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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Murphy: One-Run Game Performance is Unsustainable

I mean, 29-9 in one-run games? C’mon son. You can’t expect us to believe that happened any way other than dumb luck, right? There’s absolutely no chance that skill is repeatable, at least to that degree. This is common knowledge, and there’s no point trying to argue against it. But I will argue for it, anyway, because it’s fun to quantify things.

How unsustainable is that 29-9 record in one-run games? Well, for starters, it’s the highest winning percentage in one-run games in MLB history (dating back to 1901, which is 2332 individual team seasons). Anything that extreme is due for some serious regression to the mean. But do records in one-run games regress to .500, or to some other team-specific level, similar to how we now know that hitter BABIP regresses to an established hitter mean? ...

Do Elite Teams Still Regress?

The logic behind this question is that teams who do other-worldly in one-run games may have some underlying skill or profile that allows them to do so, so they may not regress quite as far. The opposite logic might be that they have much further to fall in regression.

This graph just took teams who won better than 60% of their one-run games in one year, which is a sample of 267 teams, or roughly teams in the 89th percentile for one-run game performance. Please note the change in scale on the x-axis, as we’re only looking at elite teams. ...

We see basically the same thing as before – almost no relationship, with an R2 of just 1.2% and just as weak a trendline. It does not appear that even elite teams in one-run games show a particular skill that repeats year over year. To examine further, though, I looked at the average one-run game winning percentage for several buckets of performance levels.

The only things I could think of that may predict one-run game success is a very strong bullpen or an excellent tactician on the bench. The latter is impossible to measure, though I’d guess Buck Showalter falls somewhere short of “master strategist.” As for the bullpen, well, I wasn’t going to pull reliever data for 2332 team seasons, but I DID pull it for the last three years (90 team seasons). Bullpen FIP had an 11.5% R2 with one-run game winning percentage, even stronger than the previous year’s Pythagorean winning percentage. It appears bullpen FIP, though not terribly predictive, is at least somewhat of a signal of one-run game capability. Unfortunately for the Orioles, their bullpen was merely average with a 3.68 FIP, so it doesn’t appear they have an edge there, either.

JE (Jason) Posted: March 16, 2013 at 10:13 PM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bullpen, orioles, pythag

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: March 17, 2013 at 04:43 AM (#4389744)
Well, y'know, there are a lot of ways to win one-run games like giving up runs when you lead by more than one. It doesn't make a lot of sense to look at 1-run games IMO. Something like record when tied after 7 or some such probably makes more sense. The O's going 16-2 in extra-inning games looks like luck. 7 walk-off wins to 9 losses looks like luck.

From Sept the O's 20-11 but just 5-3 in one-run games, outscoring their opponents 158-112. They might have been lucky to be in the mix but they closed it out in style.
   2. escabeche Posted: March 17, 2013 at 10:00 AM (#4389773)
The reason to be optimistic about the Orioles isn't because they managed to win 93 games while allowing about as many runs as they scored, thanks to a crazy run of luck in one-run games.

The reason to be optimistic about the Orioles is that the team on the field at the end of 2012 was substantially different from the team that started the season, and the second-half Orioles were legitimately a pretty good team, outscoring opponents by a healthy margin.
   3. Howie Menckel Posted: March 17, 2013 at 10:55 AM (#4389796)

Not sure about the shot at Showalter, who has a pretty darn good track record.
In fact, when he first joined the Orioles at midseason, they had the biggest turnaround in MLB history, iirc. Since it's St. Patrick's Day, maybe I should guess that he has a four-leaf clover in his pocket.

All that said, regression obviously is reasonably close to inevitable here.
   4. BDC Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:20 AM (#4389816)
Showalter, who has a pretty darn good track record

Showalter is fixing to become the latter-day Gene Mauch. Like Mauch, he's never won a playoff series (unless you count that one-game classic in Arlington last fall). But if you want to build a strong team patiently (as opposed to a Billy-Martinesque quick fix), you should call him in. The tendency of his teams to win pennants after he's left is not really to his discredit.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:37 AM (#4389833)
The reason to be optimistic about the Orioles is that the team on the field at the end of 2012 was substantially different from the team that started the season, and the second-half Orioles were legitimately a pretty good team, outscoring opponents by a healthy margin.

Yes. They now project to be about a .500 team as opposed to the 70-win team they projected as last March.

