Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tango's Win Probability Chart in The Book says that, for an average team against an average team in an average ballpark, a visiting team on the road, in the top of the ninth, down by one with two outs, that team has an 8.2% chance of winning the game. Put that guy on second, and it's 11.6%.

So what's the breakeven point for trying to steal second? Well, you gain .034 wins for stealing the base and lose .082 (and the game) for getting thrown out. Running the math (1-(.034)/(.034+.082))) gets us a breakeven point of 70.7%.

Erick Aybar's career basestealing percentage in the minors was 65.1%. And last year Kelly Shoppach threw out 34% of baserunners, which is pretty good.

The breakeven point for the game earlier in the week where Aybar was thrown out to end the game was 68.9%, by the way. Now, we are talking about average players and teams here. But Howie Kendrick was at the bat this time ... well, he's probably better than average, even against the immortal Joe Borowski, which means the breakeven point is higher than it otherwise would be.

There's this whole other thing where successful steals often damage the guy at the plate (removing the extra hole on the right side, taking the middle infielders out of double-play depth), but anyway ... chances are we were going to lose anyway, and chances are Howie, as good as he can be, wasn't going to go 5-for-5. And I understand that sometimes you have to do suboptimal things to keep the opposition honest. But Erick Aybar, for all of his physical gifts, is no kind of basestealer, and it's silly for us to behave like he is and throw two games away.

Good Stuff, I was wondering what Scioscia was thinking in those situations, although when I was at the first game I told my friend I was surprised he didn't run on the first pitch.
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