Baseball Crank
"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
April 29, 2012
BASEBALL: 2012 NL Central EWSL Report

Part 4 of my now very belated "preseason" previews is the NL Central; 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.

Prior: AL Central, AL East, 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)

Cincinnati Reds

Raw EWSL: 210.83
Adjusted: 228.84
Age-Adj.: 218.03
WS Age: 29.1
2012 W-L: 86-76

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C31Ryan Hanigan119
1B28Joey Votto3232
2B31Brandon Phillips2017
SS26Zack Cozart+111
3B37Scott Rolen117
RF25Jay Bruce1821
CF27Drew Stubbs1314
LF33Ryan Ludwick1513
C224Devin Mesoraco+14
INF34Wilson Valdez87
OF27Chris Heisey#57
1234Willie Harris55
1338Miguel Cairo64
SP135Bronson Arroyo87
SP226Johnny Cueto1112
SP324Mike Leake#79
SP426Homer Bailey56
SP524Mat Latos910
RP124Aroldis Chapman*35
RP229Sean Marshall108
RP329Bill Bray33
RP427Logan Ondusek#44
RP530Nick Masset65

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Paul Janish, Billy Hamilton.

Pitchers - Alfredo Simon, Jose Arredondo, Ryan Madson (out for the season).

Analysis: The NL Central often looks weaker before the season than it does as the year progresses, but times have changed; Tony LaRussa, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are all gone, leaving the division short on anchors. That gives the Reds, who unlike their rivals managed to retain star 1B Joey Votto, a competitive advantage. Add in a rotation that could be stable if Johnny Cueto stays healthy and the usual Reds young, athletic outfield, and this team should be in any mix that emerges in this division.

Hamilton thus far is batting .381/.470/.583 and has already stolen 28 bases in A ball, although his suspect defense may slow his ascent.

Milwaukee Brewers

Raw EWSL: 227.50
Adjusted: 232.08
Age-Adj.: 212.81
WS Age: 29.9
2012 W-L: 84-78

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C26Jonathan Lucroy#912
1B26Mat Gamel11
2B29Rickie Weeks2019
SS35Alex Gonzalez1410
3B34Aramis Ramirez1917
RF30Corey Hart1816
CF31Nyjer Morgan1411
LF28Ryan Braun3333
C229George Kottaras43
INF28Travis Ishikawa33
OF26Carlos Gomez66
1230Norichika Aoki+01
1332Cesar Izturis43
SP126Yovanni Gallardo1213
SP228Zack Greinke1312
SP330Shawn Marcum119
SP435Randy Wolf119
SP530Chris Narveson65
RP129John Axford#1112
RP230Francisco Rodriguez109
RP330Kameron Loe44
RP429Manny Parra11
RP531Jose Veras43

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position Players - Brooks Conrad.

Pitchers - Marco Estrada, who is off to an excellent start; Tim Dillard.

Analysis: The whiz heard round the world: Ryan Braun missing 50 games would have been a really horrible blow to this team after losing Fielder. With him, the Brewers' rotation gives them a fighting chance. Note that an unbalanced schedule against this large, weak division, especially the Astros, should make the rest of the NL Central teams look deceptively stronger than they are.

World Champion St. Louis Cardinals

Raw EWSL: 208.67
Adjusted: 223.91
Age-Adj.: 199.17
WS Age: 31.0
2012 W-L: 80-82

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C29Yadier Molina1817
1B36Lance Berkman2317
2B32Skip Schumaker1311
SS34Rafael Furcal1311
3B29David Freese99
RF35Carlos Beltran1813
CF27Jon Jay#912
LF32Matt Holliday2318
C225Tony Cruz*12
INF25Daniel Descalso*512
OF27Allen Craig#67
1228Tyler Greene22
1326Matt Carpenter+04
SP137Chris Carpenter1411
SP230Adam Wainwright109
SP325Jaime Garcia#810
SP434Jake Westbrook54
SP533Kyle Lohse54
RP130Jason Motte76
RP228Mitchell Boggs33
RP327Fernando Salas#67
RP428Kyle McClellan66
RP526Marc Rzepcynski44

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Shane Robinson, Erik Komatsu.

Pitchers - Lance Lynn (I have him here because this was his preseason slot; he's been a surprising early star in the rotation), JC Romero, Victor Marte, Scott Linebrink (injured).

Analysis: The hulking sinkerballer Lynn has really been a huge help in Carpenter's early absence and with Wainwright struggling (0-3, 7.32 ERA), and the team's 14-7 record (16-5 Pythagorean record) suggests that the Cards could yet again pull an upside surprise if the antique trio of Beltran, Furcal and Berkman can stay healthy (Berkman's already on the DL). Then again, history suggests that a 1.62 ERA from Lohse, a 1.30 ERA from Westbrook and a .620 slugging average from Yadier Molina may be a tall order to sustain.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Raw EWSL: 168.00
Adjusted: 185.37
Age-Adj.: 182.65
WS Age: 28.5
2012 W-L: 74-88

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C36Rod Barajas108
1B31Garrett Jones1210
2B26Neil Walker#1520
SS33Clint Barmes119
3B29Casey McGehee1615
RF23Jose Tabata#913
CF25Andrew McCutchen2429
LF26Alex Presley*49
C227Michael McKendry*12
INF25Pedro Alvarez#69
OF30Nate McLouth98
1224Josh Harrison*37
1326Matt Hague+04
SP133Erik Bedard43
SP227James McDonald54
SP329Jeff Karstens65
SP428Charlie Morton54
SP531Kevin Corriea43
RP130Joel Hanrahan109
RP229Chris Resop32
RP329Evan Meek44
RP433Juan Cruz21
RP535AJ Burnett65

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Yamaico Navarro

Pitchers - Jason Grilli, Jared Hughes, Tony Watson, Daniel McCutchen, Doug Slaten.

