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Game 4, Yanks v. Angels

If you missed it, I'm sorry, but today was probably the best day of baseball that we've seen all year.

I missed most of the Astros' game, actually; I watched the first few innings and then had to take care of a few things. I got back to a TV and it was in the 14th inning.

I did, however, take in another Yanks-Angels game, and, as I did for Game 2, I logged the WPA in the WinExp spreadsheet.

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.

The blue line is the win probability; the pink line represents "P," which is a measure of criticality.

PLAYER            WPA

M. Rivera        .278
Sierra           .260
Posada           .206
Lackey           .191
Escobar          .101
Cano             .055
Leiter           .053
A-Rod            .031
Cabrera          .030
Jeter            .025
Sheffield        .002
B. Molina       -.015
Figgins         -.024
J. Rivera       -.030
Martinez        -.034
Giambi          -.038
Chacon          -.039
Crosby          -.056
Finley          -.071
Erstad          -.073
Kennedy         -.080
Guerrero        -.087
Anderson        -.089
Williams        -.119
Matsui          -.142
Shields         -.395
Mariano Rivera led the field in WPA... you can see, from this, where a closer can have a big impact. The game was not over, technically, but Rivera just did what he does: slam the door shut. Before this season, Rivera had pitched in 70 postseason games. He has a 0.75 ERA. I don't know if clutch exists or not, but Mariano Rivera is a future Hall of Famer partially because of his unbelievable success in postseason games.

Otherwise, the game turned on the Sierra pinch hit; the Yankee win probability exploded to over 70% at that point (even before the strange play at the plate).

Figgins, for his defensive heroics in Game 2, was a goat, in some senses. He made the right play to go home on the Jeter play, but his throw was terrible. Bengie Molina almost made the play of the postseason, but Posada was safe, and the call was correct.

Scot Shields, praised by me for his Game 2 high-leverage work, just didn't have it tonight. His WPA of -.395 tells the story quite well -- the series was in the hands of the Angel bullpen and he couldn't do what Rivera eventually did - stifle the opposing offense. It doesn't take away from what he's done in the year; Scot Shields is a premier relief pitcher. But even the best have a bad day, and this was it, I guess, for Shields.

Kudos to John Lackey for a great performance on 3 days rest. Both starters were exceptional tonight, giving up 6 hits between them and allowing 1 hit through the first four innings.

One thing from the WPA list that interested me was Jorge Posada. A lot of his value came from his defense in the 4th inning. He made two great throws to catch Figgins and Guerrero trying to swipe a bag, and the Guerrero play was off a wild pitch. (Figgins was safe, I thought, on the first one, but Cano made a nice tag play.)

Finally, the Top 5 Plays, in terms of altering the game:
  1. Ruben Sierra, game-tying single, 7th inning. (+26.0%)
  2. Chone Figgins, RBI double, 6th inning. (-15.9%)
  3. Orlando Cabrera, RBI double, 6th inning. (-12.5%)
  4. Gary Sheffield, RBI single, 6th inning. (+11.8%)
  5. Derek Jeter, fielder's choice, Posada scores at home, 7th inning. (+11.4%)
Game 5, tomorrow, 8 PM, Colon v. Mussina. Enjoy the show.