Blue Jays Beat Rangers (Again)

The Toronto Blue Jays have come into Arlington, where the Texas Rangers own the best home record in baseball, and won the first two games of a four game series. Tonight, they did so by taking advantage of an opposing starting pitcher, Matt Harrison, who looked uncomfortable and awkward from the first inning on to the third when he was mercifully relieved by Brett Tomko. Both Rangers pitchers combined to give up ten runs which somehow ended up being more than the three runs given up by Toronto’s starter Jesse Litsch who eventually gave way to Frank Francisco, Casey Janssen and Shawn Camp who all threw a scoreless inning in relief.

Anatomy Of Adam Lind’s Plate Appearances

  1. In the first inning, Lind hit the first pitch he saw for a single to right field that scored Yunel Escobar from third base for the first run of the game.
  2. In the third inning, Lind took a strike, took a ball and then crushed the third pitch from Harrison to left center field for an opposite field solo home run.
  3. In the fourth inning, Lind swung on the first pitch he saw and sent it over the fence in right field for a three run home run that scored Corey Patterson and Jose Bautista.
  4. In the sixth inning, Lind grounded out to first base after a five pitch at bat.
  5. In the ninth inning, Lind grounded out to second base on a 1-2 pitch.

Summary: Lind went 3 for 5, knocking in five runs and contributing .222 WPA, the highest win probability added by any player in tonight’s game.

Biggest Play Of The Game

Adam Lind’s solo shot in the third inning increased the probability of the Jays winning more than any other play tonight.

Biggest Opportunity Missed

In the second inning, the Rangers batters got to Jesse Litsch with two out, putting up all three of their runs thanks to production from the bottom half of their order. Ian Kinsler couldn’t keep the rally going, flying out to left to end the inning. It was the closest the Rangers would get to keeping the game competitive.

The Aggravating Thing That John Farrell Did Tonight

Whether it was called for or not, Corey Patterson’s drag bunt in the first inning with Yunel Escobar already on base was a clever move that caught the Rangers infield completely off guard. I mention it not only because it led to the Blue Jays opening the game with five runs in the first inning, but also because I’m normally critical of bunts. There’s nothing wrong with using any strategy as long as it leads to getting on base and avoiding an out.

Even though it worked out okay, why would Farrell possibly allow John McDonald to attempt to steal second base with two out and Mike McCoy at the plate in the first inning? Do we really need McCoy starting any inning at the plate? #NotWorthTheRisk

The Statistic You Won’t Believe

Before tonight’s game, Matt Harrison had the fifth lowest ERA in the American League at 1.88. I’m going to go ahead and claim that his 4.02 FIP had more predictive value for future performances.

Also, in their last 13 games against the Rangers, the Blue Jays have hit 31 home runs. BAHAM!

Shutdowns/Meltdowns

Brett Tomko’s performance tonight would technically be considered a meltdown, but since you can’t really melt things that have already been destroyed, it’s difficult to pin much blame on him for the way that tonight’s score turned out.

Stray Observations Of The Game

Gregg Zaun’s beer gut provided by Gregg Zaun.

I watched tonight’s game from Hurricane’s on Bloor Street near Ossington in Toronto. There were a lot of hockey fans in attendance watching guys move around on ice wearing boots with knives. But a television set was reserved for the ballgame.

After the game got out of hand, what was with all of the camera time devoted to Nolan Ryan’s sour face? We get it. He used to be a good pitcher and now he’s the owner of the team. I really got my fill of that story during last year’s playoffs.

I keep waiting for Corey Patterson to be as terrible as his numbers tell me he is. It hasn’t happened. It’s worth noting that last season, he had a .344 wOBA against right handed pitching. Bautista Part Deux.

It’s funny how so far this season I’ve been more impressed with Jesse Litsch in his losses than in his wins. Tonight could have very easily gone the other way with Litsch allowing seven hits and two walks while only striking out one. I still prefer him to Jo-Jo Reyes.

