The O’s Got The Win, But Lost a Bigger Piece In Nick Markakis

The Orioles splitting their four-game series with the Yankees in Baltimore was not ideal – it left them a game back in the AL East – but is was more or less the expected result given that New York is the better team but the O’s had home-field advantage. Both victories for the team came in exciting fashion, perhaps especially the second one in which a hobbled Mark Teixeira slid into first-base attempting to beat a double play ball in the 9th – making it – but being called out to end the game. That win was bitter-sweet though, as earlier Nick Markakis was hit on the hand by a CC Sabathia pitch. Getting the W in the game but losing one of their best players for the rest of the regular season (and likely most, if not all, of any potential play-off run) is a trade-off I saw many people mentioning as essentially worthwhile (given that one decent but not outstanding player just isn’t going to contribute much over the course of games).

Instead of looking at what Markakis’ loss does to the team, I’ll point you to Camden Depot’s nice break-down of the changes; bottom line, it’s something like 0.4 to 0.75 wins. In a close pennant race, that’s certainly nothing to scoff at. But picking up a game on the Yankees due to the blown call* is a full win! Or was it?

* Replay please.

The situation: runners on first and third, one out, Yankees down by one in the top of the ninth. Teixeira hits a grounder to the second-baseman, throw to shortstop covering, relay to first to get Tex. If he beats the throw to first then the run counts. Some people seem to be viewing the difference between a “safe” and an “out” as the difference between a loss and a win, but it’s clearly not close to that.

If Teixeira is safe, then the game is tied and there are two outs with a runner on first. The generic win expectancy for a home team in that situation is ~57%. With two outs it’s unlikely the opposing team will score again, and the O’s would only need one run to end the game in their favor in the bottom of the frame. Maybe you want to give the Yankees a bump for having A-Rod and Robby Cano coming up, but Jim Johnson is no slouch on the mound.

So the blown call probably benefited the Orioles by somewhere around 0.4 to 0.45 wins. That’s right around the lower part of the estimate of the loss of Nick Markakis. Given that, I’d gladly trade a hand protector for Nick for a pair of glasses for the first-base ump. But that’s not the universe we live in, so the O’s are going to have to mix-and-match to keep things going (at least rosters are expanded now). The team’s made a lot out of not all that much all season, so I wouldn’t count on that to come to a halt now. It is a tougher climb though.