Esoteric Boxscore of the Day

October 19, 2005

Probability, Shmobability!

As many others, I'm sure, after watching Game 5 of the NLCS, I flashed back to another LCS Game 5 with a team one strike away from their first World Series. As unlikely as this year's outcome was, I think the following one was even more so.

October 12, 1986
ALCS Game 5
Boston 7, California 6, 11 innings
BOS   0  2  0    0  0  0    0  0  4    0  1  -   7 12  0
CAL 0 0 1 0 0 2 2 0 1 0 0 - 6 13 0
Today's Boxscore

The Angels were sitting pretty. Just the day before, they'd overcome a three-run ninth-inning deficit to win Game 4 and take a commanding three-games-to-one lead in the 1986 ALCS. And here they were, with their own ninth-inning, three-run lead, thanks in part to Boston center fielder Dave Henderson turning an out into a two-run homer. Now is when you start thinking, what are the chances that they could actually blow this?

According to the awesome Win Expectancy Finder, which uses game data from 1979-1990, the chances were small. Reeeallly small. The Angels had a 97.9% chance of winning, meaning that if they replayed the ninth inning 48 times, they would win the game, on average, 47 times. But California was no "average" team. Going back seven seasons, to 1980, California had been 288-1 when leading by three or more runs after eight, including 72-0 with exactly a three-run lead!! (Ironically, the only ninth-inning, multi-run comeback the '86 Angels allowed was in the first week of the season against (of course) Dave Henderson’s Mariners.)

And the Red Sox weren't exactly experienced at this, either, The '86 crew entered the ninth inning at least three runs down 53 times and never won. In fact, Boston had lost 113 of these games in a row, dating back to their last such win in August of 1984. And in 1986, in the late innings (seventh through ninth), the Sox generated only 23 three-plus run rallies in 436 turns at bat.

So when California relievers surrendered two runs to make it a one-run game, you get nervous. But with two outs and nobody on, they should still have a 97.5% (39 in 40) chance to win. No sweat.

Um, yes sweat. Rich Gedman--the guy with a .323 on-base percentage, including only 11 HBP in over 2200 plate appearances--gets hit by a pitch. Then Dave Henderson--the guy who'd hit only one home run in 51 at-bats after his August 19 trade to the Sox, and none with a runner on in 102 at-bats since July 22--hits it out of the park...with two strikes. So the Sox have overcome some impressive odds to take the lead. But wait, there's more!

In the bottom of the ninth, the Angels tied the game back up in short order, with a single, sacrifice, and another single. Then after yet another single and an intentional walk, they had another golden opportunity to win it. After missing out on two sure things, a hit, a fly ball, a slow grounder would still win the pennant! At this point, they again were exceedingly likely to win the game and the flag: the win probability was back up to 83.2% (5 in 6). Alas, no. Their cleanup hitter, Doug DeCinces, flew out to shallow right and Bobby Grich hit a soft liner that pitcher Joe Sambito managed to snag.

Now, it's extreeeemely hard to blow a 47 in 48 chance followed by a 5 out of 6 chance. But after all that, they still, probabilistically speaking, had a 50/50 shot at winning this thing. Of course, they didn't.

But even after losing the game, they still only had to win one of the next two games. Again, probabilistically speaking, a 75% chance. Not to be.

So, as tormenting as Monday's loss was to Houston, it was not quite as excruciating as California's. While the Pujols homer was like ripping off a band-aid--painful but quick--California's loss was a tortuous roller coaster, like losing the lottery by one number three weeks in a row. And then getting fired. But I suppose Houston--ironically also seeking it's first World Series berth after years of close calls--still has a chance in these next two games to out-do the doomed Angels...

October 12, 2005

Cubs Keep Getting Even, Astros Keep Getting Mad

Watching 14 pitchers take the rubber on Sunday in Houston made me wonder if that was historically significant. Not really, as it turns out. Five times, 18 pitchers have taken the mound in a single game (since 1969, but since this is a modern phenomenon, I would bet this is the all-time record). This game is the shortest one of the bunch, and, as an added bonus, it has some really cool extra stuff!

