Friday, June 24, 2016

Rangers Success Partly Due To Their Hitting In High Leverage Situations, But Maybe Only A Part

They are 47-26, leading the AL with a .644 winning pct (the Indians and Orioles are next with .577 each). The Rangers hitters have an overall OPS of .746. while their pitchers have allowed .735. That is an OPS differential of only .011. Not very impressive.

Using all teams from 2010-14, the relationship between OPS differential and winning pct is

Pct = .5 + 1.3246*OPSDIFF

That estimates the Rangers to have a .515 pct (much lower than their actual of .644 thru yesterday). They are .129 above this projection (one big factor is they are 17-4 in 1-run games).

But their differential is much bigger in High Leverage situations than otherwise. The two tables below show the stats for the hitters and pitchers


Ranger Pitchers BA OBP SLG OPS
High Lvrge 0.254 0.333 0.388 0.721
Medium Lvrge 0.249 0.314 0.405 0.719
Low Lvrge 0.262 0.327 0.431 0.758










Ranger Hitters BA OBP SLG OPS
High Lvrge 0.294 0.347 0.483 0.830
Medium Lvrge 0.269 0.328 0.425 0.753
Low Lvrge 0.247 0.300 0.407 0.708

So what are their OPS differentials in each case?

Low -.050
Medium .034
High .109

Using the same years mentioned above, here is the equation when breaking things down by leverage

Pct = .5 + .306*LOW +.420*MED + .564*HIGH

Estimating the Rangers pct here would be

Pct = .5 + .306*(-.050) + .420*(.034) + .564*(.109) = .560

That explains about 35% of the difference between their actual pct of .644 and the .515 predicted by just using overall OPS differential (or at least makes it 35% smaller). So what else might explain their performance?

The Rangers do lead the league in turning DPs with 94. The next highest total is 79. The league average is 66. So the extra 28 DPs probably helps, too.

They allow a .323 OBP while the league average is .321. So they are probably not getting too many more guys on base and should have about an average number of DP opportunities. 

I am not seeing anything else that big that jumps out that would account for their high winning pct. They do take the extra base 43% of the time vs. 40% for the league average (that is, a runner advances more than one base on a single and more that two on a double). They are tied for 3rd in the league. The Indians lead with 49%. But the Rangers also lead with outs on base. So it seems like base running is not helping them too much.

They have played 38 games (a bit more than half) against the worst 6 teams in the league in taking the extra base. That might help a bit.

They do lead the league in bases taken on fly balls, wild pitches, passed balls and balks. They have 85 and the league average is 70. Seems small.

Getting back to their record of 17-4 in 1-run games, you might think it would be a result of their bullpen. But their bullpen has an ERA of 4.71, the highest in the league. Their bullpen has the 2nd highest OPS in the league at .792. The Twins have .806. The Rangers bullpen does lead the league in GDPs with 29.

Their entire staff also leads the league in GDPs in High Leverage Situations with 39. Seattle is 2nd with 31. The MLB average is 23. So those extra 16 DPs in key situations might help.

Their batters have hit into 29 DPs in High Leverage situations. Their net gain of 10 DPs is tied for 3rd in the league.

Friday, June 17, 2016

What Was The Biggest Positive OPS Differential For A Team That Lost A Game?

Tom Ruane of SABR & Retrosheet extracted this information from the database for me. The answer is the Angels, just last year, on Sept. 30. They lost to the A's 8-7. In the game, the Angels had an OPS of 1.226 while the A's had .567 for a differential of .659. Tom just posted an analysis that goes into alot more detail and covers other issues like what was the highest OPS for a certain number of runs scored in a game, etc. See Fun with a Team's OPS.

The Angels outhit the A's 13-6. The Angels had 5 HRs and a 2B while the A's had 1 2B & 1 3B. The Angels walked 6 times and the A's had 7. The Angels made 4 errors and the A's made 2. All of the runs the A's allowed were earned while only one allowed by the Angels was earned. There were no hit batters in the game.

4 of the 5 HRs the Angels hit were solo shots and the other was a 2-run HR. The A's 2B came in the 4th inning with 2 outs and bases loaded. One of the runners had reached on an error. All three runners scored and all of those runs were unearned. Something similar happened in the 7th inning when the A's scored 4 runs.

Click here see the boxscore of that game

Here is the rest of the top 10. The first number is the OPS differential. Then the team that lost while having that differential followed by the date then the OPS they had and the OPS they allowed.

.643 OAK A 1998-5-10 .877 .234(lose to White Sox 4-3)
.583 MON N 1999-4-19 1.360 .777(lose to Rockies 11-10)
.573 PIT N 1918-6-18 .730 .157(lose to Phillies 1-0)
.526 BRO N 1930-8-11 1.157 .631(lose to Cardinals 7-6)
.523 PIT N 1917-5- 6 .821 .299(lose to Cubs 3-2)
.522 KC A 1979-4-30 1.175 .653(lose to Rangers 8-7)
.505 MIN A 2005-8-31 .899 .394(lose to Royals 1-0)
.492 DET A 1950-8-11(2) .944 .452(lose to Browns 2-1)
.491 TEX A 1989-8-15 .725 .234(lose to Mariners 2-0)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The St. Louis Browns And Philadelphia Athletics Were The Only Teams To Finish 7th Or 8th In The AL From 1935-39

I used data from Fangraphs. As far as I can tell, this is the only occurrence from 1901-61, when eight team leagues were used, that there were five straight years when only two teams occupied the last two places in the league.

