2010 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. I’ve also resurrected for this season the team ages, which are weighted by non-age-adjusted EWSL, so the best players count more towards determining the age of the roster.
Prior preview: the 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)

Boston Red Sox
Raw EWSL: 296.33 (112 W)
Adjusted: 298.90 (113 W)
Age-Adj.: 266.84 (102 W)
WS Age: 31.10
2010 W-L: 102-60

C 31 Victor Martinez 18 15
1B 31 Kevin Youkilis 26 22
2B 26 Dustin Pedroia 24 26
SS 34 Marco Scutaro 17 14
3B 31 Adrian Beltre 12 10
RF 34 JD Drew 16 14
CF 37 Mike Cameron 18 11
LF 26 Jacoby Ellsbury 17 19
DH 34 David Ortiz 15 13
C2 38 Jason Varitek 9 6
INF 36 Mike Lowell 14 11
OF 26 Jeremy Hermida 12 13
13 26 Jed Lowrie# 3 4
SP1 30 Josh Beckett 15 12
SP2 26 Jon Lester 15 16
SP3 31 John Lackey 14 11
SP4 25 Clay Buchholz 4 4
SP5 29 Daisuke Matsuzaka 8 7
RP1 29 Jon Papelbon 15 13
RP2 34 Hideki Okajima 8 6
RP3 28 Ramon Ramirez 7 6
RP4 25 Daniel Bard* 2 4
RP5 43 Tim Wakefield 9 7

Subjective Adjustments: None, but bear in mind that EWSL is valuing Lowell, Varitek and Hermida based on being everyday players in 2009, Lowrie in light of extensive playing time in 2008. That’s not irrational – teams with that kind of depth often end up needing it, especially Hermida when you consider the injury histories of Drew and Cameron. But in the end, there won’t be at bats enough for all of them.
Also on Hand: Position players – Bill Hall (another recently deposed regular!), Josh Reddick, Tug Hulett.
Pitchers – Manny Delcarmen, Joe Nelson, Boof Bonser, Kason Gabbard, Dustin Richardson, Brian Shouse, Fabio Castro, Michael Bowden.
Analysis: This Red Sox team doesn’t look offensively strong enough to me to be a real 100-win team, but they and the Yankees are doubtless the strongest teams in the game by a healthy margin, in Boston’s case due to their depth, pitching and defense. The rotation has some question marks, especially Matsuzaka and the durability of Lackey, but as with the rest of the roster there are fallbacks. Maybe the biggest vulnerable keystone is Mike Cameron, the oldest guy in the starting lineup and a key to improving Boston’s outfield defense; a Drew-Ellsbury-Hermida outfield is not nearly as solid afield.
EWSL recognizes that Lester is really the star of the pitching staff now, and without the tougher road of pitching in Fenway in the AL East, he might be right there with Lincecum, Greinke, King Felix, Santana and maybe Halladay and Sabathia as the game’s very best pitchers; as it is, he’s at least in the next tier with Verlander, Lee, Wainwright, Haren and Carpenter. But of course Beckett remains the big-game ace.
I remain…I think the proper word is incredulous, rather than skeptical, at Scutaro as a major league everyday shortstop at age 34, but he’s built up to this gradually, he’s a solid enough bat and defensively the Sawx have Beltre and Pedroia to help cover his sides.
The Defending World Champion Hated Yankees
Raw EWSL: 283.67 (108 W)
Adjusted: 289.60 (110 W)
Age-Adj.: 250.32 (97 W)
WS Age: 31.92
2010 W-L: 97-65

C 38 Jorge Posada 15 11
1B 30 Mark Teixeira 27 24
2B 27 Robinson Cano 17 17
SS 36 Derek Jeter 24 18
3B 34 Alex Rodriguez 25 22
RF 29 Nick Swisher 16 15
CF 29 Curtis Granderson 21 20
LF 26 Brett Gardner# 6 7
DH 31 Nick Johnson 10 9
C2 24 Francisco Cervelli* 2 4
INF 24 Ramiro Pena* 2 5
OF 36 Randy Winn 17 13
13 33 Marcus Thames 5 5
SP1 29 CC Sabathia 21 18
SP2 33 AJ Burnett 13 9
SP3 38 Andy Pettitte 11 9
SP4 33 Javier Vazquez 15 10
SP5 24 Phil Hughes 6 6
RP1 40 Mariano Rivera 16 12
RP2 24 Joba Chamberlain 8 8
RP3 35 Damaso Marte 3 2
RP4 27 Alfredo Aceves# 5 5
RP5 25 David Robertson# 2 3

