Counting Cardinal pitcher Houdinis

by on July 9, 2009 · 4 comments

I learned a new baseball term (or maybe just a local one) on Thursday night, when Derrick Goold Twittered back at yours truly explaining that Adam Wainwright’s getting out of another bases loaded situation on Tuesday night in Milwaukee was known as a ‘Houdini’.  (Get it?  Escape?  Good.)

Well, of course, the Play Index at will allow us to drill down and find some numbers to see how often Cardinal pitchers have pulled off their own Houdini this season.

Opposing teams have had 74 plate appearances against Cards pitchers this season with the bases loaded.

Wainwright ranks first (or worst, depending on your flavor) among those pitchers with 15 plate appearances against him with the sacks jammed, with Todd Wellemeyer a close second with 12.

Since we’re looking for escapes with no runs scored, just counting plate appearances won’t do.  Several PA’s have resulted in outs, only for the inning to continue and a run to score.

Counting through the individual instances, we can determine how many times the Cardinal pitchers loaded the bases yet the situation resulted in no runs scored by the opponent.

Wainwright is the undoubted leader of that bunch as well, escaping scoreless seven times.  Two of those escapes were a ‘Twodini’ – Waino got two outs with the bases loaded to escape the situation.

Chris Perez is still the Cardinal bullpen leader in Houdinis, with four.

The list, separated into starters and relievers (with Twodini instances in parentheses):

Wainwright – 7 (2)
Lohse – 1
Thompson – 1
Wellemeyer – 1

Perez – 4
McClellan – 3
Miller – 2.5 (1) *
Franklin – 2
Motte – 0.5 *

* Miller and Motte combined for a Twodini.

Wainwright has been able to repeatedly bear down and get himself out of jams, while Wellemeyer has been decidedly poor at escaping.

The bullpen has been seemed particularly adept at escaping these situations, perhaps even more impressive since they’re often cleaning up someone else’s mess.

That begs the question…which would be more difficult to complete?  A Houdini when you’re fixing self-inflicted wounds, or one that closes out an inherited situation?

This also confirms my earlier musings that Wainwright has created a lot of these bases loaded jams for himself this season, particularly earlier in the year when he was struggling with his command and arm slot – but he’s quite often been able to reach back and find the goods he needed to get back to the dugout unharmed.

Some other random information from the Play Index…

– Two of the bases loaded situations have been game ending.  Contrary to what you might think, they’ve both resulted in wins for the Cardinals.  One by Perez and one by Ryan Franklin.

– The Brewers have had 17 plate appearances against Cardinal pitching with the bases loaded.  That number is almost more than twice the second most, the Chicago Cubs with 9.

Jason Kendall is the only hitter to have more than one bases loaded appearance against the Cards.  He is 2-2 with two singles and three runs batted in.

– 21 games have featured at least one plate appearance against with the bases loaded.  One game has featured seven appearances with the bags juiced.

– On an inning by inning basis, three innings have seen double-digit bases loaded situations.  The second, seventh, and eighth.  Not sure what to make of the second – perhaps the first time facing the heart of the opposition’s batting order?  And what to make of the seventh and eighth?  Starters staying in the game too long?  Bad bullpen?

Finally, in a bit of a circumstantial evidence that the Cardinal pitching staff has been pretty dang good comparatively this season, the number of plate appearances allowed with the bases loaded for NL Central teams this season:

Cardinals – 74
Pirates – 77
Cubs – 91
Brewers – 92
Astros – 101
Reds – 103

Put into that perspective, I’ll take what the Cardinals have done.  Although it’d be better if they just didn’t allow baserunners at all, right?

Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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Sean Berger July 10, 2009

That’s interesting, especially the very last stat which compares NL Central teams. Nice stat-tracking.

PHE July 10, 2009

Thanks for reading Sean.

It was truly fascinating to me how many times Wainwright has gotten himself into, and out of, trouble this season.

Here’s hoping he doesn’t add too many more to his total.

gforce July 13, 2009

Wainer continues to impress with his ability to lessen the damage if you will. I was worried earlier in the season that he may have been regressing but looks much more comfortable now that Carp is back.

Who knows, maybe it has to do with being the guy instead of the guy next to the guy. I say that because last year everyone knew it was only AW and no one else due to injury. This season it is a whole different ballgame literally, and now the two aces are both kicking butts and taking names.

PH8 July 14, 2009

Josh, that was the weird thing about Waino for me – even when he was struggling at the beginning of the season, he still could wiggle his way out of jams. The guy is just a fierce competitor.

Not sure if it has anything to do with being #1 versus #2, but I sure am glad he’s got Carp in his ear throughout the season.

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