Seven of the Rangers ten hits tonight came from the seven, eight and nine spots in their batting order.

It’s hard to give much credit to anyone on a team that lost 10-3, but Yorvit Torrealba played a very good game tonight, both defensively and offensively.

Comments (26)

  1. I started Matt Harrison in my fantasy pool tonight, and started Colby Lewis last night. Couldn’t be happier about it. And is Gregggggg Zaun actually drinking again?

  2. Emotional bet hedging for the win!

  3. The Nolar Ryan thing was more about his career #’s, his tenacity, his old-schooliness, and his record against Tabler and Buck. If you had the sound down, you missed very little, unless you were just rescued from that cave you were stuck in 1973.

    Also, caption for above pic should be “People you don’t want to see before any outs are recorded in a game.”

  4. I disagree with being annoyed with Farrell for allowing/calling for Johnnie Mac to steal 2nd with two outs and McCoy at the plate.

    McCoy hasn’t shown any useful skills so far offensively at the MLB level, so the best you can hope from him in that situation is probably a single, which would allow the runner to score from second.

    The difference between the next inning being McCoy-Escobar-Patterson and Escobar-Patterson-Bautista is pretty negligible in my opinion, seeing how shitty our 1-2 hitters have been getting off in front of Bautista lately.

  5. *Sorry- getting on for Bautista

  6. Yeah, Parkes, is it really that big a deal having McCoy lead off an inning? If you’re trying to score a run (and, really, why wouldn’t you be?), there’s a lot better chance of doing it with a stolen base plus a single than two singles (or counting on McCoy to get an extra-base hit).

    This annoying-thing-Farrell-did feature is okay but you really don’t have to use it in games where he doesn’t do anything annoying.

  7. Pooks137, Freudian Slip?

  8. @Mustard

    I agree with Parkes. The guy is batting 9th for a reason – because the manager wants to give him the fewest at bats on the team and I think we can all agree that’s for the best. Why would then employ a strategy that in effect gives him MORE at bats?

  9. @Pooks – you’re sort of contradicting yourself here – you said McCoy hasn’t shown any really offensive abilities but then say it’s no different having him lead off versus Escobar. Yunel is actual quite adept at getting on base, remarkably more so than McCoy.

  10. Well, if you’ve got the numbers, Parkes, do tell.

    In the meantime, as a simple back-of-the-envelope calculation, let’s say McDonald has a 2/3 chance of stealing the base and McCoy is a .230 hitter. Multiply those numbers together and you get a 15% chance of a run being scored (on the assumption — faulty, I know — that a single scores the run from second). Now let’s be somewhat generous and say Escobar’s a .300 hitter. The chances of getting two singles in a row (McCoy plus Escobar) works out to about 7%.

    So comparing the two strategies, Farrell’s got an 8% edge on you, which you’re arguing is off-set by not having McCoy lead-off in 1/3 of the cases. Well, as I said, do tell.

  11. You’re not looking at the right numbers. And you can’t just go there’s a x% chance of this happening, and then an x% chance of this happening. What’s the % chance of BOTH happening.

    Run expectancy moves from .240 to .342 with McDonald on second instead of first with two out. So, in this case a steal is worth .142, getting caught would be worth -.240. A 66% base stealer running with two out is really only a good idea when you’d rather have the guy at the plate batting when no one is out.

  12. “What’s the % chance of BOTH happening.”

    That’s why you multiply the numbers. Not sure I follow you.

    I am looking at the right numbers, btw, though obviously I haven’t calculated possibilities like a McCoy walk, an Escobar walk, a Patterson single, etc, which is why my run expectancy total is lower than yours — I only calculated the chances (albeit roughly) through the McCoy at-bat.

    And the problem with your run expectancy model is it isn’t taking into account who the batter is. If there were a guy at the plate who could hit for extra bases — and just about every major leaguer is better than McCoy in this regard — your argument would make more sense.

    • I’m saying you can’t just multiply the numbers to get the chance of both happening. You’re eliminating far too many factors.

