Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 22, 2005

Part Four of my 2005 EWSL review (Established Win Shares Levels are explained here, the AL East EWSL report is here, the AL West EWSL report is here, the AL Central EWSL report is here, and the AL EWSL standings are here). Again, recall that the 23-man rosters used here will slightly depress the team win totals: as I demonstrated with the AL standings, the total EWSL for the league requires rounding up by about 7-10 wins per team.

Florida Marlins

RAW EWSL: 241.17 (80 Wins)
Adj EWSL: 246.10 (82 Wins)
Age Adj EWSL: 250.61 (84 Wins)

PosAgePlayerRaw EWSLAdj EWSLAge-Adj EWSL
C33Paul LoDuca202014
1B33Carlos Delgado242416
2B29Luis Castillo212118
SS28Alex Gonzalez151517
3B31Mike Lowell242421
RF29Juan Encarnacion141412
CF27Juan Pierre212122
LF22Miguel Cabrera151832
C229Matt Treanor+006
INF35Damion Easley553
OF39Jeff Conine171714
1332Wilson Delgado333
1426Chris Aguila+006
SP125Josh Beckett9912
SP223Dontrelle Willis#101215
SP328AJ Burnett667
SP439Al Leiter11119
SP531Ismael Valdez554
CL31Guillermo Mota11119
R233Antonio Alfonseca664
R328Nate Bump111
R437Todd Jones554
R530Matt Perisho221

Yeah, you could've knocked me over with a feather: the Marlins in first place? (Just wait until we get lower in the division). When you look at the roster, with solid players all over the lineup and good young starting pitching, it makes a lot more sense, especially when you remember that they are just a year removed from winning it all. Still, there may be a playing time glitch with the outfield - Conine and Aguila can't get that many Win Shares if Cabrera, Pierre and Encarnacion are playing that regularly, and Delgado's arrival means that Cabrera and Conine are done playing first base except in emergencies.

If you looked carefully at the AL, you'd see that the top age-adjusted EWSL for any player was 28 for A-Rod, Mark Teixeira and Adrian Beltre; the steep youth adjustment for a 22-year-old pushes Cabrera ahead of that, and he doesn't even rate as the top player in the NL East (and just wait until we get to Pujols and Bonds).

If you look at Defense Independent Pitching Stats for 2004, one pitcher towers above all others as far as his ERA overstating how well he actually pitched in 2004: Al Leiter, who has returned to the control issues of his youth (now more from excessive nibbling at the corners) while striking out fewer and fewer batters - K/BB of 117/97 last year in 173.2 IP. It's been inspirational watching Leiter squeeze the last drops out of his declining abilities, but the jig should be about up this season.

Philadelphia Phillies

RAW EWSL: 261.67 (87 Wins)
Adj EWSL: 268.97 (90 Wins)
Age Adj EWSL: 247.30 (82 Wins)

PosAgePlayerRaw EWSLAdj EWSLAge-Adj EWSL
C33Mike Lieberthal12129
1B34Jim Thome272723
2B26Chase Utley#677
SS26Jimmy Rollins222223
3B32David Bell151513
RF31Bobby Abreu333328
CF38Kenny Lofton131311
LF28Pat Burrell151517
C238Todd Pratt554
INF29Placido Polanco171715
OF29Jason Michaels887
1331Tomas Perez444
1427Marlon Byrd81010
SP128Randy Wolf101012
SP235Jon Lieber774
SP327Vicente Padilla999
SP433Cory Lidle775
SP524Brett Myers556
CL33Billy Wagner13139
R237Tim Worrell998
R324Ryan Madson5911
R438Rheal Cormier887
R532Terry Adams665

Probably the real class of the division, and trailing the Marlins only by a hair when EWSL is adjusted for age. Removing Bowa from the picture should improve the Phillies' outlook, although the starting pitching is still highly suspect, and Citizens Bank Park doesn't help that. Seriously, late September, pennant race tied, key series between Florida and Philly - don't you have to pick the Marlins, with the starters they can throw out there?

Rany Jazayerli penned a nice tribute to Abreu on the Baseball Prospectus site (subscription only), although "A Star No One Sees" is a bit dramatic, as few BP readers are likely to be unaware that Abreu is a superstar. He pushed his value to new heights last season by improving the little things - 40 steals in 45 tries, career high in walks, just 5 GIDP in over 700 plate appearances (while batting with enough men on base to drive in 105 runs).

