Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 18, 2011
BASEBALL: 2011 AL Central EWSL Report

Part 3 of my preseason "previews" is the AL Central; this is the third 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 previews: the AL West & AL East.

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)

Chicago White Sox

Raw EWSL: 238.17 (93 W)
Adjusted: 253.34 (98 W)
Age-Adj.: 230.98 (90 W)
WS Age: 30.05
2011 W-L: 90-72

C34AJ Pierzynski119
1B35Paul Konerko2216
2B24Gordon Beckham#1015
SS29Alexei Ramirez1817
3B24Brent Morel+011
RF28Carlos Quentin1414
CF30Alex Rios1614
LF33Juan Pierre1311
DH31Adam Dunn2117
C235Ramon Castro54
INF29Mark Teahen66
OF26Lastings Milledge89
1344Omar Vizquel63
SP126John Danks1617
SP232Mark Buehrle1411
SP328Gavin Floyd1312
SP427Edwin Jackson1211
SP530Jake Peavy76
RP134Matt Thornton129
RP222Chris Sale*36
RP329Jesse Crain54
RP429Tony Pena54
RP533Will Ohman32

Subjective Adjustments: None. As the minimal age adjustments indicate, this is the most established-talent, set-lineup team in the division. Milledge, however, is presently in AAA.

Also on Hand: Position players - Brent Lillibridge, Dayan Vicideo, Tyler Flowers.

Pitchers - Sergio Santos, Jeff Gray, Phil Humber, Gregory Infante.

Analysis: The White Sox are back again with a power-backed lineup and their characteristically stolid starting rotation. If the older guys in the lineup (Konerko, Pierzynski) don't break down, they should be in the hunt all year, but they're unlikely to blow the doors off the division.

Minnesota Twins

Raw EWSL: 216.17 (85 W)
Adjusted: 236.87 (92 W)
Age-Adj.: 222.85 (88 W)
Subj. Adj.: 219.85 (87 W)
WS Age: 29.13
2011 W-L: 87-75

C28Joe Mauer2930
1B30Justin Morneau1917
2B26Tsuyoshi Niskioka+011
SS26Alexi Casilla66
3B26Danny Valencia*613
RF29Jason Kubel1414
CF27Denard Span2020
LF25Delmon Young1619
DH40Jim Thome147
C227Drew Butera*23
INF29Matt Tolbert44
OF32Michael Cuddyer1411
1330Jason Repko11
SP127Francisco Liriano88
SP235Carl Pavano108
SP328Brian Duensing#910
SP429Scott Baker109
SP529Nick Blackburn76
RP136Joe Nathan87
RP227Matt Capps88
RP326Jose Mijares#45
RP427Kevin Slowey77
RP526Jeff Manship#11

Subjective Adjustments: I docked Nishioka 3 Win Shares for his early season leg fracture, cutting him down to 8.

Also on Hand: Position players - Ben Revere, Luke Hughes.

Pitchers - Glen Perkins, Anthony Slama, Dusty Hughes.

Analysis: Slowey, Baker and Blackurn have all seen their stock fall, and Liriano's off to a bad start. Morneau's healthy but not hitting yet, and Mauer's not healthy. And I didn't realize how old Nathan is. And can Thome repeat last year's rejuvenation? A lot of question marks here.

Detroit Tigers

Raw EWSL: 190.33 (77 W)
Adjusted: 222.86 (88 W)
Age-Adj.: 213.96 (85 W)
WS Age: 28.97
2011 W-L: 85-77

C24Alex Avila#57
1B28Miguel Cabrera2727
2B28Will Rhymes*36
SS29Jhonny Peralta1514
3B34Brandon Inge1311
RF37Magglio Ordonez138
CF24Austin Jackson*923
LF30Ryan Raburn98
DH32Victor Martinez1713
C226Casper Wells*24
INF31Don Kelly*34
OF26Brennan Boesch*612
1335Carlos Guillen75
SP128Justin Verlander1716
SP226Max Scherzer1011
SP322Rick Porcello#711
SP433Brad Penny43
SP528Phil Coke55
RP131Jose Valverde119
RP233Joaquin Benoit53
RP324Brayan Villereal+05
RP424Ryan Perry#45
RP533Brad Thomas*34

Subjective Adjustments: None, although Guillen seems unlikely to contribute much. Casper Wells is obviously not a backup catcher; that's Victor Martinez, so I just threw Wells into that roster slot. As did the Tigers.

Also on Hand: Position players - Scott Sizemore.

Pitchers - Joel Zumaya, who is facing the dreaded Dr. Andrews. Daniel Schlereth, Enrique Gonzalez.

Analysis: I'm not that high on the Tigers this season. Cabrera seems unlikely to repeat last year's trouble-free season, Peralta is a serious defensive question mark, and Porcello, the back of the rotation and the bullpen are wobbly. On the upside, maybe this will be the year Scherzer puts it all together.

Cleveland Indians

Raw EWSL: 136.50 (59 W)
Adjusted: 152.40 (64 W)
Age-Adj.: 152.39 (64 W)
WS Age: 28.20
2011 W-L: 64-98

C25Carlos Santana*48
1B26Matt LaPorta#45
2B36Orlando Cabrera129
SS25Asdrubal Cabrera1315
3B31Jack Hannahan22
RF28Shin-Soo Choo2424
CF28Grady Sizemore99
LF24Michael Brantley#45
DH34Travis Hafner97
C225Lou Marson*36
INF26Jason Donald*36
OF31Austin Kearns65
1331Shelley Duncan33
SP127Fausto Carmona76
SP226Justin Masterson56
SP324Carlos Carrasco#22
SP427Mitch Talbot*35
SP526Josh Tomlin*24
RP125Chris Perez89
RP227Tony Sipp#33
RP329Rafael Perez44
RP433Chad Durbin53
RP527Joe Smith33

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Travis Buck, Trevor Crowe (on the 60-day DL at present), Adam Everett, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis. Donald is also on the DL.

Pitchers - Vinnie Pestano, Justin Germano, Frank Herrmann, Alex White, Jeanmar Gomez.

Analysis: It's obviously easier to say this after their 11-4 start, but there are plenty of places for the Indians to improve on their EWSL, from a recovery by Sizemore (I'm skeptical, since he had the Carlos Beltran surgery, but he's younger than Beltran) to guys like Santana and LaPorta providing a full season's production to the young pitchers stepping up. But in the early season enthusiasm, don't lose sight of how far this team has to come from its proven, established major league performance levels if it's going to have a winning record.

Kansas City Royals

Raw EWSL: 129.83 (57 W)
Adjusted: 139.90 (60 W)
Age-Adj.: 139.02 (60 W)
Subj. Adj: 142.02 (61 W)
WS Age: 27.74
2011 W-L: 61-101

C37Jason Kendall106
1B27Kila Ka'aihue*11
2B27Chris Getz#57
SS24Alcides Escobar#711
3B29Wilson Betemit66
RF27Jeff Francouer78
CF26Melky Cabrera1010
LF27Alex Gordon55
DH25Billy Butler1721
C235Matt Treanor22
INF30Mike Aviles98
OF29Mitch Maier98
1329Brayan Pena33
SP127Kyle Davies54
SP230Jeff Francis32
SP327Luke Hochevar33
SP434Bruce Chen54
SP524Vin Mazzaro#34
RP127Joakim Soria1413
RP229Robinson Tejeda54
RP323Sean O'Sullivan#22
RP421Tim Collins+05
RP525Blake Wood*12

Subjective Adjustments: I marked up Kila Ka'aihue from 1 to 4 Win Shares, which is probably pretty conservative for a guy who failed miserably last year, but he should get a much longer audition this season.

Also on Hand: Position players - Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas - basically, the next generation of prospects.

Pitchers - Kanekoa Texeira, Jeremy Jeffress, Nathan Adcock, Jesse Chavez, Gregory Holland, Aaron Crow, Mike Montgomery.

Analysis: Like the Indians and the AL East's weak sisters, the Royals have started well, and combined with the good reputation of the prospects on the way, that suggests that this division may end up more compressed than the EWSL standings suggest. But there's no better antidote to optimism about the Royals than looking at the people they're actually counting on for at bats and innings. It's still a long way out of that hole.

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 Central roundups for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:20 PM | Baseball 2011 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

re: Indians -- If a healthy Sizemore is productive, if a healthy Hafner returns to the productive power hitter of a few years ago and if the young pitchers continue to produce (not assuming they continue to pitch like all-stars, but continue to be solid), how much upside does this team have for a full season?

Posted by: stan at April 19, 2011 10:40 AM

In case you missed it Crank, the 105 mph fastball.

Posted by: feeblemind at April 19, 2011 12:35 PM

Crank, I am as suprised as anyone about the start Frenchie is off to. He is hitting in the clutch and playing great defense. The Royals hopes for this season depend on how soon the kids start coming up. There are probably 5-6 guys at AAA that are better than the guy in front of them in KC. Quick way to get better, but .500 will be a great year.

Posted by: maddirishman at April 19, 2011 12:45 PM

I am never surprised when Frenchy starts well for a new employer. He's done it at every stop. It just gets him more playing time.

Posted by: Crank at April 19, 2011 12:47 PM
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