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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Yankees lost in first round: some facts.

Click to see supporting data.

Small market teams can stop their whining.  Commissioner Bud Selig has created Las Vegas night in MLB.  The three biggest markets with the biggest payrolls are out of the annual playoffs.  Boston never even made it to the 2011 playoffs and the Yankees and Philadelphia lost in the fifth and final game of round one.  At least they lost to traditional franchises: Detroit and St. Louis respectively.

Conventional wisdom in New York is that the Yankees lost because Rodriguez, Teixeira and Swisher did not hit enough.  Of course if either Rodriguez or Swisher had homered wih the bases loaded in the seventh inning of game five instead of striking out against Benoit the Yankees would have won.  But let's look at a bigger picture.

During the five games against Detroit the Yankees averaged 5.6 runs scored.  In the regular season they averaged 5.4, second to Boston in AL.  Scoring is what counts, not whether particular individuals do certain things.  Yes, the Yanks scored 19 (10,9) runs in their two wins and only 9 (4,3,2) in their three losses but that's the nature of baseball, especially this Yankee team.  It is unrealistic to expect a team to score more in the playoffs than in the regular season.  The Yankee offense was not the problem.

Yankee fielding was almost flawless.

Pitching was good but not great.  Detroit scored 5,5,3,3,1.  No shutouts.  No big numbers.

In the regular season the the Yankee defense (fielding and pitching) allowed 4 runs per game, third best in AL to Rays and Angels.  Against Detroit it allowed 3.4.

One problem was that the playoff standard deviation for Yankee scoring was 3.7 and for Detroit 1.7.  Detroit was steady but not spectacular.

The Pythagorean winning percentage is basically a fancier version of runs scored minus runs allowed divided by games played.  For the regular season:
Yanks won 97 but should have won 101.
Detroit won 95 but should have won 89.

The Yankees under-performed and Detroit over-performed.

During the season Detroit added two players who helped them defeat the Yankees:
August 15 OF Delmon Young (3 HR)
July 30 starting pitcher Doug Fister who started and won game five.

The Yankees made no key additions during the season.

Maybe the Yankees rely too much on the home run.  In the playoff series Yanks hit 4 HR, Detroit 6.  Runs from HR: Yanks 8, Detroit 6.  In game one the Yanks scored 9 runs and Cano hit a bases loaded HR, which accounts for half the Yankee runs on HR.  In game four the Yanks scored 10 runs without any HR.

In game five Detroit hit two HR in the first inning and that 2-0 lead controlled the game.

OPS (On Base Plus Slugging, playoff/regular:
Yanks: .749/.788
Detroit: .690/.773

Based on both OPS and actual runs Yankee scoring was about as close to its regular season performance as one could expect or hope.

Each team scored at least three runs in four different games.  In their three losses Yanks scored 3,3,2 and allowed 5,5,3.  See Yankee run distribution in the 2011 regular season:
Yanks scored 3 runs in 21 games: 10-11
Yanks scored 2 runs in 11 games: 0-11
Yanks allowed 5 runs in 20 games: 6-14
Yanks allowed 3 runs in 30 games: 23-7.

Runs Cum Win% Cum Games
0 0.000             8
1 0.0588 17
2 0.0357 28
3 0.224 49
4 0.338 77
5 0.422 102
6 0.479 117
7 0.504 129
8 0.519 135
9 0.552 145
10 0.564 149
11 0.570 151
12 0.583 156
13 0.586 157
15 0.589 158
17 0.59375 160
18 0.596 161
22 0.599 162

These numbers are astonishing although I have yet to compare them to Detroit or the entire AL.  The Yankees scored fewer than SEVEN runs in 117 games and their winning percentage was .479!

In the regular season the Yankees had a winning percentage of .599.  Had they won game five against Detroit and gone 3-2 their winning percentage would have been .600.  The Yanks were within one game of matching their 162 game performance.

Had these two teams played ten games the Yankees probably would have won five or six games.  But they played only five games and that's the Las Vegas element that MLB has morphed into, intentionally or otherwise.

What's the point of any playoff, professional or college?  It's to make more money.  It's certainly not to determine which is the best team.  A long and fair regular season does that.  The MLB season is certainly long, though not fair.  However, it is much more fair than playing best of five.  What does that prove?  What is affirmed except randomness?  Where is the merit?

See post:


BCS (Baseball Championship Series) or March Madness.

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