Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 3, 2012
BASEBALL: 2012 NL West EWSL Report

Part 6 of my now very belated "preseason" previews is the NL West; this is the 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.

Prior: AL Central, AL East, AL West, NL Central, NL 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)

Arizona Diamondbacks

Raw EWSL: 236.50
Adjusted: 246.53
Age-Adj.: 239.48
WS Age: 28.9
2012 W-L: 93-69

C28Miguel Montero2020
1B24Paul Goldschmidt*38
2B30Aaron Hill1413
SS29Stephen Drew1414
3B31Ryan Roberts119
RF24Justin Upton2127
CF28Chris Young1818
LF30Jason Kubel1412
C240Henry Blanco42
INF34Willie Bloomquist65
OF25Gerardo Parra1316
1235Lyle Overbay107
1337John McDonald53
SP127Ian Kennedy1412
SP225Daniel Hudson#1115
SP324Trevor Cahill1112
SP431Joe Saunders108
SP526Josh Collmenter*511
RP135JJ Putz98
RP227David Hernandez87
RP332Brad Ziegler65
RP431Craig Breslow54
RP542Takashi Saito53

Subjective Adjustments: None, but I expect Goldschmidt to easily surpass 8 Win Shares if healthy.

Also on Hand: Position players - Geoff Blum, Cody Ransom (who has now played 10 years in the majors without once having 100 plate appearances), AJ Pollock.

Pitchers - Joe Paterson, who is off to about the worst possible start imaginable: Paterson allowed as many earned runs (11) in April as he did in 62 appearances all last year. In 2.2 innings he's faced 26 batters and allowed 18 baserunners (including 2 homers and 4 doubles), and he hasn't struck out a batter yet. Also Bryan Shaw, Jonathan Albaladejo, Wade Miley, Mike Zagurski, Joe Martinez, Patrick Corbin and Barry Enright.

Analysis: The D-Backs remain the class of this division based on established major league talent, and were the logical preseason favorites. Obviously, the Dodgers’ 4-game lead through May 2 could turn out to be decisive in the long run even if LA comes back to earth. Arizona has also been banged up early, including injuries to Hudson, Drew and Saito. Upton remains a very logical potential MVP candidate.

Henry Blanco is still playing at 40, Matt Treanor at 36, Brian Schneider at 35, Rod Barajas at 36, Dave Ross at 35, Jose Molina at 37. If you know young football players, advise them to consider catching as a career. A little talent, toughness and work ethic will give them a longer, happier career than a lot of NFL stars seem to have.

I haven't run the numbers, but the Diamondbacks have to have made the most trades involving the largest number of contributing major league players over the past 2 years or so.

San Francisco Giants

Raw EWSL: 209.00
Adjusted: 221.64
Age-Adj.: 213.06
WS Age: 28.9
2012 W-L: 84-78

C25Buster Posey#1116
1B24Brandon Belt*37
2B34Freddy Sanchez1110
SS25Brandon Crawford*36
3B25Pablo Sandoval1923
RF28Nate Schierholtz1010
CF30Angel Pagan1716
LF27Melky Cabrera1515
C222Hector Sanchez+04
INF35Aubrey Huff1712
OF28Gregor Blanco22
1232Ryan Theriot129
1327Emmanuel Burriss11
SP128Tim Lincecum1615
SP227Matt Cain1614
SP322Madison Bumgarner#914
SP434Barry Zito43
SP534Ryan Vogelsong76
RP130Brian Wilson1311
RP232Santiago Casilla75
RP333Jeremy Affeldt64
RP434Javier Lopez54
RP529Sergio Romo87

Subjective Adjustments: None, because I’m trying to avoid biasing the results with events since the season started, but clearly Brian Wilson will not be contributing to the Giants this season, and now Sandoval is out with a busted hand. Freddy Sanchez has also been hurt, and it’s not really clear whether he or Burriss ends up as the second baseman once Sanchez is healthy.

