Author Archives: mea

How often does leadoff man get a hit?

The other day at the pub there was an argument whether Joe Maddon preferred beer or wine.  Since he is spokesman for Binny’s Beverage Depot holding a glass of wine people thought that was proof of his preference for wine.   That led to a question about the Binny’s leadoff man promo:  How often does the leadoff man get at hit?

Since I don’t get event data for this year until December from I can’t tell.  Luckily there’s this site called Google that has answers to every question imaginable.  Here is  current year data according to Binny’s Beverage Depot.


As of August 10 the Cubs played around 114 games so 28/114 = 0.245.   Binny’s has a payout ratio of around 1/4.  If you were to bet the Binny’s leadoff man promo this would be good to know.  It seems low however.   Usually managers put the hottest hitter in the leadoff spot because the leadoff hitter bats the most.  Mathematically you want your best hitter to get the most plate appearances.  There are always exceptions.

The 0.245 above is not a batting average and since does not publish current year event data until December we don’t know how many walks there are this season at the leadoff spot.  We know there are always exactly 0 sac bunts and sac flies for the first batter in every game.  We have event data from past years.  Here is a table compiled for the year 2017.

2017 41 0.253 0.270 0.243 0.265

Second column shows Binny’s paid out on 41 hits with a win % of almost exactly 1/4.  The  LEAGUE % column is if Binny’s had to pay out for every team in every 2017 game.  It is lower than the Cubs which should be expected because the Cubs had a good team last year.

The fourth column incorporates walks into the BA stat and it’s 0.270, also higher than league average.  But what does this mean?  There are a bunch of tables In Part 5 of our OPS series.  Scroll down to second table and you will see the average league wide BA from 2010 – 2017 is 0.262 which is almost matches the LEAGUE BA column  above.

What does that mean?  I don’t know.  Here is a complete table from 2010 – 2017.

2010 33 0.204 0.213 0.238 0.258
2011 49 0.302 0.327 0.241 0.261
2012 40 0.247 0.265 0.242 0.262
2013 37 0.228 0.245 0.236 0.257
2014 40 0.247 0.263 0.244 0.263
2015 35 0.216 0.240 0.244 0.262
2016 52 0.321 0.382 0.260 0.284
2017 41 0.253 0.270 0.243 0.265

One of the baseball constants used in this data model is  1 game = 38.4 plate appearances.  PA is a measure of playing time and that’s how you convert PA into games.  Pitchers have a baseball constant used forever which says that there are exactly 9 innings to a game.  A game is not always 9 innings but they kept the math simple because they didn’t have calculators when Ted Williams played.  In the end it doesn’t matter.  Nine innings/game is close enough just like 38.4 PA/game.

The leadoff hitter then represents 1/38.4 = 0.026 = 2.6% of all plate appearances.  This lack of data leads to a large year to year variation in payouts which you can see in the above table.  Binny’s had to payout almost a third of the time in 2016.

Not sure what the above is supposed to mean however.  New series with the Brewers tomorrow so we’ll have a look see into their team.  Until then ….

Cubs Nationals Matchup

This is a bit late since the Cubs already won the first game 3-2.  Let’s dump the matchup analysis for Washington.

WAS Team Status

14.4 38.9 527 460 59 56 13.6 0.1 WAS

Very good PITCH and decent above water BAT and at 59-56 the Nationals are +3 in the win/loss columns.  Their UR is excellent and top of MLB.  Only HOU and BOS are higher and both of them are playoff bound.  Washington has been struggling compared to last season.  Let’s see what the people have to say about the first game.

