I had a couple of very interesting topics planned, and had almost finished a write up. Then PWHjort put up his awesome FanPost that covered two of the topics I wanted to explore in depth, Braves Fielding performance based on UZR, and our Pythagorean win report.
Instead, I have a couple of short subjects that I will be supporting with my new feature, BravesGraphs. Why graphs? Because when I am making graphs it looks suspiciously like I am working, and not posting on Braves blogs. So below are some quick hit topics.
Also the resolution is lower on these graphs then I would like, and they are also sized smaller. If you want to see the info clearer, click on the graphs to expand.
Baseball Prospectus Playoff Projections
In Bronn's rather excellent FanPost several days ago, he brought up the Baseball Prospectus Playoff Forecasting tool, and went over some of our Braves projections. Just a quick refresher: BP calculates the odds daily of any given MLB Club winning their division, taking the wild card, and total chances at Playoffs. They do this by analyzing your current record, and then creating a projected "Win Expectancy %" for the balance of the season based on the Runs allowed / Scored ratio, and other information.
This is the basic BP Playoff odds through this morning. They are forecasting us a 22% chance of winning the division, 8% chance of winning the wildcard, for a 30% overall chance of making the playoffs. At the all-star break, we were forecasted at 15% of making the playoffs, so this hot streak has obviously really helped us. It is also interesting to note that BP is much higher on us winning the division then taking the wildcard.
BP Offers a second set of forecast, that uses the PECOTA Model to calculate the teams future performance for the season. This model LOVES us, relatively. It gives us a 43% chance of winning the division, vs. the 22% from the regular model . Along with a 15% chance of taking the wildcard, it has us posted for a whopping 57% likelihood to reach the post season, through this morning.
What is interesting to take away from these graphs is how radically this recent win streak has affected our likelihood of making the post season, in the eyes of this model. Another thing that Bronn covered, that I want to reiterate, is that projection models and Pythagorean W/L models like the Braves alot, and consider us a couple of wins better then our current record. Very encouraging. I am totally addicted to tracking this on a daily basis, and seeing what change each additional win/loss gives us.
Braves OPS Production by Time Period
Baseball is a weird sport. Supposedly, baseball is the ultimate individual sport. Every event that takes place in a baseball game is an individual event. It is not like Football, Baseball & Soccer... everything can be described by a collection of individual performances. Which is why it is so fascinating that on a club level, things can be so streaky. Take the Brave's offensive performance, for example. We seem to start hitting, and stop hitting, as a group.
I have broken down this season into 6 Periods, in 15 game intervals (except for the "current period", which is approximately 20 games). I then tracked our performance in the OPS category in these periods.
This is our total team OPS by period, correlated with our winning % over that same period. As you can see they are pretty tightly correlated, with the exception of period three where we couldn't hit water if we fell out of a boat, but were still winning at a 60% clip. The most important thing to note is the .846 OPS since June 29th. League average OPS is .746, so have only been above that in the first period, and the most recent period. But any time you have a team hitting .846 OPS as a group, you are going to be winning games. Especially when your pitching staff is as gnarly as ours.
Let's look at some of our individual hitters:
Zooming in on this one is probably a good idea. This represents the OPS over time of 5 of the guys who have had the most at bats for us this year: Chipper, Mccann, Frenchy, Garret Anderson, and Kotchman. A couple of the key points here:
- Chipper has been consistently excellent of course, but peep his 6/13-6/28 run. Thats a .650 OPS over that 15 game period. Ladies and gents when Chipper is that bad, then you KNOW the team isn't playing well.
- FUGA's and Kotchman's steady improvement. FUGA's periods 1 and 2 were .551 and .405 respectively. That kind of OPS makes Frenchy look like Albert Pujols. But he has posted some very respectable numbers since then, including an .890 and .843 in the most recent 35 game stretch. Kotchman is very similar, he has been aweful at times, but since 6/29 he has put up a .909 OPS.
- Mccann is awesome. Moving on.
- Frenchy. Hold on, let me stifle a giggle for a little bit. He started off tolerable for Frenchy standards, with a .795 OPS in period 1. Now lets get his next 5 splits: .660, .460, .523, .695, .667. That is not major league production. There are girls on my coed softball team who could probably out perform that by just coming up and taking some goddamned pitches from time to time. As everyone here figured out a while ago, this offense clicks alot better without that black hole.
With that out of the way, there is one more major at bat guy that hasn't been discussed:
That's right, we are all witnessing the ESCOPACOLYPSE. Since the trade rumor time in mid June, during which he posted a .640 OPS, he has posted an absolutely blistering 1.180 OPS since June 28th. Holy f&#@* s*#!
Yunel is beating the ball like it owes him money. He is hitting balls more then Ike hit Tina. Keep in mind this 1.180 OPS does NOT include the home run he hit today, as I don't have todays data factored in yet.
He has been doing this while maintaining a positive UZR at a premium defensive position. If he can keep any level of this performance up for the balance of the season, it is going to go a long damn way for this offense.
Chipper Jones: The man, the myth, the legend
Just a quick Chipper Jones anecdote to round out what is looking like a tough day in the ATL.
I went to college in Deland, Fl, which some of you may recognize as the birthplace of Chipper Jones. Larry Jones Sr played baseball at my Alma Mater, Stetson University, and later on coached baseball there. While he was at Stetson, he was also a member of my same fraternity, and actually lived in the same fraternity house that I did (albeit 30 years earlier). We would routinely tell people that Chipper Jones was actually conceived in our house, even though the dates don't add up.
Anyways, Chipper casts a large shadow in Deland. Not too long ago he donated a boatload of money to Deland Little League, to build the Chipper Jones Family complex. And you end up running into alot of older people who knew Chipper in his youth.
I knew a guy who had coached Chipper in basketball as a youth. He always had awesome stories about Chipper's athletic prowess as a kid. A couple of these:
- Chipper was the most ridiculous athlete anyone had ever seen. He was the best in the region at absolutely any sport that he touched. This guy thinks Chipper could have gone pro in 3 sports.
- Chipper could dunk a basketball at about 13 or 14
- Chipper was dropping 300+ ft bombs not far removed from Little League.
These aren't mind altering facts, but I think they illustrate a larger point: Chipper is awesome. Nowadays we see an older, slightly injury prone Chipper. But he was, and remains, a world class athlete.