Monday, June 27, 2011

Positives So Far

There is a lot of talk about the Giants luck with their 22-11 record in 1-run games.  So I do what I usually do, research and see what had happened in the past.

There is no rhyme or reason that I can see.  Here are the teams, their record in 1-run games and their RA rank in the NL:

  • 2006:  Mets 31-16 (3rd but close to 2nd in RA), Dres 30-22 (1st)
  • 2007:  D-backs 32-20 (6th), D-gers 28-20 (4th)
  • 2008:  Brewers 28-17 (4th), Giants 31-21 (9th)
  • 2009:  Marlins 30-20 (10th)
  • 2010:  Phillies 29-17 (4th)
However, one common, though not strong link, is being among the leaders in Runs Allowed, which the Giants have been in recent years and is again this season.  And there is always at least one team that is at least 10 games above .500 in 1-run games, at least in recent years, so the baseball gods appear to randomly anoint one team to be that lucky team each year.  The Giants appears to be that team this season.

Now the D-backs are 8 games above .500 in 1-run games too, but it would not be unusual if two teams are that far ahead.  The Phillies and Pirates are the only other teams significantly above .500, both at 5 games above .500.  It would take quite a surge on their part plus drop in the Giants part for their positions to flip flop.

Thus, while it is luck that gives the Giants such a great record in 1-run games, that luck does not reverse during the season necessarily.  It does not even seem to reverse over seasons either.

Bochy Great in 1-Run Games:  More Evidence He is a Great Manager

FYI, the Giants have had a good record in 1-run games since almost when Bochy took over.  his first season, 24-28, but in following seasons:  31-21 (2008); 21-22 (2009); 28-24 (2010); 22-11 (so far in 2011).  Then I got curious and checked further back into Bochy's time with San Diego.  Consider my mind BLOWN!

Out of 17 seasons as manager, including his partial first season and this season, he has been 8 games above .500 in 8 of those seasons, or roughly half his career.  Over those 17 seasons, there have been a total of roughly 266 NL team seasons, and there has only been 41 of those seasons.  Bochy's teams are responsible for roughly 20% of those "lucky" season, has roughly one for every two seasons he has managed, or 50%, whereas overall there has only been 15% of those types of seasons overall.

I knew Bochy was good, but I think this is probably the best example of how good a manager he has been.  Looking at the commonality of 1-run games, the most prominent characteristic is that the team is typically one of the Top 4 teams in the NL in Runs Allowed.  But it is not like all the Top 4 teams has this "luck" happening to them.  That is a significant factor, clearly, but also just as clearly, not even close to being a determining factor.  Also just as clearly, Bochy appears to know how to manage his teams to generate this plus factor many times over his managerial career.

I, like most Giants fans, was not too impressed with the selection of Bochy, though I gave him his due because of how well he had managed the 'Dres.  I have grown to like him as a manager over the years, though, per comments I had heard SD fans mention before plus actions as manager, I did not think that he would be able to lead us to the World Series Championship we all desired.

Then last season changed my mind.  He benched Rowand and started Torres, dumped Wellemeyer once Bumgarner was ready, pushed out Romo then accepted him back in (Dusty would have just kept him in the doghouse), went with Posey over Molina once they thought he was ready, kept Renteria on the bench even though he was healthy while continuing to start Uribe.  Those were all impressive, then he continued it during the playoff:  while he kept Sandoval going as long as he wasn't mucking things up too much (i.e. as long as they were winning), he benched Pablo quickly in playoffs when he wasn't doing well, and most importantly of all, left Guillen and particularly Zito off the playoff rosters, while starting Cody Ross and Madison Bumgarner over the two of them.  Those were all tough minded moves, actions that could have caused severe dissension in the ranks, but moves that had to be made.  I posted a public apology to him and discussed my changed position and why in a post, though buried deep within a long post (I Believe in Bochy).

Beating Good Teams

Another positive, though it can and will change as teams move up and down, but the Giants currently has a very good record against teams .500 and above.  They are currently 25-17 (but was 30-20 just yesterday, before the game, so it does move) and frankly were not that good against teams .500 and above in previous seasons, only 33-41 in 2010, 39-40 in 2009.  Of course, this does not include the good teams they beat in the playoffs, that would have put them above .500 in 2010.

