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Saturday, June 09, 2018

Mariners get 40th win—their 20th by 1 run

Pitching has been the name of the game for the Mariners, who improved to 40-23 and maintained their one-game lead over Houston in the AL West. Seattle has gone 16-4 since May 18, the best 20-game stretch for the franchise since 2003. The Mariners improved to an MLB-best 20-9 in one-run games.

“This is an amazing clubhouse,” Gonzales said. “It’s one of the [most fun] teams I’ve played on, for sure. We love playing for each other. We have faith. We don’t panic. Even in all these one-run ballgames, we have trust in each other that we’re going to pull it out. We pick each other up. On days we’re not pitching it great, our offense gets going and vice versa. As long as we keep that going, I think we’ll be all right.”

Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: June 09, 2018 at 12:49 PM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mariners

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   1. eric Posted: June 09, 2018 at 01:22 PM (#5688907)
So, Seattle is 20-9 in one-run games while Houston is 4-12, and they're one game apart in the standings. In other words, by the end of the season Houston will be 5-10 games ahead of Seattle in the standings.
   2. Baldrick Posted: June 09, 2018 at 02:01 PM (#5688917)
This team has been a lot of fun, and while they aren't really all that good, given the stratification of the league, they really only need to be decent for the rest of the season to have a real shot at the playoffs. Which is more than I expected going into the season.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2018 at 03:32 PM (#5688953)
In other words, by the end of the season Houston will be 5-10 games ahead of Seattle in the standings.

Houston's better, but they're not as good as they were last year. Marwin Gonzalez, Gurriel, and Marisnick have remembered who they are.
Keuchel is not pitching well. The pen is a disaster.

If Verlander and Cole revert to being merely very good, the Mariners could take them.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: June 09, 2018 at 05:46 PM (#5689027)
The other way of saying that is the Astros have a +125 run differential, easily the best in MLB, while the Ms have a +23 differential, worse than the Angels and Cleveland. But no reason to tell them that and everybody should enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.
   5. cardsfanboy Posted: June 09, 2018 at 05:52 PM (#5689030)
The other way of saying that is the Astros have a +125 run differential, easily the best in MLB, while the Ms have a +23 differential, worse than the Angels and Cleveland. But no reason to tell them that and everybody should enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.


Just asking for an opinion, wouldn't a team like the Mariners, who are in a playoff spot potential, be able to take advantage of a trade more than a team with a higher run differential, since in theory it should be easier for them to improve the team noticeably than an already good team?
   6. drdr Posted: June 09, 2018 at 08:13 PM (#5689094)

Just asking for an opinion, wouldn't a team like the Mariners, who are in a playoff spot potential, be able to take advantage of a trade more than a team with a higher run differential, since in theory it should be easier for them to improve the team noticeably than an already good team?

4-12 in one-run games often indicates bad bullpen. Bullpen is the easiest part of the team to fix at the deadline. (That is to say, relievers are always available at the deadline. GM still needs to chose the right one.)
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: June 09, 2018 at 08:41 PM (#5689108)
4-12 in one-run games often indicates bad bullpen. Bullpen is the easiest part of the team to fix at the deadline. (That is to say, relievers are always available at the deadline. GM still needs to chose the right one.)


Not really, it's easy to fix one part of the bullpen, but you will need to probably make 3 or so trades to fully fix a dysfunctional bullpen, and the cost versus profit in this scenario just doesn't seem to be worth it, unless you can pinpoint it on just one guy.

Add in the volatility of a pen reliever and the small sample size of the position, and it seems like a really hard thing to fix with any certainty over a time period of 3 months. I mean the guys who are looking like they are having a bad year so far, are just as likely to be guys having small sample size problems and not real issues. I think that fixing the pen, unless it's clearly broken(meaning that the guys you have were not projected to be good, and haven't been good) is a crapshoot that has no real chance of making a difference.

I'm not even sure how 4-12 in one run games would relate to the pen at all.
   8. RMc Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball Posted: June 09, 2018 at 08:57 PM (#5689119)
Bullpen is the easiest part of the team to fix at the deadline unless you're the Tigers.

Fixed.
   9. PreservedFish Posted: June 09, 2018 at 09:06 PM (#5689121)
4-12 in one-run games often indicates bad bullpen.


I've been skeptical of this forever.

