• Overall, Swisher Is Costing The Yanks Wins

    Posted by on May 29th, 2009 · Comments (33)
    Name		Pos	WPA 	-WPA	+WPA
    Jose Molina	C	-0.47	-1.20	0.72
    Nick Swisher	OF	-0.46	-3.22	2.75
    Ramiro Pena	3B/SS	-0.43	-1.20	0.77
    Kevin Cash	C	-0.34	-0.47	0.13
    Angel Berroa	3B	-0.24	-0.25	0.01
    Hideki Matsui	DH	-0.19	-3.37	3.18
    Robinson Cano	2B	-0.16	-3.56	3.40
    Fran. Cervelli	C	-0.13	-0.80	0.67
    Xavier Nady	OF	-0.08	-0.48	0.40
    Cody Ransom	3B	-0.02	-0.74	0.72
    Brett Gardner	OF	0.26	-2.01	2.27
    Alex Rodriguez	3B	0.82	-1.26	2.08
    Derek Jeter	SS	0.88	-3.53	4.41
    Mark Teixeira	1B	0.89	-3.83	4.72
    Melky Cabrera	OF	0.92	-2.69	3.61
    Jorge Posada	C	1.34	-1.34	2.68
    Johnny Damon	OF	2.25	-3.19	5.44
    

    The above stats are via FanGraphs.com today.

    Here’s what each of these statistics are:

    WPA (win probability added): WPA is the difference in win expectancy (WE) between the start of the play and the end of the play. That difference is then credited/debited to the batter and the pitcher. Over the course of the season, each players’ WPA for individual plays is added up to get his season total WPA.

    +WPA (win advancement): The amount of positive wins a player contributed to his team, including only the plays where he increased his team’s win expectancy.

    -WPA (loss advancement): The amount of negative wins a player contributed to his team, including only the plays where he decreased his team’s win expectancy.

    In a nutshell, WPA is the net sum of +WPA and -WPA.

    And, these numbers show us that, offensively, so far this season, Johny Damon has helped the Yankees win games, overall, the most of their regular players, and Nick Swisher, offensively, has cost the Yankees some wins, overall, the most of their regular players.

    Something for those to who think Nick Swisher has helped the Yankees this season to think about…

    Comments on Overall, Swisher Is Costing The Yanks Wins

    1. Raf
      May 29th, 2009 | 11:29 am

      code gremins!

    2. Corey
      May 29th, 2009 | 11:36 am

      so, according to this logic, you would say that you would take cody ransom on the team over swisher?

    3. May 29th, 2009 | 11:38 am

      Raf wrote:

      code gremins!

      Fixed it.

    4. May 29th, 2009 | 11:40 am

      Corey wrote:

      so, according to this logic, you would say that you would take cody ransom on the team over swisher?

      Ransom is still negative. But, it shows you HOW BAD Swisher is – in that he’s worse than Ransom – - although Ransom has less PA, etc.

    5. AndrewYF
      May 29th, 2009 | 11:42 am

      Another dumb, dumb, dumb statistic, used to make a terrible, awful point about one of Steve’s ‘guys’. Is this guy a chump or what?

      So Melky Cabrera has been more valuable than Mark Teixeira, huh? And Brett Gardner, and CODY RANSOM more valuable than Cano? What a freakin joke.

      All this does is provide some sembelance of whether a player is ‘clutch’ or not, and only hitting-wise. Basically, if he comes through in ‘big’ situations, as defined by fangraphs. This is flawed because it values ‘close and late’ situations much, much higher than situations in the first inning. And as everyone (should) know, a solo homerun in the first inning is worth just as much as a solo homerun in the seventh.

      Another Steve argument completely demolished. Not a great day for you, buddy.

    6. May 29th, 2009 | 11:54 am

      AndrewYF – you should contact FanGraphs.com and let them know that their stats are flawed. Perhaps they could benefit from you – since you seem to know everything there is about what’s important in winning and losing.

