Friday, May 22, 2015

Walk-Off Losses; Rosterizing; and the Game Score Stat


Wrap, Box

The Rays don’t seem to know what they want Matt Andriese to become. He’s had 7 appearances with the Rays this year, three not-very-good starts and 4 relief appearances. With the Bulls he’s had a relief appearance and this start, which began well, but didn’t end all that great, followed by Jordan Norberto, who was awful.


Season: 21-22; Trip: 1-4
Wrap, Box, Scranton Times-Tribune

The Bulls then traveled to Moosic, Pennsylvania for a re-match against the RailRiders. Dylan Floro had a brilliant start, his best of the year, but Andrew Bellatti, just back from Tampa Bay couldn’t hang on.

Outside the game —
  • Hak-Ju Lee has gone on the disabled list for an injury to his hand. I’ve missed all the details, but he was spiked on his glove hand and left the game Wednesday night.
  • Leonardo Reginatto is back up from Montgomery and played last night.
  • The team’s best hitter, Alexi Casilla, left game two on Tuesday evening and has not played since. First reported as a hamstring problem, but if someone’s got more current information, please add.
  • Pitcher Everett Teaford went on the temporarily inactive list when Andrew Bellatti was added to the roster.

Game Score?

The Game Score stat and the importance of starting pitching.

I’ve been reading up on Bill James’ “Game Score” stat recently and tracking the Bulls (and the Rays) starting pitchers.

Game Score is a way of evaluating the performance of the starting pitcher. Overall the computation is pretty simple and fairly intuitive. And baseball seems to agree since it’s showing up in box scores.

Here’s how it’s calculated:
Start with 50 points. Add 1 point for each out recorded, (3 points per inning). Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th. Add 1 point for each strikeout. Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed. Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed. Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed. Subtract 1 point for each walk.

And here’s one take on what it means (from the Wikipedia link):
The game score concept expands on Major League Baseball’s official definition of a “quality start”. MLB defines a quality start as six or more innings pitched while allowing three or fewer earned runs. The game score system defines a quality start as a game score above 50.
The advantage that the system has over the official definition is that it allows a statistician a better view of the degree of quality in a pitcher’s performance. Game scores can be quantified, and a pitcher’s performance tracked over time. It is also possible to compare different pitchers. If one averages a 60 and another averages 55, presumably the first pitcher has had a better season.

Does it pass the “so what?” test?

Maybe.

This chart shows the game scores of Bulls starting pitchers for the last 15 games. This has not been a good stretch for the Bulls, they’ve only won 4 games and they’ve lost 11. How does that track against starting pitcher performance? Pretty well. The circled scores are the only three anomalies of the 15. Otherwise it sure looks like an above average game score is associated with a team win (3 out of the 4 wins had above-50 game scores) and a low game score with a loss (9 out of 11 losses had below-50 scores). Please note that the wins and losses shown are team's wins and losses, not the pitcher's.

It sure looks like a good part of this recent tough run can be attributed to starting pitching.

click on chart for larger image


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Win and, How Bad is the DBAP Press Box?


Wrap, Box, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle


Wrap, Box


Season: 21-20; Trip: 1-2
Wrap, Box, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

At last! A win. A bit ugly what with 3 errors and 12 runners left on base. But a win nonetheless with good jobs turned in by Enny Romero, Jhan Marinez (ERA 0.55 after 8 appearances and 16 innings!), and Ronald Belisario, who came into the game in the 8th with 1 out and runners on 1B and 2B and K’d the Red Wings out. A clean 9th inning got him his 7th save. New guy Preston Guilmet started the 8th and Jared Sandberg had had enough after 3 hits, two runs scored, and only one out.

Alexi Casilla left the game early on for an undisclosed (so far) reason. If anybody hears anything, please add to comments.

Outside the game —

In the “now it can be told” category.

First, let me point out that WDBB is not considered to be part of the "media" and we have never been in the press box or the broadcast booth (old or new) at the DBAP. Never thought to ask, to be honest. They might have let me in, but probably not now. And let me say that from where I sit, I have a hard time telling a curve from a slider from a changeup without checking the speed gun.

Now, on to the story …

I was watching the MiLB TV version of one of the games and listening to the Red Wings' broadcast team since the delay for Patrick Kinas was at least a minute or so and arrived well after the action on the screen. One of the broadcasters, whose name I didn’t catch, went into a fairly lengthy rant about the DBAP broadcast booth.