Analysis: Things are looking up in Pittsburgh, for a certain value of "up" compared to 19 consecutive losing seasons. Sad as it sounds, the Pirates' 75 wins in 2003 was their only trip above 72 victories since 1999; this team has a fighting chance to top that. I would hesitate to project more.

Chicago Cubs

Raw EWSL: 156.00
Adjusted: 174.18
Age-Adj.: 175.23
SUbj. Adj.: 169.23
WS Age: 29.6
2012 W-L: 70-92

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C29Geovany Soto1111
1B29Bryan LaHair+111
2B26Darwin Barney#710
SS22Starlin Castro#1735
3B27Ian Stewart55
RF32David DeJesus108
CF34Marlon Byrd1412
LF36Alfonso Soriano129
C226Steve Clevenger+04
INF31Jeff Baker43
OF35Reed Johnson64
1229Joe Mather11
1326Blake DeWitt88
SP128Matt Garza1010
SP235Ryan Dempster97
SP327Jeff Samardzjia43
SP425Chris Volstad44
SP530Paul Maholm65
RP129Carlos Marmol1110
RP235Kerry Wood44
RP336Shawn Camp55
RP426James Russell#11
RP529Randy Wells76

Subjective Adjustments: I cut Starlin Castro from 35 Win Shares to 29, for the usual reason that EWSL over-projects 22-year-old everyday shortstops whose value is heavily in their glove.

Also on Hand: Pitchers - Casey Coleman, Rodrigo Lopez, Rafael Davis, Lendy Castillo, Scott Maine.

Analysis: In the optimist's case, this is probably the season that provides the "how bad they were" backdrop for a later turnaround by Theo Epstein. I'd rather owe $54.5 million to Johan Santana than $54 million to Alfonso Soriano...the interesting question for an aggressive new GM is whether you could get a good package for Castro, or whether you retain him as the core building block. He's going to be one of the most valuable fantasy players in baseball over the next five years, but the debate is whether he's actually good enough defensively, and likely to survive his rough plate discipline, to match his perceived value. I don't know that I'd bet against a 22 year old shortstop with his gifts, though. He's batting .337 and leading the NL in steals at the moment.

Another guy who looks like he may finally be figuring things out is Jeff Samardzija, with a 25/8 K/BB ratio and just one HR allowed in 24 innings.

Houston Astros

Raw EWSL: 96.17
Adjusted: 113.76
Age-Adj.: 105.61
WS Age: 29.4
2012 W-L: 48-114

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C25Jason Castro#12
1B36Carlos Lee1712
2B22Jose Altuve*14
SS28Jed Lowrie55
3B27Chris Johnson#911
RF28Brian Bogusevic*24
CF25Jordan Schafer45
LF24JD Martinez*38
C231Chris Snyder65
INF23Marwin Gonzalez+04
OF28Travis Buck22
1229Brian Bixler00
1328Justin Maxwell11
SP133Wandy Rodriguez118
SP227Bud Norris54
SP329JA Happ54
SP427Lucas Harrell#00
SP525Kyle Weiland+04
RP131Brett Myers97
RP228Wilton Lopez55
RP328Fernando Rodriguez*22
RP426David Carpenter*12
RP532Brandon Lyon75

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Brett Wallace, Landon Powell, Angel Sanchez.

Pitchers - Wesley Wright, Fernando Abad, Rhiner Cruz, Enerio del Rosario.

Analysis: No, that 48-114 record is not a typo; measured by ESWL, the Astros enter 2012 as the worst, or at least weakest, team since I started doing this in 2004.

The optimist's case is that the Astros are this weak, not because they have a collection of players who have proven they can't play in the majors, but mostly because they have a collection of players who haven't proven they can play in the majors. That can sometimes yield surprises; the diminutive (5'5") young (22) Jose Altuve, who hit .276 .297 .357 in Houston after hitting .408/.451/.606 in A ball and .361/.388/.569 in AA last season, is batting .359/.407/.551 so far; with his small stature, youth and compact swing, Altuve could well turn out to be a star, or he could be Jose Lopez, or he could be a little of both, like Carlos Baerga. Other youngsters could emerge as well, given enough playing time, although few of the others in the Houston lineup or rotation have an upside similar to Altuve's.

But this is guaranteed to be a terrible team, one that will likely get worse before it gets better if the team can find takers for even a portion of Brett Myers' and Carlos Lee's contracts (Myers has one more year remaining, Lee's done after this season).

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:00 PM | Baseball 2012-13 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
April 27, 2012
BASEBALL: Failure to Deploy

Sometimes, in retrospect, the answer is obvious. The Seattle Mariners of the late 1990s were one of the most talent-loaded teams in baseball history in terms of front-line stars: four immortals (Ken Griffey, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Edgar Martinez) one significant star (Jay Buhner) and a couple of productive regulars (Jeff Fassero, Jamie Moyer, Paul Sorrento). Yet from 1996-2000, they made it out of the first round of the playoffs only once (losing the ALCS in 2000), and posted two losing records. Only when Griffey, A-Rod and Johnson were all gone (along with Fassero and Sorrento) and Buhner finished would the team build a 116-win juggernaut in 2001, in part with the pieces acquired for Johnson and Griffey.