      My numbers are calculating the average, and McCoy is far below average. So, with him at the plate, the chances are even worse.

  13. “I’m saying you can’t just multiply the numbers to get the chance of both happening. You’re eliminating far too many factors.”

    Such as?

    “My numbers are calculating the average, and McCoy is far below average. So, with him at the plate, the chances are even worse.”

    Well, if you re-read the last last paragraph in my last post, you’d see that McCoy being a worse than average extra-base threat works against you. But what you’re really saying is the advantage Farrell’s strategy has on yours is smaller the worse we assume McCoy to be — which is true, but it’s still an advantage! For example, change my assumption of McCoy from a .230 hitter to a .200 hitter, and Farrell’s advantage on you drops from 8% to 7.33%.

    • There is absolutely no advantage. Based on career MLB numbers, there is a 74% chance that McCoy collects an out no matter what. Attempting a steal increases the chances of ending the inning even more (look up “base stealing” in The Book). You should not purposely increase the chances of the guy who collects outs at a 74% rate batting again.

  14. @Parkes

    I’m aware that Run Expectancy tables indicate that stealing in that situation is not the right thing to do.

    My issue is that Run Expectancy tables make no distinction between McCoy and Bautista at the plate in the same situation, since they are based on aggregate samples.

    I’d agree with you that its a dumb move if pretty much anyone else is at the plate, save maybe McDonald, McCoy or Jose Molina, all people who basically can only be counted on for a single.

    I guess I’m just not personally bothered by who leads off the next inning. I’m more concerned with the Jays trying to score that run, and I don’t have much faith in McCoy to do anything useful save a fluke single.

    • @ Pooks: I respect your opinion but I strenuously disagree. To me, you want your best players up with the best chance of scoring runs. Check out the massive difference between how hitters do with one out or two out. I want my leadoff guy batting as much as possible, and certainly not at the expense of giving any more at bats than I have to to the worst hitter on my team.

  15. I’m with you. Why do we love putting these guys on tv all the time?

    Al Davis, Jane Fonda, Jerry Jones, Ron Carron, etc,… I get that sometimes they can be good tv but enough already.

    Go Jays Go

  16. Every team in baseball would send the runner with a rattled SP on the mound, a 5-0 top of the first lead, and a hitter as bad as McCoy up. It’s the right thing to do.

  17. “A 66% base stealer running with two out is really only a good idea when you’d rather have the guy at the plate batting when no one is out.”

    When would you ever want one of your best hitters to come up with nobody on base as opposed to a runner on first? Effectively these run expectancy charts are trying to say that it’s NEVER the right move to steal 2nd with 2 outs, which is clearly absurd.

  18. I think we’re seeing a pattern here with Mr Dustin Parkes. You gotta admit when you’re wrong, or at least agree to disagree. It’s OK and normal to not know everything about baseball. We will still read your blog, so stop sitting up on a perch and start talking baseball…not defending your opinions as ‘justified’ and ‘reasonable’…we have Wilner for that.

    • I have absolutely no problem admitting when I’m wrong. I made a dumbass comment on TV about Manny Ramirez being able to offer a similar amount of production as Alex Rodriguez. Way off. I’m just not anywhere close to agreeing with anyone who suggests that sending John McDonald with two out and Mike McCoy at the plate was a worthwhile gamble. I also have no problem agreeing to disagree, like I did with a reader in this very comment section who didn’t see the importance of having Escobar lead off an inning versus McCoy.

  19. Yeah, I second that.

    I appreciated the relevant statistical analysis and respectful debate. I don’t think Dustin is being an ass, I just agree with John Farrell in this particular case.

    Baseball is great in that it lends itself to this sort of analysis, which will probably never be resolved.

    Those who but their faith in sabermetrics will always disagree those (like myself in this case) who frame their positions on traditions or gut-instinct.

    The true answer is probably a balanced v. dogmatic approach, but the debate should still be enjoyable and not too personal.

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