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2008 Ranger WPAs

Among the various and sundry other awesome things B-R offers, they now have the most influential plays of each game in terms of WPA.  (What's WPA?  Click here).

So I thought I'd go through and see what the 5 or so most crucial plays to Ranger wins, and to Ranger losses, have been so far this season...

Today is the most influential plays in losses.  Later this week, we'll do the most influential plays in wins.

Sound exciting?  Then follow the jump...

6th most influential play in a loss (tie):

May 14, at rare Wednesday day game, at home against the Mariners.  A win means the Rangers are back at .500.  Carlos Silva vs. Scott Feldman.  Both pitchers pitch well, but the M's score 2 unearned runs in the top of the 7th to give them a 3-2 lead.

Bottom of the 7th, David Murphy doubles, Brandon Boggs grounds out.  Brandon Morrow comes in and walks two batters in a row, loading the bases with one out and Ramon Vazquez due up.

The M's bring in Arthur Rhodes, and Ron Washington, in a hugely second-guessed move, brings in Marlon Byrd to pinch hit in what would be (all together now) Byrd's first major league AB in almost a month.

Byrd works the count, thinks he draws ball four, has that pitch called a strike instead, and then grounds into a 5-4-3 DP.  The Rangers' chances of winning the game drop from 56% to 26%.  Much flaming is done on message boards for a couple of days thereafter on whether Vazquez should have been lifted, and if so, whether Byrd should have been the one to hit.

6th most influential play in a loss (tie):

April 24, at the Tigers.  This is the game that was the low-water mark for the Rangers this season, dropping them to 7-16 on the year.

Most plays that lead to big swings in probability involve late inning plays in close games.  Not this one.  Jason Jennings was going up against Jeremy Bonderman, who was lifted in the top of the 5th after walking in the tying run.  With the game tied at 2, Jennings needed a shutdown inning.

Instead, Jennings allowed two walks and a single, and with two on, two out, and the game tied, faced Magglio Ordonez, who homered to deep left.  The Rangers were left with a 14% chance of victory, compared to 44% when Ordonez came to the plate.

5th most influential play in a loss

April 19.  The second game of a 4 game series in Boston.  Another Jason Jennings game, but one where Jennings pitched well, allowing just 2 runs in 6 innings.  The Rangers scored single runs in each of the first three innings, and it looked like the Rangers might eke out a victory.

Bottom of the 8th, Joaquin Benoit gets an out, then allows a double to Dustin Pedroia and a single to David Ortiz (which had a 23% swing in the chances of victory).  With the game now tied, Benoit went after Manny Ramirez, who clobbered a home run to left field, giving the Red Sox a 5-3 lead, and turn a 39% chance of victory to an 8% chance of victory.

2nd most influential play in a loss (tie):

April 18.  The day before the Ramirez homer off of Benoit.  Still in Boston.  Luis Mendoza against Daisuke Matsuzaka.  The Rangers are up 1-0 in the bottom of the 3rd, but Mendoza is struggling.  He had been cruising, retiring the first 8 BoSox batters of the game, before allowing a 2 out double to Jed Lowrie, which he followed up with a pair of walks.

Two outs, bases loaded, Mendoza had a chance to escape if he could retire David Ortiz.  And Ortiz went opposite field with a grand slam home run that gave Boston a 4-1 lead, and a 53% chance of victory turned into a 20% chance of victory.

2nd most influential play in a loss (tie):

Again, that May 14 game against the M's.  Despite the Byrd GIDP, the Rangers end up tying up the score, and the game goes to extra innings.  Franklyn German comes in to pitch the 12th, and ends up facing Miguel Cairo with 2 outs and a runner on third.

Cairo singles.  The Rangers chances of winning the game go from 53% to 20%.  The hidden .500 mushroom strikes again.

2nd most influential play in a loss (tie):

May 19 in Minnesota.  Another hidden mushroom game, as a win gets the Rangers to .500.  Scott Feldman against Boof Bonser.  Feldman struggles, but the Rangers come back to take a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the 9th.  But Joe Mauer singles in a run in the 9th against C.J. Wilson to tie the score, the Twins end up having to have their pitcher bat in extra innings, and German ends up giving up a walk-off double to Howie Clark in the 12th.

Remarkably, though, neither the Mauer single (at 29%) nor the Clark double (at 28%) were the most influential plays of the game.  Rather, it was Alexi Casilla's 2 out, 3 run homer in the 4th, wiping out a 2-1 Ranger lead, that turned a 57% chance of victory into a 24% chance of a win.

Most influential play in a loss

Believe it or not, it is from that same series in Boston.  April 20, the Rangers have lost two in a row, but are up 5-0 to the BoSox heading into the 7th.

Kevin Millwood gets into trouble in the 7th, and Wes Littleton comes in to relieve him.  Littleton also isn't on his game, and C.J. WIlson is brought in in the 8th inning in a 5-3 game, with 2 outs and a runner on, to put out the fire.

With the shift on, David Ortiz singles on a ball that Ian Kinsler knocks down but can't throw him out on.  5-4, and Dustin Pedroia comes up as a pinch hitter.  Pedroia doubles on a blast to deep right-center, tying the game, and advances to third on a bad through from Josh Hamilton.  Pedroia's double turns a 74% chance of victory into a 40% chance of victory, and set the stage for the winning run to be walked in later that inning.