FanPost

2016 Batting Numbers From A Different Perspective

I’ve been keeping a tally of the Cardinals play-by-play info, namely Win Probability Added (WPA), broken down by batting or defensive position and whatnot, throughout the season. I still have most of the second half yet to go for the pitching side of things, but the batters are complete. I’ve done this before for Close’n’Late* situations in years past, but I’ve expanded it this year to include everything.
I use some odd terminology and methodology, so let me explain a few things:

  • WPA is a measure of the impact a specific play has on the outcome of a game. Put simply, a solo homer in a 9-2 ballgame doesn't move the needle much at all, while a 2-out solo homer to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth is huge. I use Fangraphs.com numbers, pulled from their game logs. The numbers will not match up with the season totals on Fangraphs as there seems to be a lot of rounding errors (Diaz is off by a full 0.10 wins).
  • I figure Outs as any out created at bat or on the bases, credited to the batter or baserunner noted in the Fangraphs play log. Baserunning outs (of the CS/PO variety, even during K's) count against the runner; being thrown out during a batting play counts against the batter. I'd rather have clearer distinctions between batting & baserunning (especially on a play where Diaz scores from first on a ducksnort single by Molina - all credit went to Yadi), but I use the data I have available. Double plays (non-CS) count both outs against the batter.
  • I use the term Reach (Rch) for any time a batter reaches base without a runner called out first. Reaching safely on a double play attempt (one out recorded) is not a Reach; a single to center with a runner at second who then gets thrown out at home still counts as a Reach (and an Out for the batter). Errors, a no-out fielder's choice, K+WP/PB, etc., all count as a Reach.
  • Effective On Base (EOB) is simply Rch / (Rch + Outs). It is like OBP, but it adds in errors & whatnot and basically counts DP's as two PA's. Its pitching equivalent is Reach per Inning Pitched (RIP).
  • Runs are runs, same as always, but I credit all run-scoring plays to the hitter as Runner Driven In (RDI) (unless the run scores by a WP/PB/SB/etc., then it goes to the runner). This system was originally intended to credit runs against relievers without being worried about Earned Runs or Inherited Runners. Alongside that is Runs On Watch (ROW) which is similar to ERA and is figured as RDI / Outs * 27.
  • There are three leverage states:
    • Start of Game (SG) - first five innings
    • Close'n'Late (CL) - 6th-inning & on, batters either ahead by 1 run, tied, or behind by 1/2/3 runs (or 4 w/two on or 5 w/three on). Basically these are the times with the highest leverage, that might get classified as a save situation for the bullpen.
    • Low Leverage (LL) - 6th-inning & on, outside of CL situations

Well, that's done. Here are the primary player summaries (any number with a + or - symbol is for WPA, Sep includes both September & October):

