Thursday, September 30, 2004

Around the Game In Eighty Sentences

I don't think anybody's freaking out about this (it didn't even warrant mention in today's Under the Knife), but I wanted to beat whoever would to the punch:
Asked how Gagne was injured, trainer Stan Johnston told the Los Angeles Times, "Overuse, or it might have been warming up too quick."
Gagne's innings by month since becoming a full-time reliever, with MIG being multi-inning games (games where he was credited with 1.1 or more IP):


2002


2003


2004

IP Pitches MIG
IP Pitches MIG
IP Pitches MIG
April 13 178 1
14.1 179 2
10.2 170 3
May 14.1 231 2
12.2 195 1
11.1 153 1
June 14.1 190 3
12.1 184 0
11 156 3
July 10 140 0
12.2 200 3
15 227 4
August 16.2 270 3
17.1 252 3
17 276 4
September 14 229 3
13 179 4
14.1 232 5
Total 82.1 1238 12
82.1 1189 13
79.1 1214 20

















































































































































So Gagne has been used slightly more in this stretch run than the two past ones, but not by much. His 735 pitches from July to August is easily his most thrown in a three-month period, and his 46.1 innings in that period is his highest total in any three month period. Likewise, his August-September 2004 slightly edges out August-September in both IP and pitches. However, none of those differences are significant enough for it to be predictable that his usage pattern since the all-star break would constitute overuse. If you think the one extra multi-innings appearance per month is at fault, you'll have to excuse me if I look at you cross-eyed. While it's possible that the way the Dodgers have used Gagne is responsible for his whatever-he's-got (I don't want to call it something and then look stupid when tomorrow's Under the Knife comes out), the Dodgers' decision to mildly increase his usage was the right one since a) he's one of the best three relievers in baseball, b) there's no reason to expect him not to be able to handle the workload, and c) it could turn out he's good for 105-115 IP a year (which I wouldn't put out of the realm of possibility even after this incident) in which case it would behoove the Dodgers to find that out.

***

You know what? I'm just gonna come right out and say it. I tip-toed around it in my entry on the Cubs' OBP, and it's totally Pollyanna, but I can't help myself. This should be the Cubs' base lineup:
Lee
Ramirez
Alou
Walker
Barrett
Sosa
Nomar
Patterson
When Grudzie and/or Bako play, everyone else slides up and they come in at the end. If Nomar were actually healthy he'd be higher up, of course. But, I mean, does Dusty Baker realize when he's filling out the lineup card that a. Corey Patterson doesn't get on base too often and b. they're still supposed to play offense after the first inning? Patterson's stolen bases are gravy in tie games in the 8th and 9th, but of limited utility in the first inning.

Alright, file that one under useless (and probably under "Shut up, Everyone Else Has Written the Same Thing, You Just Didn't Notice").

***

When was the last time I wrote something about the A's? It's been a couple weeks, and I really don't want to pile on. Have you heard the pitching hasn't been tearing it up recently? Bobby Crosby made things better today, but they've been pretty bleak.

The good news is that all they have to do to make the playoffs is win this series, and it's in Oakland. To continue my paean to remembering the import of home-field advantage started earlier today (which, for those counting, will count in my 80 sentence quota), check out Oakland's splits. The Oakland Coliseum (and its various nomenclatural incarnations) has typically played as a pitcher's park but actually has had a hitter-favoring park factor in 2002 and 2004. I can't think of much that makes it unique; lots of foul ground, sure, but that's about it. Meanwhile, the A's have just smoked the competition at home (numbers through Wednesday:

A's in Oakland: 50-27, .272 GPA, 5.13 runs/game, .247 opponents' GPA, 4.02 ERA
A's elswhere: 39-42, .258 GPA, 4.79 runs/game, .255 opponents' GPA, 4.29 ERA

***

And you know what else drives me crazy that I remembered once again while researching that? Why are there no readily-available home and away fielding splits? I don't know if anyone keeps that data, but it seems to me it should be quite useful to look at team home and away fielding splits and even player home and away fielding splits. You know what? I'd like to make the first effort (well, maybe somebody else has done this, but I couldn't find them using Google-- actually, the Google search turned up this very site). Unfortunately, I can't find any team pitching splits online that include plate appearances or AB, SH, and SF, which means I can't even calculate BABIP, much less DER. But I can find opponents Caught Stealing numbers, so I can make a close-enough formula that doesn't account for double-plays and other baserunning outs: QuasiDER = 1 - ((H - HR)/(3IP + H - HR - SO - CS)). Here goes (%H is how much better the team's DER was at home):



