We picked a bad game to start this on.
We're going to try to do one WPA game every week, and so we logically picked the season opener. In addition to a massive and unbelievable rain delay, Cleveland collapsed, my sleeper-closer of choice malfunctioned, and the White Sox won big.
But we did it anyway. Here's the graph.
The game's MVP was Brian Anderson, according to WPA. He didn't have the biggest play of the game, but he did a few good things and managed to get to hit in a few favorable situations. All in all, an excellent first game for the guy chosen instead of Chris Young. It's somewhat unfair, but he will probably be characterized that way for many years, especially if Young develops into the star that some people think he can be.
The "LVP" was Fernando Cabrera, who was flustered, confused, and downright ineffective when he came in after the massive rain delay. I've predicted in a couple of different conversations/spots that Cabrera will be an elite reliever this year and is a great sleeper pick as a closer... but not today. I'm not worried; it's one game on national TV in cold rain on Opening Day.
Speaking of the rain delay... there should be some sort of cut-off for these rain delays. Two hours was fairly insane, and I know it's all about making money, but it just doesn't feel right to be watching a baseball game in Chicago go nine innings... and end at 2:20 in the morning on the east coast. But I might be making a bigger deal out of it than necessary.
C.C. Sabathia's injury is undeniably a big story in this game; Sabathia is the Cleveland ace and Joe Morgan stated several times that he believes that Sabathia is a potential 20-game winner this year. I'm not the first to say this, but it's hard to believe that Sabathia is still just 25... and he's been around for a while. Apparently, the injury was an abdominal strain similar to the one that set him back in spring training last year, but not as severe. That was what I was able to garner from the broadcast. An injury to Sabathia, in the super-competitive American League Central, would be an enormous set-back to my World Series pick.
Top 5 Plays by WPA-Shift
- Brian Anderson's walk, 4th inning (+.060) - A walk seems pretty useless in most situations, but Anderson's put two men on with no one out. It led to some more runs scored.
- Victor Martinez's RBI double, 4th inning (-.096) - Part 1 of the two-part Indians' peak. After the White Sox slowly chipped away and put up a very pained 3-spot, the Indians responded in 7 pitches to score 3. This was the first half of that; Martinez roped a double off the top of the wall. He's a damn good hitter.
- Brian Anderson's Double, 3rd inning (+.105) - Anderson's double was a "wake-up!" moment of the game. He smoked the ball, and Michaels was unable to come up with it. This triggered the White Sox' inning.
- Jim Thome's 2-run homer, 4th inning (+.167) - Thome announced his arrival to the White Sox' faithful with a massive home run to rightfield, putting the Sox up by 3 and driving the win probability north of 80%.
- Eduardo Perez's 2-run homer, 4th inning (-.173) - Perez's homer ultimately proved rather unimportant in the grand scheme of the 10-4 blowout, but it was significant at the time; the game was tied and the Indians had completely an almost Desert Stormian-style assault.
The White Sox couldn't have asked for a better start to their chance to repeat:
- Brandon McCarthy pitched very well.
- Brian Anderson played exceptionally well.
- Their high-profile offseason addition, Jim Thome, crushed a home run, continuing his hot-hitting from spring training.