2014 World Series Breakdown

The Boston Renegades recently spoke in front of an organization called SABR (Society for American Baseball Research).  Many readers may know them from SABR Metrics.  Die hard baseball fans will know Bill James and his influence on the game.  We listened to them talk about wins above average amongst other topics and this got us to thinking about some analysis on the 2014 World Series.

Statistics do not tell the whole story of the tournament because not everyone plays an equal schedule and not everyone played the same amount of games.   There are plenty of blow out games played during the week (and some of these game do not even play the a full six innings as a team can mercy rule a team and only hit for one inning of a game).  Some teams play very weak schedules while other teams have a tougher ride.  The strength of schedule will have an impact on the overall stats and the seeding at the end of the week.  Boston had its best World Series ever but there are some interesting things to be seen when we dig into the stats

Batting Average

The League average was .276 BUT only 7 of the 19 teams hit above the average.  The teams closest to the league average were the Southwest Slammers (.258), Indianapolis thunder (.253) and Renegades (.306).  Austin was .306  points above the average mark and Athens was .306 below the average mark.  These teams finished 1st and last respectively.  In 2015, the ranking of batting average was strongly correlated to the actual finish in the World Series.  The team that bucked that trend the most was the Minnesota Millers who had the 12th best Batting average at .232 but finished 7th in the final seeding.

Batting Avg rank Final WS finish Team At bats Runs Avg
1 1 Austin 165 96 .582
2 2 RHI 233 107 .459
3 4 Bayou City 213 87 .408
4 3 Colorado 281 110 .391
5 5 Chicago 213 78 .366
6 8 Carolina 201 65 .323
7 6 Boston 216 66 .306
8 9 Southwest 190 49 .258
9 10 Indianapolis 166 42 .253
10 13 Wichita 198 47 .237
11 11 Long Island 180 42 .233
12 7 Minnesota 203 47 .232
13 12 Tyler 157 34 .217
14 14 New Jersey 175 35 .200
15 16 Lonestar 182 26 .143
16 17 Columbus 165 21 .127
17 15 Atlanta 153 19 .124
18 18 Iowa 155 15 .097
19 19 Athens 143 3 .021
League Avg .276

Strike outs

Putting the ball into play is important.  There is no such thing as a routine ground ball to short stop in the game of beep baseball.  The teams with the higher averages do strike out less.  Some interesting things here include

  • Austin scored on 63% of the balls they put into play
  • RHI and Bayou City are the only other teams to score on more than 50% of the balls they put into play
  • Carolina finished 8th in the series but had the third lowest strike out ratio in the league at just 13.4%
  • Indianapolis was 4th in strike out ratio at just 14.5% but only hit .296 on balls hit into play
  • 4 teams struck out more than 50% of the time (3 of them from Georgia)
  • Boston hit just .386 on balls hit into play, which was below the league average
Strike out rank Final WS finish Team At bats K’s K Rate Batting avg Balls in play
1 1 Austin 165 13 7.9% .632
2 2 RHI 233 27 11.6% .519
3 8 Carolina 201 27 13.4% .374
4 10 Indianapolis 166 24 14.5% .296
5 3 Colorado 281 45 16.0% .466
6 5 Chicago 213 39 18.3% .448
7 4 Bayou City 213 40 18.8% .503
8 6 Boston 216 45 20.8% .386
9 13 Wichita 198 55 27.8%. .329
10 11 Long Island 180 62 34.4% .356
11 14 New Jersey 175 61 34.9% .307
12 7 Minnesota 203 74 36.5% .364
13 9 Southwest 190 71 37.4% .412
14 12 Tyler 157 60 38.2% .351
15 16 Lonestar 182 85 46.7% .268
16 19 Iowa 155 80 51.6% .200
17 15 Atlanta 153 88 57.5% .292
18 17 Columbus 165 104 63.0% .344
19 19 Athens 143 102 71.3% .073
League Avg 30.7% .398

Fielding Percentage

They say defense wins championships.  That is true, but the defensive stats do not hold up well to that theory and maybe its time for the league to devise a new way to categorize defense.  Though the games were played on slow grass for most of the week the scores were lower.  Also with the invention of the 12 run mercy rule strong offensive teams can’t score loads of runs on weak defenses because they are limited in the amount of plate appearances they have.   That said the defensive rankings do not strongly correlate to the final finish of the team.

The 2nd ranked defense this year was Iowa as they stopped 67.4% of the balls hit into play.  The key thing to note is that Iowa played the 2nd easiest schedule and did not have to face many power house offenses.  This greatly skews the defensive rankings.   Columbus ranked 5th in defense and finished 17th overall as well.  It should be noted that only one team was more than 9% away from the league average, the Tyler Tigers.   Tyler had one of the toughest schedules in the league and this ranking reflects the teams they had to play.  This is also why the defensive rankings are not as telling.  The RHI Extreme ranked 12th in fielding but finished 2nd overall.  Their road to the championship game forced them to face the best offense in the league, twice in Austin.

Boston ranked second in the league in defensive stops allowed.  Both Boston and Colorado were the only teams to make over 100 stops during the week.  Of course part of that is that Boston played 9 games while Colorado played 10 games over the time period.  A combination of games played and who the opponent is will make a difference to these stats.  It would be interesting to determine a new way to measure defense that can take the opponent into account or that looks at how effective the different layers of defense are.  What is meant by this layering idea is that many teams struggle to make plays in the deeper layers of the defense.  For Example, Atlanta’s Isaiah Wilcox made 44 of his teams 71 stops.  How many balls made it by Isaiah and how well did the other layers perform?

