GAMES 2013Houston Astros16251111+2.0 “This ball is killed into left center field,” Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman intoned glumly on Monday as Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward blasted a ball deep into the Chicago night. “And that’s a home run” — the Cubs’ third of the night.Brennaman could be forgiven for his lack of enthusiasm. The Reds are 63-87, 32 games out of first place in the NL Central, and he’s had to make the same call 242 times so far this season. With two weeks left to play, the Reds’ pitchers have allowed the most home runs of any team in major league history. It’s a staggering total: Cincy hurlers allow an average of 1.6 homers every 9 innings, or one every 21.2 at-bats (meaning they effectively turned average NL hitters into Larry Doby or Joe Carter).But it’s also symptomatic of a pitching staff that is, by another measure, the worst ever — and the only one in history that would have been better off being stocked with replacement-level players instead.The Reds have struggled to build an effective staff for a looooong time, having broken league-average in fielding independent pitching only twice in the past 21 seasons. (And this is even after accounting for Cincinnati’s home parks, which have tended to inflate scoring.) But this season’s version has taken bad pitching and elevated it into some kind of twisted art form.Last year’s Reds staff also struggled. It posted MLB’s sixth-worst strikeout-to-walk ratio and allowed its ninth-most homers per 9 innings despite having access to a few pretty good pitchers — most notably, Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman — for most of the season. But Cueto and Chapman were both gone by the start of the 2016 season, and that’s when Cincinnati’s real problems began. In April, the Reds posted the league’s worst FIP, and they haven’t looked back: They were also the worst in May, in June and in September. (They were “only” 10th-worst in July and eighth-worst in August.)The cumulative effect of all that badness has been, in FanGraphs’ estimation, the least-valuable staff by wins above replacement in modern MLB history1Going back to 1901, when the American League started. That is widely considered the beginning of modern MLB history.: 1955Kansas City Athletics1556391+1.8 2006Kansas City Royals16262100+0.5 1915Philadelphia Athletics15443109+0.3 1982Minnesota Twins16260102+0.9 1964Kansas City Athletics16357105+1.4 1998Florida Marlins16254108+1.5 1977San Diego Padres1626993+1.7 1966New York Mets1616695+1.7 YEARTEAMTOTALWINSLOSSESPITCHER WAR 2016Cincinnati Reds1506387-1.0 Source: FanGraphs MLB’s worst pitching staffs since 1901, by WAR Indeed, that’s an understatement. Somehow the Reds have been the only staff in MLB history to post a cumulative WAR below the replacement level. Not every Cincinnati hurler has been historically bad — Anthony DeSclafani has done admirable work, leading the team with 1.9 WAR, and Raisel Iglesias has 1.3 WAR with a superb 3.30 FIP. But by the logic of the theory that underpins WAR, the Reds’ sub-replacement tally means they could have stocked their entire pitching staff with nothing but freely available fringe players and AAA callups, and they’d have won an additional game. To find another team that could say that, you’d need to hark back 127 years (!!) to the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys, whose 23-113 record still stands as second-worst in the long annals of major-league failure.But that’s just according to FanGraphs’ model of WAR, which parcels out pitching credit (or, in this case, blame) based on FIP. Baseball-Reference.com’s competing WAR model2Which, in the interest of full disclosure, I helped design. uses runs allowed — a fielding dependent statistic — as its starting point, before accounting for a pitcher’s defensive support using fielding metrics. Oftentimes, the two varieties of WAR will be in agreement, but they do not see eye to eye on Cincinnati’s place in baseball history: According to the B–R version, not only are the Reds not the worst staff ever, but their 4.3 pitching WAR is only the fourth-worst tally of 2016.The reason is simple. As gawdawful as the Reds’ fielding-independent numbers have been, Cincinnati pitchers have also overseen a .289 batting average on balls in play, seventh-lowest in baseball. FanGraphs’ WAR doesn’t care about this, seeing it as an artifact of luck and good fielding behind the Reds’ dreadful pitchers — but B–R’s version gives the pitchers some measure of credit for suppressing opposing BABIP, particularly because Cincinnati’s defenders score poorly in advanced fielding metrics such as defensive runs saved above average.Which approach is correct? That’s been a matter of no small debate among baseball wonks, but uber-wonk Tom Tango (MLB’s newly minted Statcast Czar) probably has the right idea when he advocates for averaging the two methods. Luckily, Dan Hirsch’s excellent site, The Baseball Gauge, allows users to create their own custom WAR metric,3And to download the raw data from their custom metric here, which is a great service to the research community. with an option to average B–R’s WAR with a FIP-based method à la FanGraphs. By that combined method, the 2016 Reds are bad — 29th-worst since 1901 — but not the worst. (That mantle belongs to the 1995 San Francisco Giants, whose combination of a horrible FIP and a mediocre BABIP — despite league-leading fielding metrics — was enough to dissatisfy all versions of WAR.)But even though this year’s Reds (probably) aren’t the worst staff ever assembled, it’s been a painful season for Brennaman and anyone else forced to watch them give up one gopher ball after another. Fans in Cincinnati can only hope that an offseason spent scouring the free-agency market for pitching will help close the book on one of the ugliest performances since people first started hurling a mass of hide-covered yarn and cork into a catcher’s mitt.
Whilst we don’t want to tempt fate, 2018 Members can now pre-book their Grand Final tickets through our exclusive ‘What If’ form.You can now exercise your exclusive opportunity period to pre-book tickets until Tuesday October 2 (5pm), before they go on General Sale, should Saints qualify.This is a fantastic and exclusive opportunity for 2018 Members to take up their big game priority benefit – and save the hassle of queuing for tickets if we get through.Members can also book their coach travel in advance along with their tickets, with return travel priced at just £10 per person.On qualification for the final your tickets will be automatically processed with no need for you contact the Club or queue for tickets.Members have until Tuesday October 2 (5pm) to pre-book their tickets.By completing and returning the form, you are agreeing to purchase the tickets indicated in the event of Saints’ qualification.Members can pre-purchase up to FOUR tickets each and they will be the best available, allocated at the time of processing on a first-come, first-served basis, in your chosen price category.Please see the map below to find out more.All you have to do is completed the form and return it to the Club ticket office in person or via post:St.Helens R.F.C. Ticket Office, Totally Wicked Stadium, McManus Drive, St Helens, Merseyside, WA9 3ALAlternatively, you can also email it to: [email protected] applications can be accepted but they must be signed.Disabled tickets can be ordered via the ‘What If form’ but we advise that you contact the Ticket Office on 01744 455 052 to ensure you book them in the right spot at Old Trafford.The Small PrintIn the event of a victory in the semi-final you will not need to contact us or queue to purchase tickets. We will process your application based on your form, debit the relevant amount from your card and post the ticket(s) to you if you have selected that option.In the event of Saints failing to qualify, then we will destroy the application form and no money will be debited from your card.Please fill in you full contact information correctly so that in the event of an issue you can be promptly contacted.For hospitality pre-booking enquiries please contact the Club directly on 01744 455053.Forms:What If Form Grand Final 2018The form is also available in the Ticket Office and Superstore at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
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