Also on Hand: Position players - Brett Pill, Joaquin Arias, Eli Whiteside.

Pitchers - Clay Hensley, Guillermo Mota, Dan Otero, Eric Hacker.

Analysis: As noted above, San Francisco's injuries make it a lot harder for the Giants to pick themselves off the mat. They have a lineup only Brian Sabean could love, despite the presence of three talented young bats (Sandoval, Posey and Belt). The outfield seems particularly symptomatic of a failure to learn anything from the Aaron Rowand signing. I needn't belabor the obvious point that Belt needs to be just stuck in the lineup until he figures things out; he batted .320/.461/.528 in the minors last season after .352/.455/.620 in 2010, but the Giants seem unwilling or unable to live with any growing pains.

As for the rotation, there's been a huge variation thus far in the batting average on balls in play vs various Giants pitchers, and their early successes and failures should seem a lot less dramatic as these even out over the course of the season; it's why I'm not so worried about Lincecum in particular, whose peripheral numbers are still solid:

Dan Otero0.452
Jeremy Affeldt0.417
Guillermo Mota0.367
Tim Lincecum0.351
Ryan Vogelsong0.292
Madison Bumgarner0.245
Santiago Casilla0.192
Clay Hensley0.188
Barry Zito0.188
Matt Cain0.158

Los Angeles Dodgers

Raw EWSL: 204.67
Adjusted: 215.23
Age-Adj.: 200.51
WS Age: 30.2
2012 W-L: 80-82

C31AJ Ellis#33
1B28James Loney1717
2B35Mark Ellis139
SS24Dee Gordon*68
3B32Juan Uribe97
RF30Andre Ethier2018
CF27Matt Kemp2829
LF29Tony Gwynn jr87
C236Matt Treanor43
INF36Adam Kennedy86
OF33Juan Rivera119
1236Jerry Hairston jr118
1326Justin Sellers*24
SP124Clayton Kershaw1921
SP227Chad Billingsley87
SP333Chris Capuano42
SP436Ted Lilly109
SP534Aaron Harang64
RP126Javy Guerra*49
RP224Kenley Jansen#57
RP337Jamey Wright54
RP435Mike MacDougal43
RP533Matt Guerrier64

Subjective Adjustments: None, but as with Goldschmidt, you can assume a pretty high likelihood that Dee Gordon beats 8 Win Shares if he stays healthy all year.

Also on Hand: Position players - Ivan De Jesus jr, the third of the Dodgers’ junior brigade, and Jerry Sands.

Pitchers - Todd Coffey, Blake Hawkesworth, Josh Lindblom, Scott Elbert, Rubby de la Rosa (on the DL) and Ronald Belisario (same).

Analysis: The frontline talent is strong and in its prime, but the rest of the team is ancient and creaky. Obviously, banking on Matt Kemp to hit .411/.500/.856 all year is not a wager I would take. Kemp has now raised his career April line to .343/.405/.618; his .297/.354/.526 line in June is the only one even close. Color me unpersuaded that this is really a 90+ win team unless significant help is added to the roster.

The Dodgers' long-term prognosis, of course, is vastly improved by the end of the McCourt Era, in which - ironically - Frank McCourt proved unable to competently manage even the one part of the team he had experience running (parking lots).

Colorado Rockies

Raw EWSL: 181.83
Adjusted: 193.87
Age-Adj.: 177.50
WS Age: 30.6
2012 W-L: 72-90

C36Ramon Hernandez118
1B38Todd Helton139
2B36Marco Scutaro1410
SS27Troy Tulowitzki2526
3B26Chris Nelson*12
RF33Michael Cuddyer1614
CF26Dexter Fowler1516
LF26Carlos Gonzalez2022
C223Wilin Rosario+14
INF27Jonathan Herrera#44
OF26Tyler Colvin#45
1227Eric Young33
1341Jason Giambi63
SP124Jhoulys Chacin#913
SP249Jamie Moyer21
SP325Juan Nicasio*24
SP433Jeremy Guthrie107
SP531Jorge de la Rosa75
RP137Rafael Betancourt97
RP232Matt Belisle76
RP327Matt Reynolds#22
RP429Josh Roenicke11
RP524Rex Brothers*25

Subjective Adjustments: None. Jorge de la Rosa is expected back in June and will be welcomed by a tattered rotation, but his numbers reflect his injury last season

Also on Hand: Position players - Jordan Pacheco, Eliezer Alfonzo, Hector Gomez.

