2003 NLCS

Cubs lost to Marlins in the 2003 NLCS after they were 5 outs away from winning their first NL pennant since 1945.  Since the Marlins ended up winning that World Series, 2003 could have been *the* year but tragedy struck once again.  Let’s look at this series with focus on the Cubs.  A report like this will be available for any team any post season soon.

Below is the trajectory of Cubs’ status through the 6 month regular season in 2003.

Date WAA BAT PITCH UR
20030501 4 23.5 30.2 -9.2
20030601 5 -4.2 38.9 -7.7
20030701 2 -23.8 53.2 -8
20030801 2 -29.2 45.4 -7.3
20030901 4 -54.7 72.3 -7.6
2003 14 -40.1 86 -3.2

Cubs had a +4 April and flat lined until September where they had an incredible +10 month to win the NL Central.  Pitch kept getting better while BAT got worse making them even steven most of the year.  Here is where they were in NL Central September 1, 2003

NL Central 20030901

Tm W L BAT PITCH UR
SLN 72 65 81.5 -39.7 7.4
HOU 72 65 18.9 66.3 9.4
CHN 70 66 -54.7 72.3 -7.6
PIT 62 72 -17.2 -31.7 1.4
MIL 60 77 -34.6 -68.7 -0.6
CIN 60 77 -44.7 -92.7 -6.6

In third place but still very much in contention for first.  Most years these records would not win a division.  Here were the top Cubs that season.

Top Cubs 2003

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+007+ 9.55 Mark_Prior_CHN PITCH
+027+ 6.26 Sammy_Sosa_CHN RF
+028+ 6.26 Carlos_Zambrano_CHN PITCH
+036+ 5.73 Kerry_Wood_CHN PITCH
+130+ 2.75 Joe_Borowski_CHN PITCH
+166+ 2.12 Corey_Patterson_CHN CF
+167+ 2.08 Moises_Alou_CHN LF
+182+ 1.89 Kyle_Farnsworth_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.62 Mark_Guthrie_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.22 Matt_Clement_CHN PITCH

Seven out of top ten are pitchers as one would expect based upon their seasonal BAT and PITCH numbers in team status.  Let’s look at the horse race table which sorts all 8 playoff teams by WAA value according to this data model.  The W-L column is their real team WAA, the only stat in baseball that matters.

2003 Playoff Horse Race

TeamID W-L Total Hitters Starters Relief UR
BOS 28 52.83 41.57 6.33 4.93 -20.2
ATL 40 50.94 37.15 7.12 6.67 -17.2
NYA 40 41.81 23.2 9.56 9.05 -3.2
SFN 39 35.5 5.75 16.39 13.36 16.8
OAK 30 29.44 7.21 15.83 6.4 -1.2
CHN 14 23.55 -1.72 22.76 2.51 -4.2
MIA 20 22.98 6.38 13.43 3.17 15.8
MIN 18 14.71 7.52 2.75 4.44 17.8

Both Marlins and Cubs bottom of the pack.  The momentum from Cubs streaking in September allowed them to overcome a much better Atlanta team in NLDS.  Atlanta had relatively poor starters and terrible fielding while Cubs had the worst set of hitters of the 8 teams.  This was compensated by the best set of starters along with the worst set of relievers and the worst overall real team WAA of +14.

GAME 1 lc 20031007 — MIA CHN

Teamid L S R Line Runs Starter
MIA -0.25 2.29 0.04 00500100201 9 Josh_Beckett
CHN 0.09 3.32 -0.18 40000200200 8 Carlos_Zambrano

Relief about equal between these two teams which remains constant throughout the series. Lineups are also about equal in mediocrity.  A Tier of 0 is exactly league average based upon end of August lineups using end of season data.  This makes starting pitching the only category that differentiates these two teams in each game.  Zambrano is one tier better than Beckett so CHN would be favored this game.  The simulator for post season is not yet completed to provide an estimated probability.

This game should have been a pitching duel yet both starters tanked with the Marlins getting a W making 1-0.

GAME 2 lc 20031008 — MIA CHN

Teamid L S R Line Runs Starter
MIA -0.25 0.4 0.04 000002010 3 Brad_Penny
CHN 0.03 5.24 -0.18 23303100 12 Mark_Prior

Cubs win Game 2 with Prior and they would be heavily favored this game. 1-1.

