Saturday, April 30, 2005

 

The Best LHP Pitcher Ever?

Reading The Daily Quickie at Page 2 the other day, I saw a part on the right that said, "Arguably the best LHP ever" in regards to Randy Johnson. I see it, and go well it may be true, but of course now I have to know for sure. On to the numbers!

What I did to start is take every lefty on the top 100 for career wins; I figured I would get more than I need and not miss out on anyone (Note: I remembered to take Koufax though, he of the 165 wins):

Randy Johnson
Steve Carlton
Sandy Koufax
Warren Spahn
Eddie Plank
Lefty Grove
Tommy John
Jim Kaat
Eppa Rixey
Tom Glavine
Carl Hubbell
Herb Pennock
Frank Tanana
Whitey Ford
Jerry Koosman
Jerry Reuss
Earl Whitehill
Mickey Lolich
Wilbur Cooper
David Wells
Billy Pierce
Vida Blue
Hal Newhouse

I included those just for the sake of showing them off; the discussion is going to take place among the best of these pitchers. Here are some important career numbers so far (ERA is from the Davenport Translated Cards, so ERA is translated for all-time):

Randy Johnson: 129.0 WARP3, 45.3 Peak WARP, 87.15 JAWS, 1308 PRAR, 4195 K, 1308 BB, 3.01 ERA

Steve Carlton: 130.7 WARP3, 40.4 Peak WARP, 85.55 JAWS, 1403 PRAR, 4,136 K, 1833 BB, 3.45 ERA

Sandy Koufax: 68.8 WARP3, 47.8 Peak WARP, 58.3 JAWS, 785 PRAR, 2396 K, 817 BB, 2.70 ERA

Warren Spahn: 161.3 WARP3, 50.4 Peak WARP, 105.85 JAWS, 1651 PRAR, 2583 K, 1434 BB, 3.18 ERA

Lefty Grove: 127 WARP3, 49.1 Peak WARP, 88.05 JAWS, 1297 PRAR, 2266 K, 1187 BB, 2.99 ERA

Tom Glavine: 122.0 WARP3, 42.1 Peak WARP, 82.05 JAWS, 1221 PRAR, 2262 K, 1292 BB, 3.51 ERA

Carl Hubbell: 100.8 WARP3, 54.6 Peak WARP, 77.7 JAWS, 1027 PRAR, 1677 K, 725 BB, 3.37 ERA

Hal Newhouse: 102.4 WARP3, 60.6 Peak WARP, 81.5 JAWS, 1005 PRAR, 1796 K, 1249 BB, 3.08 ERA

The bolded number is the leader in each category; if we go simply by counting categories, Warren Spahn is the greatest southpaw of all-time. Johnson is the most dominant pitcher on the list, with the most K, but the greatest performances seem to come from Hal Newhouse's brilliant 5-year peak (netting that 60.6 Peak WARP) and Spahn's career length, plus his 11 years in a row hovering around 8-11 WARP3 per season merits massive kudos. If Johnson is able to be dominant for another 3-4 seasons, we might see him topple Spahn. Let's take just the two of them next to each other, and throw a few more numbers Johnson's way to see if he can pass Spahn in career value, and therefore as the greatest lefty of all-time.

Johnson has been given 7.5 WARP3 for the next 3 seasons, plus 100 PRAR for the next 3 years, with additional K's and BB's thrown into the mix as well.

Randy Johnson: 151.5 WARP3, 45.3 Peak WARP, 98.4 JAWS, 1608 PRAR, 4870 K, 1503 BB

Warren Spahn: 161.3 WARP3, 50.4 Peak WARP, 105.85 JAWS, 1651 PRAR, 2583 K, 1434 BB

With these additions to Johnson, he is close enough in WARP, JAWS, and PRAR that we may able to state a case for him as the greatest left-handed of all time. Surely, given a fourth season of 7.5 (which would be fair, since he could post an 10 or 11 and a 5.5 or so in the next 4 years) as well as another 100 PRAR, we come to this:

Randy Johnson: 159.0 WARP3, 45.3 Peak WARP, 102.15 JAWS, 1708 PRAR, 5095 K, 1499 BB

Warren Spahn: 161.3 WARP3, 50.4 Peak WARP, 105.85 JAWS, 1651 PRAR, 2583 K, 1434 BB

That last season of added on may very well be what Johnson needs to surpass Warren Spahn as the greatest southpaw in history. His WARP3 and JAWS scores are close enough, especially considering the massive gap in strikeouts and the 57 additional PRAR. Will Johnson be able to get the additional 30 WARP and 400 PRAR in the next 4 years? Maybe not (he will be 45 by then after all) but that is what it may take to take the imaginary crown away from Warren Spahn as baseball's premier lefthander. It is not that out of the picture; Johnson has come on strong the older he has gotten, and Spahn retired when he was 44. He was not effective his last 3 seasons, but maybe conditioning, better health, and the fact that Johnson's dominance has not withered may help him string those extra years together. If not, then we have a definitive answer for the greatest lefty of all-time in Warren Spahn.


Note: I answered a few questions over at Friendly Fenway today, check that out.

One more thing; anyone who comes to this page often knows that I don't agree with Skip Bayless often, if at all. But here is a time where his insistency to cause controversy has merit and I'm glad he did it. Make sure you all read this.

Friday, April 29, 2005

 

Surprising Starts

Much as my colleague did an article on interesting starts, I find myself engrossed in a similar endeavor, on a different end of the spectrum. Let's take a look at a few players off to extremely surprising starts over the next week. Today I'm going to start with arguably the biggest surprise of both leagues:

Brian Roberts 2B-BAL

By now, if you haven't been living under a rock, and know what a baseball is, you've heard that Brian Roberts is playing so far above his head that he may actually be playing in the stratosphere. After comparing the stats and looking at the trends, the only reasonable conclusion I can come to is that God plays fantasy baseball, and after he lost out on Chase Utley to the Archangel Gabriel, he was forced to take Brian Roberts and work a little magic.

May 2003 (DNP April) .310/.408/.548/2 Steals 2 HR, 11 RBIs
Apirl 2004 .305/.356/.421/7 steals 1 HR, 8 RBIs
Apirl 2005 .368/.450/.713 9 Steals, 7 HR, 23 RBIs

Surpring trend here as we look at his first month stats. With lines like this, you'd think we would have been hearing the Brian Roberts is the most underrated player in baseball story one or even 2 years ago. So why is this year any different?

2003 Stats
May
.310/.408/.548/2 Steals 2 HR, 11 RBIs
June .276/.328/.362 7 Steals 1 HR, 6 RBIs
July
.267/.359/.344 8 Steals 0 HR, 8 RBIs
August .244/.301/.325 3 Steals 2 HR, 9 RBIs
September .281/.337/.371 3 Steals 0 HR, 7 RBIs

Season
20.4 VORP (Just above Marlon Anderson (19.0 VORP) .270/.325/.376)
.097 ISO
.261 EqA (This puts him right on par with Scott Hatteberg)

2004 Stats
April
.305/.356/.421/7 steals 1 HR, 8 RBIs
May .235/.318/.306/11 Steals 0 HR, 6 RBIs
June .236/.325/.321 4 Steals 1 HR, 14 RBIs
July
.279/.342/.385 3 Steals 0 HR, 2 RBIs
August .346/.432/.439 1 Steals 0 HR, 10 RBIs
September .246/.296/.386 1 Steals 2 HR, 12 RBIs

Season
22.2 VORP (Ties him exactly with Miguel Cairo(.292/.336/.417)

.103 ISO
.261 EqA (Putting him on pace with Mark Grudzielanek at .263)

2005
VORP 20.7 (This puts him second in all of baseball behind Derrek Lee)
ISO .345
.373 EqA (This puts him 5th in baseball behind Derrek Lee, Chipper Jones, Jacque Jones, and Adam Dunn)

I don't think anyone needs my analysis to see that Roberts traditionally hits well at the beginning of the year, but something seems different this year. His rank of second in baseball in VORP would put him in line in terms of VORP with Albert Pujols, who finished second last year behind Barry Bonds. Read that again, and look at his 2003 and 2004 comparisons, where I'm pairing him with Scott Hatteberg and Miguel Cairo, not best player in the baseball not named Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols!

