Monday, April 03, 2006

Vidro's (Potentially) Rational Play

Wow, there is a LOT to blog about today's 3-2 loss to the Mets. Here are some thoughts from Dexy's and me (we went to Chili's to take in the game and get some free wings):

1. Notice something about this line from the play-by-play?

Washington - Top of 2nd
Tom Glavine pitching for New York

Alfonso Soriano - Ball, Ball, Ball, Ball, A Soriano walked

Washington - Top of 4th
Tom Glavine pitching for New York

Alfonso Soriano - Strike (looking), Ball, Ball, A Soriano singled to right

Soriano took seven consecutive pitches to begin his Nats career. My guess is that Soriano, with 157 total walks in 3,490 plate appearances coming into 2006, does not take seven consecutive pitches the rest of the year.

2. Dexy's thinks that Brian Schneider had one of the worst days ever at the plate. That's a little bit harsh, but his ERV today in four plate appearances was: -.443, -.307, -.549, -.372. That's a total ERV of -1.67. Of course, Jose Guillen went: -.108, -.237, +.866, -1.098. That's a total of -.577 ERV.

3. Dexy's set an interesting over/under for Livan's pitch count. He said 118. Any other pitcher, any other team, and I take that bet on Opening Day. But with Livan and Frank, it's just too hard to take. 113 pitches for Livan. Had he not been up in the 7th, I think he would have hit the number.

4. Couldn't tell - does Soriano play a wee bit deep in left field? Or does he just have a lot of friends in the left field bleachers at Shea?

5. Of course, Soriano was safe. But that's a difficult call for the ump to make - he was in the right position - and there's no way in HELL that Soriano should be sent home with nobody out. But since Jim Bowden is running this team, and it is little like hell, with Clayton and Schneider coming up, there may be an argument....nah, there's no argument.

6. Did Nick Johnson gain some weight? Did Marlon Byrd gain some weight? Seriously, aren't all the Nats about 10 pounds heavier this year?

7. My read on the team is that they are already going through the motions. This is Opening Day, kids. That is the most tragic statement I've ever made. Even Matt LeCroy looks depressed.

There's no little boy playing baseball in this team.

8. Ok, so that brings me to the subject of this post - Vidro's play to end the game. Dexy's was outraged, and I mean OUTRAGED, by Vidro getting thrown out at second. I laughed it off a bit, because it was just another poor play by a bad team. Then I thought - could Vidro have acted rationally by getting thrown out at second?

The theory would be this: Vidro would need two hits to score from first base, even with two outs. By getting to scoring position, the odds of him scoring and sending the game to extra innings increases dramatically (one fewer hit is necessary). So, if he were to be successful a reasonable number of times, it would be a good play.

I looked up the Win Probability of a visiting team with a man on 2nd and two outs in the top of the 9th down one run against the win probability with a man on 1st and two outs. Visiting teams win 8.8% of the time in the former situation, whereas the win 5.4% of the time in the latter. So getting to second base increases your odds of winning by 63%. Correspondingly, Vidro would have to be successful 61% of the time (roughly 3/5ths) to make it worthwhile.

My judgment was that any throw that was not cut-off and that was reasonably on-line with second base would have gotten Vidro out. I think that a reasonably on-line throw is going to happen about 70% of the time. Since Vidro needed at 61% success rate, he was off by quite a bit in trying to stretch.

Of course, Guillen would have choked in the clutch anyway, wouldn't he?

From DEXY:
I don't have that much to add. Part of my outrage was the idea that with Guillen coming up, I am doubting you are going to see a single anyway. I figure Guillen for a) choke or b) a double drive to the gap or a homer, things that would score Vidro from first anyway (even if Vidro is Slow with a capital "Luzinski").

The thing that upset me the most about this game is that we lost it in exactly the same way we lost games the second half of last year. We made stupid plays in the field (Soriano's break back gets a pass for now, but the botched run-down and Zimmerman not playing remotely close to the line to give up a 2-out double were both bad) and on the bases and couldn't hit in the clutch, losing another one-run game (and while Livan pitched pretty well, he gave up a couple of pretty silly runs due to lack of concentration--2 out rallies, 0-2 homerun, not covering first on a rundown).
It really pained me to see us have:
2nd inning: 1st and 2nd, 1 out--no runs.
4th inning: a Sac to score 1 run with bases loaded no outs, so then 1st and 2nd, 1 out--no runs.
5th inning: 2nd and 3rd, 1 out--no runs
7th inning: 1st and 2nd, 0 out--no runs
and then run ourselves out of the 8th and 9th.
Anyway, we've got a lot of games to change course, so let's hope we do.

p.s. We're listening to the Phillies game now and Jimmy Rollins got a hit in the 8th with a 3-0 count (rightfully green-lighted down 13-5, although at 6-5, you'd have to make him take a pitch). I'm still not sold on DiMaggio's streak being the greatest sports accomplishment ever, but I'll tell you...if Rollins can have a 36-game streak, sit down for over 4 months, play over 20 games that don't count for Spring Training and then pick up and hit in 20 straight games from Opening Day? That would be absolutely freakin' incredible.

DM Update:

Sorry I couldn't make it today, guys. I only watched the last 3 innings or so. As I say in the comments, trying to get to second was the right play but by the wrong guy. Damian Jackson should have tried to steal after pinch-running for Vidro.

I thought Dutch played with enthusiasm, and there were some hard hit balls (Marlon Byrd's pinch-hit AB was very solid). I'm not ready to write these guys off on effort just yet. ;)


At 6:26 PM, Anonymous Will said...

I thought Vidro absolutely made the right choice going for second. I still do.

At 9:02 PM, Blogger DM said...

trying to get to 2nd before the next batteer makes sense. Slowpoke Vidro trying to get there makes no sense. Stay at first, pinch run, and even try to steal 2nd. Vidro should know better.

At 12:19 AM, Blogger Mean Dean said...

I think the "greatest sports accomplishment ever," in the context of a team sport, has to be something that reflects that this person was as valuable to his team as a player could possibly be. A person could arguably break the hitting streak record and HURT the team, if it were 56 singles in 56 games, hitting five or six times a game. Raw hits are just a really bad stat. Even DiMaggio, though I think he was averaging more like 1.5 hits per game with power, in all likelihood didn't have the best 56-game stretch ever. And even if he did, someone could still accomplish something greater by doing a little worse in more games. So I don't think this can be the greatest accomplishment ever.

All that said, I will still be impressed if Rollins seriously challenges the record, solely because... it's Jimmy Rollins. For him to do anything that puts him in the category of Keeler, Rose and DiMaggio would be just shocking. It probably just adds up to hits being a bad stat plus an extremely unlikely string of rolls on God's Strat-O-Matic card, but damn, it really would be some story. Jimmy Rollins?


At 2:44 AM, Blogger Bote Man said...

"We didn't have that big, big, big hit to give us this ballgame," Vidro said. - Washington Post recap

Wrong era, Jose. He needs to be reminded that we are supposedly a speedier, slappier ballclub this season, so instead of waiting around for Guillen to mash a tater we manufacture runs the old fashioned way: we steal them.

At least that has been the party line from the front and middle offices of the Nationals thus far. I would expect key players to be aware of this approach.

At 3:32 PM, Blogger Daedalus said...

Did Nick Johnson gain some weight? Did Marlon Byrd gain some weight? Seriously, aren't all the Nats about 10 pounds heavier this year?

I think Vidro has lost about 10-15 pounds. He's looking more like his old, younger self.


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