Saturday, April 30, 2005

Lots of thoughts on tonight's game

I was happy to see a 40K+ crowd there even if there were clearly a bunch of Mets fans (including my folks, whom I took to the game tonight). DC is a transient town with lots of people here displaced from other cities--not much we can do about that.

On the game itself, I thought the Nats played very well. Castilla's hit in the 1st to take a 2-0 lead was very clutch and it seemed to me like the batters were finally taking the idea of pitch count seriously (I had mentioned anecdotally how I wasn't happy with the Nats not walking, swinging early etc...I actually did look on Friday and we were last in the majors of pitches seen per plate appearance). I also felt far more confident in this game that we were going to score when we had opportunities.

There were a couple of lowlights to the game as well....

I hate being the guy that keeps saying this, but I'm honestly not "trying" to find faults with Cristian...they just keep coming up. Tonight they were more in the field than anything, although I was pretty frustrated when he popped out on his first pitch in the second. You can't hit...so at least try to work the pitch count and use your speed by not popping up. But the glove (or lack thereof) overshadowed that mistake. I'm not going to answer comments that at least he makes up for his bat with a good glove, because that would be ludicrous unless he was not only Ozzie Smith, but had a magical potion to turn his teammates into Keith Hernandez, Robby Alomar, Scott Rolen, etc. in the field as well...all of which combined I suppose could make up for Guzman's bat. However, I'd certainly challenge the notion that Guzman's glovework is good AT ALL. I would not say he is better than an average shortstop, and this year he has certainly been worse. DM does the ERV numbers, not me, and his ERV numbers rank Guzman as by far the worst fielder on the team this year. Two examples tonight, the first not as bad. It occurred to me as I watched David Wright's grounder go through the infield to start the 3rd that this guy never seems to dive or really go out of his way for a ball. I wouldn't say that I'd subtract ERV for that play, but I thought he should have made more of an effort. Second, the ERROR (and it was an error even if the official rules can't call it that because one out was made) Guzman made on the throw which forced Johnson off the bag, failed to complete the double play, and caused poor Gary Majewski to be charged with 3 earned runs when Floyd doubled the bases clean, was no doubt a decent sized ERV loser. It's just really frustrating watching this guy hurt the team on both sides of the field.

The other lowlight was seeing Vidro fly out to end the fourth inning. The pitcher is struggling. His last seven pitches have been balls. He just walked in a run. He has thrown 84 pitches in under 4 innings. The count is 1-0 to you. And you swing???? I don't care if he threw the ball underhand. You take the pitch. Albert Pujols takes the pitch. Babe Ruth gets up from the dead and takes the pitch--I guess he wouldn't even have to get up from the dead for that. This made me wonder. Is that Frank's fault? I mean is this the "hey everyone, we have no time outs left. Don't call one" speech that every basketball coach is mandated to inform his players about? Is Frank supposed to tell Vidro "This guy can't hit water from a boat. You do not swing until he throws a strike"? I lean towards yes...it is his fault. He gets paid to manage. So.... manage.

Other notes, not quite on the activities of the playing of the game itself:

As you know, our seats are right behind the visitor's dugout. This enabled me to see two quite funny things. The first was Pedro Martinez's head. Yes, it looks on TV like he uses enough Jeri Curl to supply a small nation (or Manny Ramirez). But the man's head was literally dripping. Yuck. Think of the scene in Coming to America where the family leaves stains on the couches from their heads.
The second was Cliff Floyd. So, some guy a few seats from me VERY jokingly and good-naturedly says to Floyd as he is entering the dugout well behind his other teammates after a Nats at bat inning, "Hey... little hustle there Cliff." Cliff, in front of about half a dozen children just looks up at the guy and so matter of factly says "F*ck off" as he enters the dugout. Now, there's someone you can look up to as a role model.

Had more reasons tonight to be proud that I moved over from the Mets to the Nats. The first was that ridiculous, childish, self-loathing chant that the Mets' fans in right field did mocking the Yankees (and the fans in Yankee Stadium who usually make such chants). You are at a Mets/Nats game. If you are that pre-occupied with your inferiority to the Yankees, get a life. The other thing was that the rain delay emptied out a good portion of my section leaving room for random, very drunk Mets fans to come down and take the seats. They were not just drunk, but rowdy, cursing a lot and throwing things at the Mets dugout (because they didn't like losing I guess). The security was completely non-existent. The fans who had paid tickets to those seats complained to the usher to absolutely no avail with the usher in our section saying to me "yeah, there's nothing I can do." I suppose the RFK security wins the opposite award of whatever the guy in Boston who saved Gary Sheffield's ass (and the man he would have pummelled) won.

Last points... the scoreboards were often wrong as usual. Seriously, it's a team of monkeys isn't it? You can tell us. Llamas? Emus? Something fluffy? Who runs the scoreboards..please start looking at resumes.

SuperNova asked me when we were at the game Tuesday why pitchers underhand throws to first, and my theory was that they really have a hard time throwing a soft overhand lob to first after throwing a bunch of blazing 90 MPH balls by hitters. Ladies and gentlemen, I present as exhibit one...Tomo Ohka.

That's all. Have a good night everybody.

ERV Boxscore for April 30, 2005

A couple of new features added to the boxscores:

1. The Number in Parentheses in the Final Score. These are the "inflation-adjusted" runs, which are explained below when I talk about the new Win Value column.

2. ERVPA -- ERV Plate Appearances. This new column for batters totals the team Expected Run Value for all of that player's plate appearances. For example, when a batter leads off an inning, the ERV is 0.53, so that PA is worth 0.53. This number tells you the number of runs the team was expected to score in the rest of the inning as the batter came to the plate. The higher the number, the more important the PAs were for that batter, i.e. what the stakes were. A batter who comes up everytime with Bases Loaded should have a very high ERVPA. This can be used to measure the batter's efficiency -- for example, for all of Vinny Castilla's plate appearances, the Nats were expected to score 1.43 runs. Vinny, though, generated 1.47 runs with his bat, which is better than 100 %, which is highly efficient. For comparison purposes, on the season, Vinny's efficiency (which is the best on the club) is about 15%.

3. ERVF -- ERV Faced. This is the pitchers version of ERVPA, it totals the ERV for all of the batters the pitcher faced. Essentially, it is the opposing team's total expected runs while it faced that pitcher. It can be used to measure the pitcher's efficiency, like a batter, but the number itself is meaningful -- the higher it is, the more real chances the pitcher gave the opponents to score. As you can see below, Ohka actually gave the Mets for chance to score than Zambrano -- but the Nats were much more efficient with their bats than the Mets.

4. Win Value -- This column takes the RVs (all of them, Batting, Fielding, Running, Pitching, etc.) and adjusts them for the score and inning of the game, in an effort to reflect how important the run was to the winning/losing of the game. I can't go into detail right now how it is done, but here are the basics: if the game is tied (in any inning) then the WV = the full value of the RV. Likewise where an event ties a game up or takes the lead. In essence, if the state of the game can change, the full RV is awarded. For all other times, the WV equals RV multiplied by a discount factor, which is based on the score differential and the inning. So, if a game is 10-0 in the 8th, the WV will almost always be very close to 0, because those runs (both to increase a lead or decrease it) are essentially meaningless from a win/loss standpoint.

Think of it this way -- runs are the currency with which teams buy wins. Like currency, runs have different values at different times. A solo home run in the first in a 1-0 final is worth a lot more than an grand slam in the ninth of a 10-0 game. WV seeks to adjust the runs' value for inflation, based on how much it will cost to win the game.

So, the numbers in parentheses in the final score? That's the final score adjusted to Win Value. You can use that difference, in combination with the individual player's WVs, to more accurately assess the player's responsible for the win or loss, and I plan to use that data for assigning ERV win and loss from here on out. (Thanks to Dexys for that idea).

Given the hour, I'm certain this could be more clearly stated, and some of this stuff I just thought of today, so caveat emptor for now. I will try to revise, and would gladly answer questions.


Game Number: 24 , April 30, 2005

Final Score:
New York 3 (1.13)
Washington 5 (2.91)

ERV Win: Ohka
ERV Loss: Zambrano & Reyes

New York


Batter Pos PA ERVPA Bat Field Run Total RV Total WV
ReyesJ SS 4 2.23 (1.01) 0.00 0.00 (1.01) (0.80)
MatsuiK 2B 4 2.27 (1.60) 0.00 0.00 (1.60) (0.59)
BeltranC CF 4 1.19 (0.19) 0.00 0.00 (0.19) (0.22)
FloydC LF 4 1.53 2.08 0.00 0.00 2.08 0.70
PiazzaM C 4 1.67 (0.37) 0.00 0.00 (0.37) (0.10)
MientkiewiczD 1B 3 1.30 (1.09) 0.00 0.00 (1.09) (0.51)
WrightD 3B 3 2.14 (0.30) 0.00 0.00 (0.30) (0.10)
DiazV RF 3 2.38 (0.00) 0.00 0.00 (0.00) 0.01
ZambranoV P 1 0.54 (0.21) 0.00 0.00 (0.21) (0.13)
ValentE PH 1 1.55 (0.76) 0.00 0.00 (0.76) (0.44)
AndersonM PH 1 0.28 0.26 0.00 0.00 0.26 0.04
Totals 32 17.10 (3.19) 0.00 0.00 (3.19) (2.14)