September 28, 1995
Chicago 12, Houston 11, 11 innings
HOU   1  0  1    0  3  1    1  2  0    1  1  -  11 17  0
CHI 0 2 3 0 0 1 1 2 0 1 2 - 12 19 0
Today's Boxscore

Talk about a cat and mouse game. Houston had a lead six different times in this game...and lost! How amazing is it for Chicago pitching to give up late leads five times--in the sixth, seventh, eighth, tenth, and eleventh--only to be picked up every single time! And so precisely--by the exact number of runs they surrendered...until Cubs hitters finally managed to one-up the Astros' ante in the eleventh!

During that unbelievable six inning stretch, Chicago and Houston used seven pitchers each. For those of you counting, that's more than a pitcher per half-inning! Interestingly, all got at least one batter out, but 10 recorded fewer than three outs. Nine allowed a run. There were eight mid-inning pitching changes. Unsurprisingly, the game took nearly five hours! It is the longest 11-inning game on record.

Unfortunately, there's no play-by-play data for this game, but I was able to sleuth out the following tidbits:

  • In a mere 2 1/3 innings, Cubs batters hit for the cycle against Houston starter Donne Wall.
  • Craig Biggio scored a career-high five runs on four hits and a walk, but, oddly, failed to drive in a run. Yeah, well, it's not really so odd when the three batters in front of you (in the 8-9-1 holes) go 1-for-16 with a walk. In a semi-related story, Biggio also played two games in which he drove in four runs but failed to score a run.
  • Houston stole seven bases without getting caught, including a career high four by Brian L. Hunter (17% of his total for the year). Believe it or not, 41 other teams have gone 7-for-7 or better in a game since 1969, led by a 12-for-12 effort by those hyper-aggressive '76 A's.
  • The hot corner was anything but in this game. Ex-Mets Howard Johnson (Cubs 3B) and Dave Magadan (Astros 3B) did not touch the ball all game! That's right--no assists or putouts! (Note: Magadan was taken out after the seventh and replaced by yet another ex-Met Craig Shipley, who moved over from shortstop. He did have have 2 putouts and 2 assists in the game, but it's unclear where he performed them.)
  • These players were extremely selfless. The game featured four sacrifice bunts and four sacrifice flies. Only seven other games (since 1969) have had four or more of each.
  • This one of only eight games in which the home team let in runs in the tenth and eleventh innings and still won the game!
  • Both teams' catchers commited a passed ball.
  • Speaking of catchers, here's a not quite relevant, but interesting fact: Exactly three months before this game, these two teams swapped light-hitting catchers--Wilkins for Servais. Oh, and Houston also threw in...Luis Gonzalez! (Actually, Houston got Gonzalez back and let him go again two years later.) All three played in this game.
  • And most esoterically of all, Houston used players with last names composed of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 ,9, 10, and 11 letters:
    1. May
    2. Wall
    3. Veres
    4. Biggio
    5. Bagwell
    6. Martinez
    7. Dougherty
    8. Hartgraves
    9. Stankiewicz
As always there was much below the surface here. Slowly, but surely, these boxscores reveal their secrets, don't they?

October 10, 2005

Add Another Killer B to the Mix!

You all saw it. Here's my take on it, beyond the obvious and into the estoeric. I've included the full linescore, which I didn't see on any official site. Oddly, it happens to fit in with my recent Efficiency series. Atlanta was extremely inefficient in this one.

October 9, 2005
Houston 7, Atlanta 6, 18 innings
ATL  0 0 4  0 1 0  0 1 0  0 0 0  0 0 0  0 0 0 - 6 13 0
HOU 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 - 7 10 1
Today's Boxscore

The most interesting thing about this game is how seemingly different the teams' stats were, but how the results were remarkably similar.

In regulation play:

1-2-3 Innings
Baserunners 17 10
Singles-Doubles 5-4 7-0
Walks 6 2
HBP 2 0
RISP 1-for-9 2-for-4

And yet they both scored six runs on a sac fly, a solo homer, and a grand slam!