  • Matt Carpenter: +3.318 WPA (21st in the majors), .372 EOB (2nd on team), 5.19 ROW; just as valuable in 40 games at 2B as 54 G at 3B, not so much in 37 G at 1B; one of the few players who succeeded (+.814) with runner 1B-only (a huge problem for the team); team-best WPA in CL situations (+1.840); much better at Home (despite the team's struggles); did best against CIN (+1.025) & PIT (wow! +1.552), worst versus CHI (-0.743), bonus at TEX (3 Outs, 11 Rch); .491 EOB in June; had two +.500 games (6/10 v PIT, 2-4, 3-run go-ahead HR in 8th, two walks in extras; 10/2 v PIT, 1-2, 2 BB, SF, go-ahead 3-run HR in 6th)
  • Stephen Piscotty: +2.382 WPA, .348 EOB, 5.57 ROW; +1.157 batting 2nd, -.049 hitting 3rd, +1.111 cleanup; -1.158 with runner 1B-only, team-best +2.800 with RISP; crushed LHRP (.511 EOB); equally good Home & Away; did best against PIT (+.777), worst versus CIN (-.573); +2.261 Apr-Jun, +.121 afterwards; best game vs CHC (8/14, +.442, 1-4, HBP, go-ahead 3-run dinger in the 8th)
  • Aledmys Diaz: +2.005 WPA (3rd among ML rookies), .371 EOB (3rd on team), 6.03 ROW (3rd on team, with 66% of RDI occuring when between three runs down and one run up, best on team); +.479 WPA, .833 EOB as a PH; +1.287 with bases empty, +1.376 with RISP; +2.466 against SP, -.461 versus RP; did best against SDP (+.561), worst versus TEX (-.565); hot in April (+.925, .507 EOB); best game vs SFG (6/4, +.298, 2-4, tying 3-run homer in 5th)
  • Matt Holliday: +1.659 WPA, .325 EOB, 6.13 ROW (2nd on team); small sample success as 1B (+.482) and DH (+.664), much less in LF; excellent with RISP (+1.820); almost all of his damage was in the first 5 innings (+1.464) and on the road (+1.679); did best against SDP (+.447), worst versus LAD (-.468); best game vs MIA (7/17, +.353, 3-4, solo HR in 1st, tying single+error in 6th)
  • Yadier Molina: +1.475 WPA, .349 EOB, 4.27 ROW; worst on team at scoring (213 times on base, 58 runs); small sample success hitting 3rd (+.825); surprisingly good with runner 1B-only (+.682); money with 2 outs (+1.333), versus RP (+2.094), and in CL situations (+1.688); did best against CIN (+1.195), worst versus WAS (-.370); -1.082 Apr-Jun, +2.557 Jul-Sep; best game vs CIN (9/29, +.490, 2-5, solo HR in 5th, walk-off totally-not-a-ground-rule double in 9th)
  • Brandon Moss: +0.792 WPA, .302 EOB, 5.63 ROW; -1.147, .196 EOB with runner 1B-only, +1.087 with RISP; did best against CIN (+1.201), worst versus PIT (-.583); +1.251 in August, -.995 in September; best game vs CIN (6/8, +.376, 2-5, BB, 2-run go-ahead homer in 5th, solo shot in 7th)
  • Kolten Wong: +0.549 WPA, .337 EOB, 3.12 ROW; killed it as PH (team-best +1.157, .519 EOB); did best against CIN (+.377), worst versus CHC (-.433); -.683 Apr-Jun, +1.232 Jul-Sep; best game vs CIN (9/28, +.389, 1-1, leadoff triple in 9th)
  • Jedd Gyorko: +0.543 WPA, .316 EOB, 5.21 ROW; +.525 as a 2B despite a .256 EOB, -.696 as a PH despite a .348 EOB (no RDI); +1.751 with bases empty, -1.533 with RISP; +.921 in SG situations; did best against SDP (duh, +.783), worst versus CIN (-.431); hot in July at +1.207; best game vs LAD (7/22, +.427, 2-5, BB, 2-out tying solo shot in 9th)
  • Randal Grichuk: +0.341 WPA, .295 EOB, 5.37 ROW; +.508, .529 EOB in 17 PA as a PH; +1.515 batting 7th; -.969 with runner 1B-only, +.980 with RISP; -1.127 against SP, +1.468 versus RP; did best against PIT (+.514), worst versus WAS (-.503); -1.248 Apr-Jun, +1.589 Jul-Sep; best game vs CHC (5/23, +.419, 2-4, walkoff solo shot)
  • Matt Adams: +0.282 WPA, .313 EOB, team-best 6.57 ROW; +.604 as a PH; much better at Home (+.667); did best against CHC (+.639), worst versus hometown PIT (-.763); hot in May (+1.307); best game vs CHC (5/23, +.361, 1-1, tying PH 2-run homer in 7th)
  • Greg Garcia: +0.252 WPA, team-best .389 EOB, team-worst 2.83 ROW; struggled as SS (-.574, .321 EOB); lack of punch hurt him with RISP (-.529 despite .377 EOB); did best against WAS (+.279), worst versus KCR (-.234); .688 EOB in April/May; best game vs HOU (6/15, +.234, 1-1, go-ahead PH single in 7th)
  • Jeremy Hazelbaker: +0.248 WPA, team-worst .294 EOB, 4.70 ROW; despite 4 PH HR, better in SG situations (+.513); much better in Away games (+1.115); did best against ATL (+.493), worst versus CHC (-.322); great April (+.829); best game vs SDP (4/23, +.343, 1-2, 3-run PH go-ahead homer in 7th)
