In my write-up of the 2007 Season
, I noted that "the 2007 regular season was so good that they added an extra game, which was so good that it lasted thirteen innings." This article looks at this matchup between the San Diego Padres
and the Colorado Rockies
, as seen through Player won-lost records. The Baseball-Reference box score and play-by-play account of the game can be found here
After the games of September 15, 2007, the Colorado Rockies
were in 4th place in the NL West with a record of 76-72, 4.5 games behind the San Diego Padres
for the NL Wild Card.
The Padres closed the season by winning 9 of their final 12 games that didn't involve the Rockies. Unfortunately for them, they went 0-3 against the Rockies. They were in excellent company in that, though, as the Rockies closed the regular season by winning 13 of their final 14 games, erasing all of the Padres' wild card lead and forcing a Game 163 between the two teams at Coors Field on Monday, October 1, 2007.
Technical Interlude: Tracking Player Won-Lost Records Play by Play
I explain how I calculate Player won-lost records in some detail in a lengthy article elsewhere on this site
. The core of the Player won-lost calculations is win probability
. For every play of a game, I calculate the change in win probability for the teams playing and assign it to the appropriate players. I also calculate what the average change in win probability for the play would have been across all possible contexts: i.e., in the latter case, all line drive singles to left field are worth the same number of batting wins and all ground outs to the third baseman are worth the same number of batting losses.
The in-context numbers that come out of this step are similar to, but not exactly the same as, the concept of WPA
(Win Probability Advancements). One important difference between most implementations of WPA and my work is that most WPA metrics assign all credit and blame to batters and pitchers while I apportion wins and losses to baserunners
The more important difference between WPA and pWins, however, is that I make a final adjustment at the end of the game based on which team won
and which team lost
. This is necessary to (a) tie player wins and losses back to team wins and losses, and (b) treat all games as equally valuable (obviously, you can make an argument that Game 163 is more "valuable" than, say, game 25; but that rests on the timing of Game 163 vis-a-vis Game 25, not because Game 163 happened to go 13 innings - especially since, in fact, the 2007 Padres' 25th game went 17 innings
I discuss all of this in more detail here
. I compare pWins to WPA in more detail here
Now, on to the big game!
The Game Itself, as it unfolded in real-time
The starting pitchers for Game 163 were Jake Peavy
for the Padres
and Josh Fogg
for the Rockies
. Jake Peavy was looking for his 20th pitching win of the 2007 season, against only 6 losses, and would win the 2007 NL Cy Young award (unanimously)
later that fall. Josh Fogg had been a consistently below-average
pitcher outside of his first big-league season in 2001, which consisted of 13.1 inning pitched.
Given that pitching matchup, the first two innings went pretty much the exact opposite of what you'd expect. Josh Fogg pitched two shutout innings, allowing a solitary single in each of the first two innings while mixing in three strikeouts.
Meanwhile, in the bottom of the first inning, the Rockies opened with a double, single, and walk, to load the bases. Todd Helton
put the Rockies on the scoreboard with a sacrifice fly to deep centerfield and Garrett Atkins
singled in a second run. A foul pop-up and a flyout ended the inning without any more damage. But catcher Yorvit Torrealba
led off the bottom of the second inning with a home run to stake the Rockies to a 3-0 lead.
In the top of the third inning, Josh Fogg began to pitch like Josh Fogg. It began with a single by the Padres' pitcher, Peavy, never a good way to start an inning. That was followed by a walk and a single to load the bases with nobody out. Fogg got Kevin Kouzmanoff
to fly out to left field and the bases remained loaded with one out. Adrian Gonzalez
proceeded to unload the bases with a grand slam to right field, giving the Padres their first lead of the day, 4-3.
Unfortunately for Fogg and the Rockies, the bases didn't actually stay unloaded very long as a single, double, and intentional walk promptly re-loaded them, still with only one out. Brady Clark
grounded out to third base for the second out of the inning, but it was a mixed blessing, as the fifth run of the inning scored on the play.
