Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
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.

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 Prospectus.com, all modified by press reports and my own assessments. I take responsibility for any errors; a lot can still change.

You can compare the prior AL East roundups for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:00 PM | Baseball 2012-13 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Crank,

I appreciate the time you take putting these together. That said, you have effectively ruined any chance I had of a productive day at work.

Posted by: Magrooder at April 13, 2012 10:49 AM
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