Injuries were part of that story (Randy Johnson started just 8 games in 1996, Buhner missed half the season in 1998 and again in 1999), the pitching was chronically thin, especially the bullpen behind the likes of Heathcliff Slocumb, and of course a two-year run of epic bad trades that stripped the team of both young stars and useful role players:

December 1995:

Traded Tino Martinez, Jim Mecir and Jeff Nelson to the New York Yankees. Received Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock.

Traded Miguel Cairo and Bill Risley to the Toronto Blue Jays. Received Edwin Hurtado and Paul Menhart.

August 1996:

Traded a player to be named later to the Minnesota Twins. Received Dave Hollins. The Seattle Mariners sent David Ortiz (September 13, 1996) to the Minnesota Twins to complete the trade.

December 1996:

Traded Sterling Hitchcock to the San Diego Padres. Received Scott Sanders.

July 1997:

Traded Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek to the Boston Red Sox. Received Heathcliff Slocumb.

Traded Jose Cruz to the Toronto Blue Jays. Received Paul Spoljaric and Mike Timlin.

August 1997:

Traded players to be named later to the Minnesota Twins. Received Roberto Kelly. The Seattle Mariners sent Joe Mays (October 9, 1997) and Jeromy Palki (minors) (October 9, 1997) to the Minnesota Twins to complete the trade.

But one of the underrated flaws of that team, in retrospect, was the failure to give a longer shot to a talented young player moldering on the team's bench. Raul Ibanez in 1996 was 24 years old and coming off an age 22 season batting .312/.375/.486 and age 23 season batting .332/.395/.612 in A ball. Over the five seasons that followed - age 24-28, the years that should have been his major league prime - Ibanez would be given 518 plate appearances with the Mariners, just over 100 a year, before leaving for the Royals as a free agent. Ibanez, of course, would go on to stardom with the Royals (he drove in 103 runs in 2002) and return as a free agent after three years there. From age 30-37, Ibanez would bat .290/.351/.489, averaging 97 RBI a year. He's still playing at 40; at last check, he's slugging .500 and on pace to drive in 99 runs, although it's early yet.

To be fair, Ibanez didn't distinguish himself in his cups of coffee, batting just .241/.295/.383. He would bat .297/.364/.447 and .304/.349/.498 in 1996-97, mostly at AAA Tacoma, and struggle to a .216/.301/.363 line in a half-season's work in 1998 before spending most of the rest of the period with the big club.

Still, you have to wonder how much worse the Mariners would have done if they'd just slapped Ibanez (or Cruz, for that matter) into the big league lineup in 1996 and left him there to work through the learning curve. Here's how the team's endless revolving door of left fielders (including Ibanez as well as Cruz, Rickey Henderson, Stan Javier, Al Martin, Mark McLemore, Brian Hunter, Butch Huskey, John Mabry, Glenallen Hill, Shane Monahan, Rich Amaral, Rob Ducey, Lee Tinsley, Roberto Kelly, Mark Whiten, Darren Bragg, and Alex Diaz) hit over those five seasons:

YearPAABH2B3BHRRRBIBBSOSBCSGDPAvgOBPSLGOPS+
19966976081552542310376671212079.255.336.42385
19976656121643442484784113316513.268.314.45497
19986516081684041776763312710415.276.315.43991
19997126581581551296644111142712.240.281.33352
20007626451642361111759103108421412.254.356.36074
Avg6976261622751795715712026712.258.321.40079

(The walks column makes it pretty apparent when Rickey hit town).

Even the 2001 team never really solved the LF problem, splitting time among Martin, McLemore and Javier (combined LF batting line: .256/.350/.364, although they probably contributed more to the team's historically effective team defense than Ibanez would have), and adding Ruben Sierra and Willie Bloomquist to the mix in 2002 (combined LF batting line: .277/.365/.424) before giving the job to Randy Winn in 2003, then shifting Winn to center to finally install Ibanez in 2004.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:47 PM | Baseball 2012-13 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
April 23, 2012
BASEBALL: April

Ted Berg brings us the Small Sample Size Song:

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:01 PM | Baseball 2012-13 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
April 13, 2012
BASEBALL: 2012 AL West EWSL Report

Part 3 of my preseason previews is the AL West; 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. Team ages are weighted by non-age-adjusted EWSL, so the best players count more towards determining the age of the roster.

Prior: AL Central, 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)

The Anaheim California-Based Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim

Raw EWSL: 273.50
Adjusted: 285.03
Age-Adj.: 252.76
WS Age: 30.9
2012 W-L: 97-65

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C29Chris Iannetta1110
1B32Albert Pujols3024
2B28Howie Kendrick1818
SS28Erick Aybar1616
3B29Alberto Callaspo1515
RF36Torii Hunter2014
CF25Peter Bourjous#913
LF33Vernon Wells1311
DH29Kendry Morales76
C229Bobby Wilson#22
INF26Mark Trumbo*715
OF38Bobby Abreu1812
1331Macier Izturis1210
SP129Jered Weaver2118
SP231Danny Haren1713
SP331CJ Wilson1713
SP429Ervin Santana1311
SP530Jerome Williams21
RP124Jordan Walden#68
RP236Scott Downs98
RP337Hisanori Takahashi75
RP439LaTroy Hawkins54
RP527Kevin Jepsen22

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Hank Conger, Alexi Amarista, Ryan Langerhans, and - arriving sooner or later, and off to a hot start in AAA - outfield super-prospect Mike Trout.