And this trend continued in the "second" game:

1-2-3 Innings 2 5
Baserunners 10 6
Singles 2 0
Doubles 2 1
Walks 5 4
Errors 0 1
RISP 0-for-9 0-for-2

Atlanta dominated again (except when it counted!), and yet Houston somehow pulled it out.

Offensive Observations
  • The Braves' one-through-four went only 3-for-25 (.120). In fact, Tim Hudson had more hits (2) than Rafael Furcal, Andruw Jones, and Chipper Jones combined...and in 20 fewer plate appearances!
  • Despite his homer, Brian McCann actually had the worst game, going 1-for-8 (including 0-for-4 with RISP) with four K’s and no walks. The home run was the only time he got the ball out of the infield! His eight at-bats:
    1. 2nd: Grounded out with man on first and second, two outs.
    2. 4th: Struck out with none on, one out.
    3. 5th: Grounded out with bases loaded, two out.
    4. 8th: Homered with none on and none out.
    5. 10th: Struck out with man on second, one out.
    6. 12th: Struck out with man on first, one out.
    7. 14th: Struck out with bases loaded, one out.
    8. 17th: Grounded out with none on, none out.

    Three strikeouts with runners on in extras is pretty bad. But he didn't have it as bad as Alex Gonzalez in that St Louis-Florida 20-inning marathon two years ago. That night, before making the last out of the game, he made the third out with the bases loaded in the 11th, 15th, and 17th!!
  • No player had more than two hits. This was also done earlier this year in the Blue Jays-Angels 18-inning game described in this post.
  • In Andruw Jones' nine plate appearances, he managed to run the gamut. Check out what he did:
    1. double
    2. hit-by-pitch
    3. sacrifice fly
    4. fly out to center
    5. ground into double play
    6. strikeout
    7. walk
    8. fly out to right
    9. reach on error
  • Orlando Palmeiro finished with the coolest line: 0 0 0 1 (sac fly).
  • Six Astros played two positions.
Pitching Observations
  • Burke's home run was the first Astro hit since the tenth. The Braves bullpen pitched 7 2/3 no-hit innings between the 10th and 18th!
  • Of the 14 pitchers used:
    • Only one pitched less than one inning.
    • Nine threw at least 30 pitches.
    • Ten allowed zero or one hit.
    • Eleven pitched at least two innings.
Truly a game made for all the Esoteric-heads out there!

October 07, 2005

Efficiency V - What Else Can Go Wrong?

Here's the last in my series on Efficient and Inefficient games. This is, in my opinion, the most frustrating game for both teams. There were games with more wasted baserunners, but in this one, each team not only got a lot of hits and walks, but also very few runs.

May 14, 1989
Mets 2, San Diego 1
SD    0  0  0    1  0  0    0  0  0  -   1 10  1
NY 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 - 2 12 0
Today's Boxscore

Not a lot went well here. Each team had five baserunners erased one way or another. They went 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position. They botched four sacrifice bunts. Here are the gory details.

New York
What Went Right
  1. Six leadoff singles. No 1-2-3 innings.
  2. 21 baserunners: 12 hits, eight walks, and one reaching on an error.
  3. 10-for-24 (.417) with four walks (.500 OBP) when no runner in scoring position.
What Went Wrong
  1. Three double plays. And just for variety's sake, they grounded into one, lined into another, and also pulled of a strike-him-out/throw-him-out.
  2. 15 left on base.
  3. 2-for-12 (.167) with four walks (two intentional) with runners in scoring position; 0-for-2 and no RBI's with runner on third and less than two outs.
  4. Two unsuccessful sac bunts.
  5. The winning run was thrown out at home in the ninth.
San Diego
What Went Right
  1. Only one 1-2-3 inning.
  2. 14 baserunners: ten hits and four walks.
  3. 10-for-25 (.400) with three walks (.464 OBP) with no runners in scoring position.
  4. Had a runner on with less than two outs in seven of nine innings.
  5. Threw out the winning run at the plate in ninth.
What Went Wrong
  1. Two double plays: one on an attempted hit-and-run (a strike-him-out/throw-him-out) and one on an attempted sac bunt!
  2. Nine runners left on base.
  3. 0-for-8 with one walk with runners in scoring position; 0-for-1 with no RBI's with a runner on third and less than two outs.
  4. Three runners caught stealing.
  5. The three attempted bunts had the following outcomes: force at second, double play, out after running into batted ball (Gwynn).
  6. Ninth inning. Tie game. Go-ahead run on third. Runner (Gwynn again!) thrown out trying to steal second.
  7. Allowed winning run to score on an error.
Yikes! So, to summarize, these teams combined for:
  • 35 baserunners and only one 1-2-3 inning in a 2-1 game.
  • a .408 average (20-for-49) and seven walks (.482 OBP) with no RISP.
  • a .100 average (2-for-20) and three unintentional walks (.217 OBP) with RISP, including 0-for-8 and two walks with two outs.
  • five double plays.
  • four caught stealing.
  • four failed sac bunts (and one other bunt run into!)
Not pretty. It was only fitting that the winning run scored on an error. Especially after the potential winning run was thrown out at the plate on the prevous play!