    7. Corey
      May 29th, 2009 | 11:56 am

      i present to you april:

      Jorge Posada C 0.88 -1.28 2.16 6.12 0.60 1.07 2.62 3 0.30 0.52
      Johnny Damon OF 0.83 -1.29 2.12 -0.86 -0.07 1.07 0.48 1 0.46 0.32
      Derek Jeter SS 0.67 -1.82 2.49 4.04 0.42 1.01 0 0.39 0.26
      Nick Swisher OF 0.60 -1.36 1.96 10.46 0.99 0.99 1.13 2 0.87 -0.27
      Hideki Matsui DH 0.27 -1.33 1.60 4.30 0.39 1.02 0.88 3 0.24 0.03
      Robinson Cano 2B 0.26 -1.49 1.76 3.79 0.35 0.92 0 0.58 -0.29
      Cody Ransom 3B -0.02 -0.74 0.72 -3.89 -0.39 0.75 0 -0.38 0.35
      Mark Teixeira 1B -0.05 -1.64 1.59 0.79 0.10 1.09 0 0.19 -0.23
      Xavier Nady OF -0.08 -0.48 0.40 -1.50 -0.13 0.75 0 -0.15 0.04
      Jose Molina C -0.13 -0.52 0.39 0.25 -0.01 1.00 0 -0.15 0.02
      Angel Berroa 3B -0.15 -0.17 0.01 -1.64 -0.15 0.97 0 -0.10 -0.06
      Melky Cabrera OF -0.22 -1.44 1.22 1.46 0.15 1.11 1.17 3 0.26 -0.46
      Ramiro Pena 3B/SS -0.23 -0.44 0.21 -0.44 -0.04 0.85 0 -0.16 -0.11
      Brett Gardner OF -0.27 -1.36 1.09 -3.15 -0.31 1.07 3.89 1 -0.23 -0.02

    8. May 29th, 2009 | 12:01 pm

      Corey – not sure I see your point?

    9. AndrewYF
      May 29th, 2009 | 12:01 pm

      Steve – even fangraphs admits their WPA statistics are a fun experiment and nothing to be taken too seriously.

    10. MJ
      May 29th, 2009 | 12:04 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      AndrewYF – you should contact FanGraphs.com and let them know that their stats are flawed. Perhaps they could benefit from you – since you seem to know everything there is about what’s important in winning and losing.

      I won’t argue AndrewYF’s point but I will argue that there is a contexual issue to consider. Swisher’s overall numbers suggest that he’s a net negative on the year but your original premise was that his last 150 PA’s have cost the Yanks wins. Since the Yanks have been winning during his most recent (lousy) 150 PA’s then your original premise is flawed.

      Swisher’s past 150 PA’s haven’t cost the Yanks any wins and to argue otherwise would be completely disingenuous. If the Yanks have been “winning lucky” as you’ve argued several times over the past 14-21 days then I don’t see how anyone is costing them wins.

    11. Corey
      May 29th, 2009 | 12:04 pm

      that, as i’ve been saying, swisher was one of the main reasons we won in april and you take him out of the equation and theres a ton of negatives.

    12. Corey
      May 29th, 2009 | 12:05 pm

      MJ wrote:

      Since the Yanks have been winning during his most recent (lousy) 150 PA’s then your original premise is flawed.

      Swisher’s past 150 PA’s haven’t cost the Yanks any wins and to argue otherwise would be completely disingenuous. If the Yanks have been “winning lucky” as you’ve argued several times over the past 14-21 days then I don’t see how anyone is costing them wins.

      exactly

    13. YankCrank
      May 29th, 2009 | 12:07 pm

      Steve, i’m one of the people who wrote on this blog supporting Swisher. I believe you are right in the fact that Swisher has not contributed much with his bat lately…none of us can deny that. But these stats aren’t the best way to orchestrate your point, even FanGraphs says that WPA shouldn’t be taken seriously.

      Swish has had some great weeks, and some poor weeks. To the naked eye, he’s been very inconsistent. What we can take from it though, is his hot streak came at a good time when A-Rod was hurt, Tex sucked and JoPo wasn’t hitting well, and his poor streak has been conveniently hidden by everybody else mashing the ball. Would we have won more games if he continued to hit over. 500? Definitely, but he’s not killing our season right now. Let’s hope he rebounds.