If your starter leaves your team with a 5-2 lead, and you win 5-4, that's bad bullpen. Improves your record in 1-run games.
If your starter leaves your team with a 2-3 deficit, and you lose 2-5, that's bad bullpen. Turns a 1-run loss into a nothing, apparently "improving" the record.
   10. cardsfanboy Posted: June 09, 2018 at 09:19 PM (#5689126)
I've been skeptical of this forever.


agreed, it doesn't really make sense to blame the pen for record in one run games. In reality, it seems safer to assume that teams who have a lot of one run games regardless of record in those games, are teams in which both offense and pitching is about average and a negative or positive record there, seems just as easy to blame on lack of offense as it is lack of pitching.

Houston is 4-12 in one run games, by ops allowed their relief staff is the fifth best in baseball, by era they are the 4th best in baseball, Houston shouldn't be looking to fix their bullpen at all, maybe an individual, but the pen as a whole is quite good. (as it stands, I'm not seeing a ready cheap fix that will improve Houston, they are a good to great team, and their weakness seems to be at first base where some guy I've never even heard of, is a 33 year old starter for them with Marwin Gonzalez another scrub like player getting the rest of the playing time) Houston needs a centerfielder, and have room to improve at left and 1b, rotation has a little room, but it's about underperforming guys, and their closer sucks ass but that is just bad luck, his 2.01 fip doesn't align with his 5.40 era at all.

In comparison, the Mariners have gaps at 1b, 3b(star player playing below his potential) cf, lf, second, third starters and third through the rest of the pen relievers... they have easy to fix holes that can be done relatively cheap since there are so many of them and they can work for the best deal for them.
   11. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: June 09, 2018 at 09:33 PM (#5689133)
To the extent that bullpens do affect records in one run games, it will only become pronounced after a much much bigger sample than 16 games. And the effect is not going to be an 8 game swing. 4-12 is pretty much guaranteed to be almost 100% noise.

But for the record:
Reliever ERA Mariners: 3.66
Reliever ERA Astros: 3.03
   12. Walt Davis Posted: June 10, 2018 at 06:57 AM (#5689201)
#5, maybe kinda. It's kinda like the bullpen problem and comes down to individual players. If you've got a total hole at one position, then it's "easy" to fill that hole. If you're sort of average everywhere, you'd need to find a really good player to improve. If you've got two complete holes I suppose it's "easier" in that you have options on which to fill along with the possibility of filling both.

On offense, the Ms are that average everywhere team except that they need to replace Cano. Otherwise they're likely to improve as much by Kyle Seager returning to form as by a big trade. The bullpen has heaps of injuries at the moment but seems to be doing OK. The main hole in the rotation is Felix and trying to fix that is ... awkward. And of course they've already traded for Span and Colome to try to improve.

By WAA, Sea is t3 with 0.8 WAA and Hou is just behind with 0.7. Sea also has 2.4 WAA from SP (Hou 4.8) and 1 WAA from offense/fielding. It does show them with a big hole at 1B currently handled by some combo of Ryon Healy and Dan Vogelbach. 1B is a pretty weak position MLB-wide at the moment -- maybe they can get Moose and move him. What they could really use is to find this year's JD Martinez or Verlander.
   13. bookbook Posted: June 10, 2018 at 08:06 AM (#5689203)
The Mariners have both few true holes, as Walt said, and almost nothing they can feasibly trade away.. It feels like the offense has been slumping a bit. Seager, Healy, and even Haniger 9ver the past few weeks. But the starting pitching has been over its head, except for the irreplaceable Félix Hernandez.

Sometimes, smoke and mirrors is enough.
   14. Shredder Posted: June 10, 2018 at 10:45 AM (#5689219)
If your starter leaves your team with a 5-2 lead, and you win 5-4, that's bad bullpen. Improves your record in 1-run games.
If your starter leaves your team with a 2-3 deficit, and you lose 2-5, that's bad bullpen. Turns a 1-run loss into a nothing, apparently "improving" the record
Shouldn't it be easy for someone who knows what they're doing (i.e., not me) to see if there's a strong correlation between teams with good bullpen metrics and teams that significantly outplay their pythag records, and vice versa?
   15. bunyon Posted: June 10, 2018 at 11:19 AM (#5689222)
As for going forward, I would expect Houston to be ahead of Seattle at the end because they're basically even now and Houston is better.

But, just because a team has been lucky or unlucky to this point doesn't mean it's going to even out the rest of the way. That is, I'd rather have the games in hand than be the one projecting reversion to the mean.

Everything always reverts to the mean. But some things do so much slower than you expect.


