Game 2013.34: Indians at Tigers
20-13, in first place by 1.5 games.
Is this the first Saturday night game of the year? Seems like it.
Phil Coke has been activated, and Luke Putkonen has been optioned back to Toledo. I was thinking Alburquerque was next in line for Toledo, but instead the Tigers may opt for the ever-popular retroactively injured thing next time he struggles with his control.
Some of my favorite “newfangled” baseball stats are WPA (win probability added) and RE24 (base-out runs or runs saved). They’re all over the place here, and I especially like to look at them in player game logs, the box scores, and the full play-by-plays (scrolling down in the box scores). If you don’t know what they are and mean, well, check it out. You’ll figure it out.
I’m not much for WAR. To me, it’s a fantasy baseball stat, though I’m aware that GMs and agents playing the real-life version of fantasy baseball actually use it. The thing I love about WPA is that it allows you to look at contributions to wins/losses on a PA/BF by PA/BF (plate appearance/batter faced) or game to game basis. It gives you about the most objective “game score” for a player that I can imagine. RE24 is a kind of productivity score along these same lines, though not one tied to win/loss probability based on before/after game situation. WPA and RE24 can be looked at in the aggregate like any other stat, of course, but then you have to consider adjustments for opportunity, same as you would when comparing HR or RBI totals between batters with different numbers of PA. I find them useful in any event, but most interesting as ways to gauge performance in individual games or plays within games. The only drawback I find is that they cannot really account for many significant positive defensive plays, though I suppose you could invent some tweaks to introduce defense as more of a factor. (The difficulty is mainly that it’s hard to quantify “what if?” situations.) So it’s mostly a batter/pitcher kinda thing, the defense being an assumption.
I keep meaning to post some interesting analyses that utilize WPA and RE24, like this one for 2013 Tigers hitters through 32 games, for instance:
WIN CONTRIBUTION PER PLAY (SCORE)
PRODUCTIVITY PER PLAY (SCORE)
But each time I try, I collapse under the sheer weight of it all. I doubt that I’ll ever have time in between games to work up the kind of comprehensive yet approachable overview I aspire to. The fun thing about it is that hidden truths are revealed, some of them contrary to what the more visible aggregate stats are telling you. Such as, to simplify greatly: Don Kelly isn’t really “crap,” comparatively speaking (I’m looking at you, VMart), and Doug Fister hasn’t been as good as you might think. Also, looking back on a box score and scrolling down to the “Top 5 Plays,” you may discover that “oh yeah, that was kinda cool” was actually the most significant play of the game in terms of WPA. All in all, it just gives you a broader view of where the positive and negative contributions are coming from. The cool thing about RE24 in a box score is that one number summarizes the productive sum total of every PA or BF. All “1 IP, 0 ER” and “0 for 3″ and”1 for 4″ are not created equally.
So check it out.
Tonight’s “Victor Martinez is available to pinch hit for Victor Martinez” lineups:
DETROIT – It’s the A-team again, behind JV, no less
CLEVELAND – Raburn-less again, go figure
SS A. Cabrera
RF Nick Swisher
C Carlos Santana
It appears from the latest forecast, which I seldom interpret correctly, that there may be a rain delay and/or rain early in tonight’s game.
POST-GAME: INDIANS 7, TIGERS 6. Cleveland was hitting Verlander’s fastball at will from the get-go, and Jimenez was just too good. You could see this one going down the tubes on 2 plays: a) Tigers 4th, Miggy and Fielder on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out… Martinez grounds out to 1B, no chance for a score, and then Dirks strikes out way too easily; b) Indians 5th, what starts as a great play by Fielder to step on 1B and then double up Swisher in a rundown ends with Swisher (who soon scores) at 2B on a ridiculous throwing error by Miggy. Then Smyly and Albuquerque crap out, score going from 4-1 to 6-1 Indians. All over, right? NO! VMart starts a sweet 4-run rally that includes a couple good PH at-bats from Tuiasosopo and Pena. Then… the sickening Al-Al lets in an 8th inning Indians insurance run before Downs saves the day with bases loaded. Tigers 8th, and things are cooking until Tuiasosopo grounds into a 2-on, inning-ending DP. With Perez in for the Tribe in the 9th, it’s not looking good until a Swisher error puts Pena on 1B with one out. Hunter delivers a 2-out RBI to make it 7-6 Indians, and suddenly the win seems not only possible, but likely. Because MIGGY is at the plate with men on 1st and 2nd. A truly lousy swing and miss on pitch 2 turns this into a crap AB, and his weak grounder to the left side overtakes the Tuiasosopo GIDP as the big plate failure of the game (Tuiasosopo actually had a pretty decent AB overall there). No joy in Mudville. Very exciting game, though. Kipnis’s incredible play for the force at 2B and the second out in the 9th on the Jackson almost-single up the middle was the game-saver for the Indians.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Ubaldo Jimenez, Jason Kipnis
HONORABLE MENTION: Darin Downs, A. Cabrera, Michael Bourn, Victor Martinez, Omar Infante
NOT SO GOOD: Al Alburquerque, Indians bullpen, Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Andy Dirks