    14. MJ
      May 29th, 2009 | 12:11 pm

      @ YankCrank:
      That’s exactly the point I was trying to make re: “context.” Out of context, yes, Swisher has been more bad than good overall. But within the framework of the Yanks’ recent hot streak, it’s impossible to argue that the Yanks have left wins on the table because of Swisher. And that was the original premise that launched this column.

    15. May 29th, 2009 | 12:21 pm

      AndrewYF wrote:

      Steve – even fangraphs admits their WPA statistics are a fun experiment and nothing to be taken too seriously.

      Got a link to that which you can share with us?

    16. YankCrank
      May 29th, 2009 | 12:25 pm

      @MJ

      Agreed.

    17. May 29th, 2009 | 12:28 pm

      Corey wrote:

      swisher was one of the main reasons we won in april and you take him out of the equation and theres a ton of negatives.

      What evidence is there that he helped them win in April?

      In the Yanks first 22 games, when Swisher was RED HOT, the Yankees went 12-10. So, what, he carried them to a .500 record? Or, are YOU saying, without Swisher, the Yankees would have went something like 6-16 to start the season?

    18. Corey
      May 29th, 2009 | 12:30 pm

      i’m sayin exactly that, without swisher they could have went something like 6-16 (record out of the hat, but i’ll go with it)

    19. May 29th, 2009 | 12:48 pm

      Corey wrote:

      i’m sayin exactly that, without swisher they could have went something like 6-16 (record out of the hat, but i’ll go with it)

      Just to be clear – this is your opinion and not based on any stats and/or review of game events, right?

    20. Corey
      May 29th, 2009 | 1:00 pm

      its based on watching the games

    21. MJ
      May 29th, 2009 | 1:06 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Corey wrote:
      i’m sayin exactly that, without swisher they could have went something like 6-16 (record out of the hat, but i’ll go with it)
      Just to be clear – this is your opinion and not based on any stats and/or review of game events, right?

      I guess the same question could be asked of you, Steve: which games, over Swisher’s past 150 lousy PA’s, has he cost the Yanks wins?

    22. Pat F
      May 29th, 2009 | 1:24 pm

      again, this misses the point, and is based on a narrow, one sided statistic that does not tell the whole story for steve to make a point. wpa is not the be all end all. steven, nobody is arguing that swisher’s entire season has been in the positive. he’s not been bad recently, he’s been awful. BUT HE’S BEEN LUCKY IN THAT THE YANKEES HAVE WON GAMES DURING THAT STRETCH. had they not, he would be a big, big issue. when he was hot, he, like all hot players, was helping the team win games, just like teixeira is now. this is not a difficult thing to wrap your head around. swisher was big for us in april, and his poor play (luckily) has not hurt us lately because we’ve been winning anyway. to say that swisher’s play in april, where he hit .312/.436/.714, didn’t help the yankees win more games than they would have without him is ludicrous. you don’t need something like wpa to see this, you need common sense and a clear head that isn’t muddies by a constant mission to prove a point even when you’re up a creek without a paddle.

    23. copela26
      May 29th, 2009 | 1:46 pm

      Swisher had an OPS of 1.144 in April its hard to twist that into he didn’t help the team but somehow you’ve let your preconceived notions about Swisher get in the way. Overall he still has an OPS+ of 119 despite is prolonged slump. He basically carried the yankees offensively when A-Rod was out and teixiera was slumping. All you did was look around till you found an obscure stat which backs up what you already thought without looking at the facts. Heres a nice quote from the hardball times on WPA.

      “WPA is not a good predictive statistic because it’s not necessarily a good representation of a player’s true talent. If a player hits a home run in the ninth inning of a 1-0 game, he is credited with more WPA points than if he hits a home run in the first inning of a 1-0 game. The talent is the ability to hit the home run; when it happens in a game is something that is pretty random.”
      http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/the-one-about-win-probability/

    24. Tcarda4
      May 29th, 2009 | 1:52 pm

      there is such a thing as the “eye test” and “common sense” that any yankee fan who has watched every game this season should be able to employ here. these new-age statistics are ridiculous. i agree with what a lot of you are saying, its very possible that swisher helped them more in april than hes hurt them in may due to the return of a-rod and the “return” of teixera, among other things. again i know the negativity is a big part of this blog but i wish more common sense was used too.

