Brewers First-Half WPA Review, Part 1: Braun Good, Bullpen Very, Very Bad

In BCB's recaps after each game, Kyle includes an MVP and LVP by Win Probability Added. He does this not because it tells us who played the best, but because it's one of the best stats out there for telling the story of what happened during a single game.*

*I don't actually know why Kyle does this. But this is why I would do this if I were Kyle.

That's also the reason why I like looking at WPA over a season (or half-season) - because it helps put a number on how the season felt, why we get so frustrated with some players and so confident in others, even if their traditional stats don't totally bear that out.

So here's the first part of the Brewers' first-half review by WPA. The second half, coming tomorrow, is a leaguewide look at that "Comebacks and Meltdowns" stat I used last year. Starting with the single-game MVP and LVP standings so far (batting WPA is included for pitchers):

Brewers WPA MVP Leaders

10 - Ryan Braun
9 - Aramis Ramirez
7 - Norichika Aoki
6 - Zack Greinke, Martin Maldonado
5 - Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks
4 - Yovani Gallardo
3 - Michael Fiers, Carlos Gomez, Alex Gonzalez, Travis Ishikawa, George Kottaras, Jonathan Lucroy, Nyjer Morgan
2 - Mat Gamel, Taylor Green, Cody Ransom
1 - Cesar Izturis, Kameron Loe, Shaun Marcum, Edwin Maysonet, Francisco Rodriguez, Randy Wolf

Brewers WPA LVP Leaders

9 - Randy Wolf
8 - John Axford
6 - Zack Greinke
5 - Carlos Gomez, Francisco Rodriguez
4 - Yovani Gallardo, Cody Ransom
3 - Norichika Aoki, Ryan Braun, Marco Estrada, Cesar Izturis, Shaun Marcum, Manny Parra, Aramis Ramirez
2 - Mat Gamel, Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan, Jose Veras, Rickie Weeks
1 - Brooks Conrad, Tim Dillard, Michael Fiers, Alex Gonzalez, Taylor Green, Livan Hernandez, Travis Ishikawa, George Kottaras, Kameron Loe, Jonathan Lucroy, Martin Maldonado, Mike McClendon, Chris Narveson

If you subtract the LVPs from the MVPs, you get the following aggregate leaderboard:

Brewers WPA MVP-LVP Aggregate Leaders

7 - Ryan Braun
6 - Aramis Ramirez
5 - Martin Maldonado
4 - Norichika Aoki
3 - Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks
2 - Michael Fiers, Alex Gonzalez, Travis Ishikawa, George Kottaras, Jonathan Lucroy
1 - Taylor Green, Edwin Maysonet, Nyjer Morgan
0 - Yovani Gallardo, Mat Gamel, Zack Greinke, Kameron Loe
-1 - Brooks Conrad, Tim Dillard, Livan Hernandez, Mike McClendon, Chris Narveson
-2 - Carlos Gomez, Cesar Izturis, Shaun Marcum, Cody Ransom, Jose Veras
-3 - Marco Estrada, Manny Parra
-4 - Francisco Rodriguez
-8 - John Axford, Randy Wolf

I also kept track of game-by-game MVPs and LVPs among just the position players, since that seems to get more closely at those players' relative performance:

Brewers WPA MVP Leaders (Batting)

14 - Ryan Braun
10 - Norichika Aoki
9 - Aramis Ramirez
8 - Corey Hart
7 - Rickie Weeks
6 - Martin Maldonado
5 - Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy
3 - Alex Gonzalez, Travis Ishikawa, George Kottaras, Nyjer Morgan, Cody Ransom
2 - Mat Gamel, Taylor Green
1 - Cesar Izturis, Edwin Maysonet

Brewers WPA LVP Leaders (Batting)

12 - Corey Hart
8 - Ryan Braun
7 - Norichika Aoki
6 - Cesar Izturis, Aramis Ramirez
5 - Jonathan Lucroy, Cody Ransom
4 - Carlos Gomez, Alex Gonzalez, Travis Ishikawa, Martin Maldonado, Nyjer Morgan, Rickie Weeks
3 - George Kottaras
2 - Brooks Conrad, Mat Gamel
1 - Taylor Green

Of course, MVPs and LVPs are 100% relative - you can get an MVP with a .015 WPA if everyone else on the team plays poorly enough. To isolate some of the biggest games, here's the list of Brewers with single-game WPAs of at least +/-.250, regardless of whether or not they were MVP or LVP.

Most games with +.250 WPA or above:

5 - Zack Greinke, Aramis Ramirez
4 - Ryan Braun
3 - Corey Hart, Travis Ishikawa, Martin Maldonado
2 - Michael Fiers, Yovani Gallardo, Mat Gamel, Carlos Gomez, George Kottaras, Jonathan Lucroy, Manny Parra, Rickie Weeks, Randy Wolf
1 - Norichika Aoki, John Axford, Vinnie Chulk, Tim Dillard, Alex Gonzalez, Kameron Loe, Shaun Marcum, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Veras

Most games with -.250 WPA or below:

7 - John Axford, Randy Wolf
5 - Francisco Rodriguez
4 - Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke
2 - Marco Estrada, Michael Fiers, Kameron Loe, Manny Parra, Juan Perez
1 - Norichika Aoki, Ryan Braun, Tim Dillard, Alex Gonzalez, Taylor Green, Livan Hernandez, Travis Ishikawa, Cesar Izturis, Shaun Marcum, Chris Narveson, Aramis Ramirez, Cody Ransom, Tyler Thornburg

A few first-impression notes on these stats:

- Zack Greinke's numbers are a bit deceptive - he got an LVP for both Saturday and Sunday's games, both of which were under pretty bizarre circumstances. If you take out both of those, he's the Brewers' leading pitcher in most every category, as he should be.

- A lot of the negative numbers jibe with the common-sense assessment of this team: The bullpen (especially Axford and TPOT, because they're pitching in such high-leverage situations) is killing the team, with a very big hand from Randy Wolf.

- Aramis Ramirez's numbers were better than I expected: He's had a few massive hits, and even early on when he was hitting poorly, he generally wasn't failing in extremely high-leverage situations.

- Only one player who's seen the field for this year's Brewers team didn't make any of these lists. You get a shiny new rec from me if you can name Mr. Irrelevant (without looking it up, sillyhead).

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