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March 28, 2006
BASEBALL: 2006 AL West EWSL Report
The second of six division previews, using Established Win Shares Levels as a jumping-off point. EWSL is explained here, and you should read that link before commenting on the method; 2006 revisions to the age adjustment are discussed here. Bear in mind as always that (1) EWSL is a record of past performance, adjusted by age to give an assessment of the available talent on hand; it is not an individualized projection system; (2) individual EWSL are rounded off but team totals are compiled from the unrounded figures; and (3) as demonstrated here in some detail, nearly all teams will win more games than their EWSL total because I'm only rating 23 players per team. Further disclaimers are in my AL East preview here.
Raw EWSL: 229.33 (76 W)
EWSL is much kinder to the A's this year than last, now that the pitching rotation has some experience under its belt. What's debatable here is (1) whether Street's age adjustment is overprojecting him (he'd have to be Eric Gagne to earn 23 Win Shares as a closer) and (2) whether Haren is unfairly downgraded relative to Joe Blanton; both are the same age and earned 13 WS last year, but Haren is penalized for pitching poorly at the major league level for two years while Blanton was in the minors. I still think that fact gives Haren an advantage.
The A's are deep: besides the listed players they have a credible major league 2B at AAA (Keith Ginter), a decent backup 2B in Marco Scutaro, they just acquired Brad Halsey, who had appeared slated for the D-Backs' rotation, and they have Kirk Saarloos and Dan Meyer in reserve at AAA, though Meyer, like Juan Cruz, may turn out to be yet another proof of the dictum to beware pitchers the Braves give up on.
I'm not sure I see Oakland beating the Angels this year, but this is definitely a team that will make the race neck-and-neck, at least. Much will depend on the health of Milton Bradley and Frank Thomas and the sophomore progress of Haren, Blanton, Street, Nick Swisher and Dan Johnson.
Raw EWSL: 234.33 (78 W)
Anderson's health is in doubt - plantar fascitis is a nasty, nasty ailment (it cost Mark McGwire years of his prime), and at last check the Angels were even considering reviving Tim Salmon, who's been in camp. In his best years, I thought Anderson was underrated by some analysts who failed to account for his remarkable durability, but that asset is a thing of the past.
I like Juan Rivera, but I'm not convinced that Mike Scioscia does. Rivera could top that Win Shares total easily with a full season in the lineup, and Kotchman will obviously do the same if he stays in the lineup all year. Those two are among the main reasons why this race is tighter than EWSL makes it look, and would be tighter if I used a playing time-adjusted system, although I'm leery of adjusting too strictly for playing time because you then miss the value of durability and a sizeable established track record.
I listed Quinlan as an outfielder because I had to put him somewhere, but obviously he's mainly a first baseman. I'm listing McPherson here because I expect him to get significant playing time notwithstanding the fact that he's starting the season at AAA. He's not Troy Glaus, but he's still a solid bat. Macier Izturis should fill that roster slot for now, while Esteban Yan is the likely 11th pitcher. We're probably a year away from the DP combo of Howie Kendrick and Brandon Wood.
I drafted Lackey in my Roto league on Saturday (more on that later), but it's possible that, like Escobar's 2004, 2005 was Lackey's career year rather than the start of something bigger.
Raw EWSL: 210.67 (70 W)
Oh, the things that a ballpark can do; Blalock has been vastly overrated by this park, but he's still young and talented; Dellucci's the same useful role player he's always been, but last season he smacked 29 homers (ditto Barajas); people are expecting revivals from Wilkerson and Nevin and a solid rookie year from Kinsler based mainly on the park; Millwood and Padilla look like ticking time bombs in this place. An extreme hitters' park starts out fun but ends up as a house of mirrors, leading its inhabitants to question reality.
You can add Frank Francisco to the bullpen mix if he remains healthy and doesn't throw any more chairs . . . Francisco Cordero and Fabio Castro should not be confused with AL pitchers Fernando Cabrera, Fausto Carmona or Francisco Cruceta. Cordero has been a mild disappointment of late, although some of that is the park; Castro is a Rule 5 guy, so even if he doesn't pan out he'll probably be around all year.
The Rangers' bottom line: probably slightly improved pitching, but not enough of it, and the offense isn't quite as scary as it looks.
Raw EWSL: 176.17 (59 W)
EWSL being a measure of established major league play, it is of limited use with a team like the Mariners except to point out that there isn't a lot of established major league talent here. If the imported catcher, Jumanji, lives up to predictions and doesn't turn into another Kaz Matsui (the Mariners, understandably, remain more bullish on Japanese imports than we Mets fans), and if the various rookies hold up, this still won't be a contender but it won't threaten 100 losses, either.
Borchard seems the logical replacement in center, if he can shake off his lifetime .191 batting average and reclaim his prospect status, for the injured Reed, who looks less like the new Tony Gwynn and more like the new Jeff Abbott. I remain somewhat upbeat about Reed, but the injury and the park are a bad combination for him.
I'd say time is due to catch up with some of the 40+ year old pitchers by now, but by all evidence it's already caught up with Moyer; the Mariners are just too pitching-poor to replace him. I do expect some great pitching from Soriano, if healthy.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:40 AM | Baseball 2006 | Baseball Studies | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)