Phillies Record When…

Every so often, you will be given a statistic featuring a team’s record when a specific player does something. It is most commonly featured in the NFL. For instance, when Ray Lewis sacks the quarterback, you will very quickly be given the Baltimore Ravens’ record when Lewis records a sack. When the numbers are abnormal, they become their own narrative, and writers and fans alike run wild with them. Recently, the stat has been imported to baseball. The popular one floating around now shows that the Phillies are undefeated when Hunter Pence records a hit.

David S. Cohen of The Good Phight debunked a similar stat a few years ago, but I decided to take it a couple steps further and include the Phillies’ winning percentage when each player scores a run, records a hit, hits a home run, or drives in a run. (Click to enlarge)

Upon looking at the various charts, you should notice a couple things. One is that the players with fewer plate appearances (or fewer events recorded) are on either side of the players who get regular time in the lineup. This is the effect of a small sample size: the variance is much higher. Once the sample becomes larger, players tend to cluster around the mean.

Secondly, the records reflect the importance of each event as well as sampling bias. There are a lot of high winning percentages when a player hits a home run because  home runs are the most potent event in baseball, on average. Additionally, players hit home runs off of either bad pitchers or good pitchers not pitching at their normal level (example: the Phillies hit four homers off of San Diego Padres pitching on July 23). As a result, the game is more easily winnable than normal. When teams face good pitchers, they tend not to hit home runs and lose more games.

What the “Team Record when Player X Does Something” stat tells you is… nothing. It may look like the Phillies’ .933 winning percentage when Raul Ibanez hits a home run is vastly superior to that of Carlos Ruiz and his .750 winning percentage, but Ibanez has only homered in 15 games. The winning percentage differential of .183 only accounts for roughly three games. When you consider the hefty amount of variance with such a small sample, it comes out as not being meaningful in the least.

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18 comments

  1. SP

    August 15, 2011 08:04 AM

    It’s more just a fun stat, such as Rollins has hit a double in every game on a Tuesday in the year (I made that up). I don’t think any logical baseball fan actually believe the Phillies will always win if Pence gets a hit.

  2. Jesse

    August 15, 2011 08:21 AM

    Obviously Brian Schneider should play more often! Duh!

  3. Phillie697

    August 15, 2011 09:08 AM

    @SP,

    Unfortunately, the average fan is regularly not logical…

  4. Phylan

    August 15, 2011 11:26 AM

    @SP The issue, as I see it, is that a lot of people use those kinds of stats to draw actual conclusions or make some kind of argument as to the player’s importance. In the case of Rollins, it’s persisted for the last few years.

  5. SABR

    August 15, 2011 12:43 PM

    Oh, I get it. This means that Ryan Howard is overrated.

  6. Phillie697

    August 15, 2011 02:09 PM

    Looking at the open poll… Why do people fear the Giants more than the Braves? In the 7 games they played against the Phillies, they scored more than 2 runs ONCE, against a pitcher they will never see in the playoffs. Do we seriously think that we can’t score more than 2 runs at least a few times in a 7 game series (we scored more than 2 runs actually 5 times in those same 7 games)? Do we deserve to win if we don’t? Where is this unreasonable fear of the Giants come from?

  7. Phillie697

    August 15, 2011 02:12 PM

    Correction, they scored more than 2 runs twice. 4 runs on Kendrick and 3 on Oswalt. My bad. My point still stands.

  8. Richard

    August 15, 2011 03:02 PM

    people are irrationally afraid of Cain & Lincecum, and point to the very low # of ER they scored against those guys this year…

    on the other hand, they overlook the fact that they scored 6 runs in 14 innings against Lincecum, who was far from dominant in most of the post-season.

  9. Jesse

    August 15, 2011 06:17 PM

    Phillie697,
    I fear the Giants more than the Braves because I do not have as much confidence in the Phillies hitting baseballs pitched to them by Giants starters as much as by Braves starters…

    That being said, neither really worries me…

  10. Matty

    August 15, 2011 07:21 PM

    Even before you wrote this, I noticed that the only 2 games the Phillies lost since acquiring Pence, are the two games he failed to get a hit.

  11. Travis

    August 16, 2011 12:20 AM

    Wow, the Phillies are more likely to win when Ibanez doesn’t get a hit/play than when he does get a hit. Go Cold Raul!

    And shame on you for not including the fact that the Phillies are .500 when Cliff Lee hits a home run.

  12. Travis

    August 16, 2011 12:26 AM

    The Phillies are undefeated when Roy Halladay or Vance Worley gets a hit.

    But only .800 when Cole Hamels gets a hit.
    .778 when Cliff Lee gets a hit.
    .500 when Kyle Kendrick gets a hit.

  13. Buzzsaw

    August 16, 2011 04:02 PM

    The one i’m tracking is that the Phillie are

    45-32 following a win (.584)
    32- 9 following a loss (.780)

    A 200 point spread sounds quite large. They’re exceeding their expected record (27-14) by 5 games. Anyone know a way to find this split for lots of teams for comparison.

    Related, after 119 games the team has 65 winning/losing streaks.

    27 1-game losing streaks
    3 2-game losing streaks
    2 4-game losing streaks

    13 1-game winning streaks
    10 2-game winning streaks
    5 3-game winning streaks
    1 4-game winning streaks
    2 5-game winning streaks
    1 7-game winning streaks
    1 9-game winning streaks

    A non-parametric runs test predicts only 54 streaks and yields a significant result Z=2.50

  14. Max

    August 16, 2011 07:37 PM

    Anybody else using this to predict the Phillies’ chances of winning right now?

  15. PhillyFanRuns

    November 03, 2011 09:59 AM

    What is the Phillies winning percentage when Halladay throws a no hitter?

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