Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
In the rubber match of the Jays opening homestand Ted Lilly returned from the disabled list to face Matt Clement.

Clement, hotly pursued by the Jays in the offseason, started for the defending World Series champions, giving Jays fans a first-hand look at the talent that eluded this organisation. However, equally as compelling was the chance to see how Lilly, who had barely worked this year, performed after coming off the DL. I attended my third straight game at the SkyDome (yes, the SkyDome), but unfortunately was unable to meet up with the Cheer Clubbers or other Bauxites.

However, the improvements to the Rogers Centre have been discussed relatively thoroughly and though they are impressive I wonít dwell on them any longer. Nevertheless, they are substantial and I have to give a lot of credit to those behind them as theyíve noticeably improved the experience at the Dome. In the end though, what we really care about is the product on the field and this series provided us with three memorable games.

Over at the Hardball Times, Studes has written several interesting articles about win probability this offseason. To read more about the concept, an introductory article is located here and here is an example of a game Studes tracked using WPA.

The basic concept is that each situation in a baseball game is isolated, and each teamís probability of winning the game is calculated before and after the play. The change in the win probability becomes the win probability added, which can be a negative number. Looking at the change in win probability allows the analyst to assign a percentage of winning (or losing) to each player involved in the play. Over an entire game one can examine how much each player contributed to the game in a more quantitative way.

As Mike Green mentioned in his article on his bullpen project, I intend to examine, time-permitting, win probability added over the course of the season for the Jays, where I plan to analyse bullpen performance in more detail. In this game report, Iíll share the WPA scores for yesterdayís game and examine a couple of performances in more detail.

WPA Scores

Player 				WPA Score
Orlando Hudson			 .362
Eric Hinske			 .262
Edgar Renteria			 .231
Ted Lilly			 .198
Jason Varitek			 .118
Pete Walker			 .060
Reed Johnson			 .050
Johnny Damon			 .049
Alan Embree			 .044
Scott Schoeneweis		 .044
Kevin Youkilis			 .029
Alex Rios			 .029
Jay Payton			 .013
Corey Koskie			-.013
Vernon Wells			-.020
Frank Catalanotto		-.040
Russ Adams			-.043
Shea Hillenbrand		-.049
Bill Mueller			-.052
Trot Nixon			-.061
David Ortiz			-.074
Mark Bellhorn			-.078
Manny Ramirez			-.106
Kevin Millar			-.121
Greg Myers			-.123
Matt Clement			-.138
Miguel Batista			-.256
Mike Timlin			-.321

Obviously, the key contributors to the game were Hudson (primarily for his game-winning double), Hinske (the two-out single), Renteria (his game-tying single) and Lilly (for his overall performance). The poor relief performances of Timlin and Batista made them the two goats of the game, but Clement also ended up with a poor score, as did several hitters, mainly on the Red Sox.

Corey Koskie

In the game thread roster member Craig Burley expressed his opinion that Koskie was out at the plate when he tried to score given that Hinske had put himself into a rundown with a baserunning gaffe. Iíve watched the replay several times and Iím convinced that Koskie gets his hand on the plate before Varitek can tag him. Regardless of if Koskie was safe or out, it was still a heck of a slide on a nice attempt by Koskie to save Hinske from becoming a sitting duck. And Craigís point that you canít fault the umpire for the call because it was so close and he was positioned well is entirely correct. If you havenít seen and you get the chance, watch for O-Dogís reaction to Koskieís slide and then to the umpireís call. Itís great.

One of the flaws with WPA, and although I do think itís a very useful stat is also important to recognise itís limitations, whatever they maybe, is that Koskie gets no credit for this heads-up play and his smart slide. Itíd be tough to come up with any sort of stat that recognises that, but one should at least be aware of tendencies like that in a ballplayer. However, using WPA did allow me to break the play down and penalise Hinske for the third out, as it was his at-bat and overly aggressive base running that led to the play at home.

