Saturday, April 23, 2005

 

Romeo and Juliet and Calvin Pickering

Dire Straits would say, "When you gonna realize it was just that the time was wrong?"

The man picked the WORST possible time to have a slump. A man seemingly destined for great heights just couldn't get it to work early on this year, almost as if he drank the poison and found the "cold and drowsy humour" of a very bad slump, but Baird and Co. don't realize that it's just temporary.

In this case, the "pair of star-cross'd lovers" taking their lives will be Mr. Pickering and the stathead community as a whole. I can see it now: the stathead takes Pickering in the 18th round of a fantasy draft, insisting that he just got a steal and 30+ homers so late in a draft. The typical fan laughs with confusion, and the stathead insists that he is in the right. (No, that wasn't me. It just seems like a familiar tale.)
The stathead is now furious. This year's darling, Calvin Pickering, just lost his job without having 50 plate apperances to prove his worth.

Allaird Baird warranted praise for having the know-how to send All-Star Ken Harvey to the minors in favor of Pickering's powerful...bat. (I couldn't think of a word that started with P.)

Pickering started out 4 for 27 with 3 walks, 0 homers, and 14 strikeouts. It's probably unfair to judge a guy based on his first 30 plate apperances in a season. But Pickering didn't exactly go out and take the roster spot in Spring Training. Ken Harvey's .238/.250/.357 had a lot to do with it, but Pickering only hit .211/.318/.404 with that horrendous baserunning gaffe.

Stairs and Sweeney haven't been too shabby this year, either, combining for a .308/.363/.500 line. And you'd like to have some defensive flexibility on the team, too. I don't know much about Diaz's defense, but he's about half the size of Pickering and he can play outfield, so that might help. It's a difficult line to walk. Pickering doesn't fit on the team if he's not hitting the ball hard because he has no other value, and he wasn't hitting the ball at all. Baird's decision is certainly justifiable on those grounds.

The reality is that Pickering SHOULD have a major league job somewhere. He DID earn it last year, and a stretch of 60 bad plate appearances (going back to the spring) shouldn't keep him off a team. He needs more time because frankly, 10.02 AB/HR (His combined AB/HR from AAA and the bigs) doesn't just disappear (it might drop a bit, but it won't just go away). But there's no longer a fit in Kansas City, I guess.

While Pickering was assaulting homers at a record pace, another minor leaguer was having a very nice season, this one for the Durham Bulls. Matt Diaz, Pickering's replacement, hit .332/.377/.571, but in a heavy hitter's park. So, doing some quick conversions:

Pickering-adjustment: .294/.422/.667

Diaz-adjustment: .315/.358/.542

(Those aren't MLEs; they're park and league adjusted AAA stats). Pickering definitely had a better year last year than Diaz. However, Diaz has shown less of a propensity for striking out, and while strikeouts are no worse than any other out, outs are bad in general, and Pickering this year has been chock full of them.

I suspect that we'll see him again somewhere down the line this year, but this is just another bit of misfortune in a long line of it for Pickering.


 

A bump in the road....damn

While I was sifting through the list of pitchers for the Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame, I stumbled across what seems to be a problem. The Win Shares totals for 19th century pitchers are quite high in some cases, while there WARP3 and JAWS scores are extremely low. Pitchers with WS totals equaling or surpassing David Cone and Frank Viola have WARP3 totals 40-50 points less. I e-mailed Clay Davenport at baseballprospectus.com hoping that he has an answer for this (I have an idea, but I hope he has advice as well) to help me get through this. So no pitchers today, maybe Monday. I'll get to another article later today if I get a chance. Sorry for the delay everyone.

-Marc Normandin

Note: Read Dan Scotto's article if you have not yet!

 

NL Roundup

Time for the first National League roundup of the year, with the AL's second posted next weekend. I have a lot of ideas for articles today, so I might post another or wait until tomorrow; either way today is a busy baseball day for me because I am going to run through the list of pitchers for the RLWHF until I'm done, and then post all of them into the hall. You could get anywhere from 2-4 posts today, but I might save some for tomorrow and Monday, since there is no rush on a few of them. On to the NL standings:

NL East Actual Standings:

1. Florida 10-7 (.588) 81 RS, 46 RA
2. Atlanta 9-8 (.529) 59 RS, 57 RA
3. New York 9-8 (.529) 80 RS, 67 RA
4. Washington 9-8 (.529) 68 RA, 81 RA
5. Philadelphia 8-9 (.471) 78 RS, 92 RA

NL East Pythagenport Standings:

1. Florida (.863)
2. New York (.645)
3. Atlanta (.527)
4. Philadelphia (.361)
5. Washington (.357)

Sorry Philadelphia, you are just playing poorly. In fact, your playing over your head right now...Florida's insane winning percentage for their pythagenport standings almost reflects the 7-3 run they are on right now; their actual record is marred by the fact that they won their first three shutouts but lost the rest of their games. Once they started hitting better they started winning; that is a dangerous team. Atlanta is playing ,500 ball in actual and pythagenport standings, and this trend should continue until Andruw Jones breaks out of his funk and Andy Marte is called up, while Langerhaans is actually used some. Get Raul Mondesi and Brian Jordan out of there, even with military force if necessary. Washington needs Brad Wilkerson to hit for the cycle daily. The Mets? Well once they figure out if their the dominant one or have a fetish to be dominated, then we'll know what to think of them.

NL Central Actual Standings

1. St. Louis 10-5 (.667) 74 RS, 59 RA
2. Houston 8-8 (.500) 70 RS, 59 RA
3. Chicago Cubs 8-8 (.500) 76 RS, 68 RA
4. Cincinnati 8-8 (.500) 65 RS, 77 RA
5. Milwaukee 6-10 (.375) 72 RS, 66 RA
6. Pittsburgh 5-11 (.313) 47 RS, 89 RA

NL Central Pythagenport Standings

1. St. Louis (.682)
2. Houston (.638)
3. Chicago (.593)
4. Milwaukee (.572)
5. Cincinnati (.361)
6. Pittsburgh (.106)

The first two stay the same, although we see Houston is playing more poorly than their rates show. Chicago might be worrying about simply keeping up with their actual standings now that Nomar Garciaparra is going to be out atleast 2-3 months, and possibly the season if surgery is necessary. Milwaukee has a nifty .572 win percentage in their pythagenport standings; I just wish they would start to play real ball like it. That city deserves a break from the atrocities of bad baseball, especially with the work Doug Melvin has done piecing the current team and minor league system together. Cincinnati is lacking the offense that was necessary to win with the poor pitching they have; oddly enough, the pitching seems more succesful than the offense at this point. If Pittsburgh was a major league hitter rather than a team, Neifi Perez would be making fun of them for their low average. Normal Neifi that is, not 2005 uber-Chicago Neifi who has had his body inhabited by an alien life form. The time will come when his experiments with Perez's body end, and Neifi returns to his old free swinging mostly useless human form.

NL West Actual Standings

1. Los Angeles 12-4 (.750) 93 RS, 67 RA
2. Arizona 9-8 (.529) 77 RS, 91 RA
3. San Diego 8-9 (.471) 78 RS, 72 RA
4. San Francisco 7-9 (.438) 77 RS, 85 RA
5. Colorado 5-11 (.313) 83 RS, 102 RA


NL West Pythagenport Standings

1. Los Angeles (.756)
2. San Diego (.566)
3. San Francisco (.415)
4. Arizona (.360)
5. Colorado (.325)

Well Los Angeles is playing good baseball because, survey says...they are good. Kudos to DePo, and so far I think half the members of the DePo Hater's Club have apologized for their wrongful statements. In order to make the apologies more real, I think they should write heartfelt letters to Eric Neel detailing why they were wrong in their preseason assesment. Granted its early, but I hate people who hate DePo just because of what he thinks. Maybe its the stathead in me talking (gee I wonder). San Diego is a better club than they have played so far, and if Brian Giles can just raise his batting average some that would help as well. Also if Sean Burroughs would disapear and Xavier Nady could play third, that would be much appreciated by all who are not also in the NL West. San Francisco is in desperate need of that Bonds guy. Arizona sucks, plain and simple. I don't care what their real record is. Poor Colorado looks like they have not figured anything out with the fountain of youth yet. Dan O'Dowd, give me a call, I got a plan for you...not like you guys have anything to lose.