Home




Away



H HR IP SO CS QDER
H HR IP SO CS QDER %H
Ana 772 94 752 598 23 0.707
678 76 668.3 533 21 0.707 0
Ari 724 106 715 585 23 0.713
733 88 694 546 26 0.701 1.8
Atl 748 84 748 552 19 0.716
695 64 676 457 10 0.712 0.5
Bal 745 81 700 508 18 0.703
700 73 710.3 553 19 0.713 -1
Bos 732 77 741 584 17 0.712
663 78 675.3 522 14 0.718 -1
ChC 667 88 718 641 38 0.718
655 73 708.3 665 16 0.713 0.8
ChW 806 127 739 531 26 0.71
671 94 658.3 462 21 0.721 -2
Cin 739 125 716 514 17 0.725
829 107 688.3 457 12 0.689 5.3
Cle 788 94 749 584 17 0.703
738 104 689 513 22 0.707 -1
Col 906 110 733 488 20 0.68
693 80 667.7 437 11 0.717 -5
Det 764 94 718 481 27 0.711
740 95 677.7 479 13 0.705 0.8
Fla 678 83 734 603 18 0.727
669 77 672 493 20 0.717 1.3
Hou 665 89 710 664 20 0.715
724 83 706 589 19 0.702 1.9
KC 774 84 689 445 16 0.699
826 118 695.3 422 17 0.699 0
LA 651 85 704 535 15 0.734
695 86 711.3 509 25 0.724 1.3
Mil 719 83 753 597 19 0.721
677 79 655 470 10 0.713 1.1
Min 705 79 731 597 20 0.716
732 81 706.7 500 22 0.711 0.7
Mon 721 86 735 520 25 0.723
730 102 686 491 16 0.712 1.6
NYM 720 64 720 493 22 0.715
707 89 702 460 17 0.725 -1
NYY 746 87 737 570 22 0.711
756 92 672.7 467 10 0.699 1.7
Oak 696 81 718 505 22 0.726
734 80 717.3 505 26 0.713 1.8
Phi 719 111 718 541 13 0.725
738 99 708.7 505 13 0.716 1.3
Pit 721 57 731 533 23 0.711
712 88 671 517 15 0.704 1.1
SD 719 74 728 545 16 0.716
706 105 679 501 9 0.718 -0
SF 787 77 744 547 15 0.702
675 81 677.7 448 9 0.726 -3
Sea 698 104 729 543 19 0.732
765 102 695 464 19 0.707 3.5
StL 658 73 706 515 12 0.731
687 92 711.7 487 15 0.733 -0
TB 680 92 715 471 19 0.738
733 94 658 426 11 0.706 4.5
Tex 780 95 733 493 19 0.711
716 85 671.7 460 20 0.709 0.4
Tor 785 92 708 490 26 0.699
689 84 678 442 15 0.723 -3
Avg 734 89 726 542 20 0.715
716 88 686.3 493 16 0.712 0.4





























































Well, this doesn't make much of a case for there being an overwhelming case for homefield advantage helping defense, although it shows a slight advantage. Most teams have been better at home so it could be said that the Rockies' numbers skew the results, but that's misleading since two thirds of these teams play games there too which should even out the Coors effect. In fact, this shows that, for this season, anyway, much bigger aspects of the home-field advantage are home runs and strike outs: home teams have given up 4.47% fewer home runs per inning and have struck out 4.12% more batters per inning. In case you're wondering, they've also caught their opponents stealing 16.24% more often, and I'm not sure what to make of that figure. Actually, if we add caught stealing back into the equation, the home team's defensive advantage goes up by one half of one tenth of a percent. The home runs part makes some sense since home teams are more likely, I guess, to adjust their approach based on the relative ease of hitting home runs to various parts of the field and because of rosters constructed to exploit the park's effects. But the strikeouts? I'm not willing to venture any guesses there.

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