Nothing else Matters
Ok, last post that has anything to do with pythagorean projection, I promise. I’ve just started to see the game in an entirely new light because these things are so eerily accurate. The inevitable conclusion is despite all the agonies we go through in terms of individual situations and strategies, nothing really matters except how many runs you allow and score over the course of a season.
Especially after this last terrible series against New York, a lot of commentators (including most recently, DJF) have concentrated on the Jays’ lack of situational hitting for the season’s woes. As I pointed out in a previous post, going into that series they were hitting significantly better with runners on or in scoring position. Even after that hideous bout of stranding runners, they still hit better with runners in scoring position (.266) than they do without (.259).
The damning stat often quoted is that the Jays are .222 with runners in scoring position with 2 outs, which is a fluke stat that doesn’t mean anything. Why does it matter how many outs there are when you fail to bring someone home? The Jays are also hitting .301 with RISP and less than two out- do all those runners that we scored at an impressive rate earlier in the inning count for less?
It’s because as fans, we put more value on hitting with 2 outs because it’s the last chance to drive in those runs. We totally forget about Glaus whiffing madly at a pitch that bounces before the plate if Frank hits the first pitch he sees for a home run. But if Glaus had done his job, the end result for the team and the game would be exactly the same. There’s also the idea that with 2 outs, the situation is more likely to be “clutch”, meaning the game is on the line and therefore those at-bats matter more. But clutch hitting (i.e. hitting better in high leverage situations) doesn’t exist. It’s just random fluctuation, and even that has little effect.
To see this, take a look at the Jays win/loss projection so far. If they were hitting worse in game-changing situations, then they would have won fewer games than their projection (which is by definition for a team that scores runs randomly). The projection is pretty easy because they have scored almost exactly as many runs as they have allowed, and gives a win % of .502. That’s 47.5 wins. The Jays currently have 46 so ok, they’re under-performing by a whole game and a half.
It would be different if they were hitting poorly with RISP- then you could argue that they weren’t driving in as many runs as they should be. But they’re doing that just fine. But if you’re arguing that the Jays hit the ball better when it’s meaningless, but choke when it matters (may I suggest the “close and late” stat- they’re hitting .235), keep in mind that if true, at an absolute maximum the effect has been between one and two games this year. That’s not the reason the Jays are 10 games behind Boston- hitting under .260 as a team is.