In terms of Koskieís WPA score, he added .067 to the game with his walk off Clement in the fifth inning with Wells and Hudson on and one out. Koskie lost .050 when he grounded out with Adams and O-Dog on base and two out in the third inning. He also lost points with his fly ball in the first and ground out in the seventh, but the two most important at-bats are described above. In the end, Koskieís performance was slightly negative, but barely noticeable.

Russ Adams

Adams, who has been pretty solid so far this year, ended up with -.043 on the game, giving him the third worst offensive performance of any Jay, ahead of only Hillenbrand and Myers. Adams lost exactly that amount of points when he struck out with runners on second and third in the fourth. He was actually involved in several key plays this game, as he gained credit of .057 in the third with a walk, but lost .018 with his fielderís choice in the sixth inning and then .039 when he led off the ninth with a pop fly.

I was also particularly impressed with his decision on the Damon tapper in the ninth. Other similarly inexperienced shortstops might have tried to rush a throw, either to second or first, in an attempt to make the play and secure the win. In the process, there is a good chance they could have thrown the ball away and this would have been an extremely costly error, especially given Renteriaís single. Even though one out would have given the Jays the win Adams held onto the ball and let Batista go after the next batter. Adams will make errors this year, but if he continues to show a high baseball IQ and refines that portion of his game heíll turn into a good captain of the infield.

Pete Walker

The bullpen numbers debate looks like it wonít go away anytime soon, and I donít think it should given the fact that I, and many others, donít believe the Jays are utilising their roster for maximum efficiency. Several Bauxites have expressed the sentiment, to which I agree completely, that if one member of the bullpen is eliminated it should not be Walker. His ability to pitch effectively in reasonably long stints is something that is needed in any bullpen, especially one with Towers and Chacin manning the back of the rotation. If a starter gets knocked out in the third Walker is the best pitcher to do three or four innings and avoid Gibbons using basically everyone else in the pen.

Plus, Walker looked extremely effective yesterday. His return to the big leagues following a disastrous 2004 is a nice story, but Walker looks to have the potential to be much more than a Doug Linton-style human interest piece. Walkerís pitches looked quite sharp yesterday and he seemed to be spotting them almost precisely where he wanted them. His injury issues explain his struggles last year in Japan and Walker looks to have fully recovered. If the Jays go down to six men, based on the way things look right now, I donít think Walker should be demoted. In a couple of months it may be a different scenario, but right now I think he fills an important role.

The fourth-most valuable contributor to the victory yesterday, Walker got seven outs in a row before giving up a single to Ramirez and then leaving before he faced Ortiz. Aside from a Bellhorn fly ball to right beside the fence, none of the balls were hit very hard and he struck out Varitek, Youkilis and Renteria. In fact, his score seemed a bit low and he did lose .039 of credit due to the Ramirez single, otherwise he would have been at .100 or so.

Looking Ahead

If you didnít get your fill of Boston watching the Jays take two of three from the World Series champs, Sportsnet is carrying their home opener at 3pm tomorrow against the Yankees. The Jays travel to Oakland to open a series against the very interesting Oakland Aís, which I am quite looking forward to. Today Kirk Saarloos faces off against Gustavo Chacin.

Thanks to Studes for all of his help with WPA. He has been, and continues to be, an outstanding resource.

Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 3 | 24 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
hugh - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 08:10 AM EDT (#110500) #
Nice work, Thomas. A lot of these statistics are almost gibberish to me without context and discussion, and I'm moving nicely along the learning curve with the posts here...

Can anyone that was at the game yesterday fill me in about the behaviour of the crowd? I was at the home opener and was embarrassed by the stuff that was thrown on the field...
truefan - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 08:50 AM EDT (#110502) #
Great game, and I think that Batista was a bit unlucky that the save fell apart in the top of the ninth; some of those 'hits' were on pretty defensive swings. I do like the new turf on balance, but did anyone notice that some guys were stumbling out there? Recall that Johnson's 'hit' in the bottom of the ninth was on a Bellhorn stumble, and did anyone see a Blue Jay (was it Adams?) take a major header crossing the foul line running back to the dugout partway through the game? I wonder if the new turf is a bit thicker than expected and is catching in the cleats?
Kieran - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 09:02 AM EDT (#110503) #
I actually disagree that Merriwether was well positioned to make the call on Koskie's slide at the plate. I was in the stands, third base, 4 rows back and it was clear as day from my angle that he was safe.

