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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Friday, August 05, 2005

Yet More Fun w/ Win Shares! 

I do love Win Shares! They are a fun topic because I have yet to find an all-around stat that encompasses fielding, hitting or pitching that comes closest to giving you an idea about how valuable a player was to his team. Win Shares aren’t perfect, but they give you a great idea about a player.

I particularly enjoy a sub-category of Win Shares: Fielding Win Shares. In keeping with my obsession with baseball and defense, I’m always scanning FWS to see how is helping the team and who isn’t. I’ve argued that Bell’s tremendous glove-work significantly off-sets his weak bat and actually makes him a valuable member of the team.

Check out the Phillies Fielding Win Shares thus far. I’ve multiplied them by 1,000 innings to give you an idea about who is contributing (difficult to do by looking at the raw numbers since players play different amounts of innings):

The Infield:
Polanco: 5.08
Utley: 3.86
Rollins: 3.47
Bell: 3.41
Howard: 1.46
Thome: 1.38

Placido Polanco is a tremendous defensive player and you can see that here. While Chase probably isn’t the best 2B fielder in the NL, he’s pretty darn good. Clearly he’s the best the Phillies have at the moment with Placido in Detroit.

I’ve always been rather disappointed in Jimmy Rollins. All of that talent and he just can’t make it happen. He’s a good defender, but not great. He should be better. At the moment he ranks ninth amongst NL SS’s in Fielding Win Shares (non-adjusted), despite playing a ton of innings … David Bell is always a surprise: he’s third in FWS (non-adjusted) and really contributes beyond his shoddy work at the plate. George Will emphasized the importance of defense in Men At Work by asking why a double denied by a good defensive play wasn’t as valued as a double hit at the plate. It should be, and for that reason we should give David Bell a little praise.

Obviously the Phillies don't have Ryan Howard and Jim Thome in the lineup for their gloves.

Pratt: 7.06
Lieberthal: 4.95

Time is running short for the Phillies very own Crash Davis. Lieberthal is currently eleventh in FWS amongst NL catchers. Todd Pratt continues to be the perfect backup catcher.

The Outfield:
Michaels: 5.74
Lofton: 4.84
Abreu: 2.39
Burrell: 1.93

The Phillies don’t expect much from the gloves of Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell, but the Lofton / Michaels platoon in center turns in a decent performance. Interestingly, Jason Michaels has more FWS (2.6) than Bobby Abreu (2.1) in playing fewer innings. Michaels is actually twelfth in FWS and Abreu is eighteenth. Pat Burrell is thirtieth.

There you go, Fun with Fielding Win Shares. Monday I plan a post on Chase Utley & Philadelphia Magazine (you’ll see how the topics go together).

(8) comments

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Wild One... 

Last night's 4-3 win over the Cubs is one of the wildest endings I've ever seen to a baseball game: the sight of Rollins breaking for home and nearly getting jammed up almost caused me to have a heart-attack.

Anyway, a win is a win. The Phillies have jumped into third and are now 6 games behind the Braves and 3 & 1/2 games out of the wildcard. The team's immediate goal should be to leapfrog past the Nats, who have been holding on to second for a while now. With 54 games left the Phillies post-season hopes are still alive.

Say goodbye to Billy Wagner: he's given the team until the end of the month to renegotiate his deal or he's walking. That's code-words for "I'm leaving come hell or high-water."

Nice "Ten Things" article at The Hardball Times. I liked what Dave Studeman said about Mark McGwire.

And what the heck was Charlie Manuel thinking when he said the Home Run Derby screwed up Abreu's swing?

More later.

(3) comments

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.

(4) comments

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Here we go... 

Nice article from the Inquirer's Todd Zolecki about how difficult it will be for the Phillies to make the playoffs. I tend to be less of the pessimist, but it certainly appears to me that people are assuming the worst and are gearing up for football season.

Dave Studeman at The Hardball Times has a nice article about something I've noticed of late: there are a lot of teams in the hunt for the playoffs. And the NL West sucks.

More later today.

(46) comments

Monday, August 01, 2005

Do or Die... 

With the passing of the trading deadline we've entered the Do-or-Die portion of the season. This is the stretch run that the Phillies have to cover to make the playoffs. The last two seasons this is where the Phillies have faltered, so let's see what happens.

Am I surprised that the Phillies were to passive at the trading deadline? Not really. I'm actually glad because I didn't want to see the team do something boneheaded like make a deal for Pirates centerfielder Matt Lawton, one of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball. The Phillies held on to Wagner and Howard and their prospects.

Part of the reason why the Phillies didn't do much was because other teams didn't do much: this was one of the most passive trading deadlines I've ever seen. Whatever happened to a blockbuster deal like last year's moves by the Red Sox to send Nomar to Chicago? So many teams think they are in the thick of a pennant race that nobody wanted to be the MLB's Sam's Club, selling players for discounted prices. Even the Pirates, usually sellers at this stage of the season, were pretty passive.

Well, with 56 games left the Phillies are doing alright: taking 3 of 4 from the Rockies nicely salvaged the sweep in Houston and landed the Phillies 2.5 games out of the wildcard. At the moment the Phillies are 6.5 back of the surging Braves who look to capture their (yawn) 13th, 14th, 15th ... whatever ... pennant. Growl.

Aside from a four game set with the Nats the Phillies will send the month facing off with NL West and Central teams. This is the team for the team to strike:

Record vs.
Central & West: 28-17 (.622)
East: 20-26 (.434)

See you tomorrow.

(8) comments

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