  • Tommy Pham: -0.155 WPA, .311 EOB, 3.50 ROW; struggled with runner 1B-only, solid with bases empty or RISP; did best against MIA (+.456), worst versus LAD (-.325); monster game vs MIA (7/15, +.585, 3-4, 3-run HR in 4th, tying solo shot in 7th)
  • Jhonny Peralta: -0.645 WPA, .303 EOB, 3.60 ROW (40% of RDI occuring when between three runs down and one run up, worst on team); -.825 with runners on; did best against KCR (+.414), worst against CHC (-.482); best game vs KCR (6/29, +.278, 2-6, 2-out tying single in 9th)
  • And, just for fun, Adam Wainwright: +0.816 WPA, .243 EOB, 9.17 (!) ROW; -.155 & .188 EOB with bases empty/1B-only, +.971 & .364 EOB with RISP; best against PIT (+.641), worst versus SFG (-.170); strong September (+.286, .500 EOB, 27.00 ROW); best game vs PIT (6/10, +.451, 1-1, go-ahead PH 2-run double in blowout 12th)
Now a quick rundown of the various team splits:
  • Pitchers -2.543 WPA, .193 EOB, 3.22 ROW; Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, & Luke Weaver (.385 EOB) hit relatively well, Mike Leake & Michael Wacha did not (sidenote: how the heck did Wacha draw 3 BB?); weirdly enough, as long as they avoided RHSP, they battled to a draw (-.001, .246 EOB, 5.34 ROW)
  • Catchers +1.008 WPA, .343 EOB, 4.02 ROW; Molina carried the load all season, Eric Fryer (+.357, .421 EOB) was the only backup worth anything useful
  • First Basemen: +1.012 WPA, .316 EOB, 5.44 ROW; Adams, Moss, & Carpenter all had middling numbers for WPA & EOB, Holliday (+.482, 35 PA) & Piscotty (+.382, 1 PA) bailed out the group on the WPA front; the 3-hole was a black hole for production (-.579), the only spot with >5 GS & <+.188; very good with RISP (+1.514, .370 EOB); much better Home (+2.492) v Away (-1.480); -.501 Apr-Jun, +1.513 Jul-Sep
  • Second Basemen: +1.966 WPA, .358 EOB, 4.39 ROW; Wong may be the best option defensively, but his offense (-.576, .313 EOB) was way behind Carpenter (+1.263, .405 EOB), Gyorko (+.965, .376 EOB), & Garcia (+.336, .403 EOB); >+.580 & >.350 EOB batting 1st, 7th, or 8th; +2.190 & .373 EOB with bases empty, -.224 & .336 EOB with runners on; much better Away (+2.240) v Home (-.274)
  • Third Basemen: +1.294 WPA, .329 EOB, 4.51 ROW; Carpenter buoyed these numbers (+1.264, .382 EOB, 6.06 ROW), Gyorko was effective but didn't get on (+.525, .256 EOB, 5.23 ROW), Peralta was just useless (-.522, .298 EOB, 3.38 ROW); +1.887 & .358 EOB bases empty, -1.050, .302 EOB with RISP; -1.138, .255 EOB, & 2.27 ROW against LHP, +2.432, .356 EOB, & 5.48 ROW versus RHP
  • Shortstops: +.784 WPA, .346 EOB, 4.93 ROW; Diaz was a revelation at the position, but shortstop was the worst spot for both Gyorko (-.238, .296 EOB, 4.26 ROW) & Garcia (-.574, .321 EOB, 1.82 ROW); +2.463 against SP, -1.679 versus RP
  • Left Fielders: +1.291 WPA, .304 EOB, 4.73 ROW, team-leading 34 HR; neither Holliday (.311 EOB), Moss (.272 EOB), nor Hazelbaker (.286 EOB) got on base worth a damn, with the only help coming from Pham, Wong, & Jose Martinez (.375 EOB combined); +2.093 against SP, -.802 versus RP
  • Center Fielders: -1.046 WPA (only negative player position), .291 EOB, 4.48 ROW; none of our options were productive or got on base and only Grichuk (5.45 ROW) drove in runs; -1.830 with runner 1B-only
  • Right Fielders: +2.352 WPA, .345 EOB, 5.58 ROW; with Carpenter & Gyorko moving around the infield to cover up holes, this was the best offensive position on the field; non-Piscotty RF hit +.181, .310 EOB,, 5.06 ROW in 115 PA
  • DH/PH/PR (lumped these three "positions" together): +4.635 WPA, .390 EOB, 8.69 ROW; the combined WPA would have led the entire National League (+4.52 Paul Goldschmidt); eight different players (Wong, Holliday at DH, Adams, Grichuk, Diaz, Wainwright(!), Garcia, Carpenter) had at least a +.400 WPA, with only two others that could be considered bad (Gyorko -.696, Peralta -.248); in CL situations, they posted a +4.213, an improvement of over 6.5 games over last year's numbers, quite possibly the biggest reason why we survived in the playoff hunt as long as we did; ATL was pounded by our PH/PR (+.931, 3 Outs, 11 Rch, 4 HR - including three in one game, in consecutive innings, all by rookies); +3.675, 11.97 ROW Apr-Jun, +.960, 5.66 ROW Jul-Sep