For some reason, umpires usually make this call from INSIDE the diamond, when I think the better view is from OUTSIDE the baselines. This is because the runner inevitably will slide to the outside of the line. When it comes to determining if the tag touched the body, or at what point it did, the best view (in my opinion) is behind the plate and slightly up the 3rd base line.

Same thing goes for stolen bases - the call is always made from inside the diamond. But the runners usually slide to the outside and reach in for the bag. Again, I think the best view would be from behind 2nd base, a little towards 1st.

I realize that the counter argument is that the runner's body could block the view, but having watched many umpires blow similar calls, I am in favour of trying a new spot.
Mark - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 09:11 AM EDT (#110504) #
In terms of Batista being unlucky because the swings were defensive, the Boston announcers brought up a good point saying that Batista only missed one bat, a high strike to Belhorn, every other strike was called or foul. They went on to say that to be a successful closer you need to miss bats, otherwise what we witnessed last night-defensive swings that result in hits and a blown save- will happen more often. Of course it was a one game sample size analysis but it was a refreshing coming from the away announcers.
uglyone - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 09:30 AM EDT (#110506) #
If Gibbons continues to yank his pitchers in the 5th and 6th innings after 90 pitches, methinks we're gonna need 7 'pen pitchers this year.
Thomas - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 09:50 AM EDT (#110507) #
Hugh, you weren't the only one. The crowd was fine on Saturday and Sunday from what I recall. There were no repeats of the magnet incident and no fools jumping onto the field. The crowd was relatively loud, with some Red Sox fans mixed in, and they seemed to get into both games, all things considered. It wasn't like a game at Fenway, but it was good for a Toronto crowd.
Jordan - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 09:54 AM EDT (#110508) #
If Gibbons continues to yank his pitchers in the 5th and 6th innings after 90 pitches

Well, I doubt this will be an issue past the first week or so of the season. Spring training is receding in the distance and pitch counts will rise accordingly. I expect to see all the starters (with the possible exception of Lilly) pass the 100-pitch mark by the end of this week at the latest.

timpinder - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 10:36 AM EDT (#110510) #
Koskie was safe but it's a moot point since the Jays ultimately won the game anyway. As for Batista, I agree that he was unlucky. His fastball was up there at 94-95, it had good movement, and he had solid command. Damon chopped one straight down that bounced off the plate and went 50' in the air. He's a great hitter and if he hits that ball a little BETTER, it rolls right to Adams for the third out. The Jays win 3-1, Batista gets his third save in as many tries, and we're not having this discussion. Batista looked good and just got some bad bounces, I'm not too worried. The only thing that worried me about Batista closing was that he'd come on in the ninth and walk the bases loaded. Atleast he's trusting his stuff and throwing strikes.
Useless Tyler - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 11:58 AM EDT (#110522) #
As to the crowd - they were amazing. Smallest crowd of the series, but during Batista's 2-out battles at the end of the ninth, I have never heard skydome as loud as I did there - standing on their feet, drowning out Red Sox chants, it was amazing to behold.

At the same time, Batista's walks and hits allowed KILLED the crowd more than I have ever seen a Skydome crowd killed, though.

The very end, on Hudson's hit, saw quite some celebration from the fans - it's great to see a Toronto crowd really energized about its team - the efforts that the organisation has made I think are paying off. Of course, winning remains the best way to energize a crowd and they certainly had that in spades during the last two of the opener series.