So the question is, can Roberts keep it up? All signs point to no, but he's never had a month as big as his April this year. In fact, he's already bested his career mark in homeruns (5) with 7 already. In April alone he's already halfway toward his career RBI mark (53) with his 23 now.

What do I think? I think it all depends on the next month. Look at his 2003 and 2004 stats for his second month of play (being June for 2003, and May for 2004). They are both HUGE dropoffs from where his first month numbers were, and the rest of the year tends to follow suit (with August 2004 being the outlier). I think if Roberts can pull together a second straight month of solid baseball, and I think he will, this could finally be his breakout season.

However, I don't see him finishing on the pace that he's on, but if he can string that second straight successful month together, I don't see something like .290/35HRs/95RBIs/45SBs being out of the question, and for a second basemen, those numbers would be absolutely phenomenal, and probably put him above Soriano in terms of draft position next year, since plate patience actually means SOMETHING to Roberts, as opposed to Soriano, who would swing at a fastball thrown by a polar bear.

Of course, it's entirely possible this is just Roberts's normal hot start, and he's going to cool off as he always does, in which case I'd put him around .270/15HRs/55RBIs/30SBs, which would probably make him a top 10 pick at his position, if for no other reason than the stolen bases at a thin position.

So let's play it safe, and make a conservative prediction from both schools of thought.
.280/25HRs/75RBIs/37SBs, which probably makes him a top 5 second basemen.

Only time will tell, but it's going to be an uphill battle for Brian Roberts to prove that he's not a first month wonder once again. He just better hope God doesn't sell him while his value is high for some help at starting pitching..

 

Zach Greinke, Wonderchild

Zach Greinke is one of my favorite players already. I already ordered a shirt from mlb.com with his name and number on it to add to my fledgling out of town collection (consisting of Brian Giles, Adam Dunn, and now Greinke). There are many interesting Greinke tidbits that not everyone knows:

1) He started pitching his senior year of highschool
2) He's still only 21 years old
3) There is no one close to him in history comparison wise yet; the closest is Bret Saberhagen

What are Greinke's chances of turning into Saberhagen? Well his 50th percentile PECOTA projection has him around 25-30 VORP a year, but it is more likely that he will go somewhere near his 75th or 90th percentile projection. PECOTA is pessimistic due to the lack of a track record and relatively small professional sample size. Greinke is entirely capable of being Saberhagen or Greg Maddux version 2.0, but still not everyone knows who he is. If Greinke survives the injury nexus of young pitchers, I can see him putting up numbers in his career that would net him 250 wins if he wasn't with Kansas City.

Here's something fun: In Baseball Mogul 2006, Greinke is given the ability of his 50th percentile PECOTA forecast. From his real life 2004, plus his fake 2005-2011, Greinke is 104-82, with a 3.89 ERA, 1,210 K, and 311 BB. He has put up numbers equal to his mid-range projection, and I expect more out of him in real life. So what can we expect by 2011? Sans record, since we don't know how long KC's efforts will be futile. I can see the K's and Walks being roughly there; his Baseball Mogul K/BB is 3.89...so far in his career it is 3.76. It amazes me how sometimes these simulation games can be so right and so wrong at the same time with some players. By the way, here's some information Rob and Rany need to pass along to Allard Baird: Adam Dunn has 281 HR in a Royal's uniform in 6 years (2006-2011). Quickly, sign him! I also got the Royals to the 2011 World Series, but lost to the Mets...sigh. Oh, and Mark Teahen developed power! Again with the lack of reality...

So what can we expect for career totals from Zach Greinke? Well, his closest comp is Bret Saberhagen, so lets take a look at some of his career figures:

Bret Saberhagen
90.5 Career WARP3
66.25 JAWS
876 PRAR

3.34 Career ERA, 1715 K:471 BB (3.64 K/BB) 0.165 K/PA, 6.01 K/9

Just to be scary, here's Greinke so far... 3.81 Career ERA, 113 K:30 BB (3.76 K/BB), 0.166 K/PA, 6.15 K/9

The ERA is sure to drop, but if those rates stay the same, and Greinke stays healthy, the upside is Bret Saberhagen, and maybe even better. Greinke has an insane assortment of pitches and uses speeds between roughly 62 and 94 in his games. The 62 mph pitch makes everything look like the Nolan Express afterwards. Greinke is a special pitcher who is receiving special care in Kansas City. Don't take watching him for granted; I can't wait until the Red Sox face him so I can watch him for the first time in awhile. Sadly, the World Series was lost in 2011 in part because Greinke tore his rotator cuff, and Jon Papelbon had to start on 2 days rest like in the old days...for the love of Rany Jazayerli, don't let this happen in real life!

 

Brett Myers

While I love to read and write about baseball, I don't always have a good idea about what to write. I try not to do stuff that other people have done, and if I do, I tend to cite them (at some point) or I probably haven't seen the article that is similar.

So when someone says something in passing to me about baseball, if it looks like something worth exploring, I do.

I was talking with a high school buddy of mine who is a Phillies' fan, and, as the Phillies were wrapping up their 3-0 win over the Nats, he IM'ed something to the affect of "nice outing from Myers." We started talking about how Myers is looking a bit better this year (I've only seen him a bit), and then he said, "Myers is using a cut fastball this year and it's working wonders."

I quickly responded, "I feel vindicated," because I watched
a couple of innings of his debut on WGN, and my "scouting report" was that he needed a third pitch besides his fastball and curve. It seemed that I was right. But I wasn't sure; I wanted to check out some other sources.

The other thing I said was, "Myers doesn't go deep into games." It's one of the things I picked up on while looking at stats after the season. So I wanted to check this out, too.

First off, what do the scouts say about Mr. Myers?

"Everybody agrees that Myers has great stuff, and one scout compares his potential to Josh Beckett of the Marlins. Myers' fastball is above average, and he has a swing-and-miss curve that ranks among the best in baseball. He also has a splitter and a slider, and once he begins to throw his changeup effectively and with confidence, he could be a top-of-the-rotation starter. Even without the changeup, Myers can be dominant when he has command of his fastball and curve. He still has a tendency to simply try to throw harder with runners on base." - ESPN.com.

I'm a Mets fan, so I watch a lot of NL East ball in general. I've never seen him throw a splitter or a slider. So my "third pitch" philosophy was partially wrong. I still think it's very difficult for a starting pitcher to make his living on just two pitches. The report says it well; adding a changeup would make a big difference.

I don't particularly understand scouting, so I won't put too much stock into that analysis.

My other point and main point, though, did have some credence last year. Myers averaged 16.1 pitches per inning, and, coupled with the low workload that the Phils were aiming for, Myers only averaged 5.7 innings per start.

Out of 86 major league qualifiers, however, Myers' 16.1 P/IP was actually right in the middle at #39, right above Jason Schmidt and below Pedro Martinez. So my original analysis also failed to account for the way that the Phillies were protecting his arm. They've done a good job with that; he's still all in one piece.

That said, I suspect that his lack of innings/start is not entirely a product of the team. So there were problems here. Myers' offseason media rage was also problematic, and I was beginning to think that we had a bust on our hands, back in February.

Myers has done his best to make me look bad, here, because he's having an excellent year in the early going.

One of the major reasons for Myers' problems in 2004 was in his homer figures. CBP was a home run hitter's haven last year, allowing a 2.047 factor. That's higher than Coors' and behind only the 'Stros at Minute Maid Park.

If you look at the H/R splits on HR/9:

Home: 1.84
Road: 1.40

1.40 HR/9 is not particularly good, but it's certainly better than the alternative.

2004 saw a worrisome drop in K/9 from the rookie, from 6.67 to 5.93. Yet in '05, he's posting a 9.24 K/9. I went back to the minor league stats and found that Myers' highest K/9 over a full season was a 7.50 K/9. It would surprise me to see his current K/9 be sustained, but I suspect that it's possible. I can't recall a case where someone jumped up that much, unfortunately.

Myers having "held his own" at age 22 in the majors is a strong sign for some future success. Additionally, he mounted his 4.45 ERA at that age while suffering from a .308 BABIP. The signs were there for some serious improvement...but it never came. At least not in 2004.

Myers has been highly touted for a few years now, and it looks like he might be developing into his potential. He's another guy on the list of "if he can hold his own at a young age in the majors, he could be a star" type players. Again, I really, really try to avoid this method because I think that there are too many players who can flame out. But the early returns are good this year from Myers. He's working more efficiently, walking even fewer batters (3.17 BB/9 last year, down from '03, even on a bad year), striking out more, throwing fewer pitches, and working deeper into games.

