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Diamond Mining: Wild Card Statistical View on Rays, Indians

With the 2013 Major League Baseball season in the books, it’s a perfect time to analyze the numbers from a completed season. In this case, we will take a deeper look at the matchup between the Tampa Rays and the Cleveland Indians as they get set to play their single-elimination game.

Tampa Bay Rays v Cleveland Indians AL Wild Card 2013
Tampa Bay Rays v Cleveland Indians AL Wild Card 2013

Jul 8, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Desmond Jennings (8) reaches for a double by Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis (not pictured) in the third inning at Progressive Field. David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2013 Major League Baseball season in the books, it’s a perfect time to analyze the numbers from a completed season. In this case, we will take a deeper look at the matchup between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cleveland Indians as they get set to play their single-elimination game. While many will preview the game from an individual players’ standpoint, we will take a team-vs-team outlook with the use of advanced data to gauge what might happen in the one-game playoff. 

 

 

OFFENSE

OFFENSE

Team

BB%

K%

ISO

OPS

wOBA

BABIP

UBR

wSB

wRAA

Rays

9.4%

18.8%

0.151

0.737

0.324

0.295

7.0

-5.5

48.6

Indians

9.1%

20.8%

0.155

0.737

0.324

0.300

2.9

4.3

49.4

Both lineups have very similar numbers. Cleveland has had a bit better luck with batted balls in play. Not shown is the slight advantage that Tampa Bay has in FB%, but they also pop up more than Cleveland. Meanwhile, Cleveland has a slight advantage in Line-Drive rate, HR/FB%, and Bunting Hit Percentage, which helps boost their BABIP. Also, both clubs were two of the most patient teams in the American League so there should be plenty of interesting plate appearances as the game goes on.

However, the major advantage is on the basepaths where players like Michael BournJason Kipnis, and Michael Brantley are not afraid to take chances once on base. On the other hand, Tampa Bay is not a running team, but that does not mean they’re a terrible baserunning club.

Finally, the Rays finished the season with a Clutch rating of 1.63, but Cleveland finished second in the AL in that category (3.82).

ADVANTAGE: CLEVELAND

 

FIELDING

The Rays have higher scores in most defensive range categories. On the other hand, in terms of range and defense, Cleveland was among the worst in the AL. To put it another way, the Rays’ UZR is about 80 points higher than the Indians’.

Conversely, Cleveland’s catchers proved to better at preventing runs and stolen bases. The Rays are a poor stolen base club to begin with so it’s doubtful that the Rays will be taking risks on the basepaths, but it’s something to keep in mind. Also, the Indians have better arms in the outfield. It will be interesting to see if the Indian outfield can stop the second best baserunning team in the AL (in terms of UBR).

ADVANTAGE: TAMPA BAY

 

STARTERS

STARTING PITCHING

Scheduled Starter

K%

BB%

WHIP

BAA

ERA

ERA-

FIP

SIERA

BABIP

Alex Cobb

23.2%

7.8%

1.15

0.226

2.760

73

3.36

3.26

0.279

Danny Salazar

30.8%

7.1%

1.13

0.224

3.120

81

3.16

3.76

0.298

As my colleague, Igor Derysh explained in his preview of the Rays vs Indians matchup, former highly-touted, pitching prospects Danny Salazar and Alex Cobb will take the hill for their teams. Cobb seems to be the more polished of the two, but Salazar, at times, has looked dominant in his starts. Nevertheless, with a better defense behind him, Cobb is the steady choice here.

ADVANTAGE: TAMPA BAY

 

BULLPEN

BULLPEN

Team

K%

BB%

WHIP

BAA

ERA

ERA-

FIP

SIERA

BABIP

Rays

24.9%

9.3%

1.21

0.218

3.590

95

3.36

3.28

0.278

Indians

22.5%

10.0%

1.32

0.235

3.620

94

3.79

3.58

0.290

As noted, Cleveland’s defense is a bit shaky and the lack of range has affected the Indians’ pitching staff; their bullpen has a higher BABIP and SIERA than Tampa Bay. They also walk more batters so that doesn’t help their cause either.

Not shown is the fact that Tampa Bay does have a higher FB%, but also force a lot more popups. Meanwhile, the Indians have the highest LD% among all AL playoff teams. And despite inducing more groundballs, Cleveland’s bullpen is more likely to be susceptible to the longball.

In terms of plate discipline, Tampa Bay’s bullpen induces more swing-and-misses and posted a lower contact rate against than Cleveland’s bullpen.

ADVANTAGE: TAMPA BAY

 

Even though the game is in Cleveland, the Indians do not have an overt advantage in any one category, except for stolen bases, but Tampa Bay offsets that with their high IQ on the basepaths. Cleveland has more flair for the dramatics, but Tampa is too solid to bet against.

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