Where they have kicked butt previously was against the below .500 teams, 49-34 in 2009 and 59-29 in 2010).   They are actually struggling against the lower teams, relatively, with a 19-17 record (though as noted, this changes, it was .500 just yesterday at 14-14).  If they start to crush the lesser team more often, as they had in previous seasons, while staying good against the above .500 teams, they should continue to do well this season.

Home vs. Road

Their record is looking good in this regard as well.  They are 24-13 at home, .648 winning percentage, which is about what they did in 2009, 52-29, .642 pct.  So they are not overachieving in this regard.  And they are 20-21 on the road.  Basically, most teams are at best .500 on the road, typically, then make up the difference at home to win the division.  That is one truth about baseball, that you need to hold your own on the road while kicking butt at home.   The Giants have been doing that.


Another big change in 2011, though not positively, is that the Giants are beating up on LHP, they are 15-5 against them, but only 29-29 vs. RHP.   They have actually built their last two winning seasons upon beating up on RHP, going 65-53 in 2009 and 68-50 in 2010.  That is a big change this year, which I think people can put on the shoulders of Aubrey Huff and to a lesser degree, Pablo Sandoval missing so much time on the DL and Andres Torres' struggles this season.

Huff appears to be coming back nicely this month:  .300/.330/.500/.830, with only 11 K's in 90 AB.  Also, he has a .299 BABIP in June, which is more in line with his career and much higher than what it was in April and May.  But since his 3-homer game, he has not been hitting that well, though.  However, for his last 18 games he is hitting .323/.343/.415/.758 with 9 K's in 65 AB, high BABIP, so not sustainable, but remember this makes up some for his horrid BABIP in April and May, and brings the season's overall results closer to his .292 BABIP (and .300 for prior 3 seasons), and it is still low, .267.  Of course, he has had bad seasons before where he stays that low all season, so no guarantee he will improve, but at least he's hitting well so far in June both overall and lately.

Sandoval also appears to be coming back, though he has mostly struggled since.  But for his June 18th game, he would be working on a 12 game hit streak.  He has a more modest 7 game hit streak still, where he has been hitting .296/.286/.333/.617, and his power finally appears to be coming back, with his first double last night.  His BABIP of .348 during that 7 games is right there with what he did in 2008-2009, so he just needs to bring the power on for us to have our Kung Fu Panda back.  And hopefully his quad problem that took him out of the game on Sunday is a no-problem cautionary move on the Giants, Sandoval said that he's fine, he'll be back on Tuesday.

Torres, hopefully, is coming back.  He has recently admitted to struggling and that this had caused him to stop sleeping.  So Bochy gave him two days off and he went 3-4 with a homer.  And while he didn't get a hit the next two games, he did at least get walks.  We'll get a better idea this week.


Another thing that has been pointed out is that the Giants are really lucking out with their record because their Pythagorean suggests that they should be a .500 team right now because their runs scored is basically the same as their runs allowed.  And they have been lucking out.  But just because they lucked out so far, does not mean that the imbalance is going to be fixed this season.  This can and does revert to mean over seasons, not necessarily within a season, though that can happen too.

Also, there is an imbalance in games decided by 6 or more runs.  The Giants are 2-5 in those games.  Taking out this skewing of the runs data, instead of a Pythagorean of 38-40, the Giants would have a 40-38 based on the Pythagorean of the rest of the games, which is closer to their actual 44-34 record.  Again, that +4 does not necessarily readjusts in-season, as they were -2 last season.

In addition, I studied Pythagorean and managers before and found that Bochy's mean is not zero, hence he adds some value as a manager, over and beyond Pythagorean.  What I did was take his Pythagorean delta and posed the null hypothesis, and found that there is a high probability (though not 95% confidence level) that his Pythagorean mean was not zero.  He adds about 0.5-1 win per season, roughly.  Thus, over 2010-2011, the Giants are +2 and that could be about right, as much of that could be attributed to Bochy.  And this is probably demonstrated to some extent in the stats I showed above regarding his record in 1-run games.

Just Because This is Great Baseball

I hate Troy Tulowitski, both because he's a D-Rox and then exponentially so because he's an A's fan, but I have to bring this up.  A recent article noted his amazing at-bat the other day against the Yankees in NY. Watch the video, somehow he hits the ball, got weak contact, but because he has such great bat speed, he hits the ball again and this time he hits it into LF for a single.  Ah, the wonders of slo-mo!

