I saw this linked at Baseball Musings, but on the off chance anyone is reading here who doesn’t read there, I wanted to share it. Flip Flop Fly Ball has the most amazing graphs about baseball. This one, showing the flight paths the Kansas City Royals will be taking this season, is probably my favorite.
Tag Archives: charts
So, yeah. The Cubs have won every game in which they’ve scored more than six runs. They’ve won 80% of the games in which they’ve scored between four and six. And they’ve lost every game where they’ve scored less than four.
The bullpen has been bad, but it’s really not the Cubs’ main problem. They should be better than 0-12 when they score less than four, but you wouldn’t expect them to have a good record when they get that little offense. The problem is that they have twelve games where they’ve scored less than four runs. If they keep scoring two runs or less in a third of their games, they’re going to be in trouble. If the offense can pick them up, though, they’ll be alright.
Berselius asked me in the comments to do what I did for Fergie and Maddux, but to include Sammy Sosa in the graph. I did that and added Ryne Sandberg as well. Sammy compares quite well to the most recent Cubs to have their numbers retired:
Really, Sosa’s line is right along Sandberg’s line there, with a higher peak year. Of course, you need to discount for having a boombox and leaving a game he wasn’t playing in early. And unsubstantiated allegations of steroid use. I think once you do so you get a graph that looks a little like this:
It’s not an accident that I reused the same graph.
Seriously, I can understand there’s bad blood between Sammy and the Cubs, but he should – and someday he will – have his number retired. He’s the greatest hitter this team has had in my lifetime.
The Cubs go on the road for three are at home for three games against the Reds (I don’t know why I thought this was the start of the road trip). This is the one place we might really miss Mark DeRosa, since if memory serves, he just destroyed the Reds every time the two teams played in the last two seasons. But the current Cubs hitters have done alright against the pitching they’re going to face. First up for the Reds is Micah Owings, who no Cub has had 10 PA against. He could certainly put together a good game, but I fear his 129 OPS+ at the plate more than I fear him as a pitcher. The other two scheduled to go in this series are Johnny Cueto and Aaron Harang, who do have several Cubs who’ve accumulated 10 PAs against them:
This might be a good chance for Soto to break out – he’s done really well against the Reds’ starters in the past, and he’s got to start hitting some time. Lee has been hitting well over his last few games, too, and he’s a good candidate to continue that trend. Note that Z has pretty good numbers of Harang, too. I’m sure there will be comparisons between him and Owings, so I bet he’ll be looking to get that first home run on Thursday.
Harden, yet again, hasn’t faced many of the Reds very often. The whole team only has a handful of appearances against him, with Laynce Nix as the sole Red who qualifies for listing here. The smattering of appearances Reds batters do have against Harden, though, favor Harden. There’s more data for Lilly and Zambrano, who’ve been in the NL Central slightly longer than Harden.
The Reds who are not Brandon Phillips have hit Lilly rather hard, and you have to figure that’s the game the Cubs are most likely to lose. Zambrano has handled the Reds pretty well, holding their current players well below where their team OPS has been over his career.
The Reds are 7-5 right now, so they’re right there with the Cubs and the Cardinals so far. They’re not hitting very well as a team. Hopefully the Cubs starters can keep their bats cold for another three games and get a few wins to before they start the road trip.
Soriano’s Win Probability Added is now at 1.28 over the first ten games of the season. That’s second in the majors behind Aaron Hill, who is at 1.30 I thought it might be interesting to see the ebb and flow of WPA for Soriano this season. I didn’t start the graph at 0 at bats, so it starts with the result of his first at bat (a home run), which is why it doesn’t start at 0 WPA.
