Monday, August 23, 2010

Surprise Hero

We talk a lot about “doing the little things”. So how about a statistic that recognizes the little contributions?

I’ve talked a lot about WPA or Win Probability Added before in this space. The short explanation for WPA is that it measures how much a player increases or decreases the chances of his team winning a game.

What I like about it is that it mirrors the value that hard-core fans see, especially in the context of a game. And, since I’m a hard core fan, and since I was at last night’s game, I felt comfortable predicting that the Twins players of the game (according to WPA) would look something like this:

1 star – Danny Valencia – for his home run that broke the 0-0 tie
2 stars – Scott Baker – for throwing seven innings of shut out ball
3 stars – Michael Cuddyer – for delivering the clutch hit that put the game away.

But looking at the WPA breakdown for last night’s game, I find out that I’m not quite right. Let’s see what I missed…..

0 stars (because he ended up in 4th place – Valencia (+9%)

That monster home run that broke a scoreless game was obviously a big hit, and WPA recognizes that. It increased the Twins chances of winning by 13%, from 57% to 70%. But that grounder in the second where Jim Thome was out at home is charged to him, too, and that hurt the cause significantly. (-7%)

1 star – I’m going to get to that in a minute. Hang tight.

2 stars – Cuddyer – (+12%)

I’m right in that the three-run double was the big hit of the night. It improved the Twins chances of winning the game by 20%, up to 90%, and that was even with the baserunning gaffe (which may not have really been a gaffe, but a ploy to make the 3rd run scored, according to Cuddy). But Cuddy didn’t do quite as well in other at-bats.

3 stars – Baker – (+37%)

Well, I just feel stupid about this one. Baker holds a shutout for five innings in a tie game, and then two more innings afterwards, and I don’t list him as the 3 star player of the game? Brain cramp. My only excuse is that I’m a little down on Baker right now, and not completely objective.

How down? Down enough that I was ready to turn to a complete stranger after Valencia’s dinger and predict that Baker would give up the lead in the next inning. And when it was 4-0 I was willing to bet even money that Baker gave up some runs with that lead. I just don’t trust him yet. Sorry, Scott. I’m glad you proved me wrong.

Now, back to that one-star player. Who was more valuable this game than Valencia?

A: Orlando Hudson (+9%)

What did Hudson do that was great? Let’s see where those numbers come from:

1st inning – singled to right with one out (+2.4%)
3rd inning – walked to lead off the inning (+3.8%) – he was erased by Joe Mauer’s double play in the next at-bat, but that isn’t his fault
5th inning – he tripled to right (+2.8%) – How did I forget this? It was only one of the most exciting plays of the game. Boy, was the crowd pumped seeing him stretch that triple. It also set up the walks to Mauer and Jason Kubel and ultimately the big hit by Cuddyer, though WPA doesn't give any karmic credit for that.
7th inning – grounded out to shortstop (-0.2%)

Two for three with a triple, a walk, and a run scored. Plus, a couple of other attempts that fell short through no fault of his own. Not a bad night for Hudson, and one that I might have overlooked if it wasn’t for WPA.

I you’re looking for more TwinsCentric Twins notes, make sure to head over to Parker’s Over The Baggy blog where he talks about left-handed relief options that might be available.

And if you want to talk some Twins, clear your calendar on Saturday. The next TwinsCentric (and Sooze) Viewing Party will head out of the Twin Cities Metro and up the road to St. Cloud. The lovely and talented Sooze is running the show on this one. On August 28th from 2:30-6:30 at Howie’s in downtown St. Cloud, there will be drink and appetizer specials as well as some give-aways. Those in the Metro, it’s not too far away, and those in the outstate, come on down! These events have been a lot of fun and a great opportunity to meet some of your favorite bloggers.

1 comment:

Yawn Gardenhose said...

For a while Cuddy was dead last on the team in WPA (yes, below Punto even) - is this still the case? I'm sure last night helped, but the fact of the matter is the "Wet Towel" folds under pressure like no one else.