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David Freese: now THAT was the best World Series performance in history

Posted by Andy on October 28, 2011

Forget Pujols' 3 homers already. Last night, David Freese put together the greatest single-game offensive performance in World Series (and all post-season) history:

Rk Player Date Series Gm# Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO WPA RE24 aLI BOP Pos. Summary
1 David Freese 2011-10-27 WS 6 STL TEX W 10-9 6 5 1 2 0 1 1 3 1 0 1 0.969 3.117 2.306 6 3B
2 Kirk Gibson 1988-10-15 WS 1 LAD OAK W 5-4 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0.870 1.796 4.830 9 PH
3 Steve Garvey 1984-10-06 NLCS 4 SDP CHC W 7-5 5 5 1 4 1 0 1 5 0 0 0 0.854 4.682 1.814 3 1B
4 Lance Berkman 2011-10-27 WS 6 STL TEX W 10-9 6 5 4 3 0 0 1 3 1 0 0 0.832 3.655 2.546 4 RF
5 Charlie Keller 1941-10-05 WS 4 NYY BRO W 7-4 5 5 1 4 2 0 0 3 0 0 0 0.826 3.545 2.234 5 LF
6 Cookie Lavagetto 1947-10-03 WS 4 BRO NYY W 3-2 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 0.822 1.881 6.750 1 PH
7 Michael Tucker 1998-10-12 NLCS 5 ATL SDP W 7-6 5 5 1 3 0 0 1 5 0 0 1 0.812 4.119 1.760 8 RF
8 Brian Jordan 1999-10-08 NLDS 3 ATL HOU W 5-3 6 5 1 3 1 0 1 5 1 0 0 0.806 4.271 2.742 4 RF
9 Stan Hack 1945-10-08 WS 6 CHC DET W 8-7 7 5 1 4 1 0 0 3 2 0 0 0.806 3.905 1.551 1 3B
10 Jimmy Rollins 2009-10-19 NLCS 4 PHI LAD W 5-4 5 5 1 2 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 0.754 1.635 2.368 1 SS
11 Francisco Cabrera 1992-10-14 NLCS 7 ATL PIT W 3-2 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0.737 1.674 10.750 9 PH
12 Gary Carter 1988-10-04 NLCS 1 NYM LAD W 3-2 4 4 0 2 1 0 0 2 0 0 1 0.724 2.042 2.020 7 C
13 Devon White 1993-10-20 WS 4 TOR PHI W 15-14 6 5 2 3 1 1 0 4 1 0 1 0.719 4.189 1.767 2 CF
14 Thurman Munson 1978-10-06 ALCS 3 NYY KCR W 6-5 4 4 2 3 1 0 1 2 0 0 0 0.718 2.719 1.582 3 C
15 Ivan Rodriguez 2003-10-03 NLDS 3 FLA SFG W 4-3 6 5 1 2 0 0 1 4 1 0 1 0.717 2.463 3.302 3 C
16 Gonzalo Marquez 1972-10-07 ALCS 1 OAK DET W 3-2 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0.710 1.646 6.990 8 PH
17 Dave Henderson 1986-10-12 ALCS 5 BOS CAL W 7-6 3 2 1 1 0 0 1 3 0 0 1 0.703 1.208 2.480 8 CF
18 Erubiel Durazo 2003-10-01 ALDS 1 OAK BOS W 5-4 6 4 1 2 1 0 0 3 2 0 0 0.701 2.659 2.837 2 DH
19 Lenny Dykstra 1986-10-11 NLCS 3 NYM HOU W 6-5 2 2 1 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 1 0.685 1.382 3.380 9 PH CF
20 Alex Rodriguez 2004-10-06 ALDS 2 NYY MIN W 7-6 6 6 2 4 1 0 1 3 0 0 0 0.684 3.182 2.105 2 3B
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/28/2011.

Move over, Kirk Gibson. Freese now has the highest single-game Win Probability Added in any post-season game.

By the way, Lance Berkman himself made #4 on that list, also from last night's game.

I don't know what will happen in the rest of Freese's career, but he has etched himself quite a place in the baseball history books. His totals so far this post-season: 17 games, 5 homers, 19 RBI, and a 1.235 OPS. Simply incredible.

97 Responses to “David Freese: now THAT was the best World Series performance in history”

  1. Andy Says:

    Cookie Lavagetto...I wonder if he ever dined with Mark Lemongello?

    yummm...cookie and jello

  2. Mike Says:

    I know there isn't a much better way to do it, but I don't like saying it's the best performance ever because it was the highest WPA. Was it incredible? Sure. A game-tying triple and game-winning homer are pretty amazing, and I'm not trying to knock Freese down a peg. But he also got .11 for a walk, and while I'm not saying he didn't earn it, it's a lot easier for anybody to get walked than to hit a triple or homer. He also had a terrible error, and you could argue that without that, the game ends on his triple and he never needs to homer in the 11th.

  3. Andy Says:

    I hope all of you who ripped me for pointing out the low WPA of Pujols' game rip Mike for his comments.