Mediots Never Look Back

While searching for the post where I discussed my changed view on Bochy, I ran across this post where a columnist questioned the Giants moves while praising San Diego's and Texas' moves and I gave my response to her position.  It was in the Chronicle, but only in the print edition, so all I could do was discuss it, sorry.

Still, it shows that the media can get away with a lot of what they say without question.  I doubt anybody has written her and told her how wrong she was about San Diego and Texas, and especially about the Giants in particular.  Texas may lead the AL West right now, but a 41-38 record is nothing to write home about and, more importantly, it shows how much they lost when they traded away Smoak for Lee and then was unable to resign Lee.  I knew they were in trouble the moment I heard what he had to say about being a free agent.  And it was pretty clear that A-Gon was gone after the season, and there was no way they were going to replace him easily.  And, last but not least, the Giants did OK in the end, for the 2010 season.

I'll bet she's still writing about how she knows what's best for the Giants.  At least the columnist who made a big stink about the Giants needing to trade Lincecum for Rios doesn't write about the Giants much any more.  Good thing, as I was getting tired of seeing him spout off about the Giants after that, if it were at least good ideas or opinions, I would be OK with it, but it never got any better.

Wrong or Right, I Will Write:  But Hopefully I'm Right

I know I've been called on for things I've said wrong previously, and rightfully so.  As I've noted in my blog description, I know I'm not perfect.  However, at least I feel I have a clue about what makes a baseball team successful, from my study of baseball and statistics, which I've distilled into my ogc business plan for the Giants.  And I believe that I've been right more often than I've been wrong, and right in the big picture view for many years now.

Grant said to enjoy being right, about last season, when we had our dust-up at the end of last season, but that I was only right about the 2010 season and basically he implied "good luck on being right next season (not!)".  But, to be accurate, I've been right for a number of years now, as I have been discussing the change from the Bonds era to the Pitching era for a number of years now and about how well to expect the Giants to do each season.

And I have enjoyed it, not because I was right, but because the Giants have met my expectations, which is all I've ever aimed for.  I want to be right, but after a tough period in my teens where I dealt with my obsessive compulsive behavior, I know that is never possible to do all the time.  And that's OK.

Still, even back then, I knew  the right way was to assess without bias, so when the Giants sucked, I told my few Giants friends (we were deep in A's country) that they were wrong about the playoffs, the Giants weren't going anywhere, mediocrity was where we were headed.  I learned to set my expectations back then, good or bad.

And I think it helped me survive the 70's, 80's and 90's without becoming cynically negative about the Giants, as I've found many of Giants fans of that era to be, first on Usenet, then on the public boards and Giants communities I've gone to and commented at.  They never seem to enjoy any baseball season, except for the humor of lambasting the Giants.  I have never understood that, it just seems so masochistic to me (humor I understand, I especially love dark humor, but I think they were uniformly pessimistic, just because that's all they could do now).

I love baseball and I want to enjoy it, so my main goal every season is to try to have reasonable expectations for the Giants each season, adjusting it as calamities (such as Bonds being out or Posey being out all season would do to the team) occur, and enjoy rooting on my San Francisco Giants to fulfill their potential, as I see it and depending on where in their rebuild life-cycle the team is in.

I will be wrong again but know that I'll work hard to minimize that.  If that is OK with you, great, but that is what I have been doing and will continue to do.  And I welcome any comment, particularly any that catches any error in my logic or disagreement with my opinion, but as some have learned, I will defend my position if I feel strongly about it, so be prepared for a big discussion.  And I will admit that sometimes I'm just dense and not getting it, so please be patient.

I write because this is stuff I'm interested in (or that comes to mind) but not seeing anywhere.  I will probably stop writing when others fulfill this need for me.  Until then, you can count on me to be writing here on my blog (though not on each and every series, sorry, just not feeling it).


  1. Thanks for the work on Bochy and 1 run games. I guess this should completely put to rest the notion(and I've said it myself) that he's not a good in-game manager. Dude may talk like Eeyore, but he's got a lot going on in that big melon of his.

  2. Nice post. Keep them coming - this is one of the best sites when I'm looking for something in-depth or something other than the same-ol' stuff. So thanks!



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