Or, the shorter version: Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.
   16. BDC Posted: June 10, 2018 at 11:40 AM (#5689224)
With only 29 games, you can look at the individual bullpen performances. At a quick glance, it looks to me like there were eight one-run games this year that the Seattle bullpen outpitched the opponents, and nine times that the opponents' bullpen outpitched them, with the Mariners going 6-2 in the former games and 6-3 in the latter. In the other 12 games, the bullpens were even (either both good or both bad). That's treating a couple of post-Romo pitchers for Tampa Bay as starters for this purpose.

So I don't know what that means. There was an impressive stretch in mid-May (5/14 through 5/22) where the Seattle bullpen clearly outpitched the opponents' bullpens, and the Mariners went 5-1 in one-run contests over that week-plus.

YMMV if you look at the games and make different judgments on performance. Basically, though, attributing 1-run success to bullpens means not just that you have a good bullpen, but that it's better than the other guys', and that hasn't been strongly and consistently the case here. If both starters leave a 3-2 game and you eventually win 3-2, that's good, but it also means your good bullpen was only one factor, and not really the decisive one.
   17. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: June 10, 2018 at 12:05 PM (#5689229)
YMMV if you look at the games and make different judgments on performance. Basically, though, attributing 1-run success to bullpens means not just that you have a good bullpen, but that it's better than the other guys', and that hasn't been strongly and consistently the case here. If both starters leave a 3-2 game and you eventually win 3-2, that's good, but it also means your good bullpen was only one factor, and not really the decisive one.


1 run games come in too many shapes and sizes to make any generalization.

On April 11, the Astros lost 9-8, but their bullpen clearly out pitched the Twins pen.

On May 27, they lost 10-9, in a game when both pens were lousy, Astros allowing 7, Indians 5.

Last night the Astros won 4-3, but the reason it was a 1 run game is because the pen allowed a run.

On April 16, the Astros lost 3-2, with their starter going all the way.

On May 14, they lost 2-1, with the pen throwing 2 perfect innings with 4 strikeouts.

On May 29 they lost 6-5 in extra innings. The bullpen clearly blew it, allowing 2 in the 9th to tie, and one in the 10th for the loss. but had they been lights out in the 9th, they would have won by 2 and this game wouldn't register.

On June 6 they beat the Mariners 7-5. The Mariners pen allowed 4 runs. Had they been a little better and allowed only 3, this would have been a black mark against them.
   18. bookbook Posted: June 10, 2018 at 02:38 PM (#5689258)
Guys.
This has been studied. There is a positive correlation between strength of bullpen and record in 1-run games. Are there tons of exceptions and weird cases and anomalies in the data? Absolutely.

Yet the relationship still holds.

It is known.
   19. cardsfanboy Posted: June 10, 2018 at 02:47 PM (#5689262)
This has been studied. There is a positive correlation between strength of bullpen and record in 1-run games. Are there tons of exceptions and weird cases and anomalies in the data? Absolutely.

Yet the relationship still holds.

It is known.


okay, then where is the study. Here is one that concludes
This brief study supports that hypothesis by showing that even a dominant bullpen cannot help teams gain an edge in such contests.


I've looked at a few more, and I still can't find a large study that makes the conclusion you make, about the only one that is even close, was a half ass study that looked at teams with a large number of holds and saves and that it had a correlation to one run games, but that is an example of a result that is determined by the data... meaning having a large number of saves and holds is going to be fairly obvious for teams that win a lot of one run games.


Bullpens have a small spike in a teams ability to exceed pyth, that is a conclusion that we know is out there, but I haven't seen well studied article that says that quality bullpens is a major factor in a teams record in one run games.
   20. BDC Posted: June 10, 2018 at 02:47 PM (#5689263)
It is known

I think the question, though, was whether it's known of this particular team over a couple of months of games.
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: June 10, 2018 at 02:51 PM (#5689264)
This article from 1999

concludes
While there does appear to be a trend, it’s a small one. Just 56% of the
teams with great bullpens performed especially well in one-run games, and
barely 51% of the teams with bad bullpens did poorly in those situations.
On average, the teams with the best bullpens played just a half-game better
in one-run contests than teams with the worst pens. That’s just one-sixth
of the three-game disparity we found in their performance against their
Pythagorean record.
   22. cardsfanboy Posted: June 10, 2018 at 03:18 PM (#5689271)
Bill James



Are there any identifiable characteristics of teams which win their one-run games, as opposed to those that lose their one-run games?




As long as you don’t make a big deal out of it, yes. Teams that do well in one-run games have more or less all of the characteristics you would expect them to have, but only to a small extent.



