Friday, June 30, 2006

Series Win Probabilities - MIL @ MIN

This is going to be a tough series. The Twins are absolutely on fire right now, having won 7 straight and 17 of their last 19 games. The Twins offense has really picked up since the last time the Brewers faced the Twins (dumping Batista and Castro sure didn't hurt). Santana and Liriano just keep dominating as well. Lucky for the Brewers they only have to face 1 of the 2, however. Let's hope the Crew has at least 1 win before Sunday or else they may be facing the prospect of getting swept.

Pitching Probables

FRI: C. Villanueva (2.65 ERA) vs. B. Radke (5.40 ERA)
SAT: C. Capuano (3.10 ERA) vs. C. Silva (6.43 ERA)
SUN: Z. Jackson (4.70 ERA) vs. F. Liriano (2.21 ERA)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bill Hall Has Crazy Splits

While Bill Hall compiled an impressive .839 OPS in a breakout 2005 season, some (including myself) felt that Hall would be bound to regress a bit in 2006. Instead of regressing, however, Hall has continued where he left off, compiling a .271/.322/.567 line in 247 AB so far this year. While his average and OBP is 20 points lower this year than last, his power has been through the roof. What gives? What is the cause of this improvement?

Surprising, 54 AB has made Bill Hall an All-Star worthy SS this year. Here are his splits by pitcher handedness:

Bill Hall, 2006
            AB   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
vs. Left 54 .389 .469 .833 1.302
vs. Right 193 .238 .277 .492 .769
He has absolutely crushed lefties but has actually batted pretty poorly against righties (which make up 75% of his total AB). Those 54 AB against southpaws have been SO good,however, that they end up completely masking the struggles he's had for the majority of his AB.

How atypical of a split does Hall have? Generally, all right handed hitters perform better against left handed pitchers. Here's the league wide split (thanks, Retrosheet) for 2005:

MLB, 2005
          AVG   OBP   SLG
R vs. R .257 .316 .407
R vs. L .272 .341 .435
Adv. .015 .025 .028
An average right handed batter gained .053 to his OPS by facing a lefty, relative to facing a righty, last year. Bill Hall, on the other hand, is currently enjoying a .533 advantage against lefties! Has Hall always had such a huge advantage against lefties? Let's look at his previous 3 seasons:

Bill Hall, 2003-2005
            AB   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
vs. Left 257 .261 .327 .432 .759
vs. Right 776 .269 .306 .448 .754
In the past, while he's gotten on base a little bit more against lefties, he's actually shown more power against righties. These splits are also atypical but in the other direction of 2006! How do we make any sense of all this?

These sample sizes simply aren't large enough to reveal Hall's true ability vs. left and right handed pitchers. "The Book" concluded that a batter needs something like 2,000 AB before his personal lefty/righty splits are more statistically significant than league average splits. I'm not saying that Hall is bound to regress to league average (I'm not being fooled again!) but some kind of adjustment is in order. Either his OPS against lefties is going down or his OPS against righties is going up but something is going to close that gap.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Series Win Probabilities - MIL @ CHI

I'm slacking. Game 1 of the series is already completed. The good news is that the Brewers won 6-0, making the probability of winning at least 1 game 100%! As a result, these probabilities are for the remaining 3 games of the series. For instance, where it says "win 2", refers finishing the series 2-1 for a total series record of 3-1? Clear as mud? Good! Here you go:

Tonight's game looks to be the toughest, with Zach Jackson (4.67 ERA) going against crazy-man, Carlos Zambrano (2.83 ERA). Still, you have to like the chances of at least a 3-1 series (~60%), which would pull the Brewers to .500 once again. If the Brewers can steal a win tonight...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Series/Road Trip Win Probabilities - MIL @ KC

While the numbers look good for the Brewers this weekend, the Royals have actually been playing much better lately. They just swept the Pirates and have won 8 of their last 14 and 6 of their last 8. Couple that with no Cappy and a suspect Helling starting Sunday and a 2-1 series win for the Brewers would look really good to me. The Brewers have Bush today, Davis on Saturday and Helling on Sunday.

The Royals are just the start of a 10 game road trip, which also includes 4 with the Cubs and 3 with the Twins. I ran throgh a calculations, similar to the aboves, for the whole road trip. I ran the trip 10,000 times and here are the results:

Probabilities shown are for winning the amount of games and above. For instance, the Brewers have a two in three chance of at least splitting the series and a little over one in three chance of taking atleast 6 of 10. Not bad for a road trip!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sheets Making Progress

From JSOnline:

Sheets was in good spirits after an 82-pitch bullpen session in which he threw mostly fastballs, with a few changeups mixed in.

"Two of the last three have been good," said Sheets, who wasn't particularly pleased with his previous session. "We're getting there."

Sheets wasn't certain whether he would be allowed to face hitters next time out. Once an injured pitcher gets to that stage, the next step is a minor-league rehabilitation assignment.

"I've got to be getting close (to facing hitters)," said Sheets, on the DL since the first week of May with shoulder tendinitis. "I'm sure it's coming soon.