Ouija Board

DATE 08_10_2:20_PM WAS CHN

LINEAWAY WAS [ 0.424 ] < 0.442 > +126 $226
STARTAWAY 1.09(0.563) Jeremy_Hellickson_WAS TIER 3
LINEHOME CHN [ 0.593 ] < 0.576 > -136 $173
STARTHOME 0.21(0.507) Kyle_Hendricks_CHN TIER 3
WAS 59 56 CHN 66 48
WAS Lineup 3 ==> CHN Starter 3 / Relief 2 == 0.450 WAS 4.30 runs
CHN Lineup 1 ==> WAS Starter 3 / Relief 4 == 0.550 CHN 4.83 runs
deltaWAA EV WAS 91 CHN 104
TCsim EV WAS 102 CHN 95

Since we’re from the future we know the Cubs win this 3-2.  The market pretty much agrees with the simulations and deltaWAA so both lines a complete discard.  If, however, we could go back in time the CHN line would be a clear betting opportunity even with the premium paid for being favored.  The expected value for CHN when we are 100% sure of the outcome  is 1.00 * $173 = $173.   There are probably better ways to utilize a time machine than bet baseball however.

WAS Tier Data

Type Tier Name_Teamid WAA
Lineups 3 WAS 2.21
SP 3 Gio_Gonzalez_WAS 0.82
SP 3 Jeremy_Hellickson_WAS 1.09
SP 3 Tommy_Milone_WAS -0.57
SP 3 Tanner_Roark_WAS -0.15
SP 1 Max_Scherzer_WAS 7.10
RP 4 WAS -0.06

National lineup is Tier 3 and relief is Tier 4 and most of their starting rotation is Tier 3 except for Scherzer.  The above for pitching seems kind of low compared to their PITCH calculated from seasonal run differential above so maybe there are injuries.  The above is based upon current roster — according to our roster source which is mostly correct.  Let’s see the relievers the Cubs will face in this series.

WAS Relief

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+188+ 1.43 Matt_Grace_WAS PITCH
XXXXX 0.57 Wander_Suero_WAS PITCH
XXXXX 0.48 Justin_Miller_WAS PITCH
XXXXX -0.25 Ryan_Madson_WAS PITCH
XXXXX -0.27 Sammy_Solis_WAS PITCH
-077- -2.02 Greg_Holland_TOT PITCH
Total -0.06

League average relief is now +2.84 and the Tier 4 border is -0.06.  It looks like they picked up Greg Holland from the Cardinals who is having a career worst year.  WAS is gambling Holland performs to his career numbers:

Greg Holland Career

Year WAA Name_TeamID Pos Rank
2010 -1.2 Greg_Holland_KCA PITCH XXXXX
2011 3.0 Greg_Holland_KCA PITCH +090+
2012 1.6 Greg_Holland_KCA PITCH XXXXX
2013 4.2 Greg_Holland_KCA PITCH +043+
2014 3.3 Greg_Holland_KCA PITCH +070+
2015 0.1 Greg_Holland_KCA PITCH XXXXX
2017 1.0 Greg_Holland_COL PITCH XXXXX
2018 -2.2 Greg_Holland_SLN PITCH -077-
2018 0.2 Greg_Holland_WAS PITCH -077-
Total 10.0

That’s a pretty decent career and what does WAS have to lose?  Eeking into a WC spot will be difficult at +3 at this point in the season with all the NL teams ahead of them.  Holland can’t carry this team on his shoulders alone but if they make a run he could be the piece that puts them over the edge.  Acquiring baseball players is gambling as much as playing the sports book in Vegas.  The more you understand your risk the better your odds of success.

WAS Lineup

WAA Name_TeamID Pos PA Aug_10_2:20_PM
0.36 Adam_Eaton_WAS RF-LF 210
0.04 Trea_Turner_WAS SS 514
2.12 Anthony_Rendon_WAS 3B 396
3.36 Bryce_Harper_WAS RF-CF 490
2.48 Juan_Soto_WAS LF 293
0.15 Ryan_Zimmerman_WAS 1B 170
-0.15 Daniel_Murphy_WAS 2B-1B 165
-0.63 Spencer_Kieboom_WAS CR 84
-0.59 Jeremy_Hellickson_WAS PR 29
TOTAL WAA=7.14 PA=2351 WinPct=0.558

Bold blue above are in the top 100.  Decent lineup.  The average lineup is now +3.40 and the Tier 2 border is at +7.40 so they’re close at +7.14.  The simulations use differences and not dependent on hard borders.  Since they’re so close to Tier 2 for all intents and purposes they get calculated as such.  More explanation on this later.

