ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Phillies at Braves – 09/09/2003
I’d hoped we’d seen the last of this kind of loss this year, but no luck. Shane Reynolds was involved, of course. Reynolds gave up three in the first and four in the second, leaving with only four batters retired. Trey Hodges came on to give up a grand slam. Jason Marquis pitched two innings and give up three runs. Jung Bong pitched three and gave up five runs, including another slam. Kent Mercker pitched an inning, and the worst news of the night was a perfect inning by Boom-Boom Hernandez, showing that pretty much anybody can get outs when they’re down 13 runs.
Pretty much everybody played for the Braves. DeRosa, Lopez, and Julio all had homers. It was Javy’s 38th of the season, after which the Personal Catcher came on to give him a break. DeRosa had two other hits.
The Marlins won to keep pace with the Phillies. Tonight, Horacio Ramirez faces Brave-killer Vicente Padilla. For Horacio, it’s a good chance to solidify his fourth starter credentials.
And let the next round of “The Phillies are really just as good as the Braves, just look at the Pythagorian records!” posts begin…
Hey Mac, is it just me or have less people been writing feedback on your articles lately? I’ve noticed this drop in the last few weeks. Are we all losing interest in the rest of the season? Come on guys. Keep writing! This discussion forums rock. You can’t slack
I think you’re right, MS. Just one of those things, mostly. I’m thinking one thing I might do is start an open discussion about the postseason roster, see if that get things stirred up.
I think part of the reason must be that the Braves have kinda been dragging their feet toward the ‘finish line’ of clinching the division. Here goes:
So for some of the more sabermetrically inclined here, I would love to hear some thoughts / read some posts about the pythagorean concept. Apparently this is sort of an accepted thing — I am assuming Bill James did a bunch of counting up runs and found that it roughly plays out over a season that a team’s runs and runs against will predict wins and losses.
Yet this year’s Braves are screwing the formula. Some like Neyer use the fact that the Braves have had a lot of runs scored against them to in essence say that they are a ‘worse’ team than their record shows. Yet it is only one game. If the Braves win the next two games 1-0 and 2-1, they will have been handily outscored overall in the four game series, yet win it with a .750 winning percentage. Which is more important?
It makes sense, that if you score more runs than your opponents, you will win. But doesn’t what the Braves are doing this year make sense too? I mean, looking at a season from a strictly R and RA standpoint takes a lot of the drama and intricacy out of it. Doesn’t it make sense that a team would make a stronger effort to avoid outs and scratch out runs in a 1-0 game than they would in an 13-2 game?
Once a game gets out of hand like that, the eight more runs scored don’t really make a difference. But as Robert points out, they could be used by Pythagorean subscribers to argue that the Phillies are a better ‘team’ than the Braves.
Good post Troy. Many sabermetric princples rely on the position that players don’t play to the score, or if they do, it doesn’t have much impact on the stats. In my opinion, this is position is bunk. Players clearly play to the score, managers manage to the score, and umpires umpire to the score. We have seen it over and over again with the Braves this season.
Pythagoris relies on the theory that all runs are created equally – with both teams maximizing their effort. Teams like the Braves who would rather go home early than turn a 4-2 lead into a 7-2 lead, and who throw in the towel when they fall way behind, are not going to be modeled well by Pythagoris. If their Pythagorian record is close, it’s (invoking the A-bomb of sabermetric weapons) luck.
So that’s my take. Inferring much of anything from a pythagorian-real world gap is reaching at best. I would offer that if your team wins a bunch of close ones and gets ahead of it’s pythagorian record, it could be luck, or it could be that you have a good bullpen, or a smart manager, or a deep bench. Saying it’s all luck and that the pythagorian record is the true measure of a team’s quality is taking the easy way out. Much like TINSTAAPP, it keeps folks from actually trying to find out the real reasons things happen and writes everything off to luck.
