Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 11, 2011
BASEBALL: 2011 NL Central EWSL Report
Part 6 of my very-belated preseason previews is the NL Central (last as always); this is the sixth and last 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:
Raw EWSL: 220.00 (87 W)
Subjective Adjustments: None. Greinke's missed some time, but then EWSL probably underrates Gallardo and Marcum due to injury risks.
Also on Hand: Position players - George Kottaras, Brandon Boggs, Erick Almonte.
Pitchers - Brandon Kintzler, Sean Green, Marco Estrada, Mitch Stetter, LaTroy Hawkins.
Analysis: Just look at the ages of the Brewers' starting lineup to see why EWSL rates them the class of the division - having a whole bunch of guys right in their prime is sometimes more important than having the most talent in the abstract.
Raw EWSL: 214.17 (85 W)
Subjective Adjustments: None.
Also on Hand: Position players - Chris Heisey, Juan Francisco, Yonder Alonso, Chris Valaika.
Pitchers - Jordan Smith, Bill Bray, Matt Maloney, Carlos Fisher.
Analysis: The Reds' starting rotation remains unsettled, but there's definitely pitching talent there.
Francisco Cordero is now second on the active saves list - he's never really been a spectacular closer, but his low HR rate more than anything else, especially in the parks he's worked in, has kept him steady year in and year out.
St. Louis Cardinals
Raw EWSL: 224.33 (88 W)
Subjective Adjustments: None.
Also on Hand: Position players - Daniel Descalso, Mark Hamilton.
Pitchers - Adam Wainwright (out for the season), Eduardo Sanchez, Brian Tallet, Bryan Augenstein.
Analysis: The current division leaders, still hoping they can outrun the loss of Wainwright. Pujols' slow start this season is yet another reminder of the pitiless march of age, but Tony LaRussa still always manages to find some veterans - so far, Lance Berkman - who buck that trend long enough to contribute. Meanwhile, Matt Holliday has been worth every penny of his enormous salary. I was high on David Freese before the season, but he's yet to prove he can make it through a full season.
The weak point, by EWSL, is the bullpen, so if LaRussa and Duncan can work some magic in getting more out of an unimpressive assortment, the Cards could continue overachieve.
Raw EWSL: 204.50 (81 W)
Subjective Adjustments: None, although obviously the injuries to Wells and Cashner have been costly.
Also on Hand: Pitchers - Marcos Mateo, Jeff Samardzjia, James Russell, Justin Berg, Jeff Stevens.
Analysis: The Cubs are not a bad team, and they're good enough to swipe a title in a weak division with a few breaks (a harder thing to swing when the division has six teams) but - not to harp on age again here - they're a rebuilding team. Seriously: EWSL rates Marlon Byrd as their best player, once you apply the age adjustments. (Byrd may still be a solid glove but compared to the other center fielders in this division he's in awfully fast company).
Thus far, they've been laboring without Wells and Cashner, both injured.
Raw EWSL: 172.00 (71 W)
Subjective Adjustments: None.
Also on Hand: Position players - Jason Bourgeois, Matt Downs, Brian Bogusovic.
Pitchers - Aneury Rodriguez, Wilton Lopez, Jose Valdez.
Analysis: The Astros' Defensive Efficiency Rating, at this writing, is .648. No team has finished a full season below .650 since the 1930 Phillies (the 2007 Rays were the closest in recent decades, at .652 - which they followed with a historic one-season improvement to the best in MLB in 2008 - although the Cubs also had some appalling defenses in the 70s). Unless they can fix the infield (Johnson and Sanchez have been horribly error-prone, contributing to the low DER), it's gonna be a long season for the Houston pitching staff.
Raw EWSL: 136.83 (59 W)
Subjective Adjustments: I cut Tabata from 27 to 22; the projected leap based solely on his age just looks too steep. Absent that, the Bucs would have ranked ahead of the Astros. No others, although Ohlendorf has been out of action for a while, with James McDonald filling his slot in the rotation.
Also on Hand: Position players - Jason Jaramillo, John Bowker, Josh Rodriguez.
Pitchers - James McDonald, Chris Resop, Michael Crotta, Garrett Olson, Danny Moskos.
Analysis: You know the perennial Pirates storylines; this year, it's back to letting the kids play and build on their good starts. Optimism will only set in when we see proof the kids will not just develop but develop in Pittsburgh.
And the pitching still stinks, so even a surprise by the offense won't deliver any glass slippers to PNC Park.
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.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:34 PM | Baseball 2011 | Baseball Studies | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)