  4. john Says:

    I would phrase it that Albert Pujol's was one of the best hitting performances in a World Series game and David Freese's was one of the most clutch World Series hitting performances.
    The presence of 4 batters in the top 20 with only one plate appearance makes me hesitant to stretch it from the best clutch at-bat or two to the best entire game.

  5. nightfly Says:

    Is there an Art Shamsky Award for something like this?

  6. Matt Says:

    Amazing game! A joy to watch even though I don't like either teams.

  7. Kingturtle Says:

    note: Gibson and Lavagetto did theirs in a single at bat.

  8. Stu B Says:

    And that's why we watch this game!

  9. birtelcom Says:

    As I pointed out in the late thread last night, Freese's game produced the highest WPA in World Series history by a hitter, but still trails the pitching WPA awarded for a 14-inning complete game victory for the Red Sox by Babe Ruth in 1916. Ruth went 0 for 5 at bat in that game and had a negative .224 WPA at the plate, so if you combine Ruth's pitching and hitting WPA for that day, Freese does come out as number one all-time.

  10. Kelly Says:

    I repeat my same objection. You need to distinguish between CLUTCH and BEST. Pujols Game 3 was BETTER, this was the most CLUTCH.

    What a game it was!

  11. BSK Says:

    Incredible game. Unfortunately, I slept through most of it.

    I'm starting to have some misgivings about WPA. I get what the stat does and doesn't do. No argument with that. I suppose I am bothered by the fact that a player can earn a number greater than 1.00. WPA, if I'm not mistake, stands for Winning Probability Added. The probability of anything happening must be between 0 and 1, inclusive. For a player to earn over 1 is mathematically impossible. Freese has a number approaching 1, given the implication that he was almost single-handedly responsible for the Cardinals win. And, obviously, he was hugely integral to it. But, he didn't do it alone. Guys got on base ahead of him. Other runs were scored. Players made outs in the field. On and on.

    Perhaps it is a naming and semantic issue? Maybe I am still misunderstanding the stat a bit? Is all WPA equal? Is WPA unrealized worthwhile? If a guy triples to lead off the bottom of the 9th in a tie game, he gives his team a GREAT chance to win. But if he never scores because all his teammates strike out, did he REALLY impact the odds of his team winning? Ultimately not.

    Again, I'm not a hater on the stat. I love it in so many ways. I just wonder if totalling a player's in game WPA makes much sense, or if it is something that should be looked at only for individual plays and in the context of what ultimately happened as a result of those plays?

  12. pauley Says:

    Agree with 10- Andy, you're still failing to differentiate (most likely intentionally this time) between "clutch" and "best." If given the choice between 6-4-5-6 and 5-1-2-3 any manager, coach or player in the history of baseball would take the first boxscore. Anyone given the choice between 3 home runs or a triple and a home run would choose 3 home runs.

  13. Matt Vandermast Says:

    I was curious about Freese's WPA this game. Thanks for posting this.

    Regarding whether this is the "best" game: I think there is a difference between quality and value - and I think of the words "good," "better," and "best" as measures of quality. WPA, on the other hand, I think is a measure of value, and a very good one.

    That being said, the far more important issue is that it's possible to disagree about such things civilly and without hostility. I don't post here often, but I wanted to say that, and also give overdue props to Andy's blogs in general. Thanks, Andy.

  14. Andy Says:

    I'm not failing to differentiate but rather trying to add emphasis to my earlier Pujols' post. Let me explain, and here I am addressing both #11 and #12 above.

    The "problem" with WPA is that values are assigned to one player but in truth they do not exist in a vacuum and what teammates do really matters. When your own pitchers give up big hits that lose the team, they get a lot of negative WPA. That opens the doors for you, as a batter, to earn a lot of WPA, especially if you have more than one hit that comes back from a deficit or un-ties the game (as in Freese's case, as both of his big hits came when the Cards were behind.) That's how a player can earn more than 1.0 WPA. In truth, BSK, since each team has a 50% chance when the game begins, any WPA higher than 0.5 must mean that the player's teammates had a net negative WPA performance, and it's usually the pitchers.

    The issue here is that Freese got his huge WPA because he got big hits, but also because his team put him in those positions, i.e. runners on and when pitchers gave up the lead. He shouldn't really get all the credit for this, since what he really did was take huge advantage of the circumstances he was presented with. The corollary for Pujols is that it wasn't is fault that 2 of his 3 homers didn't really mean very much in terms the game--that was a credit to his first homer and what his teammates did.

    I don't think these things are shortcomings of WPA--but they do open up to misinterpretation when not looked at in the right light.

    THAT is the point of both my Pujols post and this post--I intentionally made flashy headlines that took the ignorant conclusion from WPA to illustrate the wrong way of looking at things.

    Personally, I think it's very hard to say which performance which "greater"---they were both damned impressive.

  15. DavidRF Says:

    There've been several games where the WPA goes well over 1.0.

    The highest I've seen is actually by a guy who entered the game in the 8th inning via a double switch:

    Art Shamsky:
    One-out two-run go-head HR in the bottom of the 8th. +54%
    One-out game-tying solo HR in the bottom of the 10th +47%
    Two-out two-run tying HR in the bottom of the 11th +49%.
    A total of +150% WPA.

