Win Probability Added — Player Analysis
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Stat of the Week
by Peter Liubicich
Win Probability Added — Player Analysis
This post was written by Peter Liubicich on January 10, 2013
Posted Under: Stat of the Week

This week we’re looking at Win Probability Added (WPA), which measures how an individual player affects their team’s expectancy on a per-play basis.  The Yankees serve as an appropriate case study for the statistic as they have gotten the majority of the coverage this past postseason for their severe lack of hitting and have set all-time postseason lows in the team’s history.

While players like Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano got ripped apart in the New York media for their lack of hitting in the playoffs, let’s look at how they each individually affected the Yankees expectancy to win in each game this postseason.   We’ll also look at Raul Ibanez’s WPA as he became a hero in the city, and Eric Chavez who essentially replaced A-Rod as the Yankees everyday third baseman.

Team W/L

Ibanez

A-Rod

Chavez

Granderson

Swisher

Cano

7-Oct

W

0.059

-0.106

DNP

-0.127

0.047

-0.052

8-Oct

L

DNP

-0.211

DNP

-0.040

-0.213

0.072

10-Oct

W

0.828

-0.088

-0.177

-0.121

-0.073

-0.130

11-Oct

L

-0.036

-0.207

-0.048

-0.227

-0.296

-0.125

12-Oct

W

0.051

DNP

-0.036

0.057

-0.092

-0.059

13-Oct

L

0.567

-0.218

-0.093

-0.112

-0.106

-0.264

14-Oct

L

-0.027

-0.073

DNP

0.014

-0.071

-0.071

16-Oct

L

-0.225

DNP

-0.065

-0.064

DNP

-0.034

Total WPA

1.217

-0.903

-0.419

-0.620

-0.804

-0.663

To properly read these numbers, Baseball-Reference explains WPA as, “Given average teams, this is the change in probability caused by this batter during the game.  A change of +/- 1 would indicate one win added or lost.”

Looking at these six players, Ibanez’s praise is well deserved while the blame placed on A-Rod, Granderson, Swisher and Cano is also well placed.  Remember that WPA is a counting statistic and that a player’s ability to affect games is accumulated over the course of a season.  For instance, Ibanez’s postseason WPA of 1.217 means he accounted for at least 1 win this postseason.  This was mostly aided by his performance in Game 3 of the ALDS (Remember that he came into the game as a pinch hitter for A-Rod) and basically won the game single handedly by tying the game with a home run in the 9thinning and then winning the game with another home run in the 12th inning which resulted in a WPA of 0.828.  Ibanez’s had another incredible WPA in Game 1 of the ALCS with his game tying home run in the 9th inning which resulted in a WPA of 0.567.

A-Rod certainly deserves the criticism that was heaped on him.  He did not positively affect the team’s expectancy to win in any game during the entire playoffs and posted three games with a WPA below -0.20.  Eric Chavez’s WPA has also been bad in every game, but he certainly did not served as big a detriment to the team both on the field and off it.

From what we see through WPA, the players the Yankees relied on heavily for scoring runs were not getting the job done when the team needed them most.

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