Pitcher BFP ERVF RV WV
ZambranoV 21 9.33 (0.88) (1.26)
AybarM 12 3.61 (0.94) (0.24)
RingR 3 1.55 0.53 0.07
Totals 36 14.49 (1.30) (1.43)




Washington



Batter Pos PA ERVPA Bat Field Run Total RV Total WV
WilkersonB CF 4 2.11 (0.48) 0.00 0.00 (0.48) (0.31)
JohnsonN 1B 4 1.63 2.09 (0.52) 0.00 1.57 0.48
VidroJ 2B 4 1.72 (1.14) 0.00 0.00 (1.14) (0.36)
GuillenJ RF 4 1.11 0.32 0.00 0.00 0.32 0.28
CastillaV 3B 4 1.43 1.47 0.00 0.00 1.47 1.63
ChurchR LF 4 1.43 0.59 0.00 0.00 0.59 0.20
SchneiderB C 4 2.08 (0.11) 0.00 0.00 (0.11) (0.20)
GuzmanC SS 4 1.97 (0.97) 0.00 0.00 (0.97) (0.24)
OhkaT P 3 0.90 (0.38) (1.43) 0.00 (1.81) (0.74)
MajewskiG P 1 0.11 (0.11) 0.00 0.00 (0.11) (0.02)
Totals 36 14.49 1.30 (1.95) 0.00 (0.66) 0.71





Pitcher BFP ERVF RV WV
OhkaT 22 12.25 4.61 2.81
MajewskiG 9 4.51 (1.76) (0.78)
CarrascoH 1 0.33 0.33 0.11
Totals 32 17.10 3.19 2.14

ERV Boxscore April 29, 2005

Another nice, solid win for the Nats. No panic in this team, they seem to let the opponent score early to lull them into their trap. The pitching matchups are set up well for the Nats -- no Glavine or Pedro this weekend for the Mets. If Zach Day can pitch like he did Monday night versus the Phils, and Patterson continues his commanding performance, a sweep could be had.

Guzman had a share of the ERV win until his error in the ninth; Hernandez would have had the ERV win alone but for his wild pitch and bad bunt.

Game Number: 23 , April 29, 2005
Final Score:
New York 1
Washington 5

Win: Hernandez & Cordero
Loss: Seo, Diaz & Bell

New York

Batter Pos PA Bat Field Run Total RV
ReyesJ SS 5 (0.65) 0.00 0.16 (0.49)
MatsuiH 2B 5 (0.02) 0.00 0.00 (0.02)
BeltranC CF 5 (0.71) 0.00 0.00 (0.71)
PiazzaM C 5 (0.58) 0.00 0.00 (0.58)
FloydC LF 4 0.49 0.00 0.00 0.49
MientkiewiczD 1B 4 (0.91) 0.00 0.00 (0.91)
WrightD 3B 4 0.42 0.63 0.00 1.05
DiazV RF 4 (1.13) 0.00 0.00 (1.13)
SeoJ P 2 (1.07) 0.00 0.00 (1.07)
ValentE PH 1 (0.59) 0.00 0.00 (0.59)
AndersonM PH 1 (0.25) 0.00 0.00 (0.25)
Totals 40 (5.01) 0.63 0.16 (4.21)




Pitcher BFP RV
SeoJ 19 (0.99)
BellH 5 (1.06)
KooD 5 0.86
AybarM 2 0.42
KingR 1 0.11
Totals 32 (0.66)


Washington

Batter Pos PA Bat Field Run Total RV
WilkersonB CF 4 (0.77) 0.00 0.00 (0.77)
JohnsonN 1B 4 (0.91) 0.00 0.00 (0.91)
VidroJ 2B 4 (0.47) 0.00 0.00 (0.47)
GuillenJ RF 4 0.72 0.00 0.00 0.72
SledgeT LF 4 (0.24) 0.00 0.74 0.50
CastillaV 3B 3 0.72 0.00 0.00 0.72
SchneiderB C 3 0.56 0.00 0.00 0.56
GuzmanC SS 3 0.85 (0.59) 0.00 0.25
HernandezL P 3 0.20 (0.49) 0.00 (0.28)
Totals 32 0.66 (1.08) 0.74 0.32



Pitcher BFP RV
HernandezL 35 3.88
AyalaL 3 (0.09)
CorderoC 2 1.21
Totals 40 5.01

Friday, April 29, 2005

Friday Morning Figures

Through April 27.


Name PA BFP Batting Fielding Running Pitching Total RV Win Value
PattersonJ 8 107 (0.95) 0.00 0.00 10.33 9.38 7.66
WilkersonB 100 0 7.68 0.73 (0.96) 0.00 7.46 4.09
CorderoC 0 50 0.00 0.00 0.00 6.03 6.03 2.12
CastillaV 74 0 5.77 0.12 (0.63) 0.00 5.26 (0.43)
VidroJ 91 0 7.57 (3.00) 0.00 0.00 4.57 1.69
TuckerT 0 20 0.00 (0.26) 0.00 2.95 2.69 0.63
AyalaL 1 51 (0.17) 0.00 0.00 2.76 2.59 1.25
MajewskiG 0 26 0.00 0.00 0.00 2.30 2.30 0.55
JohnsonN 88 0 2.87 (1.03) (0.37) 0.00 1.47 (0.36)
GuillenJ 92 0 1.29 0.60 (0.71) 0.00 1.18 (0.67)
EischenJ 1 38 0.26 0.00 0.00 0.79 1.05 0.43
CarrascoH 0 13 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.57 0.57 0.07
LoaizaE 11 140 (2.19) (0.33) 0.00 2.62 0.10 0.11
BennettG 16 0 (0.18) (0.00) 0.00 0.00 (0.18) 0.99
SledgeT 39 0 (0.96) 0.25 0.17 0.00 (0.54) (2.53)
CarrollJ 19 0 (0.87) 0.00 0.00 0.00 (0.87) (0.69)
DayZ 7 100 (1.47) (0.23) 0.00 0.71 (0.99) (0.09)
BlancoT 14 0 (1.00) 0.00 0.00 0.00 (1.00) (0.75)
SchneiderB 71 0 (3.25) 1.77 0.46 0.00 (1.02) 0.75
CorderoW 4 0 (1.56) 0.00 0.00 0.00 (1.56) (0.88)
DavisJ 26 0 (2.23) 0.00 (0.16) 0.00 (2.39) (1.57)
HernandezL 14 139 (2.48) (0.16) 0.00 (1.12) (3.76) 1.06
OhkaT 7 93 (0.82) (0.57) 0.00 (2.62) (4.01) (4.62)
BaergaC 15 0 (2.66) (2.03) 0.00 0.00 (4.68) (1.08)
ChurchR 42 0 (5.01) 0.00 0.00 0.00 (5.01) (2.31)
HorganJ 0 44 0.00 (1.05) 0.00 (6.03) (7.07) (0.93)
OsunaA 0 23 0.00 0.00 0.00 (9.45) (9.45) (0.77)
GuzmanC 85 0 (12.55) (4.24) (0.41) 0.00 (17.20) (12.66)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Questionable calls

I didn't get to watch the game yesterday, but I did follow the first 4 innings online and listened to the rest on Radio.

Let me start off by saying that the radio guys were pretty awful. I was listening to XM but it was the Nationals' home broadcast. I just didn't feel they added anything to the game, and they were clearly more old-school baseball guys who loved to throw around old adages than anyone who respected new thinking and stats and the like. And they clearly shied away from criticizing anything Nats related.

Which ties in here to a couple of what I thought were HIGHLY questionable calls made by Frank Robinson yesterday (and a highly questionable quote as stated by the radio guys).

1) Maybe this didn't come from Frank, but I would guess it did. While the steal attempt is usually a bad move, often when you have a guy on first and two outs and a bad count, you try to steal figuring that even if you get out, you are saving the batter who can start fresh next inning with an 0-0 count. However, what were the Nats thinking trying to steal Guzman with Loaiza up in the 7th? You want to make sure Loaiza can bat again in the 8th? It doesn't make any sense. The only even potential argument would be if you planned on pinch hitting for Loaiza anyway in the 8th and you had someone on your bench who could actually hit (which we don't--I brought up at the game the other day that I couldn't remember/think of a single bench weaker than the one we have right now). Anyway, that clearly wasn't in Frank's mind because of...

2) Why did Loaiza pitch the 9th? He had just gotten out of a rough inning where he had over 20 pitches, his pitch count had reached 100, and according to those that were watching, he looked tired. His last outing against the Mets, he had 4 really rough innings where he had to work to get out of jams, and Frank didn't pinch hit for him, letting him pitch the 5th--where he promptly gave up a lead-off homer (no one at the bar I was at knew buck seyz or I would have had an easy win there). Here, Frank leaves him in to pitch the 9th, and he gives up the leadoff homer again. I brought this up to friends a couple of days ago--Frank is very loyal to these old school mentalities of--you let your pitcher go 5 for the chance at the win, you bring your best pitchers in at specific times when you have the lead, not based on the situation, you give your starter a chance to win even if he is tired, you bat a guy like Cristian Guzamn second, etc. That just isn't the way to win ball games and it is going to cost you a few games a year.

