Wednesday, 27 August 2014

27 August 2014: Potentially Entertaining Game Scores

The order of today's games is almost identical to that of yesterday's, although Clayton Kershaw versus Wade Miley is a highly entertaining pitching match-up, pulling the Dodgers vs Arizona game up several places off the bottom. (I caught some of yesterday's game, which was no advertisement for the replay system.) Today's top pitching pair is in Detroit, where Shane Greene takes on David Price. However, if one includes bullpens in the calculation, you'll want to watch Atlanta versus the Mets.
Texas vs Seattle            60
Yankees vs Detroit          59
Colorado vs San Francisco   58
St Louis vs Pittsburgh      58
Minnesota vs Kansas City    54
Atlanta vs Mets             55
Tampa Bay vs Baltimore      47
Cleveland vs White Sox      47
Miami vs Angels             45
Boston vs Toronto           45
Milwaukee vs San Diego      45
Dodgers vs Arizona          45
Oakland vs Houston          44
Washington vs Philadelphia  42
Cubs vs Cincinnati          43
This is the BETA version of a method of rating games for their potential to provide entertaining baseball. The formula is still in development, but is refined enough at the moment that it can guide you towards games where the batters will get on base and hit for power, the fielders cover ground and throw well and the pitchers induce the batter to swing. Games are rated on the 20-80 scale, with 50 being an average score.

Tigers 2014 Game 130: V-Mart vs McCarthy

Victor Martinez' duel with Brandon McCarthy last night showed exactly why baseball is a game of fine distinctions, and well worth one's close attention. Let me show you three strike-zone plots from BrooksBaseball.net.

1st inning

3rd inning

6th inning

V-Mart, as I like to call him, went 1 for 3, which is a .333 batting average, so he did rather well by traditional standards. More than that, though, we can see that in the first plate appearance McCarthy kept changing the plane on V-Mart, until V-Mart chased a pitch well off the plate that he foul-tipped into the catcher's glove. Tom Gage, of the Detroit News, tweeted that it was 'a heckuva pitch', which put me on alert.

In the third, V-Mart swung at the first pitch, a sinker to a spot that McCarthy hadn't used in the first PA, and sent a grounder to Mark Teixeira at first. Teixeira made the play unassisted.

In the sixth, the two previous PAs came together. McCarthy went back to working highish, outside and away. When that didn't work, he went back to the sinker, only this time he reversed the first PA, now working down and over the plate. V-Mart connected for a single on this one, and eventually would score on Nick Castellanos' single.

The only slight cloud on the evening was the nine hits that Rick Porcello surrendered. He made up for that with not issuing a single walk, but his performance was not dominant, and explains why I never felt comfortable given the Tigers' bullpen uncertainties. This was a good win for the Tigers, despite Alex Gordon's walk-off in Kansas City, which meant the Tigers could only keep pace with the Royals. I'm afraid I'm not entirely sold on #RoyalsDevilMagic yet, no matter how frequently Rany Jazayerli tweets about it. I'm still going with Jim Price's view that 'the MoJo is moving towards Detroit'.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

26 August 2014: Potentially Entertaining Game Scores

Today's top pitching match-up is in Philadelphia, between Gio Gonzalez and Cole Hamels. Despite this fact, the game itself is deemed as potentially not very entertaining at all. Why is this? Three factors are involved. The first is that as the Nationals are very likely to make the playoffs and the Phillies are improbable playoff contenders, the game carries little weight in terms of playoff value. A Nationals loss isn't going to hurt their chances all that much, and a Phillies win isn't going to put them in the running for a spot. Secondly, the Phillies bullpen isn't particularly watchable, largely because of a dreadful Left-on-Base percentage. Thirdly, Philles hitters lack power and don't run the bases very well. Basically, the Phillies are dragging down the game's value. So there. Also, I noticed that Detroit now has sneaked ahead of Kansas City in playoff probability. Meanwhile, Yankee fans should take note that their playoff odds are actually worse than those of Cincinnati. That should put things into context.
Texas vs Seattle            60
Yankees vs Detroit          59
Colorado vs San Francisco   58
Minnesota vs Kansas City    56
St Louis vs Pittsburgh      55
Atlanta vs Mets             55
Tampa Bay vs Baltimore      48
Miami vs Angels             47
Boston vs Toronto           46
Cleveland vs White Sox      46
Milwaukee vs San Diego      45
Oakland vs Houston          45
Washington vs Philadelphia  44
Dodgers vs Arizona          44
Cubs vs Cincinnati          43
This is the BETA version of a method of rating games for their potential to provide entertaining baseball. The formula is still in development, but is refined enough at the moment that it can guide you towards games where the batters will get on base and hit for power, the fielders cover ground and throw well and the pitchers induce the batter to swing. Games are rated on the 20-80 scale, with 50 being an average score.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Thinking About Garbage Numbers

On Saturday night, I saw Jarred Cosart's tweet about Adeiny Hechavarria and his fielding metrics. Fielding numbers have been controversial for most of the history of sabermetrics, so anyone with any sense to begin with should regard them as 'informed opinions'. (I also hold the view that this is somewhat true of park factors, pitching numbers and even hitting numbers, albeit to lesser degrees as one advances along that list.) Inspired by Jarred Cosart, I went to check the garbage dump at FanGraphs, and this morning my thunder was stolen, somewhat, by Jeff Sullivan's post on the matter.