To make a run at 90, they're going to require multiple significant players outperforming their projections, with few undersperforming, or a lot of luck.
   6. tfbg9 Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:55 AM (#4389853)
I am surprised that the .763 is the best one run winning %...though I guess I shouldn't be.
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4389876)
The O's going 16-2 in extra-inning games looks like luck. 7 walk-off wins to 9 losses looks like luck.


It looks like luck(and I don't know the Orioles philosophy/style) but it could be a philosophy change or style approach to those extra innings that helped them out. How did they win those games? Did they blast the ball out of the park? did they take a more dedicated approach at the plate to work the count? Did they play for one run? Did they bring in their best pitchers in a tie game? Etc.. There might be some things you can do to help your percentages in extra inning games.(mind you, 16-2 is of course a lot of luck, and there really is no other way to explain a large portion of those wins)
   8. escabeche Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:07 PM (#4390050)
To make a run at 90, they're going to require multiple significant players outperforming their projections, with few undersperforming, or a lot of luck.


Well, yeah! 90 wins is a lot of wins! "Optimistic," unless you root for the NYY or something, means "we could win 90 but a lot of things would have to go our way." Which is very different from the way realistic O's fans have typically approached upcoming seasons over the last few years. I think a lot of people are taking the position "The O's just got lucky last year, they didn't really improve," whereas I think they got very lucky AND they improved -- in particular, I don't think there's any reason to think the team will immediately revert to perennial doormatry.

   9. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:27 PM (#4390063)
If the Orioles regress from 29-9 to a .500 record in one-run games, this doesn't automatically mean they are going to lop 10 games off their win total from last year.

Let's assume they win 7 of those games by 2+ runs in 2013, that moves the record to 22-9. Let's also assume that 7 of the games they lost by 2+ runs in 2012, they only lose by one. We're at 22-16. Getting to 19-19 only means they lose three games they would have won last year.

That's 90-72.
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 17, 2013 at 06:25 PM (#4390088)
Well, yeah! 90 wins is a lot of wins! "Optimistic," unless you root for the NYY or something, means "we could win 90 but a lot of things would have to go our way." Which is very different from the way realistic O's fans have typically approached upcoming seasons over the last few years. I think a lot of people are taking the position "The O's just got lucky last year, they didn't really improve," whereas I think they got very lucky AND they improved -- in particular, I don't think there's any reason to think the team will immediately revert to perennial doormatry.

Agree, they're much better than they have been, but nowhere near as good as last year's record. But, no team in the AL East is as good as the O's record last year.
   11. Moeball Posted: March 17, 2013 at 10:13 PM (#4390184)
Maybe there's hope for Orioles fans:

In 1984 the Mets gave up 24 more runs than they scored, with a Pythagorean projection of 78-84.

They actually went 90-72.

So at first glance it looks like a lucky team that should regress the following year. However:

1)Davey Johnson, an Earl Weaver protege, was the manager and would go on to have a long successful managing career (he is now on his 5th team and has had a winning record with each) - perhaps he was good at getting more out of the team than what was on paper? In 2012, for example, Washington was projected to win 96 games but actually won 98. OK, it's not 12 games better than expected, but still...BTW, is it time to start thinking of Johnson as a potential HOF manager? If not, what more do you think his resume would need to clinch it? Another WS champion?

2)The 1984 Mets had a ton of great young talent coming to fruition with Strawberry, Gooden, etc. As we now know, in 1985 they would win 98 games, no longer being outscored by their opponents but as a legitimate contender, and in 1986 they won 108 games and the WS. So the glimpses of talent they were seeing in 1984 improved dramatically in the next couple of years, plus trading for Gary Carter didn't exactly hurt them, either.

So, I guess the questions re: the Orioles would be:

A)Is Buck Showalter really the level of manager that Davey Johnson is and has been?
B)Do they O's have a growing talent base ready to take the next step?
C)Is there a major trade on the horizon that could land a Gary Carter level of player, someone who not only puts up big numbers himself, but also helps improve the pitching or other results as well?

Orioles fans may not like my answers, but I'm thinking no, no and no. Three strikes and you're out.

