Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 5, 2007
BASEBALL: 2007 NL East EWSL Report

The fourth 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; 2007 revisions to the age adjustment discussed here and rookie adjustments 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 and 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 and explanations are in my AL East preview here; my AL Central preview is here, AL West is here.

New York Mets

Raw EWSL: 243 (81 W)
Adjusted: 251 (84 W)
Age-Adj.: 226 (75 W)

C35Paul LoDuca1511
1B35Carlos Delgado2416
2B37Jose Valentin116
SS24Jose Reyes2025
3B24David Wright2532
RF34Shawn Green1413
CF30Carlos Beltran2927
LF40Moises Alou179
C231Ramon Castro33
INF37Damion Easley74
OF29Endy Chavez98
1222Lastings Milledge*29
1348Julio Franco63
SP141Tom Glavine1413
SP241Orlando Hernandez76
SP335John Maine#34
SP425Oliver Perez44
SP523Mike Pelfrey+05
RP135Billy Wagner149
RP228Aaron Heilman78
RP330Pedro Feliciano44
RP423Ambiorix Burgos#33
RP533Scott Schoeneweis64

I've been super-conservative with the Mets projections, leaving Pedro Martinez, Duaner Sanchez, Guillermo Mota and Juan Padilla entirely out of the picture. Also on hand is sidearming rookie ROOGY Joe Smith to replace Chad Bradford, plus David Newhan, Anderson Hernandez and an unusual number of guys with major league track records or who are as major league ready as they will ever be in the wings: Jorge Sosa, Aaron Sele, Chan Ho Park, Jon Adkins, Dave Williams, Jason Vargas, Anderson Hernandez, and Ben Johnson (Alay Soler, who looked to be in the same boat, was cut in the spring and has been snapped up by the Pirates).

The Mets should justifiably be the favorites this year, despite the fact that numerous key players are unlikely to repeat last season (especially Lo Duca, Chavez, Valentin and Feliciano). They still have the young core of Wright and Reyes, they still have Beltran and Delgado, and the pitching staff, if healthy, should be adequate despite the palpable absence of a legitimate #1 starter.

Philadelphia Phillies

Raw EWSL: 212 (71 W)
Adjusted: 234 (78 W)
Age-Adj.: 226 (75 W)

C31Rod Barajas97
1B27Ryan Howard#1823
2B28Chase Utley2324
SS28Jimmy Rollins2425
3B31Wes Helms86
RF26Shane Victorino*613
CF29Aaron Rowand1312
LF30Pat Burrell1817
C228Carlos Ruiz*12
INF31Abraham Nunez65
OF28Jayson Werth55
1234Chris Coste*47
1324Michael Bourn+04
SP126Brett Myers1111
SP223Cole Hamels*48
SP331Freddy Garcia1513
SP444Jamie Moyer1010
SP529Adam Eaton54
RP139Tom Gordon119
RP226Ryan Madson66
RP330Geoff Geary65
RP435Antonio Alfonseca21
RP537Jon Lieber98

Also on hand on the pitching side: Fabio Castro, Clay Condrey, and at AAA Scott Mathieson.

It's worth noting here that Howard, Utley and Rollins, the Phillies' core offensive players, are (respectively) three, four and four years older than David Wright, Jose Reyes and Miguel Cabrera, who in turn are a year older than Brian McCann and Hanley Ramirez, who in turn are a year older than Ryan Zimmerman (Burrell is two years older than Utley and Rollins). Granted, the key pitchers (Hamels and Myers) are younger than that, but this is not an up-and-coming team relative to the rest of the division; their future is now.

That said, the present looks solid - Hamels and Myers give them the chance to have the best 1-2 pitching punch in the division, the talent on hand is mostly prime-age, and the rotation and lineup have soft spots but no glaring holes. The Phils would be division favorites but for the disastrous Bobby Abreu deal, which leaves them with a significantly weaker outfield than the Mets or Braves, both of whom have an anchoring superstar in center. Even without Abreu, they should give the Mets a serious rival.

