Sunday, September 30, 2007

Postseason Odds = 0%

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Postseason Odds Report

I love this god damn thing. I've been torturing myself by consulting the Mets plummeting odds of making the playoffs every day for the last few weeks. Anyway, here's the Mets season, graphically presented, since April 10th.

On the off chance that you read this and you don't know what I'm talking about (hi honey), this clever chap over at Baseball Prospectus has looked at the current standings each day, and then calculated the odds of each team making the postseason by simulating all of the remaining games for each team a million times, and recording the number of times out of that million each team would make the playoffs, either by winning their division or the Wild Card.

Since peaking at a 99.8% chance of making the playoffs on September 14th -- that's right, just two weeks ago -- the Mets chances of making the postseason have taken a nose dive. On the other hand, they do still have almost a 60% chance of getting making it. It's 50-50 at this point whether the Mets or Phillies will win the NL East, but there's a small -- around 9% -- chance that the Mets could lose the division to the Phillies but still take the Wild Card.


Little Help Here, Guys

Go Nats!

Go Brewers!


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Thursday, September 27, 2007

I Hate You, Kenny.

Here's the thing: I'm a dork. I like Axis & Allies. I read the first four books of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire earlier this summer, and I liked it so much I re-read the whole thing a month later. I've got a Dungeon Master's Guide; I've got a twelve-sided die. And I love me some sabermetrics -- I once calculated the VORP for every player on my co-ed, corporate softball team. That's just how I roll, sucka. I don't believe that shit like grit and hustle and David Eckstein's heart growing three sizes that day enabled him to win that World Series MVP.

Which is why it pains me so much to say, the Mets tonight looked like their season is over. I mean, what happened in this game has absolutely no bearing on how the remaining three games are going to play out, right? Right? You can't tell when a team is done by the look in their eyes, or their hanging heads, can you? There's no stat for that! Except, you know . . . when you can.

I know, I know. Ya gotta believe!! Yes, well, I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.

I've got Kitty Pride, and Nightcrawler, too. Waiting there for me, yes I do.

ps -- My blasphemies
may indicate that I'm taking tonight's loss a bit too hard


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Castillo vs Gotay 2

I went over this when the Mets first got him, but here's how they've done so far. Obviously, this includes Castillo's numbers with Minny.

Schoeneweis: Is He As Bad As All That?

Eh, yes and no. Two highly improbable saves from last week not withstanding, Schoeneweis is a LOOGY. He's been awful this year against righties. More awful, in fact, than his pretty awful career rates. On the other hand, he's also been very good against lefties. Take a look.
Holy crap, that's a huge platoon split. Of course, that doesn't give you any context, so look at Scotty compared to all other NL left-handers.

Huh. Compared to the average NL lefty, he's been as much worse against RHB, as he has been better against LHB. So I have to wonder, why does Schoeneweis ever pitch to a right-handed batter? Is his huge platoon differential in '07 a fluke, or does it accurately reflect his career numbers. Well, ask and ye shall receive.

I've added trend lines to show that it looks like Scott's platoon split is getting bigger. He's becoming more effective against lefties, but even less effective against righties. Why is that, I wonder? Has he dropped down to throw more sidearm? Stopped throwing some pitch, or started throwing another?

As always, I have no answers, just colorful graphs and more questions. Foremost, of course, is why has Schoeneweis been allowed to pitch to 151 right-handed batters this year?

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mets 7 at Florida 8

Well, that sucked. What's up with Billy Wagner, I wonder? [Back spasms, apparently] If he's available, I think we win that game. Anyway, here's a distressing image.

So, Phillies . . . game and a half back, again. We gotta take three out of four from the Marlins, here. On the upside, at least, I figured this'd be the game we would lose anyway, 'cause Dontrelle has owned the Mets since he came in the league, so . . . ah, fuck, who am I kidding? That blew.

Hey, here's some fun -- compare the above chart with this one below.

You can sync up the reasons why the Mets' lead has been evaporating! Like, everybody was hot back in April and May, but then nobody could hit. Then the bullpen stunk. Then by August, everybody was hitting again, but the starters were getting lit up, and the bullpen too! Sweet.

I miss those heady days of April. Of course, I miss our 7-game lead over the Phillies, too.

