Archive for the ‘Stat of the Week’ Category

Yu Darvish

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

by John Dewan

According to his agent, Don Nomura, Yu Darvish was posted yesterday (Thursday, December 8) for a move to MLB from Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the top Japanese professional baseball league.  This is a process whereby major-league teams bid in a silent auction for the exclusive rights to negotiate with Darvish.  The auction is four days long.

Darvish is the latest superstar Japanese player to make the move across the Pacific, and MLB teams have been waiting for him to become available ever since he recorded the final out of the 2009 World Baseball Classic to clinch Japan’s second WBC title.  And now that the big names like Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson are off the board, Darvish becomes one of the best remaining free-agent starting pitchers available.

Each year in The Bill James Handbook we include the career stats of players that are most likely to leave the Japanese leagues to come over and play in the United States.  This year, Darvish is obviously the most high-profile such player.

Here are Darvish’s career numbers from Japan, playing for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

Season

Age

Wins

Losses

ERA

IP

SO

2005

18

5

5

3.53

94.1

52

2006

19

12

5

2.89

149.2

115

2007

20

15

5

1.82

207.2

210

2008

21

16

4

1.88

200.2

208

2009

22

15

5

1.73

182.0

167

2010

23

12

8

1.78

202.0

222

2011

24

18

6

1.44

232.0

276

Career

-

93

38

1.99

1268.1

1250

If you are curious how that compares to the last highly-touted young pitcher that helped Japan win a World Baseball Classic title (MVP of the 2006 tournament) before deciding to join MLB the following year, here are Daisuke Matsuzaka’s career numbers playing for the Seibu Lions.

Season

Age

Wins

Losses

ERA

IP

SO

1999

18

16

5

2.60

180.0

151

2000

19

14

7

3.97

167.2

144

2001

20

15

15

3.60

240.1

214

2002

21

6

2

3.68

73.1

78

2003

22

16

7

2.83

194.0

215

2004

23

10

6

2.90

146.0

127

2005

24

14

13

2.30

215.0

226

2006

25

17

5

2.13

186.1

200

Career

-

108

60

2.95

1402.2

1355

It will be interesting to see what kind of posting fee and contract Darvish gets.  Dice-K pitched a bit more at a young age, but Darvish has been more consistently dominant than Dice-K was.  Darvish has had an ERA under 2.00 for five years running, and threw more than 200 innings in four of those five years.  Will that lead to a similar $100 million outlay, like Dice-K got ($51 million posting fee plus $52 million 6-year contract), or will teams spend more cautiously after seeing the up-and-down performance of Dice-K since he entered MLB?

You can find more statistics on Japanese players that are likely to sign MLB contracts this year in The Bill James Handbook 2012.

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.”

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Is the Ted Williams Shift Effective?

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

by John Dewan

The short answer: Absolutely.

But only if the bases are empty.

For the past two years Baseball Info Solutions has been tracking every play during which the defensive team employs a “Ted Williams” type shift where three infielders are playing to the right of second base. Based on our preliminary study of this data, The Shift works when the bases are empty.

There are five players who faced the shift more than 200 times in 2010 and 2011.  They are David Ortiz, Ryan Howard, Carlos Pena, Adam Dunn and Prince Fielder.   When looking at groundballs and short liners that they hit (balls that can be handled by infielders), every one of them did worse when facing The Shift with no one on base.  Here are the results:

Batting Average, 2010-2011
Groundballs and Short Liners Only, Bases Empty
  Shift On No Shift
David Ortiz .208 .259
Ryan Howard .174 .273
Carlos Pena .183 .213
Adam Dunn .207 .263
Prince Fielder .208 .248

On average, that’s 55 points of batting average lost to The Shift.

Based on a smaller sample size (because managers employ The Shift less often with men on base), the data is only showing a 3-point batting average drop when using The Shift with runners on.

These are our preliminary findings.  We will study this in greater detail in The Fielding Bible—Volume III coming out in the spring.

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.”

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Stats To Be Thankful For

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

by John Dewan

I’d like to wish all my readers a very Happy Thanksgiving!

In keeping with the theme of thankfulness, here are some numbers in the baseball world to which this sentiment applies.

21 – That is the number of consecutive years of labor peace that baseball is guaranteed with MLB and the MLBPA having agreed on a new five-year collective bargaining agreement.  As contentious as baseball’s labor history has been, the general state of harmony that has existed since the last players’ strike ended in early 1995 represents the longest such stretch since the MLBPA was formed in 1953.  In that time the NHL has lost a full season, the NBA lost part of the 1998-1999 season and has already canceled games for this season, and the NFL went through an extended lockout this year before coming to an agreement just before the season started.  Life is good for baseball fans right now.

