Phillies Win A Statistically Improbable Game
As Jayson Stark will tell you, baseball is a great game because every day you have the chance to see something that has never happened before. Last night’s game against the Cincinnati Reds was as close to unique as we’ve seen in a long time.
19 innings. 26 position players and 15 pitchers used. 600 total pitches thrown. 155 total plate appearances. 73 pitches and five shut-out innings of relief from Danys Baez. Wilson Valdez, a position player, retiring the toughest part of the Reds’ lineup, including reigning NL MVP Joey Votto, and earning the victory when the Phillies won it in the bottom half of the 19th inning. One tenth-inning home run to break the tie, and another one in the bottom half to re-tie.
There was so much improbability involved in the game that I can only assume that Stark’s head exploded.
Recaps are boring so I’m just going to throw some trivia and stat nuggets at the wall.
- The last time the Phillies played a game that went 19 innings or longer was July 7, 1993 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
- The last time a Phillies position player pitched was May 13, 2002 when Tomas Perez pitched a third of an inning in a 17-3 blowout loss to the Houston Astros.
- The last time a position player earned a victory was August 22, 2000 when catcher Brent Mayne pitched a scoreless inning.
11 plays had a leverage index of 4.00 or above (meaning it was a really important play); only one of them involved a hit.
|Herndon||Hernandez||11||2||123||4-4||Ramon Hernandez grounded out to pitcher (Grounder).||6.86|
|Masset||Polanco||9||2||123||3-3||Placido Polanco reached on fielder’s choice to shortstop (Grounder). Jimmy Rollins out at second.||6.38|
|Masset||Brown||9||1||123||3-3||Domonic Brown fouled out to catcher (Fly).||5.71|
|Fisher||Ibanez||19||1||123||5-4||Raul Ibanez hit a sacrifice fly to center (Fly). Jimmy Rollins scored.||5.71|
|Halladay||Bruce||7||2||123||3-3||Jay Bruce singled to right (Grounder). Miguel Cairo scored. Drew Stubbs scored. Joey Votto advanced to 2B.||4.66|
|Halladay||Rolen||7||1||123||3-1||Scott Rolen struck out swinging.||4.66|
|Romero||Phillips||11||1||12_||4-4||Brandon Phillips picked off.||4.62|
|Romero||Bruce||11||2||12_||4-4||Jay Bruce walked. Joey Votto advanced to 3B. Scott Rolen advanced to 2B.||4.43|
|Masset||Mayberry||9||1||12_||3-3||Chase Utley advanced on a wild pitch to 2B.||4.31|
|Masset||Rollins||9||1||_23||3-3||Jimmy Rollins was intentionally walked.||4.15|
|Fisher||Howard||19||1||_23||4-4||Ryan Howard was intentionally walked.||4.15|
Note that Jay Bruce’s solo home run in the tenth earned just a 2.30 LI and Ryan Howard’s solo home run to tie the game back up in the bottom half earned a 3.42 LI.
EDIT: Tango offers clarification with my above comment:
Note that the LI is assigned PRIOR to the event occurring. It is a description of the state that the batter and pitcher find themselves. So, Jay Bruce found himself in a state where the LI was 2.30. What you “earn” are wins (not LI), meaning that in this situation, rather than a HR being worth around +.14 wins, they were paying off at about 2.3 times that. (He earned +.342 wins.) The change in win expectancy is how much more relief the Reds fans got (and the level of despondency that Phillies fans experienced). Ryan Howard’s HR spun things around the other way.
Prior to the walk-off sacrifice fly by Raul Ibanez, the Phillies’ highest win expectancy came in the sixth inning when Ibanez tripled off of starter Travis Wood. The Phillies’ lowest win expectancy was after Bruce’s solo homer.
The following chart plots each player’s leverage index (pLI) for the game along with their win percent added (WPA).
As you can see, there weren’t too many players that landed in the upper-right quadrant.
The Phillies were 1-for-13 (.077) with runners in scoring position. The Reds weren’t much better, at 3-for-15 (.200). The two teams combined to go 4-for-28 (.143). The Phillies left 16 runners on base; the Reds 17.
Finally, how about this whopper from ESPN’s Steve Berthiaume on Twitter:
Links to video clips from MLB.com:
- Stutes strikes out the side in the 8th [Link]
- Howard ties the game in the 10th [Link]
- Romero picks off Phillips [Link]
- Herndon escapes an 11th-inning jam [Link]
- Baez’s five scoreless innings of relief [Link]
- Valdez’s scoreless inning of relief in the 19th [Link]
- Ibanez’s walk-off sacrifice fly [Link]
- Valdez post-game interview with Sarge, gets pied by teammates [Link]
- Charlie Manuel’s post-game press conference [Link]
Did you stay up for the entire game? Feel free to post your thoughts and any interesting statistical factoids in the comments.
Game graph courtesy FanGraphs.