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October 8, 2010

Playoff Prospectus

Friday LDS Game Projections

by Eric Seidman

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By now, it should be fairly evident what we’re trying to do with these PECOTA post-season updates. While the projections are in no way infallible, especially given the multitude of factors that can cause a team to win or lose a single game, using the methodology of such a system provides a much more accurate baseline of expected performance from an individual than regular season numbers. Someone like Omar Infante may continue to hit like an All-Star infielder, but the most probable outcome is that his overall numbers regress. This can be a hard concept to reconcile, as it isn’t as if regression starts and stops with the flick of a switch, but are you really comfortable assuming that Infante, or even Josh Hamilton for that matter, will just pick up where they left off? Then again, in a short series, there is such a small sample of plate appearances to analyze that anyone can mask their true talent level.

One such player would be Derek Lowe, who pitched very well for 5 1/3 innings last night even though the Giants were expected to take him to school for a lesson on getting hit. If the blown call, where Buster Posey was obviously tagged out before reaching second base was made correctly—and even though TBS tried to show us the umpire’s angle to say how tough it was to see, you could clearly see the tag applied first—Lowe may have lasted longer, keeping the Giants off the scoreboard. On the other hand, PECOTA expected the Rangers to tee off on James Shields, who put together one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory, and they lived up to expectations.

Entering the third day of post-season play, the Rangers and Yankees have commanding 2-0 leads over the Rays and Twins, respectively, in the American League Division Series. Even more interesting is that the winning teams were playing on the road. Crazier things have happened in the playoffs but I don’t think I’m going out of my element, Donny, to suggest that both series will probably be wrapped up quite soon. In the National League Division Series, the Braves enter their second game tonight with at least one positive to take away: even though they were shut out, their pitching staff held the Giants to just one run, and their starting pitcher wasn’t even Tim Hudson or Tommy Hanson. Hanson toes the rubber tonight against Matt Cain as the Braves attempt to even things up, while Roy Oswalt looks to put the Phillies up 2-0 against the Reds and their long-locked hurler, Bronson Arroyo.

 

Reds (Bronson Arroyo) at Phillies (Roy Oswalt)

Projected Runs Scored: Phillies 4.83, Reds 3.67

Projected Odds of Winning: Phillies 62.46 percent, Reds 37.54 percent

 

Phillies vs. Bronson Arroyo

 

NAME

BA

OBP

SLG

Jimmy Rollins

.294

.336

.534

Placido Polanco

.310

.338

.495

Chase Utley

.304

.360

.567

Ryan Howard

.280

.343

.571

Jayson Werth

.278

.348

.522

Raul Ibanez

.285

.337

.526

Shane Victorino

.298

.339

.520

Carlos Ruiz

.284

.340

.491

  

Reds vs. Roy Oswalt

 

NAME

BA

OBP

SLG

Brandon Phillips

.270

.298

.463

Orlando Cabrera

.277

.303

.422

Joey Votto

.281

.328

.492

Scott Rolen

.270

.310

.453

Jonny Gomes

.228

.271

.413

Jay Bruce

.243

.285

.432

Drew Stubbs

.235

.276

.400

Ramon Hernandez

.267

.303

.436

 

The Phillies benefit from having Placido Polanco back in the lineup, as while Wilson Valdez has flashed the leather all year long, his bat just doesn’t stack up. Oswalt actually led the senior circuit with a 1.02 WHIP, a marginal lead over teammate Roy Halladay at 1.04. This should help explain why the Reds aggregate on base percentage looks disgustingly low. Oswalt simply doesn’t allow many baserunners, and while he can give up doubles and homers, he has always been able to minimize the damage from opposing lineups. It barely gets any easier for the Reds, who project to have a very small chance of winning this game. Though if they do lose, I’m sure Orlando Cabrera will tell us why. Seidnote: how about a new rule where you can’t complain unless your OBP is greater than .305?

On the other side of the ledger, PECOTA thinks very poorly of Arroyo and his attributes, as everyone in the Phillies lineup projects to reach what would likely be equivalent to their 70thor higher percentile. Arroyo has struggled in the past against many of these hitters, and while those are obviously small samples, Colin Wyers aptly summed this up by saying that the Reds are bringing a Bronson Arroyo to a gunfight. Having said that, he could certainly come out and hold the Phillies to a run or two, as worse pitchers have certainly fared that well this season, but the odds are stacked in the other direction. When Valdez projects to slug .443 against you, odds are you don’t have much of a shot at beating the rest of the team.

UPDATE: 5:30 PM ET

OK, so with the substitution of Ryan Hanigan and Jayson Nix for Jonny Gomes and Ramon Hernandez, the matchup now looks like this: Phillies 4.83 runs, Reds 3.55 runs, which gives the Reds a 36.22% shot of winning. This represents a decline in their expected performance, even though Hanigan and Nix performed better in the regular season than their counterparts. As I've mentioned numerous times thus far, the reason for this is primarily due to the fact that the PECOTAs are estimating true talent level, which is much more accurate than simply rolling forward the lines produced from this past April to September. I know it might be tough to reconcile, and I know that it feels right to just use the current season's numbers as a proxy, but given 1,000 PA or 400 PA, I'm always going to trust the properly weighted 1,000 PA of information. This isn't to say that Hanigan and Nix won't match their regular season numbers, but that it isn't technically "right" to automatically use those lines as expectations.