3) Some proof of this is a quote the announcers read of Frank's last night. When asked whether he was concerned that Schneider is batting around .200, Frank answered (I'm paraphrasing, but attempting to remember it exactly) "No, he'll go in ups and downs, but it doesn't matter. His job is to catch our pitchers and call ball games. If he gets even a single hit in a game, that's a bonus, but I'm not going to worry if he doesn't." Well, it is true that a catcher catches. But if you are going to have the mentality that your #7 hitter isn't supposed to hit, then you clearly don't care about your #8 hitter, and #9 is the pitcher...not sure we can win too many games if you are willing to have a black hole from a third of your lineup. Especially when the other 6 guys aren't murderer's row.

4) It's funny how the announcers went out of their way not to be critical at certain points. If they meant it, it's even funnier. After the attempted steal with Loaiza up, one of the announcers said "I'm not sure you want to try to steal with your pitcher up and 2 outs. We don't want Loaiza starting off the next inning." The other announcer then countered: "That's what makes Frank Robinson so good. He does things when you least expect them." Let me tell you. When I'm driving, I least expect someone to dive in front of my car. It doesn't make it a smart move.
They also tried to make it seem very exciting that the Nats were going to be in a bunch of scoreless games like yesterday--the old "I'd rather see a 1-0 game than a 12-10 game." I actually tend to agree with that statement some of the time. But unfortunately, if you have a bunch of 0-0 games late in the game, that probably means you are winning half and losing half and the non 0-0 games, you are losing 5-0, making for a pretty bad overall record. We just can't keep hoping to win 2-1 and 3-1 games.

Ok, I had another thought but I lost it, so I'll just post it later if I remember. 11-11, so I can't complain too much anyway!

Final thought: Random digs at Cristian Guzman...at least I'm not the only one.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

ERV Boxscore for Wednesday, April 27

Well, one RV stat reveals all too clearly what kind of game this was for the Nats: Cristian Guzman was the ONLY Nat with a positive batting RV, with his whopping 0.03. The silent bats spoiled a great pitching performance by Esteban Loaiza, who was by far the best Nat with his 2.92 RV, which means that without him, this game is a 6-0 blowout, at least.

The ERV Win/Loss stat seems to work very well here. Loaiza is not on the hook for the loss, rather it is shared by the quietest bats (Guillen, Castilla and Vidro -- often our big three) and Ayala, whose meltdown in the ninth sealed the deal. Myers is the clear and sole owner of the ERV win, as his 3.71 RV (which is 77 percent of the max RV a pitcher can get in a game) is the difference between victory and defeat.

Game Number: 22 , April 27, 2005
Final Score:
Philadelphia 3
Washington 0

ERV Win: Myers
ERV Loss: Guillen, Ayala, Castilla & Vidro (What is this?)

Philadelphia

Batter Pos PA Bat Field Run Total RV
RollinsJ SS 4 0.52 0.00 0.00 0.52
LoftonK CF 4 (0.29) 0.00 (0.51) (0.80)
AbreuB RF 4 0.47 0.00 0.00 0.47
ThomeJ 1B 4 (0.86) 0.00 0.00 (0.86)
UtleyC 2B 3 (0.68) 0.00 0.00 (0.68)
MichaelsJ LF 4 (0.27) 0.00 0.00 (0.27)
PolancoP 3B 4 0.34 0.00 0.00 0.34
LieberthalM C 4 (0.75) 0.00 0.00 (0.75)
MyersB P 2 (0.35) 0.06 0.00 (0.29)
OffermanJ PH 1 (0.46) 0.00 0.00 (0.46)
BellD PH 1 1.00 0.00 0.00 1.00
Totals 35 (1.33) 0.06 (0.51) (1.79)

Pitcher BFP RV
MyersB 27 3.71
CormierR 3 0.54
WagnerB 3 0.54
Totals 33 4.79


Washington

Batter Pos PA Bat Field Run Total RV
WilkersonB 1B 4 (0.28) 0.51 (0.64) (0.41)
ChurchR CF 4 (0.03) 0.00 0.00 (0.03)
VidroJ 2B 4 (0.82) 0.00 0.00 (0.82)
GuillenJ RF 4 (1.05) 0.00 0.00 (1.05)
SledgeT LF 3 (0.03) 0.00 0.00 (0.03)
CastillaV 3B 4 (0.85) 0.00 0.00 (0.85)
SchneiderB C 3 (0.77) 0.00 0.00 (0.77)
GuzmanC SS 3 0.03 0.00 0.00 0.03
LoaizaE P 3 (0.80) 0.00 0.00 (0.80)
BlancoT PH 1 (0.17) 0.00 0.00 (0.17)
Totals 33 (4.79) 0.51 (0.64) (4.91)

Pitcher BFP RV
LoaizaE 29 2.92
EischenJ 2 (0.55)
AyalaL 4 (1.04)
Totals 35 1.33

Notes: Fielding credit given to Brett Myers for his pickoff of Wilkerson in the first. Note that that it was worth so much (0.64) that his subsequent error and balk (which I account for in his fielding RV) do not bring him into the negative RV for the game.

Also, Wilkerson given fielding credit for his throwing Lofton out in the ninth at third base. I judged that a typical play would have resulted in the batter being out at first and runners left on second and third (in other words, Lofton would have been held at third). It was worth 0.51 RV.

Improvements to Nats Blog and Game Notes

At DM's request, your local blogmaster has added some features to Nats Blog in an effort to serve our constituency (meaning DM, Dexy's and myself) better.

First, you will note that I have, at long last, fixed the link to the Washington Nationals "clubhouse" on ESPN.com. The prior link was a dead one to the Expos clubhouse.

Second, I have added direct links to the Nats' hitting and pitching stats on ESPN.com. This is a further effort to turn Nats Blog into a hot portal site, which we can then sell to some dumb media company for $2 billion.

Third, I have added direct links to the stats pages for each of the Nats' four full-season minor league affiliates. If you want to check out what going on down on the farm, come to Nats Blog, where we will re-direct you to Baseball America.

Fourth, I have added a little feature I call the "10 game segment." For some reason, I started dividing the season up into 10-game segments back in 2000, when I was tracking the White Sox (7-3 and 9-1 so far this year). Anyway, I have explanations as to why I like the 10-game segment as a measure of a team's relative performance here, here, and here on Black Betsy, my White Sox blog. The bottom line is that good teams have four or five 7-3 segments, one or two 8-2 and 9-1 segments, and only one or two segments of 3-7 or worse. A bunch of 6-4s get you nowhere - ask the 2004 White Sox on that one.

Game Notes

DM, Dexy's and I had our second group outing to a game last night. As with the first one, there were some great moments, including a large number of "Buck Sez" bets. Perhaps the best one was when DM bet Dexy's that the Phillies would go 3 up, 3 down in an inning. After a debate concerning whether a double play would preserve a 3 up 3 down inning (we concluded it does), a Phillie promptly hit a one-out flyball with a man on first to Brad Wilkerson in deep center. The man on first tagged up, and the play was close at second - if he would have been out, it would have been one of the better "Buck Sez" victories of recent time. Regardless, I lost another "there will be a broken bat" Buck Sez, and DM continues to give his lunch money to Dexys. DM just can't turn down a Buck Sez bet.

Very excitingly, we had not one but 2 foul balls hit to within a 3 seat radius of us. Our 4th, a friend and client, got a piece of the first one, then actually had the second one in his glove before dropping it. It was a difficult, over the shoulder catch with his back to the infield, but if you get leather on it, you gotta catch it.

Also, I tried the Aramark Cheeseburger last night. I must have been hungry, because it tasted pretty good. They need to have pickles available though - a cheeseburger needs pickles. Next game (Friday night), I'll be trying the concourse on the 300 level. They've got chorizo there, which is intriguing, as well as a number of other interesting selections. It's going to take me a while to work around the stadium.

Out-Of-Town Scoreboard Update

It's working and working pretty well, thank goodness. It even was a source of a Buck Sez victory for me, as the Orioles managed to score three runs before the 6th inning (they made it easily). Early in the game, the Yankees-Angels game was listed as

*ANA 2
NYY 3

A-ha! A break in the code of honoring the ridiculous renaming of the Angels! [My personal opinion is that I was ok with LA Angels, but LA Angels of Anaheim is just moronic.] It was fixed by the sixth inning or so - someone must have called the league office or someting - and LAA were now shown as playing the NYY.

....and getting out of the parking lot was a mess.

When Does 10 Equal 8.68?

Last night, Alex Rodriguez went 4 for 5, with 3 HRs and 10 RBI. Naturally, when I first heard this, I thought "I wonder how many RV he had?" So I did the math:

AB1......1st & 2nd, 2 outs........HR..2.75 RV
AB2 -- 1st, 2 outs....................HR..1.87 RV
AB3 -- Loaded, 2 outs............HR..3.31 RV
AB4 -- 1st & 2d, 1 outs...........1B...1.00 RV
AB5 -- None on, 0 outs..........F8..(0.25) RV

Total Batting RV for the game: 8.68.

FAQ on ERV Scoring: If he drove in 10 runs, why does he get only 8.68 RV? Didn't he generate 10 runs? He only gets 8.68 because ERV Scoring gives credit for some of those runs to the batters who were on base when he hit the home run, because they did some of the work too. I like think that ERV Scoring takes the actual runs scored and chops them into pieces and divides the pieces among the players responsible for their creation. He also lost a bit by making an out in his last at bat.