Friday, April 22, 2005

 

RLWHF Pitchers

I finally have the qualifications for the Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame regarding pitchers. Starting pitchers require 175 WS to be considered for induction, and to get in automatically their JAWS score must clear 50. Basically this came from looking at a few pitchers, notably Bret Saberhagen, David Cone, Chuck Finley, Frank Viola, and Danny Darwin. Darwin's JAWS score of 54.45 seemed reasonable for auto induction, but rather high to gauge against considering Lankford's is 52...I know he is a hitter, but remember what this project is titled.

How am I going to gauge closers? Well, Jay Jaffe gauges the value of a relief pitcher in the Hall of Fame as 70% of the starting pitchers value, bringing them to a JAWS score of 48.5 on average versus the 69.4 of starters in Cooperstown. I will do the same, soooo here we go; 70% of 50 = 35. Relievers with a JAWS score of over 35 make it into the RLWHF, but I think I'll lower it to JAWS score of 33. 35 seems rather high for some reason, and I already lowered it from 52 to 50 for starters. Win Shares are not as much of a factor here, although I believe every closer on my list sans Mike Henneman passed 100 career Win Shares.

Make sure you read Dan Scotto's guest article today; he is now a writer at Baseball Rants, and will move with the site on its travels to Sportsblog Nation. By the way, Beyond the Boxscore will be the new name of the site when it moves, but this page will be kept up to navigate readers to there if they get the old URL. I'll obviously tell the readers when the time to move is coming.

Another note, I was contacted for a link exchange by Coast To Coast Tickets, and there link can be found on the sidebar titled Buy Baseball Tickets. Make sure you give that site a look when you want to buy some tickets to see a game, as they have tickets for all teams. I'll get back to posting either later tonight or tomorrow morning, once I have these starting pitchers done.

One final note, after calculating Bert Blyleven's JAWS score and seeing his Win Shares total, I'm going to write an article on him that will be reposted until he's in Cooperstown or off the ballot...and maybe a few times after that. Here's a preview: Average HOF pitchers have a JAWS score of 69.4... Blyleven's is 91. That's not even close...for kicks, let's compare that to Nolan Ryan: 81.5. I'll get into this in much more detail later...I knew it was a travesty but now I'm floored. I'll compare other figures as well to state my case.

 

A Look Back: The Mets and the Marlins Fire Sale

1997 was the year of the Mets' turnaround as they improved 18 games from their 1996 season and finished 88-74. But they weren't quite complete as a team; they had some flaws. As the Mets began their ascent, financial realities set in for the Marlins, who had run into the difficult problem of not being able to pay for their team.

The Mets added three players to their team from the Marlins' fire sale: Dennis Cook, Al Leiter, and Mike Piazza. The three players were instrumental parts of the 1999 and 2000 Mets playoff teams, but a couple of questions:

1. What did the Mets give up and where are they now?
2. After seven years, how valuable were the three acquisitions?

Going South

December 18, 1997: Traded Fletcher Bates and Scott Comer to Florida Marlins in exchage for Dennis Cook.

Fletcher Bates had a mildly intriguing year statistically back in 1997, when he split time between high-A St. Lucie and AA Binghamton. I don't have the league adjustment coefficients from back in '97, unfortunately, but his stats were OK. He had an impressive line of .300/*.381/.593 in St. Lucie and a less impressive .257/*.328/.478 in Binghamton. (* - OBP only includes walks.) Unfortunately, he was 23 years old, so the OBP drop off was not really acceptable. He significantly regressed in '98 for the Marlins in the Eastern League. In either case, Bates never duplicated his quality 1997 numbers in St. Lucie. He never reached the majors.

Scott Comer is not listed on The Baseball Cube and he wasn't prevalent on Google. I dug deeper and the only thing I found was that he was a 6'5" lefty pitcher. He never reached the majors.

February 6, 1998: Traded A.J. Burnett, Jesus Sanchez and Robert Stratton to Florida Marlins in exchange for Al Leiter and Ralph Milliard.
March 20, 1998: Traded Brandon Villafuerte and a player to be named later (Cesar Crespo) to Florida Marlins in exchange for Robert Stratton; Florida Marlins received .

A.J. Burnett was described in a New York Times article as "a right-handed pitcher who has not advanced beyond Class A" in this trade. His finding is either attributable to some statistic I've never seen or scouting, because Burnett was not all that great with the Mets. He was a high-strikeout guy out of the NY Penn League with no control whatsoever, averaging around 7 BB/9 innings. I would have been happy to trade him, no matter what the scouts had said.

Since then, A.J. Burnett has developed into the best player sent South in this deal. In A-Kane County, Burnett halved his walks and put up an absurd season:

1.97 ERA, 119 IP, 3.4 BB/9, 14.1 K/9

In the majors, Burnett was plagued by unreasonable pitch counts, a return of the shaky control...and yet he still managed to be one of the better pitchers in the league in '02. Early returns in 2005 have Burnett finally putting it all together; his mid-to-high 90s fastball, coupled with a devastating curveball, make Burnett an effective pitcher. Statistically, Burnett is due for a second breakout as he distances himself from Tommy John surgery:

BB/9
1999: 5.44
2000: 4.79
2001: 4.31
2002: 3.96
2003: Lost year
2004: 2.85

To put it in perspective, Burnett's best season thus far was 2002. He went 12-9 with a 3.30 ERA, striking out just under a batter per inning. He was fast emerging as a star pitcher, but Torborg drove him into the ground. Here's some data, courtesy of ESPN.

Pitches Thrown

4/3 - 112
4/8 - 106
4/14 - 124
4/20 - 68
4/25 - 125
4/30 - 125
5/5 - 105
5/10 - 121
5/15 - 117
5/21 - 99
5/26 - 115
5/31 - 96
6/5 - 116
6/10 - 116
6/15 - 128
6/20 - 103
6/25 - 127
6/30 - 128
7/5 - 94
7/12 - 98
7/17 - 81
7/22 - 110
7/27 - 132
8/1 - 128
8/7 - 93
8/12 - 123
8/18 - 117

Burnett was then shelved and pitched a few games down the stretch, but the damage was done. I don't always agree with Aaron Gleeman, but he was absolutely on the ball with this from AaronGleeman.com.

According to Baseball Prospectus' "Pitcher Abuse Points" Burnett has been the 2nd most "abused" pitcher in all of baseball this season, behind only Randy Johnson.

There is just no way that a 25 year old pitcher in his 2nd full season in the majors should be allowed to consistently throw that many pitches, start after start after start...Burnett has been great this year and he looks like he will be a stud for years to come. But the way he is being treated makes me think he is in line for some arm troubles...
- 8/1/2002

While PAP is still relatively controversial (The Neyer/James Guide to Pitching wrote a good critique) and while I think that pitcher abuse is difficult to quantify, is there a bigger case than Burnett in 02? I think that there'd be a pretty solid consensus is that running your 25 year old pitcher out there for 111 pitches, on average, is probably not a safe strategy, if your goal is health.

