New statistic WIP

Many baseball statistics are kept at the forefront of…uh, baseball statistics because they’re pretty easy to calculate and they’ve been around for a while. This doesn’t mean that they’re inherently useful or revealing. One such statistic is wins for a pitcher–because it’s somewhat dependent on how many runs they receive in support, it can’t directly measure whether they’re doing well at retiring batters and not giving up runs. It’s also dependent on when they receive runs in support. Witness the countless “BS, W” (which are a little bit, if you’ll pardon my language…um, BS)–a starting pitcher does well, the reliever gives up the lead, but is credited with the win because the team eventually rallies back anyway.

So–urged on by a couple of nice instigators–I got to playing with an idea for re-awarding pitcher wins, part of it plagiarized from another sport entirely. In the admittedly small sample size of 33 Cubs victories this year (shush), my system “felt” egregiously wrong three times, due to a vulnerability that I realized going in. This is, coincidentally, exactly as many as “egregious” assignments of winning pitchers under the normal system. So I can’t really say my way is an improvement (hence why I’m not going into details. Yet. Maybe later once I’ve tweaked it and/or come up with a funny acronym.)

I do, however, want to discuss some interesting case studies. My system and the standard system agreed in 24 of the 33 cases; setting aside 6 more “egregious” games leaves a couple other borderline judgments. Maybe looking at some of these will show you how awkward this system is…

April 13: Cubs 9, Astros 5

Carlos Zambrano started the game for the Cubs, who led 6-0 when he took the hill in the bottom of the sixth. He then gave up five runs before being pulled for Marcos Mateo, who recorded one out to get out of the inning. Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood, and Carlos Marmol pitched scoreless seventh, eighth, and ninth innings respectively. Zambrano was the actual winning pitcher, despite almost giving the game away. My system would credit Wood with the victory. Had the Cubs not scored one run in the top of the sixth, Zambrano wouldn’t have gotten the win…on the other hand, that one run was his solo homer, so perhaps he deserves the credit after all.

May 7: Cubs 3, Reds 2

Casey Coleman entered the bottom of the seventh with the Cubs up by one. He walked the leadoff batter and then gave up a single for first and third with nobody out. Wood came in to induce an out at second that brought in one run, a sacrifice bunt, and another single that brought in the go-ahead run. He got out of the inning, James Russell retired two batters in the eighth, and Marmol pitched a scoreless inning-and-a-third before picking up the win when the Cubs walked off (twice, but that’s another story). My system also credits Marmol with the victory…did Coleman really deserve it, or were those two batters too big a liability? I might still need to make some tweaks as far as inherited runners go.

June 14: Cubs 5, Brewers 4, ten innings.

Even more time for more pitchers and more…intrigue.

Randy Wells left the game after six, with the Cubs down by 3. Rodrigo Lopez pitched a scoreless seventh (the Cubs got another run in the bottom half, so it was 3-1), but Lopez walked the leadoff batter in the eighth and was pulled for Russell. Russell gave up a bunt which moved the runner to second, and was removed for Chris “Not That One” Carpenter. He gave up a double to bring in a run (charged to Lopez), but then got out of the inning. In the bottom of the eighth, the Cubs scored three to tie the game. Marmol and Jeff Samardzija pitched scoreless ninths and tenths respectively, and walked off in the tenth to give Samardzija the win. My system credits Carpenter with the victory, which seems wrong–he pitched two-thirds of an inning, during which one run was scored. On the other hand, did anyone else really deserve the win?

The point is, only timing distinguishes Marmol and Samardzija’s performance, and it doesn’t make sense to put a lot of value on a raw statistic that is influenced by factors so arbitrary. I might go off and tweak my system, but for now my recommendation is bipartite. Either a) do not award “blown save/win” under any circumstances, and give the win to the guy whose game would have been saved had the save not been blown, or/and b) track statistics more meaningful than wins (and, for that matter, saves), which you should do anyway. :p

Also, read the actual rules about “effective”ness for winning pitchers, as shown here (pages 110-111). I’d be curious to see how many times a season rules 10.17 (b) and (c) are applied, among all teams.

Various Action of 6-21

Hit a ball
Out for his fifth straight day. No Sox
Bat has got six straight days of park-vacating knocks.

Also hit a ball out, which
Put things such that his squad won.
No outs–not a pitch (bar 10 and a half prior innings’ worth)–prior to winning run.

Didn’t lack
For Ks,
Notching 10 against Rays.

Ryan Howard
Is not a coward.
His hit wound up a big inning
So his squad wound up winning.

Had to start pitching, as Placido and Ryan
Both got hit by a pitch
On back-to-back plays, that inning. At that point, you must switch.

Carl Pavano
Had to go mano-a-mano
With his opposing moundsman. Carl didn’t notch a hit
But as his squad had 8 in as many at-bats, it was cool with it.

Justin Smoak
Was part of a ninth-inning croak.
His squad was up by four
But couldn’t shut Washington’s door.

Is back!
I forgot to say
This until Thursday.

Lipogram Musical Song III

Sorry for still not posting on this blog. No inspiration at all, although my ability to sit down and start writing without worrying about tasks I must accomplish is unusually high this month vis-a-vis most months. Sigh. This is disappointing.

For now, this is also a song from my lipogram musical WIP.

But…Doctor Martins? What is a scholar?

Oh…a scholar is a chap who looks for truth.
An old chair or an up-and coming youth.
A local grad or all-star from abroad
Who won’t chalk stuff up to dumb luck, or God,
Who won’t just go along with what’s in fashion
Who won’t fall whim to any random passion,
But who, balancing cautious trust with doubt
Works hard to find what’s truly truthful out.

But you won’t find a scholar at this grand old U.
You can look around, but all that you will find
Is a bunch of folks who don’t know anything that you
Couldn’t pick up, if you could train your mind.

Oh, a scholar is a chap who looks for facts
Painstakingly. A scholar only acts
Following thought. A scholar will not bow
To what sounds most okay with all right now,
Nor lap at hands waving a crisp grant dollar.
Nothing of this for an upstanding scholar.
Scholars don’t sink to mocking, and don’t jab.
But just work hard, in library or lab.

But you won’t find a scholar at this grand old U.
Doctor Simon is always busy kissing
TAs, Doctor Jackson has got nothing to do.
And Doctor Wilkins is…um…gosh, is missing.

(talking): And that’s why I brought you around, you know. So you can go out and talk to distant groups.

Scott: Who should I talk to?

Martins: Oh, it’s not important. Just…if you could, a group I don’t know much about right now.

For a scholar’s work isn’t going to stop.
A scholar won’t say “Oh wow! I am on top.
I know all that I could truly want to know.”
No, a scholar’s work will only go and go.
It might bring him far away; it might stay local.
It might not do much, or it might wind up vocal.
A good scholar works, if information still
Is waiting and unknown. It always will.

Though you won’t find a scholar at this grand old U.
Doctor Watson has sat around from oh four.
Doctor Kirk just quit, and Doctor Chapman did so too,
And I had to show Doctor Young our door.

Another shameless plug…

I’ve been neglecting the blog, alas, as I work on other projects (including one of the lipogrammatic variety), but wanted to point out that I won an “Anagrammy Award” for a poem I anagrammed into another poem, both obeying lots of extra constraints. The original is from “The Eight,” by Katherine Neville, a sort of early Da Vinci Code only with chess. Link is here.

It’s also possible I’ll have another plug coming soon, stay tuned.