    ... and his team lost the game in the 13th.

    There's no limit to how high WPA can go in a see-saw extra inning game.

    Now, Andy is being very coy associating WPA with "greatest single-game offensive performance", but he knows that. 🙂 I think he's trying to see if he can get more replies than last time.

  16. Andy Says:

    Wow I had never heard of that Shamsky game before.


  17. Andy Says:

    @DavidRF, I came clean in #14 that I'm being intentionally silly...

  18. DavidRF Says:

    That was a cross-post. I didn't see your post until I clicked send. Took me a while to type that. Fair enough, I added the smiley. 🙂

    Additionally, there is nothing magical about the "1.0 WPA" number because the game starts off at a value of 0.5. The opposite extreme game would be a game where a team scores a large amount of runs in the top of the first pushing win probability to near 100% before recording an out. The sum total of individual WPA's for a game like that would only be 0.5.

  19. BSK Says:


    I understand that WPA assigns all credit/blame to the pitcher and hitter. I always factor that into my understanding of it. And I get that a team's total WPA will sum to .5 or -.5. No arguments there. Generally, when I look at WPA, I think of the play itself and less of the players involved. Freese's triple was larger than the individuals contributions of the men on base or Freese. So I try to look at the play as a whole and less of the individual player getting the blame and credit.

    I just struggle, and this is the potentially very uninformed math nerd in me, with the idea of a player adding greater than 1 probability to his team. I understand how and why it happens.

    Rather than just saying player X had a WPA of 1.5, try thinking of it this way: Player X increased his team's odds of winning 150%. Does that make sense? Perhaps I am conflating things I should not be...

  20. deal Says:

    Hard to believe that Freese had the Highest WPA but only ranked 3rd in Batting Game Score for the game - How often does that happen to a guy that actually started the game. .

    In this case the BGS appears akin to winning during the regular season/entire game while the WPA is winnnig uring the Postseason/End of Game.

    There both are barometers of success - just different mettrics.

  21. Andy Says:

    BSK, can't really help you there. I think it IS fair to say a player with 1.5 WPA increased his team's chances 150%, because A) it didn't all happen in one at-bat, as no at-bat can ever exceed 100%, and B) his teammates must have contributed negative WPA.

  22. oneblankspace Says:

    Shamsky? Wasn't that Robert's dog on Everybody Loves Raymond ?

  23. Adam Says:

    I would echo similar sentiments, that while it was undoubtedly clutch and might have given the Cards a winner this season, it was far from the greatest. Ruth, Jackson, and Pujols are the only three players to hit three homers in a game, and Pujols added a double for good measure. The most total bases in a single Series game. I don't care that the ballpark is nothing more than a little league park with 50,000 seats, it was the most incredible performance ever in post season play, and Mr. October himself agrees.

    Freese had two amazingly clutch at bats, but he belted a 3-2 pitch out of the park. Had that been a warning track shot instead, we would be singing a different tune.

  24. Big_E Says:

    WPA has to be the single most overrated statistic, if it says David Freese had the best WS performance in history. PUH-LEEZE.

    Reggie Jackson in Game 6 of the 1977 WS was 3-for-3 with a walk. 4 runs scored. 3 HR, 5 RBI and a 1.155 OPS. Yet a WPA of .386, compared to Freese who was 2-for-5, with a walk, one run scored, one HR and 3 RBI? he gets a WPA of .969?

    Or that Kirk Gibson had the greatest WS performance EVER for 23 years by hitting his famous PH HR?

    WPA might have its place, but ranking greatest performances ever isn't it...

  25. DaveZ Says:

    @12...taking in context of the game situations most managers would take Freese's performance over Pujol's "empty" 3 homer game.

  26. Andy Says:

    @12...taking in context of the game situations most managers would take Freese's performance over Pujol's "empty" 3 homer game.


  27. John Q Says:

    @2 Mike,

    Don't underestimate the walk that Freese drew in the 6th inning. That walk put Berkman on third with less than 2 outs and Berkman eventually scored when Molina scored.

    The only problem I have with WPA is that it doesn't factor what a player did while he was fielding. Freese had an error in 5th which eventually led to Hamilton scoring. For some reason Freese is listed as having 2 errors in the BR box score.

    It also doesn't take into account mental gaffes like Nelson Cruz not playing deep enough during the 9th inning. Seriously, how the hell does someone get a Triple when the outfielders are supposed to be in "NO DOUBLES" defense? There's no way that ball should have gotten over Cruz in the first place. He wasn't deep enough and he got burned because of it. Worst case scenario on a non HR should be Freese with a single and Pujols scoring and Berkman on third.

    Also, Mike Young had a positive wpa of .122 yet he made Two critical errors in the game. Seriously has a First Baseman ever made Two errors in one World Series game?

  28. statboy Says:

    Thank you very much for this honor. I am humbled to have the highest WPA ever in any post-season game. I'd like to God, my Mom and Dad, the person that invented WPA, and especially Nelson Cruz for butchering my fly ball in the 9th. Without him, none of this would be possible.