Also note that he got the highest RV he could for each homer because he hit them with two outs, e.g. if he hits the grand slam with no outs, the RV is only 2.29 (one of the neat things about ERV is that it shows how valuable 2 out, run-scoring hits are).

To put this in a context us Nats fans can understand, Cristian Guzman would have to do this TWICE to get his season RV back to 0.00, whereas if any other regular did this ONCE they would instantly take the lead in RV for the team.

ERV Boxscore for Tuesday, April 26

Game Number: 21 , April 26, 2005
Final Score:
Philadelphia 1
Washington 3

Win: Patterson
Loss: Michaels & Utley

Philadelphia
Batter Pos PA Bat Field Run Total RV
RollinsJ SS 5 (0.75) 0.00 0.09 (0.66)
PolancoP LF 5 (0.14) 0.00 0.00 (0.14)
AbreuB RF 4 0.58 0.00 0.00 0.58
ThomeJ 1B 4 0.45 0.00 0.00 0.45
MichaelsJ CF 4 (1.54) 0.00 0.00 (1.54)
UtleyC 2B 4 (0.70) 0.00 0.00 (0.70)
BellD 3B 3 (0.60) 0.00 0.00 (0.60)
LieberthalM C 5 (0.63) 0.00 0.00 (0.63)
LieberJ P 2 (0.62) 0.00 0.00 (0.62)
OffermanJ PH 1 (0.25) 0.00 0.00 (0.25)
LoftonK PH 1 0.41 0.00 0.00 0.41
PerezT PH 1 (0.25) 0.00 0.00 (0.25)
Totals 39 (4.04) 0.00 0.09 (3.95)
Pitcher BFP RV
LieberJ 25 0.23
FultzA 5 0.96
AdamsT 4 0.11
Totals 34 1.30


Washington
Batter Pos PA Bat Field Run Total RV
WilkersonB CF 4 1.60 0.00 0.00 1.60
JohnsonN 1B 3 1.37 (0.11) 0.00 1.25
VidroJ 2B 4 (1.32) 0.00 0.00 (1.32)
GuillenJ RF 4 (0.34) 0.00 0.00 (0.34)
SledgeT LF 4 (0.47) 0.00 0.00 (0.47)
CastillaV 3B 4 (0.31) 0.00 0.00 (0.31)
SchneiderB C 4 (1.21) (0.09) 0.00 (1.30)
GuzmanC SS 3 (0.37) 0.00 0.00 (0.37)
PattersonJ P 20.18 0.00 0.00 0.18
BlancoT PH 1 (0.17) 0.00 0.00 (0.17)
ChurchR CF 1 (0.25) 0.00 0.00 (0.25)
Totals 34 (1.30) (0.20) 0.00 (1.51)

Pitcher BFP RV
PattersonJ 31 2.51
MajewskiG 1 0.46
AyalaL 4 0.54
CorderoC 3 0.54
Totals 39 4.04

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Random thoughts after game 20 (some Nats related)

So, I thought it was interesting today that Tim Keown had an article in espn.com about giving the public even more stats and probabilities to spin baseball more like the World Series of Poker. Keown's article is of course tongue in cheek, but it does make me think that with the proper marketing, ERV scoring could easily become part of the lexicon. By the way, DM, we could use a solidly put together post for our fans here on just how to ERV score in one comprehensive post.

Second: Even after all these years, I still love ESPN and espn.com--although their increasing trend towards making everything an "insider" article might make me change that: guys, with all the info out there, I am NOT paying for more on espn.com, even if it means that I don't get to read Rob Neyer anymore. However, this past week they seem to be obsessing on a debate that they have clearly had to make up and push to be a debate in the first place--that is, who is better/who would you rather build a team around, Pujols or Ichiro. Let me put it this way, if you have a bone in your body that says that the answer is Ichiro, I'm not entirely sure what led you to keep reading this blog. Ichiro is a fine player, a stellar player in fact and a guy I would pay to see. He is an awesome fielder, is obviously quick as hell, and can slap singles all day and all night. But to compare him to Albert Pujols? Why not just compare Lou Brock to Joe Dimaggio and Ted Williams? Because that is what you are doing. Ichiro is a good fielding singles hitter. Albert Pujols is..well, probably the best overall player in the game right now, and according to baseball-reference.com statistical similarity rankings is the most similar at his current age to Dimaggio, Foxx and Williams in that order (Ichiro on the other hand is most similar to Bill Everitt, Bake McBride and Ron LeFlore--he's better than those guys but he started in the MLB later so it is a bit skewed). Not to be insulting to some of the ESPN guys, but if you would rather have Ichiro over Pujols, you just have no concept of statistics and what contributes to winning a baseball game.

Here's more on the lies, damn lies and statistics front in regards to surveys. I was watching the Nats game on the big screen at Champps Friday night, and the Orioles joyfully were relegated to a little screen. Early in the game on the Orioles TV I noticed the "Cingular" poll of the game, which was: where will the Orioles finish in the AL East--first, second, third or fourth. I thought it was interesting that you couldn't choose fifth, but oh well. Anyway, I almost fell off my chair when the results came in a few innings later: 40% FIRST; 59% SECOND; less than 1% third and fourth. So, what you are telling me is that approximately 100% of all people surveyed think that the Orioles will beat out at least one of the Red Sox or the Yankees? 100%?!? Hmmm, too bad I didn't call in--I could have pushed it to 1%.

I'm excited about going to tonight's game. Heck of a pitching matchup between Leiber and Patterson, who has moved to the pole position in the race to see whose jersey I am going to buy. A jersey will be bought by the all-star break, and I'd say my current rankings are (not based on best player, but who I lean towards wearing): Patterson, Vidro, Wilkerson, Guillen. I, of course, will also be buying a Guzman jersey...to burn in effigy. Speaking of which, now in my early 30s, I have reached true maturity. Last night, on the way to my car, a person at my firm got into the elevator with an 8-yr old or thereabouts that I can only assume was his son, and they were on the way to the game. The boy had on a Nationals t-shirt, and the back read: "Guzman" "15."
Did I hit the child? No.
Did I berate him or make him cry in anyway? No.
See? Maturity.

As a final Guzman aside here, I do need to ask...are the Nats committed to playing him 162 games? I mean, do we have absolutely no one who can hit over .200 at SS whether found in the majors, minors, or Wal-Mart?

Wins and Losses

It has long been recognized that the pitcher's W-L stat does not really convey much information. Its rules are sometimes arbitrary, and often don't reflect the contribution of the pitcher to the outcome of the game. Most importantly, I think it was Bill James who first asked, "Why single out the pitcher for the 'win' or the 'loss', when baseball is a team game, and any one on the field might be responsible for the win or the loss?"

The ERV Boxscores I've posted can help produce a better W-L stat, because you can assign the win and loss to any player, based on the runs they generate or squander. Here's a way to do it: For the win, any player on the winning team whose RV is greater than the margin of victory gets a share of the win. If no one has enough RV for the whole difference, then the top RV players who combine to cover the spread share in the win. For the losing team, do exactly the same thing but from the other end of the RV spectrum, the most negative RV.

Scroll down and you'll see I've added a Win and Loss indication for the last two games. Last night's win goes to Chase Utley and Cory Lidle (mostly for him as a hitter!), and the loss to Cristian Guzman and Hector Carrasco. Vidro was in line for the loss but his late-inning bat kept him from getting a share. I plan to assign these for the season a keep a tally of W-L record for each player, and I'll post it with the Friday Morning Figures.

Monday, April 25, 2005

ERV Boxscore for Monday, April 25

Dexys suggested that I explain that the numbers in these boxscores are all based around the average runs scored in the 2004 MLB season per game (4.84 runs per game), which means the boxscore is a "zero-sum" system. So the numbers here are "real" runs, just expressed in terms relative to the league average. Note that the pitcher totals equal the opposing team's batting totals, for that reason. If you add a team's Batting RV, Running RV and subtract the opponents Fielding RV, that number should always equal the team's runs minus 4.84. For example, for the Phils, the checksum is -2.53+0.00-(-2.69), which equals +0.16, which does equal 5.00 minus 4.84.

So how do you read this boxscore? It tells you that Chase Utley had the best game for the Phils, as he generated nearly 2 runs, but he wasn't as valuable to them as the Nats defense, since Vidro's and Guzman's errors generate 2.69 runs for the Phils, enough to make the difference in the game. Brian Schneider was the best player for the Nats. Also, because the fielding runs are not included in the pitchers' totals, it shows that Zach Day did not pitch that bad a game (he saved 1.94 runs, which was better than any other pitcher), and I think Frank was bit quick to give him the hook. He did his job, his middle infield let him down.

