There were quite a number of pitching duels and incredible offensive performances through Sundays games. Some teams may have finally been forced to accept that the playoffs are out of reach while others continued to mount impressive comebacks to lead their divisions. Needless to say, Sunday was a great day of baseball with a ton of noteworthy statistics.
The Smallest Sample Size -- Game Results for 07/28/13
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Patrick Corbin threw an absolute gem but was bested by Tyson Ross, who only gave up a meager three hits. Cliff Pennington tripled in the third inning with no outs but the Diamondbacks couldn't get the run across and proved to be Arizona's only real threat. The most win probability came from Pennington's triple (.106 WPA) but Carlos Quentin's single in the first inning that brought Chase Headley home from third proved to be the difference maker although it wasn't very significant at the time (.083).
Erasmo Ramirez made it through six innings but ended up allowing four runs and ultimately hurt the Mariners' chances of winning. Kyle Gibson was worse, struggling to miss bats and giving up two homeruns and five earned runs in five innings. Overall, Nick Franklin put Seattle on his back with a .490 WPA through two dingers in four plate appearances! Tom Wilhelmsen pitched around Aaron Hicks' leadoff single in the ninth but was able to get the save.
This game was a typical Colorado slugfest with six homeruns being hit by Michael Cuddyer, Dexter Fowler, Corey Dickerson, Troy Tulowitzki, Norichika Aoki and Yuniesky Betancourt. Yes, Yuni and his 56 wRC+ are still on a major league roster. Donovan Hand and Jhoulys Chacin both posted quality starts but John Axford pitched through a high leverage situation (2.47 pLI) and faltered, giving up two runs in only one third of an inning. Rex Brothers, filling in for the injured Rafael Betancourt, committed an error in the ninth but was still able to hold the lead.
Travis Wood may have hit more homeruns this season than Ben Revere will hit in his career. Travis Wood is a pitcher with three homeruns in 44 plate appearances in 2013. Ben Revere is a center fielder with 1,400 plate appearances and zero homeruns.
The Cubs, led by Wood's homerun and seven dominant innings, swept the Giants, who have sank to last place in the NL West. Tim Lincecum's xFIP remains low at 3.26 but his ERA still hovers much higher at 4.61. It's interesting to note that Big Time Timmy Jim is boasting the 2nd highest swinging strike rate of his career (11.4%) but just can't seem to keep the ball in the park (15% HR/FB).
Kevin Gregg's regression has been a long time coming but it may occur with another team. He's been pitching in some high leverage situations (3.15 pLI last night) for Chicago and has seemingly faltered a little bit this month. It may be only a matter of time until he's traded.
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Alex Gordon has been mired in a 4-for-36 slump yet Kansas City has been winning games all week. In the 12th inning yesterday, Gordon broke out in a big way with a two-run dinger to snap a 2-2 tie. Bruce Chen started the season as a reliever and posted an above average ERA, leading the Royals to try him out in the rotation again. Although he pitched well against a less-than-intimidating White Sox lineup, Chen is the holder of a .259 BABIP and an absurd 87.3% left-on-base percentage. It's conceivable that he will regress much closer to his 4.40 SIERA.
Hector Santiago is another feel good story of reliever turned decent starter. He posted a quality start but Chicago struggled to get anything going against Chen, turning the game over to a battle of bullpens. Believe it or not, the White Sox have the best bullpen in 2013 (4.9 fWAR ties with the Twins for #1) but they couldn't prevail in this one. Surprisingly, Jesse Crain (10.03) is the only White Sox reliever to place in the top 75 of RE24 allowed.
This game was over by the end of the third inning. Carlos Torres has been pitching pretty well for the Mets in a small sample size, until yesterday. Giving up nine hits and a walk in three innings, Torres ERA doubled and then some. Surprisingly, his FIP and xFIP indicate that his recent domination is somewhat legitimate. Through three major league seasons, Torres has never walked less than 11.3% of the batters he has faced but in 2013, he's walking a minuscule 3.5%. I think it'd be fair to wager that Torres' 6.5 K/BB will be dropping over the next two months.
Meanwhile, rookie Taylor Jordan got his first major league win with six excellent innings of one-run ball! Savor it young gun, because Brian Kenny and those motivated Sabermetricians on Twitter are on a mission to kill that 'W' from showing up next to pitchers in the box score.
When Jon Lester is in top form, Boston doesn't need to score many runs to win. On Sunday, they got the best of both worlds. Lester spun seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts while Mike Napoli and David Ortiz provided plenty of pop, going 6-for-8 and amassing a net of .309 WPA.
Chris Davis went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and continues to make people wonder what happens to Homerun Derby participants in the second half. With an ailing hand and plenty of time to go, Davis has more than enough ability to overcome and go on a surge.
