One of My Favorite Baseball Stats: RE24

One of my favorite baseball stats is one developed by sabermetrician Tom Tango and well explained by Patrick Jeter of Redleg Nation. It’s RE24, where “RE” stands for “Run Expectancy” and RE24 for “Run expectancy based on the 24 base-out states.”

In brief, it indicates how many runs, on average, a team can expect to score in an inning depending on the number of outs and which bases are occupied. For example, if a batter’s at the plate with the bases loaded and no outs, from that point to the inning’s end his team can expect to score more runs than if the same batter came to the plate with none on and the bases empty.

The key to determining about how many runs a team could expect to score is Tango’s RE24 matrix. Here’s a copy of the one in Jeter’s article:

The table contains eight rows and three columns. Each row contains one of the eight possible Bases Occupied states from none on (- – -) to bases loaded (1B 2B 3B). Each column contains an out situation: 0 outs, 1 out, or 2 outs. Combined, there are 24 Base/Out states.

The first Base/Out state is none on and no outs. When a batter came to the plate in that situation in the years 2010-2015, on average 0.481 runs scored from that point until inning’s end. Now, of course, it is impossible to score half a run. Think of it as meaning this: over 100 innings, 48 runs scored (again, on average) in that situation.

Say the first batter strikes out. When the second batter comes to the plate, the Run Expectancy is no longer 0.481 because though the bases are still empty, there is one out, so the run expectancy changed by -0.127 (0.481 – 0.254). Notice that in this case the result of the first plate appearance reduced the team’s Run Expectancy.

That change in Run Expectancy, -0.127, is part of its run value. It is how much the strikeout reduced the team’s chances of scoring. Further, that negative run value is added to the first batter’s run value total, his RE24 stat, decreasing it.

The second batter comes to the plate with an RE of 0.254 (one out, none on). Imagine that the second batter walks, giving the Base/Out state of one out and man on first. The Run Expectancy increases to 0.509 (one out, runner on first). The walk increased the RE24 by 0.255 (0.509 – 0.254). That increase is the run value of a batter reaching first base starting from the Base/Out state of one out and none on and ending with the one out, runner on first state.

Let’s look at one more situation. The third batter comes to the plate in the one out, man on first situation. That Run Expectancy is 0.509. He doubles, scoring the runner who was on first base. The Run Expectancy changes to 0.664 due to there now being a runner on second base with one out, so the run value of that double is 0.664 – 0.509 or 0.155 plus the run that scored, giving 1.155. That positive run value is added to the third batter’s RE24. So RE24 in this case is the change in the Run Expectation between two consecutive plate appearances plus any runs that scored, all in the same inning.

So what does a player’s RE24 for a number of games tell us? It reveals how many runs he helped to create by increasing the expectation that runs will score plus by any runs that actually result. An RE24 that is positive is above average, which is zero. An RE24 that is negative is below average.

Taking a look at the RE24 info on FanGraphs on July 26, 2016, Mike Trout is leading the Major Leagues with an RE24 of 46.33. That means he contributed to the scoring of 46.33 runs so far in 2016 above what was expected. The Met with the highest RE24, ranked #17, is Yoenis Cespedes with an RE24 of 26.52. Thus, he contributed toward the scoring of 19.81 fewer runs than Trout.

Overall this season, the Mets rank #24 with an RE24 of -21.23, one of 11 teams with a negative RE24. Thus they have scored 21.23 runs fewer than expected.

More on RE24

Patrick Jeter. RE24: A Primer

Tom Tango. Run Expectancy Matrix, 1950-2015

Neil Weinberg. The Beginner’s Guide To Deriving wOBA

Part 1: My First Day Exploring OOTP 17

A description of my first day trying to learn how OOTP 17 works so I could start playing it MLB game.

OOTP 17 is a baseball app that enables you to do much more than play baseball on a computer, where OOTP stands for Out of the Park. How much more I did not realize until began playing with the app on my Mac. And though I’d played many times both the APBA and the Strat-O-Matic baseball board games and APBA’s computer baseball game, I was not prepared for what I encountered after installing OOTP 17.

Read my APBA interview.

When you start OOTP 17, a well rated baseball simulation app, these are the main choices available on the first screen you see. Stumbling through the online manual on my first day of exploration, I found the choice that would enable me to begin playing with the current MLB teams: “New Standard Game.” 