Game Number: 20 , April 25, 2005
Final Score:
Philadelphia 5
Washington 4

Win: Utley & Lidle
Loss: Guzman & Carrasco

Philadelphia

Batter Pos PA Bat Field Run Total RV
RollinsJ SS 5 (1.26) 0.00 0.00 (1.26)
PolancoP LF 5 0.49 0.00 0.00 0.49
AbreuB RF 5 (0.80) 0.00 0.00 (0.80)
ThomeJ 1B 5 (0.12) 0.00 0.00 (0.12)
MichaelsJ CF 5 0.35 0.00 0.00 0.35
UtleyC 2B 4 1.95 0.00 0.00 1.95
BellD 3B 4 (3.07) 0.00 0.00 (3.07)
LieberthalM C 4 (1.45) 0.00 0.00 (1.45)
LidleC P 3 1.03 0.00 0.00 1.03
OffermanJ PH 1 0.35 0.00 0.00 0.35
Totals 41 (2.53) 0.00 0.00 (2.53)

Pitcher BFP RV
LidleC 26 0.23
CormierR 3 0.54
WorrellT 4 (0.71)
WagnerB 6 0.78
Totals 39 0.84



Washington

Batter Pos PA Bat Field Run Total RV
WilkersonB CF 5 0.97 0.00 0.00 0.97
JohnsonN 1B 5 (0.90) 0.00 0.00 (0.90)
VidroJ 2B 5 1.06 (1.34) 0.00 (0.28)
GuillenJ RF 4 (0.25) 0.00 0.00 (0.25)
SledgeT LF 4 (0.71) 0.00 0.00 (0.71)
CastillaV 3B 4 (0.66) 0.00 0.00 (0.66)
SchneiderB C 3 2.04 0.00 0.00 2.04
GuzmanC SS 3 (1.01) (1.35) 0.00 (2.36)
DayZ P 2 (0.47) 0.00 0.00 (0.47)
CarrollJ SS 2 (0.42) 0.00 0.00 (0.42)
BennettG PH 1 (0.25) 0.00 0.00 (0.25)
BlancoT PH 1 (0.25) 0.00 0.00 (0.25)
Totals (0.84) (2.69) 0.00 (3.53)

Pitcher BFP RV
DayZ 26 1.94
CarrascoH 3 (1.55)
EischenJ 1 0.52
RauchJ 7 1.08
CorderoC 4 0.54
Totals 41 2.53

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A grim two days, then an outstanding win.

Just when you thought this team was slipping into bad habits, along comes an 11-4 laugher to stop the slide. Friday and Saturday were grim indeed, especially Friday, where we had a chance to take that game even though the Mets deserved to win on Glavine's strong outing. But when Wilkie hits that double with no outs in the 8th, I'm thinking the late-inning heroics are continuing (ERV at that point is over 2 runs, and we are down 3-1 -- Wilkie's double to make it 2nd and 3rd with no outs is the most RV you can get on one at bat without scoring a run (1.21)) But, of course, Frank has Guzman hitting second, and he starts pouring water on our fire right away. The fifth inning on Saturday was little league all the way, and hopefully spells the end for Carlos Baerga's aspirations to start.

But today was key, and almost makes up for it all. Why? Our second "10-game segment" is almost over, and we stand 4-5 (we went 6-4 in the first), so we are still fighting for a 5-5. Livan was going, and if there is anything your ace MUST do, it is win games like this to right the ship. We didn't get swept, and just avoiding sweeps keeps you in the hunt. And it keeps us on the pace I described here (split on the road, win 2 of 3 at home) making our road record 6-6.

But the baseball season, even in April, offers no rest. We need to take 2 of 3 from the Phils to keep it up. But at that link above I noted that if we go 10-10 in our first 20, we should be very pleased, given the teams we've played. In sum, a terrific start.

Introducing ... The ERV Boxscore!

After dozens of man-hours, the crack R&D team here at Nats Blog are finally able to unveil their latest innovation to the devoted Nats Blog readers -- the ERV Boxscore! Below is the first sample, from today's game.

An initial note: all values are stated from the perspective of the team, so that positive is always good and negative is always bad. For example, a pitcher with a positive RV has done well, while one with a negative RV has done not so well.
_______________________________________________

Game Number: 19 , April 24, 2005
Final Score:
Washington 11
New York 4

Win: Wilkerson, Vidro & Castilla
Loss: Zambrano, Matthews & Diaz

Washington


Batter Pos PA Bat Field Run Total RV
WilkersonB CF 6 3.26 0.00 0.16 3.42
JohnsonN 1B 6 0.81 (0.64) 0.16 0.33
VidroJ 2B 5 2.53 0.00 0.00 2.53
GuillenJ RF 5 0.67 0.00 0.00 0.67
SledgeT LF 5 (1.47) 0.00 0.00 (1.47)
CastillaV 3B 5 1.79 0.00 0.25 2.04
BennettG C 5 0.80 0.00 0.00 0.80
GuzmanC SS 5 (1.01) 0.00 0.00 (1.01)
HernandezL P 4 (0.58) 0.00 0.00 (0.58)
DavisJ LF 1 (0.38) 0.00 0.00 (0.38)
CarrollJ 2B 1 (0.52) 0.00 0.00 (0.52)
Totals 485.91 (0.64) 0.57 5.85



Pitcher BFP RV
HernandezL 31 1.40
EischenJ 2 (0.01)
MajewskiG 8 0.09
Totals 41 1.48


New York

Batter Pos PA Bat Field Run Total RV
ReyesJ SS 5 (0.44) 0.00 0.00 (0.44)
MatsuiK 2B 5 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.01
BeltranC CF 5 (0.33) 0.00 0.00 (0.33)
PiazzaM C 5 0.71 1.06 0.00 1.77
FloydC LF 5 (0.18) 0.00 0.00 (0.18)
MientkiewiczD 1B 4 (0.71) 0.00 0.00 (0.71)
WrightD 3B 3 0.51 (1.30) 0.00 (0.80)
DiazV RF 4 (1.11) 0.00 0.00 (1.11)
ZambranoV P 2 0.03 0.00 0.00 0.03
WoodwardC 3B 2 (0.41) 0.00 0.00 (0.41)
CairoM PH 1 0.42 0.00 0.00 0.42
Totals 41(1.48) (0.25) 0.00 (1.73)



Pitcher BFP RV
ZambranoV 29 (3.66)
AybarM 7 (0.33)
MatthewsM 6 (2.80)
KooD 1 0.34
DeJeanM 5 0.54
Totals 48 (5.91)





Judgment calls: Top first, Piazza given fielding credit for tagging out Wilkerson at home.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Friday Morning Evening Figures

Sorry for the delay in posting these. I will have more notes and explanation later this evening, especially for the new Win Value column.

Oh, BTW, Guzman's error yesterday had a negative 2.62 RV, by far the highest fielding blunder of the year, and an absolute RV value among the highest all year for any event.


Name PA BFP Batting Fielding Running Pitching Total RV Win Value
CastillaV 53 0 7.53 0.64 (0.90) 0.00 7.28 1.78
VidroJ 67 0 7.44 (0.64) 0.00 0.00 6.80 2.91
PattersonJ 6 76 (1.13) 0.00 0.00 7.82 6.69 5.56
CorderoC 0 43 0.00 0.00 0.00 4.97 4.97 1.82
GuillenJ 69 0 3.30 0.58 (0.73) 0.00 3.15 1.62
TuckerT 0 20 0.00 (0.25) 0.00 3.02 2.77 0.67
SledgeT 22 0 2.15 0.25 0.25 0.00 2.65 (0.49)
AyalaL 1 40 (0.17) 0.00 0.00 2.73 2.55 1.15
MajewskiG 0 12 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.61 1.61 0.26
JohnsonN 65 0 2.06 (0.21) (0.53) 0.00 1.33 (0.48)
WilkersonB 72 0 1.27 0.22 (0.48) 0.00 1.01 1.64
CarrascoH 0 3 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.54 0.54 0.26
EischenJ 1 24 0.26 0.00 0.00 (0.26) (0.00) 0.26
SchneiderB 54 0 (1.33) 0.53 0.47 0.00 (0.33) 0.82
BennettG 8 0 (0.30) (0.12) 0.00 0.00 (0.42) 0.45
LoaizaE 6 85 (1.01) (0.26) 0.00 0.56 (0.70) (1.33)
BlancoT 6 0 (0.99) 0.00 0.00 0.00 (0.99) (0.41)
OhkaT 6 75 (0.70) 0.07 0.00 (0.54) (1.17) (1.81)
CarrollJ 13 0 (1.35) 0.00 0.00 0.00 (1.35) (0.75)
CorderoW 4 0 (1.68) 0.00 0.00 0.00 (1.68) (0.91)
BaergaC 9 0 (2.27) 0.00 0.00 0.00 (2.27) (0.54)
DayZ 5 74 (1.00) (0.23) 0.00 (1.25) (2.48) (1.07)
DavisJ 19 0 (2.55) 0.00 (0.16) 0.00 (2.70) (1.46)
HernandezL 10 108 (1.80) (0.16) 0.00 (2.54) (4.51) 0.85
ChurchR 36 0 (5.06) 0.00 0.00 0.00 (5.06) (2.35)
HorganJ 0 28 0.00 0.00 0.00 (6.01) (6.01) (0.60)
OsunaA 0 23 0.00 0.00 0.00 (9.43) (9.43) (0.77)
GuzmanC 63 0 (11.41) (2.34) (0.31) 0.00 (14.07) (9.99)


Through Thursday, April 21.

Notes:

-- What is RV anyway? It is a way of measuring the value of any event in a baseball game by comparing the Expected Run Value (ERV) for the state of the game before and after the event. Search the posts on the blog for more detailed information. Essentially, it translates everything in a game into Run Value, which is equivalent to runs, which are the currency of a baseball game. A positive RV means runs generated by that player, a negative RV means runs lost by that player. For pitching and fielding, runs saved by those activities are expressed as positives. For example, John Patterson's pitching this season has prevented 7.82 opposing runs from scoring, so he gets a plus 7.82 in the pitching column. In contrast, Cristian Guzman's fielding has given the opponents 2.34 runs, so he gets a negative 2.34 in his fielding column.

