Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bill James: Sunday’s Mets vs. Brewers, Worst Game of Baseball Since 1972

Sabermetric guru Bill James has recently stated that Sunday’s contest between the Milwaukee Brewers and the New York Mets was the worst game of baseball since an Oakland Athletic loss to the Boston Redsox in 1972. In the National League there hasn’t been a worse game since a 1970 contest between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Huston Astros.

“In the course of 162 games, teams will play some excruciating baseball,” said James, “In fact, the human mind is not capable of contextualizing all of the awfulness, and evaluating it in terms of relative terribleness. Thus, I have created several statistics to help us gauge relative levels of suckitude.

“Sometimes,” said James, “both starters will simply have bad outings. What makes a start truly pathetic is when it seems like it might have had potential, but still ends up a disaster.”

Such was the case of the Mets Oliver Perez on Sunday, who entered the 4th with a four run lead that he was unable to protect for an inning. One of James’ statistics, SUC [Starters Underachieving Completely], relates size of a lead to the shortness of the time that it was held. Perez had a SUC of 7.4, and a SUC + (adjusted across eras) of 1.5. “Additionally, the Brewers did half of their damage in that inning with two outs, when it looked like Perez might have been able to escape, contributing to his Lima-factor of 12,” added James.

Another feature of Sunday’s game was that the Mets were able to get the leadoff man on in nearly every inning, but were seldom able to get that runner to score. “Something like that,” said James “speaks volumes of awful about both teams. It reminds you that the Brewers’ pitching was just brutal, but also makes the point that the Mets ability to get the job done with runners on base was, quite frankly, an embarrassment to the sport.”

POOP [Players Offering Outs Pathetically] is used to gauge overall offensive ineptitude. The two teams, aided by the 5 double plays turned against the Mets, combined for a POOP of 24.7 “In a situation like that it is almost as if they were two turds, chasing each other down the drain of America’s pastime,” said James.

CRAP [Continuing Really Awful Play] relates the awful baseball to the inning that it occurred in and also places the game in the larger context of both team’s seasons. Sunday’s game scored a CRAP of 34.6; CRAPs above 26.5 are, according to James “thankfully, exceedingly rare.”

Sunday’s CRAP rating was the highest since the 1972 game, and the eight highest since World War II—the furthest back that James has been able to do his calculations. Strangely, the Mets have been participants in seven of the ten highest CRAP-rated games in that time, even though they were only formed in 1962.

Although all can agree that there was nothing good about Sunday’s game, some dispute James’ assertion about its historic awfulness. Said WFAN’s Joe Beningo “I don’t need a computer to tell me what’s bad baseball. Sure, that Mets game sucked. But I remember a game, in the either ’91 or ’93 between, I think it was the Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates, were the two teams combined for something like twenty errors. Man, that game was awful.”

While James agrees that miserable fielding is one of the main components of pathetic baseball, he believes that errors are too imprecise a metric. He prefers FUCK [Fielders Un-displaying Competence Kompletely] which calculates not only scored errors but other minor and major fielding miscues; Sunday’s game was completely FUCKed, with a score of 12.8.


Sam said...

Maybe more than any other post, the final form of this one arouse from the conflict between the urge to do as good a job as possible, and the desire to get stuff up on blog in a timely fashion. Once I though of the basic joke, I quickly realized that there were a lot of levels that it could be taken to—certain blogers might have even tried to develop the statistics that I mention. Anyway, for the record, neither Bill James nor Beningo said any of the things I attribute to them, and for all I know all of the games that I alluded to(aside from Sun’s Mets/Brewers) were crisp pitchers duels with good defense. The piece of research that I wish I had done, was to go and find god-awful baseball games from history and allude to them. But I wanted to get that post up before the Mets played a game that was even worse.

The Mets are up on the Nationals right now. They’d be up by another run if Jose didn’t get caught stealing in the first. I’ve enjoyed having wisdom teeth pulled more than I enjoyed seeing that unfold on Gameday.

nigel fowler said...

Oh, never mind. It was very entertaining, and in any event fiction and non-fiction in today's world have thoroughly merged.

(Apropos of which, perhaps a few postings about how wonderfully the Mets are doing might be in order.)