Sorry we went all AWOL for a few days. These game analytics are a little more fun when they’re done individually.

At any rate, follow the jump for shotgun analysis of Carpenter’s return to form, Westbrook’s ongoing struggles, Lohse’s dominance, closer controversy, and Pujols-ian slumps.

Also, the Cardinals are above .500; and I’m pretty sure that’s the first time this year.

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Bernie beat me to the analytical punch with the info in his article today in the PD (on line version here) and Albert went off last night with two home runs both of which were on the inner half of the plate.  That said I did have a few interesting pieces of info to share that I found in my investigation.  Breaking the plate into 4 horizontal slices and plotting the percentage of pitches in each zone shows that Pujols has been attacked more inside so far this season (SMALL SAMPLE SIZE) than last

The chart is from the catcher’s perspective, so -1 is slightly off the inside corner.  It’s not anything conclusive because of the small sample size, but it is something to keep an eye on the rest of the year to see if the trend continues.

To look into possible causes, I turned to AP’s performance against high velocity to see if there were any indications of a slowing bat.  The following table has the run value per 100 swings against pitches 95 mph and greater by year

2008 2009 2010
rv100 1.81 2.61 -5.15
sample size 98 125 103

I wonder if other teams spotted something similar and are seeing if they can attack more hard in.  We’ll have to wait and see if 2010 was an anomaly or something more.

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 12:  Lance Berkman #12 of ...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

The Cardinals now rank second in the league in team wOBA (.356). This is not a joke. Since I wrote that piece about their slow start offensively merely one week ago, they started scoring runs at a torrid pace. Their BABIP has jumped 61-pts (.324)! They have hit fewer ground balls (48.8%), more line drives (20.2%); their fly ball rate hasn’t changed much (31.0%), but they’ve cleared the fence at a more realistic rate (12.9%). While they’ve started walking a little less (7.9 BB%), they have the third lowest strikeout rate in the league (16.7 K%). Altogether, the Cardinals have transformed from an unlucky team to a surprisingly fortunate one in the span of seven days. Fans, let’s keep our cool. Much like we shouldn’t have panicked when the offense was seemingly MIA after one week, we shouldn’t be quick to anoint them league leaders either. Perspective, friends; you can either have it now or the long season will eventually force it upon you.

With that said, it has been a lot of fun watching Lance Berkman hit 6 home runs in the span of 5 games.

Let’s take a look at the past few games…

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Hello offense!

Game 10

The Good: Kyle McClellan led the team with another strong outing (6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 4 SO, 1 R; .264 WPA). Despite not having his best stuff – as evidenced by worse control and fewer strikeouts – McClellan pitched two-thirds of the game and minimized damage. So far, he’s defied the odds of maintaining his unsustainable strand rate from last year (89.6% in 2010; 90.4% in 2011). Look for that to change.

Lance Berkman’s home runs didn’t offer much in the way of win probability (.037 WPA), but I think we were all a little relieved to see him poke a couple over the opposite field wall, and without the Crawford Boxes (damn you, Minute Maid Park) nonetheless!

The Bad: Albert Pujols did not join the offensive breakout. He was one of three starters who posted negative win probability… not to mention he grounded into another double play. See Steve’s post about Albert Pujols and small sample sizes from the other day; and Steve Slowinski posted another article at FanGraphs today on the matter (haven’t read that one yet). My analysis? Pujols will eventually be Pujols. There’s no reason to believe otherwise yet. Believe it or not, there really are some fans worried about this… I overheard a 70-ish year-old couple talking about it at dinner last night to prove it.

Game 11

The Good: David Freese had a solid game (2-4, 1 BB, 1 HR, and 2 RBIs; .202 WPA). His home run wasn’t cheap either as it cleared the elevated wall in CF. That was the second day in a row that Berkman hit back-to-back jacks; his wOBA creeped above the .390 mark.

The Bad: The pitching staff as a whole had a miserable performance, combining for -.751 WPA despite the offense’s best attempts to keep them in the game. And their pride wasn’t the only thing hurt since Augenstein and (probably) Tallet are expected to hit the DL. I’m happy for Salas’ promotion given his competence last year; he didn’t do anything wrong in Jupiter this spring either. I’m also excited to see Eduardo Sanchez get an opportunity; he’s struck people out at a pretty decent rate (2010: 9+ K/9 in AA and 10+ K/9 in AAA).

