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.
Some players are rated based on less than three seasons or given a rookie rating. Key:
Chicago White Sox
Raw EWSL: 238.17 (93 W)
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.
Raw EWSL: 216.17 (85 W)
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.
Raw EWSL: 190.33 (77 W)
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.
Raw EWSL: 136.50 (59 W)
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)
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.
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 Prospectus.com, 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.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:20 PM | Baseball 2011 | Baseball Studies | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)