Burnett is back, though, and, hopefully, McKeon will be a little more cautious with his arm. If he stays healthy, he's a pretty solid bet to be a top-flight big league starter.

Jesus Sanchez has been in and out of the majors since 1998, when he had a rotation spot. He was 22 in AA and struck out 176 in 165.1 innings, but the ERA was at 4.30. Necessity forced him to the bigs, and his 93 ERA+ in '98 was his career best. Perhaps some AAA time would have helped out, but Sanchez never really did much in the bigs, most recently surfacing for three starts with the Reds in '04, with Game Scores of 26, 50, and 36 and an unseemly ERA of 7.54. He's currently with the Blue Jays organization, on last look.

Robert Stratton, a massive Met first round bust, cost the Mets two future major leaguers: Cesar Crespo and Brandon Villafeurte. Stratton's production has been pretty disastrous over the course of his career. He serves as a fair example of where strikeouts can be excessive; Stratton struck out 40.8% of his plate apperances in A-St. Lucie back in 2000. He's never made the bigs.

Cesar Crespo isn't very good. He's been in the bigs for a bit and has posted a .192/.270/.284 line in 291 PAs.

Villafuerte's consistently been one of the PCL's more solid pitchers for the last four years and has been up and down from AAA to the bigs. Looking at the numbers makes it difficult to give up on a guy like Villafuerte, even with his less-than-stellar major league track record. His PCL stats are so darn good over the last 4 years:

196.2 IP, 2.34 ERA, 6 HR, 72 BB, 182 K

He's pitched in 91 big league games and has been a below average reliever. He's OK and might put together a good year or two, but the FIP and peripherals suggest that his low-4 ERAs have been lucky. The best explanation I can give is the slippery slope of K/9 in the minors:

2001: 9.19
2002: 8.38
2003: 8.18
2004: 6.75

A quick wrap-up on the Leiter cost: 4 prospects, all 4 of whom made the bigs. One has been worthwhile.

May 22, 1998: Traded Geoff Goetz, Preston Wilson and Ed Yarnall to Florida Marlins in exchange for Mike Piazza.

It's amazing how high a New York pitching prospect will go based on seven starts, but that's how Ed Yarnall, a 3rd rounder in the 1997 draft, did it. His 7 starts in AA-Binghamton in 1998 were as good as they could have been. He was 7-0 with a 0.39 ERA, 52 K, and 17 BB in 46.2 IP, ming him the centerpiece pitching prospect of the deal. He made 2 starts in AA Portland for the Marlins, and the 9-0 record had him promoted to AAA, where his K-rate died, his walks shot up, and his ERA was an ugly 6.42.

That offseason, the Marlins traded him in a 3 for 1 for a young Yankee third baseman, Mike Lowell.

His 1999 vaulted him into the ranks of the top prospects in the league as his control and strikeouts returned for the Yanks in AAA. They dealt him to the Reds in the infamous "Drew Henson I" deal.

For all the hype he generated, Yarnall has only thrown 20 unimpressive big league innings, due to "injuries and weight," as John Sickels notes. Yarnall has been in Japan and in the AAAs of Oakland, Philly, and Boston over the last four years. He finds himself in New Orleans this year, AAA affiliate of the Nationals.

Geoff Goetz never panned out, mainly due to control problems. He's been a reliever for the last few years who never made it above AA. Call this one a bust.

The most major league experience out of any of the goings, Preston Wilson warrants some attention. In 1998, he was making a name for himself and trying to shed the hype of being the stepson of Met hero Mookie Wilson. He went 6 for 20 and was quickly endearing himself to the Shea faithful, but this short stint served as merely a move to show his potential (his minor league stats, to that point in 1998, were atrocious). The Marlins jumped at the chance to get him and sent him down to AAA, where he hit .278/.345/.576.

1999 was his rookie season, and he did not disappoint. The 25 year old hit .280/.350/.502 en route to a second place finish in the ROY voting.

Wilson never improved on that, though, so instead of developing into an elite centerfielder, he became well-known for his strikeouts and low batting averages. No real peripherals advanced, either:

BB/PA

1999: .085
2000: .082
2001: .070
2002: .100
2003: .081

K/PA

1999: .287
2000: .277
2001: .209
2002: .241
2003: .210

Crude park-adjusted ISO (see note at bottom)

1999: .230
2000: .225
2001: .224
2002: .189
2003: .223

The only consistency over that four-year span was the slight decline in power until that last year. His strikeouts and walks followed similar curves, interestingly enough, but Wilson never took his game upward.

OPS+ is a better stat at this point because I trust their park adjusting more than my own:

1999: 119
2000: 107
2001: 113
2002: 101
2003: 115

Wilson's '03 looks a lot like his '01, when you break it down, so that's probably our best guess as to his "established norm."

None of Wilson's years were elite. He then got hurt in 2004 and remains one of the highest paid players in the game, due $12 million this year.

So what is Wilson now?

He's probably right at that 115 OPS+ when healthy; he's never done anything to prove otherwise. I don't see anything here to project that he'll be better in 2005, either.

To summarize, the Mets traded the following players for their triumvirate of Marlin castoffs:

- AJ Burnett
- Preston Wilson
- Brandon Villafuente
- Jesus Sanchez
- Cesar Crespo
- Ed Yarnall
- Geoff Goetz
- Fletcher Bates
- Scott Comer

One of those 9 is a star caliber player. One is a serviceable to above average hitter. One is an inconsistent reliever. The other five never really panned out.

The Acquisitions

Cook was the first of the three acquisitions, and his 1998 was fantastic. He led the league in K/9 among middle relievers, who, in my list, were the 95 major league pitchers with 40 or more games, 5 or fewer starts, and fewer than 10 saves. While that sample is a bit contrived, his 10.5 K/9 was excellent, regardless of how you look at it. An interesting curve forms for Cook's K/9 over his career:

1995 - 8.00
1996 - 8.19
1997 - 9.10
1998 - 10.46
1999 - 9.71
2000 - 8.08
2001 - 7.49
2002 - 4.88

A smooth rise and fall for Dennis Cook, in which he peaked in '98 and then began to age.

The signs were all there, though, in 1999, predicting a big fall in 2000. His walks increased, his homers more than doubled, and accordingly, his ISO allowed went from .108 to .208, which was dangerously high.

By the time the playoffs rolled around in 2000, Met fans everywhere held their collective breaths when Dennis Cook entered the game. He was no longer the dominant middle reliever of 1998; he was just another incarnation of Mel Rojas / Jerry DiPoto / pick a bad Mets reliever.

Retrosheet's game logs indicate what I remember: Cook pitched a lot of one batter appearances, originally being used as a lefty specialist. Gradually, his role expanded and diversified in his time in New York.

It is, unfortunately, extraordinarily difficult to calculate Win Shares, and I don't have a copy of the book. It is equally difficult to quantify the value of relievers without detailed play-by-play accounts of the game, which I also don't have. So the best we can do for Cook is to make a couple of statistically-based generalizations:

- He was a superb reliever in 1998.
- He was an average reliever but a potentially valuable guy out of the pen in 1999.
- He was well into his decline in 2000 and was not all that valuable for the World Series Mets club.

Considering the cost of Cook was two fringe prospects who never panned out, this was an excellent deal for the Mets.

Al Leiter gave the Mets seven seasons and a 95-67 record, and he was another guy whose best year in New York was his first:

2.47 ERA, 193 IP, 8 HR, 8.1 K/9, 3.3 BB/9

Leiter's either an amazing pitcher or an amazingly lucky one, if you think about it. By the end of his New York tenure, his peripherals were horrendous, but he kept his ERA under 4 for each of his last 5 seasons with the Mets.

