Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Precious Egos

No sport keeps more statistics than baseball, partly because - as each game is made up of a series of isolated events, i.e., at bats, it is so easily done.

You can, for example, see how your team is doing. Last year, the Yankees did best on the road, at night, in August, against lefties. The Blue Jays were best at home, at night, against righties, before the All-Star Break.

If you want to second-guess the manager while watching (or in Rick's case listening to) a game you can take into account a multitude of factors. How about deciding what reliever would be most effective?

Well, against Francisco Cordero left-handed hitters batted .243 last year, while right-handed batters hit only .159. But that's only the beginning. Cleanup hitters batted .250 against Cordero, number 3 hitters just .036! With no count, batters hit .278. With a 1-1 count they hit .308. But with a 2-2 count they hit just .162. (He appears to bear down.) Cordero allowed 6 home runs in his first 15 pitches, but when an appearance went longer, he gave up no dingers. And, he allowed 6 home runs with the bases empty - but none with men on base. Interesting.

As for your batting order, who should play and where should they bat? Well let's decide when to give Jose Bautista a day off. He hit 20 home runs at home and 23 away. He knocked in 49 runs at home and 43 away. He hit .305 at home and .300 away. His OBA was .454 at home and .442 away. His slugging average was .609 at home and .607 away. Wow! It sure didn't matter last year whether Bautista was on the road or at the Rogers Centre.

How about the difference between night and day? He hit 22 homers in the daytime, 21 at night. Daytime RBIs 54, nighttime 48. Daytime batting average .284, nighttime 313. Okay not much difference there either.

How about grass vs. turf? Most AL batters played far more game on grass than on turf, but for the Jays it was about even. Bautista hit 20 homers on (actually over) grass, 23 on turf; had 50 RBIs on grass, 53 on turf; a .304 batting average on grass, .300 on turf; OBA .442 on grass, .452 on turf; slugging average .597 on grass, .619 on turf. Holy smokes! Talk about consistent!

Playing third base he hit. 309. Playing right field he hit. 302. It just didn't matter with Bautista! Except for one major factor, baseball is a funny game, there's always something else to consider. How about before and after the All-Star game? Before it Bautista had 31 homers, 65 RBI, a .334 average, a .468 OBA, and a .702 Slugging Percentage. After the break - just 12 homers, 38 RBI, .257, a .419 OBA, and a .477 Slugging Percentage. Yikes! (Factor in, though, that there are a few more games before the All-Star break than after it.)

How consistent were the other top hitters in the AL last year? Well Robbie Cano's Slugging Percentage was .533 at home and .533 on the road. But he had 7 homers and 40 RBI in the daytime and 21 dingers and 78 RBI under the lights. Miguel Cabrera hit 15, 56, .349 at home and 15, 49, .339 on the road. Like Cano, he did a lot better at night 18, 68, .372 vs. 12, 37, .297 daytime. Adrian Gonzales was a lot better at night - 22, 88, .348 against just 5, 29, .316. Mind you, there are a lot more night games.

Why are most major league lineups the same every day if major league managers have so much information at their disposal? Shouldn't a player hit second in one situation (depending on the pitcher, the time of day, whether he's in a slump, etc.) and 6th another time? Probably. But in my opinion it's all about managers not wanting to damage the precious and fragile egos of their players. They're getting to play baseball, enjoy five months off, and earn millions, but we wouldn't want to damage their egos.

Anyway, better luck in the second half next year Jose and keep getting those number three hitters out Francisco.


Rick Blechta said...

A truly interesting post. I imagine our Will sitting in a small room with no windows, surrounded by reams of paper and majestic tomes filled with arcane statistics, working for weeks to come up with this enlightening post.

Or not. He was probably out on the golf course, looking this up on his Blackberry while waiting for the foursome of slow pokes in front of him.

Thanks, Will!

Will Braund said...

It won't be long until I can escape my piles of statistics and golf in the daytime and listen to my Yankees on the radio at night - or watch them on TV if they're playing Satan's Red Sox.