As I did last year and the year before, before diving into my preseason Established Win Shares Levels (“EWSL”) roster analyses, I’m going to look back at last season’s on a team-by-team level. For those of you who need a primer on EWSL and my annual roster roundups, go here. A few basic reminders:
*I look at 23 players (13 non-pitchers, 10 pitchers) per team, so an average team should exceed its EWSL due to the fact that most teams these days use between 30-45 players in a season.
*EWSL is an estimate of the established major league talent on a team (adjusted for age) going into a season. It’s not a system for predicting the future, although it can be a helpful part of the toolkit (or at least a sanity check) in making predictions of the future. That said, the more closely future performance hews to EWSL, the better the system is doing in setting baseline expectations.
*EWSL uses a standard figure for rookies (11 WS for rookie everyday players, 4 for rookie bench players, 5 for rookie starting pitchers, 6 for rookie relievers). It does not distinguish between good and bad prospects if both are expected to hold everyday jobs. Thus, a team with a lot of high-quality rookies will exceed its EWSL. I’d like to add a non-subjective adjustment for rookie quality, but until I can get Major League Equivalency Win Shares (I don’t believe they exist anywhere), I have to rely on the facts that (1) bad rookies rarely get everyday jobs and (2) good rookies often fall on their faces. But I have used adjustments for Japanese imports.
That said, basically, my analysis assumes that there are three components to team success: how much established talent is on the preseason roster, how well they perform, and how much production the team gets from guys who supplement those top 23 players with trades, rookies or scrubs. The following table shows the following columns: (1) each team’s 2007 EWSL; (2) the actual Win Shares for those 23 players (includes Win Shares earned for other teams, e.g., Mark Teixeira counts with the Rangers); (3) column (2) minus column (1) to show how the 23 players fared relative to EWSL; (4) the team’s total actual 2007 Win Shares (i.e., Wins x 3); (5) the team’s Win Shares minus those from the top 23 players (in the example above this will include the negative value of, say, Teixeira’s Braves Win Shares from the Rangers’ “Rest” column); and (6) column (4) minus column (1) to show how the team as a whole fared relative to EWSL. Teams are ranked by column (3), since that’s the column that lets us compare apples to apples and see how each team’s preseason-rated players did:
|Team||EWSL||23-Man WS||23-Man WS-EWSL||Total WS||Rest||Total WS-EWSL|
A few observations:
*All in all, I’m pretty happy with EWSL’s “performance” here at the team level – 11 out of 30 teams within 9 WS of their established levels, 21 within 20, and there were a lot more major downward than upward departures, as you would expect, since unforseeable injuries are more common than lightning-strike improvements. Anyway, the idea of a system like EWSL isn’t to take away the element of surprise but precisely to set a baseline against which to measure surprises. And the Diamondbacks win the award for that going away.
*I generally regard a large number of win shares for the “rest” as the measure of the GM’s ability to supplement the frontline roster with trades, prospects, etc. in-season. Obviously, in some cases the correlation between EWSL and final team record is going to be influenced not by the arithmetic but by how well I do in figuring out pre-season who the top 23 guys are. The Indians had the majors’ highest number of win shares from players not listed in the preseason preview in very large part because I didn’t include Fausto Carmona. That said, Cleveland had catastrophic failures by Josh Barfield and Cliff Lee, and did an admirable job of finding replacements.
*Billy Beane’s ability to improvise on the fly was also yet again in evidence, with Oakland showing the second-highest figure for the rest of the team (Travis Buck figuring prominently) even as the original projected roster went in the crapper.
*The Mets and Phillies provide a fascinating contrast: the two teams were nearly even in preseason EWSL, they both nailed their preseason figures almost exactly with identical totals (note that I hadn’t listed Pedro at all with the Mets’ preseason roster), and the Phils’ margin of victory was provided entirely by a 3-WS margin on the rest of the roster, mainly Kyle Kendrick but also marginally useful pickups like Tadahito Iguchi and Kyle Lohse.
*As usual, you win by being both lucky and good – note that the list of top overacheiving teams here includes both the Red Sox and Rockies.
*It’s easier to see why the Marlins were willing to cut bait and start over when you consider how badly they underperformed last season.
*The NL West produced three of the four largest positive surprises and by far the two largest. Here are the totals by division:
|Division||EWSL||23-Man WS||23-Man WS-EWSL||Total WS||Rest||Total WS-EWSL|
Boy, the NL West sticks out there, eh? Some of that is the division having an unexpectedly good year at the expense of the NL East and Central (the West had lot of young talent come along quickly), but given that (when you adjust for the non-standard number of teams in the AL West and NL Central) the NL West started with the smallest per-team EWSL and they all had to play each other, I have to chalk those numbers up in some part tto the unbalanced schedule – somebody has to win those games.
Here are the players among those on the preseason 23-man lineups of each team who were the biggest over and underacvhievers (in general I just went by raw totals, and left off anyone who wasn’t at least +7 or -7):
|D-Backs||E. Byrnes, T. Pena, C. Snyder||C. Tracy, R. Johnson|
|Padres||A. Gonzalez, H. Bell, J. Bard||C. Hensley|
|Mariners||I. Suzuki, JJ. Putz, J. Guillen||R. Sexson|
|Rockies||T. Tulowitzki, B. Hawpe, K. Matsui||R. Ramirez|
|Red Sox||M. Lowell, D. Pedroia, J. Beckett||None|
|Cubs||M. DeRosa, R. Hill||M. Barrett, M. Murton|
|Reds||B. Phillips, J. Hamilton||None|
|Angels||O. Cabrera, C. Kotchman, K. Escobar||J. Rivera, S. Hillenbrand, E. Santana|
|Phillies||C. Ruiz, A. Rowand, J. Werth||F. Garcia|
|Brewers||C. Hart, JJ. Hardy||B. Hall, C. Capuano|
|Pirates||N. McLouth, T. Gorzelanny||J. Bay, Z. Duke, J. Castillo|
|Yankees||A. Rodriguez, J. Posada||J. Giambi|
|Royals||B. Bannister||A. Berroa, J. LaRue|
|Rays||BJ Upton, B. Harris||J. Cantu, Baldelli, C. Crawford|
|Nationals||D. Young||N. Johnson|
|Twins||J. Kubel, T. Hunter||J. Crain, J. Mauer|
|J. Santana, J. Rincon|
|Giants||B. Bonds||El. Alfonzo|
|Rangers||M. Byrd, K. Lofton, G. Laird, CJ Wilson||H. Blalock|
|Braves||K. Johnson, C. Jones, T. Hudson||W. Aybar, Cr. Wilson, B. McCann|
|Blue Jays||J. Accardo, A. Rios||BJ Ryan, L. Overbay, R. Johnson|
|Indians||R. Betancourt, CC Sabathia||J. Barfield, C. Lee|
|Dodgers||B. Penny||B. Clark, J. Schmidt, R. Furcal|
|Tigers||M. Ordonez, C. Granderson||J. Zumaya, C. Shelton|
|P. Polanco||K. Rogers|
|Orioles||None||J. Gibbons, M. Tejada|
|Cardinals||None||C. Carpenter, A. Kennedy|
|P. Wilson, J. Encarnacion|
|Astros||None||J. Jennings, M. Ensberg, A. Everett|
|White Sox||J. Vazquez, J. Thome||J. Crede, S. Podsednik, J. Dye|
|Marlins||K. Gregg||J. Johnson, D. Willis, A. deAza|
|A’s||M. Ellis||J. Kendall, E. Chavez, M. Kotsay|