View Full Version : Poz talks WPA and the Reds....

08-29-2011, 01:30 PM
Poz has a blog entry on statistics and stories today (http://joeposnanski.blogspot.com/2011/08/statistics-and-stories.html) that is as all of his stuff is, a great read. In it he turns his attention to WPA (Win Probability Added) and then ranks the top ten single game WPA contributors in history. Number one on the list was a Reds game from 1966:

1. Art Shamsky (August 12, 1966): I feel like I should have heard a lot about this game … but honestly, I don't remember ever hearing anything about it. This was Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati, and it was a wild game before Shamsky even entered. Three all-time greats -- Pete Rose, Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell -- homered in they game. A couple more Hall of Famers (Tony Perez and Bill Mazeroski) played. The Reds led by two, the Pirates led by two, the Pirates led by one, the Reds led by one, back and forth. Someone could have written a book about this game.

Shamsky was put into the game in the eighth inning as part of a double-switch. At the time, the Pirates led by a run. Shamsky came up in the bottom of the eighth and whacked a two-run homer off Al McBean to give the Reds a lead. The Pirates tied it in the top of the ninth, and the game stumbled into extra innings.

In the 10th, Willie Stargell homered to give the Pirates a lead. In the bottom of the inning, yes, Art Shamsky came up again. And he homered to tied it up.

Then in the 11th, Bob Bailey -- who had already hit two home runs -- hit a two-run double to give the Pirates the lead. It's fun to note here that one of the runners who scored: Jim Pagliaroni.

And, yep, you probably know what happened in the bottom of the 11th. With two outs and a man on base, Art Shamsky came up to the plate. And, yep, he hit another home run to tie up the game.

There are two great bits from this game. One, the bat that Shamsky used is somewhere in the Hall of Fame. It's not there because this was the highest WPA game -- it's there because two days later Shamsky was sent in as a pinch-hitter with the Reds down a run. And, he hit a two run homer, meaning he had homered in four straight plate appearances.

The second bit? Well, Art Shamsky had the greatest WPA ever for a single game. His performance is the very peak of what man can do to win a baseball game. He homered to give his team the lead in the eighth, homered to tie it in the 10th, homered to tie it again in the 11th, there is not much more a baseball player can do. And so what happened? Art Shamsky's Reds lost to the Pirates that day.

08-29-2011, 01:47 PM
I've read next to nothing on this stat, but how can a shutout by a starting pitcher not be higher than this?


08-29-2011, 02:10 PM
I've read next to nothing on this stat, but how can a shutout by a starting pitcher not be higher than this?


or a perfecto? I suppose some of the pitchers shutout/perfecto is reliant on his defense to some extent.

08-29-2011, 02:17 PM
I assume it's becuase each event gets a grade, from where you start in % of winning, to where you end up after the event.

If you pitch a shut out, your teams chance of winning goes from about 50% to something slightly less than 100%, so you get about 50 points.

When you hit a grand slam with 2 outs in th ebottom of the 9th to win 4-3, you go from about a 1% chance to 100% chance so you would get 99 points.

Shamsky had 3 events in one game where he took his team from a low chance of winning to much more.

It's clumulative.

08-29-2011, 02:32 PM
I've read next to nothing on this stat, but how can a shutout by a starting pitcher not be higher than this?


WPA tries to measure the impact of discreet events. To answer your question, I'd start there.

Roy Tucker
08-29-2011, 02:50 PM
Jeez. I remember the games when Shamsky did this.

08-29-2011, 02:51 PM
Joey Votto leads the NL in WPA, according to FanGraphs.

Ron Madden
08-29-2011, 03:08 PM
Jeez. I remember the games when Shamsky did this.

Me too, I guess we are "Old Timers". :)

08-29-2011, 03:24 PM
Me too, I guess we are "Old Timers". :)

Make that three. I remember it very well.

I came across an SI piece from that year. The part of about Shamsky's feat, I'll quote here. I think I'll take the rest of the article and start a new thread - it's that interesting.

Last Friday night at Crosley Field a young outfielder by the name of Art Shamsky, who had been spending the evening in quiet meditation on the Cincinnati bench, was suddenly put into a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the top of the eighth inning. The score at the time of Shamsky's entrance was Pittsburgh 7, Cincinnati 6. In the bottom of the inning Shamsky came to bat and homered over the center-field fence with one man on. Score: Reds 8, Pirates 7. By the time they came to bat in the 10th the Reds were again a run behind. So Shamsky homered again. Score 9-9. Pittsburgh promptly scored twice more in the 11th and, ho-hum, with two out and a runner on base Shamsky homered to tie the game once more. Eventually the Reds lost 14-11 in the 13th inning of what the 25,477 fans who saw it as well as the players who participated in it called "the wildest game of modern time." But consider for the moment the after-game reactions of Art Shamsky.

Three consecutive times under tremendous pressure he had produced the ultimate. He should have been an extremely happy 24-year-old. Instead, when the game ended he sat in front of his locker, staring at his dirty spikes. Barely turning his head, he answered all the questions politely. No, he had never hit three home runs in a game anywhere that he could recall. Yes, the writers could say that he felt it had been his finest game ever. When Shamsky was asked to go on a postgame radio show called Star of the Game, however, he refused both the honor and the $25 that accompanied it. "I'm sorry, but I really don't feel up to it," he said. "I'm in a hurry to get home." When told of Shamsky's actions, the 33-year-old genius responsible for that moment of inspiration back in the eighth inning nodded in approval. "That's quite an attitude," said Dave Bristol. "When you lose there are no stars."

08-29-2011, 04:21 PM
I can't believe Bristol isn't starting this guy. What is he thinking?

08-29-2011, 05:30 PM
I remember it as well. I sat in my car and listened because it was the only radio reception of the game I could get in Atlanta. Trouble was, I could not find anyone in Atlanta that cared enough to talk about what a great game it was.

Johnny Footstool
08-30-2011, 12:29 AM
WPA is a story, not a stat.