For our second introduction in as many days, allow me to present the other winner of the writing contest, Tom Gieryn. I'll let him take it away from here!
Greetings, Chop-n-Change denizens...my
name is Tom Gieryn, and I'll be the other new guy joining the
estimable C-n-C blogging team. Many of you know me as "Tom"
from the comments, and I look forward to bringing the same objective
perspective to the front page.
One of the things we're going to try to start over here (now that we're fully staffed) is a nightly recap of the day in BraveWorld. We'll always start our evening tour in the lovely city of Atlanta, but we'll also make stops across the Southeast, in beautiful destinations like Pearl, Mississippi and Danville, Virginia to visit the various Braves minor-league affiliates and see what they've been up to.
First things first: the big
club. Every night, we'll of course give you the score, but as
you expect from C-n-C, we don't stop at the easy stuff. We're
also going to try to glean some game-by-game insight by looking at FanGraphs'
excellent win probability data.
(To get us started, a little primer
on Win Probability Added; if you've seen this drill before, skip down below.
WPA is a metric that measures each player's direct
impact on the team's chances to win a given game. Based on years
of play-by-play data, we have matrices that show the probability that
a given team will go on to win a given game depending on the situation -- which is defined by the inning, the number of outs, the score, and
how many runners are on which bases.
In the simplest example,
in the top of the first with no outs, no runners and a 0-0 score, each
team has a 50% chance to win. If the leadoff guy hits a home run,
we go look back at all the games where that situation has come up (top
1, 1-0 score, no outs, no runners), and see how often the team leading
1-0 actually went on to win the game: that gives us a probability that
either team will wind up victorious. And baseball is a zero-sum
game -- i.e., as good as that homer is for the team that hit it, it's
equally bad for the other team.
So, we attribute the
change in probability to the hitter and the pitcher. If the
team's chance to win goes from 50% to 60% because of the leadoff homer,
then the hitter gets a +0.10 and the pitcher gets a -0.10. This
is going to give major credit for hitting or pitching in clutch situations;
a pitcher who throws nine shutout innings to win 1-0 is going to have
a far higher WPA than a pitcher who tosses a shutout but gets tons of
run support. As a result, WPA is not--repeat, NOT--a metric
to evaluate future performance, since obviously those two hypothetical
shutouts require equal talent from the pitcher. But if you're
trying to look back at which shutout was more valuable, obviously the
"clutch" shutout is.)
So, with that out of the way,
here's what info we'll bring you after every game:
MVP: This will be the player
with the highest WPA total for the game. Whose contributions did
the most to help the Braves win? Even in a loss, we'll look
at whose fault it wasn't.
LVP: This player had the lowest
WPA total for the game. For a win, we won in spite of this guy;
for a loss, he's to blame the most.
MIP: This stands for Most Important
Play. This is the single play with the highest change in
win probability. This play was the one that did the most to help
one team or the other put the game away, and there will be some surprises
sometimes. In a 1-0 game, you'd think the single run would be
the biggest factor, but sometimes you'll find that the MIP was a time
when the losing team, say, grounded into a double play with the bases
loaded and one out.
UotG: I really need a better
acronym for this (suggestions welcome). This is "Unit of the
Game," for lack of a better term. For this, I split the team
into offense, starting pitcher, and bullpen. I total up the WPA
for each of those groups, and name the unit who contributed most to the
result (in a win, who was best; in a loss, who was worst). This
way we'll be able to look at trends across many games, and identify
strengths and problem spots.
Then we'll go around the minors, and I'll give a tidbit or two from each minor-league team that played on any given night. I see no reason to give scores, as what I'm most concerned about is the commentary: who played well or didn't?
So, without further ado...
BraveWorld June 30th:
Braves 5, Phillies 4 (10 inn.)
This one was a roller coaster,
folks. Braves took a 3-2 lead into the eighth after a solid six
innings from Derek Lowe, but the Phils got back-to-back solo shots from
John Mayberry Jr. and Pedro Feliz to put the Phillies up 4-3.
MVP: Martin Prado.