  • Three of the first four half-innings ended on a caught stealing.
  • The linescore going into the bottom of the ninth looked like this:
    R  H  E
    1 10 0
    1 10 0
  • And of course this kind of game yields great pitcher's lines. Dennis Rasmussen had the best:
               IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO  HR
    Rasmussen 7 9 1 1 6 1 0
    It's not easy to allow 15 baserunners while whiffing only one over seven innings and lower your ERA!
Current Inefficient Frustration: In the last two days, San Diego has outhit St. Louis 23-16 while being outscored 12-7. That is, they've had at least three more hits than the Cards each game, but have lost both by at least three runs. And St. Louis has only walked two more times than San Diego. Weird, and wonderfully esoteric!

October 03, 2005

Efficiency IV - Mile-High Frustration

While looking for the least efficient game, I expanded my definition of efficient. I found there was really no one true test...but really a judgement call of some combination of men left on base, hits, walks, opposing team errors, and other things like double plays. And then I remembered that I never mentioned an incredible game that occurred in August, one that was perfect for this theme. So here's my choice for most inefficient game of all time, fresh off the '05 season.

August 13, 2005
Washington 8, Colorado 0
WAS   0  2  2    0  1  1    0  0  2  -   8 13  1
COL 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 13 0
Today's Boxscore

First off, it's pretty tough to bang out 13 hits and be shut out, period. It's only been done four times since 1969, including the one that inspired this theme to begin with. But there were no more than two walks in any of those games. Only twice has a team saturated the bases with as many as 17 baserunners in a shutout. But to get all those hits, plus five walks plus another reaching on an error plus a wild pitch? That's almost impossible! Nineteen batters reached base...and none of them came in to score!

Colorado batters hit .361 with a .429 OBP. Here's the breakdown:

No Runner In Scoring Position
12-for-21, 4BB
Runner in Scoring Position 1-for-15, 1BB
Runner in Scoring Position, 2 out 0-for-8, 1BB
Runner on Third, 0 or 1 out
0-for-3, 0 RBI

Yeah, they really went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and two outs. Yes, that means in eight of the nine innings, they left a runner on second or third. That's almost "perfect"!

Here's a summary of how far the baserunners got:

Did Not Reach
Reached First 19
Reached Second 12
Reached Third 6
Scored 0

Runners left on base: 2+2+3+1+1+0+2+2+2 = 15

What else did they do wrong? How about grounding into two double plays, a caught stealing, and a pickoff? All that, and having only one extra base hit of the 13 helped, as well.

Both teams' starters allowed nine hits and two walks--Colorado's Byung-Hyun Kim in five innings and Washington's Tony Armas, Jr. over six. But Kim gave up six runs, his already bloated 5.05 ERA rising yet more 5.33. Armas, on the other hand, gave up no runs, and actually lowered his ERA from 4.64 to 4.33!

So it was kind of a "perfect storm" scenario: lots of singles and walks, evenly distributed throughout nine innings--but only before a runner reached second base, and a few strategic baserunners erased. Like I've said before, timing. Reading through the play-by-play, it actually doesn't seem all that strange, which is exactly how "perfectly" Colorado pulled off this amazingly esoteric feat!