Game 2 of the World Series was an amazing game. As a Dodgers fan, it was an incredible game. Too bad they lost but nonetheless, it was one of the best games of all time.
With the Series now tied at one game apiece, we’ve had a chance to breathe while preparing for Game 3 in Houston. The question is: will we see a repeat performance of Game 2?
First off, we need to take into account that Game 2 had an HR-rate of 8.9 percent. The HR-rate for the entire 2017 season was 3.3 percent! That’s a 170 percent increase! All this coming from Dodger Stadium which is a notorious pitcher’s park. Yet for some reason, this season it’s had a park factor of 106 for LHH and 97 for RHH — but that’s an idea for another article
The series now moves to Houston, where, this season, RHH and LHH have had an HR park factor of 102 and 103, respectively. Game 3 will also feature Yu Darvish and Lance McCullers, who during the regular season, combined to allow 35 homers against 1,278 batters faced — a 2.74 HR-percentage.
Small caveat: because of the following spray charts -- and the fact that, historically, Minute Maid Park has been an easier HR park for right-handed hitters, I’ve decided to limit the matchups to only account for right-handed hitters.
These are the home runs allowed by both McCullers and Darvish between 2013 and 2017, with their location superimposed over Minute Maid Park. As you can see, most of the home runs have left the stadium via left field - which gives me the idea that RHB will have a field day.
So, how have our two starting pitchers fared against right-handed hitters?
Game 3 Starters vs RHB - 2017 season
Well, for starters, Darvish has had a much easier time not letting right-handed batters get on base, yet he’s allowed more HRs to them — both as a total and rate-wise. McCullers, however, has been hit for more power and a higher true average, so perhaps this evens out.
What about hitters?
Well, we have a total nine hitters for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros: Austin Barnes, Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor, Justin Turner, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Evan Gattis, and George Springer. I’ve looked at how these nine did against right-handed pitchers and then used the odds-ratio method to estimate how many home runs they’d hit.
Game 3 RHH vs RHP
Well, that’s not a bad bunch at all, They've all been between average and well above-average according to TAv. As a group, they’ve hit 154 HRs against right-handed pitching for a 4.08 HR-percentage. The league percentage against RHPs was 3.37 percent in 2017 - 71 percentage points lower.
Given the small left-field porch - 315 feet! - I wouldn’t be surprised if their collective HR-percentage increased.
Before we wrap things up, I want to show you what the log-odds ratio shows for the matchups.
Game 3 RHB vs RHP - HR% log odds-ratio
|LAN||Austin Barnes||Lance McCullers||1.02||3.37%||1.50%||2.05%||0.9%||3||0.03|
|LAN||Chris Taylor||Lance McCullers||1.02||3.37%||4.08%||2.05%||2.5%||3||0.08|
|LAN||Justin Turner||Lance McCullers||1.02||3.37%||2.70%||2.05%||1.7%||3||0.05|
|LAN||Yasiel Puig||Lance McCullers||1.02||3.37%||6.12%||2.05%||3.8%||3||0.12|
|HOU||Alex Bregman||Yu Darvish||1.02||3.37%||2.59%||2.89%||2.3%||3||0.07|
|HOU||Carlos Correa||Yu Darvish||1.02||3.37%||5.05%||2.89%||4.4%||3||0.13|
|HOU||Evan Gattis||Yu Darvish||1.02||3.37%||3.45%||2.89%||3.0%||3||0.09|
|HOU||George Springer||Yu Darvish||1.02||3.37%||5.38%||2.89%||4.7%||3||0.14|
|HOU||Jose Altuve||Yu Darvish||1.02||3.37%||3.35%||2.89%||2.9%||3||0.09|
|HOU||Marwin Gonzalez||Yu Darvish||1.02||3.37%||4.72%||2.89%||4.1%||3||0.12|
I estimated that each batter will face the opposing pitcher three times - though, given the analytical acumen of both clubs, this number may as well be two. When accounting for park factor, handedness of both batter and pitcher, and league HR-percentage, what we get is that these hitters should see a slight uptick in their HR-percentage, but the real output will be almost negligible.
What does this say? Well, for starters, Game 3 might not be as home run dependent as Game 2 was. Then again, I haven’t accounted for left-handed batters, so there is that.
Second, there are many other factors that may influence home runs being hit that this method isn’t accounting for. But, for the data that it can account for, it will very difficult to tee off the opposing starting pitcher.
Of course, three plate appearances are a small sample. Given more plate appearances, the number of expected home runs would increase, but in just one or two or even three looks at what the opposing pitcher has to offer, we may just see our first small-ball game of the World Series.
Martin Alonso writes for Beyond the Box Score and BP Bronx and is constantly geeking out over baseball and Star Wars. You can find him on Twitter at @martnar.