    David Freese

  29. Andrew Says:

    Note to Oneblank, yes, Shamsky was the dog's name on "ELR". Romano is a huge Mets fan.

    Some '69 Mets guest starred in the show some years ago..I think Kranepool, Swoboda, perhaps Shamsky.

    Dunno about 2 errors in one game by a 1B John Q, but an OF made 3-in ONE INNING.

    Willie Davis, 1966, Game 2, 5th inning. Dropped two fly balls and made throwing error for the 3rd.

  30. BSK Says:

    Unrelated but how did the Rangers get 3 BSs? A pitcher got a BS in the 6th? Really? That seems sort of silly.

  31. Dan W Says:

    I know one thing - Freese is getting laid like crazy.

  32. Andy Says:

    Statboy and others point out...the defense in this Series has not been good.

  33. BSK Says:

    Overlooked in all this is Berkman with the 4th highest WPA. In the same game! What's the record by teammates?

  34. ToddO Says:

    The "flaws" with WPA are that it is statistic that applies to a complete play within a specific context at a single point in the game. To say WPA on a given play is attributable to any single player is a stretch to be kind, and to be frank, erroneous. To compound that, let's aggregate them for all those player-assignments over the course of a game.

    In my opinion, Nelson Cruz allowed that triple to Freese, because Cruz was hurt. I think a healthy Cruz or Murphy both make that catch, even though it was non-trivial.

    I would say that Freese was the most pivotal player, not the best nor even most "clutch".

    @30 i believe anytime the starter has a lead after he can get credit for the win (5 IP) every reliever is consider to have a save opportunity, until he converts it, blows it, or unless relieved himself with a lead intact, in which case it becomes a "hold".

  35. Paul E Says:

    Hopefully, now we can stop seeing replays of Kirk Gibson rejoicing while rounding the bases.........

  36. BSK Says:


    I guess that makes sense. I mean, I knew non-closers could blow a save in the 8th, but the 6th? That seems sort of silly. While a pitcher who comes in in the 6th could get a save, it is rare and clearly that pitcher was not being brought in to "save" the game in the way that we most commonly use that term (which is a pretty stupid way, mind you).

  37. ToddO Says:

    In my eyes, a 6th inning blown save is a much less silly statistical manifestation than assigning pitchers (and goalkeepers) wins and losses in team sports. Pitchers and fielders share defensive responsibility while batters and runners are the offense. It stands to reason that a given team's pitching quality is determining somewhere between 30% and 49.9% of the game's outcome. Yet a single pitcher gets credit or blame for every win or loss? Nonsense.

  38. deal Says:

    Only one HoF on that list - Gary Carter all the way down at 12. Although both Pudge and A-Rod below that remain active.

  39. BSK Says:


    I think that goes without saying 'round these parts!

  40. BSK Says:


    Any future HoFers? ARod, presuming stereoid travashamockery doesn't keep him out. Berkman? IRod? Does Rollins hang on long enough to hit the milestones people know and love?

  41. pauley Says:

    @25- the managers would take the 5-6, 3 HR game every time. If you exchange Pujols game 3 for Freese's game 6 at bat for at bat, the Cardinals win the game 9-7, although the last HR never happens because they don't need to bat in the 9th.

  42. Dan Says:

    I'm wondering where Carbo and Fisk come in on this list. How much farther down are they?

  43. birtelcom Says:

    Prior to last night, there had been 25 instances of a hitter with a WPA over .5 in a World Series game. That's over 622 World Series games, or about once every 25 games or so.

    If we assume the likelihood of a WPA World Series game over .5 is then about once every 25 games, the chances of having two in one game is avout one in 625 games. And sure enough, before last night, there had been one and only World Series game with two .5+ hitting WPA games: Game 4 of the 1972 Series, in which Bobby Tolan for the losing Reds and Don Mincher for the winning A's both had WPAs over .5.

    And then came last night, when three different players had WPAs over .5. Using the one-in-25 formula that had been the norm before last night, the chances of any particular World Series game having three guys with a WPA over .5 is about 1 in 15,000. Not likely to happen again anytime soon.

  44. Andy Says:

    Another way to look at it...two teammates having 0.5 WPA in the same game.

    Regular season 2011, there was 1 such game:

    2010, also one such game:

    In 2009, there were 3:

    So that's 5 times by either team in 7289 games.

  45. Chris Says:

    One good way of knowing the usefulness of a statistic is seeing whether it tells you that Francisco Cabrera logged the 11th greatest offensive performance in playoff history by hitting a single in his only plate appearance. Unfortunately, WPA fails that particular test.

  46. statboy Says:


    I don't think WPA is trying to measure the greatest offensive performances. It's supposed to tell you who contributed to the team's likelihood of winning, isn't it?

  47. Evan Says:

    Birtelcom @43,

    The likelihood of a 2nd high WPA in the same game isn't independent of the first one. Squaring or cubing the percentages isn't an appropriate method to compute the likelihood of it occurring 2 or 3 times in one game.