2,728 – That is the number of career wins for future Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa.  Tony goes out on top, having led the St. Louis Cardinals to an astonishing World Series victory after prevailing in an equally thrilling National League Wild Card race on the last day of the regular season.  That gives him three World Series titles to go along with six pennants.

160,000,000 – That is the total dollar value of Matt Kemp’s new contract extension to stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  It is great to see that one of the league’s premier franchises is beginning to move past the prolonged financial troubles and legal battles that have been hanging over the club.  Kemp and 2011 Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw are two of the bright young stars of the game, and this signing shows that the Dodgers may yet have a bright future ahead of them.

24 – That is the number of different teams, out of 30 total MLB franchises, that have reached the playoffs in the last 10 years dating back to 2002.  Furthermore, there have been eight different World Series champions in those 10 years.  While there may be some degree of luck involved in getting through the playoffs and winning the World Series, it is an impressive accomplishment to sustain success over the 162-game regular season to make the playoffs.  That level of parity is a reason that every fan should feel hopeful that their team could very easily become the next great contender.  Even Cubs fans have reason to hope!

Infinity – That’s the number of thank yous I’d like to give my staff for all their help in bringing you Stat of the Week.  My name is on this feature, but they do more than their share of the heavy lifting.  Thank you to Rob Burckhard, Charles Fiore, Ben Jedlovec, Amanda Modelski and Joe Rosales.  You guys do great work!

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com

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Has the 300-Game Winner Become Extinct?

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

It seems like every time a pitcher reaches the magical mark of 300 wins, many fans and baseball people wonder aloud: “Is this the last time we’ll see someone reach 300 wins?”  That was a popular sentiment after Greg Maddux reached the mark in 2004, then Tom Glavine (2007), and most recently Randy Johnson (2009).

At the end of the 2011 season the closest active pitcher to 300 wins was Tim Wakefield, Boston’s 45-year old knuckleballer.  Wakefield notched career win number 200 on September 13.  Of course, the seemingly immortal Jamie Moyer has 267 career wins and is attempting to come back from Tommy John surgery, but Moyer turns 49 in four days (November 18).  It seems unlikely that either of these two veterans will reach 300 wins. Is the 300-game winner an extinct breed?

Not at all.

Each year, in the Bill James Handbook¸ Bill lists the players he thinks are the most likely to reach 300 wins based on a formula he devised to measure a pitcher’s chances for this sacred milestone. The key to the formula is the pitcher’s momentum (wins in recent seasons) matched up with his win total thus far in his career.

Here are the top-five 300 win candidates heading into 2012:

Player

2011 Age

Career
Wins

Chance at
300 Wins

Roy Halladay

34

188

49%

CC Sabathia

30

176

48%

Justin Verlander

28

107

31%

Cliff Lee

32

119

24%

Dan Haren

30

107

19%

Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia each have around a 50-50 shot at winning 300 games.  Justin Verlander only had a 10% chance at 300 wins entering the 2011 season, but after a 24-win season, his chances skyrocket to 31%.  The chance that one of these five gets 300 wins in his career is about 90%.

For the complete list of 300 win candidates, check out the Bill James Handbook 2012, in stores and available at ACTASports.com now.

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com

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The 2011 Fielding Bible Awards

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

THE 2011 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS have been officially announced.  Albert Pujols reclaims the Award at first base that had been his every year since the Fielding Bible Awards began in 2006 until Daric Barton snatched it away last year.

Joining Pujols as repeat winners are Mark Buehrle (his third consecutive), Troy Tulowitzki (his third, and second in a row), Adrian Beltre (his third also), and Brett Gardner (second in a row). First time winners are Dustin Pedroia, Austin Jackson, Justin Upton, and Matt Wieters.

A panel of ten analysts, listed below—including John Dewan, Peter Gammons, and Bill James—examined the 2011 seasons of every defensive player in Major League Baseball and then used the same voting technique as the Major League Baseball MVP voting. First place votes received 10 points, second place 9 points, third place 8 points, etc. A perfect score was 100. A complete record of their votes can be found in The Bill James Handbook 2012.

