Friday, October 5, 2012

Projecting Giants vs. Reds NLDS

After missing last year the welcome pangs of nervousness have come back with the Giants back in the playoffs.

In the National League Division series the Giants face the NL Central Champion Reds. The Reds are a very good team and this series shouldn't be easy for either team.

Here is the statistical breakdown for each team:


Giants 0.269 0.327 0.397 0.315 99
Reds 0.251 0.315 0.411 0.314 93


Giants 97 101 101
Reds 83 93 97

The Giants have the edge on offense, while the Reds have the edge in pitching. Neither edge is huge and at least based on the eyeball test it looks like they might balance themselves out.

Next let's move on to the projection. In case you forgot or haven’t seen the explanation, here is a quick description of how the model works:
  • I start by estimating the runs scored and allowed for each team given the starting pitcher, bullpen, defense and each team’s offense.
  • The data used in the projection model is based on the current season’s statistics to date and if a player has less than a full season of data it is supplemented with the ZiPS projections.
  • The estimated run differential is then converted into a projected winning percentage using the pythagorean expectation.
  • Then, it’s converted into an odds of winning the game using the log5 method developed by Bill James


Saturday, October 6, 6:30 PM: Johnny Cueto vs. Matt Cain
Sunday, October 7, 6:30 PM: Bronson Arroyo vs. Madison Bumgarner
Tuesday, October 9, 2:30 PM: Mat Latos vs. Tim Lincecum*
Wednesday, October 10, TBD**: Homer Bailey vs. Ryan Vogelsong*
Thursday, October 11, TBD**: Johnny Cueto vs. Matt Cain

*The Giants haven't announced who will be pitching beyond game 2 but this is my best guess.
**If necessary


Reds Giants
Game 1 43% 57%
Game 2 37% 63%
Game 3 49% 51%
Game 4 44% 56%
Game 5 48% 52%
The Giants are favored in every game with games three and five coming out at just about toss up games. The big thing that drives the advantage is the Giants run scoring of all things, if you went back and told that to ourselves last year we would think we were crazy.

The Reds have the pitching advantage in every game expect for game 2, where Bumgarner has the edge on Arroyo who is the Reds worst starter of the four. In addition the last thing the Giants want to see is the Reds bullpen so getting out to a quick start will be even more important.

Here is how the different permutations turn out for the series with the odds of each team winning in a certain number of games:

Games Reds Giants
3 8% 19%
4 14% 24%
5 17% 19%
Total 39% 61%
The Giants starting at home really helps with the series. The chance of a sweep for the Reds is very small while the Giants have nearly a one in five chance at the sweep.

If the Giants are able to take the first two games of the series they push their odds of winning to 90 percent while a split at home makes it into a 50/50 proposition.

As reassuring these numbers are, this is still a short series where random fluctuation can cause havoc, at the very least the Giants have the benefit of starting at home to try to build a commanding lead in the series. 

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  1. Havoc is right!

    Interesting analysis, would love to see your take now that we are down 0-2 and got Vogelsong up against Bailey, oh, what do you know, you already do in Game 4. Then, at least an update on the permutations now that we are down 0-2. I thought Vogelsong would have a good chance of winning against Bailey, nice to see it quantified.

    Hopefully you get to do one of Zito vs. whoever the Reds put up in Game 4.

  2. I don't think they will have Cueto ready so probability that Latos will pitch tomorrow. Bailey was awesome with 10 K, Latos had 13 earlier in the season and pitched amazing the other night after Cueto was taken out. Latos has a lower ERA and, barring any more dumb moves like B-Phil trying to steal third, a pass ball, or Rolen making a rookie mistake, I'm hoping the Reds will take it tomorrow....(hope I didn't just jinx it)