Friday, June 16, 2006
Recently I’ve done some work comparing BaseRuns and Runs Created to one another. BaseRuns, if you missed by post a few weeks ago (click here), is an alternative method of computating a player’s contributions to his team. BaseRuns, developed by Dave Smyth, is usually held up by critics of Bill James’ Runs Created as being the most accurate method of forecasting runs scored. Here is the formula for BaseRuns:
A: H + BB + HBP – HR
B: (.8 * S) + (2.1 * D) + (3.4 * T) + (1.8 * HR) + (.1 * (BB + HBP))
C: AB – HR
(B / (B+C)) then multiply by A, then add D.
I’ve actually done some work and I’ve compared BaseRuns to Runs Created. Yes, it is very accurate. (And BaseRuns more accurately tracked the Phillies 2005 offensive output than Runs Created.) But there are things I like about Runs Created. Check out the formula:
A: H + BB + HBP – CS – GIDP
B: (1.125 * S) + (1.69 * D) + (3.02 * T) + (3.73 * HR) + (.29 * (BB + HBP – IBB)) + (.492 * (SB + SF + SH)) – (.04 * K)
C: AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH
(A * B) / C
Notice that Runs Created looks at things like base-stealing (benefits and detriments), intentional walks, sac flies and sac hits and strikeouts. What really intrigued me was that Runs Created keeps track of grounding into double plays. BaseRuns critics have argued that this is flawed before a lead-off hitter can’t possibly GIDP because he is leading off the first inning guaranteed that there isn’t a single base-runner on. That is a good point. I’ve felt funny about it because, to a certain extent, you are holding someone responsible for what another person does: how quickly that person gets to second base. Quick runners can get to second and turn a 6-4-3 double play into a 6-3 ground out with the runner advancing to second, or break up the relay and turn a 6-4-3 into a 6-4 fielders choice.
But I think that keeping track of grounding into double plays is important. They happen a lot and when they do, they are inning killers. Consider the followed scenarios. What happens to a team’s scoring chances when there is a runner on first with no outs and the batter grounds into a 6-4-3 double play?:
Runner on First, No Outs:
Run Expectancy Before GIDP: .9227
Run Expectancy After GIDP: .1160
Basically, the team goes from expecting to score a run that inning to expecting a one-eighth of a chance for a run.
Assume there is already an out:
Runner on First, One Out:
Run Expectancy Before GIDP: .5536
Run Expectancy After GIDP: .0000
A chance at half a run, and then no runs because the inning is over. Now assume that there are multiple base-runners:
Runner on First & Second, No Outs:
Before GIDP: .1.5204
After GIDP*: .3627
* Assuming the runner advances to third during the GIDP.
Sure, the runner was advanced to being just ninety feet from home, but look at the cost: from scoring a run and a half to a one-third chance of getting a solo run.
Okay, so you get the theoretical and practical issues in play here. How are the Phillies doing? Well, I must admit surprise. According to ESPN.com, the Phillies rank tenth amongst sixteen NL teams in grounding into double plays:
1. San Francisco: 67
2. Pittsburgh: 66
3. Chicago Cubs: 62
4. Los Angeles: 58
5. Colorado: 58
10. Phillies: 50
I would have thought that the Phillies would have been higher. What NL team has ground into the fewest double plays? The Mets with 35. Probably a big factor for their success.
Which Phillies have been getting into trouble with this? Check out the Phillies leaders:
Ryan Howard: 3
Chase Utley: 3
Aaron Rowand: 4
David Bell: 4
Bobby Abreu: 5
Jimmy Rollins: 8
Pat Burrell: 9
Given the fact that Chase Utley hits second and usually as Jimmy Rollins ahead of him, it probably isn’t a major surprise to see that he has so few GIDPs. What is a surprise is that Ryan Howard has so few. Who hits ahead of him? Pat Burrell. Pat Burrell was a terrible base-runner in 2005, advancing just 31% of the time he was on base and getting thrown out five times. Ryan Howard should have more of these.
Speaking of Pat the Bat, in addition to hitting like crap with runners in scoring position (see, yesterday's post), his 9 GIDPs are inexcusable. Chase Utley is a good base-runner, advancing 44% of the time and not getting thrown out in 2005. Bobby Abreu? Advanced 48% of the time and got thrown out just twice. So why does he have so many GIDPs? In fact, he’s tied for eighth in the NL with about four other players.
Now let’s talk about Jimmy Rollins. His eight are eye-popping and very interesting. Consider this: Jimmy Rollins lead-off sixty games for the Phillies. That means that out of the 294 plate appearances he has made in 2006, in 20% of them there was no chance of J.Roll hitting into a double play. And I'm sure that there were many, many others where he led off an inning. In fact, given how rarely pitchers get on base, that is remarkable that J.Roll gets to hit with runners on anyway. I know what you are going to say: “But Mike, wouldn’t J.Roll logically have a high GIDP because he hits in front of a slow-footed pitcher during games?” You’d think that would be a factor, but J.Roll had nine all of 2005. Why has he accumulated nearly the same amount in less than half the time?
So yet another reason why Jimmy Rollins is hurting the Phillies offense.
Thoughts on the Mets sweep of the Phils: this week's Phillies-Mets series was a mild disaster for the Phillies. Check that: major disaster. Now, it is way too early to annoint the Mets as the NL East champs, but you have to figure that if they go on to win this September, that this series might have been the tipping point. As I write this, the Mets own a nine and a half game lead on the Phillies and a whopping thirteen game lead on the Braves. That is going to be difficult - very difficult - to make up.
All that the Phillies can do is regroup and plan. They open a three game set with the D-Rays tonight. Let's hope these are three easy W's. Enjoy your weekend everyone. I’ll be back on Monday with more fun and exciting thoughts…