The Ugly: Chris Carpenter was alone responsible for -.495 WPA. I was going to take a look at his pitch f/x stuff compared to his first start to see if there was anything noteworthy, but my internet screwed up, and now I don’t have time. Let’s just chalk that forgettable performance up to a random blip and move on.

Hey, we’re still in Arizona! Maybe the offense will stick around for another night.

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DENVER - MAY 07:  (FILE PHOTO) Albert Pujols #...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

There has been lots of talk about Pujols’ rough start to the season, so I wanted to put it into context using some of his recent history.  First some ground rules, can we all agree that Albert Pujols had good seasons in 2010, 2009 and 2008?  I think it is pretty hard to say anything other than “yes” to that question.  With that in mind I offer some food for thought.  In 2010 Albert had five unique nine game stretches where he hit under 0.200.  He had a 16 game stretch where he hit under 0.200.  In 2009 and 2008 he had two unique nine game stretches each year where he hit under 0.200.  Are his current struggles bad?  Yes.  Are they unprecedented, even for him?  Absolutely not.

 

UPDATE:  As Pujols sits at 0-3 I thought I would update you with some more notes.  If we expand to ten games to match the current season’s number of games, Albert still had five unique stretches of ten games where he hit under 0.200.  His lowest ten game stretch was 0.147 and it happened twice.  2009 and 2008 saw Albert have 1 such stretch of ten games where he hit under 0.200 in each season.

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FanGraphs‘ win probability graphs for games five and six:

Game Five:


Link to page
I don’t have time to go through the good, the bad, and the impressive for yesterday’s win, but I’ll offer some quick commentary:

  • Clearly, that was an impressive debut in the rotation for Kyle McClellan. Not only did he settle down after giving up two first inning runs, but he added 7 K’s and 1 BB. With that said, it seemed like he left a bunch of pitches over the heart of the plate, especially early… so it’ll be interesting to see how his season unfolds.
  • Pujols led the team with .221 WPA (1-2, 1 BB, 2 RBI). Unfortunately, one of those RBIs came on a ground ball through the left side; a foot in either direction, and it could have easily been another inning ending double play.

Game Six:

Link to page

Again, bullet-point commentary:

  • Again, the offense takes the blame (-.539 WPA). They have only scored 14 runs. Of the seven teams that have played six games, the Cardinals rank last among them in runs scored; they trail the next closest team (Mariners) by 6 runs. I count 8 extra base hits in 218 total plate appearances. Yikes. For perspective, however, the Brewers and Rays have only scored 13 and 7 runs respectively in five games a piece. I have faith in those teams rebounding… so perhaps I should suspect the same of the Cardinals… but it’s easy to feel paranoid about your favorite team.
  • Carpenter had another strong outing (6 IP, 8 H, 0 BB, and 6 K); he touched 95 mph with his four-seam fastball.
  • Believe it or not, Brian Tallet led the team in win probability added (.032) despite only facing one batter. He induced a ground ball from Lyle Overbay with guys on first and third to end the seventh inning. Tallet has looked very capable early on.
  • Though Jason Motte has yet to strike out a batter, his velocity looks fine. According to Brooks Baseball, his four-seam fastball averaged 96 mph; another pitch was qualified as a two-seamer that averaged 94 mph. Spring Training struggles aside, I suspect he’ll be fine going forward.

 

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Like Steve on opening day, I didn’t get a chance to watch game number two (other than the few highlights available at MLB.com). Two games. Two analyses. Zero minutes of actual live baseball watched. But we have numbers… saber-purists here at Gas House Graphs. The win probability table from FanGraphs:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to page

The Cardinals took the lead twice but couldn’t hold off the visiting Padres.

The Good:

Matt Holliday Allen Craig led the team with .151 WPA; his bases loaded single with two outs boosted the Cardinals’ win expectancy all the way up to 74%.

In the third inning, Pujols put the team back on top with a solo home run (.123 WPA), his first round-tripper of the 2011 season; he finished the game with .093 WPA.

The Bad:

Jason Motte pitched 1.2 innings, gave up one hit, walked two batters (one intentional), and didn’t strike out anyone (-.073).