Jake Peavy came out to pitch the bottom of the third inning with a new lease on life. The Padres' offense had bailed him out and he now had a 5-3 lead to work with. Unfortunately for Peavy and the Padres, the second batter of the inning, Todd Helton
, cut the Padres' lead in half with a home run to right-center field. Peavy managed to escape the inning with no further damage, however, and the Padres led 5-4 with the game one-third over.
Josh Fogg and Jake Peavy both pitched their first 1-2-3 inning of the game in the fourth inning.
Adrian Gonzalez led off the top of the fifth inning with a double, prompting the Rockies to replace Fogg with Taylor Buchholz
. Buchholz retired the next three Padres' batters to hold the Padres lead at a single run, 5-4.
The Padres' lead lasted for only two more batters. A Troy Tulowitzki
double, followed by a Matt Holliday
single tied the score at five. Peavy got a groundout and two strikeouts (with an intentional walk sandwiched in between) to keep the score tied at 5 through 5.
The Padres threatened to break the tie in the top of the sixth with a leadoff single by Brady Clark. Jake Peavy popped up a bunt attempt for the first out. Jeremy Affeldt
came on to pitch for the Rockies, replacing Taylor Buchholz, and proceeded to throw a wild pitch, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position. He got Brian Giles
to pop out to shortstop for the second out of the inning. Ryan Speier
, the fourth Rockies' pitcher of the game, then came in and struck out Ryan Spilborghs
to end the inning.
The bottom of the sixth started okay for Peavy and the Padres with Yorvit Torrealba grounding out. But pinch-hitter Seth Smith
tripled to deep right-center and Kaz Matsui
gave the Rockies their first lead since the third inning with a sacrifice fly. Troy Tulowitzki
tripled to left-center, but Peavy struck Matt Holliday out to end the inning with Tulowitzki stranded on third base.
, the fifth Rockies pitcher of the night, worked around a one-out infield single to shut the Padres down and hold the Rockies lead at 6-5.
The Rockies threatened to add to their lead in the bottom of the seventh thanks to a one-out double by Garrett Atkins. That was followed by an intentional walk of Brad Hawpe
, who was the last batter faced by Jake Peavy. For the day, Peavy gave up 6 runs - all earned, including two home runs, in 6.1 innings and left with the Padres trailing 6-5 with six more outs left to catch up.
struck out Spilborghs and Torrealba to end the inning.
The Rockies brought in their sixth pitcher of the game, Brian Fuentes
, to try to hold on to their one-run lead heading into the eighth inning. After a leadoff single by Geoff Blum
, Fuentes came back to get Brady Clark (foul popup) and Michael Barrett
(strikeout) for two outs (although Blum advanced to scoring position on a wild pitch). With the Padres four outs away from their season ending, Brian Giles
hit a 1-1 pitch from Fuentes to deep left field for a double, scoring Geoff Blum with the tying run. Suddenly, the situation for the Padres had turned from being one out away from heading into the ninth inning trailing to having the go-ahead run in scoring position. But Fuentes got Scott Hairston
to ground out to the shortstop and the threat was over. But not before the Padres had tied the score, 6-6, heading to the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Rockies wasted a leadoff walk in the bottom of the 8th inning. The Padres went down 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth inning for only the second time all game. The Rockies managed a two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth but no more as Heath Bell completed a pitching stint in which he retired 8 of the 10 batters he faced (two walks) with 5 strikeouts.
On to extra innings. The Rockies brought on their eighth pitcher of the game (Manny Corpas
pitched the 1-2-3 ninth inning), Matt Herges
. He got the first two Padres of the inning before walking pinch-hitter Terrmel Sledge
and giving up a single to Michael Barrett
. But Herges got Brian Giles to ground into a force play to end the inning.
The bottom of the tenth inning was the second inning of the game that saw the Rockies go down 1-2-3. And so the game moved on to the 11th inning.
