Friday, January 25, 2008

Getting Worse as the Game Goes On

As mentioned yesterday, there are always exceptions to the rule in baseball. Though the majority of players improve the more they see a pitcher in a certain game, some unlucky few actually do worse. A lot of this is because of the BABIP concept I brought up yesterday: if you're not getting bloop singles, your batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage will all go down. Thus a number of the players on the list below may simply have had a big downturn in their BABIP causing their OPS to drop. A few, whom I'll note after the list, actually have seen this sort of drop, though not as dramatic, throughout their careers. I've kept the last column of the table as "OPS Increase" just so it's not confusing switching between this post and the last one; that's why there are a bunch of negatives.

Facing Opposing Starters in a Game
Largest Decrease in OPS, 1st to 3rd (or greater) Time

RankName1st Time vs. SP2nd Time vs. SP3rd+ Time vs. SPOPS Increase
(1st to 3rd+)
1Jack Wilson131 PA, 1.014 OPS127 PA, .772 OPS92 PA, .571 OPS-.443
2Morgan Ensberg74 PA, .940 OPS62 PA, .834 OPS59 PA, .528 OPS-.412
3Gary Matthews
136 PA, .889 OPS133 PA, .716 OPS131 PA, .526 OPS-.363
4Adam LaRoche148 PA, .920 OPS145 PA, .884 OPS135 PA, .585 OPS-.335
5Jim Thome124 PA, 1.104 OPS118 PA, 1.041 OPS126 PA, .821 OPS-.283
6Yunel Escobar77 PA, 1.004 OPS73 PA, 1.040 OPS60 PA, .726 OPS-.278
7Matt Diaz81 PA, 1.235 OPS75 PA, .844 OPS52 PA, .967 OPS-.269
8Alex Gonzalez103 PA, .916 OPS96 PA, .824 OPS66 PA, .647 OPS-.268
9Bobby Crosby92 PA, .773 OPS89 PA, .674 OPS65 PA, .505 OPS-.268
10Jason Kendall131 PA, .625 OPS124 PA, .848 OPS77 PA, .360 OPS-.264
11Hideki Matsui143 PA, .999 OPS139 PA, .921 OPS114 PA, .739 OPS-.259
12Adam Kennedy75 PA, .702 OPS73 PA, .809 OPS57 PA, .443 OPS-.259
13Barry Bonds116 PA, 1.219 OPS114 PA, 1.084 OPS116 PA, .963 OPS-.256
14Luis Gonzalez131 PA, .939 OPS126 PA, .831 OPS103 PA, .684 OPS-.255
15Kevin Millar135 PA, .960 OPS132 PA, .773 OPS121 PA, .706 OPS-.254
16Chad Tracy63 PA, .928 OPS59 PA, 1.084 OPS55 PA, .681 OPS-.247
17Frank Catalanotto92 PA, 1.095 OPS87 PA, .495 OPS89 PA, .849 OPS-.246
18Rob Mackowiak82 PA, .823 OPS73 PA, .726 OPS51 PA, .592 OPS-.231
19Mike Redmond72 PA, .740 OPS71 PA, .715 OPS53 PA, .512 OPS-.228
20Jack Cust115 PA, .977 OPS108 PA, 1.039 OPS98 PA, .757 OPS-.220
21Nick Markakis158 PA, .983 OPS157 PA, .833 OPS175 PA, .773 OPS-.210
22Gary Sheffield131 PA, .985 OPS128 PA, .967 OPS137 PA, .777 OPS-.207
23Bengie Molina126 PA, .913 OPS124 PA, .647 OPS98 PA, .706 OPS-.207

These twenty-three players were the only ones to see a 200 (or more) point decrease in their OPS over the course of a game. Guys like Molina and Catalanotto actually did the worst in their second times to the plate while Chad Tracy, Adam Kennedy, and Jason Kendall improved before crashing downward.

Kendall is a good case study again of the effects of BABIP. He can't hit in the first place, and this is borne out by his .625 OPS with a .252 BABIP in the first column. That .252 is kind of low (again, the MLB average was .305), but .625 is also a little below what you would've expected him to hit anyway. Then in the second time against the same pitcher, his BABIP jumps to .353 and his OPS hops up to .848 - more balls were falling in and, when they did, they went for extra bases. Finally, in the last column, his BABIP fell to an awful .164 and his OPS crashed to an anemic .360. When you look at his career splits (scroll down about 2/3 of the page), you can see that he's usually a normal player, improving slightly against pitchers as the game wears on. This season, however, BABIP wreaked havoc on his numbers.

Only two members of the list saw their BABIP actually increase while their OPS went down. Rob Mackowiak's went from .269 to .360 to .308 and his OPS fell at every step. Gary Sheffield had a barely noticeable .259 to .277 to .260, and his OPS also fell at every step. Kind of strange, but both players' slugging percentages also went down through the game so perhaps they hits they were getting didn't go for extra bases.

Finally, a few players from this list have seen dips in their OPS across their careers. I'm going to express their numbers in the form OPS/BABIP for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd+ time facing an opposing starter.
  • Morgan Ensberg: .924/.307 to .779/.287 to .893/272
  • Adam LaRoche: .819/.315 to .884/.321 to .810/.307
  • Yunel Escobar, though 2007 was his first season.
  • Hideki Matsui: .884/.302 to .836/.304 to .850/.305
  • Adam Kennedy: .776/.329 to .760/.326 to .677/.288
  • Rob Mackowiak: .768/.332 to .669/.286 to .717/.310
  • Mike Redmond: .755/.318 to .732/.321 to .747/.329
  • Most of Jack Cust's numbers are fueled by 2007.
  • Nick Markakis: .841/.330 to .888/.347 to .806/.295
  • Gary Sheffield: .945/.290 to .953/.288 to .904/.282
Now, most of these changes are almost unnoticeable. Frankly, is it going to bother you that Hideki Matsui dips to a still-good .850 at the end of games? Ditto Adam LaRoche, Ensberg, Markakis, Sheffield, etc. Adam Kennedy and Rob Mackowiak are kind of weird, but perhaps not incredibly so since they're not power threats and their BABIP fluctuates as well.

Of course, in the end, you just look at the fact there's not many plate appearances to work with for a lot of guys and decide this all doesn't mean anything anyway. :)

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