  48. ToddO Says:

    WPA is a great statistic. The issue is with what it measures and what is does not. It does not measure "great offensive performances". I would use % of team runs created or something similar for that. It measures how a play (and all of its actors) changed the likelihood of the outcome being a win or loss. That is all it is designed to do and it does that much very well.

  49. Robert Says:

    I wonder how the perception of these achievements (Freese's game last night, Pujols' 3 HR game) will change if Texas wins the series. Looking at the list, the more memorable events seem to be in games where the team went on to win the series.

    @45: For any single stat you can find a test like that it'll fail. If there was a single stat that passed every test, this website would be a lot simpler.

    @46: Even then it's kind of tricky. It's based on how the game's situation (base runners, outs, inning, and score differential) changes. If your team comes to bat in the bottom of the 9th, down by 2 runs, and you get two solo HRs, the first will be worth much less than the second. The first HR leaves you down a run, so it's still not likely that you'll win. The second ties the game, which has a bigger impact on winning percentage - now that the score is tied in the bottom of the inning, you'll have more than a 50% chance of winning.

    Both players in that scenario did the same thing (hit solo HRs) and are, as far as most people are concerned, equally important to the team's chances of winning, the WPA numbers end up being very different.

  50. Andy Says:

    Robert, questions like that fascinate me--specifically how memory is biased based on other events. If Freese or Pujols goes off tonight and the Cards win, either guy will be remembered as massively heroic and will win the Series MVP.

  51. John Autin Says:

    @49, Robert -- In your hypothetical scenario, the first HR has hardly any more value than does reaching 1st base; the only difference is that a HR can't be erased on a DP.

    My personal assessment of importance often differs from WPA, but in this case I agree with how WPA measures those HRs. The second one is far more important.

  52. John Autin Says:

    @46, Statboy: "[WPA is] supposed to tell you who contributed to the team's likelihood of winning, right?"

    Wouldn't it be better to say "what contributed to the team's likelihood of winning"?

    WPA measures the change from one state to another. It does not say anything about who's really responsible for the change in states. A 4-base error gives the batter exactly the same WPA as a home run.

  53. BSK Says:

    Regarding Francisco Cabrera, he likely benefited from having just the one at bat. Had he come to bat earlier in the game, there is a good chance he would have had some negative WPA, bringing his game total down.

  54. Jeff Says:

    Pujols hit all 3 of his HR AFTER his team had the lead for good. Hitting meaningless HR's when the Rangers pitchers were throwing straight shots down the pipe, please...impressive that it was in a World Series, I guess. It was also in the best hitters park in the bigs and the single highest scoring game in WS history. He didn't contribute anything but padding his numbers, numbers in which he was 0-16(other than game 3's 5-5)until last night in the what, 9th inning?

    David Freese totals so far this post-season: 17 games, 5 homers, 19 RBI, and a 1.235 OPS. Simply incredible.

  55. BCC Says:

    #4 nailed it.
    #1 Hilarious.

  56. birtelcom Says:

    Evan @47: Yes, I get that the likelhood of multiple .5+ WPAs in a game can't be treated as completely independent events, so you have to treat my numbers in thread 43 as very rough estimations. But my main point, the unlikelihood of three such WPAs occurring in the same game, remains. It seems to me that the chances of multiple .5+ WPAs occurring in a game are even lower than what you would get treating them as independent events, because squeezing the multiple sets of clutch circumstances that allow .5+ WPAs into single games is hard to do. Which would suggest my estimates were a floor on the likelihood of multiple high WPAs in the same game.

  57. Robert Says:

    I'm inclined to root for St. Louis because it would make these events that much more memorable. Most of the other games on the list don't seem to make much of a difference. Either the player's team went on to lose (the WS) or they comfortably won the series.

    @51: The second HR is more important if you're looking at each individual event without considering the larger context of the game. That's how WPA looks at it, but I don't think that's how people look at events (which is where the confusion comes from, at least for me).

    Looking back on the game I'd say they're equally important or at least closer than WPA would rank them (10% WPA for the first, 44% for the second). There's often a difference between the WPA I'd expect a play to have and the WPA it actually has. Nelson Cruz's game-winning grand slam is an example of that - because Texas had bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the inning, the game winning hit was only worth 0.06 WPA.

  58. birtelcom Says:

    John @52: WPA is not that much different in the respect you suggest than counting, say, "doubles". If we say a hitter had thirty doubles in a season, we are not taking into account how many of those doubles resulted from, for example, especially slow outfielders or poorly positioned outfielders or injury-hobbled outfielders. For stat purposes we credit hitters with doubles and leave it at that. The WPA formula does the same.

    It is true that we don't credit hitters who benefit from a two-base error with a "double", but most sabermetric folks these days consider that to be an outmoded, arbitrary and excessively subjective distinction. Those who developed the WPA formula intentionally chose not to incorporate that distinction into the formula for reasons separate from the basic nature of WPA.

  59. John Autin Says:

    @57, Robert -- We just disagree.

    In terms of how I would view a last-inning home run that leaves my team still trailing, I don't see any difference between the "individual event" view and the "larger context of the game" view.

