Monday, May 23, 2005

The Value of Win Value

A question I often ponder (in part because my wife asks it very often) is "Why do I do all this ERV Boxscore and Win Value stuff?" "Is it worth all the fuss?" My pat response: "For the money."

The real answer is: I want to know more about why we (the Nats) win or lose ballgames. I like baseball enough that time-consuming, non-remunerative research is worth it to me. One thought that is always lurking in my mind is that I am only going to discover things that we already knew, and which I could have learned for a lot less effort, and that I'm simply wasting my time reinventing the wheel.

But yesterday turned out to be a day where I felt pretty good about all this work. Here's why: a lot of Nats blogs out there gave Ryan Church its "player of the game" award for yesterday's 9-2 win over the Jays (see, e.g., Capitol Punishment, Distinguished Senators, BallWonk). Why? It seems largely because the traditional boxscore says he went 4 for 5.

But I took a look at the ERV Boxscore, which says that no less than 7 (!) Nats had a higher Win Value than Church. What's up with that? Is WV that screwed up? Here's Church's RV and WV for each plate appearance:

1. Double in the 2nd with 2 outs, left stranded by Hammonds -- RV 0.23, WV 0.15
2. Single in the 5th, starting the big inning -- RV 0.39, WV 0.52
3. Ground Out to end the 5th with runners on 2nd & 3rd -- RV -0.59, WV -0.50
4. Single in the 7th, RV 0.26, WV 0.03
5. Single in the 9th, RV 0.94, WV 0.02

Bottom line: This game was won in the fifth inning, and Church was not a key part in that inning, and left a couple of guys in scoring position at the end of it. Guillen, Bennett and Guzman (in that order) had more important hits, and thus have higher Win Values for the game. All of Church's other hits were inconsequential towards the Nats' victory. So I was relieved to see that Win Value was still providing valuable information about the game. In fact, this game is a great example of how it can sum up, in one number, the player's contribution to the victory or loss.

Hopefully, Ryan's 4 for 5 will convince Frank to play him more often, and he'll get more chances to win ballgames for us. But yesterday he was not a big reason we won that game.


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