Oakland 4, Baltimore 2 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
A's Current Record: 9-4
Ryan Sweeney had himself a heck of a day yesterday and the end-of-game celebratory scrum was a fitting ending. One of my favorite features at Fangraphs is their stat called Win Probability Added (WPA). What WPA does is measure how much each player contributed (or detracted from) his team's likelihood of winning. WPA is calculated by taking the sum of the win expectancy differences between the start of each play a players is involved in (hitting or pitching) and crediting the hitter and the pitcher with that amount. The winning team's WPA as a whole will be .500 while the losing team's will be -.500. While WPA has limited predictive value as its entirely context dependent, it's a fun stat to look at.
Take Sweeney's performance yesterday, for example. His WPA was .565, meaning his performance was enough to win the game by himself and make up for the a lot of the negative WPAs (can you say, Kouzmanoff?) put up by the rest of the A's. Sweeney's traditional stat line looks impressive enough (2 for 2, 2 BBs, 3 RBI), but he was able to rack up rack up a high WPA by excelling in situations that mattered. In his first two plate appearances he singled and walked, accumulating .046 WPA. He made his third plate appearance in the bottom of the fifth with one out and Rajai Davis at third. He hit a sac fly which increased the A's win expectancy by another 2.8%. His two out walk in the seventh added another 0.33 to the A's chances of winning.
The story of Sweeney's day, though, was his game winning hit. Facing Orioles (temporary?) closer Jim Johnson with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with the A's down 3-2, Sweeney worked the count full. Sweeney then brought home the tying and winning runs with a line drive into right center. That one at bat raised the A's win expectancy from 54.1% to 100%. That pretty much defines clutch hitting right there.
Sweeney's hit made up for the rest of the A's shortcomings yesterday. Justin Duchscherer pitched OK, but couldn't finish the sixth. The bullpen faltered a bit, wiith Brad Ziegler failing to bail out Craig Breslow in the 8th. And the A's offense was its predictable, frustrating self.
It's funny that the A's walk-off win yesterday was a distant third in terms of exciting games yesterday. While walk-offs are exciting to watch, I'd feel a lot better if the A's beat up on some teams too.