    No matter how I slice it, my team is still behind, and only accomplishments by the next batter(s) can save us. I'm no happier with a HR that leaves us 1 run behind than I am with a double that leaves us 2 runs behind. The tying run is in the batter's box either way.

    If we're down by 5 and have the bases loaded, I'm no happer with a grand slam than I am with a triple.

    If we're down by 2 with a man on 3rd and 1 out, I'm no happier with a sac fly than I am with a strikeout.

    When you're down to the last inning, all runs before the tying run are virtually meaningless.

  60. birtelcom Says:

    @56: The Cruz grand slam is a good example of why it iuseful to have multiple stats to reflect our multiple reactions to the same event. When Cruz hit the slam, I had one reaction that was: amazing, a walk-off grand slam, that's spectacular! The grand slam stat reflects that reaction. But there was also another a part of my response to Cruz's slam -- that little voice in my brain that whispered, "but of course an infield hit or a long fly out would have served just as well here". That reaction is captured by WPA. So we have two stats for two separate but each perfectly legitimate, reactions. That is a good thing.

  61. statboy Says:


    Yes. I like that even better.

  62. BryanM Says:

    @54, How did Pujols know that his team had the lead for good? When he hit the first one , the score was 8-6 in the middle of the game -- teams have lost 2-run leads before and since. No way that shot was meaningless. BTW, that was his third hit of the game. Both players' accomplishments are truly amazing, in different ways. How much meaning can we attach to the outs recorded by Roy Halladay in game 5 of the Cards series? they were all recorded after his team had lost the lead for good, but it was still a hell of a pitching performance.

  63. pauley Says:

    @59- statistically, you are correct (although I would say that a run that has already been counted is more valuable than potential runs) but because the game is played by human beings, the effect of a home run that brings the tying run to the plate is far different than a single, a walk, a hit batsmen or an error bringing the tying run to the plate. Each of these scenarios will have a different emotional response from the pitcher, the fielders and the next batter, as well as the rest of the team and the fans. The only person likely not to be effected in such a way is Joe Buck.

  64. scott-53 Says:

    Has anyone mentioned that if Freese gets an intentional walk. Molina lines out with the bases loaded. Game over. Thus, Win Probability Added. Don' forget Molina had a chance to win the game with Freese on third.

  65. Evan Says:

    Birtelcom @56,

    I think I knew you knew that based on the generally high quality of your posts. However, I'm not sure I agree with your secondary conclusion that it sets a floor. In some ways I'm not certain that this type of game isn't more likely to occur in groups. Last night had a bunch of key ingredients: back and forth game (high leverage, more WPA swings), extra innings (extra shots for very high WPA events) and high scoring to begin with (hitters likely to arrive in the late innings with a positive WPA).

    WIthout Freese's first hit (which got him to +.5) Hamilton's HR doesn't happen and without Hamilton, Berkman's hit doesn't happen to to put him over the threshold.

    I think it is a really interesting question whether these are more or less likely to cluster and I'm glad you brought it up. I guess looking at the regular season for this would be a far better data set because there is more to work with, but that still might not be enough to separate the signal from the noise.

  66. scott-53 Says:

    @64: Also no game seven for the Cardinals. Texas wins the World Series.

  67. John Autin Says:

    @58, Birtelcom: I get your point, and I understand why the formula is set up that way.

    I'm not attacking WPA. I'm just saying, let's be as precise as we comfortably can be when talking about it.

  68. Evan Says:


    I totally disagree with your psychology conclusions. It seems to be baseball adage that you'd rather make the batter put the ball in play when he is the non-tying run (whatever you do, don't walk him). Violating this adage would be more psychologically damaging in my mind.

    For the same reason, the second home run is harder to hit, because the pitcher is more apt to give the first batter a more hittable pitch, particularly with a 3 ball count.

  69. Andy Says:

    birtelcom has been a poster here since the beginning of this blog (4.5 years.) He doesn't post frequently, but it's always good when he does.

  70. Mike Says:

    @49 Robert -- interesting thought on how history deals with Game 6 heroics that are for naught because of a Game 7 loss. Here's a couple. --

    1. 1975 Carlton Fisk's 11th inning homer (and, to a lesser extent, Bernie Carbo's 8th inning pinch-homer) live on, despite the loss in Game 7.

    2. 1985 Brian Harper's 2-out pinch single in the 8th (after going 13-52 on the season), putting the Cards ahead 1-0 is almost completely forgotten because of the Halloweenish 9th inning (I blame Jack Clark and Darrell Porter more than I do Don Denkinger)

    3. 1971 Frank Robinson scores from 3rd on a sac fly to short center field to force Game 7 (but Steve Blass locked it up for the Pirates)

    I think the only reason the Fisk game has survived is because of the fortuitous shot caught on TV.....

    Hopefully Adron Chambers can get an extra-inning sac fly to play Gene Larkin ('91) and render Freese's great night to second banana

  71. birtelcom Says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Andy. Another interesting point about WPA in this game is that Freese's WPA in Game 6 was the highest for any NL batter in any game this season, regular season or post season. That's pretty good timing.

