray, however, jumped to #5 in the 2014 list, compiled before the trade.

Looking back over that Baseball Think Factory thread, the analysis of the trade by fans falls into two broad camps. On one side are those who agreed with Fangraphs' Cameron that the Tigers got fleeced ('the Fleecers'). On the other are those who think Dombrowski knows something we don't. Looking at the Weaver trade and the two trades of Fister, I'm inclined to think that Mike Rizzo got a good deal, but more of the '15 per cent off' kind, than a 30 per cent or 50 per cent deal that the Fleecers believe. Dombrowski may have decided to take the deal in order to crack on with other moves, rather than holding out for something that was closer to Fister's WAR value. That seems to be the underlying message in this article. The overall point is that it appears the fans don't judge the value of players available in trade in quite the same way that real-life executives do. It may be that in a couple of years we'll come back to this trade as the moment when the Decline and Fall of the Dombrowski Empire began. But at the moment, I think the Fleecers are being a bit overenthusiastic.