Yadier Molina was 0-3 with a strikeout (-.059 WPA); he grounded out with a runner in scoring position to end the first inning.

The Ugly:

Jake Westbrook only managed to pitch 4.1 innings while surrendering 8 runs, 6 hits, 5 walks, and 3 strikeouts (-.524 WPA).

Commentary:

Considering he coughed up two early leads, this game’s pretty much on Westbrook. When he left the game, the Cardinals’ win expectancy had already dropped to 11.3%.With the extra innings played in the opener, and mop-up duty necessary today, I wouldn’t doubt if the Cardinals decided to call up another reliever (to take Holliday’s place if he’s placed on the DL) as a way of alleviating some of the stress on the bullpen. I’m not necessarily advocating for that, but I can foresee it happening.

Pujols is no longer on pace to ground into 486 double plays

In his first game as Matt Holliday’s substitute, Allen Craig contributed 2 RBIs. I’m sure Jon Jay will be sprinkled in occasionally, but I hope that Craig gets most of the playing time in his absence. Dude can hit (slightly better than .400 wOBA in 871 triple-A plate appearances).

Boggs’ line (3.0 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 K) is pretty good other than the home run. How did he look out there? There must be some positive vibes about his back since he was allowed to throw 42 pitches.

Weakened defense has already been a theme in each of the season’s first two games, and the perpetrator was the same as Theriot made another error. Lucky for him, it didn’t cost the team a run. Unlucky for the team, it didn’t matter; they were already down by six runs playing in the second half of the game.

Prediction:

The Cardinals will not lose 162 games this year.

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I must admit I only caught a little bit of the game between work and then chasing after the little guy, so I’m only going on numbers until I watch the DVR’ed copy later tonight.  First the WPa chart courtesy of Fangraphs

Link to page

A game the Cardinals seemed to dominate fell the other way, not the way you want to begin the season.

The Good:

Matt Holliday’s home run 0.305 WPA

Trever Miller getting Brad Hawpe to fly out 0.139 WPA

The Bad:

Albert Pujols grounding into a DP in the 10th -0.167 WPA

Matt Holliday’s caught stealing in the -0.124 WPA

The Ugly:

Brian Augenstein giving up the single to Maybin in the 11th and Theriot committing an error -0.407 WPA

Ryan Franklin giving up a home run to Maybin in the ninth -0.368 WPA

Albert Pujols’ combined WPA of -0.429

 

Commentary:

On the bright side, Albert Pujols will likely not have another game like that until he’s in the last year of the ten year deal some team is going to give him.  Interestingly we had the first Kyle McClellan bullpen outing and it went to Miguel Batista, not surprising given Tony’s love for the proven vet, but not a good sign of things to come either.  Franklin worries me independent of the results, but we’ll clearly give him a few more outings before we analyze anything there.

 

Pitch FX portion of the program

Carp’s fastball velocity was about right where it should be compared to last year given that it’s the first start of the year.  The following table summarizes

Year + 1 SD AVG - 1 SD
2010 92.7 91.5 90.2
2011 91.9 91.0 90.2

 
I’ll be trying to get as many of these game recaps up as I can throughout the season (maybe with the help of the rest of the guys). Clearly once we start to develop some sample sizes I’ll start to do more analysis.

 

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Mark Teixeira

Image via Wikipedia

Tango addresses a trade idea that Ken Rosenthal suggest.  I think makes a decent amount of sense, with a huge caveat. Take this post with a grain of salt, this basically is just me thinking out loud.

Albert Pujols, in 2011, is playing at a discount.  A deep discount.  Albert Pujols, from 2012 to whenever he retires, will sign a fair market-value contract.  He’s worth 250MM$, and his mortgage will be for 250MM$ (or 225/225, or whatever he will sign for).

Mark Teixeira is overpaid by about 30MM$.  Though you can construct a reasonable case that makes Teixeira properly paid.  He’s got a 135MM$ mortgage on a property worth 135MM$.  Maybe.

Ryan Howard? Forget it.  He’s hugely overpaid.

Pujols for Teix?  Even if it makes sense from 2012-onward, Pujols in 2011 is playing at a huge discount.  The Yankees will have to fork over alot more than just Teix.  And Teix cannot ask for a contract extension either.  That would really tilt things way over to the Yankees side.