Kenny Lofton is likely to disappoint, so Byrd and Michaels will have opportunities to pick up playing time; Byrd, age 27 and stock at an all-time low, could be a sleeper in some NL fantasy leagues. Polanco has some of the same playing time issues as Conine with the Marlins, but (1) that offsets the fact that Utley is rated only on part-time play and (2) Polanco could get playing time at third if Bell struggles or gets hurt (or if Thome goes down, and Bell slides over to first). Doesn't "Chase Utley" sound like the snooty boyfriend in a John Hughes movie?

Washington Nationals

RAW EWSL: 206.50 (69 Wins)
Adj EWSL: 214.60 (72 Wins)
Age Adj EWSL: 222.03 (74 Wins)

PosAgePlayerRaw EWSLAdj EWSLAge-Adj EWSL
C28Brian Schneider141417
1B26Nick Johnson101011
2B30Jose Vidro171716
SS27Cristian Guzman141414
3B37Vinny Castilla131311
RF29Jose Guillen181815
CF28Brad Wilkerson202023
LF28Termel Sledge*81518
C233Gary Bennett332
INF33Wil Cordero553
OF27Endy Chavez9910
1330Jamey Carroll554
1428Henry Mateo#111
SP130Livan Hernandez181817
SP233Esteban Loaiza11118
SP327Zach Day666
SP427Tony Armas333
SP529Tomo Ohka887
CL23Chad Cordero*61013
R227Luis Ayala#81010
R328Joe Horgan*245
R426TJ Tucker555
R532Antonio Osuna444

Third place? Not likely, but EWSL sees this team as nearly even with the Mets and Braves. I'm not sure this lineup works defensively, but anything they can do to keep Chavez on the bench and Johnson in the lineup will help. Castilla is aging better than expected, although he's still not that good, even with all the RBI he had last year at Colorado. . . If Frank Howard can be the "Capitol Punisher," will Nick Johnson be "the Filibuster"?

New York Mets

RAW EWSL: 204.83 (68 Wins)
Adj EWSL: 220.63 (74 Wins)
Age Adj EWSL: 215.15 (72 Wins)

PosAgePlayerRaw EWSLAdj EWSLAge-Adj EWSL
C36Mike Piazza131311
1B31Doug Mientkiewicz121010
2B29Kaz Matsui*71412
SS22Jose Reyes#7814
3B22David Wright*5916
RF32Mike Cameron191917
CF28Carlos Beltran292934
LF32Cliff Floyd161614
C229Ramon Castro111
INF31Miguel Cairo887
OF28Eric Valent*367
1331Marlon Anderson776
1429Chris Woodward665
SP133Pedro Martinez181813
SP239Tom Glavine131311
SP330Kris Benson666
SP429Victor Zambrano997
SP531Kaz Ishii665
CL30Braden Looper111110
R229Scott Strickland221
R334Mike DeJean444
R427Matt Ginter111
R530Felix Heredia443

On the whole, it's not hard to see, looking player by player, why the Mets have the greatest upside and downside from these figures than any team in the division. The key to the team becoming a legitimate contender is Reyes and Matsui exceeding the numbers above, but they could just as easily be hurt again . . . you'd think Wright should do better, but the age 22 multiplier assumes that players his age are often transitioning from half- to full-season play; 16 Win Shares isn't an unfair expectation for a 22 year old in his first full season, no matter how talented . . . Pedro last year, even in an off year, had the second-highest strikeouts-per-inning of any 32-year-old pitcher in the game's history, higher than Clemens or Ryan at the same age (but behind Hideo Nomo, so maybe that doesn't mean so much).

The teams here are close enough that the Mets would be rated in third last week before downgrading from Trachsel and Phillips to Ishii and Castro, although they'd be behind Philly and Florida if you added two wins for the difference between Minky (10 WS) and Delgado (16). Or so I tell myself, but Delgado does seem a much better candidate to rebound to where he was two or three years ago than Minky.

Bear in mind once again that, where there are questions about players on the end of the bench/bullpen, I err on the side of the more established player; Victor Diaz will also be in the mix, and the bullpen's still unsettled.

Atlanta Braves

RAW EWSL: 208.67 (70 Wins)
Adj EWSL: 213.67 (71 Wins)
Age Adj EWSL: 214.35 (71 Wins)

PosAgePlayerRaw EWSLAdj EWSLAge-Adj EWSL
C29Johnny Estrada11118
1B25Adam LaRoche*4811
2B27Marcus Giles191920
SS27Rafael Furcal222223
3B33Chipper Jones232316
RF34Raul Mondesi776
CF28Andruw Jones222226
LF38Brian Jordan665
C237Eddie Perez443
INF24Wilson Betemit+006
OF25Ryan Langerhans+006
1346Julio Franco998
1429Roosevelt Brown000
SP129Tim Hudson202017
SP238John Smoltz141412
SP332Mike Hampton998
SP431John Thomson11119
SP525Horacio Ramirez#568
CL30Danny Kolb887
R227Chris Reitsma777
R331Kevin Gryboski444
R433Gabe White332
R535Tom Martin332

"You predicted the Braves to finish last?"