The 11th inning started dubiously for the Rockies with Scott Hairston reaching on a throwing error by Jamey Carroll
. Kouzmanoff bunted Hairston to second base. An intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez brought Khalil Greene
to the plate with the go-ahead runner in scoring position and only one out. Greene promptly hit a weak ground ball to Carroll, who made up for his error by starting a 5-3 double play to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 11th, after two quick outs, the Rockies put runners on 1st and 2nd, bringing Brad Hawpe
to the plate. The Padres brought in Joe Thatcher
to face him (the Padres' fourth pitcher of the game). Thatcher struck Hawpe out swinging and the game moved on to the 12th inning.
The 12th inning was probably the most uneventful inning of the game since the teams traded 1-2-3 innings in the fourth. Morgan Ensberg
led off the top of the 12th with a walk but the two teams combined for six straight outs after that to end the 12th inning, with the score still tied at 6-6.
The Rockies started the 13th inning with their 9th pitcher of the game (this game was being played with expanded September rosters), Jorge Julio
. As in the 12th inning, the Padres led off the top of the 13th with a walk. This time, however, he was not stranded, as Scott Hairston
followed with a two-run home run to finally break the tie. Chase Headley
singled and that was it for Julio. The Rockies' 10th pitcher, Ramon Ortiz
retired the Padres in order, but the damage was done. The Padres were three outs away from the playoffs, heading to the bottom of the thirteenth inning with an 8-6 lead.
In to pitch the bottom of the 13th inning for the Padres was the man who held the major-league record for career saves at the time, including 42 in 2007, Trevor Hoffman
. One thing that the Rockies did have going for them was that they were sending up the top of their batting order.
Kaz Matsui greeted Hoffman with a double to right-center field. Troy Tulowitzki followed with a double to left-center and the Rockies were within a run, 8-7. On the next pitch, Matt Holliday sent a fly ball to deep right field, over the head of Brian Giles for a triple, scoring Troy Tulowitzki with the tying run and putting the winning run 90 feet away with nobody out for the Rockies.
was intentionally walked (the 5th intentional walk of the game between the two teams), bringing Jamey Carroll
to the plate. Carroll could easily have been the goat of this game earlier with his throwing error leading off the top of the 11th inning. He had already evened the scales that inning by starting the inning-ending double play. Now was his chance to move firmly into positive territory. And he did so - barely. His fly ball to right field was caught by Brian Giles
, but the home plate umpire (Tim McClelland) ruled that Holliday touched home plate safely
, and the Colorado Rockies won the 2007 NL Wild Card with a 9-8 win over the San Diego Padres in perhaps the most exciting elimination game ever played.
Aftermath: Doling out the Wins and Losses
The table below summarizes how Player wins and losses were assigned for this game. The first three columns show pWins
, pLosses, and net pWins (pWins minus pLosses). As explained above and elsewhere, pWins tie to team wins
. The middle column shows WPA
as calculated by Baseball-Reference.com
. The final three columns show eWins
, eLosses, and net eWins, which are context-neutral.
The star of the game for the Rockies was Matt Holliday
who tied the game with his RBI single in the bottom of the 5th inning and then tied the game again with an RBI triple in the bottom of the 13th inning before scoring the winning run himself on a sacrifice fly. Other key contributors for the Rockies included Troy Tulowitzki
who scored both game-tying runs that Holliday drove in as well as scoring a third run and driving one in, and Matt Herges
, who pitched 3 scoreless innings.
Had the Rockies not rallied in the bottom of the 13th inning, the goat of the game for the Rockies would have been Jorge Julio
who allowed a walk, home run, and single (in that order) to the three batters he faced in the top of the 13th inning.
On the Padres side of things, the hero of the game, had they won, in terms of net wins, would have been Adrian Gonzalez
, whose 3rd-inning grand slam turned a 3-0 Rockies lead into a 4-3 Padres' one. The most pWins accumulated by any Padre was Scott Hairston
, thanks mostly to his 13th-inning two-run home run.