My method here was to take all teams since 1950, and identify the top 50 and the bottom 50 teams by how they performed in one-run games, relative to expectations. I broke it off at 1950, because I didn’t want to get back into the bad-data era. I then figured the average team stats for each group of 50 teams, and compared the two groups.



The 50 teams which did well in one-run games had more stolen bases (96-92 on average), more sacrifice bunts (71-67), more complete games (35-31), more saves (34-30), issued fewer walks (513-531), drew more walks (526-520) and had a better ERA (3.77 to 3.91).



The 50 teams which did poorly in one-run games hit more home runs (127-117), scored more runs (674-658), had a higher slugging percentage (.386-.380), a lower on-base percentage (.325-.323), used more relief pitchers (278-257), threw more wild pitches (47-44) and had more balks (8-7). They were more likely to play in hitter’s parks (park factors 100.3 vs. 98.5).



I think that, generally, one would expect all of these things to be true—one-run teams play one-run ball and have strong pitching. However, the degree to which these things are true is extremely minor. If you tried to project it backwards—that is, take a team’s characteristics and predict whether or not they would do well in one-run games—you’d get nowhere, because the tendencies just aren’t strong enough to work in that way.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: June 10, 2018 at 05:59 PM (#5689324)
For this sort of conclusion, you'd need to do something along the lines of BDC and Misrlou. Something like a team's record in games they led by 1 after 7 might help. Or just obvious things like ERA after the 7th (6th?) in "close" games however you want to define "close." (Given how few complete games and other deep starts there are these days, there wouldn't be much overlap with starter innings.) Things like the record in games tied after 7 would be better at assessing what we supposedly are assessing with 1-run games -- is this team "clutch?"

Of course "pitched well in close games after 7" and "good bullpen" aren't synonymous. A "good bullpen" requires depth while good performance in close games after 7 requires having a really good top 3-4 relievers. Nobody particularly cares how your pen pitched with a 4-run lead/deficit although that might help you under/over-perform your pythag.

Pythag can be as "misleading" as 1-run games for the same reasons. If your pen turns 8-4 wins into 8-5 wins and 8-4 losses into 9-4 losses, then they'll help you "out-perform" your pythag. And again, nobody really cares how the pen performs in these situations.

Anyway, the quality of a team's hitting and pitching in "late and close" situations likely tells us more about the clutchiness of the team and the quality of its pen ... and maybe something about the ability of the offense to score at least one run or some such.

So "late and close", Hou pitchers are 11th in OPS and Sea is 2nd (KC!). Cle has been atrocious -- 822 OPS, worst in the league by more than 80 points. In tOPS+ terems, it's Sea at 90, Hou at 109 ... Cle at 141!

On the other hand, if we look at "high leverage", Hou has the 2nd lowest OPS (Bos) just ahead of Sea. Cle still stinks, but not much more than CWS and ... KC.

Those results in themselves raise the question of "what question are we trying to answer?" If we look at "late and close", KC is the best and Hou is near the bottom; if we look at "high leverage", Hou is near the top and KC is near the bottom. Understanding the differences between "late and close" and "high leverage" may go a long way to disentangling which bits of bullpen performance affect a team's record. I would have thought that "high leverage" was weighted towards "late, close and in the lead" ... so maybe Hou's bullpen is keeping the opps where they are while their offense adds insurance runs, avoiding 1-run wins. Seattle's bullpen is doing pretty much the same thing but their worse offense is adding insurance runs less often. But that seems to imply Hou's pen is doing a lousy job in late, close and trailing situations which should also avoid 1-run games (although the offense keeps going).

So one thing is that Sea leads the league in # of 1-run games with 29. The average team has only about 17, TB is second with 25 then Det with 22.

By the way, the Yanks are 11-3 and Bos 12-6 in 1-run games and those records help explain why they have more wins than the Astros too.
   24. TomH Posted: June 11, 2018 at 08:38 AM (#5689452)
Bill James and others have executed simulations showing a run saved by bullpen is more important than SP. This of course correlates well to the leverage index metric which shows bullpen guys often have about 1.5 compared to 1.0 for SP.

But after all of that.... that can't move your one-run game that much. You have 200 IP (3 relievers) with good numbers, maybe they save 22 runs compared to poorer relievers (ERA advantage of 1.00). As opposed to a fine 200 IP SP versus a poor one. With bigger leverage, that gets you maybe one more win in a close game.

The noise dominates the signal is most cases.