According to him, it's the worst in all of the International League. No other place in the IL puts the broadcasters where they can’t see the game! He likes the park, hates the booth. As we all know, the broadcasters are high up above first base, so they obviously don't have a very good angle to observe pitches. Nor can they see all of right field. And when the fans stand up, apparently their view is completely blocked. So the broadcasters end up calling the game from the video monitors.

I’ve wondered about that odd configuration myself. As we all can see, with the remodel came a club-like spot up above home plate, which must be really nice for the fans, but ... remember those scenes from “Bull Durham” where the broadcaster is essentially faking his calls?

Just how do folks way up above first base tell exactly where the ball crossed the plate?

Monday, May 18, 2015

And Today the Best Durham Bulls Hitter is ...


Alexi Casilla

This is our first look at the Durham Bulls hitters this year. It’s a bit early and the sample size is pretty small. But still worth a look, I thought. I used a cut off of 50 plate appearances before sorting the table.

This table is sorted by Weighted on Base Average (wOBA), which is one of those newish stats that makes a lot of sense once you dig into it. It essentially weights the various ways a batter can get on base. The explanation at the link might help. The second not-usual stat is Weighted Runs Above Average (wRAA). That stat compares the player to the rest of the league in terms of runs contributed.

The players marked by an asterisk are on the Tampa Bay Rays 40-man roster. The players marked with a strike-thru are players who have been with the Bulls and might be coming back before the year is out. Joey Butler went up to the Rays, Leonardo Reginatto went down to Montgomery.

To be honest, I was surprised to see Mr. Casilla come out on the top of the list. I think he’s a terrific second baseman, with a very accurate side-arm snap throw that rarely misses (only one error on the year). But I had not been paying attention to his bat. That could be because I usually undervalue switch hitters. But there he is with 31 hits (5 doubles, 3 home runs), 9 walks, and 14 RBI. At 38 games into the season he is the best of the bunch.

What about the players at the other end of the table? Two are catchers and they, mostly, don’t count. But Hak-Ju Lee and Alan Dykstra? Hard to say. Both are serious talents, neither is having a good year (and it’s been a long time since Lee had a good year).

Hitting coach Dave Myers needs to help these guys find some answers.



This table is a rough guide to what wOBA numbers mean.


Big Crowds; Big Losses


Season: 20-18; Home Stand: 0-4
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

This may have been the worst Durham Bulls home stand in my memory. Fortunately, also one of the shortest.

After playing to virtually empty stands in Buffalo and Syracuse, the Bulls did not reward the 38,503 fans who came out to the DBAP over the last 4 days. Instead, Bulls pitchers served up 5 home runs and 12 doubles among the 53 hits and 26 runs scored.

Meanwhile, Bulls hitters managed just 29 hits, with 3 doubles and 2 home runs, and scored only 8 runs.

A few years ago during a hitting drought a rumor circulated that Bulls hitters had taken their bats down to that open area behind the gate in right field and built a bonfire with them. Time to do that again?

In an effort to find at least some light, let me mention the return of José Dominguez, who had a nice inning; and the nice work of Jordan Norberto and Andy Oliver, who kept things from being even worse.

Matchup

The Bulls hit the road for four games in three days in Rochester, then meet the RailRiders on their home turf for four games, then they are back a week from today, hoping the ACC teams have not torn up the ragged-looking DBAP turf too much.

The Twins’ AAA team, the Rochester Red Wings lead the league in batting average and are second in OPS, so they are going to be a challenge to Bulls pitching. Then there’s the oddity of a scheduled double header on Tuesday. Not sure why/how that happened, but that is going to be a real stretch for the bullpen. I don’t think any of our current Bulls position players have any pitching experience, but I think that Mayo Acosta is still traveling with the team and he’s got 3 innings under his belt last year.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bulls Slide to Third Place


Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Steve Wiseman in the Herald-Sun pretty much said it all in his first sentence: “The Durham Bulls had chances and chances and more chances to score and avoid extra innings on Friday night.”

Amen.


Season: 20-17; Home Stand: 0-3

OK, I know it was Star Wars night and all, but those were quite possibly the ugliest uniforms I’ve ever seen on baseball players. And then the Durham Bulls went from first place to third place in the International League South as this even uglier home stand continues.

Dylan Floro looked pretty good through the first four innings, got hit hard in the 5th (2 doubles and a single, one run); and hit harder in the 6th, two singles and a home run. Not sure why Floro gets to stay up into the 90’s in his pitch count while other pitchers are being pulled much earlier.