  • Leadoff: +2.805 WPA, .360 EOB, 4.50 ROW; the fill-in hitters posted -.368 WPA, .324 EOB, 2.68(!) ROW, and despite roughly 30% of the PA's, had only 20% of the R & RDI; three leadoff homers, all by Carpenter; two steals (none by Carp) & four CS (all by Carp); +2.022 with runners 1B-only or 1st/2nd, -.808 with any other runners
  • 2-hole: +1.729 WPA, .333 EOB, 5.18 ROW; Diaz (+.563) & Piscotty (+1.157) got the lion's share of time, with the others combining for +.009, .294 EOB, & 4.36 ROW; combined 169 G for batters (only seven replacement player-games as a hitter); -1.674, .253 EOB with runner 1B-only, +2.521, .391 EOB with RISP; -.676 (only negative month), 3.13 ROW in September
  • 3-hitters: +1.848 WPA, .304 EOB, 5.35 ROW; Holliday was fairly effective (+1.077, 6.00 ROW), Piscotty drove 'em in without getting on base (.275 EOB, 5.40 ROW), and Moss did nothing right (-.489, .219 EOB, 2.88 ROW); hitting with RISP (+2.115, .365 EOB) or 2 out (+2.070) saved their numbers; +2.044 Apr-Jun, -.196 Jul-Sep (rescued by Molina's +.825)
  • Cleanup: +1.750 WPA, .319 EOB, 5.52 ROW; Holliday & Piscotty excelled (+1.621, .359 EOB, 6.01 ROW), Moss, Adams, & Grichuk not so much (-.316, .276 EOB, 5.49 ROW); .228 AVG (9-hitters: .222); -1.567, .227 EOB runner 1B-only, +2.041, .379 EOB with RISP; -.981 (only negative month), 2.64 ROW in Sep
  • 5th spot: +.122 WPA, .331 EOB, 4.82 ROW; Molina did fine (+.449, .365 EOB), Adams, Peralta, Grichuk, & Moss did not (-.779, .301 EOB); surprisingly low impact despite team-high .277 AVG & decent .457 SLG (44 doubles); -1.114, 3.87 ROW at home, +1.236, 5.82 ROW on road; -.645, .354 EOB Apr-May, -.531, .259 EOB Jun-Jul, +1.298, .375 EOB Aug-Sep
  • 6-hole: -.457 WPA, .313 EOB, 4.09 ROW; Grichuk & Peralta (-1.483, .260 EOB, 2.79 ROW) drug down good numbers from Molina, Moss, & Adams (+.674, .354 EOB, 5.11 ROW); +.912 bases empty, -1.369 with runners on; -1.121 in SG situations, +.727 in CL
  • 7-hitters: +3.455 WPA, .340 EOB, 5.34 ROW, team-leading 32 HR; the redemption spot - Grichuk (+1.515, 7.00 ROW) & Gyorko (+1.139, .353 EOB, 6.25 ROW) led a lot of players who "got healthy" batting 7th; +3.648, .399 EOB, 20 HR with bases empty, -.193, .267 EOB with runners on; spanked RHP (+3.854, .345 EOB, 5.93 ROW); +1.922 Jul, +1.880 Sep
  • 8th spot: +.878 WPA, .357 EOB, 4.54 ROW; >+.500 from Diaz (+.802, .461 EOB), Pham (+.572, .451 EOB), & Wong (+.560, .345 EOB); weird pairs of numbers - +.825, .332 EOB with bases empty, -.529, .395 EOB with RISP; .476 EOB in Apr, .267 EOB in Jun
  • 9-hole: -1.377 WPA, .263 EOB, 4.27 ROW, 74 RDI (more than 6th & 8th spots), 14 HR (1-8 hitters all >20 HR); non-P hit +1.012, .332 EOB, 5.48 ROW, 12 HR; did best against PHI (+.787), worst versus CIN (-1.212); +1.169 in May