-- What can you conclude from these figures? That Vinny Castilla and Jose Vidro have each generated over 7 runs with their bats for the Nats this season, while Guzman has cost the Nats over 11 runs with his bat. In other words, had the average 2004 MLB player batted for Guzman each time this year, the Nats would have scored 11 more runs.

-- What is Win Value? This is an experimental stat I am working on. RV is independent of the score and inning of a game -- i.e. a solo homer with no outs in the top of the first has the same RV as a solo homer with 2 outs in the ninth in a 10-2 ballgame. Win Value attempts to modify RV in a way to reflect the score and inning of the game. Essentially, it works like this -- if a game is tied, the WV for an event is the full value of the RV. For other circumstances, the WV equals the RV times a discount factor, which is derived from the score of the game and the inning. In general, the larger the score differential and the later in the game, the more heavily discounted the WV is from the RV. For example, a 10-0 game in the ninth, the RV is discounted so much that the WV is almost always 0.

Another way to look at it is that WV is an "inflation-adjusted" RV. If you think of runs as the currency with which a win is purchased, some runs are more valuable than others. The solo home run in the Ninth of a tie game is worth a lot more than the grand slam in the ninth when your behind 10-0.

So what can you tell from WV? I'm still not quite sure, but I think it reflects the number of "valuable" runs the player has generated or lost, meaning the runs that change the state of the game (from losing to tied or to winning). Differences between RV and WV can tell you which players are producing when it matters most (or not). For example, Livan Hernandez has a positive WV and a negative RV, which I think is accurate, because he has pitched pretty well for most of his innings, having given away a bunch of runs in one inning against the Phils. Likewise, Dexys said to me at the home opener, "it seems like Schneider is hitting better than .250". Sure enough, at the time and through Thursday, Schneider has had a higher WV than RV.

But I am still watching this closely to see if it makes sense.

-- New Feature! I am very close to being able to generate ERV box scores for each Nats game quickly, and as soon as I finalize that I will start posting them for individual games. They give you a clear picture of who really contributed to the win or loss.

As far as I know...

he's never killed anyone. I promised myself I would start this post out with something nice to say about Cristian Guzman. But baseball-wise, what can one really say?

Cristain decided yesterday that killing us with the bat wasn't enough. He had to lose the game with his glove. So, now I'm guessing that his fielding ERV is also negative, to go along with his monstrously negative batting ERV--DM can provide that info.

Sure, you can find people who will say that the field was terrible and it wasn't his fault. But players make plays and he needed to make that play to close the game out. Cordero shouldn't have loaded the bases, but once that ball comes to you, with 2 outs in the 9th, up 1, you get that ball to first base.

In keeping with the Guzman watch by the way, here are his updated stats 10% of the way through the season:
.180 on-base percentage
.175 slugging percentage
for a .355 OPS
NO(!!!) runs scored, not a one.
2 RBIs
and a BB-K ratio that projects to 30 walks against 110 Ks for the year.

Oh, and if you took out his 3 for 4 with a double monster game in a 6-3 loss to the fish...those percentage numbers almost drop by half. Does not make me happy.

Lastly, for this post...

On a really good note, John Patterson has to be considered the #1 best news surprise of the young season. This gives us a pretty solid top of the rotation. And let's hope Hector Carrasco keeps going from that solid inning he gave us yesterday--we need middle relief help!

[SNV addition - Peter Gammons had a blurb on Patterson, too, mentioning the fact that one opposing manager has said that he is "on the verge" of being a "dominant" starter. If you had a nickel for every time Boston Gammons said that about a pitcher, well, you'd be a dominant banker.

By the way, Dexys, I had considered just uploading your voicemail to me about Guzman, but a transcript will do:

"That little shortstop f***! "Oh, hell make it up for his bat with his glove." Well F*** that! Bench the b***ard! I'm so sick of it!]

Monday, April 18, 2005

Boswell, Guzman And ERV

Here's a test for DM's ERV scoring based on subjective fielding decisions. Boswell writes:
Yesterday, Washington would have trailed 6-1 with average defense. Instead, four fine plays -- three of them by shortstop Cristian Guzman -- kept the deficit at 3-1. After scoring seven runs in the seventh inning on Saturday to blow open a game, Washington erupted for six runs in the seventh yesterday.

(emphasis added). So, DM, did you score those Guzman plays as extraordinary, and how many expected runs did they save?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Dexy's Game 2 thoughts (a bit late)

So, I had Game 2's tix and my wife and I went with another couple. I learned something important. No tickets are so good that you are guaranteed a ball when kids are around you. The two kids seated in front of us (i.e., the first row) got 3, count em, three balls tossed to them by the Diamondback players between innings. This wouldn't have been so bad if they didn't relentlessly mock me the whole game because they knew that the ball would always be thrown to them and I made no bones about wanting one. Oh well, some day.

The scoreboard stories get worse. The K count is clearly part of a charity called "K for kids." Now, I am a big fan of giving to charity, but this blatant waste of our limited scoreboard space has got to stop. Apparently, I presume, there is a set amount going to this charity for each time a Nat Pitcher gets a K all season....so, not only to they run a count for the game, but they split the board into a K count for the game and a K count for the season. So, in mid-June, scoreboard space is going to be taken up showing us that the Nats have struck out 267 batters at home this season--wow, that's really going to increase my knowledge base of what's going on in the game. Oh, and yes, the K count was wrong all game again. Worse yet, a few innings in, the K count for the game was correct for the rest of the game, but the season total was wrong...in game 2! You would think the program would keep a running count, but no, even that is subject to human error--nothing electronic in this stadium.
And yes, I also realize that I am probably more irritated at this because our seats essentially stare at this board if you look up so I am constantly reminded that I have that as my scoreboard instead of say, the count or a radar gun.

Ok, so here was my big beef with last night's game. Why were there 10,000 empty seats? I mean, that is absurd even on a cool night. The orange sections were pretty full, but there were huge bowls of yellow open and pockets of red. Apparently, the same was true for today and it was in the mid-70s. Very upsetting for a city that struggled so much to get this team. Sure it is going to be better than what the Expos drew every night, especially oif they keep winning (knock on helmet), but I'm confused at the lack of a sell-out.

As far as the game goes, I thought Patterson really pitched a gem. I was quite impressed with how often he seemed to get a first strike. I should check what the actual percentage was because it just seemed very high. I thought they just played a great game from start to finish--although the middle relief/mop-up men are a little worrisome. Day couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.

The thing I took most from the game, however, was that I have come to the conclusion that this is going to be MUCH more of a pitcher's park than previously thought--even though we had thought that to some degree to begin with. From a live standpoint, Castilla's homer was crushed and barely left the ballpark. Glaus hit one to left that everyone was sure was gone (if fair) and it was caught at the wall. Clayton destroyed a ball to center (yes I know it was I have no power Royce Clayton, but still) that didn't even get to the warning track. I know this is subjective, but everyone around me thought the same thing--balls just do not carry in this park.

I know I bashed Castilla's signing as well as Guzman's. So while, unfortunately, I (and SNV and DM) couldn't be more right on Guzman, I hope Vinny continues this torrid pace and proves us wrong. If Vinny actually has 3/4 of his Colorado production as a Nat, that will be something else.

As of this writing, we have won as well today and are 8-4, in first place. If we can come out of these mini sets against the Braves and Marlins 10-6, this will be a very special first 10th of the season. Go Nats!

Friday, April 15, 2005

DM's Opening Night Thoughts

I don't have much to add to SNV and Dexys, who captured a lot of the excitement last night. As they and others describe, RFK is shabby and worn-out, and there is a slapdash feel to the refurbishment. But I fell in love with baseball in a shabby, worn-out stadium (the Vet), and last night reminded me why. What impressed me the most were the Nats and their fans -- both acted like it was a wedding after a long engagement, not a nervous first date. The play was superb (we have a lot of tough-minded players, it appears -- a sliver lining from the Montreal trauma, perhaps) and the crowd was great (there really are a lot of good baseball fans in DC -- despite the "glam" around us, our section knew the ropes). You can build a new ballpark with no wait for barbecue chicken sandwiches and TVs in the bathrooms, but as long as Nick Johnson is diving to his left to rob a double and the crowd rightfully appreciates that, I'll be fine.

Dexy's Opening thoughts

So, maybe I am drinking too much of the kool-aid and maybe it is just so close in my mind, so take this with a grain of salt, but last night was possibly the most electric sporting event I've ever been a part of surpassing the World Series, Stanley Cup Finals, and various sports' playoff games. Not sure how to describe it, but it was incredible.

As far as the seats go, as SNV touched upon, I've never felt so lucky. Darrell Green was three seats down, John McCain afew seats from him. George Will a couple of rows behind us, Bob Novak and Fred Barnes about 8 rows directly behind us, and all of the Diamondbacks about as close as I am to my window right now. It was a DC who's who and for most of these guys, we were thinking the tix are their season tix as well. Something fun about knowing that you can go each night and shout "Hey Darrell Green, stop covering my beer and pass it down" (I stayed away from such a bad pun last night).

And I doubt one night will change SNV's mind that he is a White Sox fan with Nats tickets, but my fall into the full allegience camp was cemented last night. I just feel really proud to be in on the ground floor here. They may suck for a few years, butI can say I was 100% a fanatic from Day 1. I'll still root for the Mets to do well, but the Nationals are my team.