July 14th?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Series Win Probabilities - DET @ MIL

It’s going to be tough series against the surprising Tigers. While the Brewers and Tigers offense is pretty even, the Tigers have them easily beat in pitching so far this year. It appears that Helling may get his first start of the season Tuesday, replacing Carlos Villanueva in the rotation. He may add some much needed stability, closing one of the two revolving doors in that rotation.

Why DIPS does what it does? - BTBS

Beyond The Boxscore has a nice little article, quickly explaining the evolution of DIPS:

Why DIPS does what it does?

Comments at BTF about the above article:


Also, check this out for more info on DIPS:

DIPS from Wiki Gozalez

Monday, June 12, 2006

Series Win Probabilities - Mil @ Cin

Replacement Pitcher Summary

To update a table from my previous blog entry, the Brewers are now 1-11 in games where one of their replacement pitchers started:

One quality start in 12 tries. Ouch!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The World is Not Coming to An End, Tom

With the Brewers mired in a then 8 game losing streak, the Brewer beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did what he does best; tear into the team he covers. In an article published in yesterday’s paper titled, “Misery Loves Company”, Tom Haundricourt wrote that the Brewer’s woes go much deeper than just an injury depleted pitching staff. In his predictably pessimistic tone, Haundricourt suggested the Brewers look in “the mirror” if they are going to “snap out of their death spiral” and questioned their desire to even try and win the game on Sunday.

Haundricourt went on to ruthlessly slam the offense (has lately scored well only for a soccer team) and defense (“then, there's the defense, and we use that word loosely”) and summarized with, “Add it all together and you have the formula for disaster, which no longer can be attributed merely to the loss of two starting pitchers to injuries.” His theory is evidently that the Brewers are slumping because their lack of mental fortitude has “turned a pitching crisis into a team-wide collapse that threatens to ruin their season.” Death Spiral? Team wide collapse? Take a step back there, buddy!

What exactly did he expect of the 2006 Milwaukee Brewers? Is he honestly surprised that the offense has fallen out of the #1 spot in the NL? Was he unaware of the defensive shortcomings of Weeks and Fielder? Most importantly, how could he possibly not appreciate the impact losing a #1 and #4 starting pitcher would have on this or any team?

Nearly every preseason publication predicted between 84 and 88 wins for the Brewers in 2006. Despite the fact that the starting rotation has been ravaged by injuries, the Brewers surprisingly sit only 4 games under .500, at 27-31. I say surprisingly because of just how poorly the replacements to the pitching rotation have done so far. Here is a summary of the 10 starts they’ve made:

While the offense has performed reasonably well in those games, the pitching has been horrendous. Eveland, Hendrickson, and JDLR have combined for a 10.93 ERA and averaging only 4 and 2/3rds IP in their 10 starts. Not only have many of those games been over before the offense even had a chance to make an impact, they’ve put a terrible strain on the bullpen as well. This ultimately has the effect of not only crippling the Brewers in the games they’ve started but also hurting the Crew in all their games.

Even if we only focus on the direct results, that 1-9 record in those games could easily be 5-5 if Sheets and Ohka had made those starts instead. That would have flipped the overall record around to 31-27 and I’m sure Haundricourt would be instead writing about how the surprisingly scrappy Brewers just “know how to win”. Instead of filling his articles with the same old tired and usually negative clichés, perhaps he should spend a little more time looking at this team objectively. Maybe he’ll realize that this is a young, talented team with some obvious flaws but also one with a whole lot more promise than Brewer teams of recent years past.

Take a breath and look in the mirror, Tom.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Series Win Probabilities - SD @ MIL

Both teams’ raw stats point to them being deserving of a .500 record, so the Brewers have a slight edge as the home team. The Crew is going to need to turn their fortunes around quickly if they want a chance to get over .500 any time soon.

I’ll be at Miller Park to see Zach Jackson’s first major league start on Wednesday. It sure would be nice if the Brewers were in the midst of a modest 2 game winning streak by then…

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Should Clark Be Traded?

Just before the 2006 season, Melvin signed Clark to a 2 year, $7 mil deal. At the time, I think there were a lot of fans a little confused by the signing. Clark turned 33 this year and it seemed like Melvin may have overpaid for an aging, slightly above average CFer. With Hart and Hall continuing to rake and Weeks continuing to struggle defensively at 2B, would the Brewers be better off trading Clark and handing the CF job Weeks, Hart or Hall? Let’s look at some numbers:

Top 30 CFers in terms of ABs, 2005:
AVE: .276
OBP: .335
SLG: .423
OPS: .758

Clark in 161 AB, 2006:
AVE: .286
OBP: .389
SLG: .342
OPS: .731

Clark's PECOTA Projection, 2006:
AVE: .281
OBP: .349
SLG: .402
OPS: .749

Clark's offense has been about average so far this year and there's no reason to believe it will be anything more than that any time soon. In addition, Clark's defense appears to be a bit below average at this point in his career and his base running certainly doesn't add value. I would be surprised if a 34 year old Clark in 2007 is an even average CFer.

Of course, average does have value and it wouldn't kill the Brewers to have Clark's services in CF for the next two years if there were no better options available. I happen to think the Brewers have several options available to them that could at least be league average next year, however. While I wouldn't give him away, if Clark can be traded for a young pitcher (maybe packaged with another player), I'd be all for it.