The giant spike there is his 9th-inning go-ahead homer off the Brewers last week. The second-largest one is, of course, his home run yesterday to put the Cubs ahead in the eighth. Since they had another frame coming up to bat in, there was a chance they could take the lead back there, too, which is why yesterday’s home run didn’t add quite as much win probability as the one against the Brewers. In fact, five of the top six win-probability-adding events for Soriano this season were his five home runs. The other? A bases-loaded walk against Jeff Suppan on April 12 that extended the Cubs’ lead. The biggest negative event (good for -.104) was Soriano’s two-out flyout against Adam Wainwright in the sixth with the bases loaded on Thursday.
Up next: four games against the Cardinals. Would be nice to see the Cubs take the series. Would also be nice to see Aramis and Milton Bradley healthy for the series, since neither of them played at all against the Rockies.
Here are the current Cubs versus the Cardinals’ starters who are going in this series. The graph only shows those Cubs with 10 PAs against the Cardinals’ starters. The “total” line includes all plate appearances by current Cubs against the Cardinals’ pitchers.
The Cubs have done very well against Wainwright and especially Lohse, with Ramirez in particular putting up cartoonish numbers against Lohse. Lee has had the worst success of any of these hitters against any of these pitchers, with a .334 OPS versus Wellemeyer, but he seems to be getting hot in the last few days, so maybe he can turn that around.
On to the Cubs’ starters versus the Cardinals.
The most noticeable thing to me is how the Cubs starters have fared against Pujols. Pujols has a career 1.050 OPS. In other words, even Dempster, against whom he’s OPSing .788, has handled him fairly well. Meanwhile, Yadier Molina has done better than his career average against every Cub except Marshall, so he’s picked up some of the slack.
No matchup graph for this one to compare starter ERAs versus the other team – with Carpenter on the DL I’m not sure exactly how the Cardinals are managing their rotation, so I don’t know who’s starting which days.
The pitching matchups for this weekend’s series favor the Cubs: Harden/Looper, Zambrano/Bush, and Dempster/Suppan. I probably don’t need to provide you with graphs or numbers to get you to believe that – avoiding Parra and Gallardo is a real boon, so thanks for setting your rotation up that way for no real reason, Ken Macha.
However, I will give you both. First, the starters’ career ERAs versus the other team. For Harden, this is in fairly few innings, for everyone else, it’s considerably more:
The Cubs have the edge there in all three matchups. The only thing that surprises me is that it’s not more lopsided. But just because Suppan has a good ERA against the Cubs doesn’t mean he’s actually a good pitcher, I guess.
Next, we have performance against the Brewers’ starters for current Cubs. I restricted it to ten plate appearances minimum, which is a threshold a lot of Cubs can’t meet. I guess it’s not that surprising, given that this team has turned over starters in two outfield spots, second base, shortstop, and catcher since the start of 2007. That makes me wonder if that kind of turnover is precedented for a team that’s won its division in the same span. But on to the graph!
Two Cubs have had some success against Looper: Fukudome and Soto. Not surprisingly, they’re both barely over the 10 PA cutoff. And Soto won’t be playing tomorrow, so that doesn’t really help us anyway. Ramirez and Lee have hammered Bush, with Soriano’s line looking lackluster only by comparison. And Theriot and Lee have both gotten to Suppan in the past, though if they’re the only two who get to him Sunday night, I’ll be disappointed.
Here’s the Brewers versus the Cubs’ starters. In spite of being a young team, they’ve had less turnover than the Cubs in the last few years. But due to Cubs turnover, no Brewer has the ten minimum PAs versus Harden.
I think the conclusions to be drawn here are pretty obvious: Prince Fielder is a good hitter. Jason Kendall for some reason owns Ryan Dempster (in a surprisingly large number of plate appearances). Zambrano has had a little trouble containing Braun, Dempster hasn’t. Corey Hart wears sunglasses at night.
This series looks good for the Cubs, although the second series of the year doesn’t really matter. Off the top of my head, I think the Cubs lost four of six or four of seven against the Brewers in Chicago the first month of the season last year, and yet they ran away with the division. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping to see them jump out to a lead in the division early on.