I shiver to think at how loud the dome could've been had they played this well during the 50,000+ opener.
Willy - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 01:54 PM EDT (#110543) #
I'd guess that a lot of the Opening Day magnet-throwers were Red Sox fans. (That and some hockey fans overdosed on adrenalin at actually getting to watch a live sporting event.) The magnets had absolutely no value to Sox fans. If the Jays ever open again against the Red Sox or Yankees, whose fans can be here in droves, I'd hope they would not distribute projectile souvenirs that day. Yesterday, of course, a lot of the Sox fans were in their cars heading home.

Opening Day has always brought out the bozos though. They probably won't be back for a while.
Joe - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 02:00 PM EDT (#110544) #
I shiver to think at how loud the dome could've been had they played this well during the 50,000+ opener.
In the bottom of the 9th of the home opener, most of the drunken twits with no judgment[1] had left, and the crowd remaining was astonishing. About 40000, maybe 45000 (I can't really say, since I'm no judge of crowd size) people left, all into the game, and everyone was on their feet. It was louder than I can ever remember. I really hope this trend of fans getting really into the game continues.

1. During my university career and co-op jobs, I thought that I had discovered the foolishness that is the rule in highschool became extinct as people grew up. I guess that could be the case in the majority of people who are university-educated, but I don't think that's the majority of people out there. I can't really reconcile what I thought people are like and what I observed in the Rogers Centre otherwise.

Joe - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 02:02 PM EDT (#110545) #
I'd guess that a lot of the Opening Day magnet-throwers were Red Sox fans. (That and some hockey fans overdosed on adrenalin at actually getting to watch a live sporting event.)
Nope, having observed some of those idiots in action, they were the common everyday person who doesn't a) know about baseball, b) care about baseball. The sort of person who starts "Go Leafs Go" chants at the game. Shit-disturbers who, as I've mentioned before, have no common sense or judgment.
Jared S - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 02:04 PM EDT (#110547) #
This is a little off topic but for those of you with Rogers Digital Cable, the entire Oakland series will be televised on channel 43 (I'm in Thornhill). It's one of Roger's tutorial channels with Brian Williams explaining the wonders of digital/hdtv.

Joe - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 02:09 PM EDT (#110549) #
Holy crap, Jared, that's awesome. For me, the series is on channel 1, "Info." I had no idea!
Jordan - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 02:10 PM EDT (#110551) #
I can't really reconcile what I thought people are like and what I observed in the Rogers Centre otherwise.

The anonymity of crowds encourages a breakdown of socialization and a reduction of individual responsibility. It's how mobs start, among other things.

costanza - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 02:41 PM EDT (#110558) #
The anonymity of crowds encourages a breakdown of socialization and a reduction of individual responsibility.

...kind of like the behaviour on the internet.

Anyways, I'm kind of surprised none of the Cheer Club-ers have mentioned the cheerleader we had in the section. I coincidentally wound up in the same section, but even hearing "Going Going Myers" didn't tip me off that that's who was it was behind us.

There was a woman... I'm not sure what her role was... she was wearing a Blue Jay shirt, so I can only assume she was part of the Game Staff. Every time the Jays were up, she'd start a chant for the player at-bat -- "When I say Vernon, you say Hit! Vernon -- Hit! Vernon -- Hit! Vernon -- Hit! Hit! Hit!". It was one of the more bizarre things I've ever seen at a game. I hope that this isn't the organization's new strategy of getting the crowd involved. Maybe I'm just overly cynical, but it seemed really cheesy to me. (Though coming back in the ninth to thank everyone for helping her cheer was nice)

One "exchange" I heard that kind of made me smile --

From above: "Where's your Ped-ro?!?

After a short pause, From a Sox fan, in a note-for-note response: "Where's Del-ga-do?!?!"