One important distinction that differentiates THE FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS from most other baseball awards, such as the Gold Gloves, is that there is only one winner at each position instead of separate winners for each league.  The goal of THE FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS is to stand up and say: “Here is the best fielder at this position in Major League Baseball last season.” Another key feature of the system is that it also recognizes the runners-up for each position, instead of just focusing on the winners.

Here are the results of THE 2011 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS:

FIRST BASE—ALBERT PUJOLS, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (82 POINTS)
Winning his fifth Fielding Bible Award wasn’t easy for Pujols, as he only edged out Adrian Gonzalez by 4 points, 82 to 78, in the closest race of any of the awards.

SECOND BASE—DUSTIN PEDROIA, BOSTON RED SOX (97 POINTS)
Despite already having a Gold Glove to his name and doing well in the voting in previous years, a Fielding Bible Award had eluded Pedroia until now.  He was selected overwhelmingly this year, coming in 21 points better than runner-up Ben Zobrist.

THIRD BASE—ADRIAN BELTRE, TEXAS RANGERS (98 POINTS)
Beltre won this year’s Fielding Bible Award pretty convincingly with 98 points out of a possible 100.  However, last year’s winner, Evan Longoria, didn’t go down without a fight, garnering 90 points himself.  No second place finisher at any other position had more than 78.

SHORTSTOP—TROY TULOWITZKI, COLORADO ROCKIES (94 POINTS)
Tulowitzki signed a huge contract extension last offseason.  Clearly the Rockies wanted to make Tulo the rock of their defense for years to come, as this is the third time he has been honored with a Fielding Bible Award as the best defender at one of the most critical positions on the field.

LEFT FIELD—BRETT GARDNER, NEW YORK YANKEES (99 POINTS)
Gardner has established himself as one of the elite outfielders in the game.  He saved an estimated 22 runs for his team this year, a total usually only seen amongst center fielders.  As a result, he was only one point shy of being a unanimous selection for The Fielding Bible Award in left field.

CENTER FIELD—AUSTIN JACKSON, DETROIT TIGERS (89 POINTS)
Jackson has rewarded the Tigers for clearing space to make him their starting center fielder.  His 22 Defensive Runs Saved led all center fielders, the second year in a row he has done that.

RIGHT FIELD—JUSTIN UPTON, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (84 POINTS)
With a down year from three-time Fielding Bible Award winner Ichiro Suzuki, the door was opened for a new honoree.  Seven different players received first place votes, but Upton emerged from the pack as this year’s winner, excelling on deeply hit balls where he fielded 18 more balls in 2011 than the average right fielder would have.

CATCHER—MATT WIETERS, BALTIMORE ORIOLES (97 POINTS)
This year Wieters unseated the winner of the last four Fielding Bible Award winners at catcher, Yadier Molina.  Wieters led all catchers with 14 Runs Saved, and garnered 97 points as the overwhelming choice for this year’s award.

PITCHER—MARK BUEHRLE, CHICAGO WHITE SOX (90 POINTS)
Buehrle again won this award handily. Runner up R.A. Dickey only had 61 points. This is Buehrle’s third straight Fielding Bible Award, as he continues to field his position very well and is a master of controlling the running game. Only three of ten would-be base-stealers were successful against him, and he picked off two additional baserunners.

The Panel

1. Bill James is a baseball writer and analyst and the Senior Baseball Operations Advisor for the Boston Red Sox;

2. The BIS Video Scouts at Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) study every game of the season, multiple times, charting a huge list of valuable game details;
3. The man who created Strat-O-Matic Baseball—Hal Richman;

4. Named the best sports columnist in America by the AP Sports Editors, Joe Posnanski is a Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated and occasional columnist for the Kansas City Star;
5. For over twenty years, BIS owner John Dewan has collected, published and analyzed in-depth baseball statistics and is the author of The Fielding Bible and The Fielding Bible—Volume II;

6. Doug Glanville played nine seasons in Major League Baseball and was well known for his excellent outfield defense.  Currently, he is a baseball analyst at ESPN, primarily on Baseball Tonight, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine.;

7. Hall-of-Famer Peter Gammons serves as on-air and online analyst for MLB Network, MLB.com, and NESN (New England Sports Network);

8. After nearly fifteen years with ESPN.com, Rob Neyer joined SB Nation as National Baseball Editor in 2011.  He has written six books about baseball. ;

9. Todd Radcliffe is Lead Video Scout at Baseball Info Solutions;

10. The Tom Tango Fan Poll represents the results of a poll taken at the website, Tango on Baseball (www.tangotiger.net).  Besides hosting the website, Tom writes research articles devoted to sabermetrics.;

The three tie-breakers are Steve Moyer, President of BIS, Dan Casey, veteran Video Scout at BIS, and Dave Studenmund, one of the owners of www.hardballtimes.com and the editor of The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.