Hat tip to the Hardball Times for the above/below .500 format. I find the division races there fascinating to look at, but terrifying in this particular case.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What's Wrong With Guillermo Mota?

. . . apart from sucking, I mean.

I'm not going to talk about yesterday's horrorshow, especially not after having been present at Shea for Sunday's clusterfuck. Nor will I talk about tonight's latest embarassment. But what I can do is talk a little bit more about is Guillermo Mota. What's wrong with this guy? Jeez, I'm like a fat kid with a candy bar with this thing, I just won't let it go.

I'm going to ignore the fact that Mota got suspended for 'roids, first of all because I'm not sure that they can make a middle reliever go from "terrible," to "awesome," and back again. So, living in a magical fairy land where the fact that Mota is no longer taking steroids is discounted as a reason why he might not be pitching well, what have I got? Yes, Mota has been terrible in 2007, but how? Why is he so bad?

Below you'll find a chart of Mota's peripherals (K/9, HR rate, etc.) expressed as a percentage plus or minus league average. I've expressed the graph so that the "good," result is always up, i.e. Mota's career HR rate is about 10% lower than league average, so he's 10% "better." Obviously, higher K rates and K/BB ratios are better, while lower Walk and HR rates are desireable

Well there's your problem. Too many home runs. Mota is doing a better job of striking guys out, and a much better job of not walking them. He's just giving up too many home runs.

I don't know where to go with this, though. Anecdotally, it's seemed like Mota's gotten into a lot of 3-ball counts, where he's had to come in with a fastball. The problem with Mota's 96 mph gas, of course, is that it's as straight as a string, and if a halfway decent hitter is expecting it, that fastball can go a long way. In a way, I don't think he's walking enough batters. They can't hit a home run if they're walking to first; I think the term is "effectively wild."

And that's the second reason why I'm not sure "not being on 'roids," is the reason Mota is having a bad year. His velocity is good, and his strikeout rate is still good. I checked as many of his past HR/F rates as they've got over at the Hardball Times, and it doesn't seem like he's giving up an unusually high (for Mota) percentage of homers. In a year in which he's walked fewer people than he has in the past, his real problem is control; it's just that the results end up being home runs, instead of walks.

But really, I don't know. To quote Leo Mazzone, on Mark Wohlers: "If I knew what the fuck went wrong, I would have fixed it."

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Even More Feliciano And Mota! Hooray!

Looking into it further, and thinking about JK47's should-have-been-obvious "dumb luck BABIP" comment over at Metsgeek, I found this over at the Hardball Times:

Huh. So it looks like the difference between Pedro and Guillermo this season is just that, dumb luck. Based on peripherals like home run rate, K rate, etc., one would expect that Feliciano and Mota should have the same ERA (xFIP, or expected Fielding-Independent Pitching). Shocking. Seriously. Pedro has pitched, basically, twice as well as Mota. But I guess if their HR rates normalize back to around 11%, and we don't spot Pedro a 65-point advantage in BABIP, their results should be about the same. Wild.

You know, that's the thing about relievers. Pitching in such a small number of innings, luck can play a huge role in how well they do in any given year. I guess I could look up Feliciano and Mota's career BABIP rates, to see if one of them is getting historically lucky or unlucky, but . . . ah, I just don't care that much anymore.
Boy, did my eyes deceive me on this one.

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Feliciano, Mota and Platoon Splits

In the eighth inning of last night's game, after L'il Pedro walked Brian McCann to load the bases, Willie decided to take out Feliciano, who'd walked McCann on only five pitches, and go with the platoon righty-righty matchup of Mota vs. Francoeur. I actually said out loud "this is a bad idea," and sure enough, Frenchy got a base hit to tie up the game. Sweet.

Now Bill James said that "the platoon differential is real and virtually universal," but I wasn't sure about the wisdom of replacing a pitcher who's been lights out with a pitcher who's stunk up the joint all year, just because he's right-handed. So I decided to look into it and see who's been better against RHB this year, lefty Pedro or righty Mota. I seriously doubt the answer will surprise anyone.

Wow. One of these pitchers has been very effective against right-handed batters, and the other one is Guillermo Mota. Anyway, Willie has to know this, right? I mean, Pedro hadn’t pitched for a few days, so he wasn’t tired; and the Mets have a day off before taking on Philly, so you wouldn’t need to save his arm, either. I just don’t understand why Willie would let the worst pitcher in his bullpen come in to pitch in the most important situation in the game. Especially when he had a better reliever in there already.

