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.



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.


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

Giants Non-Roster Invitees And An Interesting Development

Yesterday, the Giants announced the full list of non-roster invitees (NRIs) to major league training camp. NRIs are players who aren’t on the 40-man roster who nevertheless will start spring training with the major league squad.

Spring Training at Scottsdale Stadium

This may not sound like big news, and it isn’t, for the most part. However, every year one of these guys sneaks on to the roster and ends up contributing in a big way. Continue reading

Hunter Pence, Buster Posey, Others Avoid Arbitration

Last Friday was the deadline for teams and players eligible for arbitration to exchange salary figures for their arbitration hearings, and as with every year, there was a flurry of signings on that date in order to avoid the hearings. The Giants had seven arb-eligible players this year: Joaquin Arias, Gregor Blanco, Santiago Casilla, Jose Mijares, Hunter Pence, Buster Posey, and Sergio Romo.

The team has, so far, come to agreements with four of them, and Sergio Romo and Joaquin Arias exchanged figures with the team. It’s worth pointing out that both Arias and Romo will almost certainly sign contracts before their hearings. The Giants almost never let arbitration cases go all the way to hearing – they’ve only gone to six hearings since the arbitration process started in the mid-’70s. 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

World Series Recap: Madison Bumgarner Is A Strong Bum

The Annoyed Hobo (Jen Mac Ramos)

Doug Fister versus Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner, he of the 2012 postseason starts that did not go well. Fister, he of the Northern California roots and Giants fan background.

With the way the odds were, Fister seemed to just have a better chance of winning this game for the Tigers. Bumgarner hadn’t been having the stellar starts some thought he would have this postseason; Fister has been extraordinary.

Tonight, it was a pitcher’s duel. Continue reading

World Series Recap: Pablo! Pablo! Barry! Barry!

Pablo Sandoval’s all like “SORRY ‘BOUT IT.” (Jen Mac Ramos)

And so the narrative went: Barry Zito going up against Justin Verlander? None chance. No way would the Giants win here.

But Pablo Sandoval happened. Along with the rest of the Giants offense. They chased Verlander out of the game after four innings and 98 pitches.

Zito, though? He went five and two-thirds, giving up only a run. One walk, three strikeouts.

And that was the new narrative they were building for themselves. Continue reading

Giants Recap: Wacky Times In Philly

So. I can’t entirely explain what happened today in Philadelphia. I know that Matt Cain hit a home run off of Cole Hamels. Then Cole Hamels hit a home run off of Matt Cain. And the MLB on FOX broadcast was terrible, just terrible — Sergio Romo apparently uses a changeup as his go-to out pitch and what is a slider I don’t even.

And the game was tied in the later innings. It wasn’t exactly a pitchers’ duel, contrary to what FOX announcers kept saying. I mean, it was practically a homer fest at Citizen’s Bank Park today.

So the tied game went into extra innings and. They won on a bunt single. Hit by Gregor Blanco.