Complete results and voting on THE 2011 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS are presented in The Bill James Handbook 2012, published on or before November 1 every year. For more information on The Fielding Bible Awards, visit www.fieldingbible.com

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.”

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Stat of the Week: A New Pitching Stat

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Last week, we evaluated the definition of a Quality Start and concluded that, while still useful, it is seriously flawed.  This week, we’re going to introduce an alternative: Gem.

In the baseball vernacular, broadcasters and writers use the term “Gem” regularly to describe a pitching masterpiece: “Felix Hernandez pitched a gem last night in the Mariners’ 2-1 victory over the Tigers.”  Bill James took that term and gave it a definition.  The end result is an improvement on Quality Start and a way to highlight the best pitching performances.

A Gem is a game in which the starting pitcher earns a Game Score of at least 65 or throws six or more innings of shutout baseball.  For the mathematically inclined, we’ll go over the definition of Game Score at the end of the Stat of the Week, but first let’s show some examples of what a 65 looks like.  Shaun Marcum earned a Game Score of exactly 65 in his start last Tuesday against the Mets.  He went 6.0 innings, struck out one and allowed two hits, no earned runs, and four walks.  Kyle Kendrick’s start against the Braves on May 7 also earned a Game Score of exactly 65.  He threw 5.0 innings, struck out three and allowed two hits, no earned runs and one walk.  Both of those games qualify as gems, albeit at the lowest end of the Game Score spectrum.

On the higher end of the spectrum is Justin Verlander’s no-hitter earlier this year.  On May 7 against the Blue Jays, he went the distance with no hits, no runs, a walk and four strikeouts.  His performance earned a game score of 90, but that was not the top pitching performance of 2011.  Here are the top Gems of the season:

Top Five Gems of the 2011 Season
Pitcher Date Opponent IP H ER BB

SO Game Score
James Shields 5/22 Marlins 9.0 3 0 1 13 93
Clayton Kershaw 5/29 Marlins 9.0 2 0 1 10 92
Cliff Lee 4/14 Nationals 9.0 3 0 1 12 92
Dan Haren 4/12 Indians 9.0 1 0 2 8 91
Ian Kennedy 4/25 Phillies 9.0 3 0 0 10 91

In a Major League season there are 2,420 games.  Over the last ten years there have been an average of over 2,300 Quality Starts per year.  That’s almost one per game. There are about 1,000 Gems per year.  Just under 50 percent of MLB games are a Gem.

Gems and Quality Starts – Last 10 Years
Through June 12, 2011
Quality Starts 22,438
Team Winning Percentage in a Quality Start .679
   
Gems 9,213
Team Winning Percentage in a Gem .815

Teams win two-thirds of the time when the pitcher has a Quality Start, but while there are fewer Gems, the winning percentage is much higher at .815.  As we saw last week, when a pitcher throws a Quality Start of eight innings or fewer with exactly three earned runs, the team winning percentage is only .500.  While there aren’t that many Gems with three earned runs, the winning percentage in the 164 games over the last ten years is .689.

The 2011 leaders in Quality Starts and Gems are:

Quality Start Leaders   Gem Leaders
Pitcher, Team Quality Starts   Pitcher, Team Gems
Justin Verlander, Tigers 13   Justin Verlander, Tigers 9
Jered Weaver, Angels 12   Shaun Marcum, Brewers 8
Roy Halladay, Phillies 12   Roy Halladay, Phillies 8
Cole Hamels, Phillies 11   Randy Wolf, Brewers 7
Dan Haren, Angels 11   Jered Weaver, Angels 7
Jair Jurrjens, Braves 11   Felix Hernandez, Mariners 7
James Shields, Rays 11   Cole Hamels, Phillies 7

For more on Gems, visit BillJamesOnline.com.

Below is the formula for Game Score, the foundation for Gems, and here is the link for the Wikipedia article on Game Score.

Start with 50.
Add 1 point for each out recorded by the starting pitcher.
Add 2 points for each inning the pitcher completes after the fourth inning.
Add 1 point for each strikeout.
Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.
Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed.
Subtract 2 points for an unearned run.
Subtract 1 point for each walk.

