Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
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

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

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

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

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.

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, 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 2012 W-L record adds EWSL plus 39.7 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 six seasons (2011 team results are rounded up here).

As always, the depth charts here are drawn from multiple sources, including early-season box scores and the depth charts at Baseball, all modified by press reports and my own assessments. I take responsibility for any errors; a lot can still change.

Check out previous AL West previews from 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005 and 2004.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:00 PM | Baseball 2012-14 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

I'll be in Europe for the 17 days but I will look forward to your essay on Bobby Valentine's tenure as Red Sox manager of 14 (hell, hopefully 13) games. What a f***ing disaster.

Posted by: jim at April 21, 2012 9:39 PM
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