DMB News December 2004

Diamond Mind Email Newsletter

December 29 , 2004
Written by Tom Tippett

Welcome to the seventh edition of the Diamond Mind email newsletter for the year 2004. Through these newsletters, we will try to keep you up to date on the latest product and technical information about the Diamond Mind Baseball game, related player disks, and our ongoing baseball research efforts. Back issues are available on our website.

Topic for this issue:

2004 Season Disk now shipping
Tips for using the 2004 Season Disk
New articles available
Bullpen support

2004 Season Disk now shipping

We're happy to report that we began shipping the 2004 Season Disk on December 9th, as scheduled. All of the advance orders were on their way by December 16th and we are now back to our normal shipping schedule.

Tips for using the 2004 Season Disk

Here are a few tips regarding the use of this season disk:

1. We have prepared notes that you can view through the Notes page of the Organizer window. We recommend that you take some time to read them in the relatively near future, as they contain useful information that may answer questions you might have about using the season disk, the statistics and ratings on the disk, and what you can expect when you start playing games with it.

2. The 2004 Season Disk is shipped with the real-life transactions and game-by-game starting lineups feature turned on, real-life opening day rosters (meaning that players who were disabled on opening day in real life are also disabled on this season disk), and the "as-played" 2004 schedule installed. By "as-played", we mean that postponed games are listed on the dates they were actually played.

The use of real-life transactions and lineups requires that the rosters and schedule be exactly as they were in real-life. Feel free to change rosters or switch to the original ("as-scheduled") schedule, but if you do, remember to change the settings in your organization or league so the use of real-life transactions and lineups is turned off.

3. The season disk includes multiple player records for anyone who appeared with more than one team this year. These players have one record for each team and one combined record that reflects their overall performance.

If you wish to release all players into free agency and draft new rosters from scratch, start by using the "Release all players" command and then use "Delete team-specific records". Both commands can be found on the Tools menu.

If you don't run the "Delete team-specific records" command, these multi-team players will be drafted more than once. And this command must be used AFTER releasing the players, because it deletes those team-specific records from the list of free agents, not from team rosters.

4. If you ran a draft league using our 2003 Season Disk, remember that you can use the Migrate command on the File menu to automatically set up the 2004 Season Disk with the structure of your league and your team rosters. See the DMB help system for more information on how to use the Migrate feature.

If you use Migrate, remember that:

a) the "source" database is your 2003 league database and your "target" database is the 2004 Season Disk. (You can install the 2004 Season Disk more than once if you want to migrate your league to one copy and have another with the real-life rosters still intact.)

b) Migrate does not assign home parks to each team, so you'll have to do that yourself.

c) When Migrate is placing a multi-team player on a roster, it's the combined record that is used. His team-specific records for the 2004 season are placed in the free agent pool. Use the "Delete team-specific records" command on the Tools menu to remove them before running a draft.

d) Migrate does not create manager profiles, so you'll need to generate new ones or use the "Roster / manager profile" window to set them up the way you want before playing games.

5. Before starting a season, take a look at the organization and leagues options. The disk ships with the generation of boxscores, scoresheets, game logs (version 9 only) and game-by-game stats turned on, but game accounts turned off.

If you want faster autoplay results and you don't care about being able to look at game-by-game player stats or reports based on time intervals, turn off the generation of game-by-game stats. You can also gain autoplay speed by turning off the generation of boxscores, scoresheets, and game logs.

If you run a league and you're planning to use the Transfer features to exchange game results, statistics, and manager profiles with the managers in that league, you'll need to turn on the generation of game accounts.

New articles

Since our last newsletter, we added these new articles to our web site:

- a list of all of the players who made their big-league debuts this season, along with their batting or pitching stats for 2004

- a look at team efficiency during the 2004 season ... how well each team converted batting events into runs, how well each team prevented its opponents from doing the same, and how team run differentials compared with their win-loss records

Bullpen support

Whenever pitcher win-loss records are being discussed, you often hear about run support, especially when a pitcher's record is quite a bit better or worse than his other stats.

For example, Derek Lowe was 17-7 in 2003 despite posting an ERA that was only a sixth of a run better than the league average. And, in 2004, Lowe eked out a winning record (14-12) even though his 5.42 ERA was ninth-worst among major-league pitchers with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. His secret weapon, of course, was a lineup that gave him 6.5 and 6.2 runs per start in those two seasons.

In addition to run support, it's worth remembering that bullpen support can cause meaningful distortions in pitcher win-loss records.

Using play-by-play data licensed from STATS, Inc., our bullpen support program generates a series of reports that tell us, among other things, how often (a) starters tossed complete games, (b) starter left games with leads and deficits of various sizes, (c) bullpens blew leads left by the starters, and (d) offenses took starters off the hook when they were lifted while trailing.

In 2004, three starting pitchers saw their bullpens blow seven leads. The first of these unfortunate hurlers was Montreal 's Livan Hernandez, who was 11-15 despite a very good 3.60 ERA. The second was David Wells, and we'll have more on him later. Finally, Cleveland 's Jason Davis (2-7, 5.51) did not pitch particularly well, but his record could have used a little more help from his friends.

