Our analysis now takes us on to the Wolves. The Wolves have been experiencing what can be considered a down season – but looking through some of the advanced numbers – they’re not that much different in production against some of the top teams in the league. However, they may just not be utilizing their players in the best positions possible. Read on and we’ll explain more.
The Wolves had just the one trade that they completed at the trade deadline. Though this may seem like a pretty even trade for the Wolves what it did for them is something even more impressive.
This move opened up 3B for Said Samater and put the arguably best defensive 1B in Arif Hirji at 1B. The additional thing that Arif Hirji brings is an abnormally high LD% (63.6%) and batting average (7/11 in ABs with the Wolves – 0.636 AVG) to go with it. The issue is that his availability is usually limited – though we’re sure that now that it’s playoff time he’ll be there to compete.
Please note these stats do not account for any production by any players serving in a reserve capacity and reflect the team member’s output throughout the year, regardless of what team(s) they may have been on.
Team AB: 380
Team AVG: 0.403
LOB: 95 (Runners Left on Base)
LOBi: 199 (Times the individual left runners on Base)
BA/RSP: 0.401 (Batting Average with Runners in Scoring Position)
GB%: 23.3 (% Ground Balls)
LD%: 49.2 (% Line Drives)
PU%: 4.4 (% Pop Ups)
FB%: 23.1 (% Fly Balls)
FPSw: 50.6 (First Pitch Swinging %)
So I’m sure everyone, especially the Wolves, are getting tired of constantly talking about this team like they are the same team that won the Championship last year, the year before, and in the case of their captain, Ali Merali, the year before that as well. While it is true that there is a championship pedigree on this team. This is another year, and a mostly new team that needs to prove they can do it again.
The problems for this team are a little more obvious than our previous version on the Falcons. Looking at both articles side by side you’ll start to see some of the statistical differences, but we’ll go through each of the same areas to contrast some of the nuances. We’ll also cover some opponent specific stats (vs. Tigers) to see which of the players are making the biggest impact and may need to be utilized differently if they want to make a difference.
The most obvious thing with this team is that their production when runners are in scoring position is only slightly below their season average by 2 tenths of a percent. This team is not taking advantage of its opportunities when they are there and as a result have left 95 runners on base. Furthermore the not so marked difference between the LOBi (which is a measure of how many runners an individual batter leaves on base) implies that most of their situations (obviously not all) are happening with 2 outs.
However, there are 5 batters on the Wolves that fare better than 50% when put in that situation they are Arif Hirji (1.000 – limited plate appearances 3), Ali Merali (0.538 – 16 opportunities), Mehboob Ajwani (0.500 – 5 opportunities), Mikael Ratansi (0.500 – 16 opportunities), and Said Samater (0.522 with the most opportunities of the group at 24). The most impressive of this group is Said Samater who hits a whopping .132 points higher than his batting average in those situations. The team may wish to look at making sure these 5 players are presented with as many opportunities to score runs as they can provide. If that means stacking the lineup with them to start and getting them more ABs, that might work.
It would benefit the Wolves to test their lineups in an exhibition game or two leading up to the playoffs. If these stats tell us anything its that they have a potential to score a lot more runs than they have been.
On a team with a pitcher named Mikael Ratansi, you wouldn’t think that there would really be much to talk about. The problem is Ratansi is most effective when he has an infield that can pick up ground balls and make plays with ease. This team has struggled to capitalize on the infield balls, but has done remarkably well with the outfield ones. So the question that now plagues this team – do we play Mikael at SS and let Mohamed Walli pitch – knowing that you’re going to be walking a lot more batters. Or do you roll the dice, knowing that Ratansi and the playoffs are made for each other. He can win you a championship with just his arm.
There is likely a middle ground somewhere in which if there are problems at SS you make the change, or you just ride him to the end and hope that you can get to a best of 3 series semi final to experiment. To put some numbers to it – on the season Ratansi has walked 13 batters in 51.33 innings of work. Conversely, Walli has walked 17 in less than half the innings at 22.00. However, Walli has a lower BAA (Batting Average Against) at 0.409 which is 58 points lower than Ratansi at 0.467. It’s not an easy decision especially knowing how Ratansi elevates his game in playoff pressure.
We’re not sure what to suggest except that to experiment in those same exhibition games we’re suggesting. We only have Mikael Ratansi who has pitched against the Tigers, and in those games (9.33 innings) he gave up 30 hits and an opposing average of 0.500. So they might have his number.
This is a team you want to root for because they play the right way and are for the first time playing the underdog in a first round playoff matchup. It’s an uphill battle to climb, but with the right tweaks they may already have all the arsenal they need to pull it off. We know that the Wolves of old put in a lot of practice leading up to the playoffs and came out sharp because of it. So we’ll see if that same strategy gets employed and some of the kinks can be worked out. One player that needs to step up for this team to be successful will be Muzammil Jaffer – making good contact is one thing, but he needs to start finding hits if this team is going to be successful in their 4th title run.