Erik Manning

Erik became addicted to Cardinals baseball as a young lad growing up on the mean streets of O'Fallon, MO. He moved away to Tulsa to attend Bible College, where he met his wife, who talked him into moving to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, also known as the Bermuda triangle of baseball. His dream is to see the blackouts end, and his other interests are theology and philosophy of religion. He is the parent of two young boys.

Tom Tango has toyed with the idea of player win-loss records for a while, and this past week he laid out a method on how to convert WPA into individual win-loss records. Tango challenged us to play around with this new toy with some of our favorite teams; the 2004 club popped to mind. The normal WPA caveats apply: there’s no accounting of fielding of defense or position, but this does perfectly add up to the team’s 105-57 record.

Offense W L
Albert Pujols 11 -1
Jim Edmonds 10 -1
Scott Rolen 9 0
Reggie Sanders 5 2
Ray Lankford 2 1
Larry Walker 2 1
Edgar Renteria 3 5
Mike Matheny 1 4
Tony Womack 4 3
The Rest 5 15

And the pitchers:

Pitching/Defense W L
Chris Carpenter 7 3
Jeff Suppan 7 4
Jason Marquis 6 5
Woody Williams 6 5
Matt Morris 5 6
Jason Isringhausen 6 0
Ray King 4 -1
Julian Tavarez 3 1
The Rest 8 5

If you’re wondering about the negative values, Tango explains:

There are negative wins and negative losses.  That happens when a pitcher pitches so poorly or so well, that he “breaks” the “sum of the parts equals the” theory we are constraining ourselves to.  The reality is that trying to represent players in this way is a fudge to the way we really should be thinking it (WPA).

Naturally, Albert broke the system. This was a year when Jason Isringhausen was mostly just Izzy and not Baron Von Isringhausen. All hail the MV3.

The split between hitting/pitching+defense is pretty even 53-52. Anyway, next up I’ll probably look into the 1987 team, or maybe just last year’s team. Hopefully this proves to be semi-interesting. I like how it assigns a true W-L record for everyone that adds perfectly up to the team’s real W-L record, instead of just looking at a bunch of numbers and decimal points.

Last night Penny induced 11 groundballs. Here’s his “movement” graph, via Texas Leaguers:

Penny had a 4 seam fastball going that he threw 45% of the time. The pitch had about -6.5 inches of “tail” and 13 inches of “rise”, at an average speed of 94 MPH.

He threw a “change”at an average of 89 MPH. The pitch had a lot less “rise” – 6 inches, and had -9.4 inches of tail. He threw the pitch 20% of the time.

Let’s forget Jason Motte for a minute. Here’s what’s important about today’s game: Brad Penny is the latest Dave Duncan convert, or at least it seems to be that way. Last season, Penny threw his splitter/change-up about 7.5% of the time. The average speed of the pitch was about 86 MPH. The pitch had about -8 inches of horizontal spin deflection, and 7 inches of vertical spin deflection. This isn’t a pitch to be confused with a sinker. The pitch he was throwing today (mostly those little yellow dots) were 89 MPH on average, with -7 inches of horizontal spin deflection (tail) 5 inches of vertical spin deflection. So the pitch has more speed,  lots of tail and more sink.

These pitches are clearly distinguished from his 4-seam fastball, and he threw it 37% of the time. He induced 13 ground ball outs. Welcome to the Cult of the Two-Seam Fastball, Brad Penny.

Allow me to vent about a situation I’ve recently found myself in. I’ve been cut off from the Cardinals.

Continue reading »

Interactive win probability graphs at that.

Here are a few games that are a little more fun remembering with the interactive graphs. I’ll try and dig up some more later.

Wishy-washy peripherals aside, Ryan Franklin is the closer for the unforeseeable future. Cardinal fans are left feeling apprehensive about their 37-year old closer, because out of two out of his three seasons, Franklin has fell apart in the second half. With no clear contingencies in place (sign Smoltz!), the club seems undisturbed about Franklin’s fades down the stretch. Are they right? And is Franklin a 1st half pitcher? I went to to check out his splits, here’s what I got. First I looked at his when Franklin began to be used primarily in relief, which was 2006.

Frankin 2006-2009 PA wOBA
Pre-All Star Break 691 0.293
Post-All Star Break 561 0.352

That’s a 59 point split in wOBA against, scary stuff. But because we’re not talking about a lot of plate appearances, I took a look at his career numbers.

Franklin Career PA wOBA
Pre-All Star Break 2566 0.317
Post-All Star Break 2150 0.331

Now we get a 14 point split, not nearly as significant, but I think it establishes the pattern of Franklin as a 2nd half fader. So what can the Cardinals do to save Franklin’s arm from wear and tear? Let’s check Franklin’s workload compared to other closers around the majors.