Not surprisingly, when a team scores 8 runs (6 in regulation) and nevertheless loses, the blame is likely to fall on the defensive side of things. Interestingly, the top Padres' pitcher (and player) in net pLosses (the negative of net pWins) is not the relief pitcher
who blew the save in the 13th inning, but the starting pitcher
who couldn't hold a 5-3 lead and gave up 6 runs in 6.1 innings of work. Brian Giles'
appearance near the bottom of the list for the Padres is also largely for defensive reasons, as the fielder who shares responsibility for the Matt Holliday triple and Jamey Carroll sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 13th.
I take a closer look below at a few of the players whose Player won-lost records for this game seemed the most interesting to me.
How Context affects Player value: Matt Holliday and Garrett Atkins
Looking at context-neutral net eWins
, Matt Holliday
and Garrett Atkins
end up dead even at +0.109 net eWins. Matt Holliday was 2-for-6 in this game with three strikeouts. Ignoring context, Atkins had a somewhat better (but shorter) day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a walk (Holliday also had 1 walk) and 1 strikeout. Holliday had one more total base than Atkins (he tripled, Atkins doubled; they both also singled), but also made three more outs (two via strikeout). Holliday's performance in left field also scores as a (context-neutral) net positive for the game (+0.049 wins), while Atkins rates pretty much dead-average defensively (+0.003 wins).
Mix it all together and they're very, very similar context-neutral performances, different perhaps in the mix of how they got there - Holliday had more batting losses but made up for them with more fielding wins - but very, very similar in overall value.
Except that Garrett Atkins' double was with one out and the bases empty in the seventh inning, with the Rockies already leading 6-5, and was subsequently wasted when Spilborghs and Torrealba struck out to end the inning (although Atkins wouldn't have gotten any baserunning credit had a run scored since Jamey Carroll pinch-ran for him), while Matt Holliday's triple tied the score in the bottom of the thirteenth inning and he followed that up by scoring the winning run two batters later (incidentally, that batter would have been Atkins if he hadn't been pinch-run for 6 innings earlier).
Is the difference in net pWins between Matt Holliday
and Garrett Atkins
a fair representation of their relative value in this game? I think that it is. I would also, however, point out that the difference in their net pWins (0.18 wins) is far less than the difference in their WPA (0.33 wins) which, in my opinion, over-values Matt Holliday's late-inning heroics at the expense of the early-inning events (by Atkins and others) that made it possible.
How pWins differ from WPA: Brian Fuentes and Trevor Hoffman
According to Baseball-Reference.com's
account of this game, Brian Fuentes' performance was worth -0.118 WPA. This makes some sense as Fuentes was the only Rockies pitcher of the night to be charged with a blown save. I actually credit Brian Fuentes with a net positive performance in context and essentially a dead-average context-neutral performance. That seems odd.
Brian Fuentes pitched the entire top of the 8th inning. That inning went as follows: single (line drive), foul pop-out, strikeout (swinging), wild pitch, double (fly ball), groundout.
It's not that hard to see the average context-neutral rating: Fuentes basically gets full credit for the pop-out and the strikeout, he takes full blame for the wild pitch, and then shares credit/blame for three balls-in-play - 1 groundball, 1 flyball, and 1 line drive. There are a lot of ways to put those events together in ways that result in a scoreless inning; heck, there are a good number of ways to put those results together in a way that results in no baserunners at all (which, of course, makes even the wild pitch go away).
It's also not hard to see what WPA was thinking. The Rockies needed to get six outs without allowing a run to win the game. Fuentes got two but didn't get the third in time, a run scored, the Padres tied the game.