The guy had a WPA of .668 for this game. In every game, the winning
team has a +0.5, and the losers get a -0.5, so a 0.668 figure means
that Prado not only did enough to win the game by himself, but his contributions
were enough to also erase the negative contributions of some of his
Prado went 4-for-5 and drove in four of the Braves'
five runs: a third-inning RBI single to tie the game at one, a fifth-inning
solo homer to tie the game at two, an eighth-inning, two-out RBI double
to tie the game at four after the Phillies had taken the lead in the
top of the inning, and the walk-off RBI single off the indomitable Chan
Ho Park in the tenth. That's about as impressive of a performance
as you'll ever see -- the Braves kept trying to give the game away,
but Prado just wouldn't let them do it. Even as big of a KJ
fan as I am, we need to find a way to get this guy's stick into the
lineup more often.
LVP: Mike Gonzalez.
Took a 3-2 lead into the eighth and gave up a pair of home runs to put
the Phillies ahead. (With his WPA of -0.427, he nearly lost
this game single-handedly. He owes his teammates a drink for covering
MIP: Prado's RBI double
with two outs in the eighth, tying the game at four. Remember
what I said about surprises? The MIP is not the walk-off hit,
because that came with no outs in a situation where the Braves didn't
have to get a hit right then. But in the eighth, with two
outs and down a run, the Braves had their backs against the wall, and
UotG: Offense. For all the grief our offense has taken lately, they came to play tonight. Pitchers kept giving the Phillies runs, but the offense kept getting them right back.
Gwinnett: Jordan Schafer
went 2-for-5 with a homer and stole a base. I'd love to see
Jordan shred the International League, though I hope the Braves give
him the whole rest of the season to make up the development time he
lost to his hGH suspension last year. Clint Sammons also homered,
and Reid Gorecki added in a pinch-hit grand slam.
Todd Redmond did more of the
same: no walks and 8 K's in six innings, but two homers allowed.
I think his flyball tendencies will lead to lethal homer-itis should
he ever reach the majors. Stephen Marek (remember him from the
Teixeira deal?) gave up two runs in an inning in his International League
debut (not that he really deserved a promotion after sucking at Mississippi),
and Luis Valdez continued his solid work with a scoreless inning and
Mississippi: The hitters
had a very tough go of it tonight, which has been the story of the year
for Mississippi. Formerly promising guys like Travis Jones, Brandon
Hicks, and Eric Campbell are all really struggling.
Deunte Heath was demoted back
to Double-A from Gwinnett, and gave up five runs in two innings in his
start, but the bullpen did some solid work behind him. Breakout
performer Jeff Lyman (who's thrived since moving to the 'pen) went
three innings with three K's, giving up one run, and Cory Gearrin
struck out two in a perfect eighth inning.
Myrtle Beach: Cody Johnson
continues his breakout performance with a 2-for-4 night, and Jesus Sucre,
the recently-promoted catcher who represented Rome in the Sally League
All-Star game added a double and a homer in four at-bats. He's
really been a pleasant surprise this season, hitting .325/.352/.432
Richard Sullivan pitched a
solid six innings, giving up two runs...he's nothing spectacular but
he seems to get the job done. Rudy Darrow (the guy we got for
Josh Anderson) finally returned from injury, only to allow five walks
and three earned runs in 1 1/3 innings.
Rome: Three late draftees
from 2008 had multiple hits: 24th round pick Shayne Moody,
26th round pick Calvin Culver, and 30th round
pick Chris Shehan. None of them have numbers that will blow you
away, but they are all talented enough to bear worth watching.
Randall Delgado has the stuff
to be a Latin American phenom, and he's been promoted aggressively,
as he's pitching in the Sally League at age 19, but he continues to
give up runs in bunches, allowing seven in 4 2/3 innings to raise his
ERA to 5.66. He did strike out six though.
Danville: Three guys
down here are hitting over .400, and all of them have gotten at least
one hit in every game Danville has played: center fielder L.V. Ware,
South African first baseman Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg (a 16th
round draft choice this year with the greatest name since Saltalamacchia),
and last year's sixth-round draft choice, left fielder Adam Milligan.
Righty Cory Rasmus (brother of the Cardinals' Colby) has always had a rep for some of the best stuff in our system, but he's never been able to get healthy. He tossed four innings of one-hit ball, giving up two walks and striking out five.