Menu on OOTP Home Screen
Menu on OOTP Home Screen

What I did not know at the time was that in “New Standard Game” OOTP defines game differently than I do, something I did not discover until later. I expected its “game” to mean a typical baseball game, the type I watch on TV. But that’s not how OOTP defines it. It defines it in a broader sense, more like the “game of baseball,” but even then the game played in the Major Leagues differs from the Little League game, and both of them are not identical to the game played in the Gulf Coast League.

In its online documentation’s section titled “Game Universe Terminology,” the closest definition I found was of a “saved game,” which is

one ‘universe’ of baseball in OOTP. A saved game could contain one league, five leagues, one league with multiple ‘subleagues,’ or any other combination of leagues and subleagues.

A “universe” of baseball is such a broad term I’m not going to try to define it; instead I re-viewed “New Standard Game” as meaning “New Game Universe.” And since then, I’ve slowly been learning what that universe includes — and how to play an MLB game the OOTP way. Those experiences are what I’ll be sharing with you.

A First Line Challenge

How important is a poem’s first line to you as a reader, especially in a poem by a poet whom you might never have read before — nor even heard of?

Here are five first lines in poems published in the May 2016 issue of Poetry. After reading them, which poem would you read first? Last? What makes you want to read more?
Share your responses by replying to this post.

1. “Never were knuckle men.”    → “Axe Derby” by Bonnie Cassidy

2. “Ripeness was a semitone below”    → “Magnifera” by Jaya Savige

3. “I have known these estuaries —”    → “Thalassography” by Sarah Holland-Batt

4. “Focus on the taxidermied light,”    → “Forget the Stars” by Fiona Hile

5.  “Rock quartz next to a fence with upturned faces.” → “In a Dark Room” by Cassie Lewis

Thoughts on “King of the River” – Part 3

This post continues my discussion/analysis in the previous two posts about line breaks in Stanley Kunitz’s poem, “King of the River“.

Stanza 4 contains only one fewer line than the first three stanzas combined and continues the first two stanzas habit of having unpunctuated lines end in a grammatical unit, such as a phrase, the grammatical unit serving as a substitute for punctuation. The pause in such cases is less than that of either a comma or period. If a period’s pause is like a stop at a red light and a comma’s pause is like the hesitation at a yield sign, the grammatical unit’s unpunctuated pause is like approaching an intersection with neither a light nor a traffic sign, one where the absence of either is part of the warning.

For the fourth stanza’s first sentence (nine lines), Kunitz replicates the end-stopping ways used in the first two stanzas, but then, as he does in Stanza 3, he deviates — noticeably, ending Stanza 4’s next four lines with periods, following that with an unpunctuated line (“The great clock of your life”) — its prepositional phrase (“of your life”) serving as its “pause” notice, a comma-ended line, and then two more lines, one ending with a period.

If you read that stanza aloud, the effect of the punctation shift in the eight lines after its first sentence should be obvious. It is like a teacher rambling along in a lecture laced with long sentences who, suddenly, unexpectedly, hits those listening with short ones. At a minimum, it should awaken those whose minds were drifting elsewhere.

Then, in the final eight lines of Stanza 4, Kunitz varies his approach, his sentence length mixing punctuation with grammatical unit pauses, and adding new punctuation marks, the colon (twice) — its pause even briefer than a grammatical unit’s, and an exclamation point — both an attention-getter and a line slower. Finally, he inserts quotation marks (twice), both end-quotation marks slowing the pace, especially the second quotation’s final mark that ends the stanza. Coupled with the white space after it and the message its last two lines carry (“The only music is time, / the only dance is love”), a reader may pause longer to reflect upon what was just read.

Thoughts on “King of the River” – Part 2

This post continues what is in the post “A Kunitz Poem with a Lesson on End-Stopping Built-In,” extending it by discussing the second stanza in Kunitz’s poem, focusing on end-stopping and enjambment. Interestingly, applying Hirsch’s definition of “end-stopped” (see previous post), every line in the second stanza is end-stopped, even the unpunctuated ones.

Line 1: It contains a subordinate clause (the whole line) and is end-punctuated.
Line 2: It contains a coordinate clause (the whole line) and is end-punctuated.
Line 3: It contains a prepositional phrase (“for the membrane”) and a verb phrase (“is clouded”); it is unpunctuated.
Line 4: It contains a prep. phrase (“with self-deceptions”) and is unpunctuated.
Line 5: It contains a coordinate clause (“and the iridescent image swims”), and is unpunctuated.
Line 6: It contains a prep. phrase (“through a mirror”) and an adjective clause (“that flows”), which modifies “mirror.” 
Line 7: It contains an independent clause (“you would surprise yourself”), unpunc.
Line 8: It contains a prep. phrase (“in that other flesh”), and is unpunctuated.
Line 9: It ends with a prep. phrase (“with milt”), and is end-punctuated.
Line 10: It ends with a participial phrase (“battering toward the dam”), and is not end-punctuated.
Line 11: It contains an adjective clause (“that lips the orgiastic pool”), which modifies “dam,” and is end-punctuated.

A Kunitz Poem with a Lesson on End-Stopping Built-In

Noticeable in the first stanza of Stanley Kunitz’s poem, “King of the River,” is its minimal enjambment: Most lines are end-stopped. As Edward Hirsch wrote in A Poet’s Glossary, an end-stopped line is “A poetic line in which a natural grammatical pause, such as the end of a phrase, clause, or sentence, coincides with the end of a line . . . It imparts a feeling of completeness (203). (Lines that are not end-stopped, that run on, are enjambed.)

Brewer, on, defines an end-stopped line as one in which “your line finishes its thought (often with the use of punctuation) before moving on to the next line.” Thus, punctuation can be used, but is not essential, to indicate that a line is end-stopped.

In “King of the River,” the first 8 lines all are end-stopped with a comma.

Line 9 contains just one word, the present participle “tumbling,” without any punctuation. Grammatically, it’s the start of the participial phrase “tumbling over the rocks,” the last three words the contents of line 10. Does “tumbling” effect a “natural grammatical pause.” If it were used this way, it would: “Tumbling, the child scraped his knee.” But in line 9, if Kunitz had placed a comma at line’s end, it would have been misplaced, i.e., “tumbling, / over the rocks” inserts an unwanted pause.

Line 11, “till you paint them,” however, though unpunctuated, is end-stopped because it is a subordinate clause with “till” (until) the subordinating conjunction.

The stanzas last four lines are all end-stopped, ending with these markers: a colon, two commas, and a period.

Further, one line (8) has punctuation within it in addition to a final period: “slapping, thrashing.” That internal punctuation creates a pause within the line called a caesura.

Some Thoughts about Voigt’s Poem “Cow”

Ellen Bryant Voigt’s poem, “Cow,” is about more than just the one cow mentioned in it. It is a valuable poem to read for those interested in how content and form can be intertwined.

The poem contains four quintets without any capitalization or punctuation, which makes the poem both more challenging to read and more intriguing to read. Voigt bypasses the problems the absence of punctuation can create by presenting the content in semantic chunks. Examples include “end of the day,” “daylight subsiding into the trees,” and “lights coming on,” the three comprising the poem’s first line. Those chunks control how the line’s read, inserting an invisible caesura between each pair, so I read them as if they were written this way:

end of the day   daylight subsiding into the trees   lights coming on

The poem’s light-heartedness, almost tongue-in-cheek tone, combined with the choppiness of its flow (e.g., “they get some grain some salt they get their shots no catamounts”) also contributes to the poem’s effect.

Another of the intriguing elements of the poem is this wording: “the smaller brain // serving the larger brain,” that content spread across two stanzas. The “smaller brain” refers to the ant, the “larger brain” to the cow, both used in a symbolic way; after stating that, the poem offers no explanation of the wording’s meaning, instead shifting to “the cows eat so we will eat,” which creates a logical gap.

The Website, The Incredible Ant, offers clues as to what Voigt might mean. According to the site, among the things ants do

are aerating and oxygenating soil, adding nutrients to the soil, controlling bug populations, transplanting seeds, pollinating plants and flowers, aiding in decomposition, moving and consuming organic and inorganic material.

That amounts to a lot of activity given the estimate that the earth contains about 10 quadrillion ants. Through that effort, is that how ants “serve” cows? But then, through their activity, the ants are serving many more than cows.