    25. jmccuva
      May 29th, 2009 | 2:22 pm

      Eh. The trouble with WPA is that it’s so contextual, yet not; a home run counts less in the first inning than the ninth, but it doesn’t account for whether the team actually won or lost the game. I understand the value, but it’s limited, really, in evaluating the player’s actual impact on wins or losses. You hit a three-run double that ties the game in the ninth, and you’ll get a huge positive WPA bump, but if you then lose the game, you can’t really say you helped win more games, can you? Win shares are truly contextual, while somethign like VORP is truly context-neutral. WPA seems very limited in its utility to me, either as a predictor or evaluator of outcomes, despite the Chicago stats nerd in me enjoying the information.

    26. Evan3457
      May 29th, 2009 | 2:44 pm

      Just to reduce it to the nub:

      When A-Rod was out, and Texiera wasn’t hitting, Posada, Damon, Cano and Swisher carried the offense. Because this occurred while Wang was awful, and Sabathia was inconsistent, Swisher’s hot bathelped them win a few extra games the first three weeks of the season, without which, they might have submerged entirely, never to be heard from again.

      It is absolutely true that Swisher has ben dreadful in May. It is probably true that if he had been hitting better, it could have been the difference in some games. But inasmuch as they’ve gone 14-5 since A-Rod came back, how many games could Swisher have cost them?

      Before that question is answered, think about every else that has gone wrong in the interim: Bruney went down to go with Marte. The other relievers besides Mariano have been wildly inconsistent. Posada has been out, leaving Cash to catch 2 games in 5. Cano had a severe cold streak. Matsui had a severe cold streak. Jeter had a cool streak. Of course, a ton of things went right for them to go right to get that hot.

      The question I’m asking is: Swisher has been ice-cold since he got hit on the elbow on May 1st, which may or may not have anything to do with it. (He hasn’t said so, as far as I know.) The Yanks are 14-9 since then, including 4 straight losses to the Red Sox and Rays at the start.

      Let’s make the “Swisher effect” bigger than this could possibly be, and give Swisher credit for 1/2 loss in every close game (lost by 1 or 2 runs), and 1/10 loss in bigger losses. Game lost due to Swisher during his slump = 2.5 losses, and I remind you, it’s almost impossible, even under WPA for a hitter to accumluate -0.5 WPA in one game, unless he hits into a DP with the bases loaded and 0 or 1 outs in the 9th inning of a game in which his team is down by 1 or 2 runs, or tied.

      What you have to realize, Steve, is that a large part of his negative WPA this month occurred in Yankee wins, because of the team’s hot streak, and therefore, is not really real, because no real losses resulted from those “negative wins”.

      I know it seems absurd, but it’s entirely possible that his shorter hot streak when the team was in trouble in April, did, in fact, win more real games for the team, than his big slump in May has lost for them. That can’t possibly happen in WPA, but it definitely can happen in the real world.

    27. May 29th, 2009 | 2:50 pm

      MJ wrote:

      I guess the same question could be asked of you, Steve: which games, over Swisher’s past 150 lousy PA’s, has he cost the Yanks wins?

      Of the Yankees last 9 losses, I would estimate that Swisher had a hand in the loss in about one-third of those…based on the closeness of the final score and the fact that he was an offensive zero in the game. Stress: Had a hand in…

      On the flip side, of the Yankees last 15 wins, I would say that Swisher has been ZERO help….based on his stats.

      So, in the Yanks last month, or so, Swisher has been no help and has been a hurt about 15% of the time. Again, in my opinion.

      You’re welcome to have a different one. Doesn’t mean mine is worthless or yours is worth more.

    28. May 29th, 2009 | 2:52 pm

      Pat F wrote:

      you need common sense and a clear head that isn’t muddies by a constant mission to prove a point even when you’re up a creek without a paddle.