Pitchers - Jason Isringhausen, who despite not being listed here is more or less in the closer mix, given the wobbly Walden.

Analysis: This team is the very picture of depth and balance, with just two really major stars (Pujols and Weaver, although in truth Weaver is only slightly better than Haren) but almost no weaknesses and a mix of young players and seasoned vets jostling for playing time (Trumbo, for example, hit 29 home runs last season and is basically reduced to playing all-purpose backup to Pujols, Callaspo, Morales, Hunter and Wells, while fending off Abreu and Trout). The only two conspicuous weaknesses are Wells, who with any non-insane contract would have been cut by now (fun fact: Vernon Wells made as much money as Mitt Romney in 2009 and 2010), and the uncertain Jerome Williams as the fifth starter.

American League Champion Texas Rangers

Raw EWSL: 235.50
Adjusted: 250.96
Age-Adj.: 230.02
WS Age: 29.9
2012 W-L: 90-72

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C30Mike Napoli1716
1B26Mitch Moreland#68
2B30Ian Kinsler1918
SS23Elvis Andrus1923
3B33Adrian Beltre1816
RF31Nelson Cruz1714
CF31Josh Hamilton1916
LF30David Murphy1110
DH35Michael Young2015
C233Yorvit Torrealba98
INF29Alberto Gonzalez43
OF28Craig Gentry#35
1325Brandon Snyder+04
SP132Colby Lewis#109
SP225Derek Holland89
SP325Yu Darvish+04
SP424Neftali Feliz1214
SP526Matt Harrison910
RP137Joe Nathan54
RP233Mike Adams107
RP328Alexi Ogando#910
RP437Koji Uehara86
RP529Mark Lowe33

Subjective Adjustments: None, although as I noted last year with Andrus, EWSL tends to overrate the growth potential of very young players whose value is disproportionately defensive. But by now, the more reasonable reading of the age adjustment is a built-in assumption of offensive improvement.

Also on Hand: Position players - Julio Borbon, Lonys Martin, shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar. I always read his name to myself using the Don Pardo voice: "Juuuuricksonn PrOWfarrr..." Try it once, I guarantee it will stick with you.

Pitchers - Scott Feldman, Robert Ross.

Analysis: It remains to be seen, but right now the difference in the AL West is CJ Wilson pitching for the Angels instead of the Rangers. we'll get a better fix now on exactly how well the Nolan Ryan-led organization's pitching strategies work with the move of Neftali Feliz to the rotation and Alexi Ogando back to the pen, as well as Yu Darvish's adjustment to the majors as the rare non-gimmicky Japanese power pitcher to enter a rotation (the example of the late Hideki Irabu was not encouraging, but Irabu had a variety of issues).

The Rangers lineup is older than you think it is. Guys like Hamilton and Cruz got late starts in the big leagues, so it's easy to forget they're on the wrong side of 30 now.

Seattle Mariners

Raw EWSL: 147.50
Adjusted: 186.06
Age-Adj.: 183.55
WS Age: 28.8
2012 W-L: 74-88

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C33Miguel Olivo109
1B25Justin Smoak#711
2B24Dustin Ackley*718
SS30Brendan Ryan1210
3B24Kyle Seager*34
RF38Ichiro Suzuki2013
CF29Franklin Guitierrez1010
LF34Chone Figgins97
DH22Jesus Montero+111
C228John Jaso#89
INF26Mike Carp*48
OF25Michael Saunders34
1327Casper Wells#46
SP126Felix Hernandez2022
SP229Jason Vargas87
SP337Kevin Millwood65
SP423Blake Beavan*36
SP525Hector Noesi*12
RP129Brandon League98
RP228Tom Wilhelmsen*23
RP325Lucas Luetge+04
RP428Steve Delabar+14
RP535George Sherrill43

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Muenenori Kawasaki, who has been doing the bulk of the infield backup work, Alex Liddi, Trayvon Robinson.

Pitchers - Shawn Kelley, Erasmo Ramirez, Hisashi Iwakuma (an import who’s still looking to crack the rotation).

Analysis: The Mariners have clipped about 3 years off their WS average age since last season, albeit partly because some of the older guys like Figgins and Ichiro are coming off tough years. But the road back is long, long enough that in the absence of marketable veterans they had to part with Michael Pineda to get a young hitter in Montero (not a bad deal, but a costly one for a rebuilding team). It's hard to see the Mariners getting rebuilt before King Felix has either gotten injured or left town. This division remains stratified very sharply between the two strong and two weak teams.

Ichiro enters tonight's action with 2438 hits in the American League to go with 1287 in nine seasons in Japan, dating back to age 18, a total of 3725 hits. It's almost a certainty that he'd be on the doorstep of 4000 hits by now if he'd been in the majors that whole time: due to the shorter Japanese schedule, he made it to 200 hits only once in Japan, as a 20-year-old hitting .385 in 1994; from age 21-26, Ichiro batted .354 but averaged 172 hits in 486 at bats per season; in the majors from age 27-36, he batted .331 but averaged 224 hits in 678 at bats. Give him an extra 50 hits a year and he'd be over 4000 by now.