New guy Preston Guilmet, last seen pitching for the Buffalo Bisons but claimed from the Toronto system the other day, had a nice inning, as did Jhan Marinez, but it was too late. The Bulls haven’t hit the ball well for the last week. In fact, last night all the offensive excitement was over after the first two batters, a single by Taylor Motter and a home run by Nick Franklin.

Rosterizing —
  • Infielder Leonardo Reginatto has been sent back to Montgomery. We liked watching him play and he was doing a decent job at bat (.300/.323/.350). He’ll probably be back when/if the Rays give up on Hak-Ju Lee.
  • Bryce Stowell was also sent to the Montgomery Biscuits. Too bad, because he had pretty decent numbers. I expect he will be back as well.
  • As mentioned above, the Rays claimed reliever Preston Guilment from the Toronto Blue Jays. Stats. He looked just fine last night.
  • Rehabbing Jake McGee is on his way back to Tampa Bay.
  • Rehabbing Nick Franklin was pulled from the game after his home run last night. So he might be on his way back as well.
  • José Dominguez came of the disabled list and should be in the bullpen for today’s game.
  • According to The Tampa Tribune, Andrew Bellatti is coming back to the Bulls. He did a terrific job as a reliever for the Rays. We’ll have to see if he’s going to be starting or in relief as a Bull. 
Standings Chart

For a couple of days the Tides and the Knights were losing games along with the Bulls. Not yesterday, so that changes the chart to show the Bulls sliding into third place.

www.watchingdurhambullsbaseball.com

Friday, May 15, 2015

Rough Night at the DBAP


Season: 20-15; Home Stand: 0-1
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

On my scorecard I’d circled the bases-loaded end of the Bulls’ 1st inning and base-loaded end of 2nd inning and made a note to myself, “That doesn’t look good.” In the end, it didn’t matter. In the RailRiders’ 5th a flurry of “ground balls with eyes" pretty much ripped up my scoresheet. And then the was the 9, count ‘em, 9 walks by the relief corps (10 walks on the night, the worst performance this year). Aaaaaargh! Go home. Tomorrow’s another day.

There’s something not right about Jordan Norberto. In his last two appearances he’s gone 2.1 innings, given up 6 hits, 8 walks, 4 earned runs on a lot of pitches (89). He did escape the 5th after walking the bases loaded. But the 6th was simply awful and painful to watch (I left near the end of it): single, single, single (run scores), walk, ground out (run scores), fly out, walk, walk (run scores). Bryce Stowell comes in.
But, even Stowell, a very reliable guy, gave up four walks and a run.

Ah, but today’s another day.

Outside the game —
  • Regular television broadcasts start today. For the rest of the season’s home games you will be able to watch the superb Explorer Post 50 crew’s work. Time Warner Cable 323 or 1250. Over the air 50.2. Details and schedule here.
  • The Herald-Sun is reporting that Jake McGee has finished his rehab and is going back to the Rays. And that Matt Andriese is coming back to the Bulls. I find Andriese’s return a bit odd since he picked up a 4-inning save against the Yankees last night.
  • In the same article rehabbing Nick Franklin states that he thinks he’s ready to go back.

Hitting

When we looked at hitting a couple of weeks ago, the hitters were on a slight upward trend. Not so at the moment. The last four games have been well below average. The quirk is that the hitters’ worst game (May 13) was a win.

This charts the team OPS (on base percentage + slugging) for each of last 15 games. The blue line is the average OPS for international league teams over the last three years. The trend line is a five-game moving average.

click chart for larger view
www.watchingdurhambulls.com

Thursday, May 14, 2015

One is Enough


Season: 2014; Trip: 3-3
Wrap, Box, Buffalo News, Bisons Wrap

The Bulls were behind the Bisons in virtually every statistical category except for one — runs scored. And that, of course, made all the difference.

In their absolute worst offensive game of the season (just two total bases on two singles), the Bulls prevailed when the pitchers and defense (2 double plays) had a shutout.

Sharp base running was the difference. With one out in the 6th inning, Taylor Motter stole second after a single. Nick Franklin walked and then they pulled off a double steal with Mikie Mahtook at the plate. Motter scored on a Mahtook ground out.

Matchup

The Bulls come home tied for first place with Charlotte in the IL South (Charlotte has a modest .006 pt lead). The Bulls have a four game set with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the Yankees AAA team, who are 5-5 in their last 10. Their parent club is riding high and the statistical difference between the two is not all that great. Should be a good series. The Bulls leave town for Rochester as soon as the series is over.