Brewers First-Half WPA Review, Part 2: Not ... Terrible, I Guess?

As I said in yesterday's post, I love the way Win Probability can tell the story of a game with such simple information. All you need to do is glance at a day's listing of game graphs on Fangraphs, and you can tell which games were yawners and which took years off fans' lives.

That's why I've been using Win Probability as a tool to look at remarkable wins and losses. I've kept track of two basic types of games - comeback wins (games where a team won after having less than a 25%, 10%, 5%, or 1% chance of winning) and meltdown losses (games where a team lost after having more than a 75%, 90%, 95%, or 99% chance of winning - the mirror image of the comeback win). Last year's final numbers are here.

The caveats go here: This isn't a measurement of luck, or even necessarily clutch play. Being good or bad at it probably only means that you have a bad bullpen or a good average in late-and-close situations. I'm using it as just a basic measurement of how often - and how severely - teams blew games that were typically in the bag and rescued games that should have been out of reach, and, by proxy, how awesome or miserable those teams' games have been for their fans.

Here's the top 5 and bottom 5 in the majors in my most basic level of comeback wins:

2012 <25%-chance Comeback Wins

1. Pirates - 15
2. Braves - 13
2. Dodgers - 13
2. Athletics - 13
2. Rays - 13
...11. Brewers - 10
26. Cardinals - 6
26. Phillies - 6
28. Astros - 5
28. Cubs - 5
28. Royals - 5

And the more extreme comeback wins:

2012 <10%-chance Comeback Wins

1. Twins - 5
2. Braves - 4
2. Blue Jays - 4
2. Yankees - 4
...14. Brewers - 2
28. Cubs - 0
28. Rockies - 0
28. Red Sox - 0

Now the flipside of those wins - the epic collapses:

2012 >75%-chance Meltdown Losses

1. Phillies - 16
2. Mets - 14
3. Astros - 13
3. Mariners - 13
5. Cardinals - 12
5. Reds - 12
...19. Brewers - 8
25. Twins - 7
25. White Sox - 7
27. Indians - 6
27. Rangers - 6
29. Pirates - 4
29. Red Sox - 4

And the really, really bad ones:

2012 >90%-chance Meltdown Losses

1. Rockies - 5
8 tied with 4 (Brewers, Marlins, Mets, Phillies, Reds, Athletics, Mariners, White Sox)
...28. Padres - 0
28. Pirates - 0
28. Orioles - 0

You can combine these stats into a single index of euphoria and/or heartbreak - +/-1 for a normal win or loss, +/-2 for wins or losses in which one team blows a 75% chance of winning, and +/-3 for games where a 90% chance is blown. Here are the standings for the majors in that category:

The Misery Index

1. Pirates +25
2. Yankees +23
3. Rangers +21
4. Nationals +16
5. Braves +14
6. Dodgers +13
7. Orioles +9
7. Rays +9
9. Angels +8
9. White Sox +8
11. Indians +6
12. Reds +4
12. Athletics +4
14. Blue Jays +3
14. Red Sox +3
16. Giants +2
17. Diamondbacks +1
17. Tigers +1
19. Cardinals 0
20. Marlins -2
20. Mets -2
22. Twins -4
23. Brewers -5
24. Royals -16
25. Padres -19
26. Mariners -21
27. Rockies -24
28. Cubs -26
28. Phillies -26
30. Astros -29

So your first thought upon looking at these stats for the Brewers might be, "Wow, that's not as bad as I would've expected. I mean, it felt like our bullpen was imploding on a near-nightly basis for most of the first half." At least that was my first thought. Well, there's a few reasons the Brewers' meltdown total wasn't as bad as it felt like:

- In a lot of the losses in April and early May, the Brewers were behind from the start; they never had a lead to blow in the first place. (This was especially the case in games in which Randy Wolf pitched.)

- In several games in which the bullpen blew it, they were only blowing tie games, not leads - the Brewers never led these games, either, so their Win Probability never got up to 75%. This Francisco Rodriguez steaming turd against the Padres is a good example.

- In several other games in which the bullpen blew it, the Brewers ended up winning games anyway. Case in point: The blown 9-2 lead debacle against the Marlins was the second-worst blown WP this year, but since the Brewers won, it actually went down as a Comeback Win for the Brewers and a Meltdown Loss for the Marlins.

Still, the Brewers did rack up a lot of Meltdown Losses during the bullpen collapse in June: They had just two before June 13 and six since then. So yeah, this stat just isn't enough to capture the misery of this season. After all, it doesn't take blown ACLs into account.

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