The first playoff season for the Mets, 1999, was his highest ERA year and probably his worst. Yet his most memorable performance for the Mets occurred this year, as he threw a 2-hit shutout in the 1-game play-in against the Reds. Leiter was earning his money and extension.

Leiter and Hampton carried the Mets to the NL pennant in 2000, but Leiter's year was one of his best. His K's jumped up as he struck out 200 batters in 208 innings. The walks dropped, the homers dropped, and he was going deep into games. Coupled with a low-ERA from Hampton, the Mets were well-suited for a playoff run. (Actually, I don't know what the relation is to having two very good pitchers and winning playoff series. That would be an interesting study to do.) 2000 was Leiter's last very good year; it's all been going downhill from there.

FIP

2000: 3.56
2001: 3.67
2002: 3.99
2003: 4.30
2004: 4.73

IP/S

2000: 6.71
2001: 6.46
2002: 6.19
2003: 6.02
2004: 5.79

Those two numbers tell it best - Leiter's peripherals have deteriorated, and he hasn't been able to stay in games very long...a big contract wasn't appropriate / warranted for 2005.

That said, Leiter was an important pitcher for the team, and, over the long haul, wins aren't a horrendous evaluation tool for pitchers. 95 ain't bad, and for, again, a few prospects, no one really complains about this. Of course, one of the prospects is A.J. Burnett. We'll get there after Piazza.

For Piazza, I tried a different tack with value-evaluation. He has been the franchise player of the Mets since they traded for him, and he seemingly single-handedly brought the Mets to respectability (never mind that the Mets had a pretty solid 1997). Jeremy Heit on MetsGeek.com wrote a solid review of Piazza's decline, so I'll stay away from that and instead focus on a slightly different tack for evaluation.

Everyone's got their run-scoring estimation methods of choice; mine remains Jim Furtado's XR because it's easy to calculate and it's linear.

So here are some figures on Piazza's offensive production for his Met career:

1998: 12.34%
1999: 11.45%
2000: 12.87%
2001: 14.84%
2002: 12.30%
2003: 6.64%
2004: 9.85%

That's the percentage of the Met offense that Piazza accounted for. How about plate apperances?

1998: 7.13%
1999: 9.19%
2000: 8.61%
2001: 9.31%
2002: 8.80%
2003: 4.54%
2004: 8.51%

Piazza was most valuable for the Mets, percentage-wise, back in 2001, but the 2001 Met offense was a disaster. It just wasn't very good, and the fact that they hung in that race for so long was a major accomplishment. Perhaps his most stunning achievement was accounting for 12.5% of the Met offense in only 4 months of a season. Either way, Piazza's runs and offensive production would be extraordinarily difficult to replace, and the fact that they came from the catching position just enhances his value.

Bringing it Together

So, the trades:

- The Cook deal was a steal, if only for Cook's excellent 1998.
- The Piazza deal was a steal as well. Preston Wilson never advanced pass the level of "above average" as a centerfielder. The Mets got 4.7 excellent seasons out of Piazza.
- The Leiter deal was not as good as the other two, if only because AJ Burnett is emerging as a top-flight starter as we speak.

Evaluating a trade is always an interesting thing to do, but, in the interests of not Monday morning quarterbacking, it's only fair to note with a disclaimer: the fact that the Marlins got "ripped off" in a lot of this is partially a product of the fact that they were in a "sell low" situation. Everyone knew that the Marlins had to trade their players away, and quickly. In stockpiling prospects, they were bound to have a lot of failures. But when one or two pan out (like Burnett), they accomplished something in their massive fire sale.

The Marlins are an interesting subject in general; the construction of their second World Series team fascinates me because they were so low-budget (I will probably write about this at some other time).

The other part is that in trade evaluation, to me, it's OK to look at what a trade was rather than what it could be. There's an argument to be made that no matter how poorly Scott Kazmir develops, the Kazmir-Zambrano trade is a disaster for the Mets because of not getting equal "perceived value." Burnett's numbers were disastrous before he was traded.

An add-on: Others from the Sale and its Aftermath

- Derrek Lee was acquired in the Kevin Brown deal.
- Johan Santana was selected in the Rule V draft by the Marlins and was then traded to the Twins.
- Braden Looper was one of the players in the Renteria deal.
- Brad Penny was one of the players acquired in the Mantei deal (1999).

Note: To calculate what I called "Crude park-adjusted ISO," I used Baseball Reference's park-adjusted data and made the slight adjustments for his years with the Marlins. For 2003 with the Rockies, I used ESPN's more specific data because Coors' Field has such changes for the extra base hits. I would have used the ESPN data for all of Wilson's years, but it only goes back to 2001.


Dan Scotto couldn't think of anything better to post when asked for a guest column. He'll be writing here more frequently as time goes on. He currently writes on his own blog, Baseball Babble, but not very well.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

 

Now I'm not one to defend A-Rod...

As a Red Sox fan, I do my best to avoid defending A-Rod. I'm usually very objective when it comes to evaluating New York, as I want to give clear-headed analysis. But I usually throw A-Rod to the wolves when something bad happens. My curiosity is getting the best of me this time though, as I read this article at the NY Daily News. I had no idea that A-Rod was getting a reputation as someone who racked up hits against bad teams (TB) and choked against better teams (Boston). Granted, a lot of times there are more bad teams than good, so he can rack up amazing numbers over the course of a season against bad ones and maybe struggle against some better pitching, but an entire bad reputation as a guy who only hits against the pitiful? It seems out of place for a guy who won an MVP and could have won another one the year before that. Granted, I do not see him winning an MVP in New York since he was most definitely aided by Arlington in his offensive abilities. A-Rod is an amazing hitter, but he is not the A-Rod of Texas lore anymore. Top 5 player in the majors? Uh, yeah. Now as far as this reputation for using the bad teams as whipping boys and getting flogged by the playoff caliber teams of the world, let's look at some splits, shall we?

First I will use A-Rod's career splits against a few teams who he has the most playing time against. This will make the sample size as bearable as possible. By the way, I hate, hate to use RBI's as a statistic in evaluating, and this won't happen again I promise, but in order to see whether he is a "choke" artist I will throw those totals on there since I cannot find his averages with RISP and runners on base and the like for these specific teams:

Career Splits

Orioles: 108 G, 431 AB, .323/.396/.619, 34 HR, 53 BB, 100 RBI
Red Sox: 110 G, 427 AB, .286/.369/.496, 24 HR, 52 BB, 67 RBI
Angels: 126 G, 489 AB, .331/.409/.671, 44 HR, 57 BB, 101 RBI
White Sox: 96 G, 359 AB, .245/.323/.435, 17 HR, 42 BB, 50 RBI
Indians: 83 G, 324 AB, .299/.386/.546, 17 HR, 44 BB, 60 RBI
Tigers: 85 G, 335 AB, .355/.411/.672, 25 HR, 31 BB, 84 RBI
Royals: 95 G, 361 AB, .316/.418/.604, 27 HR, 61 BB, 68 RBI
Twins: 87 G, 335 AB, .328/.395/.654, 30 HR, 38 BB, 74 RBI
Yankees: 82 G, 335 AB, .334/.386/.651, 28 HR, 31 BB, 74 RBI
Oakland: 123 G, 490 AB, .273/.342/.533, 33 HR, 44 BB, 93 RBI
Blue Jays: 94 G, 374 AB, .334/.405/.660, 33 HR, 37 BB, 92 RBI
Devil Rays: 80 G, 326 AB, .258/.332/.506, 20 HR, 29 BB, 55 RBI

