WPA: Indians v. Red Sox, 4/27/06

This was a terrible game. The Red Sox were unbelievably sloppy and were as pathetic as a Little League team, at times. I'd like to say that was hyperbole, but there were some VERY routine plays (the flip to second) that were completely botched.

The game was pretty much sealed on the grand slam in the first, and it just got worse from there.

Here's the graph.

Credits: I stole the code, originally, from Eric Simon at Amazin' Avenue (that's to do the enlarged image in the link), and Dave Studeman from The Hardball Times made the spreadsheet. Go here for a description of how Win Expectancy has spread and gained popularity and for who else we should be acknowledging for this wonderful toy and evaluating tool.

Here's what we talked about before the game started:

I have two things I need to apologize for before we get going on the in-game thread here.

  1. I've already done the Indians this year.
  2. I'm perpetuating the Red Sox/Yankees hype machine by doing a Red Sox game this early.
For both of these things, I'm sorry. But that's what ESPN2 has on-tap tonight, and we haven't done one of these in over a week.

As always, we're using the Excel spreadsheet from Baseball Graphs. I'll be updating this periodically throughout the evening... this is my break for the week. Enjoy the ballgame, and feel free to make your own observations in the comments!

7:11 PM EDT: Byrd's a flyball pitcher through and through, but he just got through the first on 9 pitches with 3 weak groundballs. Indians' Win Expectancy: 54.8%

7:14 PM: Beckett's first pitch: 94 mph fastball. Sizemore grounds one sharply between Youk and Loretta for a single.

7:20 PM: That looked like the old UIBB, to me... Hafner's on, Victor Martinez is up, and the Indians are at 54.2%.

7:27 PM: Beckett slows down a game like Steve Trachsel when he's in trouble, at least today... I also like Hershisher as the color guy. I certainly wouldn't have picked up on the shift on VM without his info. Bases loaded for Broussard... Win Expectancy: 56.9%.

7:28 PM: Long at bat for Victor Martinez... maybe Beckett was tired on that pitch. Very hittable fastball, and Broussard pummeled it for the big grand slam. Indians Win Expectancy: 84.4%.

7:30 PM: Lowell makes an off-balance throw on that one and pulls Youk off the bag. I thought he held the bag on that one...

7:32 PM: Broussard: +.276. Nice.

7:39 PM: Stop broadcasting Indians' games, ESPN! (ESPN has two more Indians' broadcasts over the next 5 days... we're trying to diversify, here!)

7:42 PM: Varitek's 2-out single was worth +.009. Yes, that guy needs to stop saying "like," and, if I interpreted the meaning of that commercial correctly, his failure to stop saying "like" made some higher being decide to cause a near-fatal car crash. But luckily, he was in a Volkswagon.

7:42 PM: Indians' Win Expectancy: 87.5%

7:46 PM: First four pitches to Casey Blake were all inside... they just tried to go away with the 5th pitch. 6th pitch was high enough to be detected by radar, and Blake swung at it.

7:49 PM: Rough night for the Sox so far. When it rains, it pours sometimes.

7:51 PM: I've heard good things about Youk at first, but he hasn't played well today... 5-0 now.

7:58 PM: Smoked by Martinez, but right at Trot. Beckett's up to 58 pitches, and, the way he's gone so far, I don't think he'll last to 100. Through 2 innings, the only Red Sox' player above .000 is Jason Varitek, and he's at just +.009. Broussard leads the field at +.274, and Beckett is in last at -.312.

7:59 PM: Now batting... the guy who happens to be between left and right field... Wily Mo Pena. Who can hit the crap out of the ball; that single was smoked. Indians are at 88.1% now.

8:01 PM: That's not good photographic evidence for Delmon Young... that bat came in pretty fast (they just showed the footage). Oh, and the Sox are putting together a rally... first and second, nobody out. P-value: .096.

8:04 PM: Everything to Youkilis has been away thus far... and Byrd struck him out. That's a big out.

8:06 PM: And the hits just keep on comin' for the Sox, but in the figurative sense (not literal), meaning that they can't get any runners in. Indians' Win Expectancy: 93.0%.

8:09 PM: Broussard is locked in. 6-0, Broussard is at +.301 now, and the Indians are at 95.5%.

8:12 PM: I've gotta run for a little bit... I will update the WPA on this game a little later. My apologies...

9:14 PM: We've had some bad luck picking games here... it's currently a 99.2% Indians' victory. Broussard leads the field at +.302... Beckett got thrashed to the tune of -.372. Unless the Sox have a miracle in 'em, this is going to be one boring graph...