Oakland A's

Raw EWSL: 114.00
Adjusted: 169.35
Age-Adj.: 167.16
WS Age: 28.3
2012 W-L: 69-93

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C28Kurt Suzuki1010
1B26Daric Barton1011
2B25Jemile Weeks*818
SS28Cliff Pennington1717
3B26Josh Donaldson+011
RF25Josh Reddick*48
CF26Yoenis Cedpedes+011
LF32Coco Crisp1310
DH31Jonny Gomes119
C228Anthony Recker+04
INF26Eric Sogard+04
OF29Seth Smith1211
1328Kila Kaiaihue#00
SP128Brandon McCarthy66
SP239Bartolo Colon54
SP325Tyson Ross#22
SP425Tom Milone+14
SP527Graham Godfrey+14
RP134Grant Balfour75
RP236Brian Fuentes76
RP328Jerry Blevins22
RP425Andrew Carignan+04
RP525Ryan Cook+04

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Adam Rosales, Brandon Allen, Jermaine Mitchell, Grant Green, Chris Carter.

Pitchers - Fautino de los Santos, Jordan Norberto, prospect Jarrod Parker and the injured duo of Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden, whose dual absence blows a huge hole in the Oakland rotation.

Analysis: Even for the annually reborn A's, who almost always exceed their EWSL due to overperforming young starting pitchers and a season-long influx of new discoveries, a non-age-adjusted total of 114 Established Win Shares (38 wins' worth) is a narrow base upon which to build. The Astros can't arrive in this division soon enough for Oakland.

You want good news? It's nice to have a guy who can throw like this.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:00 PM | Baseball 2012-13 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
April 12, 2012
BASEBALL: 2012 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. Team ages are weighted by non-age-adjusted EWSL, so the best players count more towards determining the age of the roster.

Prior: AL Central.

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)

The Hated Yankees

Raw EWSL: 281.17
Adjusted: 288.33
Age-Adj.: 246.12
WS Age: 32.1
2012 W-L: 95-67

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C29Russell Martin1312
1B32Mark Teixeira2319
2B29Robinson Cano2928
SS38Derek Jeter1812
3B36Alex Rodriguez1813
RF31Nick Swisher2016
CF31Curtis Granderson2218
LF28Brett Gardner1515
DH40Raul Ibanez158
C226Francisco Cervelli55
INF25Eduardo Nunez#57
OF35Andruw Jones86
1334Eric Chavez33
SP131CC Sabathia1915
SP223Michael Pineda*512
SP337Hiroki Kuroda118
SP425Ivan Nova#68
SP526Phil Hughes66
RP142Mariano Rivera1410
RP227David Robertson76
RP332Rafael Soriano97
RP429Cory Wade32
RP536Freddy Garcia98

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Chris Stewart, Chris Dickerson.

Pitchers - Boone Logan, Andy Pettitte, Clay Rapada, David Aardsma. Joba Chamberlain and Pedro Feliciano almost certainly won't pitch this year.

Analysis: Once again, the Hated Yankees are the class of the field - albeit not of the whole AL, compared to the Tigers - and once again, they are also (probably - I haven't finished running all the numbers) the oldest team in the league, maybe in MLB.

The Yankees' depth is not that impressive behind the front line, but of course the front line is very impressive, at least on offense and in the bullpen. It's the rotation that remains a big question mark after CC Sabathia (it's easy to forget that Kuroda is even older than Freddy Garcia). A lot will rest on Pineda.

One has to assume that by the trade deadline, the Yankees will find someone besides Ibanez and Andruw Jones to handle the DH and backup outfielder duties.

Boston Red Sox

Raw EWSL: 251.83
Adjusted: 252.87
Age-Adj.: 227.62
WS Age: 30.0
2012 W-L: 89-73

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C27J.Saltalamacchia55
1B30Adrian Gonzalez3128
2B28Dustin Pedroia2222
SS31Mike Aviles65
3B33Kevin Youkilis2017
RF27Ryan Sweeney89
CF28Jacoby Ellsbury2121
LF30Carl Crawford1816
DH36David Ortiz1713
C232Kelly Shoppach54
INF34Nick Punto87
OF31Cody Ross1412
1333Darnell McDonald54
SP128Jon Lester1615
SP232Josh Beckett119
SP327Clay Buchholz109
SP427Daniel Bard87
SP524Felix Doubront#00
RP128Andrew Bailey109
RP229Alfredo Aceves87
RP327Mark Melancon66
RP434Vicente Padilla43
RP526Franklin Morales22

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Ryan Kalish, Ryan Lavarnaway. Pitchers - John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka, neither of whom is likely to pitch. Bobby Jenks, who's on the shelf for at least about half the season. Aaron Cook, Scott Atchison, Matt Albers, Justin Thomas, Ross Ohlendorf, Michael Bowden. Cook's the one most likely to have some impact in the near future.

Analysis: Bobby Valentine (who has done nothing so far to dispell my conclusion that he's the Newt Gingrich of baseball managers) has his work cut out for him - this is still a talented team, but the injuries have piled up (including Bailey being shelved yet again) and age has taken its toll, plus one has to wonder whether Carl Crawford can take over the inspirational leadership void left by JD Drew.

(...yeah, I'm trolling with that last point)

And perhaps worst of all, not only are the Sox likely competing less for the division than for the single-elimination Russian Roulette wild card, they're doing so in a viciously competitive division, as you can see from how the Rays and Jays rosters look. Maybe Crawford, Youkilis and Buchholz bounce back, but then Ortiz is 36 and there's nowhere to go but down for Ellsbury, Gonzalez, and Pedroia after 2011. The Sawx will be a good team, but they face a high likelihood of being an odd man out.