The first thing that jumps out at me is the fact that the team that seems to handle him the most is Tampa Bay. Also, the perenially .500 White Sox give him a hard time, as well as middle of the pack Cleveland. Of course, during A-Rod's career the White Sox, Indians, and Orioles have all been playoff teams during A-Rod's time with Seattle and Texas, so they can be viewed as both good and bad teams. Also note how his numbers against the Red Sox are not that bad at all...I'd take it. Another thing, A-Rod destroys the Twins, hit the Yankees extremely hard, and has 44 career homeruns against the Angels...this is not a man who saves his best performance for the bad teams. But, to be fair to the assesment, we'll see how he stacks up against the AL in 2004 while on the New York Yankees in order to see if this is a new "problem" (of course now sample size is a problem, but I'm trying to shut this claim down):

2004 Splits

Orioles: 19 G, 71 AB, .310/.419/.676, 8 HR, 14 BB, 21 RBI
Red Sox: 19 G, 72 AB, .306/.412/.486, 3 HR, 11 BB, 9 RBI
Blue Jays: 17 G, 66 AB, .288/.377/.439, 3 HR, 8 BB, 10 RBI
D-Rays: 19 G, 76 AB, .237/.341/.395, 2 HR, 9 BB, 13 RBI

According to the AL East, A-Rod beats up on Boston and Baltimore, the second and third place teams, and hits under .300 against Toronto while stinking up the joint in St. Petersburg. Let's take a look at the rest of the AL in this even smaller sample size wannabe chart:

Angels: 9 G, 34 AB, .265/.341/.353
White Sox: 7 G, 26 AB, .269/.367/.423
Indians: 6 G, 25 AB, .240/.296/.400
Tigers: 7 G, 25 AB, .440/.517/.960
Royals: 6 G, 20 AB, .400/.556/.500
Twins: 4 G, 18 AB, .278/.278/.722
A's: 9 G, 37 AB, .270/.341/.595
Mariners: 6 G, 25 AB, .360/.393/.800
Rangers: 9 G, 35 AB, .343/.425/.543

Well I'll be damned. Worst performances coming against the Angels, Pale Hose, Tribe, Twins, and A's. The teams on the list that pass for major league teams with pitching staffs of a sort. The Tigers, Royals, Mariners, and pitching-thin, ballpark enhanced Rangers all got bludgeoned by A-Rod's bat. Does (A)-Rod really step down to the occasion? Or is it just (B) that the Tigers lack Johan Santana? I'm going to go with letter B here, and figure that he beats on bad teams in the rest of the AL because they are bad, and has a harder time against good teams, well maybe because they are good. This was what I thought from the beginning, since it is a little silly to think someone with A-Rod's ability piles onto his stats against the weaklings of the league because he's some kind of choke artist who cannot fill out the New York Yankee Uniform™, and not because they, you know, suck. That performance against Tampa Bay really kills me though. Was he having trouble walking against Victor Zambrano or something? It is funny in retrospect that the team who he has the worst career numbers against is the very team that inspired this whole idea from the article. Conclusion: sportswriters still are not doing their homework before they press end on their e-mails to the editor. Thank God for the Rob Neyer's and Joe Sheehan's of the world for looking things up before they speak.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

 

A Few New Links

Some new links on the sidebar from a few bloggers whose stuff I really like:

I've asked both of these bloggers if they want to do guest posting on Baseball Rants, and I hope they both agree. Make sure you check out their sites, because thats what I'm going to be doing. At some point I might try to make this a multiple-author site (I know it is already, with 2 authors, but I mean like 4-5) for some full stathead analyzing, with people who have different strengths in their writing. We'll see as time goes on, and I'll see if it is possible for me to do this when I move to Sportsblog Nation.


 

Knuckleballers Part Deux

In honor of Tim Wakefield's new contract, the subject today is knuckleballers. I do not plan on bringing any new information together regarding knuckleballers, but I want to try and tie some loose ends up of other writers who are much smarter than I.

Voros McCracken told us in 2001 that "There is little if any difference among major-league pitchers in their ability to prevent hits on balls hit in the field of play." Tom Tippett argued that point, saying certain pitchers do have a greater ability to reduce the rate of hits on balls in play than others, most notably many knuckleballers. Clay Davenport told us a few days back, on his excellent article (sorry everyone, premium content)that asked whether or not McCracken's theory applied to the minor leagues as well as the majors, that McCracken later refined his theory to state: "the differences between major league pitchers is small, much smaller than commonly believed, and small enough to be insignificant information." He also states that Tippett's article contradicts McCracken while also proving him to be on to something, because Tippett's list shows that most pitchers do not have an effect. Does this research show that knuckleballers are a special breed, better able to control the rate of hits on balls in play? Granted, Tippett shows us that there are pitchers (Pedro Martinez, Jamie Moyer, etc.) that prevent hits on balls in play, which is probably what makes them special pitchers over a long period of time, but what about all of the other guys? The league average pitchers, the #2 and #3 starters...and the knuckleballers.

It seems as if the knuckleballers are a step above the aforementioned pitchers as pitchers who do in fact control the rate of hits on balls in play, which obviously would be a credit to the knuckler. Is this because knuckleballers give up a considerable number of homeruns, or do I just think that is the case due to my experience with Tim Wakefield's career? I say this, because the formula for BABIP is (H-HR)/(2.75*IP+H-HR-SO) The formula takes homeruns out, a large source of the run production against Wakefield. Wakefield does not always have a problem with homeruns, but I see a few high 20's and 30's numbers in homeruns allowed per season when you glance at his career stats. HR/9 IP for his career is 1.135, or slightly over one per game. For a guy who makes 30+ starts a year, that is a very good total. So what is Wake's career BABIP, since homeruns are taken out of the equation? Wake's career BAPIP is .291...the major league average from 1994-2004 (read, the bulk of Wake's career) is .309. A difference of .018 points in batting average, when discussed in a 10-year sample size, is pretty substantial. That difference, of .018 seems substantial compared to McCracken's theory that the difference is basically insignificant. Then again, it takes a certain kind of pitcher to prove the contrary of McCracken's theory, and that pitcher just might be the knuckleballer. I for one agree with what McCracken has come up with so far, as far as the difference being insignificant, but I also agree that Tippett has a point that certain pitchers do in fact have an ability to reduce the rate of hits on balls in play. Sometime in the future I'm sure someone much, much smarter than I will devise a way to reconcile the findings of those two sabermeticians and tell us exactly why Jamie Moyer, Pedro Martinez, and Tim Wakefield of all people have a special ability to reduce the rate of hits on balls in play that your poor Jon Garlands and Paul Wilson's just cannot seem to figure out.

NOTE: Looking through some more articles, I completely forgot that McCracken stated that knuckleballers were an exception to this rule at one point, after some more refining. But it is interesting to see how much of an exception to the rule they are.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

 

Mulder vs. The Rest

With Mark Mulder finally ending his slide as whipping boy for lineups across the nation, I have decided to run a Mulder/Mulder Trade Bait comparison that I will follow much like the Kazmir/Zambrano debacle. At least this one makes sense.

Mulder PECOTA
2005: 30.8
2006: 19.2
2007: 18.5
2008: 16.0
2009: 15.2

PECOTA seems very pessimistic after 2005, and well it should. Mulder's strikeout rates have been falling as of late, and with his mechanics out of whack (not to mention he only struck out 2 batters in his win) makes me think that Mulder has had his run at success, and now I finally understand why he may have got less press than the rest of the Big Three. Well Marc, Tim Hudson's strikeout rates are falling as well are they not? Yes, but Hudson's ability to get the ball on the ground is what keeps him successful. Mark Mulder is/was a power pitcher, and power pitchers who cannot strike people out turn into Jose Lima, and I don't even mean fun Astrodome Lima Time.