That is all for now.  Will probably start working on minors this weekend.  The scripts used to compile this data are a year old and nothing ever seems to work right.  My main interest is in teams like the White Sox who banked their future the last two seasons on minor league acquisitions.  These players should show up in either AAA, AA, and A+ by now.  Until then ….

Cubs Status 8/8/2018

On the 30th anniversary of the infamous 8/8/88 date, the first night game to be played ever at Wrigley Field, that ended up being rained out, let’s look at the Cubs this season and the Cubs 30 years ago on this date.  Here is Cubs current team status line and the last time we did this.

CHN Team Status

55.6 37.9 527 428 61 44 4.6 0.9 CHN 7/30/2018
58.6 39.7 565 460 66 47 5.0 1.7 CHN 8/8/2018

BAT flat, PITCH flat, UR up a little, and the Cubs went 5-3 gaining 2 games with a real WAA=+19.  The PE estimate based upon run differential is now around +21 so the Cubs are converging on expectation.  This usually averages out in the long run.  Here are the current top Cubs based on this data model.  Note: The below sort only uses CHN contributions.  Chavez and Kintzler will be listed below in the relief section.

Top Cubs

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+007+ 6.61 Javier_Baez_CHN 2B-SS-3B
+064+ 2.71 Steve_Cishek_CHN PITCH
+092+ 2.18 Ben_Zobrist_CHN 2B-LF-RF
+101+ 2.10 Anthony_Rizzo_CHN 1B
+103+ 2.10 Jason_Heyward_CHN RF-CF
+112+ 2.04 Jon_Lester_CHN PITCH
+129+ 1.89 Brandon_Morrow_CHN PITCH
+178+ 1.49 Kyle_Schwarber_CHN LF
+182+ 1.47 Pedro_Strop_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.22 Kris_Bryant_CHN 3B
XXXXX 1.18 Carl_Edwards_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.03 Mike_Montgomery_CHN PITCH

Baez still in top ten and sill at +007+.  He leads the race for NL MVP according to this data model but there are 7 more weeks left in this season.  Let’s look at how Cubs stack up with the rest of MLB with regards to lineup, starters, and relief.

CHN Tier Data

Type Tier Name_Teamid WAA
Lineups 1 CHN 14.87
SP 3 Cole_Hamels_CHN -0.80
SP 3 Kyle_Hendricks_CHN 0.13
SP 2 Jon_Lester_CHN 2.04
SP 3 Jose_Quintana_CHN -0.02
SP 3 Mike_Montgomery_CHN 1.03
RP 2 CHN 6.89

Cole Hamels is now Tier 3 average and almost above water with his WAA.  Lester dropped to Tier 2 and everyone else in the rotation is average.  Relief at Tier 2 and lineup top of the league (based upon their last lineup).

CHN Relief

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+064+ 2.71 Steve_Cishek_CHN PITCH
+164+ 1.62 Jesse_Chavez_TOT PITCH
+182+ 1.47 Pedro_Strop_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.18 Carl_Edwards_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.90 Brandon_Kintzler_TOT PITCH
XXXXX 0.82 Justin_Wilson_CHN PITCH
-100- -1.81 Tyler_Chatwood_CHN PITCH
Total 6.89

Duensing on DL and Rosario must have been optioned off.  Our source for these rosters might not be totally up to date and the Cubs move players around a lot.

Blast from the Past 8/8/88

It was a shocking development to see lights in Wrigley Field that day.  The Cubs didn’t go to the playoffs again until 1989 however.  Let’s see how they were doing on this day 8/8/88.