Florida Marlins

Raw EWSL: 145 (48 W)
Adjusted: 211 (70 W)
Age-Adj.: 239 (80 W)
Subjective Adj.: 224 (75 W)

C28Miguel Olivo1010
1B26Mike Jacobs#810
2B27Dan Uggla*1225
SS23Hanley Ramirez*1336
3B24Miguel Cabrera2937
RF23Jeremy Hermida*49
CF22Alejandro de Aza+011
LF28Josh Willingham*715
C231Matt Treanor33
INF34Aaron Boone76
OF28Joe Borchard22
1229Alfredo Amezaga32
1330Alex Sanchez22
SP125Dontrelle Willis1618
SP223Anibal Sanchez*510
SP323Scott Olsen*510
SP424Ricky Nolasco*35
SP522Josh Johnson*612
RP128Jorge Julio55
RP224Taylor Tankersley*35
RP329Kevin Gregg43
RP423Randy Messenger#11
RP526Sergio Mitre11

Also on hand: Cody Ross, Eric Reed, Reggie Abercrombie, Henry Owens, and Nate Field. Jorge Julio has solved the question of who would claim the Marlin closer job, but don't be surprised to see Owens grab a significant late-inning role - the Mets gave up on him due to a single bad outing last season, but Owens has some nasty stuff.

I'm applying the subjective adjustments here downward - Josh Johnson down to 9 WS to reflect his injury status, Ramirez to 27 and Uggla to 22 to reflect the problem I identified with Melky Cabrera in the Yankees comment of over-projecting improvement based upon one single season of play. In Uggla's case, I just don't think he can improve on last season; Ramirez may really be a 36-WS player someday but I don't see him taking that dramatic a step forward all at once. Without those adjustments, this would be listed as the first-place team.

Two main questions linger about the Marlins, those being the pitching staff and the outfield. On the former, Dontrelle Willis will be solid, but we don't know if he will return to his elite status from 2005, and almost everyone else in the rotation is still a seriously unknown quantity. As to the latter, Willingham is dependable but we don't know what direction the injured Jeremy Hermida will go in (Hermida has major offensive talent but hasn't hit the ball with authority in the bigs yet) or what to make of de Aza, the latest center field experiment (the presence of Alex Sanchez should tell you all you need to know about the Marlins' own uncertainty at that position).

My guess is that this is the year that Cabrera becomes a really big time 40+ home run hitter.

Atlanta Braves

Raw EWSL: 182 (61 W)
Adjusted: 200 (67 W)
Age-Adj.: 199 (66 W)
Subjective Adj.: 207 (69 W)

C23Brian McCann#1322
1B25Scott Thorman*13
2B25Kelly Johnson#35
SS31Edgar Renteria1715
3B35Chipper Jones2014
RF23Jeff Francouer#1220
CF30Andruw Jones2119
LF27Ryan Langerhans#810
C225Brayan Pena+14
INF31Chris Woodward33
OF30Craig Wilson98
1229Matt Diaz#55
1324Willy Aybar#58
SP140John Smoltz1615
SP231Tim Hudson119
SP325Chuck James*49
SP433Mark Redman64
SP526Lance Cormier22
RP138Bob Wickman86
RP229Mike Gonzalez98
RP327Rafael Soriano44
RP425Oscar Villereal44
RP524Macay McBride#22

Also on hand: Pete Orr, Kyle Davies, Mike Hampton (both injured), Chad Paronto, Tanyan Sturtze, Tyler Yates, and Peter Moylan. I used subjective adjustments to bump up both Thorman and Kelly Johnson to 8 WS to reflect the fact that their EWSL numbers reflect very little playing time; 8 is a conservative measure but I try to limit the size of the subjective adjustments when possible, since they are based on pure speculation (plus, Thorman will be platooned with Craig Wilson, while Johnson may well lose his job to Aybar once Aybar is healthy). Either way, Atlanta's offense will miss Marcus Giles and Adam LaRoche; I have trouble seeing this as an elite offensive team.