Tampa Bay Rays

Raw EWSL: 213.83
Adjusted: 230.16
Age-Adj.: 223.76
WS Age: 29.1
2012 W-L: 88-74

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C37Jose Molina63
1B34Carlos Pena1715
2B32Jeff Keppinger1210
SS27Sean Rodriguez88
3B26Evan Longoria2628
RF27Matt Joyce1314
CF27BJ Upton1819
LF25Desmond Jennings*613
DH34Luke Scott97
C227Jose Lobaton+14
INF26Reid Brignac66
OF31Ben Zobrist2621
1328Elliott Johnson*12
SP126David Price1315
SP230James Shields1311
SP325Jeremy Hellickson#911
SP423Matt Moore+14
SP529Jeff Niemann87
RP136Kyle Farnsworth87
RP236Joel Peralta65
RP335Fernando Rodney43
RP425Jacob McGee*12
RP526Wade Davis67

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Stephen Vogt, Sam Fuld (who is injured).

Pitchers - JP Howell, Brandon Gomes, Josh Lueke, Burke Badenhop.

Analysis: The Rays have their usual assortment of young starting pitchers, prime-age position players, and aging relievers, with weak spots at catcher and much of the non-Longoria infield (depending where Zobrist is on a particular day, which thus far is more often in the outfield). It's always hard to guess how Hellickson, Moore and Davis (to the extent he gets another shot in the rotation) will progress down the path to David Pricedom.

Despite an early injury, I have a suspicion that his age 27 contract year will be good to BJ Upton, who has definitely followed the Adrian Beltre career path; Upton's five year average of .257/.346/.425 with 32 doubles, 17 HR, 37 SB & 71 BB is solid, but somehow his individual seasons don't quite match up to that package.

Toronto Blue Jays

Raw EWSL: 204.17
Adjusted: 227.16
Age-Adj.: 221.26
WS Age: 29.2
2012 W-L: 87-75

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C26JP Arencibia*715
1B28Adam Lind1212
2B30Kelly Johnson1615
SS29Yunel Escobar1918
3B22Brett Lawrie*518
RF31Jose Bautista3025
CF25Colby Rasmus1316
LF25Eric Thames*48
DH29Edwin Encarnacion99
C229Jeff Mathis44
INF45Omar Vizquel42
OF31Rajai Davis108
1330Ben Francisco66
SP127Ricky Romero1614
SP227Brandon Morrow76
SP325Brett Cecil66
SP422Henderson Alvarez*25
SP525Joel Carreno+14
RP128Sergio Santos#89
RP237Francisco Cordero1210
RP341Darren Oliver75
RP427Luis Perez*12
RP534Jason Frasor65

Subjective Adjustments: None, but Brett Lawrie's EWSL may be somewhat enthusiastic here, as is sometimes the case for 22 year olds.

Also on Hand: Position players - Travis Snider.

Pitchers - Dustin McGowan (hurt again) and Jesse Litsch.

Analysis: What a difference a year makes for a team I has ranked last entering last season; EWSL has them effectively even with Boston and Tampa, even adjusting for Canadian exchange rates.

Colby Rasmus is to the Jays what Upton and Crawford are to Tampa and Boston, the lineup's pivotal enigma. The pitching staff is still a crapshoot beyond Romero, but there are a fair number of live arms here.

Baltimore Orioles

Raw EWSL: 176.00
Adjusted: 181.12
Age-Adj.: 176.99
WS Age: 28.6
2012 W-L: 72-90

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C26Matt Wieters1719
1B26Chris Davis44
2B34Brian Roberts76
SS29JJ Hardy1515
3B28Mark Reynolds1717
RF28Nick Markakis2020
CF26Adam Jones1517
LF28Nolan Reimold77
DH30Wilson Betemit109
C231Ronny Paulino65
INF28Robert Andino66
OF34Endy Chavez43
1333Nick Johnson43
SP129Jason Hammell76
SP226Jake Arrieta#46
SP325Tommy Hunter67
SP426Wei-Yin Chen+04
SP525Brian Matusz44
RP129Jim Johnson87
RP232Matt Lindstrom43
RP334Kevin Gregg65
RP429Darren O'Day54
RP534Luis Ayala32

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Ryan Flaherty.

Pitchers - Pedro Strop, Troy Patton, Zach Britton, Tsuyoshi Wada, Brad Bergesen.

Analysis: The Orioles aren't terrible, but this division could easily leave a lot of their players look like Robert Andino.

Wieters, Davis and Jones have basically reached the put up or shut up stage for their hyped potential. Davis now has a career line of .322/.380/.645 in AA, .337/.397/.609 in AAA, but .252/.301/.448 in MLB. In MLB, he's averaged a .335 BABIP, 24 HR, 39 BB, and 189 K per 600 AB. Between AA and AAA: .395 BABIP, 41 HR, 58 BB, 156 K per 600 AB. In other words, it's not just the strikeouts, Davis has struggled across the board to translate his skills to the MLB level. He could hit 45 homers, he could hit .210; he could do both. If he and Jones both improve their strike zone judgment just a bit, this lineup looks a lot better. Then you have Hardy, who is liable to do anything in a given season (I sort of half expect him to hit 30 homers because having two good years in a row is the one thing he's never done), and Markakis, who is battling to avoid the Ben Grieve career path he's been on for the past few seasons, as well as Reynolds, who will be a terror if he plays every day and strikes out less than 200 times, but is more apt to terrorize his own pitching staff. If ever there was an offense designed for the outside possibility of making its batting coach look like a genius...Jim Presley has his work cut out for him.

