The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

 

No Room to Rhumba on a Laptop

Sorry, it's been slow around here given that my iMac G5 20" has been in its death throes for the past week, leaving me to write on my laptop and sweat bullets over the fate of my data, 99% of which was successfully retrieved (not to be confused with a hard drive of mine that recently failed, costing me thousands of MP3s). Writing my columns on a laptop isn't the easiest thing in the world given that I'm generally moving back and forth between dozens of open browser windows, Excel and TextEdit (I don't write in Word because I don't need to for the web). And that doesn't even begin to hint at the ergonomic distress induced by my current, hunched-shoulder mode of working. Hence the title of last week's Hit List ("Cramped Quarters") and this blog entry.

My other as-yet-unlinked article from last week explored the Red Sox's handling of two rookie pitchers, Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson. The former was touted as the game's best pitching prospect by some coming into the year; BP's Kevin Goldstein had him ranked #2 overall, ahead of Joba Chamberlain, on our Top 100 Prospects list. Yet he fell on his ugly mug - seriously, the guy looks like a meth freak -- and was farmed out last week after compiling a 2-9, 6.75 ERA record. The latter pitched reasonably well in nine starts earlier this year, then was sent to the bullpen when Buchholz returned from his first minor league stint and has since been limited to mop-and-bucket duty despite the Sox's shaky right-handed relief options. The bottom line is that whether he's in the bullpen or the rotation, Masterson should be more than the last guy on the staff. Interestingly enough, in the days since that article ran, he's pitched the seventh inning in two close ballgames, the type fo relief opportunities he hadn't been getting beforehand. His presence will be something to watch for in this series against the Yankees.

Finally, today's Hit and Run article is about the Angels and their pursuit of an all-time mark for most win above a projected record:
Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez notched his 50th save on Sunday night, and if you've been following some of Joe Sheehan's recent work, you know that K-Rod is well on his way to smashing Bobby Thigpen's single-season record of 57 saves, set back in 1990. You're probably not aware that he and the rest of the Halos are in sight of another record as well.

Through Sunday, the Angels were 29 games over .500 at 79-50 despite having outscored their opponents by only 53 runs. That put them 9.7 wins above their expected record -- their first-order Pythagenpat projection based on actual runs scored and runs allowed. They're 13.5 wins above their second-order projection, based on Equivalent Runs scored and allowed as derived from run elements (hits, walks, total bases, stolen bases, etc.) and adjusted for their park and league scoring environment. And they're 12.2 wins above their third-order projection, adjusting for the quality of their opponents' pitching and hitting via Equivalent Average (EqA) allowed and opponents' EqA. That last figure would tie for third all-time if the season were to have ended on Sunday (the Angels lost on Monday night, slightly lowering these figures). Turning to the big board for the top 20:

Rk YEAR TM W L PCT R RA AEQR AEQRA D3 Won

1 2004 NYA 101 61 .623 897 808 911 831 12.7 Div
2 1970 CIN 102 60 .630 775 681 757 676 12.6 Pnt
3T 2007 ARI 90 72 .556 712 732 708 739 12.2 Div
3T 2008 LAA 79 50 .612 600 547 588 566 12.2
5T 1954 BRO 92 62 .597 778 740 782 749 12.1
5T 2005 CHA 99 63 .611 741 645 740 684 12.1 WS
7 1905 DET 79 74 .516 512 604 524 601 11.9
8T 1924 BRO 92 62 .597 717 679 717 684 11.7
8T 2002 MIN 94 67 .584 768 712 759 741 11.7 Div
10 1954 CLE 111 43 .721 746 504 717 511 11.4 Pnt
11T 1907 CHN 108 44 .711 574 390 552 394 11.2 WS
11T 1961 CIN 93 61 .604 710 653 705 658 11.2 Pnt
13T 1931 PHA 107 45 .704 858 626 841 639 11.0 Pnt
13T 1972 NYN 83 73 .532 528 578 533 583 11.0
15 1984 NYN 90 72 .556 652 676 657 671 10.7
16T 1936 SLN 87 67 .565 795 794 808 809 10.2
16T 1977 BAL 97 64 .602 719 653 719 662 10.2
16T 2006 OAK 93 69 .574 771 727 791 772 10.2 Div
19T 1997 SFN 90 72 .556 784 793 780 789 10.0 Div
19T 2007 SEA 88 74 .543 794 813 792 824 10.0
Since the spreadsheet provided to me by Clay Davenport (who cooks up the Adjusted Standings every day) doesn't go beyond the first decimal place, I haven't bothered to break the ties here. AEQR and AEQRA are the adjusted Equivalent Run figures once opponent strength has been incorporated. D3 is the difference between third-order wins and actual wins, with a positive number representing a team that's exceeded its projection. "Won" notes whether a team won their division (Div), pennant (Pnt) or World Series (WS).
One thing that most of these teams, including the Angels, have in common is a top-notch bullpen; all of the teams above who have played since 1954 (the furthest back the BP database goes) finished in the top three in the league in BP's signature relief stat, Reliever Expected Wins Added (WXRL) with one exception: the 1977 Orioles, who had the worst bullpen in the league.

Anyway, there's much fun to be had with stuff like this, enough to provide material for a second article somewhere in the not-too-distant future.

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