My immediate prediction is that he will be among the most productive pitchers for the Phils this year, and, without his success, the playoffs seem unlikely. The Ks will probably drop, but that 2.43 BB/9 as of now is probably doable, and that’s a nice one to have from a 24 year old. Myers is looking better by the start. I don’t want to join the bandwagon yet, but Myers looks like he’s going to be a solid big leaguer, at this point, and possibly more than that.

Can't ask for much more. Let's see if he can keep it up.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

 

A Lineup of Slow Starts

I made a bit of a lineup of guys who have had slow starts:

1. Ray Durham (2B) - .203/.346/.250
2. Erubiel Durazo (DH) - .214/.295/.286
3. Mike Lowell (3B) - .187/.225/.320
4. Victor Martinez (C) - .221/.308/.368
5. Steve Finley (CF) - .169/.259/.338
6. Carlos Pena (1B) - 167/.328/.259
7. Jermaine Dye (RF) - .181/.213/.319
8. Todd Hollandsworth (LF) - .214/.313/.339
9. Jack Wilson (SS) - .157/.192/.171

Some big names, as always, are getting off to slow starts. It begs a few questions: are these bad omens, the first signs of irreparable aging or unfulfillable potential? Are they typical?

The nine guys listed above are nine players who have had slow starts. Let's take a look:

C - Victor Martinez: Martinez was the beneficiary of the $15.5 million, 5-year contract with an option for an extra year and was widely viewed by people in the know as the rising "best catcher in the game." Considering that, the Indians got a steal for his services, which should carry the 26-year old through his prime. But Martinez has been disappointing so far this year. However, 50 points in batting average would go a long way (literally, if two line drives had fallen in, his line is around .250/.330/.426, which doesn't look so bad). Martinez has had the best year among our slow starters, thus far, but the concerning thing to me is the lack of isolated power. To put it into perspective, he's got an ISO of .147, which is far off of his .209 from last year and fits in right around what Lew Ford and Larry Bigbie did last year.

Outlook: The walks are there in the early going, so I'm not too worried about Martinez as a productive catcher. Even if his peak was in '04, he hangs around that level of production, he's going to be one of the best catchers in the AL for an extended period of time. I love the EBHs from back in 2002 in Akron; Martinez had 62 in 443 at bats. There's some real talent here and he's only 25.
FLAGS: He's a young catcher, and young catchers have been known to flame out.

1B - Carlos Pena: We'd have to go back to the Ted Lilly-Jeff Weaver trade to talk about Pena. I wrote Pena down on my imaginary list of players to watch this year because Pena put up the quietest 27 homers I've seen in a while. As all the stathead-folk (myself included) were high on Hee-Seop, Pena was doing something similar in the AL.

Choi: .251/.370/.449
Pena: .241/.338/.472

Choi's year was a bit better, but Pena was solid for the Tigers. I thought he could be due for a big year. Early returns aren't looking too hot, but the walks are way up: Pena currently ranks 8th in the bigs in BB/PA, which is a bit of an abberation.

Pena's problem has been a low batting average moreso than anything else. His power hasn't arrived, yet, either. Pena jumped out at me b/c of his isolated power in 2004, which ranked ahead of such sluggers as Hideki Matsui, Alex Rodriguez, and Derrek Lee.

Outlook: I don't know about Pena nowadays. His highest batting average ever was a .299 in the hitter-friendly Texas League. He's also 27 now, so if he doesn't emerge soon, when will he?
FLAGS: Potential "old player skills" candidate, rising K/PA.

2B - Ray Durham: There's an age for second basemen, for some reason, which tends to show a decline....33-34 seems to be a cliff for 2nd basemen; Robbie Alomar and Joe Morgan are the two biggest examples (and I erroneously mentioned Robin Yount as a 2nd baseman in a blog entry and don't know why). I assume it's just the skillset....

I was doing a fantasy draft this year and was looking for a second baseman. Durham, whom I've liked for a while, was only 33, so I opted to take him a bit superstitiously.

I don't know what it is about 34, and I doubt that there's much credence to it. But, for some odd reason, good second basemen seem to die at a certain point in their careers.

Durham's year ain't looking too good right now. He's exhibiting his best skill at this point, OBP, but his average and power are also down. Fantasy owners, like myself, are quite annoyed.

I expected a bit more from Durham on the power front:

Crude Park-Adjusted IsoP

2001: .196
2002: .158 (411, 248)
2003: .157
2004: .200

I didn't expect the .200 IsoP to just be a blip; there's more to it than that. In the early going, Durham's run into some troubles, though, and he's not hitting for power at all.

He's old enough to note that April is usually one of his best months, too, so he's not an "historical slow starter." (I don't know how much stock I put into that, but I assume that some players have tendencies in that direction....for example, the Lo Duca 2nd half drop off is fairly consistent.)

Outlook: I'm shifting on this pretty quickly, I guess. Enjoy the Durham while he lasts; he's becoming fairly one-dimensional (OBP) as a solid career winds to a close. He's lost a step, unfortunately, and I'd say that this could be the last good year.
FLAGS: Extraordinarily low power early on, aging second baseman, 17/28 in steals in 03-04 (losing speed).

SS - Jack Wilson: There are few players for whom a slow start would scare me as much as Jack Wilson, but he's at the top of that list, IMO. Here's a split:

A: .332/.354/.501
B: .223/.291/.324

That's Wilson's 2004 first half v. the rest of his career. Looks awfully flukish.

Outlook: I don't have anything else to say on Jack. Maybe he'll turn it around and pull himself close to his 2004 first half. But Wilson's not a kid anymore; he's 27. .279/.313/.407 wouldn't be unattainable (his 2nd half last year), but Wilson's nowhere near the star he was in the first half of last year.
FLAGS: Read description.

3B - Mike Lowell: Lowell always seems to get off to a fast start, so when I caught a glimpse of his stats in a recent Mets-Marlins game, I was a bit surprised. Sure enough, April is his best month across his career; he's put up a .915 OPS.

I like Mike Lowell. 2003 looks like a typical peak year for him as he posted spikes in OBP, IsoP, and batting average. (At some point, I'm going to look back at that unusual Marlins-team of '03, but that'll be something down the road.) But he's never really had a "bad year," per se, at least since his rookie season.

2000: .270/.344/.474
2001: .283/.340/.448
2002: .276/.346/.471
2003: .276/.350/.530
2004: .293/.365/.505

Mighty impressive. Notice the consistency in Iso-OBP since '02:

2002: .070
2003: .074
2004: .072

Lowest batting average in that little stretch was a .276, lowest slugging was a .471.

Outlook: I see nothing to expect a significant decline this year. Chalk it up to a bad slump. I also think that Lowell is a prototype if you're looking to get into some simple projection-studies. Weight the years and then age-adjust, and you've got something.
FLAGS: None on my watch, and if you're weak at third base and you've got anyone who is a bit impatient in a larger fantasy league, steal him.

LF - Todd Hollandsworth: Hollandsworth's interesting because it's hard to fathom that he won rookie of the year a few years back. He's 32 and, since that season, he's never really held down a starter's job for an extended period of time. He's got a line of .279/.336/.447, on his career, and, outside of Coors', he's less impressive. His 148 at bats last year at Wrigley yielded some impressive numbers, but that's a quirk of sample size, I think. Career OPS+: 101.

He did get the job for the Cubbies...and the results aren't great.

Outlook: DuBois's coming....
FLAGS: Nothing specific...he's just not very good.

CF - Steve Finley: 40 year old centerfielders scare me, but....well, Finley's numbers haven't been all that conventional:

BB/PA

2001: .086
2002: .113
2003: .098
2004: .086

IsoP

2001: .156
2002: .212
2003: .213
2004: .220

Declining walks, but increasing power. Hmmm...another metric:

OPS+

2001: 92
2002: 120
2003: 113
2004: 110

Realize that a lot of Finley's stats were accumulated at the very friendly BOB, and he's not there anymore.

I don't think that Finley's done yet, but I think he's due for a bit of a drop-off.

Outlook: Finley's poor start has to raise some heads, and I'm worried, too. Finley could conceivably collapse this year; those OPS+ figures are worrisome. I think that here on out, he'll be about average, making his stats slightly below. But counting on that is a problem, and it might hurt Anaheim a lot in a tough division race down the stretch.
FLAGS: Age. Collapsing plate discipline??