I can run a one on one comparison of Danny Haren versus Mark Mulder, since Calero will be helpful out of the bullpen and Daric Barton, while a valuable pickup, is still an unknown commodity since he is 19 years old. Basically, the point of this exercise is to compare the starting pitchers within the deal to see who got the best of the deal as far as "aces" are concerned. I say aces because that is what St. Louis felt they were trading for. How true that may be is not up to PECOTA, but it is up to Mulder's 2005 line and how different he can make it from his second half of 2004 line. The bad news here is that second half struggles often turn into first half struggles the next season...as we can already see with Mulder so far.

Haren PECOTA
2005: 17.7
2006: 13.2
2007: 13.3
2008: 12.6
2009: 13.7


Haren is bested by Mulder in all of these seasons, but as you can see they are basically equal under PECOTA sans 2005. The funny thing is this:

19.0 IP, 9:7 K:BB, 4.26 K/9, 1.53 WHIP, .297 BAA, 4.74 ERA

19.0 IP, 16:11 K:BB, 7.58 K/9, 1.16 WHIP, .159 BAA, 2.74 ERA

Which line is which? Well, the one with the impressive peripherals and standard statistics is Danny Haren, and the less impressive one is Mark Mulder. The one in the tougher league for hitters is Danny Haren, and one in the easier league (at the moment, or at least judging from the past few years) is Mulder. I know, I know, sample size, sample size, sample size...but peripherals are always fun to look at as indicators of future success, and considering they at least have the same sample size, as well as the comparison of last year to work on, I would rather have Danny Haren at this point. Younger, cheaper, possibly (and probably) more effective as soon as this season. Now if we get unfair and throw Kiko Calero and future hitting star Daric Barton into the mix, it just does not seem as if Walt Jocketty did the right thing this time. Of course, St. Louis fans were calling for some busted heads if the Cardinals didn't get themselves a #1 pitcher, since they had five #2 and #3 guys, so it had to be done. Would they have done better on free agency? Most likely; they would have spent a little extra, but could have at least locked someone up for more years than Mulder will be, and they could have retained the services of all three of their young players. Time will tell, but I think we might have to chalk this one up to Beane. I'll keep watch all season though, as well as update on Daric Barton's progress in the minor leagues.

Monday, April 18, 2005

 

The Final Cut: Hitters and the RLWHF

170 hitters made it through the filter lineup. That gives the Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of 179 members total, before pitchers are thrown into the equation. Now that hitters are out of the way (once I put them into the actual Hall) I can get started on pitchers. I think I've decided on a 4-man rotation to base my pitchers off of, as well as a trio of closers whose Win Shares I'll average out and use to compare other closers and relievers too. I'm just glad to see this project finally getting off the ground...but now I must bury my face inside Total Baseball 2003 edition once more and uncover the pitchers who fit my criteria. For now though, lets check out the fruits of my labor thus far:

Note: WS is Win Shares, and JAWS is JAffee Warp Score, which focused more on the players peaks rather than total career value, which was Win Shares job.

Catchers
Mickey Tettleton, C, 184 WS, 50.3 JAWS
Wally Schang, C 245 WS, 48.8 JAWS
Darrell Porter, C 222 WS, 59.35 JAWS
Jim Sundberg, C 200 WS, 59.15 JAWS
Fred Tenney, C 249 WS, 50.75 JAWS
Bob Boone, C 210 WS, 51.55 JAWS
Sherm Lollar, C 209 WS, 51.55 JAWS
Gene Tenace, C 231 WS, 57.15 JAWS
Thurman Munson, 206 WS, 60.0 JAWS
Joe Torre, C 315 WS, 71.45 JAWS
Bill Freehan, C 267 WS, 58.3 JAWS
Elston Howard, C 203 WS, 51.2 JAWS
Lance Parrish, C 248 WS, 68.1 JAWS
Ted Simmons, C 315 WS, 70.85 JAWS

First Base
Mo Vaughn, 1B/DH, 200 WS, 49.15 JAWS
Don Mattingly, 1B 263 WS, 71.55 JAWS
Cecil Cooper, 1B, 241 WS, 52.4 JAWS
George Scott, 1B 216 WS, 50.75 JAWS
Jim Bottomley, 1B 258 WS, 48.8 JAWS
Keith Hernandez, 1B 311 WS, 69.8 JAWS
Harry Stovey, 1B 265 WS, 50.65 JAWS
Gil Hodges, 1B 263 WS, 58.6 JAWS
Wally Joyner, 1B 253 WS, 52.3 JAWS
Steve Garvey, 1B 279 WS, 60.65 JAWS
Bill Buckner, 1B 226 WS, 41.3 JAWS
Fred McGriff, 1B 341 WS, 70.45 JAWS
Mike Hargrove, 1B 212 WS, 49 JAWS
Boog Powell, 1B 282 WS, 48 JAWS
Ed Konetchy, 1B 287 WS, 52.35 JAWS
Mark Grace, 1B 294 WS, 62.2 JAWS
Joe Judge, 1B 270 WS, 46.55 JAWS
Jake Daubert, 1B 263 WS, 49.45 JAWS
Will Clark, 1B 331 WS, 72.95 JAWS
Mickey Vernon, 1B 296 WS 53.65 JAWS
Dolph Camilli, 1B 224 WS, 57.65 JAWS
Norm Cash, 1B 315 WS, 68.6 JAWS
Bobby Grich, 1B 329 WS, 81.4 JAWS
Dick Allen, 1B 342 WS, 68.15 JAWS
Andres Galarraga, 1B 251 WS, 41.7 JAWS
Kent Hrbek, 1B 230 WS, 57.7 JAWS
Ron Fairly, 1B 269 WS, 50.6 JAWS
Bill White, 1B 209 WS, 50.3 JAWS

Second Base
Frank White, 2B, 211 WS, 54.9 JAWS
Buddy Myer, 2B 258 WS, 49.55 JAWS
Willie Randolph, 2B 312 WS, 72.2 JAWS
Joe Gordon, 2B 242 WS, 63.2 JAWS
Dick McAuliffe, 2B 241 WS, 44.85 JAWS
Lou Whitaker, 2B 351 WS, 78.75 JAWS
Larry Doyle, 2B 289 WS, 42.25 JAWS
Davey Lopes, 2B 240 WS, 51.6 JAWS
Cupid Childs, 2B 238 WS, 53.35 JAWS
Del Pratt, 2B 242 WS, 52.85 JAWS
Hardy Richardson, 230 WS, 54.05 JAWS
Buddy Myer, 2B 258 WS, 49.55 JAWS
Joe Gordon, 2B 242 WS, 63.2 JAWS
Chuck Knoblauch, 2B 231 WS, 58.6 JAWS
Lonny Frey, 2B 208 WS, 52.85 JAWS