CHN Team Status

-37.0 24.0 431 440 53 56 4.5 -0.4 CHN 8/8/1988

Bad BAT, good PITCHing and at 53-56 the Cubs were almost even steven for the season.

Top Cubs on 8/8/88

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+037+ 3.61 Greg_Maddux_CHN PITCH
+110+ 1.72 Andre_Dawson_CHN RF
+130+ 1.53 Al_Nipper_CHN PITCH
+132+ 1.53 Jamie_Moyer_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.07 Pat_Perry_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.50 Rich_Gossage_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.46 Vance_Law_CHN 3B
XXXXX 0.34 Les_Lancaster_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.29 Shawon_Dunston_CHN SS

Only 4 guys in top 200.  Maddux pitching well ranked #37.  He finishes the year ranked #74.  This is his first above average season in his HOF career.  Maddux doesn’t explode as a superstar until 1992, his final season with the Cubs.

Update 8/9/2018:  Just realized there are a few notable players missing from the above list.  Since Cubs on 8/8/88 were slightly below average, not everyone can be valued as a superstar.  Even HOF players, like Ryne Sandberg, have off years and this was one of them.  On this day his full line looked like this.

Rank WAA BA OBP PA RBI R Name_TeamID Pos
XXXXX -0.36 0.254 0.316 456 44 52 Ryne_Sandberg_CHN 2B 8/8/88
XXXXX 0.48 0.264 0.322 679 69 77 Ryne_Sandberg_CHN 2B Full 1988

He’s only slightly below average on 8/8/88 and has a good August and September to finish the year above average.  Sandberg goes on a run for the next four years which propels him into the HOF.  Here’s another notable player left out.

Rank WAA IP ERA Gs Gr Name_TeamID Pos
XXXXX 0.02 144.7 3.79 21 0 Rick_Sutcliffe_CHN PITCH 8/8/88
XXXXX -0.88 226.0 3.86 32 0 Rick_Sutcliffe_CHN PITCH Full 1988

Sutcliffe on the other hand was almost completely average on 8/8/88 and didn’t pitch well during August and September.  Here is how the Cubs ended that season.

-10.1 -30.0 660 694 77 85 -1.5 1.7 CHN 1988

Other than being the first year for lights at Wrigley 1988 was a highly forgettable season overall — much like many years to follow and many years preceding.  That is all for this update.  Usually good historical Cubs teams are highlighted here where we don’t run into this problem of leaving out star players.  End of Update 8/9/2018

Average teams are average because of their players and the above reflects that.  And to reminisce a little more, here are the top ten players at the end of the 1988 season.

Top MLB players 1988

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+001+ 10.56 Jose_Canseco_OAK RF-DH
+002+ 8.99 Kirby_Puckett_MIN CF
+003+ 8.97 Orel_Hershiser_LAN PITCH
+004+ 8.32 David_Cone_NYN PITCH
+005+ 8.21 Dave_Henderson_OAK CF
+006+ 7.92 Dwight_Evans_BOS RF-1B
+007+ 7.73 Dave_Winfield_NYA RF
+008+ 7.01 Will_Clark_SFN 1B
+009+ 6.99 Darryl_Strawberry_NYN RF
+010+ 6.83 Mark_Gubicza_KCA PITCH

Dodgers with Orel Hershiser win the World Series that year.  That is all for now.  Until then ….

Cubs Royals Matchup

Cubs start a 3 game series with the Kansas City Royals today.  Let’s see how the Royals fare with the rest of MLB.

KCA Team Status

-84.3 -120.5 413 613 34 77 5.4 -0.6 KCA

OMG.  They have league worst BAT (hitting) and league worst PITCH and this has led to a real team WAA=34-77=-43.  It doesn’t get much worse than this ever.  At least they’re above water in UR.  :-)   Cubs, however, let the San Diego Padres score a bunch of runs on them.  Past results can’t predict the short term future.  Cubs hitting and pitching should pad their stats these next three games but nothing is guaranteed.  Let’s see what the people have to say.