We pass in silence and avert our eyes from Baltimore's pitching beyond noting that Jake Arrieta started Opening Day.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:00 PM | Baseball 2012-13 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
April 9, 2012
BASEBALL: 2012 AL Central EWSL Report

Long-time readers know that the timing of my annual division previews has gotten more erratic over the years, but since this is a multi-year project, I can't drop the ball even if I'm late, late enough that the season's already underway before the first one. So here we go.

Part 1 of my preseason previews is the AL Central; this is the first 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:
+ (Rookie)
* (Based on one season)
# (Based on two seasons)

Detroit Tigers

Raw EWSL: 250.83
Adjusted: 262.49
Age-Adj.: 254.41
WS Age: 28.5
2012 W-L: 98-64

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C25Alex Avila1620
1B28Prince Fielder3030
2B31Ryan Raburn108
SS30Jhonny Peralta1816
3B29Miguel Cabrera3332
RF27Brennan Boesch#1012
CF25Austin Jackson#1319
LF26Delmon Young1415
DH26Andy Dirks*37
C232Gerald Laird65
INF32Ramon Santiago75
OF32Don Kelly#44
1326Danny Worth#11
SP129Justin Verlander2320
SP227Max Scherzer1110
SP328Doug Fister1211
SP423Rick Porcello88
SP523Drew Smyly+04
RP132Jose Valverde1310
RP234Joaquin Benoit76
RP338Octavio Dotel64
RP429Phil Coke54
RP526Daniel Schlereth33

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Clete Thomas, the Ghost of Brandon Inge, the injured and almost certainly out for the season Victor Martinez.

Pitchers - Charlie Furbush, Al Albuquerque (who's injured), Duane Below, Andrew Oliver, Collin Balester, Brayan Villarreal.

Analysis: As befits a team that went to the ALCS last year and then added Prince Fielder, EWSL rates the Tigers as fairly overwhelming favorites to win the AL Central going away. Verlander's continuing health and durability is the key assumption there. So far, the Tigers have played as a caricature of themselves, scoring nearly 9 runs per game but with an appalling .654 Defensive Efficiency Rating - that infield's not going to be pretty. Also, the Tigers' depth in their everyday lineup is not great, if they have injuries. But these are mostly nits.

As you may have heard, Octavio Dotel has set the all-time record for most teams played for, 13 in 14 seasons. Smyly had a good pro debut last season - 2.07 ERA, 9.3 K, 2.6 BB, 0.1 HR/9 (just 2 homers in 126 IP) - and got stronger in the last third of the season when he moved up to AA, but will be making a big leap to the big leagues.

Cleveland Indians

Raw EWSL: 181.17
Adjusted: 193.77
Age-Adj.: 188.33
WS Age: 28.4
2012 W-L: 76-86

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C26Carlos Santana#1317
1B29Casey Kotchman1212
2B25Jason Kipnis*37
SS26Asdrubal Cabrera1920
3B32Jack Hannahan86
RF29Shin-Soo Choo1716
CF25Michael Brantley89
LF26Aaron Cunningham#22
DH35Travis Hafner139
C226Lou Marson#45
INF27Jason Donald#45
OF32Shelley Duncan75
1329Grady Sizemore55
SP127Justin Masterson109
SP228Ubaldo Jimenez1413
SP327Josh Tomlin#66
SP439Derek Lowe65
SP528Kevin Slowey43
RP126Chris Perez1011
RP228Tony Sipp55
RP328Joe Smith55
RP427Vinnie Pestano*47
RP530Rafael Perez54

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Lonnie Chisenhall, who may end up the third baseman at some point; Ryan Spilborghs.

Pitchers - Chris Ray.

Analysis: The Indians have the air of optimism about them, but Cabrera will have a hard time topping last season, as will Masterson (I'd bet on Masterson, of the two). There's room for growth from Santana and a rebound by Choo - and you never know with Sizemore, although he's on the 60-day DL at this writing - but it's hard to look up and down this roster and see where they make up the gap to catch the Tigers.

A full season of Ubaldo Jimenez should help stabilize the rotation, but as of now he looks like another data point for the idea that guys who pitch well in Coors end up old before their time from the strain.

Kansas City Royals

Raw EWSL: 135.33
Adjusted: 154.33
Age-Adj.: 166.17
WS Age: 27.3
2012 W-L: 69-93

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C30Brayan Pena44
1B22Eric Hosmer*723
2B30Yuniesky Betancourt1110
SS25Alcides Escobar910
3B23Mike Moustakas*25
RF28Jeff Francouer1212
CF26Lorenzo Cain#23
LF28Alex Gordon1313
DH26Billy Butler1820
C232Humberto Quintero33
INF28Chris Getz77
OF30Mitch Maier76
1330Jason Bourgeois33
SP135Bruce Chen86
SP228Luke Hochevar55
SP329Jonathan Sanchez76
SP428Felipe Paulino33
SP523Danny Duffy*11
RP128Jonathan Broxton54
RP226Greg Holland*510
RP325Aaron Crow*36
RP422Tim Collins*25
RP528Luis Mendoza11

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position players - Johnny Giovatella, like Getz, will sooner or later challenge again for the second base job.

Pitchers - Joakim Soria, who won't pitch; Blake Wood.

Analysis: The Royals are back in that familiar position of having optimism derived from young talent in the lineup, but - as of yet - nothing comparable in the rotation. Duffy has the minor league record of a high-end prospect, but he got cuffed around last season and has much to prove to show he's turned that corner. And of course, this team is still held together by too many players of the Francouer, Chen, Betancourt ilk. The Royals could well post a winning record if Moustakas and Duffy blossom and more help arrives from the minors, but it's hard to see them actually contending yet.

