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Tony Rizzo wins epic battle and TA7 plays cricket in baseball superlatives of the week




Were digging into the advanced data to find out which players had some of the most notable hits, gadgets, home runs and at bats from the previous seven days.

It was an epic, historic battle that faithfully brought the now full-fledged Wrigley Field to its feet, even before the fateful final pitch of the at bat.

It probably isn’t that hard to guess the most valuable at bat of the past week, as it was the longest at bat to end in a home run by a Chicago Cub in the pitch-tracking era (since 1988). It also marked only the fourth time in that period that a player saw at least 14 pitches and hit a home run after trailing 0-2.

Anthony Rizzos 14-pitch at bat in Friday’s series opener against the rival St. Louis Cardinals eventually resulted in a solo shot that brought a tie that the hosts would go on to win 7-5.

According to the data, Rizzo received a positive raw value number on 11 of 14 pitches in the at bat and earned at least a .02 value on nine of the offers that were not his home run.

How did we determine this? Using all three components of raw value+, we were able to measure how much value a player adds to their offensive line in a single at bat.

It basically works like this: the batter gets credit for making good decisions and credit for making bad decisions (discipline+) on each throw, a value for whether he is able to make contact on his swing (contact+) and how much damage he can do once he makes contact (BIP+).

By most accounts, this is the at bat everyone remembers from last week and the data backs up their place as the best in terms of added value.

Most Extreme Chase

James Karinchak of the Cleveland Indians has emerged as one of the best relievers in the game over the past two seasons. The nervous righthander converted seven of eight saves and has a 2.37 ERA, while striking out 54 batters in 30.1 innings this season.

Karinchak came into play on Wednesday and also ranked sixth in the majors among pitchers who have faced at least 50 batters in whiff+ (166), which measures the ability to generate swings and misses compared to the league average (100). He also generated a swing and a miss on 37.8% of his pitches so far, which is fourth in MLB among those who have worked at least 30 innings.

So, perhaps it’s no surprise that Karinchak earned our extreme chase of the week for his work here, taking the lead on Pat Valaika in Monday’s 4-3 win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles.

We discover the most extreme chase by using a complex algorithm that finds pitches like the ones looked at here and calculates how many times those pitches were called strikes in this case, none.

Next, we analyze the throws that had the least chance of winning a swing in the past week and look for the throws where the batter malfunctioned and gave it a pass. This was the worst of the bunch.

Most Unlikely Contact

Tim Anderson of the Chicago White Sox already has one batting title, hitting a Major League-best .327 among those with at least 900 at bats since the start of the 2019 season.

When he came into the game on Wednesday, the star shortstops contact+ was a league average of 100. While not great on the surface, it’s impressive when you consider that his discipline+ was well below the MLB average at 85.

It’s because he’s able to put the bat on the ball on these kinds of pitches and make the most unlikely contact of the past week. Not only did he connect here in Tuesdays 3-0 win over the AL East-best Tampa Bay Rays, but it goes down the scorebook as a line-drive single.

To find the most unlikely contact of the week, we look at the fields with the lowest probability of contact and investigate whether any contact was made with batters on those fields.

Anderson somehow did, and it helped him add another hit during a scorching hot June. He hits .389 sixth best in MLB with a home run and five doubles in 13 games this month.

Dear Pitch Framers

Before we start including the week’s best pitch frames to this list, let’s give an update on which catchers have been the best so far in this pivotal skill in 2021.

How do we measure frame runs? Command data pushes the called probability of a pitch up or down. If the pitcher hits his spot, the probability of a call is higher and the framing value is lower. The expected hit rate is then used to produce an expected run rate and that is subtracted from the value of what happened.

In 2020, no one was better at helping his pitching staff with good framing than Austin Barnes of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The backstop led the majors with 12.2 framing runs a year after finishing 10th.

We compare that while Barnes saved the Dodgers 12.2 runs over the course of 2020. Here’s a look at which catchers came in the week with the most framing runs this season:

Pitch framing leaders 2021

The Oakland A promising young catcher, Sean Murphy leads the majors in framing runs and plays a key role in a rotation that finishes fourth in the American League with a 3.78 ERA.

The Texas Rangers are the only team to have a pair of top 10 catchers in Trevino and Heim, leaving one to wonder where the MLB’s 21st-ranked starting staff (4.66 ERA) would be without them.

In case you’re wondering, Barnes is in 20th place so far with 2.1 framing runs. Yasmani Grandal was also a fixture in the top 10, finishing third in 2019 and fifth in 2020. He has some work to do to get back there, 16th with 2.4 framings running into the week.

Data modeling by Lucas Haupt. Research support by Tim Bazer of Stats Perform. Design by Matt Sisneros.

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