To touch on some of the highlights and lowlights as SNV did.

The game itself: First, I don't care if they say that the beaning of Vinny was unintentional. That's what you are supposed to say. It looked quite intentional, it was on the first pitch of a guy who is going for the cycle who hit a HR last at bat and took a curtain call. No one is going to convince me it wasn't intentional, and I think bush league. It's opening day for the first time in 34 years in a 5-0 April game and you aren't going to let a guy try for a freakin' single and get him out the real way? Absurd. Never would happen, but as I said to SNV last night, the only way I would believe it was unintentional is if Melvin went out there and apologized to Castilla and assured him it was unintentional--I know, never happens.

Second, Robinson managed a good game. The lineup I believe was the correct one (with the possibility that maybe Livan should have batted eighth), and I hope he sticks with it. He also took Livan out just when he should have. Give him the chance at the shutout, but once the 3 run jack comes, you take him out and let him rest until the next start.

Third, the fielding was quite good. You could tell the players were super excited about this game (even the Diamondbacks were somewhat excited), but they used that excitement to their benefit and didn't seem edgy at all. Not only did they make every play they should have, but they made a bunch of great plays as well, especially Nick Johnson.
Cristian Guzman: What can I say? I'm in a good mood so I will give him a pass...but his negative ERV just keeps growing and growing.

ERV: Really enjoyed that DM scored the game in ERV as we went along. A fun stat that gives you a lot of good insight as well as being intuitive.

Metro: Getting there was great. Easy and a lot of fun seeing all the fans. Getting home--ugh! Almost an hour just to get inside the Metro. The good news was that once we got in the station, we were on a car, and there were enough that it wasn't a sardine can. Hopefully, they are just working out a system. And since it seemed like absolutely NO ONE left the game until it was over, last night was (we think) as bad as it could get.

The Stadium: The field, great. The rest: Well...it's temporary, and my big hope is that they won't say "well, all the money goes into the new place, so we won't do anything at RFK for the three years." The place looks a bit like the Vet gone bad (redundant I know). They need a real scoreboard. They need out of town scores--SNV thought the lack of them was blasphemy. The K count was a pathetic waste of space (and WRONG! Who operated this thing?!?). The scores, ball and strike count, etc. were often wrong. I was shocked that since they used to have Redskin games and have DC United games, that there are no TVs showing you the game while on concession lines. They never wired for this?? As SNV said, the concessions (what they did have and didn't run out of) were lame and bad--Take RFK up on its policy--and BRING your food.

All in all though, I'd rather have those issues than others. As a night, it gets a 10+ on a scale of 1-10. And I proclaim myself......Buck Sez CHAMP OF THE WOOOOOOORLD!

SNV's Opening Night Thoughts

Semi-randomly arranged, Peter-King-style:

Food!

The food I tried at RFK - a hot dog and Italian sausage - was awful. Adding to the misery was the fact that the first time I tried to get said Italian sausage, they had run out and it was a 10-minute wait to get one, forcing me to the hot dog option. What, you didn't expect a sellout?

Food is a key part of the ballpark experience. It's also something that can be improved without building a new stadium. We need better food, fast.

Fun!

DM, Dexy's and I had a GREAT time at the game, highlighted by a number of great "buck sez" bets. DM might write on this more, but my personal favorite was my bet that there would be a broken bat in the 4th inning. I went down to defeat, but it was a fun one nevertheless. DM's favorite was when I said "buck sez this inning [the top of the 6th] finishes by 8:38!" and DM took it. Since the scoreboard was tracking seconds (see more on scoreboard later), it was relatively exciting. But Glaus's walk pretty much sealed the deal and I handed a GW to DM.

Fame!

There were numerous celebrities or quasi-celebrities sitting around us, including John McCain, George Will, Darrell Green, Bob Novak and Fred Barnes. We had as good or better seats than all but John McCain, who was wearing a D-Backs hat anyway and likely was not sitting in his own seats.

I do not regret for an instant that I'm not famous. Being famous really sucks.

Foul Balls!

None. Damn.

Flaws!

The most glaring flaws were related to the scoreboard. Oh, let me count the flaw!
  1. No out-of-town scoreboard. Inconceivable.
  2. On the left field scoreboard, it was 11-3 Nats in the top of the 9th. No kidding. Of course, that was only slightly worse than the 6-0 they had in previous innings.
  3. Pitch Speed: [we never did see a pitch speed. How about pitch count?]
  4. The lack of an error was recognized on the scoreboard was, for most of the game, recognized by a blank rather than a "0." Bush league.
  5. K Count - it was up for most of the game, taking up critical scoreboard space. Making things worse, it was wrong for most of the game.
Although most of these thoughts are critical, it was fantastic to watch a baseball game in DC. RFK is a strange stadium from a different era, but as long as there is grass between the lines, and players on the field, you can't not love the fun at the old ball park.

Friday Morning Figures, Installment 2

Here are the RV stats, through Thursday 4/14:

Name PA BFP Batting Fielding Running Pitching Total
CastillaV 31 0 5.65 0.64 (0.90) 0.00 5.40
AyalaL 1 23 (0.17) 0.00 0.00 3.82 3.65
GuillenJ 44 0 2.73 0.58 (0.73) 0.00 2.58
CorderoC 0 30 0.00 0.00 0.00 2.47 2.47
VidroJ 43 0 3.08 (0.64) 0.00 0.00 2.45
SledgeT 13 0 2.03 0.25 0.09 0.00 2.37
TuckerT 0 14 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.73 1.73
OhkaT 5 52 (0.26) 0.16 0.00 1.06 0.96
PattersonJ 2 26 (0.35) 0.00 0.00 0.79 0.44
LoaizaE 4 56 (1.16) 0.64 0.00 0.76 0.24
WilkersonB 46 0 1.10 (0.81) (0.64) 0.00 (0.36)
JohnsonN 41 0 0.43 (0.21) (0.62) 0.00 (0.39)
SchneiderB 35 0 (0.82) 0.27 0.00 0.00 (0.55)
ChurchR 23 0 (0.63) 0.00 0.00 0.00 (0.63)
BlancoT 5 0 (0.74) 0.00 0.00 0.00 (0.74)
BaergaC 4 0 (1.00) 0.00 0.00 0.00 (1.00)
HernandezL 8 83 (1.54) (0.16) 0.00 0.68 (1.02)
EischenJ 0 16 0.00 0.00 0.00 (1.20) (1.20)
DavisJ 12 0 (1.74) 0.00 0.09 0.00 (1.65)
CorderoW 4 0 (1.68) 0.00 0.00 0.00 (1.68)
HorganJ 0 17 0.00 0.00 0.00 (2.40) (2.40)
DayZ 3 45 (0.08) 0.00 0.00 (5.35) (5.43)
OsunaA 0 23 0.00 0.00 0.00 (9.43) (9.43)
GuzmanC 42 0 (9.73) (0.38) (0.44) 0.00 (10.54)


Note: I've combined pitchers and hitters to compare who truly has been the most valuable player.

Judgement Calls: As I mentioned here, I have made the following judgment calls about fielding or running plays. If you disagree, please comment and I will consider changing the scoring on that play:

Phils, 4/4/05, Bot 5th, 1 out: SledgeT gets fielding credit for throwing out D. Bell at 3rd

Phils, 4/4/05, Bot 6th, 1 out: JohnsonN gets a fielding debit for dropping pitcher bunt, but CastillaV gets fielding credit for picking up that ball and throwing out runner.

Phils 4/6/05, Top 2, 1 out: GuillenJ given running debit for getting thrown out at third.

Phils 4/7/05, Bot 1, 0 Out: LoaizaE gets fielding credit for nice play on J Rollins bunt.

Phils 4/7/05, Top 5, 0 Out: D Bell given fielding debit, despite official scorer, for dropped bunt popup.

Phils 4/7/05, Bot 7th, 1 Out: JohnsonN given fielding debit due to bobble which prevented him from getting lead runner.

Marlins, 4/8/05, Bot 1st, 2 outs: CastillaV given fielding debit for failure to catch foul pop up.

Marlins, 4/8/05, Bot 8th, 1 out: CastilloL and GonzalezA given running credit for taking hte extra base

Marlins, 4/9/05, Top 9th, 1 out: GuzmanC given running credit for turning single into a double.

[More to come]

[UH-OH: I just noticed that my chart does not include Jamey Carroll, Ryan Church or Gary Bennett. I'll fix it as soon as I can]

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Any Number of Milestones

Well, not only are DM, Dexy's and yours truly heading off to Opening Night [Ed. note - those lyrics sites do sure have some nasty plug-in pop-ups, don't they?], we at Nats Blog are happy to celebrate our 10,000th visit. Now, about 7,000 of those visits are just DM, Dexy's and yours truly loading the page over and over again to see what each other have said, but at least our counter says 10,000!

(Sadly, my White Sox blog, in operation for 8 months longer and with far more meaningful content, has fewer than 6,000 hits. Oh well, I don't have two co-authors to jack my hit count up.)

So tonight is the night. It's all been essentially a fantasy up until this point. DM has made the point in the past that he won't believe it's happening until he's sitting in the seats, drinking a beer and watching a game that counts in the standing. Well, we cross that bridge tonight, old buddy (bridge/Alec Guinness/beer - you get it, right?). You'll have to be a believer tonight.