Minnesota Twins

Raw EWSL: 169.33
Adjusted: 189.37
Age-Adj.: 175.41
WS Age: 29.7
2012 W-L: 72-90

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C29Joe Mauer1919
1B24Chris Parmelee+311
2B27Alexi Casilla67
SS37Jamey Carroll138
3B27Danny Valencia911
RF24Ben Revere*512
CF28Denard Span1313
LF33Josh Willingham1613
DH31Justin Morneau119
C231Ryan Doumit87
INF26Trevor Plouffe*37
OF27Luke Hughes*36
1331Sean Burroughs10
SP136Carl Pavano1110
SP230Scott Baker109
SP328Francisco Liriano77
SP430Nick Blackburn65
SP533Jason Marquis64
RP128Matt Capps88
RP229Glen Perkins44
RP329Brian Duensing76
RP424Alex Burnett#11
RP531Jared Burton11

Subjective Adjustments: None.

Also on Hand: Position Players - Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Pitchers - Jeff Gray.

Analysis: Few teams have fallen as far as fast as these Twins, with the unraveling of Mauer, Morneau and Liriano dashing any hopes the team could have had of fixing the problems further down the roster (a lesser storyline being the disappointment of Scott Baker and the now-departed Kevin Slowey). 72-90, reflecting some of the residual strength of the fallen stars, may actually be optimistic.

Chicago White Sox

Raw EWSL: 178.50
Adjusted: 195.73
Age-Adj.: 174.21
WS Age: 30.2
2012 W-L: 71-91

POSAgePLAYERRaw EWSLAge Adj
C35AJ Pierzynski118
1B36Paul Konerko2518
2B25Gordon Beckham1315
SS30Alexi Ramirez1917
3B25Brent Morel#23
RF31Alex Rios108
CF28Alejandro de Aza55
LF23Dayan Viciedo#23
DH32Adam Dunn118
C226Tyler Flowers*23
INF28Brent Lillibridge44
OF35Kosuke Fukudome1410
1323Eduardo Escobar+04
SP127John Danks1211
SP229Gavin Floyd1210
SP331Jake Peavy64
SP429Phil Humber#66
SP523Chris Sale#710
RP124Hector Santiago+14
RP235Matt Thornton97
RP323Addison Reed+04
RP430Jesse Crain86
RP534Will Ohman32

Subjective Adjustments: None. Santiago has been announced as the closer, but I still expect Reed to take the job by season's end.

Also on Hand: Position players - Conor Jackson, Osvaldo Martinez.

Pitchers - Zack Stewart.

Analysis: Can these guys really be worse than the hapless Twins? I admit some skepticism, but despite a lot of good arms, this team's best everyday players have a lot of years on them. It's more likely that the Twins underperform their EWSL than the White Sox significantly overperform, although of course another about-face by Dunn and Rios would help.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:00 PM | Baseball 2012-13 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
April 5, 2012
POLITICS: The Momentum Finally Shifts, Slightly, To Romney

Photobucket

I've previously looked in detail at the breakdown of GOP primary votes here, here and here; for purposes of this series, I've broken out the votes in three groups - the five conservative candidates (Santorum, Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann and Cain), the two moderate candidates (Romney and Hunstman) and the libertarian (Paul) - for reasons explained in the first post. In my second post, I detailed the signs to look for to see whether and when Romney would start putting the race away with the voters rather than simply plodding through the accumulation of delegates.

After the March 24 vote in Louisiana and Tuesday's votes in Wisconsin, Maryland and DC, we can see the signs of that momentum shift, but only slightly, with stubborn resistance to Romney still continuing. Not-unrelatedly, we can see the collapse of Newt Gingrich's campaign to levels even lower than he was getting in February, the last time he went a month without being on the ballot in any Southern state (recall that Newt was not on the Missouri ballot). Let's start with the month-by-month running tally:

CandidateJANUARY%FEBRUARY%MARCH%APRIL%
Romney 1,071,678 40.5% 741,495 40.6% 2,181,105 37.6% 466,928 45.4%
Santorum 378,995 14.3% 692,296 37.9% 1,748,498 30.1% 358,668 34.9%
Gingrich 817,770 30.9% 160,360 8.8% 1,219,154 21.0% 72,509 7.0%
Paul 278,729 10.5% 215,023 11.8% 578,435 10.0% 111,129 10.8%
Huntsman 50,049 1.9% 2,817 0.2% 15,387 0.3% 6,851 0.7%
Perry 23,592 0.9% 6,293 0.3% 23,581 0.4% 1,041 0.1%
Bachmann 10,856 0.4% 3,480 0.2% 8,688 0.1% 6,054 0.6%
Cain 10,046 0.4% 3,555 0.2% 39 0.0% - 0.0%
Rest 4,742 0.2% 1,528 0.1% 29,142 0.5% 5,416 0.5%
Conservatives 1,241,259 46.9% 865,984 47.4% 2,999,960 51.7% 438,272 42.6%
Moderates 1,121,727 42.4% 744,312 40.7% 2,196,492 37.8% 473,779 46.1%
Libertarians 278,729 10.5% 215,023 11.8% 578,435 10.0% 111,129 10.8%
TOTAL 2,646,457 1,826,847 5,804,029 1,028,596

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:30 PM | Politics 2012 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)