Bases Empty: +8.780 WPA, .331 EOB, 139 solo HR
Runner 1B-only: -3.383 WPA, .279 EOB
With RISP: +5.356 WPA, .351 EOB

LHSP: +1.208 WPA, .315 EOB, 4.20 ROW
RHSP: +2.777 WPA, .316 EOB, 4.16 ROW
LHRP: +.005 WPA, .335 EOB, 5.39 ROW
RHRP: +6.763 WPA, .343 EOB, 6.27 ROW

Start of Game (SG): +3.694 WPA, .320 EOB, 4.54 ROW
Close'n'Late (CL): +6.045 WPA, .321 EOB, 4.74 ROW (improvement from last year's +2.097, .319 EOB, 3.61 ROW), 32 blown saves by opposition (17 by us), 33 wins decided after first five innings
Low Leverage (LL): +1.014 WPA, .344 EOB, 5.83 ROW

Tying run on base or at the plate, 6th inning or later: +1.135 WPA, .316 EOB, 5.76 ROW, 41 tying runs; Carpenter (+1.422), Piscotty (+1.080), and Garcia (.450 EOB) excelled; huge home/road split (-1.886, .282 EOB at home; +3.021, .361 EOB on road)

Home: +1.686 WPA, .320 EOB, 4.53 ROW
Away: +9.067 WPA, .330 EOB, 5.16 ROW

Apr: +2.588 WPA, .354 EOB, 6.00 ROW
May: +2.391 WPA, .333 EOB, 5.30 ROW
Jun: +.549 WPA, .316 EOB, 4.48 ROW
Jul: +2.303 WPA, .320 EOB, 4.75 ROW
Aug: +1.385 WPA, .316 EOB, 4.32 ROW
Sep: +1.537 WPA, .314 EOB, 4.42 ROW

Best game: +.996 WPA, 5/12 @ LAA, 12-10 final (Jered Weaver set down first 11 batters, 25 of the next 40 hitters reached, offense bailed out Wainwright twice, Holliday +.347 w/ 2 HR, 2 singles, BB)
Worst game: -.786 WPA, 6/17 v TEX, 1-0 final (Cole Hamels, Sam Dyson, & Matt Bush combined for 3-hit shutout despite 2 singles, 2 BB by Carpenter)

Let me know what you think.