Dave Cameron’s post from yesterday about the Rays’ clutch hitting reminded me of the Little Things. In short, what the “Little Things” stat does is subtract decontextualized offensive linear weights (called wRAA here at FanGraphs) from game-state linear weights (WPA/LI) to give an idea of how well a team or player has done at playing to the game situation, over and above the average linear weight of the event. For, in the contemporary run environment, a walk averages an increase in run expectancy of about 0.3 runs above average, and a home run about 1.4, which is what wRAA/linear weights records, no matter when in the game they occur. However, in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded, a walk and a home run give exactly the same change win expectancy for the home team, which is what WPA/LI records (while factoring out the “leverage” element in order to make each plate appearance of equal relative value). So to get the “Little Things,” the “situational” performance (not to say awareness, not yet, since analysts differ on how much this is a repeatable skill that players possess), we subtract wRAA converted to wins (I simply divide by 10) from WPA/LI: the Little Things. Which three offenses are doing the best and worst so far this season?
The Three Best
3. Mets, -16 wRAA, -0.59 WPA/LI, 1.01 Little Things. Well, David Wright is slightly negative in Little Things, so I guess the fans are right to boo him. It’s not been an impressive offense performance for the team, but they’ve made more out of their production than what their wOBA suggests, as the Mets are a surprising (to me, anyway) 15-13 so far.
2. Reds, -13 wRAA, -0.2 WPA/LI, 1.1 Little Things. Another team that is negative in both categories, but is getting some good situational offense. Scott Rolen‘s veteran-ness might be the big difference here (ahem). But seriously, he’s done well, “Little Things-wise” so far.
1. Braves, -16 wRAA, 0.55 WPA/LI, 2.15 Little Things. Yes, Jason Heyward does the Little Things (so far), too.
The Three Worst
3. Angels, -11 wRAA, -3.28 WPA/LI, -2.18 Little Things. A few months ago, I noted that despite their reputation for doing the Little Things, the Angels have a spotty record, at least regarding this issue. Off to an ugly start in 2010, they are still waiting for Mike Scioscia‘s magic touch to kick in.
2. Tigers, +23 wRAA, 0.11 WPA/LI, -2.19 Little Things. The Tigers offense is one of the main reasons they are the only team seemingly within striking distance of the Twins so far, but their hitters certainly haven’t maximized their chances so far, being more than two wins below what their context-neutral linear weights would suggest. Given the talent gap between the Tigers and Twins, they’re going to need all the situational skill/luck they can get if they want a shot at the AL Central this season.
1. Red Sox, +28 wRAA, -0.18 WPA/LI, -2.98 Little Things. Has anything gone right for the Red Sox so far this season? Kevin Youkilis is about half-a-win below average, and David Ortiz has (somehow) been worse the more crucial the situation has been. It’s gotta be tough for all those 2 year olds who haven’t seen a Red Sox championship in their lifetimes.
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