Monday, April 28, 2008

And He's Out By Five Feet

I was meaning to look into this at some point myself, but the good people at OriolesHangout (Ted Cooke, specifically) saved me the trouble. After yet another runner was caught trying to steal a base as part of a strike-'em-out throw-'em-out double play, I had the suspicion that the O's aggressiveness on the bases was costing the team runs.

Mr. Cook looked at the team's steals, pick-offs, and the events related to them via Run Expectancy and Win Probability.
"Between successful stolen bases, times caught stealing, pickoffs, bases gained from errant pickoff attempts, and the Roberts play at home, the Orioles have been safe 29 times, and have been thrown out 13 times. This aggressiveness has cost the Orioles to the tune of 0.314 runs in terms of Run Expectancy, and 0.050 Win Probability Added Points."
As I (and many others) suspected, the team is being too aggressive (or is just executing poorly). Stolen bases and the like are exciting to see, but right now they aren't helping the team. Other than Roberts and maybe Markakis (6 out of 8, 18-24 last year), guys shouldn't really be in motion so often. Starting Millar on a 3-2 count to Huff to stay out of the double play is all well and good, except that Millar is slow as dirt and Huff strikes out a good amount. I don't know how many double plays the team has avoided with this strategy (and that's something to check on) but it seems that it hurts about as much as it helps (I know that my opinion here is affected since I remember the times it doesn't work more than the times it does). The steals have the team coming out slightly ahead, since they're stealing at close to 75%, but this isn't an offense that can give up extra outs very often, especially with guys on base. I (or maybe someone else) will keep an eye on this going forward.

[As an aside, OH did a question/answer segment with some Baysox pitchers (Chris Tillman, Jim Miller, and Chorye Spoone) and I came away pretty disappointed. I really like Spoone, but if he wasn't a baseball player he would be a "professional hunter" and his favorite artists are "Eminem and Nickelback". Miller wins points for having a Math degree, but he also likes to jam to Alter Bridge. Tillman doesn't have a favorite band, so he only loses half credit for not committing - nobody really listens to everything, or they aren't really listening to music at all.

Seriously, why did it have to be Nickelback? Eminem, fine, but Nickelback? You're killing me here, Chorye. As stupid as it is, I don't think as highly of him as a player anymore. Oh, and his favorite food is mac and cheese. I can actually see him in his hunting attire, with a gun in his arms, eating a bowl of mac and cheese and "singing" along with a Nickelback CD. *Shudder*]

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