Hmmm…color me intrigued IF the Cardinals get a load of prospects. Say the Cardinals are at an insurmountable impasse with Albert. Teixeira is owed $22.5 annually in 2011-2016.  His surplus value is nada, in fact using Sky’s trade value calculator here is what we get:

(Someone feel free to correct me if I’m behind the times on any of this stuff, my saber-fu is rusty these days.)

Here’s what we get for Albert-

So the Yankees would have to kick in quite a lot. As in a lot alot. Others and myself have done work on finding out what prospect surplus values are. Here is the Yankees Top 20 prospects per John Sickels.  I’d ask for Montero, Joba (sure, why not?) and Banuelos or Betances, and see if I couldn’t get more.

The problem with this scenario is that the Cardinals would have to hope for a great year from Teixeira in order to compete with Milwaukee and Cincinnati. But at least they’d be set at first base long-term with Teixeira, plus they’d get some nifty prospects to boot. Considering the seemingly short-sighted decisions from the front office, this would be encouraging.

The elephant in the room is that Pujols has said that he’d exercise his no trade rights as a 10/5 player. But you’d have to think that if he had no hope of coming back to St. Louis, he’d go to the team that is certain to give him what he wants. Plus he can play in New York, for the Yankees, the team of great history, mystique, tradition and chase all those famous ghosts and all those other things that make us Midwestern people sick.

So Pujols for Teixeira…good idea, bad idea? Got any other ideas?

Albertageddon is upon us.

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Albert Pujols hitting a home run

Image via Wikipedia

Just when Erik says we have been quiet about the Albert Pujols situation, we will have two posts within just a few days.  With word coming out that the Cardinals were reluctant (maybe even adamant) about not going more than 6 years on a deal with Albert, now is a good time to look at how he may age over the life of any deal.  For this particular exercise I’m going to borrow a methodology that Tango has employed previously and look at historical comparisons based on accumulated WAR.  I built my first list of comps by looking at who had the best WAR/season up through their age 30 season (where Albert sits now) and included anyone with 2 WAR/season of Albert (22 players).  I then looked at how that list of players performed in their age 32-38 seasons (a 7 year deal), 32-39 seasons and so on.  The results are summarized in the table below.  Totals are cumulative rWAR

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32_38 32_39 32_40 32_41
Max 70.0 78.2 78.6 83.2
75th 44.9 49.3 50.5 50.5
50th 36.9 39.0 40.4 40.1
AVG 37.4 39.6 40.7 41.6
25th 26.2 26.8 26.8 26.9
Min 14.5 14.5 14.5 14.5

It does appear that those stop accumulating at a decent pace around years 7 or 8. I haven’t run the financials on any of these WAR totals yet other than a select few, so can’t report what these necessarily equate to in terms of deals. That’s a post for another day, or maybe for another author if anyone wants to take a crack at it.

I also built a list of comps based on how players had fared only in their ages 28,29, and 30 season.  Using a list of players that were within 1.5 WAR/season of Pujols either direction (24 players) I came up with the following table

32_38 32_39 32_40 32_41
Max 70 78.2 78.6 83.2
75th 44.3 49.1 50.3 50.3
50th 31.5 33.9 35.4 35.4
AVG 34.6 36.9 37.8 38.7
25th 20.4 20.9 20.9 20.9
Min 8.1 7.7 7 7

Not too different. This is a little lower as the level of greatness was higher to be in the first group.

What does all this mean for the Cardinals and Pujols?  Well, I’m not exactly sure.  I’d have to run the financials on all of these WAR calculations to get a firmer idea here.  Most of the numbers show that 10/300 is a bad idea, but we already knew that (Pujols would have to be at the 75th percentile or better to be worth that deal).  The data does support that anything beyond an 8 year deal doesn’t look like a good idea.  6 or 7 would probably be best, with 8 as the upper limit.

All of the WAR data in the article is from http://www.baseball-reference.com/

UPDATE:  Tango using my calcs

By my calculation (weighted $ per WAR of around 6MM$ per win), this comes out to:
7 years / 225MM$
8 years / 240MM$
9 years / 250MM$
10 years / 260MM$

So there you have it

© 2011 Gas House Graphs Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha