Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Neil Walker: WPA machine

by Mike

Quick, fun post this time. In the Pirates-Cubs game last night, Neil Walker hit a huge 2-run home run in the 8th inning, which became the game winner. It was obviously big, but how big was it? By looking at this WPA graph, we can visualize and quantify exactly how important his hit was. WPA stands for win probability added, which indicates how each player's performance contributes to the outcome of the game, positive or negative. The number is presented in decimal form. Follow this link if you want to see the fangraphs breakdown of each individual WPA for this game.

Referring to the graph, the closer to the bottom of the graph the line gets, the more likely the Cubs win, and closer to the top would be the Pirates will win. The Cubs controlled the game from the 3rd to 8th inning. After Walker's eventual game-winning HR, the swing went from the Cubs having a 75 percent chance of winning, to the Pirates having close to an 85 percent chance of winning. Sick.

Neil Walker's performance himself contributed .449 WPA, meaning he was about 45 percent of the reason the Pirates won last night. Since his call-up, he's had 10 hits in his first 33 at-bats, which is a real nice start, but it is a sample size that is entirely too small to start analyzing yet. He's a career .250 hitter in the minors through 2009, but this year in Indianapolis he hit .319, had an OPS of .955 and had a solid 21.1 percent line drive rate. Even though rest of his minor league sample suggests otherwise, his 2010 stats suggest that he may finally be putting things together. In any rate, it's cool to see the hometown kid hit a game winner for his hometown team.

Barenaked Ladies - The Big Bang Theory (theme song)


  1. How do you feel about local media now referring to Walker as the Pittsburgh Kid? Pretty sure I hate it. I thought Paul Spadafora was the Pittsburgh Kid. Did he have to forfeit it when he went to jail?

  2. How about Striking Distance, in homage to the greatest Pittsburgh movie ever made?