Of course, the Mets score in the bottom half, so it all works out OK (unless you’re John Maine). Mota . . . not good. Congratulations on the W, though. But here’s something that actually was surprising.

In 2007, Mota has actually been pretty effective against left-handers. This year, anyway, Guillermo has a reverse-platoon split. There aren’t a lot of pitchers like this, but anecdotally, pitchers who are more effective against batters from the opposite side frequently have crappy fastballs but good fadeaway changeups/screwballs (Jamie Moyer, Jim Mecir, Fernando Valenzuela). That sounds like Guillermo Mota to me.*

Mota used to have a small but normal platoon differential (better against RH than LH), so maybe I shouldn’t get too excited about these 86 at bats (sample size alert!) But of course, for most of his career Guillermo used to be a good reliever, too.

As always, special thanks to David Pinto, whose Day by Day Database makes my dull and inaccurate analysis possible.

*I know he can throw it 96 mph, but Mota can’t locate his fastball for shit. Even at 96 mph, a fastball right over the heart of the plate sucks.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

NL Central

I was hanging out recently at my favorite bar, Schittzen Giggles, wondering who's going to win the division in the NL Central. Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs are tied up at 71-68, with St. Louis only a game back at 69-68. Man, the NL Central is a crapfest. Winning this division is like winning the retard spelling bee, or being the world's strongest midget.

Anyway, consulting the ol' BP Playoff Odds Report, it looks like the Cubbies have a slight edge over the Brewers, with Milwaukee predicted to win the division 37% of the time to Chicago's 44%. They've got the same record, why is Chicago 7% more likely to make the playoffs (we all know nobody from the Central is winning the Wild Card)? St. Louis, by the way, still has an outside shot at 17%.

The answer, of course, is the strength of their remaining schedules:

Cubs: .454
Milwaukee: .481
St. Louis: .492

The difference in the strength of each team's remaining schedule is largely accounted for by the fact that, of the three NL Central contenders, only St. Louis has games remaining against both of the others. The Cubs have five games against the Cards, but none against the Brewers; while the Brewers have three against the Cards as well. The Cubs and Brewers basically get to beat up on Cincy, Pittsburg and Florida for the rest of the season, with the exception that the Brewers will play three against the Braves (which is why their remaining schedule is .481 instead of a cakewalk .454).

Of course, the flip side of this is that St. Louis controls their own destiny more than Milwaukee or Chicago. I honestly have no idea who's going to take this division. I guess it'd make my 91 year-old grandpa happy if the Cubs did. On the other hand, if the Cubs actually won a World Series, it would probably kill him. The last time the Cubs were world champions was eight years before he was born.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Hey, Philly . . .


Ahhh . . . you suck. Thanks, Braves. Your season is over, but you can still help out the Mets.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Mets 11 at Cincinnati 7

Well, that was more like it. A lot of people have been talking recently about how ridiculous it is for Wes Littleton to earn a Save for pitching the final three innings of a 30-3 blowout, but I don't think it's much more ridiculous than Perez getting the W for giving up five runs in as many innings. Perez did not pitch well, but we all know that Wins are a terrible measure of how well a pitcher has pitched, right? Right.

Anyway, Mets remain five games up on the Phillies in the NL East. Somehow, despite the cluster-fuck last week, the Mets' division lead is almost exactly what it was before the 4-game sweep in Philly: five games. The remaining schedule favors the Mets, too. Strength of remaining schedules over the last 24 games (or so) for the three contenders in the NL East:

Mets - .462
Braves - .485
Phillies - .488

I expect the Braves, Mets, and Phillies to play .500 ball against each other*, with final standings in the division being determined by how well each team plays the rest of their games. The Mets will get to beat up on the Marlins and Nats, while the Braves and Phillies have to play the somewhat-respectable Brewers and Rockies, respectively; so I don't expect their relative positions to change.

Braves: your season is over, 8.5 games behind the Mets, and 3.5 behind the Phillies. You're also six games back for the Wild Card with four teams ahead of you. Atlanta's drought of division titles continues.

* These three teams each have one more series left against the other two.