Sunday, July 15, 2018

Today is the anniversary of the "Grich game" when he almost single handedly defeated the Yankees and Ron Guidry in 1979

Click here to go the box score and play by play at Baseball Reference.

Grich went 4 for 5 (all against Guidry). That included a HR and a 2B with 5 RBIs in a 5-4 come from behind win for the Angels. Grich had a win probability added (WPA) of 1.211, the 9th highest that we know of. Guidry won the Cy Young award the year before while leading the league in ERA. He would lead the AL again in ERA in 1979. This was a home game for the Angels.

Here are Grich's ABs:

1st: Lineout with one out and none on trailing 2-0.

3rd: Single with runners on 1st and 2nd and one out to drive in a run to make the score 4-1.

5th: Single with a man on first and two outs. But next batter makes an out.

7th: Double with runners on 1st and 2nd and one out. Both runners score to make it 4-3.

9th: HR with man on 1st and two outs. Gives the Angels a 5-4 victory in front of 40,739 fans (also in 2 hours 19 minutes).

As mentioned earlier, Grich had a win probability added (WPA) of 1.211, the 9th highest that we know of (using the Baseball Reference Play Index-for games of at least .9, the earliest is 1925). Click here to see all those games. Art Shamsky had a game of 1.503 in 1966, which is the best. WPA uses historical data to estimate how much every change in the base-out-score situation changes a team's probability of winning. The later and closer the game, the more a hit increases WPA.

That famous "Sandberg game" when Ryne hit two clutch HRs off of Bruce Sutter is 42nd with 1.063. I have written about that game. It was impressive, but Sutter was no longer in is prime like Guidry was in 1979. Grich's game is far better. See my post from a few years ago Where Does "The Sandberg Game" Rank In WPA? I explain how hitting a HR off of Sutter was not especially hard at that point in his career.

Guidry as well rested coming into the game. He went 6 innings on July 10th, so he was not over worked. He did face 38 batters in this game, including 10 Ks and 2 BBs. So he could have easily thrown over 100 pitches.

He faced Grich for the 5th time that game in the 9th inning. Guidry's OPS allowed that year when facing batters for the 4th time or more in a game was .863. Pretty high. But the year before it was just .334 and the year after it was .627. So Guidry was not necessarily going to have problems in this situation. In 1977 it was .739

Here is what all AL pitchers allowed facing batters for the 4th time or more in a game in from 1977-80 with the league average OPS for all PAs after it in parentheses.

1977: .746 (.735)
1978: .719 (.711)
1979: .765 (.743)
1980: .766 (.731)

So batters did somewhat better facing a pitcher for the 4th time or more, but in the two previous years, not by much. Yes, Guidry faced Grich for the 5th time in the 9th. But he was the Cy Young award winner the previous year (with a 1.74 ERA). So it is not surprising a manager would stick with him.

Rich Gossage, one of the Yankees' best relievers, worked 3.2 innings the day before and another good righty reliever, Ron Davis had pitched 2.1. Davis also pitched on July 13th. Looking at the Yankee roster, those guys seem to have been the best possible options.

Grich was a righty and Guidry was a lefty. But Guidry did not get hit that hard by righties. Here are his HRs allowed divided by PAs for the years 1977-80:

1977: 9/606
1978: 11/757
1979: 17/776
1980: 12/729

So a manager would not have worried too much about Guidry having to face a righty.

Here is the OPS Guidry allowed vs. righties:

1977: .629
1978: .561
1979: .667
1980: .724

Here is the OPS Guidry allowed during innings 7-9:

1977: .677
1978: .428
1979: .755
1980: .659

Again, no big indicators that it would be a problem to leave Guidry in. Grich did hit 30 HRs that year but before that he had never hit 19. He did have 18 HRs in 358 PAs thru July 14, which is a pretty good total.

Here are his OPS vs. lefties:

1976: .794
1977: .807 (in only 50 PAs, he was hurt)
1978: .796
1979: .909 (but it was .900 vs. righties)
1980: .547

So it looks like there would have been no reason for a manager to especially fear Grich when facing a lefty. Good, but not devastating numbers.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Was Bobby Murcer one of the most underrated players of the '70s?

