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Game 6 Open Thread: April 8, 2007

Many of you may have seen my new blog over at, Gas House Graphs. It's a win probability blog and on my sunday posts here I'll be "chewing yesterday's breakfast" through the win probability perspective. But I just realized I never really explained what the heck win probability is over there, so I thought I'd briefly explain it over here on my first Sunday 'day after game' post before I get going. Win probability involves math and could be seen as sort of geeky, hopefully that doesn't turn too many of you off. On the other hand, it's a great way to look at the narrative of the game. Anyway, here's the gist of win probability:

A team has a certain chance of wining the game at any point in time of the game, as determined by the innings, score, how many outs there are and the runners on base. Based on historical data, a home team will have a certain percentage of win probability based on the particular sitution. Take for instance Friday night's game. With the Astros down by 2 runs, and with runners on first and third and no one out, the Astros probability of winning that game was 46.7%. Historically, the Astros had a pretty good shot at winning the game despite the fact they were down by 2 runs. With no outs, having a runner in scoring position and having home team advantage they were very much alive. Then Phil Garner did a move we all scratched our head about the next day, he went for the suicide squeeze. In that situation where had Brad Ausmus been successful in executing the squeeze, it still would've dropped the Astros win probability to 42.2%. Why? Even if they had scored the run and moved the runners up to 2nd, they still would've given up an out, and win probabilities tell us giving up outs is rarely a good idea. Instead, the move totally backfired on Scrap Iron, as Wainwright and Molina turned a beautiful and rare 1-2-3 double play and the Astros win probability went down from 46.7% to just 20.4% afterwards. That's a negative 26.3%. Bad news for the Astros and something to cheer about for Cardinal fans.

Individual players are credited and debited with win probability too. Say for instance it's the 5th inning with no outs, and Scott Rolen is on 2nd and Jim Edmonds is on 1st in a scoreless tie. The Cardinals win probability is 68.1% with Preston Wilson at the plate. Say P-Dub strikes out in typical fashion, he is debited with -6.6% win probability. Make sense? Of course, it's not a perfect stat. It doesn't take into account who's at the plate, whether he's a banjo hitter or Albert Pujols. Nor does it take into account who's on the mound, whether it's Billy Wagner or Charlie Brown. Also, individual players who hit solo homeruns in the first inning aren't going to have the same effect on win probability added, as say the guy who hits the walkoff in the 9th because obviously the walkoff had the biggest effect on the outcome of the game. It's certainly not a predictive stat, but if there is such a thing as clutch hitting, win probability added will likely uncover it. Me, I like it because it emphasizes the feeling or mood of the game. When the team's win probability is 80% or above, usually the home crowd is feeling pretty good. Say it's the 9th and the probability goes down to around 63%, fans on the edge of their seat. Or say if it's an uneventful game like yesterday when the Cardinal win probability didn't rise all that high, usually come around the 6th or 7th you're fiddling with the remote to find a re-run of SNL or Seinfeld to flip back and forth to.

Ok, with all that said, here's yesterday's win probability graph:

WPA stud of the game: Adam Kennedy +13.3%.
WPA goat of the game: David Eckstein -15.9%.
Biggest at bat: Gary Bennett's RBI single for the only run in the game. +6.8%.
Biggest pitch: Craig Biggio's 2 RBI double in the 2nd off of Anthony Reyes -14.7%.
Total WPA for hitters: -35.1%
Total WPA for pitchers: -7.77 (Idea yoinked from Lookout Landing. Props to you, oh great Mariner blog.)

Yet another not bad, yet somewhat underwhelming performance by Reyes. I didn't see the game, someone fill me in on his velocity and how he looked. From looking at gameday, he didn't get many swings and misses and batters where fighting a lot of pitches off. He just hasn't had the same ability to put batters away that he had in AAA. I'm not sure why exacty, but Reyes needs to pick it up soon. I'm reminded of Rich Hill, who was dominating in AAA, had a 3:1 K/BB ratio in the minors but was dreadful over his first 8 starts for the Cubs, posting a 9.21 ERA and having a K/BB ratio of 1:1. He came back to the majors late July, cut his walks dramatically, started missing bats and put up a 2.92 ERA over his final 12 starts. Reyes has had more time to adjust and hasn't quite yet but I'm still hopeful he'll improve. But this high pitch count problem needs to go away, a regular major league starter has to go over 5 innings per game.

But it's not Reyes who has the blame for the Cardinal loss, like most of the country, the bats have been hit with an unusual cold front and have yet to thaw out. The Cardinal hitters are a cumulative negative 150.5% WPA over these 5 games. They have not had a game where the hitter's WPA was in the black, even in their one win. The leader of the offense is 1 for 17 and while I certainly am the last person to worry about Albert, I don't remember ever witnessing him being so off. Last April he was an absolute beast, now he looks like he could use an off day. The team currently boasts of a ghastly team line of .192/.256/.298. Blech. With the chilly weather, these bats need hats, keep bats warm.

wells jennings
0-1, 3.00 0-0, 1.50

For those of you who are interested in following the game's win probability, you can catch the live scoreboard feature at Fangraphs. Albert hit 3 home runs last Easter, hopefully he can play some catch up today. I have a good feeling about Wells today, and I'm not a big believer in jinxes, so please no one get onto me if he doesn't do well. :)