Data Analysis – Why the Giants Got Swept

Starting with manager Tatsunori Hara, I’m sure there are many Yomiuri Giants shaking their heads today, still wondering how and why they got swept in their home park against a seemingly weaker Hanshin Tigers team. I offer you three simple reasons, none of which really answer any questions but all of which show just how badly the Giants were outplayed.

1) Your best hitters have to be your best hitters. The Giants’ cleanup hitters weren’t.

Looking at the statistics of the 3rd, 4th and 5th hitters in both lineups, the guys who are supposed to pile up RBIs and even runs to some degree, there is a glaring difference between the two squads’ players:

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
Toritani 4 17 4 7 2 0 0 3 2 2 0 0 .412 .474 .529 1.003
Gomez 4 16 2 6 0 0 1 8 3 7 0 0 .375 .474 .563 1.036
Murton 4 15 1 4 0 0 1 5 2 0 0 0 .267 .389 .467 .856
Total   48 7 17 2 0 2 16 7 9 0 0 .354 .446 .521 .967
Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
Anderson 4 16 0 7 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 .438 .471 .438 .908
Abe 4 16 1 2 0 0 1 2 1 5 0 0 .125 .176 .313 .489
Murata 1 4 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 .250 .200 .250 .450
Sakamoto 3 11 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 .091 .167 .182 .348
Total   47 1 11 1 0 1 3 2 9 0 0 .234 .275 .319 .594

2) As long as your starting pitchers give you a chance, you can win. The Giants’ didn’t.The Giants’ Leslie Anderson, who batted 5th in the first three games, did his part, it would appear. The other guys simply did not do their part, especially Sakamoto. The meat of their order only accounted for 3 of the 9 runs scored by the team. The Tigers’ cleanup men all played really well, at even a higher level than they did in the regular season. Sixteen of the 21 RBIs in this series came off the bats of these three men. (Fukudome and Nishioka each got two, and Uemoto got one.)

At first I thought the Tigers’ pitchers were playing way over their heads. But looking at the chart below, we can see that only Shintaro Fujinami really threw a lot better than he had during the season. The other guys pitched about the same. The Giants only had one pitcher roughly maintain his season numbers, and that was the only game in which the Tigers beat the Giants’ relievers.

Player IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP ERA Reg WHIP Reg
Fujinami 7.0 6 1 1 1 1 6 1.29 1.00 3.53 1.31
Iwata 7.0 6 2 2 1 1 6 2.57 1.00 2.54 1.12
Messenger 5.0 3 2 2 1 3 5 3.60 1.20 3.20 1.23
Nohmi 5.0 9 2 2 1 1 4 3.60 2.00 3.99 1.29
Player IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP ERA Reg WHIP Reg
Utsumi 6.2 9 4 4 1 3 2 5.40 1.80 3.17 1.21
Sawamura 4.0 4 4 4 0 3 3 9.00 1.75 3.72 1.14
Sugiuchi 5.1 5 2 2 0 1 4 3.38 1.13 3.16 1.16
Koyama 1.1 5 6 6 3 1 2 40.50 4.50 2.41 1.21

Obviously we are looking at a small sample (1 start as opposed to dozens in the regular season) but the Tigers’ bats were aggressive against the Giants’ starters, something they often failed to be in the regular season.

3) When you get chances to score, you have to capitalize. The Giants failed miserably in this area.

This one is beyond obvious, but consider that the Giants scored all but two of their runs on home runs. They tagged each starter with one long ball, plus two off closer Seung-hwan Oh when the series was all but over. That’s seven of their nine runs. Another came on a sacrifice fly, which doesn’t figure into batting average, and can’t really be called “clutch.” Check this chart for a gaping difference between the teams’ production.

Tigers Giants
Game Chances Hits Average Chances Hits Average
1 10 4 .400 5 0 .000
2 11 4 .364 2 0 .000
3 10 3 .300 6 1 .167
4 7 2 .286 8 0 .000
Total 38 13 .342 21 1 .048

A chance is defined as a time when there is a runner on second or third base or both. Not every hit resulted in a run; some only advanced the runner to third base.

So there you have it. The math is simple but it doesn’t lie. The Tigers got (1) great production from their cleanup hitters, the Giants did not; (2) consistent pitching from their starters, the Giants did not; (3) plenty of scoring chances which they capitalized on, the Giants did not. There are hundreds of other factors or ways to analyze the series, but these were some numbers that jumped out at me as I thought about the Tigers’ incredible series sweep.

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2 thoughts on “Data Analysis – Why the Giants Got Swept

  1. Great stuff once again, Trevor!

    I saw a chart that was flashed on TV during Game 4 and it seems that a few Tigers players actually topped the individual accolades chart such as Wins, RBIs, Saves, etc, so I’m not surprised that when the team collectively stepped up during the playoffs, these individuals’ contributions made the difference. I guess at the end of the day, the players’ psyche makes the difference and this time round, Tigers were just hungrier than the Giants.

    Cheers!

    • Indeed, Murton was batting champ (.338), Gomez had the most RBIs (109), Messenger got the most wins & strikeouts (13/226), Oh logged more saves than anyone (39) and Fukuhara won the holds title (38). Great year for individuals and now fir the team too!

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