Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 14, 2011
BASEBALL: 2011 AL East EWSL Report

Part 2 of my preseason previews is the AL East; this is the second 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.

Prior preview: AL West.

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)

Boston Red Sox

Raw EWSL: 278.00 (106 W)
Adjusted: 280.43 (107 W)
Age-Adj.: 246.27 (95 W)
WS Age: 30.60
2011 W-L: 95-67

1B29Adrian Gonzalez3332
2B27Dustin Pedroia1819
SS35Marco Scutaro1713
3B32Kevin Youkilis2319
RF35JD Drew1511
CF27Jacoby Ellsbury1011
LF29Carl Crawford2423
DH35David Ortiz1511
C239Jason Varitek54
INF27Jed Lowrie66
OF38Mike Cameron117
1332Darnell McDonald#55
SP127Jon Lester1716
SP226Clay Buchholz1112
SP331Josh Beckett86
SP432John Lackey129
SP530Daisuke Matsuzaka76
RP130Jon Papelbon1310
RP226Daniel Bard*79
RP333Dan Wheeler64
RP430Bobby Jenks87
RP528Alfredo Aceves44

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Pitchers - Tim Wakefield, Dennys Reyes, Matt Albers, Hideki Okajima.

Analysis: EWSL is not as insanely bullish on the Red Sox as last season, and there are some warning signs to be had in the number of 35-year-olds in the lineup. That said, I'm not about to hit the panic button on these guys just from a rough start.

The Hated Yankees

Raw EWSL: 263.83 (101 W)
Adjusted: 266.73 (102 W)
Age-Adj.: 233.73 (91 W)
WS Age: 31.55
2011 W-L: 91-71

C28Russell Martin1313
1B31Mark Teixeira2521
2B28Robinson Cano2525
SS37Derek Jeter2214
3B35Alex Rodriguez2216
RF30Nick Swisher1917
CF30Curtis Granderson1816
LF27Brett Gardner1212
DH39Jorge Posada129
C225Francisco Cervelli#57
INF33Eric Chavez10
OF34Andruw Jones76
1324Eduardo Nunez*13
SP130CC Sabathia1916
SP225Phil Hughes910
SP334AJ Burnett87
SP424Ivan Nova*12
SP535Freddy Garcia65
RP141Mariano Rivera1511
RP231Rafael Soriano119
RP326David Robertson34
RP425Joba Chamberlain67
RP526Boone Logan22

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Ramiro Pena, Jesus Montero, Gustavo Molina.

Pitchers - Pedro Feliciano, who I pulled out of the lineup at the last minute on the news that he may need surgery; Feliciano averaged 89 appearances a year the past three seasons, so it's not that shocking that he finally broke. Also Bartolo Colon, Luis Ayala, and David Phelps.

Analysis: Another mark of the AL East leaders' softening compared to the past few years, the Hated Yankees are sorely lacking in starting pitching depth (are we taking bets on when Joba ends up getting pressed into starting again?) and face the perennial problem of age at key spots in the lineup without real everyday options if the old guys break down (other than subbing Montero or Andruw Jones for Posada). Yet the poor starts by Boston and Tampa and an unaccustomed early awakening by Tex have things looking up for the Bombers. And of course, with the Hated Yankees what matters is frontline talent, because you can never rule out major in-season acquisitions to plug any holes.

Tampa Bay Rays

Raw EWSL: 185.50 (75 W)
Adjusted: 206.20 (82 W)
Age-Adj.: 202.95 (81 W)
WS Age: 28.30
2011 W-L: 81-81

C27John Jaso*817
1B31Dan Johnson22
2B30Ben Zobrist2119
SS25Reid Brignac#68
3B25Evan Longoria2531
RF26Matt Joyce67
CF26BJ Upton1718
LF37Johnny Damon1711
DH28Casey Kotchman99
C231Kelly Shoppach76
INF26Sean Rodriguez55
OF29Sam Fuld#22
1331Felipe Lopez1412
SP125David Price#1114
SP229James Shields87
SP328Jeff Niemann#88
SP425Wade Davis#56
SP524Jeremy Hellickson*23
RP135Kyle Farnsworth43
RP224Jacob McGee+05
RP335Joel Peralta32
RP428Andy Sonnanstine33
RP528JP Howell65

Subjective Adjustments: None, although I expect Johnson to contribute a good deal more than 2 WS.

Also on Hand: Position players - Elliott Johnson, Desmond Jennings (Kotchman has been called up in the short term to take Manny Ramirez' place, but expect Jennings later in the year), Robinson Chirinos.

Pitchers - Juan Cruz, Cesar Ramos, Adam Russell, Mike Ekstrom, Matt Moore.

Analysis: Having sprung directly from perennial doormat status to the heights of contention, mediocrity will be unaccustomed to Rays fans, but welcome to the 1970-72 Mets. I have faith that this organization will get more out of the bullpen than estimated here and make some useful adjustments on the fly, but their poor start and the loss of Manny underlines what already looked like a season of grappling with the loss of Carl Crawford and Matt Garza and figuring out how to get the next generation of youth to market. Alternatively, with both Toronto and Baltimore improved, it would not take a lot of additional bad breaks to drop them back to the cellar.

Hellickson's a great talent, but remember that Price took a while to develop and Davis is still working on it. Young pitchers will break your heart.

Baltimore Orioles

Raw EWSL: 197.00 (79 W)
Adjusted: 205.60 (82 W)
Age-Adj.: 195.24 (78 W)
WS Age: 29.79
2011 W-L: 78-84

C25Matt Wieters#913
1B35Derrek Lee1713
2B33Brian Roberts1412
SS28JJ Hardy1011
3B27Mark Reynolds1818
RF27Nick Markakis2021
CF25Adam Jones1316
LF33Luke Scott1311
DH36Vladimir Guerrero1511
C228Jake Fox#33
INF31Cesar Izturis76
OF26Felix Pie55
1327Robert Andino11
SP124Brian Matusz#68
SP232Jeremy Guthrie129
SP325Jake Arrieta*36
SP425Brad Bergesen#68
SP523Chris Tillman*12
RP133Kevin Gregg96
RP233Mike Gonzalez54
RP336Koji Uehara*66
RP429Jeremy Accardo11
RP528Jim Johnson55

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Nolan Reimold, Josh Bell, Craig Tatum.

Pitchers - Zachary Britton (currently subbing for Matusz in the rotation), Justin Duchscherer, Jason Berker, Josh Rupe.

Analysis: The Orioles, by contrast, seem to have picked themselves up off the floor, notwithstanding the fact that as of yet they still seem to be building a team that shoots for .500 rather than first place (a big leap forward by Wieters, Jones and/or the young pitchers could change that). Whether Markakis can restart his arc of improvement, Lee can keep up his late-season hitting for the Braves, Guerrero can squeeze out one more solid year and Reynolds can cut his whiffs down enough to hit .230 will be the short-term questions.

Toronto Blue Jays

Raw EWSL: 186.87 (75 W)
Adjusted: 205.91 (82 W)
Age-Adj.: 191.82 (77 W)
WS Age: 29.41
2011 W-L: 77-85

C25JP Arencibia+111
1B27Adam Lind1313
2B29Aaron Hill1515
SS28Yunel Escobar1717
3B28Edwin Encarnacion88
RF30Jose Bautista2018
CF30Rajai Davis1211
LF23Travis Snider#68
DH32Juan Rivera119
C236Jose Molina54
INF36John McDonald43
OF35Scott Podsednik139
1328Jayson Nix#56
SP126Ricky Romero#1013
SP226Brandon Morrow66
SP324Brett Cecil#68
SP423Kyle Drabek+04
SP526Jesse Litsch22
RP131Frank Francisco75
RP232Jon Rauch87
RP337Octavio Dotel65
RP433Jason Frasor64
RP535Shawn Camp64

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Corey Patterson, Brett Lawrie, Mike McCoy.

Pitchers - Carlos Villanueva, Jo-Jo Reyes (who's currently in Morrow's spot in the rotation), David Purcey, Marc Rzepcynski.

Analysis: If you were painting a portrait of a team that could potentially take a big leap forward, you'd get something like the Blue Jays: a couple of young-ish players coming off disappointing years (Lind, Hill, Snider, Escobar), a young, power-pitching rotation and a veteran bullpen. How far that takes them is another issue, since third place is usually the Jays' target at this point.

Through 12 games, Toronto's pitching staff is on pace for 1363 strikeouts even without having activated Morrow (who struck out 10.9 K/9 last year, better than MLB leader Tim Lincecum, and may be returning soon from an inflamed elbow), which would break the 2001 Yankees' AL record by a margin of almost 100.

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.

You can compare the prior AL East roundups for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:40 PM | Baseball 2011 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Did you mean to say "2011 W-L" rather than "2010 W-L" underneath the Win Shares calculations?

Posted by: Ian at April 14, 2011 3:58 PM

Thanks, fixed it.

Posted by: Crank at April 14, 2011 5:22 PM

Wow - A-Rod's age adjusted EWSL takes a big drop. It's hard to see Nick Swisher having a higher age-adjusted EWSL than A-Rod.

Posted by: MVH at April 15, 2011 9:19 AM

Never mind - you mentioned that in an earlier post:

"On the other hand, it was a brutally tough year for some of the age brackets here, especially the 35-and-over hitters."

Posted by: MVH at April 15, 2011 9:23 AM

Completely OT, and apologies for that:

Crank, last night on some local cable show, they had Grace Potter and the Nocturnals playing some outdoor gig in Bryant Park. I thought of you when I saw that.

Anyhow, very entertaining, very lively. A bit rough in spots, which actually works for the big, outdoor show, I think. But she's got lots of talent, no doubt.

Posted by: Mike at April 17, 2011 11:04 AM
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