"Well, see, I have this system . . . "

"Must be something wrong with the system."

I should probably add an arbitrary adjustment that starts the Braves at 100 wins regardless of who the players are. But as long as I'm rating them by the same system as everyone else, last place it is, albeit by just a hair behind Washington and the Mets. Everyone gets bad breaks, but the Braves always seem to save theirs for October, so it's always a question of what can go right, not wrong. It's not hard to see how they beat these numbers: Marcus Giles, Hudson and Smoltz stay healthy for a full season. One or two of the bullpen castoffs has the usual 1.80 ERA. Mondesi and Jordan break down but get replaced by Langerhans and Chipper in the corners, and Andy Marte comes up to play third.

Or, they could be the 1965 Yankees.

I didn't realize until just now that Chipper's 33. Time does fly . . . I'll get to this another day, but someone should do a study now that we actually have a fairly large number of examples of starters who became closers and then went back to starting (Derek Lowe, Kelvim Escobar, etc.)

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:21 AM | Baseball 2005 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (2)

Damn, I had a long reply and your server ate it (got a sudden "server could not be found").


I mentioned how after Pete Palmer published linear weights, Cal Ripken put together a season that, by the published methods, ended up being calculated as the second greatest season by anyone ever.

Sometimes, some numbers just hit a soft spot in a model.

I think it is highly likely the Braves will do better, for many of the reasons you specified. Odds are "One or two of the bullpen castoffs has the usual 1.80 ERA", because Mazzone always pulls this off. Odds are that if Hudson or Smoltz break down, someone will step in, because Mazzone always pulls that off. Odds are either Langerhans or Marte or both will make a splash, because the Braves always seem to get one of their big name prospects to hit just when they need them to.

But then, the odds are that eventually they will not have their usual miracles occur.

I think that after last year's fall for the Braves did not occur, some folks have decided that gravity does not apply to them. It would not shock me at all if this year's Braves play to last year's expectations.

But it also would not shock me to see them defy gravity for another year.

Posted by: Gerry at March 22, 2005 10:35 AM

"I will not pick against the Braves in the regular season."
Repeat 13 times.

Posted by: Dr. Manhattan at March 22, 2005 11:28 AM

Interesting fodder for debate, and I'm glad that you didn't tweak the system to make it fit the preconcieved notions. That being said, is there any way that Atlanta finishes _last_? I mean, even if they don't compete for the flag, they're better than the Nationals, fancy numbers or not.

One prediction that sticks out to me is Estrada. Johnny had 19 win shares last year. Is he really going to be less than half as valuable this year? If he stays about as bad with the glove (3WS), then he'd have to lose 10 batting win shares over the course of the season. I don't see him being this bad.

Posted by: Jay at March 22, 2005 11:56 AM

Well I have to say I don't think much of this system. The way it ranks the division is completely upside down. I think Braves-Mets-Nationals-Phillies-Marlins is a thousand times more likely than the other way around. Though I think the Mets have an excellent chance to unseat the Braves this year, it's just crazy to list the Braves coming in last under any system.

Posted by: TJR at March 22, 2005 6:38 PM

I'm glad to see some love for the Nats!

At any rate, it seems like one of two things is going to happen... They're either going to play Endy Chavez full time, or they're going to trade for someone -- the latest rumor is Cinci's Wily Mo Pena.

The Wilkerson/Sledge CF/LF combo would be solid offensively, but, as you note, probably a disaster defensively.

I'd also suspect that the troike of pitchers, Ohka, Armas and Day will have at least one or two 'breakout' performance, simply because one or more of them is due to stay healthy for a full year.

But, I'm sure every other team you've listed could say the same. It'll be interesting to see how this shakes out. Every prediction system I've seen has had it differently!

Posted by: Chris Needham at March 23, 2005 7:25 PM

Hey IDIOT if the braves finish last I guess it will be the end of the world. But you have your head shoved so far up your ass you cant even see the Braves have won for the last Decade and a half913 years) You are such a F@@cking Idiot

Posted by: Bob at March 31, 2005 11:07 AM

its midseason now and doesn't look like the braves will finish last dumbass

Posted by: bob at June 29, 2005 9:07 PM

Systems and statistical predictions do not apply to the Braves.....obviously

(Posted by Tim Beck and reposted by site administrator following resolution of problem with comments)

Posted by: The Crank at September 6, 2005 4:10 PM
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