24 April 2009

Game 16 Unfair Win Shares

What is the value of defense?

What is the value of defense when you're there on the mound, staring down the batter? There's a man on second, and the lead is a slim 1-0, with no guarantee of future runs for your side. There's no room for error. A hit and the game is tied, and not only that, but suddenly it's a rally, and who knows how many more score. There's still only one out. That man on second is fast. No room for error. And yet, you know that even if you make a great pitch that hitter might still hit it well. You can't strike out everyone. You are the ace, the master of his craft who has paid his dues and become one of the best pitchers in baseball, and yet still you can't strike out everyone. The count is 3-1. There's no room for error.

Then you make that pitch, and the batter swings and connects, and you realize that you've made that error you didn't have room for. That ball is hit well: it's going to be a hit, a run will score, and then --- and then Matt Kemp makes a diving catch. It turns out you did have room for error. That is the value of defense.

I didn't see the game, so I don't really know how good Matt Kemp's catch in the third was. Charley Steiner said it was really good, and I will have to trust him. Even if I had seen it, I wouldn't necessarily know how good the catch is, because I can't see his jump on the ball when it comes off the bat, and I probably won't notice a poor route taken to a ball unless it's really obviously poor. There's more to playing good defense than diving around.

Hudson also made some fine defensive plays, including stopping a sharp grounder on his knees and starting a double play. Both Hudson and Kemp were on base twice, so both are in the running for an unfair win share. Strong defense is something I want to reward in the unfair win shares.

However, yesterday's broom snapper win was all about the pitching. The Dodgers' two best pitchers slammed the door on the Astros all game, with a little help from luck and the defense of their friends. It was nice to bypass the wobbly arms of the 'pen, at least for one day. And only one day. They'll be needed in Denver.

The unfair loss shares go to the three hitters who Broxton retired in the ninth. That is pretty unfair, to penalize a hitter for making an out against Broxton, but they were also a collective 1-9 before the ninth inning.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Billingsley -- 2
Broxton -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Astros )

Berkman -- 1
Lee -- 1
Erstad -- 1

No comments: