Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 11, 2011
BASEBALL: 2011 AL West EWSL Report

So, my blogging time has been sorely constrained by family and other circumstances this year, but for the record I intend to get posted the numbers behind my annual divisional previews, even if the season's underway and I can't contribute the same level of analysis as usual.

So, Part 1 of my preseason previews is the AL West; this is the first of six division previews, using Established Win Shares Levels as a jumping-off point. Notes and reference links on the EWSL method are below the fold; while EWSL is a simple enough method that will be familiar to long-time readers, it takes a little introductory explaining, so I'd suggest you check out the explanations first if you're new to these previews. I've also resurrected for this season the team ages, which are weighted by non-age-adjusted EWSL, so the best players count more towards determining the age of the roster.

Some players are rated based on less than three seasons or given a rookie rating. Key:
+ (Rookie)
* (Based on one season)
# (Based on two seasons)

Texas Rangers
Raw EWSL: 226.17 (89 W)
Adjusted: 247.63 (96 W)
Age-Adj.: 248.05 (96 W)
Subj. Adj.: 240.05 (93 W)
WS Age: 29.27
2011 W-L: 93-63

C32Yorvit Torrealba108
1B25Mitch Moreland*37
2B29Ian Kinsler1918
SS22Elvis Andrus#1636
3B32Adrian Beltre1915
RF30Nelson Cruz1614
CF25Julio Borbon#710
LF30Josh Hamilton2321
DH34Michael Young1715
C229Mike Napoli1111
INF27Andres Blanco#33
OF29David Murphy1313
1325Chris Davis45
SP130CJ Wilson1210
SP231Colby Lewis*710
SP324Tommy Hunter#811
SP424Derek Holland#23
SP532Brandon Webb43
RP123Naftali Feliz#1013
RP227Alexi Ogando*35
RP328Darren O'Day87
RP441Arthur Rhodes75
RP540Darren Oliver85

Subjective Adjustments: As noted last season, primary reason why I added subjective adjustments was what I think of as the Khalil Greene problem, since he's one of the first (but not the last) second-year shortstops to exhibit it: EWSL assesses a very young hitter as having a lot of rapid room for growth, but as a result it tends to overvalue second- and even third-year hitters who are (1) under age 25 and (2) have a disproportionate amount of their value in their gloves. Nobody improves that much defensively from a good start in one year. Last year, EWSL had Elvis Andrus jumping up from 17 to 21 Win Shares, which I trimmed back to 19. He actually earned 20, so the slight adjustment sort of split the difference. This year, at age 22, EWSL assumes that he'll leap forward to 36 Win Shares, and while a significant improvement at the plate is indeed a real possibility for Andrus (who slugged .301 last year), that's just ridiculous, so I used the subjective adjustment to cut him back 8 to 28.

I rated Lewis as a rookie last season, since his pre-Japan stats no longer seem relevant to his current prospects.

Also on Hand: Position players - Craig Gentry. The Rangers have not used much depth thus far, playing only 12 non-pitchers.

Pitchers - Matt Harrison, Mark Lowe, Masin Tobin, Pedro Strop, Scott Feldman, David Bush, Michael Kirkman. Harrison's currently in the rotation subbing for Hunter, and Lowe has seen significant action in the pen.

Analysis: EWSL can be a leading indicator with the decay of old teams or the gradual growth of young lineups, but by definition it's a trailing indicator when a team has a bunch of people take big leaps forward, especially pitchers, and thus the Rangers appear a year later as a much stronger team. The Rangers have live arms and bullpen depth, and hope to replay last season's success in finding good roles for everyone on the staff. I join the general consensus that the future is much brighter for Derek Holland's power arm than Tommy Hunter, currently on the DL, despite Hunter's greater success last season.

The Angels

Raw EWSL: 217.33 (86 W)
Adjusted: 237.37 (92 W)
Age-Adj.: 211.48 (84 W)
WS Age: 30.43
2011 W-L: 84-78

C28Jeff Mathis44
1B25Mark Trumbo+011
2B27Howie Kendrick1718
SS27Erick Aybar1414
3B30Macier Izturis1110
RF35Torii Hunter2216
CF24Peter Bourjous*24
LF32Vernon Wells1612
DH37Bobby Abreu2114
C228Bobby Wilson*23
INF28Alberto Callaspo1212
OF30Reggie Willits22
1328Kendry Morales1212
SP128Jered Weaver1716
SP230Danny Haren1714
SP328Ervin Santana1211
SP432Joel Pineiro108
SP527Scott Kazmir44
RP123Jordan Walden*12
RP234Fernando Rodney76
RP335Scott Downs86
RP436Hisanori Takahashi*58
RP526Kevin Jepsen45

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Hank Conger is probably going to win a bigger share in the long run of the catching job than Wilson or possibly Mathis due to his bat, but for EWSL purposes it doesn't really matter. Brandon Wood, still struggling with the bat and currently subbing for the injured Aybar. Outfield prospect Mike Trout.

Pitchers - Jason Bulger, Rich Thompson, Michael Kohn, Matt Palmer, Tyler Chatwood.