In only one of these years did either team even come close to 6th place (1935). The table below shows this. In four of the five seasons, the 7th place team could get no closer than 10 games to the 6th place team. It must be hard knowing you don't even have much chance of coming in 6th place.

The A's went 28-78 over those five years against the pennant winners (1935 Tigers, 1936-39 Yankees). The Browns were 29-81. In both cases, that is a .264 winning pct.

In the table below, the 6th place team each year is in Red just for clarity.


Year Pos Team W L Pct GB
1935 6 WSH 67 86 0.438 27
1935 7 SLB 65 87 0.428 28.5
1935 8 PHA 58 91 0.389 34
1936 6 BOS 74 80 0.480 28.5
1936 7 SLB 57 95 0.375 44.5
1936 8 PHA 53 100 0.346 49
1937 6 WSH 73 80 0.477 28.5
1937 7 PHA 54 97 0.358 46.5
1937 8 SLB 46 108 0.299 56
1938 6 CHW 65 83 0.439 32
1938 7 SLB 55 97 0.362 44
1938 8 PHA 53 99 0.349 46
1939 6 WSH 65 87 0.428 41.5
1939 7 PHA 55 97 0.362 51.5
1939 8 SLB 43 111 0.279 64.5

The next table shows the last date each team was not in 7th or 8th place in all five years plus the highest rank they had all year. After May 18, the Browns were in 7th or 8th in every year. There is only one year where one of the teams was not in the last two slots after July 17, the A's in 1935.

Both teams had losing records in April each year except for 1937. When the A's were .500. The 1937 Browns were only in first place after winning on opening day. Then they lost 5 of 6. The A's that year spent 13 days in first place. Their high water mark was 6 games over .500 at 15-9. They then lost 16 of 17 including a 10 game losing streak. They fell from 1st on May 23 to 7th on June 6.


Year Brown's Last Day Not In 7th Or 8th Brown's Highest Rank A's Last Day Not In 7th Or 8th  A's Highest Rank
1935 28-Apr 3 31-Aug 5
1936 14-Apr 5 5-May 5
1937 15-May 1 5-Jun 1
1938 28-Apr 2 3-Jul 6
1939 18-May 2 17-Jul 2

Friday, June 10, 2016

Cubs & Mets Pitching Staffs Having Historic Seasons So Far According to FIP-

That is Fielding Independent ERA adjusted for league average and park effects. Data from Fangraphs.

Here are the top 13 since 1900. I wanted to have the top 10 plus the Cubs and Mets from this year but since one of the teams is from 1994 (Braves) and that season only had about 115 games, I went with the top 13. A lower number is better. 77 is like saying their ERA is 77% of the league average.


Season Team FIP-
2016 Mets 77
1996 Braves 80
2016 Cubs 81
1911 Giants 81
1909 Cubs 81
1908 Giants 81
2013 Tigers 82
2003 Dodgers 82
2003 Yankees 82
1997 Braves 82
1994 Braves 82
1971 White Sox 82
1904 Athletics 82

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Cubs Have A .190 OPS Differential-Only Team To Finish Higher Since 1913 Was The 1927 Yankees

The Cubs hitters have an OPS of .773. Their pitchers have allowed .583 (only 8 teams since 1920 have allowed an OPS of .600 or less for a full season). Below are the top 25. Notice that .158 is currently 2nd place. The Cubs are well above that and it seems like they should easily finish the year in the top 25. They seem to have a good chance of making the top 10. They have played 58 games or just a bit more than a third of the season.

If the Cubs can have a differential of .100 the rest of the way, they would finish at .132. That would be 5th best ever. If they could do .141, they would finish at .159 or 2nd best ever. To make the top 25, they need about .064 from here on. That does not seem to hard given that they had .057 for all of last year.

TeamYear OPS OPSA DIFF
NYY 1927 0.872 0.676 0.196
NYY 1939 0.825 0.667 0.158
ATL 1998 0.795 0.656 0.139
BAL 1969 0.756 0.620 0.136
NYY 1936 0.864 0.733 0.131
STL 1944 0.745 0.615 0.130
STL 1942 0.717 0.590 0.127
CLE 1948 0.792 0.665 0.127
NYY 1998 0.825 0.699 0.126
SEA 2001 0.805 0.679 0.126
PHA 1929 0.816 0.692 0.124
NYY 1937 0.825 0.704 0.121
CLE 1995 0.839 0.718 0.121
BRO 1953 0.840 0.722 0.118
CLE 1954 0.744 0.626 0.118
NYY 1932 0.830 0.714 0.116
NYY 1931 0.840 0.726 0.114
PHA 1928 0.799 0.685 0.114
ATL 1997 0.769 0.655 0.114
STL 1943 0.725 0.611 0.114
NYY 1921 0.838 0.725 0.113
BRO 1941 0.752 0.641 0.111
LAD 1974 0.743 0.633 0.110
PHA 1931 0.789 0.680 0.109
BOS 2003 0.851 0.742 0.109

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Was This 2011 Prediction True: "Prince Fielder's numbers will surpass those of Albert Pujols?"