Ouch. :)

TorontoDan - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 02:51 PM EDT (#110559) #
Hah. It was the first time I had seen her (the other guys knew her act) and my eyes were rolling so far they nearly fell out of my head. It felt like I was stuck at an awkward Thanksgiving dinner with my Grandma, and I think her creepy little "hit hit hit" cheer didn't work, ever. Personally I hated it, but it was nothing compared to the fake crowd noise they pumped out of the speakers behind us in the ninth. Now that was hilarious..and sad. The fake cheering coming out of the speakers was so loud we couldn't say anything until it was over, and the dome was loud enough anyway before that started. I hope they don't do that often.
Ron - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 02:52 PM EDT (#110560) #
I'm just watched the Sox ceremony and it was real classy.

Pesky came out and hugged all the players.

I got the chills watching it.

Thomas - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 03:00 PM EDT (#110562) #
There was a woman... I'm not sure what her role was... she was wearing a Blue Jay shirt, so I can only assume she was part of the Game Staff. Every time the Jays were up, she'd start a chant for the player at-bat -- "When I say Vernon, you say Hit! Vernon -- Hit! Vernon -- Hit! Vernon -- Hit! Hit! Hit!". It was one of the more bizarre things I've ever seen at a game. I hope that this isn't the organization's new strategy of getting the crowd involved. Maybe I'm just overly cynical, but it seemed really cheesy to me.

That's Maureen. She's been an usher at the Dome for years. Since I started attended hardcore in 2001, she's always been there. She's a big fan herself, and gets quite into the games from what I can tell. The "Hit, Hit, Hit" cheer is her standard cheer, and she'll usually try to get whatever section she is assigned to (at least if it's in the 500's) cheering along with her.

You need not worry, or be disappointed if that's your preference, this is not the team's policy, but simply Maureen's personal enthusiasm.

Thomas - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 03:01 PM EDT (#110563) #
but it was nothing compared to the fake crowd noise they pumped out of the speakers behind us in the ninth. Now that was hilarious..and sad.

I agree, they need to cut that out pronto. Nobody was fooled and it didn't get people cheering, either.

Braby21 - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 04:33 PM EDT (#110589) #
This is a little off topic but for those of you with Rogers Digital Cable, the entire Oakland series will be televised on channel 43 (I'm in Thornhill). It's one of Roger's tutorial channels with Brian Williams explaining the wonders of digital/hdtv.

They don't have a similar channel on Bell ExpressVu do they??

VBF - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 04:40 PM EDT (#110592) #
Yea, Maureen's definitely the best. I think she's been doing that chant and ushering since SkyDome opened. Can you imagine the diversity of players she's cheered through the years? And Maureen loves the flag and cowbell which is more than I can say about alot of the ushers there. Her cheers weren't too loud since she had a small section to work with. Give her a full one and the crowd'll be going in no time.

Her, the "hah-dahg peena" guy, and the "icccceeeee cooollllldd beeeeerrrr" guy are what make SkyDome so interesting.
VBF - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 04:42 PM EDT (#110593) #
This is a little off topic but for those of you with Rogers Digital Cable, the entire Oakland series will be televised on channel 43 (I'm in Thornhill). It's one of Roger's tutorial channels with Brian Williams explaining the wonders of digital/hdtv.

For those in the Mississauga/West GTA area, the channel is 59.

costanza - Monday, April 11 2005 @ 05:10 PM EDT (#110600) #
Yea, Maureen's definitely the best. I think she's been doing that chant and ushering since SkyDome opened. Can you imagine the diversity of players she's cheered through the years?

Interesting to know, thanks. I guess maybe I'm glad I was never in her section before. I didn't dislike the chant, but TorontoDan's choice of term (awkward) kind of fit... especially since we were sitting really close to where she was doing it from. She was so enthusiastic about it, I felt kind of guilty not joining in... I actually tried to avoid eye contact, and then felt more guilty.

Many people did enjoy it, though, and it's hard not to love her energy. I was amused when she refused a "bribe" to start an "I say Manny, you say Hit!" chant. (Actually, I think she said that if they paid for a trip to Boston, she'd cheer for the Sox there. :)

Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 3 | 24 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.