Homers in the Gloaming

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Random stats: those were the runs

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For fun, here are the fifteen best historical offensive seasons by Cubs players, as measured by a very simple version of Pete Palmer’s linear weights method.  The numbers are “batting runs,” measured in runs above average.  Ten runs above average corresponds to roughly one win above average added in a season.

For comparison, Geovany Soto is on pace for something like 14 runs above average this year, Derrek Lee for 16 or so, and Aramis Ramirez for something like 17.5.

By this metric, the best three seasons by any player were 136.5 for Bonds in ’04, 135.9 for Bonds in ’01, and 135.7 by Ruth in ’21.  Sosa’s great ’01 season is 22nd all-time.  It’s amazing that three of the top 15 seasons came in 1930.  That year’s Cubs averaged 6.5 runs per game.

One can also calculate runs above average for pitching and fielding, and I will post these soon.  Let’s get a whole bunch of runs above average tomorrow!

(As an aside, the figures for Hack Wilson, Hornsby, Cuyler, and English may deserve an asterisk, as caught stealing data is not available for their seasons.  Instead, steals are removed from their calculations.  Notably, Kiki Cuyler did have 37 successful steals in ’30, so his figure is likely even higher.  Gabby Hartnett of homer in the gloamin’ fame was also on those ’30 Cubs.)

Written by ollie

28 July 2008 at 12:58 am

Random stats: pitching platoon

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Let’s examine how handedness has affected Cubs pitching.  Here are the OPS’s allowed by Cubs pitchers this year:

Righties   vs. RHB   LHB   Difference
Hart          .674 1.330     .656
Marmol        .434  .795     .361
Lieber        .732 1.082     .350
Dempster      .571  .682     .111
Marquis       .699  .785     .086
Zambrano      .622  .684     .062
Wood          .571  .629     .058
Wuertz        .741  .748     .007
Harden        .593  .589    -.004
Howry         .858  .787    -.071
Gaudin        .722  .646    -.076

Lefties    vs. RHB   LHB  Difference
Eyre          .909  .835     .074
Marshall      .722  .824    -.102
Cotts         .690  .793    -.103
Lilly         .741  .885    -.144

A positive difference indicates the pitcher has done better against same-handed hitters; a negative difference means the pitcher has done better again opposite-handed hitters.  All Cubs pitchers have been either more or less indifferent, or better against righties.

Written by ollie

19 July 2008 at 6:29 pm

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Random stats: WARP speed

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Wins above replacement player (WARP) is a very meaningful statistic.  After all, we field the players we do because we’re (ostensibly) trying to win games.  Coming out of the break, let’s take a look at how WARPed the Cubs are so far.  Following are the WARP values for the Cubs’ hitters, extrapolated to the end of the season.  (The number is how many expected wins that player will earn the Cubs this year, over a “replacement level” player.)

Player   WARP-1   Player   WARP-1
Soto     5.0      Johnson  1.2
DeRosa   4.7      Cedeno   1.0
Lee      4.4      Ward     0.5
Ramirez  4.0      Hoffpauir0.5
Fukudome 3.6      Blanco   0.3
Theriot  3.2      Pie      0.1
Soriano  2.6      Murton   0.0
Fontenot 2.4      Patterson0.0
Edmonds  1.6

Also keep in mind, playing time is obviously a large component of WARP.  Soto should be a shoe-in Rookie of the Year.  His WARP is highest among rookie position players.  Also, DeRosa is having a very nice year.  And the pitchers:

Zambrano 4.8           Lieber   1.1
Wood     4.0           Howry    1.0
Dempster 3.8           Gallagher1.0
Harden   2.9 (w/ OAK)  Wuertz   0.6
Lilly    2.1           Cotts    0.6
Marmol   1.8           Eyre     0.4
Marquis  1.7           Hill     0.2
Gaudin   1.3 (w/ OAK)  Hart    -0.4
Marshall 1.2

Written by ollie

18 July 2008 at 3:36 pm

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Meet George Jetson

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Baseball is back in full swing tomorrow, and the Cubs (57-38) head to juicy Minute Maid Park (née Enron Field) to take on the Astros (44-51) for 3.  For your convenience, here are the teams’ stats through the first half.