But what the heck is the net pWins seeing? It's seeing that pitchers don't have a whole lot of control over what happens to a ball once it leaves the batter's bat. In the 2007 National League, a fly ball to left field that stayed in the ballpark turned into an out 90% of the time
. The fly ball that Fuentes allowed to Brian Giles was one of the 10%. That's to Fuentes's dis-credit. But, as far as Player won-lost records are concerned, it's also to the left fielder's dis-credit, Matt Holliday. I discuss the technical details of how event probabilities translate into Player won-lost records in a couple
if anybody is interested.
The story is similar for Trevor Hoffman. WPA sees Hoffman's line as double-double-triple-walk-sac fly, game over, Padres lose. For pWins, the story is more subtle and, ultimately, less damning to Trevor Hoffman, partly at the expense of Padres rightfielder Brian Giles, whose net pWins here (-0.186) ranks him as far more responsible for the Padres loss than his WPA (+0.160). The latter is all about Giles's offense, most notably the aforementioned double off of Brian Fuentes. To some extent, Hoffman's job is to put the ball in the field of play and let his defense do its job and, to some (admittedly limited) extent, Hoffman did that: he kept the ball in the ballpark; heck, he even got Jamey Carroll out.
That said, I'm not pretending that Trevor Hoffman was anything but bad that night. He amassed a pWinning percentage of 0.127. By that measure, Giles was better (albeit not actually "good"): 0.271. As with Holliday and Atkins above, I think this gives a fair breakdown of the value of their respective performances that night.
He Could Have Been a Hero: Adrian Gonzalez
The top Padres player in net pWins was Adrian Gonzalez
, largely on the strength of his third-inning grand slam that gave the Padres a 4-3 lead. For the game, he batted 3-for-6 with a single, double, and (intentional) walk to go with his grand slam, and, arguably, none of his outs came at particularly key moments (although, in any 13-inning loss, trading any out for a home run changes the outcome of the game) - two outs and a man on first in the first inning, in the middle of a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th (again, any at-bat in the 9th inning of a tie game has the potential to be a key moment), as the 1st out in the 13th after the Padres had already taken the lead. It was a solid performance that, ultimately, to some extent, went for naught when Matt Holliday slid in safely.
Comparing their batting lines, it's easy to say that Adrian Gonzalez had a better game that day than Matt Holliday. And their context-neutral Player won-lost records reflect that: Gonzalez had nearly twice as many net eWins as Holliday. In context, though, Holliday did more to help his team win and his team did, in fact, win. Is that a fair reflection of their respective abilities? No, probably not. But pWins don't measure ability, they measure value
You Take the Good, You Take the Bad: Scott Hairston
Finally, it is, perhaps, a bit of a surprise to see the man who hit a two-run tiebreaking home run in the top of the 13th inning fairly well down the net pWin list among Padres (and, in fact, actually coming in slightly negative). What gives?
Surely, Hairston's home run was the most value play of the game for the Padres. Yes, it was. And, in fact, if you look at the table above, you can see that Scott Hairston did, in fact, lead the San Diego Padres in pWins in this game. He was also among the top six Padres in pLosses for the game, however.
For the game, Scott Hairston went 2-for-7. His other hit was a third-inning single in front of Adrian Gonzalez's grand slam; he also reached on a throwing error to lead off the 11th inning before being forced out at third at the front end of an inning-ending double play. He struck out to end the 6th inning with the score tied and a runner on second base. He grounded out weakly to short to end the 8th inning with the score tied and a runner on second base.
Was Scott Hairston's 13th-inning home run valuable? Sure. Was making the final out in a tie game with the go-ahead run in scoring position damaging? Absolutely, and Hairston did it twice. The net effect: pretty close to zero.
So there you have it: one game - and a helluva game at that - as seen and measured by Player won-lost records.
All articles are written so that they pull data directly from the most recent version of the Player won-lost database. Hence, any numbers cited within these articles should automatically incorporate the most recent update to Player won-lost records. In some cases, however, the accompanying text may have been written based on previous versions of Player won-lost records. I apologize if this results in non-sensical text in any cases.
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