The 12-point penalty for allowing three earned runs reduces the chance that a pitcher can reach a game score of 65, the benchmark for a gem.  As I said last week, only allowing three earned runs keeps the team in the game, but it is far from the quality suggested by the term Quality Stat.  Gems are a much better way of recognizing superb pitching performances.

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.”

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Stat of the Week – Quality Start Revisited

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Back in October of 2004 I wrote a Stat of the Week article called “Is quality start really a quality stat?” I pointed out how a pitcher who has a quality start (6 innings or more with 3 earned runs allowed or less) wins about two-thirds of the time and that shows the “quality” of the stat.  Recently, ESPN baseball commentator Bruce Levine, whom I highly respect, has been talking about how much he hates the stat pointing to the same argument that’s always made about it: “If a guy pitches exactly six innings and allows three runs, that’s a 4.50 ERA.  What’s quality about that?”   My argument has been that this is simply a mediocre tree in the big beautiful forest that makes up the quality start statistic.

Well, I now take exception to myself.

In preparing to refute Mr. Levine’s position on the stat, we decided to look at the situation that he and everyone else points out, exactly six innings and exactly three earned runs.  It seemed to me that a starting pitcher who did this was keeping his team in the game and that this would generally lead to good results.  Over the last 10 years, there have been 2,118 games where a starting pitcher has gone exactly six innings and allowed three earned runs.  Pretty big sample size.  It turns out that the winning percentage in those games for that pitcher’s team is a little below .500.  Maybe you can still say he’s keeping his team in the game, but it’s hardly quality.

And I might be able to live with that as the mediocre tree in the forest, but there’s more.

What about if the pitcher goes seven innings and allows three earned runs?  What about eight innings?  To my great amazement, it turns out that if a starting pitcher pitches anywhere between six and eight innings and allows three earned runs, his team wins less than 50% of the time (5,039 games, 2,491 wins, .494 winning percentage).  Even right at eight innings and three earned runs, it’s below .500 (356 games, 171 wins, .480 winning percentage).

Here’s the complete chart:

Team Winning Percentages –
Starter Allows Three Earned Runs – Last Ten Years

Starter IP Team Record

Winning Percentage
6.0 1007-1111 .475
6.1 212-204 .510
6.2 231-167 .580
7.0 712-772 .480
7.1 91-62 .595
7.2 67-47 .588
8.0 171-185 .480
Total 2491-2548 .494
8.1 20-2 .909
8.2 9-6 .600
9.0 or more 44-8 .846

Another interesting part of this chart is this: when the pitcher records exactly 6, 7 or 8 innings, the winning percentage is below .500.  But when he extends into the next inning for at least one out, the percentage goes above .500.  I’ve been trying to figure out what this means.  I thought it might have to do with the difference between the leagues and pinch-hitting for the pitcher in the National League, but we didn’t see much when we looked at the data.  I am going to chalk it up to sample size issues (a lot less data where pitchers extend into the next inning) until I hear something better.   Suffice it to say, anytime a pitcher pitches eight innings or less and allows exactly three runs, the winning percentage is around .500. Maybe you can call it a “Kept-my-team-in-the-game Start”, but not a Quality Start.

In summary, while the quality start is still a useful statistic, it is seriously flawed.  A way to fix it would be to change it to six innings or more, two earned runs, or more than eight innings, and three earned runs.  That would be quality, but that’s also too complicated.  The better stat is a new one that Bill James invented called “Gems”.  More on that next week.

Side note: I want to give a big shout-out to my two excellent research assistants at Baseball Info Solutions, Ben Jedlovec and Rob Burckhard.  Without their fantastic research help, you’d see nothing but a lot of hot air and blank space in these articles.

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.”

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Does it make sense to “waste” a pitch with an 0-2 count?

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

When a pitcher starts a batter off with two consecutive strikes, he’s clearly ahead in the count and has a range of options available. He can take the efficient route, again throwing the pitch in the strike zone and forcing the hitter to take a defensive swing or head back to the bench. Alternatively, he can “waste a pitch”, throwing it out of the strike zone and hoping that the hitter goes after it, either completing the strikeout or managing weak contact for an easy out.

Which is generally the better strategy?

We can consult the 24 States Matrix for the answer. The 24 States Matrix tells us how many runs, on average, we can expect a team to score from the current situation until the end of the inning. For example, with nobody on and zero outs, the average team last season scored .49 runs. If the first batter reaches base (now a runner on first with no outs), the “Run Expectancy” moves up to .86, based on the league’s average number of runs scored in those situations. We can credit the first play (whether it was a single, a walk, an error, etc.) for an increase of .86 – .49 = .37 runs.