RF - Jermaine Dye: It's trendy to say that Jermaine Dye was Billy Beane's worst signing. And this is probably true. According to Baseball Reference, Dye made $30.5 million over 3 years. If I recall correctly, after a torrid stretch with the A's in 2001, he suffered a gruesome injury in the playoffs, and they signed him anyway.

The ChiSox are winning in spite of Dye's disastrous opening stretch of the season. Dye's not all that impressive at this point in his career; I find it interesting that Fanball says, "Dye has proven himself to be a top-25 AL outfielder so far this season and should be your fantasy lineup every week." Maybe I'm missing something, but Dye seems like an expendable type, right?

Dye's OK...his last 3 SLGs were in a range of .459-.467, so I assume he'll be somewhere relatively close to there. I don't see any overwhelming trends, except that he tends to miss some time every season.

Outlook: No way does Dye stay where he is, but he's a replaceable player.
FLAGS: Injury-prone. Rising K/PA.

DH - Erubiel Durazo: Final one of these! I do like this kind of analysis...it's relatively subjective at times, but I try to keep it very stat-oriented.

Durazo's a bit weird....his 2004 could be interpreted as a few things:

1. A breakout year: Billy Beane is always right and he nailed it with Durazo. He should come close to that for the next few years, and they'll get a lot in trade for him if they decide to give the job to Dan Johnson.
2. A peak year: he was 30 last year and that's the best we'll ever see from him.
3. My interpretation: most of his improvement from 03-04 was a product of an enhanced batting average stemming from a bit of luck.

Here's some information:

- Durazo's percentage of hits that went for extra bases dropped from '03-'04.
- Durazo's K/PA rose.
- Durazo's BB/PA dropped.

I don't know what to make of that, but, coupled with some data from The Hardball Times, I'm going to make the following conclusions:

- Durazo's a good hitter. He's not a great hitter.
- Durazo's extreme levels of production were the combination of a more aggressive approach at the plate and a lot of luck.
- I suspect that he will return to Earth this year while keeping that same aggressive approach. I think this will hurt him.

Take what you will...I wonder if the A's brain-trust missed an opportunity to dump Durazo for very high value to slide in Johnson.

Outlook: He'll be better. Not nearly as good as last year.
FLAGS: Read description.

 

Bellhorn Puzzles Me

Mark Bellhorn can only play baseball in even years. 2002 and 2004 are acceptable; 2003 and 2005 make me sick to my stomach. I love Mark Bellhorn, especially since all he does is walk, strikeout, or hit homeruns. But in 2003 and 2005 so far, he is missing one of the key elements of a Three True Outcome player; that being the homeruns. Somewhere, Rob Deer is crying. Bellhorn's last 5 seasons, including his April 2005:

2001
.135/.210/.243; 1 HR, 7 BB, 37 K

2002
.258/.374/.512; 27 HR, 76 BB, 144 K

2003
.221/.353/.293; 2 HR, 50 BB, 78 K (no homeruns in 48 G at Coors Field)

2004
.264/.373/.444; 17 HR, 88 BB, 177 K

2005
.229/.325/.357; 0 HR, 10 BB, 28 K

So if he keeps his current rates he should finish with 77 walks and 216 strikeouts (I went with games rather than AB, crude yes, but whatever). The strikeouts don't even bother me; he could seriously strike out 216 times and I could care less...but if he has a "power" output like he did in 2003, I'm going to go insane. Maybe this is where Pedroia will end up, unless Mark Bellhorn hits .270/.410/.500 in 2006 with 316 K, 33 HR, and 121 BB. Which at this point, after watching these year by year deviations and seeing that he has zero career homeruns at Coors (thanks Rob Neyer, interesting article yesterday if anyone hasn't seen it) I have faith in Bellhorn's ability to do just that. Bellhorn is not the only Three True Outcomes player to have problems with average; Rob Deer is famous for it, and even Adam Dunn has his issues:

2001: .262/.371/.578; 19 HR, 38 BB, 74 K
2002: .249/.400/.454; 26 HR, 128 BB, 170 K
2003: .215/.354/.465; 27 HR, 74 BB, 126 K
2004: .266/.388/.569; 46 HR, 108 BB, 195 K

Dunn's averages are all over the place on occasion (he's hitting .317/.453/.783 right now; if this lasts maybe my offense won't struggle all year in fantasy) but since he continued to hit homeruns, even when he hit .215, he was productive.

Dunn 2001-2004
EqA: .304, .294, .287, .320
WARP1: 3.4, 5.2, 3.2, 6.9

Bellhorn 2001-2004
EqA: .140, .300, .243 (CHI), .222 (COL), .274
WARP1: -0.6, 6.1, 0.1, 4.9

I'm not actually comparing Bellhorn and Dunn on a value level, but I want you to see how much of a difference those homeruns Dunn continues to hit actually make. Bellhorn can continue to strike out 16 times a week (it seems) and walk all the time, as long as he starts hitting the long ball; even 15 would be nice. I refuse to put up with a WARP1 score of 0.1...luckily that might not happen to him this time. Look at his current line and WARP1 score after almost a month of games:

.229/.325/.357; .241 EqA, WARP1 0.9.

In 21 games his WARP1 score is already 0.9, where as in 2003 he totaled 0.1 for the year. What is making this difference when the results look around the same? He has 9 doubles already on the season, which projects to roughly 69 in 162 games at his current rate. If he hits 69 doubles I guess I could deal with a 2 homerun season...I'm sure neither of those two numbers will last all year, but if he ends up with 45-50 doubles and 7-10 homeruns, I think I'll deal with it. Last year he was worth 4.9 wins, but if he keeps up the pace he is on WARP1 wise, he will finish over 6 and close to 7 Wins Above Replacement. Also, Bellhorn is on pace for roughly 15 less Equivalent Runs this year than last year (77 in 04'). This is why Bellhorn puzzles me, because he is valuable so far this year whether he looks like it or not....sort of.. When I started this article, I did not realize that is what was going on, so excuse me if some parts of this seem awkward due to the conclusion I'm coming to now.

Imagine this season line:

9 HR, 75 BB, 197 K, 49 2B, 112 H

I can see it happening, and it'll be fun to watch. It would be like Brian Roberts 2004, except with more walking and less double plays, since the ball is never in play unless its off the wall or over it. Hopefully he survives the season, unlike his Chicago 2003 (where he only hit 10 doubles all year by the way). Maybe doubles is the key...will Bellhorn be a mini Three True Outcomes player this year, using doubles rather than homeruns?


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

 

Equivalent Average Leaders

Some of the names at the top 0f this list are most likely names that will not stay there all year. For example, Jacque Jones (.387) and Brian Roberts (.373) have the top two EqA's in the American League...Roberts might have turned a corner (not one that will keep him as high as he is, but a corner nonetheless) while Jones has gone through spurts of usefulness before. They will both fall back down to earth, but for some reason I have more faith in Robert's ability to stay useful over Jones...

I bet the Cubs wish Brian Roberts had been traded to them instead of Jerry Hairston at this point, especially with Todd Walker and Nomar Garciaparra out...of course, uber-Neifi is here to the rescue! This inhabited by an alien version of Neifi Perez is blowing away all expectations so far, but the fun part will be when he comes crashing back down to earth and hits his historically low, low numbers. Neifi Perez's EqA is .335 at the moment...his 90th percentile PECOTA projection had him at a .276 EqA. Its nice to see one of the worst players in the league putting up outstanding numbers...I'm pretty confident it will not last, but if it does, than who the hell am I (and statheads worldwide!) supposed to pick on now? I guess I'll pick on Renteria (.230 EqA). I'm extremely afraid of Renteria turning into Darin Erstad version 2.0.

