A Lesson in Run Expectancy

Short post coming but this thing just happened in the Rockies-Giants game that drove me mad. In the bottom of the sixth with none out, Gregor Blanco and Hector Sanchez (!!!!) both walked, followed by a Brandon Crawford opposite field home run. As if a Hector Sanchez walk (his second of the game!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and a Crawford oppo taco weren’t crazy enough, it gets better. Nick Noonan and Angel Pagan both single, giving us runners on first and second and zero out.

(Flickr/sjsharktank)

(Flickr/sjsharktank)

Now, at this moment, using the 2012 run environment – since the 2013 season is still too young to have accurate data – the Giants should be expected to score 1.44 additional runs this inning. The next hitter was Marco Scutaro. Now, Scutaro has been struggling. He admitted as much to the beat reporters, saying he’s been pressing a bit trying to get going this season. His .167/.212/.167 line certainly reflects that. And, naturally, he sac bunted. I hate the sac bunt. In nearly every scenario, the sac bunt lowers the number of runs a team can expect to score. Indeed, that was the case in this scenario – the run expectancy with runners at 2nd and 3rd with 1 out in 2012 was 1.29, meaning that play was worth -0.15 runs to the Giants.

Here’s the crazy part though – the Rockies followed up the sac bunt with an even stupider strategic decision. They intentionally walked Pablo Sandoval to get to Hunter Pence. The run expectancy with the bases loaded and one out last year was 1.54. The intentional walk raised the run expectancy 0.25 runs, and the Giants now sat at 0.10 runs higher than at the start of this little dance.

So what happened? Pence singled sharply to right, scoring Noonan, and the Brandon Belt grounded into a double play. So after all that, the strategy paid off for the Rockies – the Giants scored 0.54 runs fewer than expected.

This is a good example of process vs. results. Even though the results worked out from the Rockies perspective, a look into the numbers shows that the process was flawed. On one hand, it was counterproductive to sac bunt with Scutaro – no matter how much he’s struggling, he’s a decent threat to get a hit there. On the other hand, it was even more counterproductive to walk Sandoval – a double play ball isn’t something you can count on, especially with two of the Giants’ best hitters due up. The basic lesson here is this: outs are precious and you shouldn’t give them away. You shouldn’t give away opportunities to record them on defense, either.

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2013 Giants ZiPS Projections – Hitters

January is projections season. There are a whole mess of projection systems out there, but the system that is generally considered to be the most accurate, as well as the most widely available, is Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS, which are being released on Fangraphs this year. While you, the dear reader, have likely taken a glance at these already – they’re a month old, after all – I’d like to share a couple thoughts on the projections for the Giants this year.

For each player, in addition to a short analysis, I’ll provide a prediction of whether they will hit OVER or UNDER their projected OPS+. Continue reading

Assorted Thoughts On The World Baseball Classic And Brandon Lyon

(Flickr/cseeman)

Earlier this week Benevolent Overlord Mac wrote up a post about Ryan Vogelsong’s appearance on the USA roster for the World Baseball Classic. Today, the complete rosters for all sixteen teams were announced, and there are nine Giants littered across the rosters of teams from around the world. Joining Vogelsong on the U.S. roster is Jeremy Affeldt. Pablo Sandoval, Jose Mijares, and Marco Scutaro will all play for the Venezuelan team, Angel Pagan and Javier Lopez will play for Puerto Rico, and Sergio Romo will play for Mexico. In addition to those eight, Giants minor leaguer Clayton Tanner will play for the Australian team.

Here’s the thing: I love the WBC. Love, love, love it. I understand why most people don’t, and I understand why many of the best players from around the world avoid it. It doesn’t matter to me. Few things get me going like athletic competition mixed with blind, fervent patriotism. Many fans out there would rather their team’s players not participate in this event, and while I understand the sentiment, I disagree. If, say, Sergio Romo tweaks his knee or his elbow pitching for Mexico, will I be upset? Of course. But I understand that that’s the sort of thing that comes with the territory of being an elite talent in a globally popular sport.

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Andrew Baggarly posted a story today that states that the Giants are in serious negotiations with Brandon Lyon, the right-handed reliever who pitched for Toronto and Houston last season. Lyon had a fantastic year last year, pitching 61 innings in his two stops last year, striking out a career high 9.3 batters per nine innings while only walking fewer than three. Continue reading

Those Last Roster Spots

January is a slow baseball month. Last January, the Giants signed Brian Burres, Todd Linden, Wilmin Rodriguez, and Gregor Blanco. Obviously the Blanco signing turned out to be pretty important in regards to how the season went, but the point is that the major signings are over. Sorry folks, the Giants aren’t trading for Justin Upton or Giancarlo Stanton and they are going to sign Michael Bourn. The time for major roster moves has come and gone.