Analysis: EWSL may overrate the Angels for having depth of everyday players like Morales and Callaspo, but Morales' 2010 pretty well illustrated why that depth is needed. This team is a classic Scioscia team, a lot of guys in their prime who play both sides of the ball soldily, not a real dominant hitter in the lineup.

For fantasy players, Rodney illustrates yet again why you don't draft bad pitchers just because they have closer jobs; they often lose them immediately as a result of being bad pitchers.

Oakland A's

Raw EWSL: 217.83 (86 W)
Adjusted: 225.97 (89 W)
Age-Adj.: 211.31 (84 W)
WS Age: 29.17
2011 W-L: 84-78

C27Kurt Suzuki1414
1B25Daric Barton1417
2B34Mark Ellis1513
SS27Cliff Pennington#1215
3B29Kevin Kouzmanoff1111
RF31David DeJesus1512
CF31Coco Crisp109
LF32Josh Willingham1310
DH37Hideki Matsui1811
C229Landon Powell#33
INF29Conor Jackson55
OF26Ryan Sweeney1011
1327Andy LaRoche56
SP123Brett Anderson#710
SP223Trevor Cahill#1014
SP327Dallas Braden98
SP425Gio Gonzalez89
SP527Brandon McCarthy22
RP127Andrew Bailey#1112
RP235Brian Fuentes107
RP333Grant Balfour75
RP431Brad Ziegler75
RP527Jerry Blevins22

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Chris Carter, Adam Rosales, Eric Sogard. Jackson's an outfielder now, but I listed him in infield.

Pitchers - Michael Wuertz, Rich Harden, Joey Devine, Craig Breslow, Tyson Ross, Josh Outman. It's a deep pen, like those of Texas and the Angels.

Analysis: Moneyball seems like a long time ago, doesn't it? A common theme on the West Coast: the Oakland Mausoleum is such a pitchers' park that it's tempting to overstate how promising the A's young pitchers are and how punchless their offense is, but this is a pitching and defense team no matter how you slice it.

Seattle Mariners

Raw EWSL: 181.33 (74 W)
Adjusted: 197.27 (79 W)
Age-Adj.: 178.64 (73 W)
WS Age: 30.29
2011 W-L: 73-89

C32Miguel Olivo108
1B24Justin Smoak*49
2B33Jack Wilson65
SS29Brendan Ryan99
3B33Chone Figgins1614
RF37Ichiro Suzuki2415
CF28Franklin Guitierrez1515
LF33Milton Bradley87
DH32Jack Cust1411
C227Adam Moore*23
INF35Adam Kennedy118
OF31Ryan Langerhans22
1324Michael Saunders#35
SP125Felix Hernandez2225
SP228Jason Vargas66
SP327Doug Fister#55
SP422Michael Pineda+04
SP532Erik Bedard43
RP129David Aardsma108
RP228Brandon League65
RP329Chris Ray32
RP436Jamey Wright33
RP526Joshua Lueke+05

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Luis Rodriguez, Josh Bard, Dustin Ackley, Mike Carp.

Pitchers - Manny Delcarmen, David Pauley, Cesar Jimenez, Nate Robertson.

Analysis: This is what it looks like when you bet the ranch on winning a weak division and you fail. The Mariners are stuck winding down a team that has little short-term upside (although Smoak and Pineda could still have real upside) and a bunch of veterans who never contributed much in Seattle and have minimal trade value. Watching Ichiro and King Felix will be the main source of entertainment in Seattle for a while.

The Method

For those of you who are unfamiliar, EWSL is explained here, and you should read that link before commenting on the method; 2011 revisions to the age and rookie adjustments are discussed here.

Bear in mind as always that (1) EWSL is a record of past performance, adjusted by age to give a probabalistic assessment of the available talent on hand; it is not an individualized projection system - EWSL tells you what you should reasonably expect to happen this year if there are no surprises, rather than shedding light on how to spot the surprises before they happen; (2) individual EWSL are rounded off but team totals are compiled from the unrounded figures; and (3) as demonstrated here, here, here, here, 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. (I'm not convinced going to 24 or 25 would make the system more useful, since it would tend to overrate teams that stuff their back bench slots with aging ex-regulars). That said, I also don't adjust for available playing time, since as a general rule, teams that have excess depth of players with established track records are better off than those that are stretching to cover their whole roster with guys who have proven they can do the job. The line for each team's estimated 2011 W-L record adds EWSL plus 39.8 Win Shares, which is the average number of Win Shares by the rest of the team's roster (i.e., the players other than the 23 listed before the season) over the teams I have tracked the past five seasons (it went up this season, as explained here).

As always, the depth charts here are drawn from multiple sources (my starting point was the depth charts at Baseball, as well as USA Today's Baseball Weekly, and I've also worked from the actual playing time thus far in April, all modified by press reports and my own assessments) to list the guys who will end up doing the work. I take responsibility for any errors; a lot can still change.

Check out previous AL West previews from 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005 and 2004.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:00 PM | Baseball 2011 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Crank, can you provide the links to the "introductory explanations"? I want to get deeper into Sabermetrics and Crankism numbers. please email to, I agree re Bonds in that I do not favor prosecutions that fail to even try, much less prove, the underlying charges. Reminds of political spec prosecutors.

Posted by: Mike gamecock DeVine at April 18, 2011 7:49 PM
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