Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 29, 2011
BASEBALL: 2011 NL West EWSL Report
Part 4 of my very-belated preseason previews is the NL West; this is the fourth 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. Team ages 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:
World Champion San Francisco Giants
Raw EWSL: 239.17 (96 W)
Subjective Adjustments: None. I could downgrade Brandon Belt, who's already lost his job and been demoted, and/or cut the points the Giants get for having all those outfielder on the bench, but (1) I still expect Belt to return and contribute a good deal (he's a tremendous across-the-board talent) and (2) the early stumble of a highly talented rookie is why it comes in handy to have the depth to just slide Huff to first base and give more playing time to the outfielders.
Also on Hand: Position players - Mark DeRosa, Darren Ford.
Pitchers - Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, Dan Runzler.
Analysis: The Giants as always have an aging lineup, although if Belt returns and Sandoval continues his return to form, they actually for once could have a core of guys under 30 who can hit - and that, plus the sheer number of veterans with some gas left in the tank, makes them formidable. The pitching staff remains their strength.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Raw EWSL: 242.67 (94 W)
Subjective Adjustments: None. I don't really need a subjective adjustment to reflect the annual recurrence of Rafael Furcal getting hurt.
Also on Hand: Position players - Xavier Paul, AJ Ellis.
Pitchers - Mike MacDougal, who like Jeff Francouer has compiled quite a track record of using good first impressions to sucker a new employer; Kenley Jansen, Ramon Troncoso, Lance Cormier.
Analysis: Kemp (.378/.460/.612), Ethier (.380/.451/.560) and Blake (.321/.446/.509) have been off to a strong start - indeed, two days ago, Kemp & Ethier had identical batting and OBP lines - 108 PA, 95 AB, 36 H, 13 BB, .379/.454. Kemp has slowed a bit on the bases after stealing 8 bases in the season's first 13 games. And Kershaw has shown flashes of intense brilliance, albeit amidst some of his usual inconsistency, while the defense has been the majors' best (a .739 DER against balls in play, which is higher than sustainable for a full season). But the Dodgers have yet to pull much together around the front-line talent. Really, this team needs a bust-out year from Kershaw and Kemp supported by big years from Ethier and Billingsley to contend.
Raw EWSL: 204.83 (82 W)
Subjective Adjustments: None.
Also on Hand: Position players - Quite a lot of familiar faces hanging around for what could be a last chance - Alfredo Amezaga, Mike Jacobs, Willy Taveras, Josh Fields.
Pitchers - Franklin Morales, Matt Reynolds, Felipe Paulino, Matt Daley.
Analysis: Historically, as Troy Tulowitzki goes, so go the Rockies, and this season's been no exception - Carlos Gonzalez is hitting an anemic .214/.269/.286, Ubaldo Jimenez is winless and disabled with a 6.75 ERA, Cook hasn't pitched yet, and Jose Lopez has been the anti-Babe Ruth, batting .143/.169/.254 (OPS+ of 7, yet his OPS is double Ian Stewart's), the team batting average is .239, but backed by Tulo's blistering .326/.416/.674 start, the Rox are an MLB-leading 16-7. Obviously some good hitting from others in the lineup and some great bullpen help has helped. I'd bet on Colorado to exceed EWSL's 82-win estimate, but there are some real holes to be patched (especially third base and in the starting rotation) if this team is going to make a serious run at the Giants.
Raw EWSL: 164.33 (68 W)
Subjective Adjustments: None.
Also on Hand: Position players - Josh Wilson, Geoff Blum.
Pitchers - Zach Duke and the "no-names" bullpen - Joe Paterson, Sam Demel, Joshua Collmenter, Kameron Mickolio.
Analysis: I think I've internalized for too long the parity of the NL West, so it's hard to look at the poor condition of Arizona and San Diego without mentally downgrading the whole division. But it's normal for good divisions to have good teams and bad teams.
Arizona's hitters have been overrated for a while due to the ballpark, and its pitching has never really recovered from the collapse of Brandon Webb. The team is starting to rebuild a little better, but it may take some time.
This bench has quite a collection of guys you didn't think would still be playing at this age.
San Diego Padres
Raw EWSL: 189.83 (77 W)
Subjective Adjustments: None.
Also on Hand: Position players - Eric Patterson, Cedric Hunter. I think it's safe by now to conclude that Patterson's .373 OBP in 2009 was a fluke.
Pitchers - Pat Neshek, Cory Luebke, Wade LeBlanc.
Analysis: Here we have a one-man team when the one man leaves. The Pads have stitched together some adequate veterans - the double-play combination should help the pitching staff. But there's no core here you can build anything around in the foreseeable future.
There's hardly a more under-heralded player in baseball right now than Ernesto Frieri, who has to make Heath Bell expendable, as good as Bell is. Between them, Bell, Frieri and Adams have a 1.78 ERA since 2009 - 2.24 if you include Gregerson, who has similar numbers except that he's more homer-prone than the other three. The overall line for the four since 2009: 6.18 H/9, 0.41 HR/9, 3.04 BB/9, and 10.40 K/9. Even considering the pitcher-friendly expanses of Pecto, that's something else. Frieri currently sports a ridiculous 1.50 career ERA and 11.4 career K/9, and in the early going thus far he's cut his walks in half from 2010.
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 3:00 PM | Baseball 2011 | Baseball Studies | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)