Subjective Adjustments: None. Winn has the same issue as some of the Red Sox bench, but he’s sharing time with Gardner, and while 20 Win Shares seems optimistic for the pair, it’s not crazy. Also, the Yankees will need bench depth (both Winn and Marcus Thames) with Nick Johnson in the starting lineup.
Also on Hand: Position players – Mike Rivera, Kevin Russo, Jamie Hoffman.
Pitchers – Jonathan Albaladejo, Chan Ho Park, Sergio Mitre, Kei Igawa, Boone Logan, Royce Ring. Chad Gaudin was released this morning.
Analysis: At every turn, the Yankees have a stronger offense and more impressive-looking frontline talent than the Sox, but they’re also older (except in center field) and subject to more uncertainties.
Hughes was named the fifth starter today, sending Joba back to the bullpen. Your guess is as good as mine how long either of those assignments will last, although at some point the Yankees need to make a long-term commitment what they’re doing with those two guys. I think the die has been cast now to try Hughes as far as he will go as a rotation starter, but Joba is more enigmatic. He may even need a change of scenery.
A-Rod’s streak of consecutive 100-Run/100-RBI seasons ended last year at 11, second only to Lou Gehrig’s 13. In 14 major league seasons, he’s either driven in 100 runs, scored 100 runs, or (12 times) both, every year.
The re-signing of Joe Mauer in Minnesota, the aging and injuries to A-Rod, and the continuing uncertainty around Joba means that there remains no heir apparent to Rivera, Jeter or Posada. When those guys go, this may be a more different team than anyone now envisions.
Tampa Bay Rays
Raw EWSL: 227.83 (89 W)
Adjusted: 241.67 (94 W)
Age-Adj.: 238.37 (93 W)
WS Age: 28.31
2010 W-L: 93-69

C 26 Dioner Navarro 9 10
1B 32 Carlos Pena 21 16
2B 29 Ben Zobrist 16 15
SS 30 Jason Bartlett 19 17
3B 24 Evan Longoria# 18 28
RF 25 Matt Joyce# 3 4
CF 25 BJ Upton 18 22
LF 28 Carl Crawford 17 17
DH 33 Pat Burrell 13 11
C2 30 Kelly Shoppach 9 8
INF 27 Willy Aybar 6 6
OF 34 Gabe Kapler 5 4
13 29 Hank Blalock 6 6
SP1 28 James Shields 13 12
SP2 26 Matt Garza 11 11
SP3 27 Jeff Niemann* 6 11
SP4 24 David Price* 3 7
SP5 24 Wade Davis* 1 2
RP1 30 Rafael Soriano 8 7
RP2 32 Dan Wheeler 8 6
RP3 27 JP Howell 9 8
RP4 32 Grant Balfour 6 5
RP5 27 Andy Sonnanstine 4 4

Subjective Adjustments: None, but Matt Joyce and Wade Davis, if healthy all year, should well exceed their previously established major league performance.
Also on Hand: Position players – Perennial SS prospect Reid Brignac, Desmond Jennings (who is supposed to be Carl Crawford 2.0, although at the same age, Crawford was entering his fourth season as a major league regular), Sean Rodriguez.
Pitchers – Randy Choate, Joaquin Benoit, Lance Cormier, Winston Abreu, Dale Thayer. Abreu’s an interesting “prospect” case: a 33-year-old Dominican who entered the Atlanta system in 1994 (before Chipper Jones’ first season as a regular), he’s crapped out in brief major league trials (7.31 ERA in 44.1 innings for four teams over three seasons), has pitched in Mexico and Japan – but since 2006, he’s thrown 168.2 innings at AAA with a 1.93 ERA and eye-popping peripherals: 5.40 H/9, 0.54 HR/9, 3.00 BB/9, 12.68 K/9.
Analysis: The Brewers had a wonderful collection of talent in the 1978-83 period, but somehow they only put together the one magical pennant (plus a postseason appearance in the scrambled season of 1981). Somehow, they often ended up third. Will that be the fate of these Rays? The good news is, there still seems to be a fair amount of potential upside/bounce-back here. Their Win Shares age marks them as the youngest team in the division (if Baltimore is hoping to rebuild to where the Rays are now, they need to build back in time). BJ Upton, David Price, Pat Burrell, Dioner Navarro and Andy Sonnanstine could hardly have had more disappointing seasons in 2009, and James Shields was off his game as well; Price and Wade Davis could potentially arrive in a hurry. On the other hand, a Navarro-like dropoff could easily plague the three Rays who played massively above expectations last season: Ben Zobrist, Jason Bartlett and Jeff Neimann (Zobrist Win Shares the last three seasons: 1, 8, 27). Check out how Tampa’s infield, powered by Zobrist and Bartlett, stacked up last season against their division rivals:
Average starting infielder, 2009:

TB 602 0.282 0.377 0.524 93 93 15 4 11
NYY 658 0.310 0.384 0.519 98 93 13 4 17
BOS 524 0.288 0.364 0.468 76 69 8 4 16

(Poor Nick Green has the honor of dragging down the Red Sox. Note the low GIDP total for the Rays despite Longoria hitting into 27 despite batting third behind Crawford all year, mostly with Upton or Bartlett leading off – that high a total suggests that it’s in the team’s interests for Crawford in particular to run more ahead of him to avoid that this year, although as it is he ran 76 times last season). Niemann is perhaps unfairly lumped in that group, as he had a fine minor league record, and his signature skill (a low HR rate) has persisted at every level; if he can bump up his K rate even a little from 6.2 K/9 last season (it was 9.1 for his minor league career), he could be a star.
Boy, this division has some 24-year-old pitchers, doesn’t it?
Navarro sounds as if he’ll be reasonably ready to start the season despite a horrific spring training collision with Jacque Jones, who’s fighting tooth and nail for a roster spot on the Twins.
Baltimore Orioles
Raw EWSL: 171.50 (70 W)
Adjusted: 193.50 (78 W)
Age-Adj.: 181.93 (74 W)
WS Age: 29.61
2010 W-L: 74-88

C 24 Matt Wieters* 5 11
1B 30 Garrett Atkins 11 10
2B 32 Brian Roberts 20 16
SS 30 Cesar Izturis 8 7
3B 36 Miguel Tejada 18 14
RF 26 Nick Markakis 19 21
CF 24 Adam Jones# 10 15
LF 26 Nolan Reimold* 5 11
DH 32 Luke Scott 11 9
C2 35 Chad Moeller 2 1
INF 32 Ty Wigginton 9 7
OF 25 Felix Pie 4 5
13 26 Robert Andino# 2 2
SP1 35 Kevin Millwood 10 7
SP2 31 Jeremy Guthrie 10 8
SP3 24 Brad Bergesen* 5 10
SP4 23 Brian Matusz* 2 3
SP5 22 Chris Tillman* 1 2
RP1 32 Mike Gonzalez 6 5
RP2 27 Jim Johnson 6 7
RP3 27 Cla Meredith 4 4
RP4 35 Koji Uehara* 2 3
RP5 36 Mark Hendrickson 5 4

Subjective Adjustments: None.
Also on Hand: Position players – Jeff Salazar, Lou Montanez, Michael Aubrey.
Pitchers – Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate, Alfredo Simon, Will Ohman.
Analysis: In another division, I’d be guardedly optimistic; the Orioles finally seem to be getting their rotation together, their outfield is reasonably young and talented, Wieters still looks like an eventual superstar if not the immediate one everybody predicted last season, and the infield and bullpen are at least anchored mostly by competent veterans (Gonzalez, like Soriano with the Rays, was heisted from a Braves franchise disproportionately disgusted with its bullpen help). Granted, there are trouble signs: Millwood has been terrible this spring, Markakis could just as easily turn into Ben Grieve rather than Carl Yastrzemski, Reimold may not repeat last season’s pleasant surprise, and any of the trio of Matusz, Bergesen, and Tillman could easily go the way of so many promising young pitchers. But the main problem the Orioles face is 54 games on their schedule with the Beasts of the East.
I swear, I will spend the next several years muttering “e before i spells Greinke, i before e spells Wieters.”
Tejada has averaged 27 GIDP per year the past four seasons, leading the league five times in six years; he hasn’t yet cracked Jim Rice’s surprisingly durable single-season record of 36.
Luke Scott’s Win Shares the past three seasons: 11, 11, 11. That’s an established performance level.
Toronto Blue Jays
Raw EWSL: 150.50 (63 W)
Adjusted: 160.50 (67 W)
Age-Adj.: 153.81 (64 W)
WS Age: 29.39
2010 W-L: 64-98

C 29 John Buck 7 6
1B 33 Lyle Overbay 12 10
2B 28 Aaron Hill 18 18
SS 33 Alex Gonzalez 6 5
3B 27 Edwin Encarnacion 10 11
RF 29 Jose Bautista 8 7
CF 31 Vernon Wells 12 10
LF 22 Travis Snider* 3 8
DH 26 Adam Lind 14 16
C2 35 Jose Molina 6 4
INF 35 John McDonald 3 2
OF 29 Jeremy Reed 2 2
13 32 Randy Ruiz* 2 2
SP1 25 Ricky Romero* 5 11
SP2 28 Shaun Marcum 6 5
SP3 30 Scott Richmond* 2 3
SP4 25 Brandon Morrow 5 6
SP5 24 Marc Rzepcynski* 2 5
RP1 32 Jason Frasor 6 5
RP2 34 Scott Downs 8 6
RP3 28 Jeremy Accardo 3 3
RP4 32 Kevin Gregg 9 7
RP5 34 Shawn Camp 4 3