EWSL still projects Francouer, solely on the basis of his youth, to develop significantly; I think that's possible but his strike zone judgment is so terrible that I can easily see him playing his last season as an everyday player around age 25.

On the whole, last season has stripped the Braves of the air of invulnerability that says that we just know that everything will turn out better for them than it looks on paper. Hudson in particular is now just another pitcher trying to make ends meet, and if Smoltz goes down, things get grim indeed. Oddly, the bullpen, last year's Achilles heel, could be an elite pen this year with the addition of Gonzalez and Soriano.

Washington Nationals

Raw EWSL: 94 (31 W)
Adjusted: 110 (37 W)
Age-Adj.: 139 (46 W)
Subjective Adj.: 115 (38 W)

C30Brian Schneider1312
1B28Nick Johnson2021
2B27Felipe Lopez1617
SS29Cristian Guzman54
3B22Ryan Zimmerman*1354
RF27Austin Kearns1314
CF27Nook Logan33
LF28Ryan Church#79
C222Jesus Flores+04
INF33Dmitri Young65
OF25Chris Snelling#13
1232Ron Belliard1512
1333Robert Fick32
SP129John Patterson65
SP226Shawn Hill*11
SP325Jerome Williams34
SP424Matt Chico+05
SP533Jason Simontacchi00
RP125Chad Cordero1315
RP229Luis Ayala44
RP328Jon Rauch56
RP424Ryan Wagner11
RP529Jesus Colome21

I cut down Zimmerman, the most egregious of the 1-year guys, from 54 (!) win shares to a still-optimistic 30, but didn't bother with other subjective tweaks even despite Nick Johnson's injury; basically, this team will have to manufacture wins ex nihilo, because there is nearly no talent on hand with any kind of established track record you could rely on. You have to work really hard to lose 115 or more games - the odds say the Nationals catch some breaks somewhere and end up closer to 108 losses - but the Law of Competitive Balance is pretty much the only reason to think they won't lose that many. This will very likely be the worst team in baseball; there is hope for at least modest improvement in Tampa, Kansas City and Pittsburgh, but not Washington.

The infield will be much better off if Cristian Guzman can reclaim his 2006 form as early in the season as possible, and he appears well on his way. The thumping the Nats took for the first two and a half games of their series with Florida is indicative of the pitching, especially if John Patterson - their one potential quality starter - doesn't have a full, healthy season. It's gonna be a long summer.

Check out the prior EWSL reports for the NL East: 2004, 2005, 2006.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:13 AM | Baseball 2007 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

I think the Braves might actually be a more pesky concern for the Mets than the Phils. I'm in disagreement with a lot of people, it seems, but I think the Phils pitching is vastly overrated. I can see their 3-5 being pathetically weak. If the Braves get anythihgn out of Hudson and Hampton, then watch out. That said, the Mets should still take it.

The Nats are just sad to watch. I went to the game Tuesday and it was like watching a poor minor league team. They weren't even fully prepared on the fundamentals, with the pitcher failing to cover first on a double play ball, and both the shortstop and second baseman taking the relay throw, leaving no one to cover second on a Cabrera double. They do have a decent shot of beating the 1962 Mets mark, that's how bad they are.

Posted by: paul zummo at April 5, 2007 10:00 AM

I think Reyes'll earn more than 27 win shares, but otherwise sounds about right.

Miggy Cabrera should be the best player in the NL East (maybe the NL) this season. But Beltran, Zimmerman, Wright, Reyes and definitley Hanley Ramirez'll give him a run for his money.

Oh, and can we log Tom Gordon in at -9 wins shares. ;-P

Posted by: Mike at April 5, 2007 10:20 AM
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