Was Erick Aybar the Hero of the 5-Hour Game?

Aybar making it look easy... - Scott Cunningham

Fangraphs doesn't measure defense and that might be the difference

Saturday Night's 13-inning, five-hour marathon was the sort of spectacle that combines every good and aspect of the sport of baseball into one game. Start with a ten-strikeout performance by Garrett Richards and finish with a bases-loaded diving game-saver catch in the eleventh by Kole Calhoun, the lows of a Cam Bedrosian Balk and an Ernesto Frieri meltdown are tinged with hilarity when one recalls the C.J. Wilson base-on-balls.

When the big bats perform as they are paid to do it is always an entertaining piece of the puzzle, especially things like back to back solo homers by Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, and don't forget Josh Hamilton driving in a go ahead run off of super-reliever Craig Kimbrel in the tenth inning.

Luckily FanGraphs measures the Win Probability Added (WPA) for each offensive event in the game. On the leaderboard headed toward the Angels .716 total WPA last night is Garrett Richards with a .321 WPA - anything close to .500 is awesome as WPA begins with the assumption that there is a 50/50 chance for either team to win any given game. Richards had ten strikeouts in six shutout innings. Second best WPA is Mike Morin with a .297 WPA as he came into a tie game with a man on 2B and no outs and stranded Frieri's final baserunner.

Then the offense takes over. Mike Trout's four RBIs garnered him a WPA of .270 as he went three for six with two runs scored. Erick Aybar was second with .203 WPA added.

But WPA does not take into account defense. Early in the game Aybar speared two sharp liners and made almost-certain base hits into outs. All this did was add to the WPA of Garrett Richards. Aybar went four for six with one RBI and two runs scored - the RBI was an afterthought fifth run to make it 5-0 Angels in the top of the eighth... well never discount insurance, right? Especially with Dino Ebel intent on leaving Frieri in the game.

Aybar also got on base in the top of the thirteenth and scored what was ultimately the go-ahead run to make it 7-6 in the top of the thirteenth. Trout and Albert added lots of insurance but amidst those big names one Angel did it with the glove, the bat and the baserunning. Is there any chance that Aybar will make it to the All Star team this season? Day in and day out he grinds out victory for this team and was central to many key parts of sticking a stake through the heart and tongue of the Halo-hating, gloatingly vampiric Eric Karros on Saturday and that should count for a lot.

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