I predict they finish under .500 in 2013. But actually, I really hope I'm wrong.
   12. shoewizard Posted: March 18, 2013 at 04:54 PM (#4390692)
I remember when I thought of the 2007 D Backs as a little like the 84 Mets. That dream died around the 1st week of May, 2008
   13. Esoteric Posted: March 18, 2013 at 05:23 PM (#4390706)
A)Is Buck Showalter really the level of manager that Davey Johnson is and has been?
B)Do they O's have a growing talent base ready to take the next step?
C)Is there a major trade on the horizon that could land a Gary Carter level of player, someone who not only puts up big numbers himself, but also helps improve the pitching or other results as well?
I would actually answer those questions as Yes, No, and No. Still not enough to get the O's into the postseason, but I think Showalter is a truly impressive manager.
   14. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 18, 2013 at 05:42 PM (#4390715)
In 1984 the Mets gave up 24 more runs than they scored, with a Pythagorean projection of 78-84.

They actually went 90-72.

So at first glance it looks like a lucky team that should regress the following year. However:


The 1985 Mets did regress to pythag, in 1984 they were +12. in 1985 they were +2 (and +5 in 1986 and -1 in 1987 and even in 1988)- Johnson's Mets had no magic super pythag ability- the 1985 team was simply a much better team than 1984's.

The best GUESS for the 2013 Orioles is that they regress to +/-3 pythag-

So how do the 2013 Orioles look- as Walt notes they were playing much better as the year ended-
with respect to the offense, they had a 97 OPS+ in 2012, I see no particular reason to think they'll be lower in 2013.

Pitching, ERA+ of 109 (after 86 in 2011)- this is where the hiccups could lurk- the WORST ERA coughed up by their 5 primary relievers was 2.64- YOWZA
They had some guys, like Hunter and Arrieta, spit the bit, but they had the plug pulled on them in the 2nd half,
the other guys the good guys (good in 2012) most seem to be genuinely good/decent
   15. Esoteric Posted: March 18, 2013 at 05:47 PM (#4390716)
One of their big questions marks IMO is Chris Tillman. He was the 'secondary' player the O's got from the Mariners in the great Adam Jones-for-Erik Bedard debacle, someone who M's fans thought was a great SP prospect. After years of disappointing performance he finally put together a creditable half-season last year to stabilize Balto's otherwise topsy-turvy rotation. If he can be anywhere as good in a full season this year as he was in 86 innings last year (144 ERA+, 1.047 WHIP, 6.9 K/9), the O's are going to have a legit young pitching star who's only 24 years old.
   16. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 18, 2013 at 06:12 PM (#4390730)
If he can be anywhere as good in a full season this year as he was in 86 innings last year (144 ERA+, 1.047 WHIP, 6.9 K/9), the O's are going to have a legit young pitching star who's only 24 years old.


He had a couple of years in AAA where his BB/9 was sub 2.5, last year it was 2.5 in Baltimore, that's really good, and it seems he can sustain that.

The trouble is that he was also aided by a .222 BABIP in Baltimore last year.

I looked at every starter (60+ip) in 2010 or 2011 with a BABIP under .250:
Guillermo Moscoso 0.222 2011
Jeremy Hellickson 0.224 2011
Justin Verlander 0.237 2011
Trevor Cahill 0.237 2010
Jamie Moyer 0.239 2010
Josh Johnson 0.24 2011
Bronson Arroyo 0.241 2010
Daniel Hudson 0.243 2010
Ricky Romero 0.245 2011
Brad Hand 0.246 2011
Josh Beckett 0.249 2011
Jered Weaver 0.252 2011 


EVERYONE (but 1) saw their BABIP climb by at least 37 points the next year- the apparent regression to the mean was o stunning I can see why Voros initially concluded that BABIP = 100% luck.

The 1 exception was Weaver - who followed his .252 with a .240 mark.

Anyway Tillman 2012 with an added .040 BABIP would still be a pretty good starter, just no where near 144 ERA+ good.

   17. Chris Fluit Posted: March 18, 2013 at 06:32 PM (#4390736)
A)Is Buck Showalter really the level of manager that Davey Johnson is and has been?
B)Do they O's have a growing talent base ready to take the next step?
C)Is there a major trade on the horizon that could land a Gary Carter level of player, someone who not only puts up big numbers himself, but also helps improve the pitching or other results as well?


I would actually answer those questions as Yes, No, and No. Still not enough to get the O's into the postseason, but I think Showalter is a truly impressive manager.


The second answer is closer to Maybe than it is to No. Wieters and Jones are both entering their age 27 seasons. So are Chris Davis and Wei-Yin Chen for that matter. Manny Machado is only 20. And they have top prospects like Bundy and Schoop who may be on the roster before the year is out. They may not be the second coming of Strawberry and Gooden but I wouldn't rule out a step forward.

The biggest concern is C, but there's a whole other Dan Duquette thread to grip about that.

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