That is what someone said on Twitter today. But who underrated him? How do we measure that?

I have tried to estimate this before and links are provided below. If you read them and click on links to the complete rankings, Murcer does not appear to have been underrated.

Here I just looked at where he ranked in WAR among position players and in MVP shares among position players. Here are the WAR leaders from the 1970s using the Baseball Reference Play Index

WAR leaders of the 1970s.

Murcer is 38th.

I also copied and pasted all the MVP votes from 1970-1979 from both leagues into Excel and found the cumulative total for each player.  I took out any pitchers. Murcer is 36th, very close to his rank in WAR. So it seems that he was rated just about right by the MVP voters. He had three top 10 finishes (a 7th, a 5th and a 9th).

Name Share
Willie Stargell  3.16
Joe Morgan  2.99
Johnny Bench  2.67
Jim Rice  2.1
Steve Garvey  2.06
Reggie Jackson  2.05
Pete Rose  1.98
Dave Parker  1.97
George Foster  1.94
Rod Carew  1.7
Greg Luzinski  1.52
George Brett  1.51
Thurman Munson  1.5
Ken Singleton  1.41
Fred Lynn  1.4
Billy Williams  1.32
Sal Bando  1.32
Mike Schmidt  1.22
Joe Rudi  1.08
Don Baylor  1.04
Lou Brock  1.01
Bobby Bonds  1
Joe Torre  0.99
Reggie Smith  0.99
Dick Allen  0.98
Amos Otis  0.93
Brooks Robinson  0.81
Jeff Burroughs  0.79
John Mayberry  0.78
Frank Robinson  0.75
Hank Aaron  0.73
Boog Powell  0.72
Mickey Rivers  0.7
Ted Simmons  0.67
Tony Perez  0.67
Bobby Murcer  0.66

Was Willie Mays The Most Underrated Player In History? Or Was It Wade Boggs? Is Albert Pujols The Most Overrated? (Revised)

Using A Player's WAR To Predict First Year Hall Of Fame Vote Percentage (and possibly estimate "underratedness")

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Mariners specialize in high leverage situations

Now you might think it is just a good bullpen. But they hit much better in high leverage situations, too. Overall, the Mariners have an OPS of .742 and have allowed .709. That .033 differential is modest. Using my regression generated formula of

Pct = .5 + 1.3*OPSDIFF

That gives them about a .543 pct when it is actually .632. So they have won about 8 more games than expected (they are now 55-32).

Here is what their hitters are doing. Data from Baseball Reference.

High Leverage 0.298 0.357 0.505 0.862
Medium Leverage 0.268 0.330 0.414 0.744
Low Leverage 0.235 0.296 0.388 0.683

Now what the pitchers allow.

High Leverage 0.250 0.313 0.361 0.674
Medium Leverage 0.241 0.298 0.407 0.705
Low Leverage 0.246 0.306 0.426 0.731

Now the OPS differentials. So they play like the 1927 Yankees in High Leverage situations (the Yanks that year had an overall differential of .196).

Split OPS OPS Diff
High Leverage 0.862 0.674 0.188
Medium Leverage 0.744 0.705 0.039
Low Leverage 0.683 0.731 -0.048

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Players with 1000+ hits, 400+ BBs, 100+ SBs and 2000+TBs thru their age 27 season sorted by OPS+

I initially had 500+ BBs but Willie Mays did not make the list. He did miss almost two seasons while in the military at ages 21-22. So notice he is last in PAs for guys on this list (and Trout is 2nd to last). 5 of the top 6 guys on this list are in the Hall of Fame. The other is Trout. He is 3rd on the list in SBs and 1st in BBs. Of course, he is only thru his age 26 season.