Erstad
1999 - .253/.308/.374; WARP1 2.8
2000 - .355/.409/.541; WARP1 9.4
2001 - .258/.331/.360; WARP1 4.2
2002 - .283/.313/.389; WARP1 5.8
2003 - .252/.309/.333; WARP1 1.1
2004 - .295/.322/.452; WARP1 4.1

Renteria
2001 - .260/.314/.371; WARP1 4.2
2002 - .305/.364/.439; WARP1 5.0
2003 - .330/.394/.480; WARP1 8.7
2004 - .287/.327/.401; WARP1 3.4
2005 - .237/.282/.375

The bold lines are those that are the outliers; I just don't see them happening again (obvious statement in Erstad's case, worrisome statement in Renteria's). At this point I'm not even sure if Renteria is going to meet a middle ground of 2003 and 2004 or 2003 and 2002 or any of those combinations. I think a regression to 2001 form is in order, which for $10 million a year, is not what I want to be hearing. Just a note on Erstad's 2004 line that looks like there was improvement: When he came back for the Angels off the DL he was swinging the bat great for a few weeks, I even remember warning my friend not to pick him up off of free agents in fantasy baseball because he'd drop back to earth...he picked him up, he regressed, and Erstad's season line goes against what he is actually capable of due to a random hot streak (like our friends Jones and Roberts, and especially Neifi).

If Renteria could go back to his 2002 form I would be happy, and I'd even settle for his 2004 form at this point, although the OBP and SLG figures would annoy me; annoyance is not disdain. Disdain is what I feel right now as I look at his .237/.282/.375 line, his .230 EQA, and then take a look at Dustin Pedroia's line in Double-A Portland right now: .358/.470/.509. Even if (and of course, it would happen) Pedroia lost a lot of those rates coming to the majors, I might still see a .280/.360/.440 line eventually this year. He was projected for a .292/.362/.426 with a .288 EqA, so I guess I'm not too far off on my thinking. Also, Pedroia was projected to a 31.7 VORP, with Renteria at 37.7 for 2004...if he keeps it up, he'll be lucky to get into the high 20's. Not to mention that Pedroia is projected to be the better player the next few years after 2004, for the league minimum or close to it. Granted, small sample size caveats apply to both Renteria and Pedroia, but I'm thinking Renteria might settle into his 2001 form at his best in a Boston uniform...I could just be utterly pessimistic due to my dislike of the signing from the start, but I could also be right. In a way, I hope I'm very wrong.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

 

That's Not Wright

I've never been too good at coming up with titles, although I didn't mind the R&J&CP from a few days back....

Anyway, I was thinking about it last night, and I realized, for the first time in years, the Yankees don't have a backup plan for a starting pitcher. There's no 6th starter on the roster, no David Cone in the bullpen or Orlando Hernandez or Ramiro Mendoza. There's nothing. It's looking like Chien-Ming Wang will get his spot in the rotation. (Current stats are here).

CMW (as I will refer to him for the rest of this article) is a control guy in the minors who John Sickels gave a B-. I like minor league control pitchers, and CMW's figures are exceptional. The highest BB/9 that he allowed was back in 2003, and it was a 2.36. CMW could probably use one more year of development, but in 10 career AAA outings, he's posted a 4:1 K:BB ratio. A guy like CMW probably will have some value in the bigs at some point, but I doubt it'll be with the Yanks.

CMW opened some eyes in spring training this year, with 9 solid innings (only 1 run allowed and 3 walks). For the time being, CMW would have to completely fall apart to hurt the Yankees as much as Wright was.

4/8 - BAL: 4 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 1 HR, 1 BB, 4 K
4/13 - BOS: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 BB, 2 K, 97 PIT (his one OK outing)
4/18 - TB: 5.3 IP, 11 H, 8 R, 1 HR, 3 BB, 4 K
4/23 - TEX: 5.3 IP, 11 H, 6 R (4 ER), 1 B, 3 K

For a change, a won-loss record actually helps describe why this isn't going to hurt the Yanks too much. They're 2-2 in these starts, 3 of which were absolutely abysmal, and none of which even qualified for the 6 IP, 3 ER "quality start" threshold.

The Jaret Wright signing, in retrospect and as many said at the time, was stupid. Brian Cashman even admitted to misreading the market for pitching when he didn't pick up the option on Leiber, who would have been cheaper than Wright and ended up getting a similar contract in Philly (and is now 4-0 and one of the few reasons that Philly is hovering around .500 at this point). Wright has only had one very good season, and throughout his career has been plagued with arm troubles. Exactly the kind of guy you shouldn't want to give $21 million to.

The Yankee lineup, at this point:

1. Jeter (SS) .361/.478/.514
2. Williams (CF) .258/.359/.333
3. Sheffield (RF) .324/.391/.473
4. Matsui (LF) .297/.365/.486
5. A-Rod (3B) .280/.330/.488
6. Giambi (DH) .218/.394/.400
7. Posada (C) .286/.366/.381
8. Martinez (1B) .200/.310/.360
9. Womack (2B) .250/.304/.297, 2 SB, 50% success rate

I put Womack's steal rate because if he's not stealing bases, he's completely useless, as opposed to just "useless."

I don't like relying on PECOTA to analyze things, but just for perspective:

1. Jeter (SS) .294/.360/.451
2. Williams (CF) .273/.369/.435
3. Sheffield (RF) .292/.392/.518
4. Matsui (LF) .287/.377/.484
5. A-Rod (3B) .289/.383/.551
6. Giambi (DH) (I view these as unpredictable because of the injuries and such).
7. Posada (C) .269/.393/.479
8. Martinez (1B) .267/.350/.444
9. Womack (2B) .261/.303/.353, 73.7% steals rate

Jeter's the only Yankee who is blowing away his projections in the early going, and he will regress at some point. Others, like Posada, have underachieved in the power department, and nothing in his previous years indicate a major decline in order (over the last 5 years, Posada's isolated power has falled in a range of .198-.240, with last year's .209 falling in the middle of those). The point of this exercise is to demonstrate how formidable the Yankee lineup is, even with quite a few "errors" in offseason management (I will get there in a minute).

So far, this year, the Yankees have 5.53 R/G. This is in tune with the past few years:

2002: 5.57
2003: 5.38
2004: 5.54

Let's peg the Yanks to do a weighted average of those three for this year (this is highly imprecise, but the specifics for this aren't all that important). So they'll score, hypothetically, 5.50 R/G, which translates to around 891 runs. That's high. I expect it to be around there by the end of the season.

So what are we saying here? The Yankees are obviously going to score a lot of runs. But where did they go wrong? Why are they struggling early on? Is there hope?

1. Losing Jaret Wright and having him replaced by CMW is the least of the Yankee worries at this point. CMW will be serviceable in the bigs. It's possible that he'll be a slight downgrade from Wright, but considering how poorly Wright pitched in his first 4 starts, just about anything would be better.
2. They haven't gone wrong yet. They're still a prolific offensive team, and Mussina's got another year left in the tank (nagging injuries got the best of him last year, I think, and, if I recall correctly, he was outstanding down the stretch).
3. I feel free to Monday-morning quarterback at this point, so here's an offseason plan that would have worked out a bit better for the Yanks, IMO:

- The players that the Yankees added this offseason will be making, on average (across their contract), $19 million, + Randy Johnson. (per Hardball Dollars).
- I'll go on record as saying I disagree with the Randy Johnson deal. As fantastic a pitcher as he is, using those resources to sign Carlos Beltran would have been a better fit for this team, if not in 2005, then certainly in '06 and beyond.

Pretend, hypothetically, that the Yanks did have Beltran. Beltran's plate apperances would come from the DH slot (Giambi) or the 1B slot (Tino) or the CF slot (Bernie).

So I played around with some PECOTA. Assuming 325 PAs for Bernie's production and 325 PAs for Tino's production....(and 650 for Beltran), Beltran provided 19.5 more XRB (basic XR, which is the best I could do with the stat set that I had). PECOTA essentially disagrees with me, but the Tino and Bernie predictions were both fairly optimistic, I thought, and the way that Giambi is hitting, his plate appearances might be tapped into. I'll say that Beltran would have added 20 runs on the season, which translates to 2 or 3 wins, depending on the pitching, at that point.

Beltran's greater value would be after this season, when Bernie and Tino won't be there to salvage those plate appearances. Planning for the future, however, is not an option under the current administration.

In any case, it's April 25 and the Yankees are 8-11 and only 4 out. I'd still peg the Yanks for around 95 wins and to be extremely competitive for the division.

Losing Jaret Wright won't kill 'em, and if losing Jaret Wright would kill anyone, that team isn't good enough to be in the playoffs, anyway.

