Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Roller Coaster of Love

Well that was fun wasn't it? Nothing like a roller coaster ride of drama for a series sweep. We always seem to own the Rangers don't we?

Let's look at what transpired in pieces:

1. Jaret Wright continues to cling to his spot in the rotation like a cat hanging from a curtain over a bathtub. It's almost like we can replay the same start over and over and begin the game in the 6th inning. Yanks hand him a lead, he gives it back then settles down. He throws too many pitches a couple of times and can't make it out of the middle innings, bullpen fun abounds. I checked his VORP at Baseball Prospectus prior to the start and it seems that his 7.5 rating is good for 46th out of the 66 players in the American League who have pitched at least 60 innings this season. I chose 60 innings because it basically eliminates all but Scott Proctor from the relievers in MLB from consideration, and includes most of the legitimate 3rd and 4th starters in the league. (I'm serious about the Scott Proctor thing, by the way. He was the only full-time relief pitcher on the list.) At 46th, we can say that Wright is near the top of the list for 4th starters in the AL.

In a fairly unscientific analysis of this, I would argue that taking the top 3 starters from every AL team would net 42 pitchers. Tossing Scott Proctor out of the mix at 28th place means that Wright moves up to 45th and only has 2 pitchers between him and the 43rd spot, which I reserve for the top 4th starter in the AL. I know it doesn't work that way. There are some teams with an extra pitcher above Wright, and some with their 3rd starter below him. This is imprecise mathematics, but it may illustrate the point that JW is contributing a solid VORP from the 4 hole. It's Randy Johnson's 11.7 VORP that is dragging us down.

The only problem that I see with Wright is that he habitually leaves the game early, stretching the pen, and creating a chaotic environment each time out. Sometimes the pen is going to go 1-2-3, and then there will be days like today. We got the victory thanks to Shawn Chacon and the bats.

2. That brings me to Chacon. His VORP of -17.5 coming into the game was good for 7th worst in all of baseball among 60 inning pitchers (59.3 to be precise). That translates to 2 extra games in the loss column over his AAA replacement. Ugly. I thought we were done for sure with him coming into an inning with the bases loaded and no one out. Miraculous. If we win the division, we may need to keep a gold star next to that performance and remember that lady luck gave us a break tonight.

3. A note on A-Rod. He was huge to keep the scoring going with his 22nd home run. The Yankees looked flat, with only Jeter and the two rookies doing anything with the stick. Giambi and A-Rod to that point in the game had been pedestrian and it was getting late early. In the end, both guys look great in the boxscore, and their late inning fireworks gave us this game. I tried to imagine, once again, why fans are so quick to get on Alex and not Giambi, despite Jason's recent power outage. I still have no good answers that haven't been discussed ad nauseum already, but I began to look at some numbers that may subtely influence the fans' reaction.

Giambi has 20 multi-RBI games this season. A-Rod has 17. Not so different. The thing is, A-Rod's multi-RBI games are positioned in a way that lends to the perception that he isn't "clutch". Giambi has 4 or 5 such games every month this season. They are spread out. A-Rod had 8 of his 17 multi-RBI games in May, when he won the AL Player of the Month. That's 28 games, with 8 big run producing outings. The rest of the year, he has played in 71 games and has 9 multi-RBI performances. In May, he produced multi-RBIs in 29% of his games played. The rest of the season he has produced similarly only about 13% of his games played. Fans who follow the team a few games at a time see an RBI here and there, but no fireworks. Giambi will get a big highlight night about once a week. Just one little thought.

We are now the wildcard by a half game over both Chicago and Minnesota. Minny scares me, Chicago doesn't. Boston is in our sights. One final note from my browsing at Baseball Prospectus today. The Yankees are the best team in baseball by "Third Order Wins and Losses". That means that the teams are ordered by their Adjusted Equivalent Runs Scored and Allowed and their records are projected from the data. For non-statistical baseball fans, it means that the Yanks are right where we need to be with a couple of bats waiting in the wings to rejoin the team in August (Matsui and Cano). Go Yanks!

PS: Still no help from Blogger on the photo problem. I managed to sneak in pics at Matsuzaka Watch and Darvish Watch before the problems started again. I'll keep trying.