Jon Lester's Solid Start and a Primer on Win Probability Added and Other Bullets

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Jon Lester’s Solid Start and a Primer on Win Probability Added and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

jon lester cubsThe Wife and I are planning to go to today’s Cubs/Reds game, but, of course, the weather looks awful. We’ll still go and roll the dice, but severe storms are predicted right around game time. If the weather holds and you go to the game, look for the blue BN shirt and the blue and yellow shoes – say hey if you see us.

  • Jon Lester had his best start of the year so far last night, and, although it was just 6 innings allowing 3 runs, Lester struck out 10 against just 5 hits and 1 walk. Most importantly, his cutter sharpened up as the game went along, and, if Billy Hamilton didn’t exist, Lester probably goes seven innings allowing just one run. Hamilton is going to do what he did last night – get on base, steal a few bases, and then score on an out – to a lot of pitchers. Obviously Lester’s well-documented issues holding runners don’t help in that situation, but I’m not sure we can say that what happened wasn’t just Hamilton being Hamilton. In other words: I’m pretty pleased with Lester’s outing, all things considered. Things are trending in the right direction.
  • For his part, Lester said he worked on his game plan and had better overall sharpness in this one (Tribune,
  • Although Lester’s start last night was clearly the best of his four so far this season – both statistically, and to the eyes – he actually had a higher (well, less negative) Win Probability Added his last time out against the Padres. Because WPA is context-dependent (i.e., 9th inning homer in a tied game has huge WPA value, whereas tacking on a homer to a 15-run lead would have little WPA value), it’s not really a measure of how well a player performed so much as how much their performance actually mattered in every plate appearance of the game. Read more about WPA here. I just thought this was an opportunity to point it out to folks who were unfamiliar – if you hate stats that focus on how well a player performed, regardless of their actual results, then WPA is for you, since it’s entirely about how much a player actually contributed (or subtracted) from a team’s chances to win in that particular game.
  • Knowing that, you could probably guess that Anthony Rizzo had the highest WPA for the Cubs last night (see his homer here), but could you guess who was second? Think about which moment in the game was the biggest turning point, and then you can see who had the second highest WPA here.
  • If you were like me and wondered why Pedro Strop never even got warm in a close, extra-innings game – and suspected that he was unavailable – you were right:

  • Arismendy Alcantara knows that he’s got to work on better identifying, and laying off, offspeed stuff out of the zone (Des Moines Register).
  • Unbelievable: my insane strategy in the DraftKings contest last night was not the reason I didn’t win anything. Having all Cubs players from last night’s game actually did well. Instead, it was the non-Cubs I had to use that did me in: Brandon Phillips didn’t do anything (serves me right for trolling myself), Angel Pagan was so-so, and Jacob deGrom picked a fine night to have his first awful start in a year. If deGrom, alone, had had a more typical start, I would have won some cash, even with my crazy Cubs strategy.
  • I enjoyed this anecdote from Addison Russell at ESPN – rather than actually sticking the rookie with the bill at his first big league dinner, as many teams do, the Cubs joked about it, but David Ross picked up the check.
  • The Rangers are on the verge of bringing back Josh Hamilton, as the end to a strange and uncomfortable drama in Los Angeles draws near to a close.


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.