Ouija Board

DATE 08_06_8:15_PM CHN KCA

LINEAWAY CHN [ 0.667 ] < 0.661 > -195 $151
STARTAWAY -1.07(0.460) Cole_Hamels_TOT TIER 4
LINEHOME KCA [ 0.351 ] < 0.364 > +175 $275
STARTHOME -2.35(0.409) Jakob_Junis_KCA TIER 5
CHN 64 47 KCA 34 77
CHN Lineup 2 ==> KCA Starter 5 / Relief 5 == 0.590 CHN 4.98 runs
KCA Lineup 5 ==> CHN Starter 4 / Relief 2 == 0.410 KCA 4.02 runs
deltaWAA EV CHN 107 KCA 79
TCsim EV CHN 89 KCA 113

Still playing with colors and formatting for this Ouija Board report.  Cubs favored by close to 2-1 today.  Hamels is considered a below average pitcher at Tier 4 and Junis terrible at Tier 5.   The difference in deltaWAA maxes out at 48 and right now the Cubs are +60 or 30 games ahead of KCA.  Games with differences this large are relatively rare so everything above 48 had to be lumped into the same set.   Table lookup gives them a 0.711 probability of winning today based upon seasonal wins and losses alone.

Tier Combos simulations give the Cubs only a 0.590 advantage today because they have a below average pitcher and both their lineup and relief are at Tier 2.  This means their current talent is below what deltaWAA expects.  The relationship between these two answers are unknown right now.

KCA has a TCsim EV of $113 on a $100 risk.  Their deltaWAA EV is way below 100 at 79 so this line is a clear discard.  The current threshold requires  TCsim EV of 120 or above with a corresponding deltaWAA EV.  None of the above EVs work for either team today.

KCA Tier Data

Type Tier Name_Teamid WAA
Lineups 5 KCA -9.18
SP 4 Danny_Duffy_KCA -1.43
SP 3 Heath_Fillmyer_KCA 0.27
SP 5 Jakob_Junis_KCA -2.35
SP 2 Brad_Keller_KCA 1.66
SP 5 Burch_Smith_KCA -2.96
RP 5 KCA -7.64

The above table lists Tier Data for each category.   Relief and Lineups are tiered as a group of players, starters are evaluated individually because each game line has one and only one pitcher who starts.

KCA Relief

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
XXXXX 0.55 Kevin_McCarthy_KCA PITCH
XXXXX 0.40 Wily_Peralta_KCA PITCH
XXXXX 0.23 Brian_Flynn_KCA PITCH
XXXXX -0.32 Glenn_Sparkman_KCA PITCH
XXXXX -0.78 Tim_Hill_KCA PITCH
XXXXX -0.80 Jason_Adam_KCA PITCH
-050- -2.39 Brandon_Maurer_KCA PITCH
-003- -4.54 Jason_Hammel_KCA PITCH
Total -7.65

Hello Jason Hammel!  Cubs will probably see a lot of these guys the next few days.

KCA Lineup

WAA Name_TeamID Pos PA Aug_5_2:10_PM
-2.18 Whit_Merrifield_KCA 2B-CF 465
-2.81 Alex_Gordon_KCA LF-CF 354
0.50 Salvador_Perez_KCA CR-DH 369
0.04 Lucas_Duda_KCA 1B-DH 268
-0.94 Rosell_Herrera_TOT RF-CF 150
0.21 Brett_Phillips_TOT BAT 44
-0.57 Jorge_Bonifacio_KCA RF 104
0.13 Ryan_O’Hearn_KCA BAT 16
-3.55 Alcides_Escobar_KCA SS 397
TOTAL WAA=-9.18 PA=2167 WinPct=0.419

This lineup reflects their worst in MLB hitting.  Whit_Merrifield above is ranked #39 according to his WAR=+3.7,    Anthony Rizzo is up to WAR=+1.2 BTW.

