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the ol' wholesaler

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reggie sanders' game-busting grand slam on a 3-0 pitch yesterday was the cardinals' first hr on 3-0 all season. during the regular campaign they only put the ball in play 14 times on 3-0, with just 4 singles to show for it. pujols was 2 for 9 on 3-0 this year, mabry 0 for 2, nunez (?!) 1 for 2, and sanders 1 for 1 . . . . pujols led the league in at-bats on 3-0; brian giles and derrek lee tied for 2d with 8 apiece.

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in august i wrote at length about the cardinals' great talent for turning double plays and estimated that this skill had probably improved their win total by 3 to 4 games. without repeating all that analysis -- go back and read the original to see how i arrived at that conclusion --- how many runs did the cardinals' 3 double plays save them yesterday? as before i'll base my estimates on tangotiger's expected-run matrix and take the difference between a simple forceout and a double play.

in the 2d inning the padres had men on 1st and 2d with one out; their run expectancy (RE) stood at 0.971 runs. a forceout would have left men at 1st and 3d with two outs, an RE of 0.538; the double play ended the inning, reducing the RE to zero. so the cards saved themselves half a run with that first DP. i'll acknowledge, however, that the actual RE would have been significantly less than 0.538, because the batter in that 1st-3d, 2-out situation would have been jake peavy . . . .

the 2d double play, about which i wrote this morning, carried the exact same specs -- 1st and 2d, one out. it too saved the cardinals 0.538 expected runs, although in this case -- as i pointed out this morning -- the RE here was probably much higher than average, as giles and sweeney loomed on deck. let's just say the underestimation here cancels out the overestimation in the 1st case. we're now up to 1.1 runs saved on double plays.

the 3d dp came in the fourth inning with a man on 1st and one out, an RE of 0.573. a force would have reduced the RE to 0.251; the double play reduced it to zero, so it was worth 0.251 expected runs.

the total value of the three double plays was a little more than 1.3 runs, on average. that may not seem like a lot in a blowout game; but since they all came early, with the score still pretty close, they undeniably changed the dynamic.