It was not my prediction. See Will Prince Fielder Surpass Albert Pujols? The prediction was made by someone on ESPN (I wasn't paying close enough attention at the time to know which one of three announcers said that).  So far this year, in 226 PAs, Fielder has an OPS+ of just 47 (BA-OBP-SLG are 0.193-0.261-0.292). Since 2007, only 4 guys who were 1B or OF or DH had an OPS+ under 47 with 200+ PAs. Maybe his injury from a few years ago (I think it was his neck), is hurting him somehow. But I don't see anyone saying that.

Here is an excerpt from that 2011 (4-20) post I did:

"On Monday night before the Brewers game, a commentator on ESPN said something like "now that Fielder is entering his prime years, his numbers will surpass those of Albert Pujols.""

One thing I showed was a comparison of OPS+ by age for the two players. In the table below, the red line represents the year 2011 for Fielder, which I did not list back then since it was so early in the season. Yes, he did surpass Pujols at that age (but just barely, 164-157). Notice how he has not come close, age-by-age, since then.


Age Pujols OPS+ Fielder OPS+
21 157 97
22 151 110
23 187 157
24 172 130
25 168 166
26 178 137
27 157 164
28 190 151
29 189 122
30 173 102
31 148 124
32 138 47
33 116
34 126
35 117
36 111

The next table shows what they did in each year, starting in 2011. Fielder has hardly dominated Pujols since then, despite being 4 years younger. Fielder beats him 138-130, over the entire 5-year period. Maybe that is what the ESPN announcer meant.


Year Pujols OPS+ Fielder OPS+
11 148 164
12 138 151
13 116 122
14 126 102
15 117 124
16 111 47

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Which teams' actual ERAs were the farthest below their FIP ERAs since 1900?

Data used here comes from Fangraphs and Baseball Reference. In the table below, DER is defensive efficiency rating. That is the percentage of balls in play converted into outs. Rank is where the team ranked in DER in their league for that year. Lg Avg is the league average DER for that year.


Team Year ERA FIP Diff DER Rank Lg Avg
Yankees 1939 3.31 4.26 -0.95 0.694 1 0.685
Giants 1933 2.71 3.49 -0.78 0.719 1 0.702
Giants 1934 3.19 3.95 -0.76 0.704 1 0.685
Reds 1999 3.99 4.74 -0.75 0.722 1 0.687
Giants 1954 3.09 3.83 -0.74 0.722 1 0.707
Athletics 1929 3.44 4.16 -0.72 0.703 1 0.687
Giants 1936 3.46 4.18 -0.72 0.693 2 0.684
Indians 1948 3.22 3.94 -0.72 0.731 1 0.704
Braves 2002 3.13 3.83 -0.70 0.712 2 0.695
Twins 1965 3.14 3.84 -0.70 0.724 3 0.715
Robins 1930 4.03 4.72 -0.69 0.693 1 0.669
Cubs 1906 1.75 2.43 -0.68 0.736 1 0.698
Cubs 1935 3.26 3.93 -0.67 0.696 2 0.686
Reds 1939 3.27 3.94 -0.67 0.708 1 0.695
Yankees 1955 3.23 3.89 -0.66 0.733 1 0.710
Orioles 1973 3.08 3.74 -0.66 0.731 1 0.701
Yankees 1935 3.60 4.26 -0.66 0.713 1 0.687
Bees 1937 3.22 3.88 -0.66 0.714 1 0.689
Athletics 1990 3.18 3.84 -0.66 0.732 1 0.699
Braves 1956 3.10 3.75 -0.65 0.726 2 0.716
White Sox 1967 2.45 3.10 -0.65 0.735 1 0.718
Reds 1940 3.05 3.69 -0.64 0.730 1 0.701
Giants 1931 3.30 3.93 -0.63 0.706 1 0.687
Yankees 1957 3.00 3.62 -0.62 0.727 1 0.713
Tigers 1982 3.81 4.43 -0.62 0.725 1 0.704

Twenty of the top 25 teams ranked first in DER. That makes sense, since if you turn alot of balls in play into outs, you will give up fewer runs (and fewer than expected based on walks, strikeouts and HRs, which figure into FIP ERA). The 1939 Yankees had a 106-45 record and the all-time best run differential of 411.

Teams might also see their actual ERA go below their FIP ERA if they pitch well with runners on base. But my post last week showed that although that matters, DER probably matters more.

Twelve of these 25 teams came between 1929 & 1940 (I wonder what the reason is). Many of the 25 were pennant winners or made the playoffs.

Four Giants teams from the 1930s are on the list. They led the NL in DER 4 times in the decade and were 2nd three times. They also led in fielding pct. 4 times with one 2nd. They had the highest DER for the decade of 0.7001 (2nd place had 0.6960). Maybe they are one of the great fielding teams in baseball history. But it is not anything I have ever heard about.