9:34 PM: 7 RBIs for Broussard today. +.306 on the day, and the clear cut MVP for the game. The Indians put this one away a while back... and the graph never dropped below 50% for the Indians, I don't think.

9:41 PM: Great quickness from Guthrie! One of the things that Marc and I have discussed is about quantifying the value of pitchers that does NOT come from pitching. I'm wondering how much a great fielder can really help himself... or how much a good hitting pitcher can.

Player Off Pitch Field WPA
B. Broussard .304 .000 .002 .306
P. Byrd .000 .098 -.001 .097
V. Martinez .058 .000 -.002 .056
G. Sizemore .044 .000 .002 .045
A. Cora .042 .000 -.002 .040
J. Peralta .026 .000 .004 .030
T. Hafner .015 .000 .000 .015
M. Lowell .012 .000 .000 .011
J. Guthrie .000 .010 .000 .011
W. Mo Pena .006 .000 .000 .006
J. Varitek .004 .000 .000 .004
B. Slocum .000 .002 .000 .002
R. Seanez .000 .001 .000 .001
S. Sauerbeck .000 .001 .000 .001
R. Vazquez .000 .000 .000 .000
M. Delcarmen .000 .000 .000 .000
T. Hollandsworth .000 .000 .000 .000
J. Bard .000 .000 .000 .000
R. Belliard .000 .000 .000 .000
K. Foulke .000 .000 .000 .000
W. Harris .000 .000 .000 .000
D. Mohr .000 .000 .000 .000
J.T. Snow .000 .000 .000 .000
J. Tavarez .000 -.002 .000 -.002
A. Boone -.014 .000 .007 -.007
C. Blake -.010 .000 .000 -.010
D. Ortiz -.022 .000 .000 -.022
T. Nixon -.029 .000 .001 -.028
M. Ramirez -.036 .000 .000 -.036
M. Loretta -.037 .000 -.002 -.039
J. Michaels -.048 .000 .000 -.047
K. Youkilis -.065 .000 -.003 -.068
J. Beckett .000 -.372 .000 -.372


The obvious MVP and LVP are Ben Broussard and his monstrous performance, and Josh Beckett and his career-worst performance. Worth noting, though, are Paul Byrd and Kevin Youkilis, the runner-up to our awards. Byrd did very well today, mixing up pitches and locating well, for the most part (although he did not perform as well in his later innings). Youkilis, on the other hand, simply had a bad game. He did not look good in the field and he struggled against outside pitches, specifically.

The Top 5 Plays are almost useless, in this instance... but we'll do them anyway.

5. Kevin Youkilis, strikeout, 3rd inning (+.036) - With first and second and nobody out, the Sox were trying to stage a rally, already down by five. Byrd did very well here, though, and Youkilis was tied up and struck out.

4. Alex Cora, single, 3rd inning (-.038) - This play preceded Youkilis' strikeout and looked to be the start of a sustained Red Sox rally. The eight and nine hitters had given the Sox more than they could have hoped for, but the results were simply not there from the top of the order.

3. Alex Cora, throwing error, 2nd inning (+.043) - This led to the Indians' 5th run, as Peralta got on base and Sizemore scooted home from second base. You have to credit the Indians; they took advantage of the Sox' flaws tonight and then some.

2. Victor Martinez, 3-run HR, 4th inning (+.043) - This was the final nail in the coffin for the Red Sox and propelled the Indians to a 98.5% Win Expectancy. This was also the last batter that Beckett faced. Every so often, some pitchers just have horrendous days. I'll chalk this one up to that for Beckett, and we'll give him a few days to shake it off.

1. Ben Broussard, Grand Slam, 1st inning (+.275) - The only play of any particular consequence, an assist should be given to Victor Martinez, whose long at bat prior to this might have worn down Beckett. He started Broussard out with a fastball, and Broussard was simply locked in tonight. Broussard hit another homer and ended up driving in 8 runs on the day. For all the flaws of RBI, you KNOW you had a good day if you drove in 8 runs. But Broussard's +.306 WPA is the better indicator of his importance today.

We should also credit Travis Hafner, who worked out 4 walks in his first 4 plate appearances. That's downright rare, to be sure, but it also showed one of his major strengths. Hafner will not be underrated for long, especially considering the Indians' saturation that ESPN has undergone this year.

Sometimes, you've gotta just nod and hope for a better game the next day. The Sox will do that tonight. So will I.
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