Pitchers - Drew Pomeranz, who is presently the third or fourth starter pending the return of de la Rosa and Guthrie (also Chacin, just sent to AAA), Tyler Chatwood, Esmil Rogers, Guillermo Moscoso, Edgmer Escalona, Zach Putnam, Josh Outman.

Analysis: I've had a lot of fun on Twitter doing "how old is Jamie Moyer" facts (eg, he was the second-oldest player on the Mariners when he arrived in Seattle in August 1996), but the amazing thing is how dependent the Rockies have been on Moyer. His 3.14 ERA is deceptively low given the unearned runs he's allowed and a low BABIP, but he's basically the same old Moyer, which is a valuable thing on a team in Coors Field with terrible pitching.

A further retrospective on the careers of Moyer, Helton and Giambi is something I should return to later.

San Diego Padres

Raw EWSL: 159.67
Adjusted: 178.57
Age-Adj.: 172.33
WS Age: 28.7
2012 W-L: 71-91

C28Nick Hundley1111
1B25Yonder Alonso*25
2B34Orlando Hudson1513
SS32Jason Bartlett1512
3B28Chase Headley1616
RF29Will Venable1212
CF25Cameron Maybin1214
LF29Carlos Quentin1414
C231John Baker32
INF26Andy Parrino+04
OF28Jesus Guzman*713
1231Chris Denorfia76
1328Jeremy Hermida44
SP128Ednison Volquez11
SP228Clayton Richard65
SP327Cory Luebke*46
SP430Tim Stauffer76
SP524Anthony Bass*36
RP128Huston Street98
RP226Ernesto Frieri#34
RP328Luke Gregerson65
RP425Andrew Cashner#12
RP529Micah Owings43

Subjective Adjustments: None, but again, I expect Alonso to step up with full-time playing time.

Also on Hand: Position players - Kyle Blanks (now out for the season), Mark Kotsay, Blake Tekotte, Logan Forsythe.

Pitchers - Joe Thatcher, Joe Wieland (presently in the rotation), Josh Spence, Brad Brach, Dale Thayer, Jeff Suppan (recently exhumed from the minors - he's now in his 20th professional season. He's also 13 years younger than Moyer), Dustin Moseley (out for the season).

Analysis: What's worse - that the Padres are hitting .216/.302/.331 as a team, or that that doesn't even make them the lowest-scoring team in the league (the Pirates are scoring almost half a run per game less)? Yet, the lineup (partly due to a number of good glove men) isn't full of untalented guys, so much as it lacks anybody with star-level talent, plus the big bat (Quentin) hasn't played yet, with Guzman subbing for him. It's actually the rotation, which the park makes look respectable, that's really weak, and the bullpen is less impressive as well than it seems.

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.

Prior NL West previews here: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:45 PM | Baseball 2012-14 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Been enjoying your Jamie Moyer tweets...

Today is Tony Perez' birthday. He is 70 years old.

Jamie Moyer pitched to Tony Perez in 1986.

Tony Perez batted against Curt Simmons in 1964.

Curt Simmons pitched to Johnny Mize in 1948.

Johnny Mize batted against Carl Hubbell in 1936.

Carl Hubbell pitched to George Harper of the Cardinals in 1928.

In 1916 George Harper played right field next to Ty Cobb for the Tigers.

Six Degrees from Jamie Moyer to Ty Cobb.

Posted by: Cotter at May 14, 2012 2:02 PM
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