   25. TomH Posted: June 11, 2018 at 08:39 AM (#5689454)
Bill James and others have executed simulations showing a run saved by bullpen is more important than SP. This of course correlates well to the leverage index metric which shows bullpen guys often have about 1.5 compared to 1.0 for SP.

But after all of that.... that can't move your one-run game that much. You have 200 IP (3 relievers) with good numbers, maybe they save 22 runs compared to poorer relievers (ERA advantage of 1.00). As opposed to a fine 200 IP SP versus a poor one. With bigger leverage, that gets you maybe one more win in a close game.

The noise dominates the signal in most cases.



   26. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 11, 2018 at 09:04 AM (#5689460)
Bill James and others have executed simulations showing a run saved by bullpen is more important than SP. This of course correlates well to the leverage index metric which shows bullpen guys often have about 1.5 compared to 1.0 for SP.

I believe that for good RPs. But the bottom of the pen has to be running leverage below that of starters.
   27. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: June 11, 2018 at 10:21 AM (#5689497)
I believe that for good RPs. But the bottom of the pen has to be running leverage below that of starters.

Reliever average LI tends to be right around 1.0. I believe only the top 3 pitchers in a pen typically have a LI above 1. At least that is my memory from looking at it, back when I was looking at the effect of reliever chaining on reliever value.
   28. Howie Menckel Posted: June 11, 2018 at 10:31 AM (#5689505)
relievers are always available at the deadline. GM still needs to chose the right one.)

also, whether to trade prospects like Gleyber Torres or Jeff Bagwell for a lame duck.
   29. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 11, 2018 at 10:48 AM (#5689514)
I believe that for good RPs. But the bottom of the pen has to be running leverage below that of starters.

Basically by definition, the average LI of the pen has to be around 1. Maybe a little higher / lower if a manager has a tendency to go to his bullpen earlier in close games than in blowouts, or vice versa. In a well-managed bullpen, the good relievers will be higher than 1 and the bad relievers will be lower than 1.
   30. cardsfanboy Posted: June 11, 2018 at 06:34 PM (#5689919)
Bill James and others have executed simulations showing a run saved by bullpen is more important than SP. This of course correlates well to the leverage index metric which shows bullpen guys often have about 1.5 compared to 1.0 for SP.

But after all of that.... that can't move your one-run game that much. You have 200 IP (3 relievers) with good numbers, maybe they save 22 runs compared to poorer relievers (ERA advantage of 1.00). As opposed to a fine 200 IP SP versus a poor one. With bigger leverage, that gets you maybe one more win in a close game.

The noise dominates the signal in most cases.


I don't think anyone on here is really debating against that, the point though was that there is no real reason to think that a good bullpen factors into a winning record in one run games. A good bullpen just as easily, if not more so, is going to allow a team with a one run lead to add more to the lead by keeping the opposition down, so if you have a good pen, and they come into a game that you are leading by one run in the sixth, and you have an average offense, there is a very good chance that one run lead is going to become a two or three run lead.

There is no real reason to think that a bullpen is a significant contributor to a positive won/loss record in one run games, other than them being a part of the greater whole(meaning that good teams still usually win more one run games than lesser teams, just not at the same winning percentage that they enjoy throughout the rest of the season in 2, 3, 4 or more run games.)
   31. Walt Davis Posted: June 11, 2018 at 06:39 PM (#5689921)
Actually, in bWAR, reliever leverage does not come out to 1. Leverage comes out overall positive (1.10 in 2017 AL for example). That's why they need WAAadj. Total pitching "WAA" in the AL last year was about 15 so the total WAAadj is -15.

I assume this is the result of a lot of close games but the Ms lead the league (by a lot) with a 1.40 team gmLI. (They also led the league last year at 1.27) Hou is down at 1.05.

For Seattle, closer Edwin Diaz has a gmLI of 2.14 (I'm pretty sure that is very high for modern closers); Nicasio, now on the DL, is at 1.78; Colome is at 1.66 since his arrival; Nick Vincent, now on the DL, is at 1.57 and another 5 guys at 1.2 or higher (many in just a few innings).
   32. Karl from NY Posted: June 12, 2018 at 03:44 PM (#5690606)
Actually, in bWAR, reliever leverage does not come out to 1. Leverage comes out overall positive (1.10 in 2017 AL for example).


Is this because of either of these effects? :

A home team who's ahead doesn't bat in the bottom of the 9th. This inning would have an LI of 0 and thus reduce the average, but it is never played.

Extra innings. Innings 1-9 average to 1.0 LI by definition, but extra innings are always close and late therefore high LI.

I could be way off the mark, but just speculating.

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