 

Fielding Rank Final WS Finish Team Chances Stops Fielding %
1 1 Austin 122 85 69.7%
2 18 Iowa 86 58 67.4%
3 3 Colorado 174 114 65.5%
4 8 Carolina 132 86 65.2%
5 17 Columbus 103 67 65.0%
6 5 Chicago 119 77 64.7%
7 11 Long Island 133 86 64.7%
8 13 Wichita 139 89 64.0%
9 16 Lonestar 136 84 61.8%
10 10 Indianapolis 115 71 61.7%
11 7 Minnesota 150 90 60.0%
12 2 RHI 161 96 59.6%
13 6 Boston 172 101 58.7%
14 19 Athens 94 53 56.4%
15 15 Atlanta 127 71 55.9%
16 14 New Jersey 117 65 55.6%
17 4 Bayou City 149 80 53.7%
18 9 Southwest 136 73 53.7%
19 12 Tyler 122 52 42.6%
League Average 60.2%

 

Strength of Schedule

Here is an unofficial stat that we made up.  What it attempts to do is look at the final ranking of the teams each team played.  Remember in the world Series each team played 2-3 games on the first day in a round robin.  The round robin bracket this year had (as it always does) improper seedings based on previous year results.   Carolina would earn the 5 seed and on the round robin day of the tournament would play nobody lower than a 10 seed.  However the Bayou City heat would be seeded 2nd but would have to face a beefed up Colorado Storm team ranked 7th and whose roster would surely get them into a top 5 finish.

The first day of the double elimination brackets would pit many blow out games as top teams would play bottom teams in blow out or meaningless contests such as Austin beating Columbus 14-2 and Chicago beating Minnesota 11-1.  Once the double elimination ends many of the teams end up playing teams of their caliber in placement games.  For example four teams would make a 13-16 placement bracket and this  allows teams to play teams of similar records.

All of this leads to an imbalance in the stats because a team like Iowa which ranked 2nd defensively would have Chicago as their toughest opponent (they ranked 4th coming into the dance and finished 5th) while a team like Boston ended up playing the teams that would finish 1st, 2nd,3rd,5th,7th, 8th and 9th.  The worst seed Boston would face would finish 13th.

Strength of Schedule or SOS is calculated by adding up the final ranking of all the teams played and dividing that figure by the number of games played.  For an example Athens played Chicago (5th), Southwest (9th), Iowa twice (18th), Columbus twice (17th) and Wichita (13th) giving them a score of 97.  97 divided by 7 games gives them an average SOS of 13.86.  Or in easier terms, the average team Athens played finished with a seed of 13.86 in the World Series.  One thing SOS does not take into consideration is the quantity of games played.  Its much harder to play 9-10 games in a 4 day period than it is to play 7.  Playing 7 often means a team never had to play three games in a day while a team playing 9-10 games has to play three games twice in a week.

Being the head coach of the Renegades and scouting so many opponents throughout the week, we knew we had one of the toughest schedule when we faced a very tough Wichita team and they were supposed to be the weakest team in our bracket as an 18 seed.  Wichita would go on to have one of their best World Series and it was no surprise to us.  But many would be shocked to see the Renegades ending up with the toughest schedule and such a high finish in the Series (best ever).  This likely effected many of the Defensive stats for Boston as they played some of the best offenses in the league in Austin, RHI, Bayou City, Chicago and Carolina.

Another shock is the Tyler Tigers.  Tyler won just one game all week but faced some tough competition as they were forced to play Austin (1st) and Indianapolis (10th) on day one (they had a bye and did not have to play a 3rd game).  In a quirk of the schedule they would have to play Indianapolis again on the 1st day of double elimination and would beat them getting to play the 2 ranked RHI Extreme.  They would then have to face a tough Minnesota team (7th) in the losers bracket.  In the placement brackets they would play a tough Southwest Slammer team (9th) and the Long Island Bombers (11th).  A team that would finish 12th had to play both Austin and RHI.  Only two teams in the league would have to play the two teams that played in the championship game.  The Boston Renegades and the Tyler Tigers.

The Renegades can be very very proud of the season they had.  They faced so many obstacles from their head coach being hospitalized for three weeks and being unable to do his normal duties, to having a shortage of coaches through much of the season, to having 4 rookies play such an important part of their season and being forced to play the toughest schedule at the World Series.

SOS Rank Final WS Finish Team Record SOS Off Rank Def rank avg Field %
1 6 Boston 5-4 6.67 7 13 .306 58.7%
2 2 RHI 7-2 7.00 2 12 .459 59.6%
3 12 Tyler 1-6 7.14 13 19 .217 38.2%
4 4 Bayou City 5-3 7.38 3 17 .408 53.7%
5 1 Austin 7-0 7.71 1 1 .582 69.7%
6 3 Colorado 8-2 7.90 4 3 .391 65.5%
7 5 Chicago 6-2 8.88 5 6 .366 64.7%
8 7 Minnesota 5-4 9.11 12 11 .232 60.0%
9 15 Atlanta 2-5 9.71 17 15 .124 55.9%
10 10 Indianapolis 3-4 9.86 9 10 .253 61.7%
11 16 Lonestar 1-7 10.00 15 9 .143 61.8%
12 13 Wichita 4-5 10.22 10 8 .237 64.0%
13 11 Long Island 4-4 10.50 11 7 .233 64.7%
14 8 Carolina 5-3 10.63 6 4 .323 65.2%
15 9 Southwest 5-3 10.88 8 18 .258 53.7%
16 14 New Jersey 3-5 12.88 14 16 .200 55.6%
17 17 Columbus 3-5 13.00 16 5 .127 65.0%
18 18 Iowa 2-5 13.14 18 2 .097 67.4%
19 19 Athens 0-7 13.86 19 14 .021 56.4%