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October 8, 2010
Friday LDS Game Projections
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
Reds vs. Roy Oswalt
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
Braves vs. Matt Cain
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.