      Sticks and stones will not make me respect your opinion any more than I would without them…please make a note of that.

    29. Corey
      May 29th, 2009 | 2:52 pm

      nobody is disagreeing with you that he has been awful this month…we’re just saying you can’t toss him to the curb and say he’s been a complete disaster cause we needed him last month (and he came through)

    30. Pat F
      May 29th, 2009 | 3:26 pm

      no sticks and stones, and definitely no intention to have you respect my opinion or not respect it either way. just making a simple statement.

    31. Pat F
      May 29th, 2009 | 3:28 pm

      exactly corey. i don’t know why we are talking about may. nobody is arguing that swisher has not contributed in may (and maybe even has contributed negatively). the only point i see trying to be made is that swisher was a HUGE asset in april in terms of winning baseball games. more simply, whatever our record was, it would have been worse without him. not complicated.

    32. MJ
      May 29th, 2009 | 3:51 pm

      Of the Yankees last 9 losses, I would estimate that Swisher had a hand in the loss in about one-third of those…based on the closeness of the final score and the fact that he was an offensive zero in the game. Stress: Had a hand in…

      On the flip side, of the Yankees last 15 wins, I would say that Swisher has been ZERO help….based on his stats.

      So, in the Yanks last month, or so, Swisher has been no help and has been a hurt about 15% of the time.
      ———
      But since no one is arguing that Swisher contributed to the Yanks’ last 15 wins, I don’t see the relevance in pointing that out. Furthermore, since this post is borne out of your belief that “that the Yankees would be in 1st place by three games or so…if not for Swisher’s last, say, 150 PA, or so…” and then saying that Swisher “had a hand in” the Yanks’ 9 losses this month, I still don’t see the relevance in that point either. Yes, he had a hand in those 9 losses. So did a lot of other people, otherwise they wouldn’t be losses.

      I just don’t get what you’re trying to prove here. The Yanks went 15-10 with a bad Swisher. OK. Your point is what? Again, you can’t argue that the Yanks are worse than their record indicates and then still argue that they’d have been better off without Swisher. You’re arguing against the main point you’ve been trying to convince us all of over the past 2-3 weeks. That makes no sense.

    33. AndrewYF
      May 29th, 2009 | 7:47 pm

      People, people, stop. WPA is NOT a way to measure a player’s skill, talent, or anything. Here’s a quote from TangoTiger, who I must mention is infinitely more wise than any of us here (including you, Steve) regarding baseball statistics.

      “What WPA represents is the quantification of your feelings as the game unfolds.

      Imagine if Youk hit into a triple play his first 2 AB, with the score tied 0-0 the whole time, then the Sox lead 15-0 (and he gets two outs), then he hits two HR. How is it that you felt with Youk, if you tracked it in real time?

      Well, his first two AB, you are cursing his name like there’s no tomorrow, then when the team batted around (twice), your blood pressure starts to go down, and then, with the score at 15-0, you’re probably not even watching the game any more.

      That is what WPA captures…. the quantification of your feelings as the game unfolds, assigned to the players involved.”

      And that is IT. Steve’s post would make sense if he titled it, and made it about how Nick Swisher has made us FEEL, which would be perfectly fine. It is NOT correct to use WPA to say how Swisher has PERFORMED. That is WRONG, and if TangoTiger read Steve’s post he would likely weep.

      Here are the links that FanGraphs provides for WPA. It should be noted that WPA is a tool whose main purpose is to track the ebb and flow of a baseball game. NOT, and this is very important, NOT to evaluate in any kind of statistical manner how a player is contributing to his team.

      http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/article/wpa_is_wpa_is_not/
      http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/the-one-about-win-probability/

      Now, can we stop this incessantly stupid argument. Nick Swisher is a player who has an overall .844 OPS. To say he has hurt his team much more than helped it is absolutely ludicrous.Now, if you want to say it SEEMS like Nick Swisher never comes up in ‘critical’ situations, that’s fine, and WPA supports that notion. But to talk of actual productivity using WPA is a horrendous misuse of an otherwise great statistic.

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