Agreed on those points. People tend to read in too much to the Pythag. records. The only statement, I believe, is that if you add up RA and RS in such and such a way, viola, the result closely mimics the actual won-lost record. It, (like most of the Bill James stuff from early on) seems to be an empirical fact. It just happens.
The problems arise, I think, when people start trying to extend these results. Of course, in any discipline where you rely on large amounts of statistics, or analytical models, you end up making approximations (e.g. astrophysics). The more accurate you want your predictions to be, the more serious you have to take your approximations.
So I think the final step is to take the analysis of the pythag with a grain of salt. To say that the pythag. record resembles the quality of your team is true, up to 1st order. You’re right, alot of the details get swept under the rug, but its a quick and dirty way to make an analysis in a way that does hold true to face. If you want to analyze the strength of the team to a higher order, combine it with other, independant, analyses (e.g. bullpen analysis, managerial history, etc.)
So, to first order, the Phillies are as good as the Braves. Obviously, their records are quite disparate, so what factors are coming into play that we are ignoring? That’s what one should take from the Pythag. analysis.
Baseball Prospectus, FWIW, shows the Braves as 4-6 games better than the Phillies, depending upon which standard they’re using. I think that’s more realistic. To be honest, I think the Braves are about as good as their record, but the Phillies are underachieving mightily.
Something I’ve mentioned (and have tried to get both Neyer and the BP people to mention and analyze) is that the Braves have been absolutely shellacked in a few games this year. Something like a quarter of their losses have been blowouts like last night’s. There are two ways of looking at that. A traditional sabermetricist would say that they’re overachieving and that full weight should be given to those games.
I disagree. I mean, the Braves used one pitcher — Mercker — last night who would be on the postseason roster. If Reynolds, Hodges, and Marquis are shelled, that’s bad for them and maybe bad for the future, but it doesn’t say anything much about the Braves’ core talent. They also had the following players on the field for much of the game: Garcia, Blanco, Hessman, Langerhans. We know all those guys suck, but Hessman and Langerhans are rookie callups, Garcia’s a 25th man pinchrunner when postseason comes around, and Blanco… Well, there’s no excuse for Blanco.
One last point: A “lucky” team by sabermetric analysis would normally be one that wins a lot of close games. The Braves are 16-21 in those games. You can reasonably argue that they should have won 2 or 3 more games.
If by “to the first order” you mean that if you see a gap between Pythag and actual you say “maybe that team was lucky/unlucky last year”, then I’ll buy it. If you use the gap to say “This team was unlucky last year and is actually much better than their won/loss shows”, you lost me. I think we are seeing to much of the later lately from guys who should know better.
On a different sabermetric front, did anyone else hear Pete talking on TBS the other day about Bill James and Runs Created? I thought that it was pretty cool that Pete keeps up on some of this stuff. He mentioned that four Braves lead MLB in runs created at their position (or something like that). Javy, Giles, Sheffield, and Ortiz.
As I recall, he went on to note that the Braves have someone in the top eight or nine at eight positions. First base, I assume, was the one left out.
To be honest, Pete probably had more to do with shaping my beliefs about baseball than anyone but James, and the influence goes back further.
Hey Mac, is it just me or have less people been writing feedback on your articles lately?
I think a combination of lackluster play, a number of games not on TBS, and people enjoying the labor day weekend and the like are all factors.
In my opinion, this is position is bunk. Players clearly play to the score, managers manage to the score, and umpires umpire to the score.
The point on managers here seems to me most salientl; as discussed above, Bobby Cox will throw the worst guys out there to suck as much as they want when a game is out of hand. I imagine that if we look at the big blowouts, the chief culprits were a cast of thousands with no real roll, plus a few apppearances by bizarro first-half Maddux.
pythageris is a realy fucked up person so he can just go to hell and rot there for the rest of his life
i think that you all heer that have writen in your coments are a bunsh of loosers and you should get your fingers out of your asses and get some pussy otherwise you are use to the human race