That is all for now.  There will be another part to the Ouija Board series to explain how the simulations work soon.   Until then ….

Cubs Padres Matchup

Cubs play the Padres tonight at Wrigley.  Let’s see the team the Cubs will face.

SDN Team Status

-78.2 -37.3 405 525 42 68 -7.6 2.2 SDN

Bad BAT, bad PITCH, bad UR and this team is -26 in the win/loss columns.  There used to be a team on the north side of Chicago who put up these kind of numbers many years ago.  But I digress.  The above are seasonal numbers that may or may not reflect the current composition of a team.  Let’s here from the people.

Ouija Board

DATE 08_02_8:05_PM SDN CHN

LINEAWAY SDN [ 0.364 ] < 0.408 > +145 $245
STARTAWAY 0.80(0.560) Robbie_Erlin_SDN TIER 3
LINEHOME CHN [ 0.649 ] < 0.608 > -155 $164
STARTHOME 0.19(0.510) Mike_Montgomery_CHN TIER 3
SDN 42 68 CHN 62 45
SDN Lineup 5 ==> CHN Starter 3 / Relief 3 == 0.420 SDN 3.92 runs
CHN Lineup 1 ==> SDN Starter 3 / Relief 3 == 0.580 CHN 4.74 runs
deltaWAA EV SDN 82 CHN 109
TCsim EV SDN 103 CHN 95

Markets have Cubs favored by 60.8% break even probability.  Both starters are mediocre Tier 3.  Tier Combo simulations have the Cubs at 58% which is close and deltaWAA is much higher at 66.4%.   This puts Cubs Expected Value based on wins and losses at $109 on a $100 risk.  None of the Expected Values exceed 120 and since deltaWAA is seasonal it is only to be used to wave off bets.  Both lines a clear discard.  The simulations (and the market) show the Padres may have a better team than their win/loss record would suggest.  Here are Tier ratings for SDN

SDN Tier Data

Type Tier Name_Teamid WAA
Lineups 5 SDN -8.44
SP 3 Joey_Lucchesi_SDN 0.61
SP 5 Clayton_Richard_SDN -2.92
SP 4 Tyson_Ross_SDN -0.92
RP 3 SDN 5.27

Lineup terrible as should be expected.  There are some starters missing from our roster data.  Erlin, who starts today, is listed as a reliever.  Their relief staff (RP) is Tier 3 average.

SDN Relief

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+063+ 2.56 Kirby_Yates_SDN PITCH
+129+ 1.83 Craig_Stammen_SDN PITCH
+169+ 1.47 Matt_Strahm_SDN PITCH
XXXXX 0.84 Robbie_Erlin_SDN PITCH
XXXXX 0.61 Jose_Castillo_SDN PITCH
XXXXX 0.42 Phil_Maton_SDN PITCH
XXXXX 0.06 Robert_Stock_SDN PITCH
XXXXX -0.25 Jordan_Lyles_SDN PITCH
XXXXX -0.71 Walker_Lockett_SDN PITCH
-120- -1.53 Phil_Hughes_TOT PITCH
Total 5.3

Lots of relievers, many who most likely start every now and then.  The border line for Tier 2 is 5.32 so they’re right on the edge.

SDN Lineup

WAA Name_TeamID Pos PA Jul_31_4:10_PM
-2.27 Travis_Jankowski_SDN RF-LF-CF 267
-1.55 Manuel_Margot_SDN CF 337
1.16 Wil_Myers_SDN LF 169
-1.66 Eric_Hosmer_SDN 1B 445
-0.63 Austin_Hedges_SDN CR 160
-2.46 Freddy_Galvis_SDN SS 426
0.67 Christian_Villanueva_SDN 3B 323
-1.28 Carlos_Asuaje_SDN 2B 196
-0.42 Clayton_Richard_SDN PR 43
TOTAL WAA=-8.44 PA=2366 WinPct=0.431

It takes a team to hit this poorly.

That is all for today. Until then ….