 

1998 Retrospective

I was reorganizing my baseball bookshelves and came across my Baseball America's 1999 Baseball Almanac. I purchased this back in the day because of McGwire and Sosa's homerun chase. I decided to do a Prospect Retrospective from the "Top Prospect" from each organization...why did I do this? Because when I first flipped it open I saw Peter Tucci for Toronto...who the hell is Peter Tucci? I hate to even admit that I don't know who he is, but seriously folks, who is he? And so we move on to the rest of the former prospects, as well as detailing where the careers of organizations top major league players have gone to:

Just so everyone understands this complex system, the first name is the top major leaguer, while the second is the top minor leaguer.

Anaheim: Darin Erstad (I bet Anaheim wants to take this one back); Troy Glaus (great player when healthy)

Arizona: Devon White (retired, in the RLWHF); Brad Penny (very good, even great when healthy)

Atlanta: Chipper Jones (rebounding from a bad start last year, future HoF'er?); Bruce Chen (finally doing well in Baltimore so far)

Baltimore: Rafael Palmeiro (winding down, HoF'er); Calvin Pickering (sent down, poor man's David Ortiz?)

Boston: Nomar Garciaparra (ouch); Trot Nixon (Can't hit lefties, but looks like MVP vs. righties.)

Chicago (AL): Albert Belle (arthritis and an attitude all that will keep him out of Cooperstown); Joe Crede (Well Chicago is still using him...does that count?)

Chicago (NL): Sammy Sosa (slugging away in Baltimore thus far) ; Brian McNichol (0-2, 6.75 ERA in 1999)

Cincinnati: Barry Larkin (retired, should make HoF); Jason LaRue (used to be stolen base killer; now lives off reputation and weakened bat).

Cleveland: Manny Ramirez (the 400 homerun club is calling you Manny); Alex Ramirez (sub-.300 OBP in 398 career AB)

Colorado: Vinny Castilla (You know my thoughts); Mike Kusiewicz (not listed at Baseball Reference...wow).

Detroit: Tony Clark (If Tony Clark falls from grace, and no one notices, does anyone care?); Gabe Kapler (who would have thought that these two would square off in a battle of the bench players in the 2004 playoffs?)

Florida: Cliff Floyd (very good when healthy, which is never); Brian Daubach (a favorite of Boston fans usually, now playing in minors again. 92 homeruns in 2000 AB.)

Houston: Craig Biggio (HoF-bound); Lance Berkman (star caliber player)

Kansas City: Dean Palmer (Palmer was very good when healthy); Jeremy Giambi (Giambi got shutdown and Ortiz got a starting spot in Boston...I see no problem).

Los Angeles: Raul Mondesi (malcontent, used-to-be-great); Adrian Beltre (If great, then how great?)

Milwaukee: Jeromy Burnitz (Rocky Mountain Revival in 04'); Ronnie Belliard (starting at second for Cleveland, living up to projections for most part).

Minnesota: Todd Walker (one of my favorites, good stick, not as good with glove); Michael Restovich (still trying to make a name for himself.)

Montreal: Vlad Guerrero (greatest of the no-patience hitters in league); Michael Barrett (as c atcher, I'll take it...memories of third base play makes me sad inside.)

New York (AL): Derek Jeter (HoF'er if he stays healthy, and probably even if he doesn't due to media infatuation); Ryan Bradley (you expected a late 90's Yankees prospect who wasn't Mike Lowell to make something of himself?)

New York (NL): John Olerud (The Ghost of John Olerud is a free agent); Alex Escobar (traded for Robbie Alomar, and turned out to be a bust just like Robbie in a Mets uniform)

Oakland: Kenny Rogers (In Texas where he thrives); Eric Chavez (one of my favorites: MVP caliber player with Gold Glove skills...love a great third basemen)

Philadelphia: Curt Schilling (Curt was never more succesful than after this publishing); Marlon Anderson (top prospect? I made fun of the Cardinals for having him on the World Series roster 6 years later..not to mention DHing. If your DH is hitting 9th, you've picked the wrong guy...forget who said it but I agree).

Pittsburgh: Jason Kendall (After the freak ankle injury still came back...HoF'er with continued production?); Emil Brown (He's not good enough to play corner OF for the Royals...oh wait.)

St. Louis: Mark McGwire (I hate controversy on occasion); Rick Ankiel (I wish him luck as a 4th or 5th outfielder)

San Diego: Kevin Brown (falling apart at this stage of the game, great career though); George Arias (Quad-A player is/was his upside).

San Francisco: Barry Bonds (He's ok I guess...you know I love his numbers); Armando Rios (his career looks like a good season, until you realize it took over 1,000 AB and covered 6 years).

Seattle: Alex Rodriguez (one of the great active players); Ryan Anderson (one of the great active disapointments)

Tampa Bay: Rolando Arrojo (Traded for Mike Lansing...wow); Scott McClain (not listed at Baseball Reference.)

Texas: Juan Gonzalez (Gonzo is basically that every season, but a very good career overall); Ruben Mateo (.194/.235/.301 in 32 G with the Royals last year).

Toronto: Roger Clemens (The best player on this list with the exception of Barry Bonds); Peter Tucci (luckily, Tucci never played, so I didn't miss anything)

Monday, April 25, 2005

 

RLWHF Pitchers Complete!

The auto induction period is complete, and the Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame's original membership is set at 268 hitters and pitchers. I have one thing to say, before you ask, "Where are the aces of the 19th century?" Well, here goes: I posed the question of why the difference between Win Shares and WARP3 was so great to Clay Davenport, who replied:

"There are two big reasons why the difference between WS and WARP are so large for 19th century pitchers. Number one, WARP includes a correction for the level of play. Each league in history has a strength rating, which has generally increased over time. I used the post-1950 numbers to define the expected slope through time; as it happens, and as expected, most everything pre-WWII falls well below that line. The adjustment is especially harsh in the American Association, especially in 1882-84 and 1890-91, as the league was a lot weaker than the NL (and the trend line) in those years. However, I think the bigger reason is another feature of the WARP system - that the division of defense into pitching and fielding is not a constant across time. While the pitchers of the 1800 threw a lot of innings, and got the "W" more often, I don't believe they had as much control over the outcome as pitchers of today - they were more dependent on their fielders than modern pitchers; that's a reflection of the lower rates for strikeouts, walks, and home runs, the fact that there were more balls put in play, and more errors made. For example,in 1885 NL I break the defense down into 828 RAR for pitchers, and3579 RAR for the fielders - or 19% pitching. In 1985, the numbers are 4598 pitching, 3301 fielding, 58% pitching. As a result, innings from the 1880s end up getting counted as only about a third as valuable as innings from a modern pitcher, so pitchers from that time don't end up with enormous single-season warp numbers.I am pretty certain that the idea, of pitching being a less important component of total defense the further you go back in time, iscorrect. I'm happy with the balance that I get over eras with my all-time lists. But that doesn't mean that I have the exact magnitudes correct. I don't know that there is a way to say, yes, certainly, thisis the amount that belongs to the fielders and this much to thepitchers. I think the numbers I have are a good approximation, but I don't believe that they are beyond question."

This information from Clay helped me come to a conclusion: Somehow, Mark Gubicza and his 146 Win Shares were rated more valuable than Tony Mullane and his 399. This makes sense though, as Mullane pitched in the weak American Association, and after multiplying his 399 WS by 1/3 you get .131 WS...or less than Gubicza. So basically, instead of dividing this into eras, I took the best of the 19th century that passed the 50 JAWS score test (which a few did; obviously the cream of the crop from that time.) So before anyone asks, "Where is Tony Mullane?" just know the question has been answered in the form of all-time translated statistics.

