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August 29, 2005
From The Mailbag
Hit List, WXRL, King Felix, Injury Prediction, The TwinsHitting the Hit List
The Angels have a better record than the A's, a better record for the week against better opponents, and a better run differential for the season, yet you list the A's higher and have them going up. I know I am biased for the Angels but how do you explain your ranking without admitting bias?
Contrary to your belief, there is zero subjectivity on the Hit List. The rankings are done by equally weighting actual, first-, second-, and third-order winning percentages for the season to date as calculated in the Adjusted Standings.
The A's rose (trend arrow up) because despite their 1-5 record, the elements that determine their higher-order winning percentages didn't worsen as much as the teams around them. Particularly, they did well preventing runs as noted in the comment; that tends to have a positive effect on their Pythagorean calculations. The A's had a bad week, but the White Sox, who were above them, had a worse week, and the Braves and Angels, both below them, had weeks that were nothing to write home about either:
A's were outscored 22-17 White Sox were outscored 28-14 Angels outscored opponents 30-27 Braves were outscored 38-37
Also, while the Angels have a better actual run differential than the A's, once the park and other adjustments are applied, the A's differential is better. All told, the A's, Indians, and Angels are separated by .0027 percentage points in the Hit List Factor (the average of those four percentages above). That's about a third of a win at this point in the year. One run here or there might have been enough to reorder the three teams.
I was looking at the 'slide show' of Felix Hernandez in action--my God, what a pitcher!--and I'll hazard a guess about that mystery pitch he threw from time to time. Judging from the description of the way it breaks (falling off the table), I'll bet he's got a knuckle-curve like Mike Mussina and isn't telling anyone about it. Wonder what else he has in his repertoire?
After talking to several people in the know, my suspicion that the pitch was a change-up appears to have been confirmed. It's rare to see a change act that way--almost like a splitter. But having watched Pedro Martinez up close for so many years, I can tell you that it can be done. And since Felix has to be considered one of the most talented young pitchers to come around since Pedro anyway, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Hi there. Long time baseball fan and recent Baseball Prospectus subscriber here. Love the site and have found it quite useful, but have come across one nagging statistic that I can't seem to figure out, and was hoping you might be able to explain to me.
WXRL is the change in expected runs due to the reliever's performance. As such, it matters very much the kinds of situations he comes to pitch in--and whether his good outings were in high or low leverage situations.
A simple example. A pitcher appears in two games. He gets lit up for 3 runs in one inning of work in game A, strikes out the side in game B.
Now consider two different game situations:
Situation 1: 1 run lead, bottom of the ninth. Assume win probability upon entering is 80%. Situation 2: Down by 12 runs, bottom of the 7th. Assume win probability upon entering is 5%.
Combining the games and situations, there are two possibilities: A1,B2 or A2,B1.
A1: Blows a tight game, and his team loses. The reliever's win expectation for this appearance is 0% - 80% = -0.800 B2: Pitches a perfect inning, but the game is pretty much hopeless. Maybe the team has a 7% chance of coming back now. Win expectation for this game is 7% - 5% = +0.020
The pitcher's combined WX for these two games is -0.800 + 0.020 = -0.780. Let's look at the other case:
A2: Pitcher shuts down the other team to preserve a clutch win. WX = 100% - 80% = +0.200 B1: Pitcher puts them further into an already deep hole. Suppose Win probability drops to 4%. WX = 4% - 5% = -0.010
Pitcher's combined WX for the second case is +0.200 - 0.010 = +0.190.
A pitcher's performance in higher leverage situations will have a larger effect on his WX (and WXRL) than his performances in low leverage situations. Game A was very high leverage, Game B was very low leverage. And his performance in Game A pretty much determined his actual game value over that span.
WXRL is a way to assess past performance, usage, and game importance. But it is not independent of how and where a pitcher is used. A better measure for that would be Adjusted Runs Prevented (ARP), which takes into account only how a pitcher performed, not the leverage of the situation, but does consider inherited and bequeathed runners fairly in doing so. Hope that helps.
The Twins just claimed Alfonso Soriano off of waivers. The initial reports indicate this is simply to keep him from getting traded to another divisional rival. But I have to admit I don't know enough about how the system works; what are the chances the Twins actually wind up with Soriano on their roster? (And I assume this would not mean they have to give up someone like Liriano?) Thanks.
Well, the waivers were revocable, so it was dependent on Texas and Minnesota being able to work out a mutually agreeable deal, or the Rangers just letting Minnesota have him. Neither transpired, so you can consider this a successful block. The real question is who he was headed to, although I would suggest that it's more likely that he was being dealt to a rival for the wild card slot, and not to the Indians or White Sox.
Is there a correlation between number of days on DL from one year to the next? Is the correlation greater for pitchers than for hitters? I am wondering if there is any validity to terms such as 'injury prone' or 'slow healer.'
For individual players? No, not really. Where I look for "slow healer" is in days on DL over expected. Each injury has an average and range for how long it takes someone to come back and when someone exceeds it, I want to know why. Often, there's a reason--"sprained ankle" has degrees and its impossible for me to know. The lack of transparency is one of the reasons that injury stats will take so much longer to develop on the outside than it will to do as others have done with performance stats.