Sox Watch

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Red Sox WPA through 6/13/06

Well, in my book that easily qualified as the toughest loss of the year (so far, anyway - let's hope it doesn't get any worse than last night). To throw away eight innings of brilliant work by Schilling, plus three more from Papelbon and Timlin, with that wretched performance in the twelfth was like a punch in the gut.

Switching over to the more clinical WPA perspective to avoid having to relive just what a painful game it was, there were a couple notable statistical lowlights on the night. First of all, Julian Tavarez managed, in a single inning, to eclipse 23 games of suckitude from Rudy Seanez to move to the bottom of the barrel in the WPA charts. He's not just our worst relief pitcher. He's not just our worst pitcher. He's the worst player on the team, period. He's worse than Seanez and Alvarez and Holtz - put together. Throw in Josh Bard and the combined foursome still has not hurt the team as much as Tavarez.

On a more positive note, Gonzo's 3-for-5 performance last night continued his strong performance over the last week or so. Once mired himself in last place in the WPA standings, he has surged ahead to overtake first Matt Clement, and then last night Tavarez and Coco Crisp.

The game itself was of course a gem, at least through the eleventh inning. WPA gives us some perspective on the overall "excitement level" of a game. Last night neither team led by more than a run until the final swing of the bat - in fact, all but nine batters came to the plate with the score tied. This means that there was a lot of WPA on the line with every play. Summing up the total WPA, both positive and negative, gives us a way to measure the excitement level of the game - how much of your fingernails you chewed off over the course of the game. Of course, every game has a net WPA of either +0.500 or -0.500, but the net figures mask the big positives and negatives. Adding up the absolute values for all the players gives us a better sense of how the game felt. By this standard, last night's game, with a total WPA of 3.24, was by far the tensest of the year. Only five other games this year have exceeded the value of 2.00, and none has come close to 3.00.

The top five games in excitement level so far this year, apart from last night:

  • 4/29/06, total WPA 2.09 - Keith Foulke gets the win as the Sox come back from a 6-5 deficit with four runs in the ninth to beat the Devil Rays, 9-6.
  • 4/26/06, total WPA 2.20 - Manny's three-run homer in the eighth at Cleveland breaks a 5-5 tie. The Indians come back to score one in the bottom of the inning, but the Sox hold on to win, 8-6.
  • 4/21/06, total WPA 2.70 - The first extra-inning game of the season - Overbay doubles in a run in the bottom of the twelfth to give the Blue Jays a 7-6 victory.
  • 5/3/06, total WPA 2.78 - Another 7-6 loss to the Blue Jays, as Papelbon gives up his first (and still his only) run of the season in the top of the ninth.
  • 4/17/06, total WPA 2.81 - Patriots' Day. The Sox score one in the bottom of the eighth to take a one-run lead, the Mariners get the run back in the top of the ninth, and Loretta's walk-off HR in the bottom of the inning caps the 7-6 victory.

In contrast, the biggest yawner so far this year was on May 4, when the Sox took a five-run lead over Toronto in the first inning and went on to win 7-4. The total WPA in that game was just 0.571.

Here's a chart of the total absolute value of individual player WPA for each game so far this season.
Total Absolute Value WPA, Per Game
Through Tuesday, 6/13/06

Individual Player WPA Contributions
Tuesday, 6/13/06
Red Sox 5, Twins 2

Full-Season Player WPA Contributions
Through Tuesday, 6/13/06

Full-Season Category WPA Contributions
Through Tuesday, 6/13/06


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