 

Braves (Tommy Hanson) at Giants (Matt Cain)

Projected Runs Scored: Giants 3.78, Braves 3.52

Projected Odds of Winning: Giants 53.15 percent, Braves 46.15 percent

 

Giants vs. Tommy Hanson

 

NAME

BA

OBP

SLG

Andres Torres

.256

.316

.407

Freddy Sanchez

.304

.334

.436

Aubrey Huff

.283

.338

.451

Buster Posey

.281

.325

.432

Pat Burrell

.246

.337

.410

Juan Uribe

.260

.298

.418

Cody Ross

.260

.309

.420

Pablo Sandoval

.298

.336

.455

  

Braves vs. Matt Cain

 

NAME

BA

OBP

SLG

Omar Infante

.274

.317

.405

Jason Heyward

.243

.324

.387

Brian McCann

.274

.333

.446

Derrek Lee

.263

.336

.433

Brooks Conrad

.222

.271

.358

Alex Gonzalez

.246

.283

.401

Nate McLouth

.241

.306

.399

Rick Ankiel

.231

.287

.384

 

After Tim Lincecum dominated the Braves to the tune of 14 punchouts, Bobby Cox’s bunch will look to even the series with arguably their second ace in Hanson. According to PECOTA, the Braves have a pretty good shot of achieving that goal. Though 53/47 may seem somewhat substantial, it isn’t, and in this case it is virtually a coin flip. Factor in the very, very conservative projection for Jason Heyward and it stands to reason that the Braves are probably in a statistical dead heat with the Giants for this matchup. One other consideration would be whether Matt Diaz plays again instead of Nate McLouth, especially with a righty on the mound. Diaz is a world-renowned lefty-masher, but his skill set isn’t as valuable against northpaws. Regardless, this Braves lineup is not impressive by any stretch of the imagination, and facing LinceCainChez isn’t going to help.

Eric Seidman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Eric's other articles. You can contact Eric by clicking here

Related Content:  Tommy Hanson,  Bronson Arroyo

9 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Brian Oakchunas

Did you account for home field advantage?

Oct 08, 2010 09:50 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

Yes, as was mentioned in the prior two articles, the playoff PECOTA takes into account the batter-pitcher matchups as well as home field advantage.

Oct 08, 2010 09:55 AM
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

Additionally, it applies park factors. So for the Rays, for instance, in Game One their bats were expected to do somewhat well against Lee given that the Trop was the fifth hitter-friendliest park this year and they were home.

Oct 08, 2010 09:56 AM
 
BP staff member Colin Wyers
BP staff

Just to amplify what Eric is saying - the home field advantage is figured into the individual batting line you're seeing.

Oct 08, 2010 10:07 AM
 
nateetan

Actually I'd expect the Giants to fare worse vs Lowe than Hanson. It's pretty simple to distinguish the games where they score 4+ runs from from the ones they only get 2 or less. In the former they're pounding fly balls for HR and the latter they are grounding into 6-4-3.

So unless Hanson's HR/FB rate is as sustainable as Cain's is, I imagine most Giants fans feel more sanguine about the offense tonight than last night.

Oct 08, 2010 10:51 AM
rating: 0
 
tylernu

Nix and Hanigan are starting for the Reds, not Gomes and Hernandez. Wouldn't make a huge difference, I'm sure, but these projections look silly when 25% of the lineup is incorrect.

Oct 08, 2010 11:07 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

The issue is that lineups don't get posed until closer to game time and it isn't optimal from a production standpoint for us to wait until they are posted. I'd expect that Hanigan and Nix would actually make the Reds look worse, though.

Oct 08, 2010 11:59 AM
 
RedsManRick

I realize it's much more complicated than this, but for reference, 2010 aggregate batting lines...

Hernandez: .297/.364/.428
Hanigan: .300/.405/.429

Gomes: .266/.327/.431
Nix: .291/.350/.455

Nix is a lefty and has hit Oswalt extremely well in a pretty limited sample (18 PA, 1.732 OPS, 2 SO). Also, Hanigan is a better defensive catcher than Hernandez, but that's offset by Arroyo as he doesn't hold guys well.

Oct 08, 2010 13:26 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

Rick,

Thanks for the numbers. The issue, however, as I've tried to get across in all of these articles, is that using 2010 numbers by themselves is not the accurate thing to do when gauging expectations right now. Even though it FEELS right, and it does, the better bet is the true talent level of the player, which we can find through this PECOTA process. I'm thinking we'll have Hanigan and Nix's PECOTA lines, adjusted for everything we adjust for, quite soon. But Hanigan is not a .300/.405/.429 hitter, and he certainly isn't that vs. Oswalt.

Oct 08, 2010 14:16 PM
 
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