Reviewing the Series: #1 Toronto Blue Jays
With an off day today we, the fans, get a chance to reflect on what the heck just happened. Baseball, baby, that’s what happened. The Rays managed to earn the split after losing the first two, but here at The Process Report we like to dive well past the surface to find the hidden treasure. As such, let’s use the Matchup Tool to break down where things went right and where they went oh so wrong.
I have gone through and plugged each batter/pitcher matchup into the Matchup Tool so that we can compare what actually happened to what I would have projected. The actual wOBA figures use The Book run values for each event. In the first game the Rays batted to the tune of a .293 wOBA while the Jays were right there at .284. This is fairly close to what was projected with the roles reversed.
We can do this for all games, and for the series in whole, and see that the Rays probably should have won the first, third and fourth games, while losing the second. The Rays were projected to lose all four games, but one and two would have been coin flips. The tool projected the Rays really well for the series as the wOBA was only four points lower, but the tool over-estimated the Jays ability to hit. Kudos to the Rays entire staff for suppressing that figure. Let’s convert these to runs:
Upon converting wOBA to runs we start to gain a context that looks a little more familiar. Overall, the Rays scored half a run less than expected, but I’ve got the Jays at just shy of six runs fewer than projected. The Rays bats were what we thought we were, but that pitching was much better than we should have thought. A big part of that is the outburst in game four when the Rays finally overachieved to offset some of where they fell short previously. The Jays didn’t have just one bad game. They underscored their projections across the board with game two being the closest. Lastly, let’s convert these runs to a pythag win expectancy:
The Tool saw these teams as fairly even with the Jays having a slight edge. In reality the Rays scored and suppressed their way to a 60% win expectancy. Game four is where the Rays really shone, but they were slight favorites by linear weights in each game, but the second. Games one and three saw the Rays play well enough to win, but the binary environment of runs scored in a game allowed for a split in reality. Moving on to the Rays batters:
Here I present the players actual wOBA using The Book linear weights and the projected wOBA courtesy of the Tool. These wOBA figures can be extrapolated to yield weighted Runs Above Average, which tells us how much better or worse a player would have been compared to the league average player. Basically I’m taking into account production and volume. These are sorted by the Actual wRAA to show who had the best and worst impacts on the series.
Steven Souza was a revelation with his .655 wOBA better than double what was projected. This led to him providing roughly four and a half runs more than the average player. Easy to spot the MVP for batters. Kevin Kiermaier and Coredy Dickerson were also quite good with the former vastly outproducing expectations and the latter only a bit above what was expected. The other side of the coin shows the Seattle imports being quite bad while more than offsetting all the good that Souza provided. Here’s the Jays batters:
Overall, the Jays scored nearly four runs fewer than a league average team even though they were projected to put up around two and a half more runs than the average team. That’s not to imply that they were all bad. Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson each had a great series, which was pretty much projected. However, the Rays did not let Edwin Encarnacion or Troy Tulowitzki come anywhere near their projections effectively halving the tremendous foursome that Toronto boasts. The Rays did exceptionally well against Russell Martin, Chris Colabello and Kevin Pillar. Three guys that were expected to be pretty good and gave their team very little. Much of that is due to the fantastic job done by the Rays pitching:
Jake Odorizzi is my pitching MVP for his performance in game three. Facing a very good lineup he pitched really well to hold the Blue Jays to a .238 wOBA and 1.6 runs fewer than the average team. Smyly, Moore and Archer allowed more runs than the average, with only Moore managing to beat his projections.
In the pen, Enny Romero didn’t allow a baserunner, but he also had the easiest road. Steve Geltz faced a slightly tougher task but was essentially just as good as he held the Jays to a run less than the average. Dana Eveland, Erasmo Ramirez and Danny Farquhar were also quite good at holding down a good team. The pen was really good with the lone blemish being Alex Colome’s performance in a two-inning stint that saw him lock down game two amidst the controversy of the play at second base that bailed him out. We expect him to be better and I’d be willing to bet that he will be going forward. Here’s the Jays pitchers:
Aaron Sanchez was a revelation, and not just against his projections. He held the Rays to essentially two runs fewer than the average and was the star of the show for the Jays. Marcus Stroman was also pretty good and his line would look better if John Gibbons hadn’t over-extended him in the ninth of the first game. The initialed starters of J.A. Happ and R.A. Dickey were less good. In Happ’s case that wasn’t all that much of a surprise, but I expected a better performance from Dickey.
The Jays pen is a bit top-heavy with absolute studs in Brett Cecil and Roberto Osuna from the left and the right sides, respectively. The latter was really good. Like lights out, no shit good. Cecil went the other way letting his team down when they needed him most. New addition Drew Storen should give them the third head of this bullpen Cerberus, and he was basically league average in this series. The rest of the pen leaves a lot to be desired and that mostly came to fruition.