GAME 3 lc 20031010 — CHN MIA

Teamid L S R Line Runs Starter
CHN -0.58 3.01 -0.18 11000002001 5 Kerry_Wood
MIA -0.38 1.78 0.04 01000021000 4 Mark_Redman

Cubs win game 3 in Florida with Kerry Wood on the mound.

GAME 4 lc 20031011 — CHN MIA

Teamid L S R Line Runs Starter
CHN -0.65 0.38 -0.18 402100100 8 Matt_Clement
MIA 0.19 2.06 0.04 000020010 3 Dontrelle_Willis

Marlins would be favored this game but the Cubs win it putting them up 3-1 with a trip to the World Series almost assured since Marlins have to win the next 3.   As we saw in 1984, nothing is over until it’s over.

GAME 5 lc 20031012 — CHN MIA

Teamid L S R Line Runs Starter
CHN 0.09 3.32 -0.18 000000000 0 Carlos_Zambrano
MIA 0.24 2.29 0.04 00002011 4 Josh_Beckett

Cubs bats fall flat and can’t finish the Marlins off so it’s off to Chicago.

GAME 6 lc 20031014 — MIA CHN

Teamid L S R Line Runs Starter
MIA 0.16 -0.06 0.04 000000080 8 Carl_Pavano
CHN 0.03 5.24 -0.18 100001100 3 Mark_Prior

The infamous Bartman game.  With Prior on the mound Cubs would have been heavily favored in this game.  It wasn’t Barman’s fault Cubs gave up 8 runs that inning.

GAME 7 lc 20031015 — MIA CHN

Teamid L S R Line Runs Starter
MIA 0.1 1.78 0.04 300031200 9 Mark_Redman
CHN -0.58 3.01 -0.18 032000100 6 Kerry_Wood

Kerry Wood had an off game even though Cubs scored 6 runs which is a lot for a playoff game it wasn’t enough.  Cubs players were emotionally exhausted from Game 6 and that was that.

Events for Game 6 — MIA CHN Inning 8 , MIA at bat

Rank WAA Name Play Bases MIA CHN Pitcher
XXXXX -0.57 Mike_Mordecai OUT 0 0 3 Mark_Prior
-031- -4.16 Juan_Pierre DOUBLE 20 0 3 Mark_Prior
-088- -2.67 Luis_Castillo WALK 301 0 3 Mark_Prior
+084+ 3.7 Ivan_Rodriguez SINGLE 21 1 3 Mark_Prior
+186+ 1.83 Miguel_Cabrera ERROR 321 1 3 Mark_Prior
+120+ 2.9 Derrek_Lee DOUBLE 320 3 3 Mark_Prior
+053+ 4.87 Mike_Lowell I_WALK 321 3 3 Kyle_Farnsworth
+116+ 2.94 Jeff_Conine SAC_OUT 320 4 3 Kyle_Farnsworth
XXXXX -0.99 Todd_Hollandsworth I_WALK 321 4 3 Kyle_Farnsworth
XXXXX -0.57 Mike_Mordecai DOUBLE 20 7 3 Kyle_Farnsworth
-031- -4.16 Juan_Pierre SINGLE 1 8 3 Mike_Remlinger
-088- -2.67 Luis_Castillo OUT 1 8 3 Mike_Remlinger

The highlighted walk plus a wild pitch given up to Luis Castillo was when the Bartman incident occurred.  The error two plays later was an easy double play that should have ended the inning. The official scorekeeper assigned the last 5 of the 8 runs scored in that inning as unearned. Unearned runs however count the same as earned runs when determining who wins a baseball game.

Even though Bartman did interfere with catching that foul ball according to this snapshot …

cubfan1
…the events that followed clearly show it was Cubs players who let up those 8 runs (5 unearned)  that followed this incident, not Bartman   Prior looked shaken as well as the rest of the team.  This model shows Cubs relief was mediocre at best so was it wise to leave Prior in so late in the game with the crowd in turmoil?  Who knows and hindsight doesn’t matter anyway.

The above picture was widely circulated on the Internet the next day after this game, October 15,2003.  It could have been Photoshopped but there were several different versions all showing the same locations of Bartman and Alou.

That is all for another episode in playoff history according to this data model.  The browsable web site will allow for click through on all playoff data but without commentary.  Minor league wrap up for both Cubs and White Sox coming soon.  Until then ….