We calculated the Run Expectancy change for each 0-2 count in MLB in 2010. Utilizing the 24 States Matrix, we found that a batter falling behind 0-2 knocks off .10 runs from the team’s run expectancy, almost as bad as sending your pitcher up to bat with a 0-0 count.

As it turns out, pitchers ahead 0-2 threw the next pitch outside the strike zone 72 percent of the time. The average change in Run Expectancy in those at bats remained exactly the same, -.10. On the other hand, if a pitcher challenged the hitter with an 0-2 pitch in the strike zone, the result was ever-so-slightly better for the hitter, at -.09.

Wasting a Pitch on 0-2

Location

Frequency

Average Run Value of the At Bat

Outside the Strike Zone

72%

-.10

Inside the Strike Zone

28%

-.09

Of course, pitchers handle an 0-2 count against Albert Pujols differently than against Ryan Theriot. But, the numbers indicate that pitchers should keep doing what they’re doing: keep wasting pitches, but throw it in the strike zone every so often just to keep them honest.

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.

When a pitcher starts a batter off with two consecutive strikes, he’s clearly ahead in the count and has a range of options available. He can take the efficient route, again throwing the pitch in the strike zone and forcing the hitter to take a defensive swing or head back to the bench. Alternatively, he can “waste a pitch”, throwing it out of the strike zone and hoping that the hitter goes after it, either completing the strikeout or managing weak contact for an easy out.

Which is generally the better strategy?

We can consult the 24 States Matrix for the answer. The 24 States Matrix tells us how many runs, on average, we can expect a team to score from the current situation until the end of the inning. For example, with nobody on and zero outs, the average team last season scored .49 runs. If the first batter reaches base (now a runner on first with no outs), the “Run Expectancy” moves up to .86, based on the league’s average number of runs scored in those situations. We can credit the first play (whether it was a single, a walk, an error, etc.) for an increase of .86 – .49 = .37 runs.

We calculated the Run Expectancy change for each 0-2 count in MLB in 2010. Utilizing the 24 States Matrix, we found that a batter falling behind 0-2 knocks off .10 runs from the team’s run expectancy, almost as bad as sending your pitcher up to bat with a 0-0 count.

As it turns out, pitchers ahead 0-2 threw the next pitch outside the strike zone 72 percent of the time. The average change in Run Expectancy in those at bats remained exactly the same, -.10. On the other hand, if a pitcher challenged the hitter with an 0-2 pitch in the strike zone, the result was ever-so-slightly better for the hitter, at -.09.

Wasting a Pitch on 0-2

Location

Frequency

Average Run Value of the At Bat

Outside the Strike Zone

72%

-.10

Inside the Strike Zone

28%

-.09

Of course, pitchers handle an 0-2 count against Albert Pujols differently than against Ryan Theriot. But, the numbers indicate that pitchers should keep doing what they’re doing: keep wasting pitches, but throw it in the strike zone every so often just to keep them honest.

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Stat of the Week: Best Defensive Teams So Far

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

The Indians, Royals, and Rangers feature the three best records in the American League. Not coincidentally, they also feature three of the top-rated defenses thus far in 2011.

The 2010 AL Champion Rangers are hardly a surprise considering the addition of former Fielding Bible Award winner Adrian Beltre, but the Royals were supposed to be battling for the AL Central cellar, not the division lead. Kansas City upgraded defensively this offseason with Jeff Francoeur and Alcides Escobar. Though it’s still April, the moves appear to be paying off.

The Colorado Rockies sit on top of the National League, both in Wins and in Runs Saved. Last year’s Fielding Bible Award winner at shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki, has done it all on both sides of the ball.

Here are the top defensive teams of the young season:

Best Defensive Teams- 2011
Team Runs Saved
Rangers 14
Rockies 10
Royals 9
Cardinals 7
Brewers/Orioles 6

The Mets and Phillies rate as the worst defensive teams thus far. Only Angel Pagan and Pedro Beato have positive Runs Saved totals at this point for the Mets, who have cost themselves an estimated 26 runs (over two wins!) just with poor defense so far this year. An aging infield of Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, and Wilson Valdez has struggled in the field, making Fielding Bible Award winner Chase Utley’s absence all the more conspicuous.

Worst Defensive Teams- 2011
Team Runs Saved
Mets -26
Phillies -18
Mariners -17
Diamondbacks -16
Cubs -14

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.”

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