Starting Pitchers

Kevin Appier, SP 189 WS, 66.2 JAWS
Vida Blue, SP 202 WS, 55.05 JAWS
Bert Blyleven, SP 339 WS, 91 JAWS
Harry Brecheen, SP 173 WS, 50.55 JAWS
Ted Breitenstein, SP 212 WS, 51.9 JAWS
Tommy Bridges, SP 225 WS, 54.35 JAWS
Lew Burdette, SP 178 WS, 50.5 JAWS
Tom Candiotti, SP 158 WS, 52.15 JAWS
Eddie Cicotte, SP 247 WS, 53.5 JAWS
David Cone, SP 205 WS, 62.4 JAWS
Danny Darwin, SP 182 WS, 54.5 JAWS
Paul Derringer, SP 231 WS, 54.3 JAWS
Murry Dickson, SP 204 WS, 62.45 JAWS
Wes Ferrell, SP 233 WS, 62.2 JAWS
Chuck Finley, SP 213 WS, 67.15 JAWS
Larry French, SP 218 WS, 50.05 JAWS
Bob Friend, SP 207 WS, 61.15 JAWS
Ned Garver, SP 166 WS, 59.3 JAWS
Dwight Gooden, SP 187 WS, 59.15 JAWS
Mark Gubicza, SP 141 WS, 52.35 JAWS
Ron Guidry, SP 174 WS, 53.5 JAWS
Mel Harder, SP 234 WS, 56.55 JAWS
Orel Hershiser, SP 210 WS, 66.4 JAWS
Charlie Hough, SP 233 WS, 65.15 JAWS
Larry Jackson, SP 225 WS, 61.9 JAWS
Tommy John, SP 289 WS, 69.2 JAWS
Jim Kaat, SP 268 WS, 63.55 JAWS
Jimmy Key, SP 188 WS, 61.5 JAWS
Jerry Koosman, SP 240 WS, 57.65 JAWS
Mark Langston, SP 184 WS, 60.1 JAWS
Dutch Leonard, SP 233 WS, 61.7 JAWS
Mickey Lolich, SP 224 WS, 56.35 JAWS
Red Lucas, SP 194 WS, 50.75 JAWS
Dolf Luque, SP 241 WS, 50.15 JAWS
Dennis Martinez, SP 233 WS, 65.1 JAWS
Carl Mays, SP 256 WS, 51.1 JAWS
Jack Morris, SP 225 WS, 62.85 JAWS
Don Newcombe, SP 176 WS, 50.7 JAWS
Bobo Newsom, SP 237 WS, 56.9 JAWS
Claude Osteen, SP 201 WS, 54.3 JAWS
Camilo Pascual, SP 175 WS, 56.15 JAWS
Claude Passeau, SP 189 WS, 57.7 JAWS
Jim Perry, SP 205 WS, 51.8 JAWS
Billy Pierce, SP 248 WS, 62.9 JAWS
Jack Quinn, SP 287 WS, 52.45 JAWS
Rick Reuschel, SP 240 WS, 74.55 JAWS
Steve Rogers, SP 182 WS, 51.05 JAWS
Eddie Rommel, SP 209 WS, 53.6 JAWS
Nap Rucker, SP 177 WS, 52.05 JAWS
Bret Saberhagen, SP 193 WS, 66.25 JAWS
Urban Shocker, SP 225 WS, 57.5 JAWS
Curt Simmons, SP 210 WS, 52.35 JAWS
Dave Stieb, SP 210 WS, 67.25 JAWS
Frank Tanana, SP 241 WS, 74.1 JAWS
Luis Tiant, SP 256 WS, 65.9 JAWS
Virgil Trucks, SP 198 WS, 50.8 JAWS
George Uhle, SP 231 WS, 51.95 JAWS
Fernando Valenzuela, SP 168 WS, 54.15 JAWS
Frank Viola, SP 187 WS, 59.6 JAWS
Bucky Walters, SP 251 WS, 66.7 JAWS
Lon Warneke, SP 220 WS, 56.85 JAWS
Bob Welch, SP 188 WS, 54.2 JAWS
Wilbur Wood, SP 190 WS, 60.5 JAWS

Relief Pitchers

Rick Aguilera, RP 147 WS, 45.5 JAWS
Steve Bedrosian, RP 119 WS, 34.35 JAWS
Dave Giusti, RP 118 WS, 34.3 JAWS
Goose Gossage, RP 223 WS, 59.45 JAWS
Tom Henke, RP 140 WS, 41.4 JAWS
Mike Henneman, RP 98 WS, 33.55 JAWS
Willie Hernandez, RP 109 WS, 35.75 JAWS
Mike Jackson, RP 124 WS, 36.6 JAWS
Mike Marshall, RP 146 WS, 47.65 JAWS
Tug McGraw, RP 158 WS, 40.7 JAWS
Stu Miller, RP 154 WS, 44.5 JAWS
Greg Minton, RP 111 WS, 35.35 JAWS
Jeff Montgomery, RP 134 WS, 45.3 JAWS
Robb Nenn, Rp 120 WS, 41.85 JAWS
Gregg Olson, RP 98 WS, 35.3 JAWS
Jesse Orosco, RP 140 WS, 44.45 JAWS
Ron Perranoski, RP 125 WS, 35.55 JAWS
Dan Plesac, RP 113 WS, 36.15 JAWS
Dan Quisenberry, RP 157 WS, 47.1 JAWS
Dick Radatz, RP 84 WS, 33.55 JAWS
Jeff Reardon, RP 157 WS, 41.9 JAWS
Lee Smith, RP 198 WS, 56.15 JAWS
Bob Stanley, RP 149 WS, 46.3 JAWS
Bruce Sutter, RP 168 WS, 44.4 JAWS
Kent Tekulve, RP 159 WS, 46.6 JAWS
John Wetteland, RP 130 WS, 43.65 JAWS

There you have it, the 89 pitchers who were eligible for auto induction. If you find anyone my eyes might have skipped across in my Total Baseball (just know that many modern pitchers hovering around the 150 WS mark were capable of producing JAWS scores high enough to get in, such as Candiotti and Gubicza) then alert me and I'll add them if they pass the test. From this point on, we may do some elections (after I move to SportsBlog Nation) for some of the players who juuuuust missed auto-induction, as well as inducting future retirees. But for now, this is it, 268 of the greatest non-Hall of Famer's in baseball history.


Link
 

From the Worldwide Leader in Sports....

Comedy.

Looking for the perfect player around which you can build your team? Start at the logical place: the top.

That was from Sean McAdam at ESPN.com, in this article from a few days ago.

Now I'm probably one of the biggest Ichiro supporters among stat-oriented fans out there. I think that the stats don't necessarily tell the whole story, we don't have good enough fielding metrics to show Ichiro's outfield prowess, the player that Ichiro has developed into is just what he decided to become and he could hit homers if he wanted, he's a menace on the basepaths, and he's the fastest guy in the game at getting down the line (you can have Crawford). If you're trying to make a list of the top players in the game, Ichiro's varied skillset would make him a tough person to leave out of consideration, even with his modest OPS totals.

But he's not Albert Pujols. He's not even close to Albert Pujols, who is superhuman. I wonder if McAdam drew a short straw or lost a coin flip or a quick round of rock-paper-scissors. You'd be hard pressed to find a player in history who has done what Pujols has done, much less a slap-hitting leadoff man. How could anyone volunteer for that assignment?

The 13th round draft pick Pujols played one minor league season. Just one. In A-Peoria, Pujols was impressive in 109 games, hitting .324/.387/.565 in a pitcher's park. He played a few games in AAA and did not crush the ball. For most players, you would have tossed out those numbers, saying, "he's just 20. He needs another year of development, probably in AA."

But not Pujols. Pujols hit well in the spring, but not overwhelmingly so, posting a .306 batting average and a .532 slugging percentage. These are very nice numbers, but for most minor leaguers, they would just be a taste, and the ticket to being a serious candidate for a September call-up, with another good year in the minors.

But not Pujols. Tony La Russa, for some reason, wanted Pujols. On Opening Day, 2001, Pujols batted 6th and played left field. He collected his first big league hit, a single. He was caught stealing. A modest start in Colorado, where the big story was Mike Hampton's gem. Mike Hampton had figured out Coors! Oh, the folly of following the results of one game.

Pujols left Coors' with a .111 batting average. He then rattled off a 14-game hit streak, and it began. Pujols' SLG never dropped below .589 as the season progressed, his OBP never below .388. For an entire season, the skeptics (read: me) waited for the other shoe to drop.

We're still waiting.

In his rookie season, he hit .329/.403/.610. If he keeps up his present pace, he'll have 200 homers by the end of the season (age 25). 300 homers by the age of 28. 400 by 30. 500 by 33. 33 years old, and he'll have 500 homers.

Is it any wonder that his #1 comparable by age has been Joe Dimaggio every single season?

Out of every set of numbers that Pujols will give you, I find that this little number is the most impressive:

BB/K

2001: 0.74
2002: 1.04
2003: 1.22
2004: 1.62

His discipline improves yearly, in leaps and bounds, even including his "down year" in 2002.

His other "curves" resemble this isolated power one: a bit of a step back in 2002, and a climb in 2003 and 2004.