    G   AB    R    H   2B 3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO   BA    OBP   SLG  SB
CHC 95 3317  507  933 191 12 107  478 384  701  .281  .360  .443 53
HOU 95 3257  414  847 178 10  96  396 280  586  .260  .321  .409 84

    G   ERA   W   L  SV  GS  GF IP     H    R    ER   HR   BB   SO
CHC 95  3.89  57  38 29  95  94 857.3  804  401  371  98  320  707
HOU 95  4.53  44  51 26  95  95 840.0  888  458  423 131  314  611

Well it seems like the Cubs are just… better.  Here are the likely matchups:

  • July 18th, Lilly (4.68 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) vs. Moehler (4.28, 1.39)
  • July 19th, Zambrano (2.84, 1.23) vs. W. Rodriguez (3.48, 1.28)
  • July 20th, Dempster (3.25, 1.18) vs. Backe (4.76, 1.56)

Hopefully Theodore Roosevelt Lilly can show us something on 8 days of rest, like some sweet curveballs.

Unfortunately, we won’t see Soriano back in this series as was once thought.  He should be back before the end of July.

Written by ollie

17 July 2008 at 8:25 pm

Random stats: good eyes

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How poor are they who have not patience!  What wound did ever heal but by degrees? –William Shakespeare, “Othello”

If you talk to certain Cub fans, or get a steady diet of Len and Bob, the conventional wisdom is that this year’s Fukudome-inspired Cubs are more patient.  We take more pitches, get better pitches to hit, and get on base more.  Let’s look at some data.  Here are Cubs’ pitches per plate appearance over the last few years:

Player    2008  2007  2006
Fukudome  4.39   --    --
Edmonds   4.20  3.89  4.07
Fontenot  4.08  3.93   --
Ramirez   4.07  3.67  3.71
Lee       3.99  4.02  4.45
Soto      3.94  3.90  3.38
DeRosa    3.91  3.96  3.70
Theriot   3.73  3.53  3.65
Soriano   3.52  3.67  3.90

Ramirez, Theriot, Edmonds, and Fontenot all got noticeable bumps from ’07 to ’08.  The rest stayed roughly the same, with Soriano falling off a bit.  (Fukudome is currently third in #P/PA in MLB, behind Swisher and Dunn.)  So, maybe there is some truth to the theory.

As far as overall team stats go, the Cubs are on pace for 655 walks this season and a .360 OBP (both 1st in the NL), versus 500 BB and .333 OBP in 2007 (15th and 9th), and 395 BB and .319 OBP in 2006 (both last).

Written by ollie

17 July 2008 at 6:22 pm

One toke over the line-up

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Chicago Tribune

I’ve always wondered about the Cubs’ line-up.  We have a few “lead off” hitters: Soriano supposedly, Fukudome, Theriot.  A few “clean up” guys: Ramirez, Lee, Soto, Edmonds (God forbid?).  And a bunch of other good hitters to put somewhere.  Just for fun, I ran some stats through the tool over at Baseball Musings (based on the work of Cyril Morong, Ken Arneson, and Ryan Armbrust).

The Cubs’ most used batting order this year: Soriano, Theriot, Lee, Ramirez, Fukudome, Soto, DeRosa, Johnson, and then the pitcher, yields about 5.295 runs/game (assuming the pitcher’s spot gets .222 OBP and SLG).  The best order, using this year’s stats: Fukudome, Ramirez, Johnson, Soto, DeRosa, Soriano, Lee, pitcher, Theriot, yielding about 5.626 runs/game.  Interestingly, all of the “best” line-ups put the pitcher in the 8 spot.  One has to think that those .331 runs/game might’ve gotten an extra win in the first half.

What about until Soriano comes off the DL?  Theriot, Fukudome, Lee, Ramirez, Soto, Edmonds, DeRosa, Fontenot, pitcher is the most common, and yields 5.575 runs/game.  The best line-up: Fukudome, Ramirez, DeRosa, Edmonds, Lee, Soto, Fontenot, pitcher, Theriot, giving 5.816 runs/game.  Again, these are based on this year’s stats, but hey, we all know how much Sweet Lou loves to play the hot hand.  Have fun coming up with your own line-ups.

Written by ollie

17 July 2008 at 6:24 am

Posted in players, stats

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