CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Futures Guide 2014 is Now Available in Paperback and Three E-book Formats.

Premium and Super Premium Subscribers Get a 20% Discount at MLB.tv!

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: AL... (10/08)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: AL... (10/08)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: AL... (10/08)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: What... (10/08)

October 8, 2013

Playoff Prospectus

ALDS Game Three Recap: A's 6, Tigers 3

by Sam Miller


Guess the MLB.com headline!

  • Bats Mash In Motown
  • The Mig Hurt
  • Detroit Rocked City
  • Mr. OWtober
  • Visitors In The Driver’s Seat In Motor City

Say the Tigers and the A’s are both true talent 96-win teams. (Our third-order standings consider Detroit much better than this, and the Tigers’ actual record this year considers them worse, but we’re just looking for a common premise here.) If that were the case, and they played each other 1,000 times, they’d each win something like 500 games.

Now take Miguel Cabrera, about a 7-WARP player this year. But Cabrera moves like a giveaway bobblehead these days, and he’s almost certainly something worse than a 7-WARP player. How much worse? A quick poll on Twitter turns up answers ranging from one win to four wins, with a mean of about two. Average, in other words. A particularly interesting comp, via Neal Kendrick, is Toby Harrah, who hit .279/.389/.444 in 1979, while playing a -30 third base (according to FRAA). I can accept every one of those numbers as Miguel Cabrera’s true talent on these particular legs. Harrah was worth 2.3 WARP that year, so let’s go with 2.3 WARP.

That turns this into a matchup between a 96-win team and a 90.7-win team. In such a scenario, the better team will win about 53 percent of the time. That’s nothing like a death sentence for Detroit, but it’s like giving Oakland almost the equivalent of home-field advantage in every game. And, with the A’s now up a game after a 6-3 win Monday, a 53 percent edge (adjusted slightly for the skewing effects of actual home field advantages) would make them about 78 percent favorites to move on to the ALCS.

Cabrera’s performance so far—a single in each game’s first inning, nothing else throughout each game’s final eight; an error that put the A’s on the board in Game 3—is interesting, but more in the confirmation bias sense than the relevant data sense. What seems much more relevant is the way that the A’s are attacking him: Since Sonny Gray got him to chase a third-pitch curveball in the third inning of Game 2, the A’s haven’t thrown him a single off-speed or breaking pitch. Just 18 fastballs, right after the other. Cabrera has, in that time, popped out weakly to right, popped out weakly to right again, nearly popped out weakly down the right-field line (it just reached the stands) and today, popped out weakly to first base. If scouting is the ability to get relevant information before the sample gets large enough, the A’s scouts (or coaches and catchers) have basically just given us a spreadsheet with everything we need to know.

After Game 2, Bob Melvin was asked to assess Cabrera based on what he has seen. Melvin didn’t bite. He deflected it, and noted that Cabrera always looms in the lineup; even at partial strength, he’s in the pitcher’s peripheral vision all the time and a potential walk when he’s at the plate. That’s what Melvin said, but the A’s game plan makes it clear that the A’s are not falling for it.

The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.

Not a subscriber?

Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.


Cancel anytime.


That's a 33% savings over the monthly price!


That's a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

2 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: AL... (10/08)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: AL... (10/08)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: AL... (10/08)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: What... (10/08)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article Dynasty Dynamics: Players We're Buying at th...
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Tuesday, July ...
Premium Article The Call-Up: Aaron Sanchez
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Wednesday, July 23
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Headley Chased
Eyewitness Accounts: July 23, 2014
2014 Draft

MORE FROM OCTOBER 8, 2013
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALDS Game Four Preview: ...
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: What My Four-Year-Old Taug...
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALDS Game Three Recap: R...
Analyzing A-Rod's Arbitration Case
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: The Quiet Claims
The Week in Quotes: September 30-October 6
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Lake Effect

MORE BY SAM MILLER
2013-10-10 - BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 3...
2013-10-09 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALDS Game Four Recap: Ti...
2013-10-09 - BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 3...
2013-10-08 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALDS Game Three Recap: A...
2013-10-08 - BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 3...
2013-10-07 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALDS Game Two Recap: A's...
2013-10-07 - BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 3...
More...

MORE PLAYOFF PROSPECTUS
2013-10-08 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NLDS Game Four Recap: Do...
2013-10-08 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALDS Game Four Preview: ...
2013-10-08 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALDS Game Four Preview: ...
2013-10-08 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALDS Game Three Recap: A...
2013-10-08 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALDS Game Three Recap: R...
2013-10-07 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALDS Game Three Preview:...
2013-10-07 - Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NLDS Game Four Preview: ...
More...