Third Base
Todd Zeile, 3B, 217 WS, 43.35 JAWS
Bob Elliot, 3B 287 WS, 62.25 JAWS
Matt Williams, 3B 241 WS, 59.35 JAWS
Tim Wallach, 3B 248 WS, 60.85 JAWS
Sal Bando, 3B 283 WS, 55.75 JAWS
Robin Ventura, 3B 266 WS, 71.95 JAWS
Ken Boyer, 3B 279 WS, 70.05 JAWS
Gary Gaetti, 3B 249 WS, 58.75 JAWS
Eddie Yost, 3B 267 WS, 47.45 JAWS
Ken Caminiti, 3B 242 WS, 59.25 JAWS
Graig Nettles, 3B 321 WS, 69.8 JAWS
Deacon White, 3B 180 WS, 61.15 JAWS
Harlond Clift, 3B 216 WS, 58.35 JAWS
Darrell Evans, 3B 363 WS, 75.55 JAWS
Deacon White, 3B 190 WS, 61.15 JAWS
Toby Harrah, 3B 287 WS, 59.1 JAWS
Bobby Bonilla, 3B 267 WS, 59.65 JAWS
Stan Hack, 3B 316 WS, 65.85 JAWS
Jimmy Williams, 3B 207 WS, 49.75 JAWS
Carney Lansford, 3B 244 WS, 51.3 JAWS
Ron Santo, 3B 324 WS, 84.25 JAWS
Heinie Groh, 3B 272 WS, 61.25 JAWS
Travis Fryman, 3B 199 WS, 52.55 JAWS
Buddy Bell, 3B 301 WS, 73.75 JAWS
Ron Cey, 3B 280 WS, 65.45 JAWS
Lave Cross, 3B 278 WS, 53.3 JAWS
Larry Gardner, 3B 258 WS, 45.2 JAWS
Bill Madlock, 3B 242 WS, 45.25 JAWS
Don Money, 3B 197 WS, 47.2 JAWS

Shortstop
Jim Fregosi, SS, 261 WS, 53.25 JAWS
Bert Campaneris, SS 280 WS, 61.4 JAWS
Dave Concepcion, SS 269 Win Shares, 69 JAWS
Jack Glasscock, SS 261 WS, 64.1 JAWS
Bill Dahlen, SS 394 WS, 79.15 JAWS
Art Fletcher, SS 218 WS, 49.7 JAWS
Dick Bartell, SS 252 WS, 63.65 JAWS
Alan Trammell, SS 318 WS, 81.3 JAWS
Maury Wills, SS 253 WS, 54.9 JAWS
Jay Bell, SS 245 WS, 62.4 JAWS
Tony Fernandez, SS 280 WS, 70.25 JAWS
Dave Bancroft, SS 269 WS, 53.35 JAWS
Dick Groat, SS 225 WS, 55.2 JAWS
Hughie Jennings, SS 214 WS, 58.85 JAWS
Chris Speier, SS 206 WS, 55.4 JAWS
Vern Stephens, SS 265 WS, 59.3 JAWS

Left Field
Ray Lankford, LF, 227 WS, 52 JAWS
Roy White, LF 263 WS, 59.85 JAWS
Greg Luzinski, LF 247 WS, 44.65 JAWS
Jim Rice, LF 282 WS, 63.15 JAWS
Joe Jackson, LF 294 WS, 55.6 JAWS
George Foster, LF 269 WS, 62.9 JAWS
Jose Cruz Sr., LF 313 WS, 63.75 JAWS
Frank Howard, LF 297 WS, 55.6 JAWS
Brian Downing, LF 298 WS, 62.75 JAWS
Minnie Minoso, LF 283 WS, 59.3 JAWS
Sherry Magee, LF 354 WS, 56.05 JAWS
Charlie Keller, LF 218 WS, 55.5 JAWS
Albert Belle, LF 243 WS, 69.75 JAWS
Kirk Gibson, LF 218 WS, 52.5 JAWS
Joe Carter, LF 240 WS, 47.65 JAWS
Dusty Baker, LF 245 WS, 52.85 JAWS
Tony Phillips, LF 268 WS, 69.85 JAWS
George Burns, LF 290 WS, 54.5 JAWS
Augie Galan, LF 263 WS, 55.25 JAWS
Bob Johnson, LF 287 WS, 66.4 JAWS
Jimmy Sheckard, LF 339 WS, 59.85 JAWS
Bobby Veach, LF 265 WS, 56.35 JAWS

Center Field
Ellis Burks, CF, 260 WS, 55.7 JAWS
Willie Davis, CF 322 WS, 65.2 JAWS
Brett Butler, CF 295 WS, 74.14 JAWS
Andy Van Slyke, CF 231 WS, 59.15 JAWS
George Van Haltren, CF 344 WS, 56.66 JAWS
Jimmy Wynn, CF 305 WS, 63.2 JAWS
Brady Anderson, CF 214 WS, 56.4 JAWS
Fred Lynn, CF 280 WS, 64.95 JAWS
Devon White, CF 207 WS, 57.4 JAWS
Reggie Smith, CF 325 WS, 61.65 JAWS
Cesar Cedeno, CF 296 WS, 64.7 JAWS
Amos Otis, CF 286 WS, 60.3 JAWS
Lenny Dykstra, CF 201 WS, 51 JAWS (VOTED IN)
Curt Flood, CF 221 WS, 55.8 JAWS
Roy Thomas, CF 260 WS, 52.7 JAWS
Dom Dimaggio, CF 220 WS, 57.7 JAWS
George Gore, CF 250 WS, 63.05 JAWS
George Grantham, CF 245 WS, 55.6 JAWS
Paul Hines, CF 249 WS, 61.65 JAWS
Fielder Jones, CF 290 WS, 59.35 JAWS
Tommy Leach, CF 328 WS, 52.6 JAWS
Chet Lemon, CF 265 WS, 64.7 JAWS
Al Oliver, CF 305 WS, 55.65 JAWS
Vada Pinson, CF 321 WS, 62.5 JAWS
Jimmy Ryan, CF 316 WS, 57.3 JAWS
Willie Wilson, CF 237 WS, 55.4 JAWS

Right Field
Eric Davis, RF, 224 WS, 55.2 JAWS
Bobby Bonds, RF 302 WS, 66.25 JAWS
Ken Griffey Sr., RF 259 WS, 48.8 JAWS
Roger Maris, RF 223 WS, 44.35 JAWS
Rocky Colavito, RF 273 WS, 57.85 JAWS
Mike Tiernan, RF 251 WS, 47.45 JAWS
Rusty Staub, RF 358 WS, 67.45 JAWS
Babe Herman, RF 232 WS, 50.9 JAWS
Jack Clark, RF 316 WS, 59.2 JAWS
David Justice, RF 233 WS, 49.2 JAWS
Darryl Strawberry, RF 252 WS, 53.85 JAWS
Dwight Evans, RF 347 WS, 77.5 JAWS
Andre Dawson, RF 340 WS, 71.5 JAWS
Paul O’Neill, RF 259 WS, 67.7 JAWS
Pedro Guerrero, RF 246 WS, 50.8 JAWS
Tony Oliva, RF 245 WS, 50.95 JAWS
Johnny Callison, RF 241 WS, 55.65 JAWS
Felipe Alou, RF 241 WS, 45.95 JAWS
Bobby Murcer, RF 277 WS, 52.9 JAWS
George Hendrick, RF 237 WS, 51.25 JAWS
Bill Nicholson, RF 223 WS, 56.55 JAWS
Dave Parker, RF 327 WS, 60.35 JAWS
Ken Singleton, RF 302 WS, 65.45 JAWS
Dixie Walker, RF 278 WS, 52.55 JAWS

Designated Hitters
Hal McRae, DH, 230 WS, 46.7 JAWS
Don Baylor, DH 262 WS, 52.9 JAWS
Harold Baines, DH 307 WS, 65.75 JAWS
Jose Canseco, DH 272 WS, 61.2 JAWS
Chili Davis, DH 285 WS, 57.4 JAWS

I noticed something while going through the hitters portion...there were a handful of pitchers (such as Smokey Joe Wood) who were excellent with the bat and their defense, and the combined Win Shares they accumulated in their careers both pitching and hitting were Hall of Fame worthy. I was wondering if I should add a separate section for those who did both of these things pretty good, or if I should just incorporate them with whatever it is they actually had more value in. I'm not sure how I'd figure that out, but after the regular pitching is out of the way through my Filter Rotation and Filter Bullpen, I'll see what I can do.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