Subjective Adjustments: None. This is all there is, folks. But Snider should beat 8 WS if he’s in the lineup all year.
Also on Hand: Position players – Raul Chavez, Joey Gathright, Jorge Padilla, Jarrett Hoffpauir.
Pitchers – Plenty of about the same quality as the guys listed above: Brian Tallet, Brett Cecil, Dana Eveland, David Purcey, Jesse Carlson, Dustin McGowan, Jesse Litsch.
Analysis: 2010 marketing slogan: “Hey, we already paid them.” Marcum, who did not throw a pitch last season, has been named to start Opening Day, replacing the departed (liberated?) Roy Halladay. The Yankees, Sox and Rays may be tough places to break in as a young starting pitcher given the pressures, but Baltimore and Toronto are even less enviable, especially Toronto without Millwood: the youngsters (in Richmond’s case, not even young) have to carry the front of the rotation on top of facing all those tough opponents.
The Jays aren’t so desperately under-talented – there’s at least a plausible gap-filler at most every position, and the bullpen’s deep enough in decent arms that they should eventually be able to figure out which ones are going to pitch well this year – but in this division, with so little front-line talent and an unproven rotation, I’ll be surprised if they avoid 100 losses.

The Method
For those of you who are unfamiliar, EWSL is explained here, and you should read that link before commenting on the method; 2010 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 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 2010 W-L record adds EWSL plus 39.42 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 five seasons (it went up this season, as the average team’s EWSL in 2009 undershot its final win total by 41.82 Win Shares).
As always, the depth charts here are drawn from multiple sources (my starting points are the depth charts at Baseball Prospectus.com and RotoTimes, modified by press reports and my own assessments) to list the guys who will do the work (e.g., if there are two guys battling for a fifth starter spot I’ll often list one of them with the relievers if I think they’ll both end up pitching; in some cases I will list a guy who is starting the year on the DL or in the minors), but I take responsibility for any errors. It’s still a fluid time for rosters.
You can compare the prior AL East roundups for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009.

8 thoughts on “2010 AL East EWSL Report”

  1. I’m glad you added “Defending World Champion” before “Hated Yankees,” but it must have killed you to do it.
    I really feel sorry for the other teams of the AL East apart from the Yanks and Sox (well, not that sorry, but you know what I mean). They’ve been destined to be also-rans for the better part of a decade. Even when Jeter, Posada and Rivera retire, the Yanks (and Sox) still have that massive payroll advantage.

  2. The new school lesson is “i” before “e” except after c, r, t and x. No one named Greinke or Teixeira in living memory has won a spelling bee. The Teixeira’s voted twice for “ei”–vote early and vote often! Old McDonald had a farm e-i-e-i-o! Teixeira left the Angels to go to the Yankees. Teix is New York’s spelling problem now.
    Take it from Dizzy Dean: “Let the teachers teach English, and I will teach baseball. There is a lot of people in the United States who say isn’t, and they ain’t eating. Old Diz knows the King’s English. And not only that. I also know the Queen is English.”

  3. I’m not clear on how rookie projections are calculated. Do you make any subjective predictions, or is it just based on whatever they did last year adjusted for this year’s age?
    Because I’d bet the farm that Brian Matusz will have more than 3 win shares in 2010.

  4. Second-year players like Matusz are just age-adjusted based on last season. I, too, think Matusz is a good bet, but the point of EWSL is to never project based on anything but past results and age.

  5. Crank,
    We disagee on nearly everything politically, but I really appreciate the work you do on the baseball analyses. Great work!

  6. Lester defies the “lefties have a tough time in Fenway” logic. The guy simply owns that park. Over the last 2 years (the only 2 relevant ones of his career) he is 18-4 with a 2.65 ERA at home and 13-10 with a 3.96 ERA on the road. The question with Lester is will he become as confortable and dominant outside of Fenway as he is inside.
    I was initially aghast at the Scutaro signing then I woke up and realized the Sox’ shortstops in 2009 were Nick Green (good lord he played in over 100 games!), Julio Lugo (don’t even get me started) and Alex Gonzalez (whom I really like but he does not get on base and while he is a whiz with anything hit at him his range is Jeter-ian). Scutoro is a solid .260-.280/.340-.375/.360-.400 guy who makes plays in the field. I feel much more confortable with him hitting in the 9 slot than all the jokers we ran out there last year.
    I’m not sure the Sox are a 102 win team. I like the pitching-defensive oriented concept since there is no way to compete with the Yankees offensively. I think the 3 biggest questions they have are 1) Will Dice-K be able to pitch effectively this year? 2) Is Bucholz really ready to be a MLB pitcher? (signs this spring point to no) 3) Is Papelbon still going to be an elite-level guy?

Comments are closed.