Sunday, July 31, 2016


Thought we were dead? No such luck...we became embroiled in so much "film intrigue" beginning in late July of 2016 that we were dead to the world as far as baseball was concerned...though we watched the Cubs break their jinx via much good play and many fortunate breaks--winning, in fact, in spite of Joe Maddon turning into the usual post-season caricature that one would have thought he (of all people) might have avoided.

Just as we were getting ready to bring the BBB blog back into something resembling live action, however, another twist of fate roiled into play. We called it the "trifecta"--you are more likely to call it triple bypass surgery. (Yes, the man who adamantly, stubbornly, even absurdly demands more triples in baseball wound up with the biggest "triple" of his life.)

The chest pain had manifested itself a few times before a friend convinced us to visit the ER in late March. One thing led to another--the cath test, where they give you silly drugs and run a tube from your wrist into your heart to look for arterial blockage, showed that there was too much "clog" to avoid the riverdance of full bypass surgery. After a weekend of addressing every detail in every worst-case scenario, we were wheeled up to the top floor of Santa Barbara's Cottage Hospital, where a jaunty crew met us at the crack of dawn.

They didn't give us any time to think about the consequences of failure, though it cannot help but reside in the silent recesses of one's mind. What we knew was that if we made it, we would slowly and strangely emerge from the fog of anesthesia into what we might first mistake for an ante-room of Hell but that in some amount of short order would be recognized as the Intensive Care Unit.

And that's just exactly what happened. One eye opened to a haze of lights and a fractured perspective; voices of unseen people were ladled with a weird vibrato. Then, in what seemed like just a few minutes but was in actuality more than a half hour, the other eye came back online, and sound was suddenly the way it had been before we'd been pumped full of enough stuff to stay underneath all forms of radar for the four hours needed to fix things and keep them from falling apart.

So--a month later, we remembered that some people might actually want some of this type of recalcitrant commentary--even in a time of resistance to the infinite cruelty of those who would make America a plantation again. And it would be a pleasure, in fact, to be that blissfully irrelevant--even if only occasionally.

With that, we remind you of our most intriguing discovery in the past several years--the data lurking in the shadows of Forman et fils pitching breakouts--what they call "non-save situations." (You can search through the maze of past posts to get re-acquainted with the particulars of all this, but suffice it to say it's the games where teams are tied with their opponents or behind--situations that have no "save" or "hold" component, that fit into this category.)

You might remember that these games produce an aggregate .560 WPCT for teams, belying the idea that everything in baseball is a zero sum proposition. But what you probably don't remember is that the distribution of these WPCTs clearly show that the teams who do better than average in winning games from such situations are the ones who go to the post-season.

Here's today's stat takeaway: from 2000-2016, teams that failed to make the playoffs had an aggregate .543 WPCT in non-save decisions.

Whereas teams that made the playoffs had--wait for it--a .625 WPCT in those same situations.

This is the greatest distance between "haves" (playoff teams) and "have-nots" (also-rans) in baseball history. (Could it be that this is related to the general rising inequality in America? Or are we just stretching things too far because we can?)

At any rate, you'd be well-advised to follow this split in Forman et fils Play Index. We'll update it periodically during the 2017 season--when we have time (we're still working on a non-baseball book and, trust us, it's a beast).