 

Scott Kazmir Projections

Since Scott Kazmir is pitching against the Red Sox today, I thought it would be a fun idea to project his performance versus Victor Zambrano's for the life of Kazmir's initial major league service contract. Simply using the projected VORP for the two over the next five seasons gives you this:

Kazmir
2005: 15.5
2006: 12.5
2007: 10.5
2008: 15.0
2009: 11.6

Zambrano
2005: 4.7
2006: 5.3
2007: 4.7
2008: 1.3
2009: 3.7

Just from that, you can see that Tampa Bay made out like bandits; this was obvious from the fact that Zambrano somehow tied for the American League lead in walks last year even though he was traded before the deadline to the National League. This year, in 11 IP (small sample size, I know) he has 10 strikeouts (excellent) and 8 walks (vomit). There is almost something bad about striking out this many batters when you give up this many walks. Yes, it helps lower the number of sacrifice flies and the like I'm guessing, since batters run out of outs this way, but it does not allow for another balls in play. His GB/FB ratio is 1.08 so far, and he has not induced a double play. I know, 11 innings. But in 142 IP last year, he had 14 GDP. 189 GB's to 141 FB's. Let's look at an extreme case of groundball pitcher to really make this hit home; Derek Lowe's K/BB for 2004 and 2005 were 1.53 and 1.48 respectively, and he struggled greatly at points during those two years. He walks alot less batters than Zambrano, and gets a lot more outs through double plays (probably even more if the defense behind him was not suspect at times). Even with the double plays he had a hard time being effective, so the fact that Zambrano puts all of these runners on base and expects to strike everyone out in order to get out of jams worries me. Luckily for Zambrano, he doesn't give up too many homeruns (only 13 in 2004, 21 in 2003). I just don't expect much out of Zambrano, even if Rick Peterson claims he can fix him. I'll keep track of this as time goes on in order to see if there has been any change and who is leading the race, Kazmir or Zambrano.

Kazmir isn't making the Mets look dumb yet this year, with 5:4 K:BB and a GB/FB ratio of 0.45. His K/9 is 3.60, but last year it was 11.07, and his K/BB was 1.95. Small sample size applies to this year so far obviously; he has only thrown 10 innings. The only reason I mentioned Zambrano's 11 innings is because he has a problem that needs to be fixed, and it doesn't look to be even going in the direction of fixed, nevermind entirely.

I think Zambrano's VORP projection above is very conservative, and a full good season at the major leagues of even league average pitching would probably knock it up substantially, making this deal more lopsided from the start. The problem is Zambrano's best case scenario is league average pitcher who doesn't hurt you too much, while that is where Kazmir's ability starts him. I'll update this as the season progresses, and even after the Red Sox game today; Kazmir made the Sox look silly in 2004 and then challenged them by plunking Ramirez and Millar in the midst of a no-hitter. Making the Sox look bad at the plate takes a lot of luck and talent combined on occasion, so keep an eye on this one.

 

AL Roundup

Bi-weekly I'll go over the standings for each division. So this week I'll cover the AL, and next week I'll tackle the NL; that way we get some distance between the roundups. I'll take the standings that are there, compared to those I predicted, as well as with the pythagenport standings. Pythangeport is different from Bill James pythagorean standings, in this aspect:

"A modified form of Bill James' pythagorean formula. Instead of using a fixed exponent (2, 1.83), the "pythagenport" formula derives the exponent from the run environment - the more runs per game, the higher the exponent. The formula for the exponent is X = .45 + 1.5 * log10 ((rs+ra)/g), and then winning percentage is calculated as (rs^x)/(rs^x + ra^x)."

So I have to first derive every team's Runs Per Game and then plug that in as the exponent for the formula that will give me the pythagenport records. One note here, the definition says it has been tested between 4 and 40 runs per game, and many of the numbers are at roughly 3.5 runs per game, so don't take this as absolute this week, this is just to get acquainted with the new formula. After more games are played it will be more accurate as well.



Actual Standings, AL East

1) Toronto 8-4 (.667)
2) Baltimore 7-4 (.636)
3) Boston 6-5 (.545)
4) Tampa Bay 4-7 (.364)
5) New York 4-7 (.364)

Pythagenport Standings, AL East

1)Toronto .818
2) Boston .652
3) Baltimore .616
4) Tampa Bay .319
5) New York .232

Obviously the percentages do not accurately reflect the number of games played so far; for example, according to this the Red Sox should have 7.172 wins so far. I'm just using the percentage to show exactly how good they have been according to their Runs Scored vs. Runs Allowed with the Runs Per Game environment involved...the whole point of Pythagenport. One bad loss could obviously shift the balance, but Toronto's .818 pythagenport winning percentage is nice to look at. That probably will not last, I'm waiting for Josh Towers to fall back to earth first of all. I expect better things from David Bush in the future, but not enough to keep this team in first or even second, regardless of my rantings at Heads/Tails. Another thing that stands out is New York's .232 winning percentage. They are 4-7 and playing over their heads...kind of scary if that keeps up....it probably won't, most likely will not, but its nice to look at as a Sox fan.


Actual Standings, AL Central

1) Minnesota 8-3
2) Chicago 8-3
3) Cleveland 4-7
4) Detroit 4-7
5) Kansas City 4-7

Pythanenport Standings, AL Central

1) Minnesota (.710)
2) Detroit (.644)
3) Chicago (.556)
4) Cleveland (.381)
5) Kansas City (.171)

This just in, Dmitri Young has no idea what he is talking about. In either the real standings or the Pythagenport Standings. I was hoping somehow that Cleveland and Detroit would end up on top and then we could say Dmitri Young was a stathead, that is where his claim came from. Minnesota is on top, but the power shifts to Detroit for second place. That probably won't last, as Cleveland has to come out of their funk at some point. This is probably the best case scenario for Chicago winning percentage wise. 46 Runs Scored and 43 Runs Allowed? I know its only 11 games, but they are playing a few games over their heads already. They will come back down to earth, and the crash won't be pretty, but at least it'll run fast like Scott Podsednik. Poor Kansas City somehow managed a percentage under .200, making the Yankees look like legit champs again (sorry, had to get another shot in).

Actual Standings, AL West

1) Los Angeles Of Anaheim (I think) 6-5
2) Oakland 5-6
3) Seattle 5-6
4) Texas 5-7

Pythagenport Standings, AL West

1) Seattle (.661)
2) Los Angeles of I Can't Even Believe I'm Writing This (.580)
3) Oakland (.363)
4) Texas (.328)

A complete shakeup minus Texas, who stays in last. Seattle will suffer with Bobby Madstritch missing the season with that shoulder tear, and the first time King Felix comes up there will be rejoicing in Seattle only; the rest of the league will weep if he succeeds, and statheads and scouts will fear for his arm at such a tender age...for God's sake I think he is my age (I'm a college freshman thank you). The Angels do not really frighten me too much, and I don't expect more than 83-84 wins this year, so this seems about right for this time of year. Oakland needs to get in gear if they want to contend like they plan to; luckily for A's fans they are playing over their head (at 5-6 that doesn't sound promising, but its better than actually having a .363 win percentage isn't it?) Poor Texas has scored 57 runs, not bad, but when giving up 70 not so hot. Expect more of the same from that poor team.

Overall, don't read into this adventure too much yet. Next week's NL Roundup will probably be more accurate, especially since 5-6 more games would have been played by then and we can hopefully cross the 4 RPG threshold in order to make sure this formula doesn't break down like Clay Davenport warned it may. If your a fan of a team with a bad pythagenport record, just be happy they are playing over their heads, even if only by 2 games. Every game counts folks.

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