31 October 2009


Here's a puzzler. See if you can figure it out.

The first time through a batting order, NL starters yield a cumulative OPS of .707. This is considerably lower (better) than they yield later in games, after they tire and batters have seen their repertoires.

First inning batters, by contrast, hit a whopping .771. We expect this, because a team's best hitters bat in the first. Given these two somewhat contradictory results, what would we expect OPS to be in the second and third innings?

If starters rip through the first 'round of nine' @ .707 , but first 'innings' are .771, might we expect second and third inning OPS well south of .700, to "counterbalance" big first innings?

Here's the conundrum. They're not. Batters' split in the second inning is .713, and in the third it rises to .727 - both higher than .707. How is this possible? How do these figures by inning reconcile with starters' superior proficiency first time through the order?


Russell said...

I have no idea. I'm just seeing a swirl of numbers. Not sure if that helps.

Caroline said...

I suppose interleague play should account for something here. And it depends on how these statisticians do the formula and how they round and when they round.

Diamondhacks said...

OPS across early innings exceeds OPS first time thru the order because inning measures are bolstered (distorted)by multiple ABs from a team's best hitters - typically positioned towards the front of the order. They may bat two, or even three, times before the end of the third inning.

By contrast, OPS 'first time thru the order' is absent such distortion and in concert with the much higher 1st inning OPS, underscores how well starters dominate "the back end" of the order first time thru, which by definition, ends facing the opposing pitcher.