Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Stats of note... 

It's been a while since I talked numbers in any depth, and numbers are the bread and butter of A Citizen's Blog. If you want witty comments and good writing try Beerleaguer, Shallow Center or Balls, Sticks & Stuff. I'm a numbers guy.

Let’s begin our discussion of numbers with a look at the standings…

Actual NL Standings:
Atlanta: 61-45
Washington: 56-49
Florida: 54-49
Philadelphia: 55-51
New York Mets: 53-52

Now let’s take a look at Pythagorean win-loss:

Pythagorean NL Standings:
Atlanta: 63-43 (-2)
New York: 57-48 (-4)
Florida: 55-48 (-1)
Philadelphia: 53-53 (+2)
Washington: 49-56 (+7)

A minus means how many games you are running behind of your actual record, a plus means how far ahead … The Mets are running behind of their actual record by a decent margin (i.e., they are playing better than they look), and the Nats are running way ahead (i.e., they are much worse than they look).

With the season 2/3 complete I think we can start drawing some conclusions as to how the year will pan out for some players. e.g., Chase Utley: Good. Jim Thome: Bad. Here are some numbers that I find interesting:

Slugging Percentage:
Utley: .540
Burrell: .508
Howard: .492
Abreu: .488
Rollins: .414
Lofton: .401
Michaels: .401
Lieberthal: .395
Bell: .370
Thome: .352
Team: .414
NL: .417

Aside from Utley, Abreu, Burrell and Ryan Howard, the whole team is pretty much stinking the joint up. I’m very impressed by Chase Utley’s performance here: 41 extra-base hits in 368 plate appearances. Bobby Abreu, as great a season as he is having, has 40 XBH in 468 PA’s. (Abreu has 71 singles to Utley’s 61.)

On-Base Percentage:
Abreu: .406
Michaels: .404
Utley: .389
Lofton: .387
Burrell: .378
Thome: .360
Howard: .348
Rollins: .327
Lieberthal: .319
Bell: .313
Team: .347
NL: .331

No surprise Abreu is having such a terrific season here. Chase’s ability to develop his batting eye is the story here: .101 BB/PA (walks per plate appearance). His OBP has really climbed from last season. (.308 vs. .389)

BA/RISP: Batting Average w/ Runners in Scoring Position
Rollins: .338
Utley: .329
Michaels: .316
Lofton: .315
Burrell: .310
Howard: .310
Abreu: .289
Bell: .239
Thome: .211
Lieberthal: .173
Team: .278
NL: .263

The debate about “clutch” hitting is one that will forever divide the sabremetric / Bill James / Moneyball crowd from the Old School / Joe Morgan / Larry Bowa crowd: the Young Turks insisting it doesn’t exist, while the Old Schoolers hold steadfastly to their collective guns. I tend to agree with the Young Turks on this one, but that’s just a prejudice I feel.

Certainly I would note that if you do believe that clutch hitting exists than the Phillies should be winning because they are clearly hitting in the clutch: the Phillies are fourth of 16 teams in BA/RISP, just behind the Cards (.284), the Fishstripes (a.k.a., the Marlins, .285) and the Giants (.288).

I would also note that critics of Pat Burrell need to take a seat: Burrell is hitting nearly fifty points over the league average in this stat and substantially better than the team as a whole. It’s either luck or skill at work, but statistically Burrell performs better in the clutch this season. Burrell had .263 BA/RISP in ’04, hitting just .006 over his “regular” BA.

The Platoon … funny thing I noticed about Jason Michaels and Kenny Lofton, the Phillies centerfielders: they are virtually clones of each other statistically:

Runs Created / SLG / BA/RISP / Plate Appearances
Lofton: 37 / .401 / .315 / 240
Michaels: 37 / .401 / .316 / 241

Pretty close. Check out their defensive stats:

Zone Rating:
Michaels: .868
Lofton: .862

Fielding Win Shares per 1,000 Innings:
Michaels: 5.74
Lofton: 4.83

Naturally they aren’t exactly alike: Michaels is running .017 ahead of Lofton in OBP, while Lofton is getting most of his OBP out of his BA (i.e., he’s getting on base via hits rather than walks).

Lofton: .083 (20 BB’s in 240 PA’s)
Michaels: .141 (34 BB’s in 241 PA’s)

It is remarkable that the Phillies platoon in center (which is what it is) is so uniform.

Last year I noted that, despite Larry Bowa’s rep as an Old Schooler, the Phillies practiced a lot of Moneyball: they didn’t steal or sac bunt much compared to the rest of the NL. This season, with Charlie Manuel at the helm, I wondered if they had changed any.

First, I was wondering if the Phillies employed different strategies on the road as opposed to at home. Specifically I was wondering if the Phillies tried base-stealing more on the road than at home. Here’s what I found:

Home: 2117 Total Plate Appearances, 47 Attempted Steals
Road: 1984 Total Plate Appearances, 47 Attempted Steals

The Phillies tried 23.7 steals per 1,000 plate appearances on the road, 22.2 steals per 1,000 plate appearances at home. That’s a variance of 1.5 per 1,000 plate appearances, a variance that I submit to you is fairly insignificant. Then I scoped out sacrifice hits (not a perfect measure, I grant you, because it includes sac flies). The Phillies average 10.39 sac hits per 1,000 plate appearances at home, 10.08 on the road.

Again: statistically insignificant. I'll give this topic another pass soon.

Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
OBP (On-Base Percentage): How often a player gets on base. (H + BB + HBP) / (Plate Appearances)
BB / PA (Walks per plate appearance): (BB / PA = .BB/PA Avg)
SLG (Slugging Percentage): Power at the plate. (Total Bases / At-Bats = Slugging Percentage)
ZR (Zone Rating): Is a stat which measures a player’s defensive ability by measuring plays they should have made. Admittedly, this is a stat left open to subjective opinions.

You flatter me, Michael.

Regardless, I'm not a stats guy, but this was an interesting post to read. Nice job.
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