Days of Rest 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Other (days rest listed)
Bobby Jenks 9 13 13 4 5 2 4 1 99 days
Matt Capps 9 16 5 17 5 1 3 99 days
Jonathon Papelbon 11 21 16 10 4 2 1 99 days
Ryan Franklin 13 15 12 13 3 3 2 99 days
Joakim Soria 13 6 11 3 6 2 1 9, 26 and 99 days
Frank Francisco 13 15 6 4 4 2 2 15, 16, 22 and 99 days
Trevor Hoffman 16 13 8 7 3 1 4 1 99 days
Francisco Rodriguez 17 19 19 6 4 4 99 days
Andrew Bailey 17 21 10 9 5 4 1 99 days
Brian Fuentes 18 14 13 8 7 2 2 99 days
Brian Wilson 19 14 16 9 6 2 1 99 days
Mariano Rivera 20 14 12 10 4 3 2 99 days
Brad Lidge 21 18 14 6 1 2 3 19 and 99 days
Heath Bell 22 16 10 10 1 5 3 99 days
Joe Nathan 22 19 9 10 2 5 2 99 days
Huston Street 22 16 8 6 7 2 1 20 and 99 days
Francisco Cordero 22 21 8 5 3 4 2 9 and 99 days
Fernando Rodney 23 18 19 5 2 4 10 and 99 days
David Aardsma 25 16 13 13 2 2 9 and 99 days
Jonathon Broxton 26 19 8 10 4 4 1 99 days
Rafael Soriano 29 19 11 8 6 3 99 days

Franklin pitched on 0 and 1 days rest quite often. I’m of the persuasion that relievers could handle a much bigger workload then they typically do now, but based on what we know about Franklin’s low-gas mileage, throwing him out there with in so many of those situations might not have been the greatest idea. On the other hand, he did have many times when he had 3 days rest, so I’m not trying to draw any hard conclusions.

Here’s are a few scenarios where I have real trouble with the Cardinals using Franklin on shorter rest. These are wasted uses of their closer. The Book says:

The three-run lead is almost a sure thing, with a 2% difference in the odds of winning between a great pitcher and an average one. Be careful on cashing in on that 2% today at the risk of losing even more tomorrow.

  • On April 21st and the 22nd against the Mets, the Cardinals used Franklin in save situations, but they were easy saves. 9th inning, no runners on. On the 21st they had a 2-run lead. On the 22nd, a 3-run lead. The average leverage index for those games were 1.04 and 0.48, meaning they already had the game in the bag.
  • The same scenario played out on May 6 and 7 against the lowly Pirates.
  • Franklin threw 21 pitches on the 20th in a nail-biter of a game in which he got the save. Good usage. The problem is, the next game the Cardinals took the ball away from Wainwright, who was one out from a complete game. Derrek Lee singled and Wainwright was pulled. It took Franklin only two pitches to get Bradley to fly out to end the game, but they still had to warm him up when he could’ve rested.
  • Franklin pitched three days in a row to start the month of July. The first time was an extra inning tie against the Giants where he pitched the 10th. No qualms there. The next game he came in with no outs, 9th inning, 3 run lead. average LI of 0.48. A one-legged chicken could’ve saved that game. The next day against Cincinnati, it took 30 pitches to finally retire the Reds, another game where he entered with a 3-run lead. He finally struck out Brandon Phillips with the bases loaded.
  • August 10th, 12th and 15th Franklin was brought in for saves, the 9th inning, no runners, no outs, 3 run lead variety. More fail.

You can see Franklin’s full game logs here, complete with average leverage index and base/outs states.

I’m sure this is typical closer usage, although I’m not about to take the time and look at all of them. The point is, there were many times Franklin could have rested but instead was brought in for an easy save. I’m sure there were other opportunities where McClellan or Motte were given high leverage innings in the 7th or 8th that probably belonged to Franklin, so I’m not trying to drawn a firm deduction, but I think Franklin could have been managed better. He should never be brought in games on back-to-back days or on one day’s rest for the sake of netting an easy save. Keeping him from such wasted innings might better save his arm for when he’s truly needed.



Neat tool.

What happens when you super-impose Pujols’ batted balls into the Juicebox? 9 extra homers, that’s what. That would be a total of 56 homers for last season, if Albert were an Astro. (Yeah, that made me twinge).

Of course the problem with this is these graphics is they show where the ball was fielded, not where the ball landed, so take this with a grain of salt. I do think if Albert played half his games at Minute Maid, he would probably be hitting 50 per year.

Fun toy.

H/t to the creator and finder of cool stuff, Tango.

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