As I laid out in a series of posts last week, the Giants have up to three roster spots still available. There’s a spot in the bullpen, a spot for a sixth infielder, and a fifth outfielder available. Let’s run down the candidates for each spot. Continue reading

A Look At The Giants Roster: The Outfield

(flickr/Stanislav Sedov)

Yesterday I took a look at the infield. Today, let’s look over the options in the outfield.

Definite Starters: Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence.

Angel Pagan is the one of the streakiest players I’ve ever seen. What’s truly amazing is he might not even been the streakiest player on the Giants (looking at you, Belt). Check out his wRC+ numbers by month: 103, 144, 72, 50, 174, 105. All told, however, Pagan was a pretty good player: 113 wRC+, great baserunning, and average defense in center. Continue reading

The Return Of Angel Pagan, Contradictory Name Man

So, right after my “OH FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING PLEASE MAKE VICTORINO STAY FAR AWAY FROM THE GIANTS AS POSSIBLE” post, this happens.

And, y’know what, that’s not a nightmare. Or, a complete nightmare right now.*

After the B.J. Upton deal with the Braves (which is &75.25 million/5 years), the market average looked bleak. It seemed like there was going to be a lot of overpayment. And a lot of panda and giraffe hats needed to be sold by the unit.

So about $10m a year for Pagan. Sure, a two or three year deal might have been more lucrative to see, but with the way the market is right now, it was four years or nothing. The price tag on it, though, is what makes it a bit better. Two or three years was more attractive because of the lower price tag, especially after the Upton deal.

Now? This seems like a solid deal for four years of above-average outfielding with some upside.** And there’s nothing wrong with that right now.

So get those Shane Victorino and Scott Hairston rumors outta my face before this sourdough breadbowl becomes your shirt.

*Hindsight’s a pain.

**It’s also not AARON ROWAND Aaron Rowand.

NLCS Game Recap: We Have Met The Enemy, And He Is A Goon

Ryan Vogelsong don’t give no cares. (Flickr/Dinur)

The 2010 Giants fought their way to the NLCS, only to come up against unstoppable killing machine Roy Halladay, the greatest pitcher in baseball. They had no chance to match the Phillies’ powerhouse offense. Then Cody Ross snuck up behind Halladay and beaned him with a fistful of quarters.

Those same Giants somehow managed to make it to the World Series, where they were met by Cliff Lee, an invincible demigod of postseason pitching. Pundits speculated on what miracle it would take for the Giants to win 4 of 5, as they obviously had no chance in either game against Lee. The Giants’ entire offense mugged Lee in a stairwell, and then when he came back for another round Edgar Renteria was waiting. Continue reading

Giants Recap: Some Runs And Contradiction

Tim Lincecum was decidedly decent on the mound. Wasn’t exactly the good ol’ Timmy going the distance with double digit strikeouts, but, hey, 5.2 innings and only giving up one run and one walk? Good enough this season!

Then there’s that Angel Pagan guy. He was pretty decent tonight. I mean, 3-for-5 with an RBI and an outfield assist that led to A.J. Ellis being thrown out at home? No big deal for the Contradictory Name Man.

And that Buster Posey, he can drive two runs in on a day off from catching! What a swell guy.

The Giants are now 1.5 games up on the Dodgers, which is always a nice thing to hear.

And it’s also pleasant to yell out, “THE BUMS LOST.” Two nights in a row.

Make it three days in a row, Giants. Make it three.

Giants Recap: Duel of the Fates

Madison Bumgarner: nice to children, but not the Dodger children. (Photo: imovermyhead/Flickr)

I’m going to start you off with a mind-blowing piece of trivia from the always-excellent Giants Nirvana:

Holy crap, people. Holy crap. We are living in an age of baseball wonders, and two of those wonders are Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner. Kershaw, of course, is an unspeakable creature of Mordor, with nothing but spite and bile in his heart, as with all Dodgers. But the man can pitch, and pitch he did, contributing his half of the twenty strikeouts and making Buster Posey in particular look pretty silly. It was going to take a miraculous effort to scratch anything across, and while we’ll come back to that in a second, the corollary was that the inexplicably functional Dodgers offense was going to have to be shut down.

And right on cue, Madison Bumgarner. 23-years-old, walking less than two batters a game this season, and spending the dawn of his career casually working the inside corner against right-handed hitters like it ain’t no thang. Tonight, if there was a thang, it was nowhere within Bumgarner’s vicinity. He pounded the corners with his fastball, jammed hitters into feeble groundouts, and relied mostly on an absolutely murderous slider (with even more movement than usual, it seemed) to get nine swinging strikeouts. There was also a strikeout looking, too. It was Hanley Ramirez (on a slider that didn’t dive into the dirt!). That’s never not funny. Continue reading