Among the thirteen pitchers who saw six leads vanish were some big names -- Tim Hudson, C.C. Sabathia, Brad Radke, and Dontrelle Willis.

What's normal? Over the past dozen years, the bullpen blew a starter's lead in one out of every 8.6 games. In other words, if you make 30+ starts in a season, you can expect to see three or four leads disappear after you hit the showers.

The flip side, of course, involves games in which the starter is bailed out by the offense after leaving with a deficit. With a twelve-year average of once every 11.8 games, or nearly three per season for a regular starter, this doesn't happen as often as a blown lead.

Nobody was bailed out more than Odalis Perez, who was lifted while trailing 13 times but saw his mates come back to tie or go ahead in 7 of those games. Nearly as fortunate were Mark Prior and Kyle Lohse, with six comebacks each.

Comparing blown leads to times taken off the hook, Philly's Vicente Padilla (7-7, 4.53) of the Phillies received the most support. Five times his offense rallied to erase a deficit, including two comebacks of four or more runs. Meanwhile, he left with the lead in seven of his 20 starts, and the bullpen held that lead every time.

Eight starters were plus three; that is, they were bailed out three more times than they were let down. Prior, Kevin Millwood, and Javier Vazquez are the best known within this group.

Eligible to sue for non-support were three pitchers who were minus six in these lead changes. We've already mentioned that Hernandez and Davis saw seven leads vanish. Each of them was bailed out once. In addition, Hudson was 12-6 despite a bullpen that squandered six leads and an offense that never once took him off the hook for a loss.

Seven starters suffered five more blown leads than rallies -- Wells, Oliver Perez, Mike Maroth, Doug Davis, Sabathia, Radke and Glendon Rusch.

It won't come as any surprise to Reds fans (right, Rod?) that Cincinnati 's bullpen led the majors by blowing 28 of the leads entrusted to them by their starters. Right on their heels were Montreal (27), Detroit (26), San Francisco (25), and three teams ( Florida , Oakland , and Colorado ) with 24 each.

On the other hand, starters in Los Angeles (only 13 blown leads), Boston (14), and the south side of Chicago (14) could rest a little easier after their work was done.

Padilla wasn't the only Philly starter to benefit from an offense that was able to take its starters off the hook for a loss on 22 occasions, the highest total in the majors. Kevin Millwood (5) and Eric Milton (4) were among the others. (Of course, if the rotation hadn't put the offense in that position quite so often, Phillies fans might have had a lot more fun.) The Dodgers were next with 21, with Minnesota , Cleveland , and San Francisco tied with 18 apiece.

The Tigers mounted only 7 rallies that took starters off the hook, while San Diego pulled this off 8 times and Florida and Arizona 9 each.

The starters in LA were eight games to the good with 21 post-removal rallies against only 13 blown leads. Because blown leads are more common than comebacks of this type, no other team was more than one game in positive territory.

You've probably already figured out that the Detroit starters were let down more than any other group, with a bullpen that blew 26 of their leads and a lineup that rallied only 7 times. Next on this dubious list are the Marlins (24 blown, 9 rallies, net -15), three teams at -14 ( Montreal , Colorado , and Arizona ), and two at -13 ( Oakland and Cincinnati ). Among contending teams, Oakland and Florida suffered the most after their starters left the game.

Having said all this, we don't want to leave you with the impression that this statistic is more useful than it really is. After all, leaving with a 1-0 lead in the ninth is very different from leaving with the bases loaded and a 6-5 lead in the third. The first starter did a terrific job and needed only three outs from his closer, while the second was hit hard, left runners on base, and asked his pen to hold a lead for six-plus innings.

Before one draws any major conclusions from looking at these numbers, it's worth looking at the specific games that fall into the blown-lead and off-the-hook categories for a given pitcher. We'll do that for David Wells, who was involved in nine of these games:

Apr 8, vs SF -- 7 innings, 1-0 lead, Trevor Hoffman blows the save

Apr 24, at ARI -- 6 innings, lifted for a PH while trailing 2-1, Padres come back to win in the 9th

June 13, at NYY -- 7 innings, 1-0 lead, Hoffman blows save

June 23, vs ARI -- lifted in the 8th with a 3-2 lead, Otsuka blows save

July 9, vs COL -- 7 innings, 4-3 lead, Hoffman blows save

Aug 1, vs LA -- lifted in top of 6th with a 1-0 lead, Linebrink gives up tying run, run charged to Wells

Aug 18, vs ATL -- 6 innings, 5-3 lead, Hoffman blows save

Sept 3, vs COL -- 5 innings, down 5-0, Padres rally to win 7-6

Sept 24, vs ARI -- with 4-0 lead in the 6th, Wells gives up three runs and leaves the bases loaded, Osuna gives up two-run single to score two of the runners Wells put on base, Padres rally to win in the 9th

As you can see, Wells was very good in most of these starts. Oddly enough, Hoffman blew only four saves all year, and all four were in games started by Wells. Overall, Wells handed his bullpen 19 leads, 2 ties, and 10 deficits in his 31 starts, so he deserved a little better than his 12-8 record.