Player OPS+ H BB SB TB Age PA
Ty Cobb 182 1727 401 488 2416 18-27 5258
Mike Trout 175 1132 643 178 2109 19-26 4432
Rogers Hornsby 174 1486 415 104 2305 19-27 4767
Willie Mays 158 1111 440 152 2068 20-27 3983
Ken Griffey 150 1389 580 123 2580 19-27 5262
Frank Robinson 148 1327 549 125 2438 20-27 5072
Alex Rodriguez 144 1535 559 177 2899 18-27 5687
George Davis 126 1451 453 366 2094 19-27 5183
Justin Upton 121 1175 509 115 2049 19-27 4934
Andruw Jones 112 1254 501 124 2312 19-27 5276

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

One June 6, 1927, The White Sox Were Just 1 Game Behind The Yankees, But They Finished The Season 39.5 Games Out

The Yankees finished 110-44 and are sometimes said to be the greatest team ever. The Sox finished 70-83 in fifth place.

But, at the conclusion of play on June 6, the Sox were 31-17 and the Yankees were 31-15. The Sox and Yankees began a 4 game series on June 7.

John Mosedale, in his 1975 book The Greatest of All: The 1927 Yankees wrote:

"Now the Yankees faced their first crucial series of the season. The phrase would assume certain comic overtones before the season was over."

If I recall correctly, Bill James said the Mosedale book was one of the best baseball books of the 1970s in the first Historical Abstract.

The Sox had just won 12 of 14 (and 27 out of their last 37). So they might have looked like serious challengers to the defending Yankees at the time. One newspaper reporter wrote: "Nobody else seems to be able stop the White Sox."

Even after the Sox lost the first game 4-1, another reporter wrote "The irrestistible Yankees met the immovable White Sox." (the Sox only managed to win the last game of the series).

I wondered if the Sox losing 38.5 games in the standings after having played over 40 games was some kind of record. Tom Ruane of Retrosheet and SABR did some research on this at my request and came up with this table:

Teams dropping behind another team by the most games over a 118-day span including those with winning records prior to span and only those with 40+ decisions prior to span

W   L
W   L
W   L
6- 6:
25  21
24  83
74  37
6- 9:
28  18
31  75
79  30
6- 7:
22  21
27  83
74  41
6- 3:
24  23
35  76
82  35
25  20
33  68
80  30
6- 6:
25  21
24  83
69  43
6- 4:
24  19
25  83
67  44
6- 1:
26  18
42  59
82  19
31  15
23  63
63  25
23  20
28  79
67  40
6- 2:
22  19
26  83
66  45
6- 5:
30  17
38  65
79  29

So the White Sox had only the 12th biggest relative change in GB. But, among the 12 teams here, they were among the leaders in fewest GB, being only 1 game out. The following table shows how many games out of first each of the above teams were on the date in question.

Year Team GB
1949 WAS A 6.5
1914 CIN N 0.5
1943 PHI A 3.5
1961 WAS A 6.5
1942 BOS N 6
1949 WAS A 6.5
1949 WAS A 5.5
1906 PHI N 3
1890 PHI a up2.5
1908 NY  A 0.5
1949 WAS A 5.5
1927 CHI A 1

Yes, in 1890, the Philadelphia Athletics were actually in first place on their date in question and finished in 7th place in an 8 team league (American Association). Both the 1908 NY Highlanders and the 1914 Reds were even closer to 1st place than the 1927 White Sox and they both ended up in last place in their leagues. Quite a fall, to be so close to first place after 40+ games and end up in the cellar.

The 1890 A's had a .674 winning pct thru June 19 but after that played just .267. Maybe there is a story behind that team. What an epic collapse. Tom Ruane sent me the following comment about this team:
"Not surprisingly money (the Athletics were one of three major league teams sharing the Philadelphia market that summer) had much to do with their second half collapse in 1890. According to David Nemec's "The Great Encyclopedia of 19th Century Baseball": "... the Athletics, after leading the loop on July 4th... saw the bottom fall out of their season when front office mismanagement left manager Bill Sharsig without any money to pay his players. The Athletics tumbled to seventh place after most of the team quit rather than agree to be paid on a per diem basis when and if funds were available...." They would finish the season with 22 straight losses."