Will is a lifelong New Yorker and Yankees fan who splits his time between finance, music, and baseball. He was one of the early contributors to IIATMS, though life took him away for some time. He is very excited to be back.

Author Archives: Will@IIATMS

Change of Plan

Take a look deeper, though, and you’ll see that the Rangers’ midseason pickups turned out to be rather shrewd–as both Benjie Molina and Jeff Francouer hit southpaws pretty well, relative to righties (against whom they are terrible). If I’m reading this right, that means they are taking at bats against lefties away from Julio Borbon (your prototypical black hole) and Matt Treanor (who couldn’t crack a .200 wOBA against southpaws).

They also have healthy versions of Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler, who hammer lefthanders, but missed 1/3 of the season each. Between these four players, it appears Texas’ lefty worries from earlier in the season are no longer an issue. If you’re looking for a positive to take out of this, I suppose it’s that the Yankees righty-heavy bullpen will match up well with the Rangers midseason reinforcements. But if you came into this looking to find a platoon split in the Rangers’ lineup, well, sorry to disappoint.

The main motivation behind the change is probably, as Girardi noted, Hughes home/road splits.…

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A first look at the pitching matchups and a re-look at the Rangers’ offense

When you count out Hamilton, the Rangers have four above average batters in their lineup: Nelson Cruz (.408 wOBA: a legitimate star when he’s healthy), Ian Kinsler (.357 wOBA: he has seemingly sacrificed his prodigious power for OBP in 2010, putting up career highs in BB%, and career lows in SLG%), David Murphy (.358 wOBA), and the resurgent Vladimir Guerrerro (.360 wOBA). They also have the extremely average Michael Young (.335 wOBA). Mitch Moreland is intriguing, with his .357 wOBA…..in 173 major league at bats. Catcher Benjie Molina has only put up a .266 wOBA since being traded…and previous to that he put up a slightly less horrific .283 with the Giants. And Francouer, Borbon and Andrus (their leadoff hitter, no less) are all in the sub-.300 club. Remembering that .330 is league average…this is a pretty top heavy lineup, with a number of offensive black holes.

Compare this to the Yankees. Again, to quote myself:

The Yankees feature 8 starters (including Lance Berkman as DH) at .345 wOBA or higher.

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Where do we go from here?

Offensively, the Rays put up a .328 wOBA this season, a tick below league average, and 8th in the American League. Conversely, the Rangers were above average at .333, 5th in the AL. But they were essentially carried by Josh Hamilton, who is the presumptive AL MVP, despite missing a full month of the season with  broken ribs. He’s on the playoff roster, and has been playing every day–but he’s clearly not himself, having gone 1 for 12 with 5 strikeouts. Doing the same exercise that I did to adjust for Justin Morneau’s absence on the Twins, we can take the difference between Hamilton’s season wOBA and the Rangers season wOBA, and then divide that by the percentage of the season Hamilton played (out of the Rangers total playing time). Take that away from the Rangers’ team average, and you’ve got an estimate of what their actual hitting number ought to be.

Rangers fans, are you reading? Shield your eyes…because this is ugly.…

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Five Numbers Twins Fans Should Worry About

138.1

Brian Duensing, your Game Three starter, has made a total of 22 starts over his first two seasons, pitching just 138.1 innings in that time. The most important of those games came on October 7, 2009, when he started Game One of last season’s ALDS against, who else, the Yankees. He was out before the end of the fifth inning, giving up five earned runs on seven hits and a walk (3 punchouts), and was relieved by none other than Francisco Liriano after only 79 pitches. The reason 138.1 is important is not particularly complicated. There’s no deep statistical story here–in fact, Duensing’s xFIP and FIP look great for a pitcher his age (any age, really), floating right around 4.00 (which is very good). The question is how he will respond to the pressure of a playoff situation, especially if the Twins postseason is on the line in that game.

.334

The Twins offense is relying on Jim Thome whose numbers this season have been flat out fantastic.…

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Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

Francisco Liriano has very quietly been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, putting up a league leading 3.06 xFIP (fifteen points better than Cliff Lee, and twenty points better than King Felix). His terrific slider has helped him generate the 3rd highest percentage of swings outside the strike zone of pitchers in the American League (34.4%). To go along with that, he’s got the highest out-of-zone whiff rate in the league (44.2%). He strikes out more than a batter per inning, and walks 2.7 per 9 innings. His .340 BABIP has led to an artificially high 3.62 ERA that masks an FIP a full run lower (2.66) and the previously noted best xFIP in the league.

Following him is perennial Yankee killer Carl Pavano (who has accomplished this task as both an opponent, and a team member). It pains me to say it, but Pavano has been a horse for the Twins this year, throwing 220 innings, and notching a solid 3.75/4.02/4.01 ERA/FIP/xFIP line.…

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Debate Over: Bring on Texas!

Both Minnesota and Texas have good rotations. Lee and Liriano match up closely at the top (though I’d rather face Lee, as Liriano’s xFIP tops the American League at 3.08). It looks like Lee will be followed by C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis, and Liriano will be followed by Scott Baker and Carl Pavano. All four have xFIPs between 3.95 and 4.24 and given the scheduling, a fourth starter will not be necessary in the ALDS. Both teams have good relief pitching: the Rangers ‘pen has a 4.28 xFIP, and the Twins’ is 4.35, and the Twins’ addition of Matt Capps (3.55) probably bridges the gap (assuming he gets the innings instead of Brian Fuentes (4.55)).

When you start looking at position players, though, the Rangers get into trouble. The Twins’ position players have been worth 30.4 WAR over the course of the season (second only to the Yankees with 32.5). The Rangers aren’t even close: 22.9!…

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The lucky, the unlucky and Joba

Moving on the pitching:

It’s a bit more complicated for pitchers—but the numbers I prefer to focus on are BABIP (same as above), LOB% (the rate at which a pitcher strands his baserunners, league average is slightly above 70%), HR/FB (the rate at which fly balls turn into home runs), and E-F (ERA-FIP, the difference between the pitchers ERA and his fielding independent pitching statistic). All four of these, at the extremes, can indicate good and bad luck.

In some cases, this can be confusing. For instance, take a look at Boone Logan, who has been a touch lucky with his strand rate (78.4% is very high), and with his HR/FB rate (6.3% is low), but a bit unlucky with his BABIP (.329 is high). In the aggregate (as shown by his E-F) he’s been lucky…but not ridiculously so. [EDITOR'S NOTE: I don't care one bit about your fancy-schmancy stats and color-coded tables, Will. 

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Remember when Gardner and Cervelli were AAAA players?

Gardner wasn’t even expecting to play that night, but after Damon was tossed in the third for arguing balls and strikes (not a regular occurrence by any stretch of the imagination) Gardner had his shot. What happened next is the stuff of Hollywood—light swinging Gardner hit the first inside-the-park-home run in New Yankee Stadium history, and later played a significant role in the Yankees 9th inning comeback, hitting a leadoff triple off of bigtime closer Joe Nathan. And later that night, the script continued—Alyssa’s number came up, her wait for a new heart was over.


Superstitious or no, the story is pretty amazing, and whatever karma Brett took from that bracelet, it’s still going strong (.299/.379/.377, along with 17 steals in 19 attempts thus far this season). And earlier this week, Alyssa made her way out to Yankee Stadium to catch a game, her first since having heart replacement surgery more than a year ago. Here she is on the field, after the game.…

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