Tonight's gear for SNV - fitted blue road cap, size 7 1/4, gray sweater, John Kerry-barn-jacket-purchased-well-before-John-Kerry-started-wearing-barn-jackets. Under it all....a long sleeve White Sox t-shirt...

[DM Edit: Given the historic moment, it is worth looking back at our first post, which shows that this blog was born of skepticism and will remain of skepticism in many things. Even tonight, I've heard that Linda Cropp will be going to the game, so I still think there is room for a fiasco. But even crusty old me is getting pumped -- Dexys and I were remarking that this might be the biggest sports event we've ever been to, or at least the one with the most hype and anticipation. It should be a blast, and let's hope there's more to come in October!]

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Guzman watch!

At-Bat # 1: He strikes out to end the inning with men on 1st and 2nd. Still on pace for record negative ERV! (I can laugh for now because we are up after the first!)

At bat #2: Flies out to start the inning. (We are down 3-2, can't laugh as much).

At-bat #3: Pop out with man on 1st to end the inning (up 4-3, so I can chuckle in a "oh, that Cristian" sort of way).

At-bat #4: Foul out with man on 1st to end inning (up 5-3, now 5-4, less chuckling).

At-bat #5: Lined out with men on 1st and second, one out (up 7-4 now, just sighs about it, but focused on closing the game out and going into the home opener above .500!!! CROSSING FINGERS!)

[DM Comment: Only Nats starter to not get a hit today. Even Ohka went 2 for 3.]

Cordero?

Can someone explain why he is pitching in the 9th with an 11-4 lead? He pitched last night in the rain and tomorrow is the home opener, which I for one would like to see him fresh for.

I Guess It Wasn't Us...It Was Him

Dontrelle Willis pitched his second straight shutout today, allowing only three hits against the potent Phillie lineup. Two games, two complete game shutouts, only 8 hits allowed by Mr. Willis.

To give you a bit of reference, the AL co-leaders in shutouts last year had only two shutouts.

Is Florida looking imposing or what? That's a pretty good team.

Some random early season stats

Poor Antonio Osuna. Last season he posted a 2.46 ERA by allowing 10 earned runs in 36 2/3 innings pitched. Well, if he wants to better that this year, he will have to pitch the next 38 innings straight scoreless. Antonio has given up 11 earned runs this year in just 2 1/3 innings.

I know I bash the heck out of Mr. Guzman, but seriously, does anyone know the record for most at-bats to END an inning in a season? It's getting a bit ridiculous.

Going into today's game, not a single player on the Nats has more walks than Ks. Now, very few players end up the season that way anyway, but you would think with a small sample size of 8 games, at least one player, even a bench player would have more BBs than Ks.

When an MLB game was last played in DC, the minimum salary was $12,500, the equivalent of about $51,000 today. It is now $316,000.

However, the minimum wage was $1.60/hr, worth $6.50 today. It is now only $5.15--shagging flies has definitely had a better 34 years than shilling fries. (Thank you, I'll be here all night) [Edit - SNV - ugh. How about throwing the leather has been better than mowing the heather?].

The average MLB salary was the equiv. of about $130,000 today. It is now $2.65 million.

The top salary (Yaz's) was the equiv of about $660,000. Pales in comparison to A-Rod's $25mil+

And finally, the MLB TV revenue was the equiv. of a little under $70 million. Not bad, but today it is $560 million.

A Bit Off-Topic: The Wisdom of Crowds and the New Pope

A very good Op-ed explaining the budding gambling markets trying to handicap the selection of the next Pope. It does a nice job of explaining why such markets end up being good predictors of events, with some really fascinating history bits, such as the Papal Bull of 1591 that tried to stop the rampant gambling on Pope selection.

Hat tip: Off-Wing Opinion

Win Probability Scoring

As an alternative to ERV scoring, the Cheat's blog just did a White Sox game based on Win Probability Scoring - how much a particular player adds to a team's win probability by his performance. Here's the link. Although it's intriguing as a concept - and has been suggested by others - there are some data problems with WPA at this point. First, the data set for win probabilities may be a little off at this point. The data, as I understand it, is from 1979-1990. And, as it turns out, baseball has changed a little bit since 1990.

In addition, the WPA statistic is not terribly predictive in nature - a batter gets more WPA points if he hits a home run in the 9th inning of a 1-0 game than he does if he hits it in the 5th inning. In addition, I wonder how well it tracks the performance of a pitcher who pitches well but loses. It's interesting, and I think you'd be interested in reading the Cheat's scoring as well as the Hardball Times article linked.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Solving the Fielding Problem

No, not the Nats' fielding -- so far that has been pretty good. I'm talking about the problem of evaluating fielding through statistics. The fundamental issue is one of subjectivity. No matter how you cut it, assessing fielding requires a judgment about whether the fielder "should have" made the play, according to a subjective standard. I recall reading an article from the late 1980s where several statheads concluded that we should get rid of the Error stat completely, because it was administered so subjectively around the league as to provide no meaningful information.

ERV scoring allows you to assign an objective value to any event in the game, by comparing the state of the game (the ERV) before and after the event. You can follow the official scorer and assign a value to errors. I would like to assign values to both errors AND good fielding plays, like throwing a runner out at home or robbing a homerun or diving to stop a grounder from going through for a hit. But both Dexys and SuperNoVa rightly expressed concern about my judgment in determining which plays were "good."

What to do? Here's my idea. Turn the task over to the Wisdom of Crowds -- have as many people as possible score the game and make independent decisions about the whether the play is good or not. Just as the value of a stock (an inherently subjective task) is determined by the judgment of independent buyer/seller transactions, the most accurate assessment of fielding will be made by the collective wisdom. ERV scoring provides a good common language for scorers to use in expressing the value of the plays, which can be compared to others. You could average the ERV values or go democractic and adopt the most prevalent view, but in either case you will have a good assessment of the fielding event (and the baserunning event, and other events that require subjective judgement about their value).

Yuda asks here whether the ERV figures, such as Friday Morning Figures, reflect our judgments or those of the official scorer. SuperNoVa follows the official scorer. In contrast, I have chosen to try to reflect good plays, and have deviated from the official scorer on occasion. So the Friday Morning Figures reflect that judgment. As a small first step towards implementing my idea, what I will do each Friday is identify those events where I made such judgments, and you can tell me where I'm wrong (and others I missed), and I will correct where it appears the crowd sees it differently.

Why am I at the computer and not the TV

A) less important--rain delay
B) more important--my wife has someone over who just looked at the TV and said "Washington? Who's that? Washington has a baseball team?" After placing the vein back in my forehead, I retreated to the computer.
p.s. I should mention that my wife is fully aware of the sports goings on in DC and does not fall into the category of the guest described above.

Go Schneider go!

A) Don't be fooled--Am I correct DM, that Guzman's "sac fly" pop out was more negative ERV?

B) Great clutch job by Schneider!

Although, I do need to ask....do we not have ANY pinch hitters--was surprised to see both these guys get to bat.

Some comments on the first 7 games

First let me start out with the good: I like the way this team has won its games--gutsy, not giving up, always feeling that it still had the chance to win. I think the starting pitching has started almost every game since the opener strong, and feel good about Livan, possibly Loaiza, and even some of Patterson's stuff.

The huge let-downs in innings have to stop though--I feel like we go from 0-0 to 4-0 down in the span of a heartbeat. But the big issue, which became evident during spring training, is the offense, which really has to be changed as it is never going to just "click."

You heard us rail against the signing of Christian Guzman even before it happened. To us, it was obvious that such a signing would be sheer stupidity and an ignorance of basic stats. Well, it did happen and now we have to live with it. What I'm amazed at is that Guzman actually got to bat second for the first few games. I'm not making this up people: SI did a big article in their baseball preview on batting order, and espoused the scientifically valid theory that batting order is for the most part irrelevant--it is WHO you bat, not where....except, it went on to say, at the ridiculous fringes, that is, if a manager did something so stupid with the batting order that it defied logic and therefore had an effect. Again, I kid you not, what (and this was before the season started remember) did SI say would be an example of something so asinine? Batting someone like (yes, it named him and only him!) Christian Guzman second. As the second spot is all about OBP and Guzman is the worst OBP regular in baseball, batting him second is essentially the worst thing you can do with a lineup (of all the players and batting spots to choose from in the world, SI chose one example, and our manager decided to test it out).

Well, here is what Guzman is doing so far: a .392 OPS, worse than your average pitcher. For good measure, he is 0 for 1 in attempted steals making his true value even lower (not to mention his error the other day). The experiment must end, even in the 8 spot (heck, even in the 9 spot where he should be when certain of our pitchers are on the mound).

A couple of other grumblings: Plate discipline, plate discipline, plate discipline! Right now, only Nick Johnson has more than 2 walks on this team. Guillen and Vidro have goose-eggs! Let's show some patience out there, shall we?

Also, I love big Brad. But he can't rest on those two big games. He needs to carry a big load in this offense, and part of that is being consistent. He also needs to get his bat on the ball a bit more--not sure if anyone noticed, but so far this season, he is either getting hits or Ks. Only 7 outs for Brad this year not by way of the K.

Let's see if we can take 1 or 2 of these games before the home opener. Being within (or above!) a game of .500 is a big emotional difference from 3-6.