What Sullivan didn't look at, but what I did look at straightaway on Saturday night, was the lesser-known 'Inside Edge' numbers at FanGraphs. 'Inside Edge' is assembled by scouts who assign a difficulty value to plays. Read more here, and Inside Edge's website is here. I found Inside Edge interesting in thinking about Miguel Cabrera's fielding during 2013, in that it suggested Cabrera did extremely well with routine plays at third base, but was somewhat taxed the more he had to move. That fit my own impression better than some awful number spat out by UZR or DRS.

This link to 2014's qualified shortstops table of Inside Edge data is sortable, if you click on the column tops. What you will see is that Adeiny Hechavarria is about average at making routine plays (those Inside Edge rates as being 60% 'field-able' or more), but slumps down the list at plays I would call 'marginal' (40-60% 'field-ability'). Looking at 'difficult' plays (40% or less), however, Hechavarria puts in his best performance. Now, if you look at FanGraphs rating of his UZR or DRS in more detail, what you'll see is that he's below average in range and in turning the double play. If he can get to a ball, he's unlikely to make an error, but he doesn't get to all the balls that he could. We see this also borne out by the Inside Edge data I described above, in that he performs badly at what I called 'marginal' plays.

There's a sense that both sides of this argument are right, which is not really the way for a humble blogger like me to get attention and land a high-paying job in the industry. Hechavarria is very good at making plays most shortstops cannot, which will often occur at critical moments in a game, and good enough at making the routine plays. But he doesn't fill the space in between too well.

25 August 2014: Potentially Entertaining Game Scores

The day's top pitching match-up, John Lackey vs Francisco Liriano, carries the key National League Central Division clash to the top of the day's chart. Tracking the playoff odds each day, one can see how much a single pairing of results makes one realise a race is much closer than it might feel. The Blue Jays lost quite a bit of ground over the weekend, although their odds were never good. Thus, both their game with the Red Sox and the game between the Rockies and the Giants start out with the same potential entertainment score, but once one adjusts for relative positions in the race, where the Giants remain on the cusp of the second wild-card spot, the Blue Jays' game falls five points in value. Running off a solid winning streak would probably help the Blue Jays immensely at this point.

St Louis vs Pittsburgh      59
Texas vs Seattle            58
Colorado vs San Francisco   58
Yankees vs Royals           57
Tampa Bay vs Baltimore      48
Boston vs Toronto           46
Milwaukee vs San Diego      45
Oakland vs Houston          44
Miami vs Angels             44
Washington vs Philadelphia  42

This is the BETA version of a method of rating games for their potential to provide entertaining baseball. The formula is still in development, but is refined enough at the moment that it can guide you towards games where the batters will get on base and hit for power, the fielders cover ground and throw well and the pitchers induce the batter to swing. Games are rated on the 20-80 scale, with 50 being an average score.

Tigers' 2014 Game 128: Miguel Cabrera's Double Plays

Miguel Cabrera hit into two double plays on Saturday night, the first of which killed off a rally, and the second of which possibly cost the Tigers an additional insurance run. In this case it appears that Cabrera made the right choice but got a bad result. Those pitches were in the general area where he has enjoyed the best success. Offered in evidence, a heat map taken from BrooksBaseball.net On this I have done my own 'eyeball Mark One' plot of where the balls would have been. I also include the two plots, again taken from BrooksBaseball.net, of the two plate appearances using PitchFX to show the balls relationship to the strike zone so you can decide if my locations are about right.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

24 August 2014: Potentially Entertaining Game Scores

The contest between the Mariners and the Red Sox finishes the weekend as the potentially most entertaining game. The series has been first or second each day, swapping with the Giants and Nationals yesterday. Both the Mariners and the Giants have been amongst the most potentially entertaining teams since I started doing this in the spring. The best pitching match-up is at Yankee Stadium, where Chris Sale goes against Chris Capuano, which just edges out Max Scherzer versus Kyle Gibson in Target Field, a ball park I have decided is not aesthetically appealing on the television. What's all that brown about? Aficionados of BETA development processes will be eager to learn that I have tweaked the formula quite significantly in that I have reduced the impact of the playoff value. Otherwise, by the end of the season it would have accounted for 100 per cent of the PEGS. As it stands, by the end of the season it will now only account for 70 per cent of the PEGS, and I may yet reduce that further. Tweet me (@frapaolotweets) if you have strong opinions about what value it should possess.

Seattle vs Boston           61
San Francisco vs Washington 60
Detroit vs Minnesota        58
Pittsburgh vs Milwaukee     57
Atlanta vs Cincinnati       56
Kansas City vs Texas        52
Tampa Bay vs Toronto        48
White Sox vs Yankees        48
St Louis vs Philadelphia    47
Angels vs Oakland           46
Houston vs Cleveland        45
Baltimore vs Cubs           45
San Diego vs Arizona        43
Miami vs Colorado           42
Mets vs Dodgers             42

This is the BETA version of a method of rating games for their potential to provide entertaining baseball. The formula is still in development, but is refined enough at the moment that it can guide you towards games where the batters will get on base and hit for power, the fielders cover ground and throw well and the pitchers induce the batter to swing. Games are rated on the 20-80 scale, with 50 being an average score.