    There was only one hitter's game in the majors with this season with a WPA higher than Freese's Game 6. Interestingly, that was by Josh Hamilton -- on July 9, when he went 4 for 5 including a "perfect storm" WPA event: a come-from-behind, two-out, man-on-first, walk-off homer. That's a perfect storm from a WPA point of view because with the hitter's team behind with two outs in the bottom of the final inning and only a man on first, the hitter's team has very little chance of winning, which the walk-off homer then turns into a 100% chance.

  72. Shping Says:

    Andy -- you should have posted this awesome top-WPA list the other day with your original Pujols-3hr-post.

    Look at the list, everyone. It's a dang good and seemingly fair list of some amazing performances. And it therefore seems to support what i think was Andy's original point about Pujol's game, or maybe it's my modified point:

    It's easy for us to overreact in the heat of the moment and say, "Wow! That was the greatest performance ever!" or " game ever!" without any historical perspective on 150 years of baseball history. All stats help us with this, and all stats have their limitations, but in these current debates, WPA can be pretty useful (not definitive, but very useful). The above list is pretty good evidence.

  73. dominguin Says:

    I think we re taking some of the jice out of this with too many statistics.

    Freese ht the triple when when he had two strikes agaisnt him and the Cards were one strike away for losing the World Series.

    The inning before Pujols went with a pitch and hit a double with 1out and the Cardinals were two runs down in ther last licks....THAT I remember more the the 3 HRS, it showed how extraordinary a hitter and player is Pujols, then Berkman again two 2 outs and 2 strikes, one strike from his team being WS losers hit a two run sngle and tied the game.

    THAT also was extraordinary and confirmed to me how much the Yankees lost when they didnt make an effort to sign Berkman for 2011

    Just an extraordinary Series...takes me back to the 75 and 86 series.

  74. Says:

    jeezus, people, quit wankering..
    wpa is an interesting snap shot (3rd derivative) of a game's possible outcome.
    end of debate.

  75. Kelly Says:


    "I don't think these things are shortcomings of WPA--but they do open up to misinterpretation when not looked at in the right light.

    THAT is the point of both my Pujols post and this post--I intentionally made flashy headlines that took the ignorant conclusion from WPA to illustrate the wrong way of looking at things."

    Thanks for piping in and explaining things, but honestly, these are things that should be explained in the initial post. You may be dryly trying to point things out, but two things are true about the internet.

    1. Dry humor does NOT work. The medium is HORRIBLE for subtle twists of wit.
    2. There is no shortage of people who are willing to make stupid conclusions. Sans explanation, there's no way of distinguishing between someone trying to make an ironic point and someone trying to make an actual point.

    On the WPA point, it SHOULD be the case that the composite WPA of every game is 1.0 no? Well, there's never been a 1.0 WPA game in postseason history, and only five in the history of the regular season.

  76. Devon Says:

    LOL I can't believe some people are arguing that Freese's game 6 wasn't the best performance in WS history due to things like... he got .11 WPA from a walk, or he had multiple PA's to do it, or he made that error earlier, etc.

    Freese's "Hail Mary" triple (I love the way Posnanski described that!) and 11th inning walk off HR to save the team's season, is something we've never seen anyone do. Even in Pujols awesome hitting a few games ago, he didn't save the series let alone the game! Gibson... great but not a season saving moment.

    Going by WPA or not, I can't think of a batter who saved your season TWICE in 3 innings and soured an entire state of Texas against him, all in about an hour on a weeknight.

    In that context, the WPA makes sense and there's just no valid/reasonable argument against David Freese having the best performance in a World Series game.

  77. MSE Says:

    Any penalty to his score for that popup he dropped in mid-game that Dick Stuart would have caught effortlessly even if he was stoned on toad sweat?

  78. BryanM Says:

    @76, It's quite reasonable to concede that Freese had ,if not the greatest, then close to the greatest actual impact on his team's chances to win a world series game (crediting WPA as a very good statistic, or estimate of those chances) Whether that means "best" , of course , depends on what you mean by that word; it is valid/reasonable to use it in the sense of the set of individual accomplishments which would on average produce the most likelihood for the players team to win; for that, you would use something like Offensive Winning Percentage or another similar stat. Nothing wrong with WPA, it's a valid stat; so are others; the reason we have so many is that no one number can give a complete picture.

  79. BryanM Says:

    Should be ALSO valid/reasonable in post above .. editorial slip-up

  80. Andy Says:

    Kelly @75, I'm not trying to be funny. I fully expect the appropriate pushback on these posts, and basically I'm using the readers to explain my own point. For someone who has a full-time day job and can't take the 2-3 hours really required to do an excellent journalistic job, that's my short-cut, for better or worse. Your criticisms are all valid and correct--there's just not a lot I can do about it.

  81. Mike Felber Says:

    It would be useful to take the few seconds necessary to show a wink, irony, that you are being playful-& save folks endless posts. The basic concepts can be explained in a paragraph.

    For me, part of the valid "context" for WPA is establishing that it doe snot measure clutch in the way folks usually think. Sure, it makes the biggest difference at that moment. But there is no evidence that these plays are "clutch" in the sense that they were able to raise their game under pressure. There performance happened to come at times where individual plays made the biggest difference in helping their team win.