What has changed from 2012 to 2013 for Jason Hammel? He's posting the lowest groundball rate of his career (40.9%) and mustering 3% less swinging strikes. Batters are averaging .284 against him in 2013 compared to .232 in his 3.29 FIP season last year. It seems that he has lost about one mile-per-hour in velocity throughout his entire pitch arsenal, which may be a big reason why hitters seem to be teeing off of him.
Jon Daniels must have Michael Hill on speed dial these days. Giancarlo Stanton is heating up and is now, once again, a force to be reckoned with in Miami. Jose Fernandez struck out an incredible 13 Pirates, lowering his xFIP to an impeccable 3.26. It really is a toss up between Fernandez and Shelby Miller for NL Rookie of the Year but they seem to be trending in opposite directions. Miller is starting to falter whereas Fernandez seems to be getting more dominant as the season goes on.
For Pittsburgh, Gerrit Cole's strikeouts are finally here! Although he was bested by Fernandez, Cole threw a quality start with eight strikeouts in what was an impressive outing. These are two young pitchers that we will be anticipate seeing over the course of the next decade.
Philadelphia's patchwork bullpen strikes again! Jonathan Pettibone struggled with his control, walking four batters in five innings but left with the game in a tie. Then, all hell broke loose. Jake Diekman couldn't field a bunt and lasted only a third of an inning which would turn into an eight run barrage via walks, errors and an incredibly convenient grand slam. Having lost eight in a row, if this isn't a wake up call for Ruben Amaro Jr. to start selling off Philadelphia's assets, someone may want to break a couple hundred smelling salts under his nose.
If I were to tell you a pitcher on the Astros walked five, gave up four hits and only mustered one strikeout in six innings, how many runs would you think they gave up? Well, Jarred Cosart somehow managed to only give up one, ticking his ERA up to .86 with a frightening 4.95 xFIP. Brett Wallace provided all of Houston's offense with a solo homerun off of Todd Redmond, who struck out 10 in six innings. Colby Rasmus hit a walk-off single in the ninth to win it for Toronto.
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Indians 6, Rangers 0
Ubaldo Jimenez threw eight shutout innings against the Texas Rangers, contributing .409 WPA. Nick Swisher, batting second, had three hits in five plate appearances while Chase Utley 2.0, Jason Kipnis, went 2-for-4. The bats in Texas were completely stifled, only mustering two hits against Jimenez but they were able to work three walks out of the erratic righthander. Alexi Ogando couldn't make it through the fifth inning and the pitchers from Texas could only get four strikeouts from a lineup that featured Ryan Raburn and Drew Stubbs.
Matt Moore struggled to miss bats in his outing against the Yankees, allowing five runs on eight hits in five innings. Derek Jeter announced his return to a lineup with a first-pitch homerun. Phil Hughes continued to refuse being tradeable by allowing two homeruns and nine hits in four innings. But nobody had a bigger effect on this game than Alfonso Soriano. With a 4-for-5 performance that included a homerun and walk-off single, Soriano boasted the highest WPA of the day (.553). 22-year-old Wil Myers provided a valiant effort with his .336 WPA and two homeruns but couldn't compete with the red-hot Soriano.
Tommy Hanson would probably be joining Joe Blanton in the bullpen if the Anaheim had any other starters to throw into their rotation. Walking five and giving up four hits in less than five innings, Hanson somehow wasn't the worst starter to take the mound in the game. Jarrod Parker may have been able to complete five innings but didn't do a very good job doing so as he walked seven (!!!) and gave up six runs on five hits. Yoenis Cespedes had his first multi-hit game since the All-Star Break and amassed 3 RBIs and a .330 WPA. Oakland continues to prove that last season's surge wasn't some fluke.
Tony Cingrani only gave up one hit and struck out 11 in seven absolutely dominant innings but didn't factor to the decision (Kill the win). Chris Capuano pitched a decent game but this ended up being a race to see who would score first. The Reds may have Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Shin-Soo Choo but they don't have a player with a heavy metal band named after them. Yasiel Puig was almost crowned with a golden sombrero until he hit a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the 11th. As you can expected, Puig accompanied his homerun with an amazing bat flip and slid into home plate, somehow losing his jersey in the process.
The Braves swept the Cardinals thanks to a bounce back performance from Kris Medlen and some power from Jason Heyward. Shelby Miller and Medlen were both locked in, only giving up four combined earned runs through six while striking out ten. Chris Johnson continued his surprising season in Atlanta, upping his average to .338 with another 3-for-4 performance. His BABIP has always been much higher than league average but .421 is a little insane. Yet, time is running out and Johnson is still benefiting from an inflated BABIP that just won't regress.
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All statistics courtesy of Fangraphs.
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