ISO

2001: .281
2002: .247
2003: .308
2004: .326

Other trends would be essentially repetitive to post. In every offensive production category, his numbers are off the charts and seem to rise every single year.

There's no visible reason to think that Albert Pujols won't be the game's best player through his prime years, which, for most players, wouldn't have hit yet.

The safest thing to say would be if Pujols does for the next four years what he did for his first four years, he's pretty much a lock for Cooperstown. Six more years and he's definitely in.

Of course, I omit the most important aspect of this whole thing: Pujols is 25. Ichiro is 31. I'll take the 6 extra years.

If the question was "who is the more exciting baseball player?" I think that Ichiro would have a case. He's a joy to watch and The question was, "who would you rather build around?" and a leadoff hitter alone cannot provide you with an offense. Just look at Seattle, 2004.

So, yeah, back to that article:

Run producers? There's plenty of those around. But there's no one in the game who can do as many things as well as Ichiro does.

This is the best point that McAdam makes, but it's flawed. Ichiro may do a lot of things real well, but they don't win a ton of ballgames. Pujols's seemingly "common" skills do.

Pujols is the best player in the game not named Bonds. And Bonds is old. And it certainly would not surprise me if Pujols' doubles power becomes even more homer oriented.

One last number:

2001: 6.70
2002: 7.76
2003: 6.22
2004: 5.98

That's the number of at bats it takes Pujols, on average, to get an extra base hit. If you hold him down in two straight games, it's an accomplishment. Off the charts. And if one or two years, his doubles power jumps to homer power, which does happen, he just might be chasing Bonds, Aaron, Ruth, and A-Rod, ten years from now.

I like Ichiro, but Pujols is a budding legend. Wouldn't want to lose that for a leadoff hitter.

 

Kazmir vs. Zambrano and Mulder vs. Haren Part Deux

Updates on Kazmir vs. Zambrano and Mulder vs. Haren...

Scott Kazmir 2005
4 GS, 22.0 IP, 3.68 ERA, .241 BAA, 1.00 K/BB (12:12), 4.91 K/9, .248 BABIP
Last Seven Days: 7 IP, 5 K, 3 BB, 6.43 K/9

Victor Zambrano 2005
4 GS, 22.1 IP, 5.64 ERA, .337 BAA, 1.36 K/BB (19:14), 7.66 K/9, .401 BABIP
Last Seven Days: 11.1 IP, 9 K, 6 BB, 7.15 K/9

Zambrano's BAA and BABIP are extremely high, so his ERA is inflated somewhat. Considering Kazmir has a 3.68 ERA with the weak peripherals it is scary to think what he could do if he puts it altogether. Of course, his last start against the powerful Red Sox lineup went extremely well, so maybe he is starting to turn a corner. Or maybe he is a #5 starter who looks like a #1 everytime he faces Boston. It is hard to tell for now.

Mark Mulder 2005
4 GS, 29 IP, 3.10 ERA, .252 BAA, 2.00 K/BB (14:7), 4.34 K/9, .283 BABIP
Last Seven Days: 18 IP, 7 K, 3 BB, 3.50 K/9

Danny Haren 2005
4 GS, 23.2 IP, 4.56 ERA, .222 BAA, 1.54 K/BB (20:13), 7.61 K/9, .291 BABIP
Last Seven Days: 10.2 IP, 11 K, 7 BB, 9.28 K/9

Mulder looks to have improved somewhat , even though his K/9 continues to fall as time goes on. Mulder is a power pitcher who is going to start winning with smoke and mirrors before it all comes crashing down again. Why is it that Haren is the one with the power pitcher peripherals and Mulder looks like Kirk Rueter? For now Mulder is on top of this one, but only by a bit, and the farther he falls from power pitcher status the quicker his own status will drop.

I want to do some work on K/PA rather than K/9 on occasion, because it is a better indicator of strikeout rate. Consider this: Kazmir strikes out the side in a 1-2-3 inning. Zambrano strikes out the side but gives up 2 walks and a homerun in the meantime. Same exact K/9 rate, but Kazmir's K/PA would be 1.00 while Zambrano's would be 0.50. Kazmir's K/PA at the moment is .122 while Zambrano's is .170. In the other battle, Mulder's is .121 while Haren's stands at .190, the best of the bunch. From now on I'll use this statistic as well as K/9 in the peripherals of these 4 pitchers. I'll run another post later today, but I wanted to update this since everyone has accumulated a few starts since the last time I did it.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

 

Reds Outfield Situation

The Reds have a situation most teams would kill for; that is, to have too many very talented outfielders. Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr., Wily Mo Pena, and Austin Kearns all have different strengths and weaknesses, and all seem to be essential to this offense. So what does a Reds team with a struggling pitching staff (and at the moment, a surprisingly struggling offense) do? They are going to have to get creative:

1) Trade Sean Casey for a starting pitcher, and convert Adam Dunn to first base for good.

2) Trade one of three outfielders: Kearns, Griffey, or Pena.

3) Package Randa with either Casey or one of the outfielders to form a tasty pre-deadline treat for a team in need of some offense to gain some pitching.

4) Do something insane, like attempt to play Wily Mo Pena in the infield.

Something tells me #4 isn't going to pan out, although this is a team that can afford to be creative like so. Option #2 does not seem as open as it looks to be, as Kearns value is low due to injury and a slow start, and Griffey is a walking health question with a hefty contract. The one with the most trade value is one that Cinci does not want to part with. Does that leave #1 as the best option? Let's take a look at some figures...

Casey: .292/.355/.454; .064 MLVr, age 30
Griffey: .257/.353/.496; .085 MLVr, age 35
Pena: .278/.345/.524; .130 MLVr, age 23
Kearns: .283/.384/.496; .159 MLVr, age 25
Dunn: .270/.395/.565; .252 MLVr, age 25
Randa: .270/.332/.405; -.057 MLVR, age 35

Edwin Encarnacion (3B prospect): .255/.317/.420; -0.75 MLVr, age 22

I threw Encarnacion's numbers into the mix incase Randa gets traded.

From the numbers here, we can see a few things:

1) Dunn stays.
2) Pena is the next best power hitter
3) Kearns might be better all-around, but is a health risk
4) We know Griffey is too expensive to move
5) Randa's season numbers so far should help him overshoot his projection slightly, or atleast look attractive to a potential trade partner.
6) Casey is the worst first base option, popular choice or not.

So what do you do? Pena, Kearns and Dunn are all too young, with too much talent (not to mention MLVr potential) to let go, even for a good pitcher. Casey and Randa for a pitcher on the market seems to be the way to go, but who will be selling come July?

Peter Gammons, back in early April, listed these potential free agent pitchers:

A.J. Burnett, Fla
Chris Carpenter, StL
Matt Morris, StL
Brad Penny, LA
Jeff Weaver, LA
Tim Wakefield, Bos
Brett Tomko, SF
Tony Armas Jr., Wash
Jarrod Washburn, LAA

If I remember correctly, Carpenter and Morris got contract, and I know Wake did. That leaves Burnett (pitching amazingly so far) Brad Penny (will the Dodgers need some more offense by July?), Weaver (ditto), Brett Tomko (not worth it, but ya never know), and Tony Armas Jr., who is the Austin Kearns of starters. I refuse to mention Washburn, because he is not an impact starter.

The snag in a Burnett deal would be that Carlos Delgado guy playing first base in Florida, along with Mike Lowell manning the hot corner. No need for the services of Sean Casey and Joe Randa there. Los Angeles on the other hand, could use Casey at first if Choi is not working out yet. He still has some major holes in his swing, and I'm not even sure if his OBP will be able to save him in the end. Only time will tell, but Penny would be a nifty prize collected from players who in the long run in Cincinnati are useless. No offense to Sean Casey and a favorite of mine in Joe Randa, but the Dunn-Pena-Kearns trio is just something I cannot wait for. Who wants almost 100 homeruns and thanks to Dunn's and Kearns' walking abilities, an OBP of .370-380 from your three best hitters. Pena can't walk at all, but he can hit a ball real far. Not into Kentucky, like Dunn, but still pretty far. The Reds will have to be aggressive and try to snag Brad Penny from the Dodgers; DePodesta is always up for an interesting trade if it can benefit the Dodgers, and with the right prospect thrown into the deal the Reds might have themselves a real ace...you know, besides Eric Milton.

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