Baseball is not a cold weather sport, and tonight’s game certainly proved that. Sloppy fielding, bad pitching and untimely hitting led to on ugly loss on possibly the coldest April night I can remember. And since I was sitting in the Stadium, I felt that one. Now excuse me while I duck until some hot water and try to forget Bobby Abreu’s amazingly clutch fifteen-foot groundball with the bases loaded and one out with the Yanks down by a run.
Man, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a line drive homer like the one Elijah Dukes hit. Talk about a laser.
Anyways, in honor of Opening Day, here’s the full lineups for all four squads.
Many thanks to David Appelman at FanGraphs for allowing me to use their WPA data on this site. As I mentioned Monday night, the WPA spreadsheet I used last year doesn’t work on a Mac, so I thought I was SOL regarding individual players’ WPAs. But, thanks to David and his wonderfully comprehensive website, we’re all back in the know when it comes to WPA.
Using this system has also opened a new area of analysis: Leverage Index. What this shows is how critical each situation was in which a player appeared. The stat shown on the table below, pLI, is the average Leverage Index per player plate appearance. The average LI is 1.00, and obviously increases as game situations become more critical.
So, without further ado, here’s is Monday’s WPA chart:
Even though Jeter’s WPA was nearly 10 percent lower than Giambi’s, we can put that into a better perspective by noting that Jeter hit in higher pressure situations. We can see that Minky didn’t add or take away, which is mitigated by his 1.83 pLI. Had he been in the negatives, we could have fumed a bit. Matsui had a bad day, but he was up in situations that were less pressured than average. So at least he didn’t kill the team with his bad day.
Of course, none of those caught your eye first. As Yankees fans (or even if you’re not), your eye likely went straight to Mr. Alex Rodriguez. Yes, his WPA is a modest .065, but his pLI was just 1.33. However, maybe it’s not best to only compare and contrast pLI and WPA.
Here’s the deal: I’m going to log each and every one of Alex’s plate appearances this season. It will be very simple: Leverage Index and the outcome of the at bat. Maybe this, combined with his WPA, will allow us to understand the whole “he doesn’t come through in the clutch” argument.
Otherwise, enjoy the numbers. Once again, if anyone has any questions about WPA, please e-mail me at RABJosephP (at) gmail (dot) com.
Since there was no Yankees game yesterday — much to my rain-soaked chagrin — it seems appropriate to rag on the Red Sox, and Josh Beckett specifically.
I had planned to watch the Sox/Royals game last night, but a few tasks kept me from tuning in until the second inning, when it was already 3-0 Sox. Great. But, since Josh Beckett was on the mound, I figured it was still worth a watch. I flipped it off after the third, when Mark Teahen and Mike Sweeney blew a first and second, one out situation. I was disheartened once again in the fourth, after watching the Royals score a run, followed by Beckett finishing off the side.
The Red Sox increasing their lead kept me from flipping back to the game. So, in my ignorance, I believed that Josh Beckett pitched a good game. Boy, was I wrong.
First, he only ended up pitching five innings, leaving things to the bullpen for four. They ended up pitching well, but if they end up pitching four innings a game a couple times a week (and they’ve pitched nine so far in two games), they’re screwed. That’s a lot of strain on a bunch of mediocre or sub-mediocre arms.
The next stat that stands out is his strike total. 94 pitches, 46 strikes. Yes, folks, Josh Beckett threw more balls than strikes last night. That was reflected in his four walks, though he did strike out five and only surrender two hits.
It’s that kind of wildness that has many believing that Beckett is not one of the “aces” that were heralded on ESPN in February and March. He may have walked away looking decent last night, but if you’re walking four in five innings, you’re going to give up a few more runs on most nights.
If Beckett doesn’t improve significantly on this wildness (he surely won’t throw 51 percent of his pitches for balls every night), he’s going to run into a familiar problem: taters. Wildness can mean leaving pitches out of the zone and issuing a lot of walks, but it can also mean missing in the zone. And when you miss out over the plate, guys are going to take you deep, especially hitters in the AL East.
Of course, it is the first start of the season, and I may be jumping the gun a bit. However, it’s not like he pitched lights out last year and had an off game yesterday. In fact, yesterday seemed like a mere extension of last season. Here’s to hoping it’s another long one for Beckett and the Sox.
Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The minor league season kicks off today, here’s how theÂ Yanks’ affiliates open up:
Triple-A Scranton vs. Norfolk Tides (
Nats O’s) at 7:00 pm. Clippard vs. ?
Double-A Trenton vs. Bowie Bay Sox (Orioles) at 7:05 pm. Pitchers TBA, but I’m guessing either Brett Smith or Alan Horne gets the ball.
High-A Tampa @ Lakeland Tigers (7:00 pm)Â to take on Cameron Maybin. Pitchers TBA, but the feeling here is Ian Kennedy will be pitching.
Low-A Charleston vs. Greenville AstrosÂ (7:05 pm). Pitchers TBA, but I’m all but certain Tim Norton will be starting.
Down on the Farm will be making it’s long awaited triumphant return tomorrow. If you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s a sample. Check out that Matt DeSalvo pitching line.
Update: The AAA Norfolk team is the Orioles affiliate, not the Nationals. My mistake.