    But when you measure it over a significant sample size, almost nobody is more "clutch" than their usual production. Or isolated for the park, left or right handed battles...

    So what matters is determining greatest is who did the most for their team. It is complete happenstance if a player finds himself in a clutch situation, & the production there is not due to steel nerves. It may be the most DRAMATIC performance. But especially considering defense, Pujols game was much better.

  82. Gary W Says:

    It's over. St. Louis 6, Texas 2. It was a great series.

  83. AndyT Says:

    This is the dumbest blog ever. Berkman was the MVP.

    MLB has become a joke.

  84. Sarah G Says:

    Seriously guys, Freese and Pujols are teammates. They won the World Series together; all the Cardinals did. And they're happy for each others historic accomplishments. As fans, who are you to be arguing over who's performance was better, or which stat is worth more? They were phenomenal. So was Berkman. So was Carpenter. So was the whole team, and they couldn't have done it without each other.

  85. Vidor Says:

    ****I hope all of you who ripped me for pointing out the low WPA of Pujols' game rip Mike for his comments.****

    No, we'll keeping you, because he's right, and you are still stupid, and you deserved to be ripped until you figure out that "highest WPA" is not the same as "best".

  86. Vidor Says:

    Sorry, "keep ripping you"

  87. scott-53 Says:

    Feliz picked up a blown save & Lowe gets credit for the loss in
    game 6 against Freese.

    3 guys sent out on mop up duty in game 3 against Pujols.

  88. Doug Says:

    I looked up the WPA just for the one play of Freese's game-winning HR. It was 0.38.

    Then I looked up WPA for Mazeroski's game-winning HR in game 7 in 1960. It was 0.37.

    I know they're real close, but shouldn't they be identical? Tie score, leading off bottom of 9th or later inning. Win probability-wise, it has to be an identical sitiuation, doesn't it?

  89. scott-53 Says:

    @88: I'm thinking it was the ball/strike count.

    1-0 against Mazeroski the #8 hitter.

    3-2 against Freese the #6 hitter

  90. Doug Says:


    Thanks Scott, I think you've got it.

    I also looked up Fisk's HR in 1975 game 6, which was also leading off the inning. He batted fourth and hit a 1-0 pitch (same as Mazeroski) for a 0.36 WPA.

  91. John Autin Says:

    @89-90 -- Are you 100% sure that WPA encompasses the ball/strike count and/or the batting order?

    I did not think it covered either of those things. I can't find a definitive source stating what WPA doesn't cover, but the basic descriptions on B-R and on FanGraphs both omit any mention of count or batting order. If there's a source that says count & order are included in WPA, I hope you'll point me to it.

    I would have thought that the different values mentioned @88/90 derived from different offensive contexts.

  92. Andy Says:

    My understanding is that some versions of WPA use ball/strike count (for example ESPN Game Cast) but B-R's does not. I have never heard of any version that uses order position, although this is of course a major failing of WPA.

    Vidor, enjoy the weekend posting because I suspect the bosses will ban you when they see your comments on Monday. If you can't criticize without using that sort of language, they won't let you contribute here. Incidentally I have nothing at all to do with such decisions.

  93. Mike Felber Says:

    Vidor, I also have differed on the ambiguity in, or conflation of, highest & best re: WPA. But it is not right to call names & be nasty when critiquing an idea. If you would not do it in person-or to someone bigger 'n you-it is not right & certainly not brave to do it here.

    Why don't you just apologize now & thus likely a avoid a probable ban?

  94. Richard Chester Says:

    @90, @91

    I would believe that the WPA for those game-winning HRs is solely dependent on the wWE at the end of the top of the ninth inning. Sometmes it is 63% and sometimes it is 62%. Don't ask me why.

  95. Andy Says:

    I suspect that it's due to different run-scoring environments. Run expectancy is of course different when overall scoring is higher or lower, and WPA can be calculated based on any run-scoring environment you wish. I don't know how B-R's WPA values are calculated but I'm willing to bet that Sean taken either league yearly run scoring and/or park environment into account, so there are slight differences.

    Just to explain it a bit more, if you think back to Coors Field in the late 1990s, a 2-run lead in the 9th was less safe than it is there today, since so many more homers were hit there back then, so the WPA for the 1990s Coors Field scenario would predict a greater likelihood of the home team winning when going to the bottom of the 9th down by 2 runs than it would in the 2011 Coors Field scenario.

    Quite often, WPA simply uses the entire database of baseball history when running scenarios--this ignores run-scoring environment and is fine as an average. One can choose to take a subset based on league-wide scoring or park, which might make it more accurate, but of course also draws on a smaller set of historical games.

  96. Richard Chester Says:


    In the 1976 ALCS deciding game Chris Chambliss led off the ninth inning with a walkoff HR and got a WPA of .37. He hit the first pitch. In the first game off the1949 WS Tommy Henrich's lead-off walk-off HR got him .36, I don't remember which pitch he hit.

  97. scott-53 Says:

    @ 91: Not sure.