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

C 29 Russell Martin 13 12
1B 32 Mark Teixeira 23 19
2B 29 Robinson Cano 29 28
SS 38 Derek Jeter 18 12
3B 36 Alex Rodriguez 18 13
RF 31 Nick Swisher 20 16
CF 31 Curtis Granderson 22 18
LF 28 Brett Gardner 15 15
DH 40 Raul Ibanez 15 8
C2 26 Francisco Cervelli 5 5
INF 25 Eduardo Nunez# 5 7
OF 35 Andruw Jones 8 6
13 34 Eric Chavez 3 3
SP1 31 CC Sabathia 19 15
SP2 23 Michael Pineda* 5 12
SP3 37 Hiroki Kuroda 11 8
SP4 25 Ivan Nova# 6 8
SP5 26 Phil Hughes 6 6
RP1 42 Mariano Rivera 14 10
RP2 27 David Robertson 7 6
RP3 32 Rafael Soriano 9 7
RP4 29 Cory Wade 3 2
RP5 36 Freddy Garcia 9 8

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

C 27 J.Saltalamacchia 5 5
1B 30 Adrian Gonzalez 31 28
2B 28 Dustin Pedroia 22 22
SS 31 Mike Aviles 6 5
3B 33 Kevin Youkilis 20 17
RF 27 Ryan Sweeney 8 9
CF 28 Jacoby Ellsbury 21 21
LF 30 Carl Crawford 18 16
DH 36 David Ortiz 17 13
C2 32 Kelly Shoppach 5 4
INF 34 Nick Punto 8 7
OF 31 Cody Ross 14 12
13 33 Darnell McDonald 5 4
SP1 28 Jon Lester 16 15
SP2 32 Josh Beckett 11 9
SP3 27 Clay Buchholz 10 9
SP4 27 Daniel Bard 8 7
SP5 24 Felix Doubront# 0 0
RP1 28 Andrew Bailey 10 9
RP2 29 Alfredo Aceves 8 7
RP3 27 Mark Melancon 6 6
RP4 34 Vicente Padilla 4 3
RP5 26 Franklin Morales 2 2

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

C 37 Jose Molina 6 3
1B 34 Carlos Pena 17 15
2B 32 Jeff Keppinger 12 10
SS 27 Sean Rodriguez 8 8
3B 26 Evan Longoria 26 28
RF 27 Matt Joyce 13 14
CF 27 BJ Upton 18 19
LF 25 Desmond Jennings* 6 13
DH 34 Luke Scott 9 7
C2 27 Jose Lobaton+ 1 4
INF 26 Reid Brignac 6 6
OF 31 Ben Zobrist 26 21
13 28 Elliott Johnson* 1 2
SP1 26 David Price 13 15
SP2 30 James Shields 13 11
SP3 25 Jeremy Hellickson# 9 11
SP4 23 Matt Moore+ 1 4
SP5 29 Jeff Niemann 8 7
RP1 36 Kyle Farnsworth 8 7
RP2 36 Joel Peralta 6 5
RP3 35 Fernando Rodney 4 3
RP4 25 Jacob McGee* 1 2
RP5 26 Wade Davis 6 7

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

C 26 JP Arencibia* 7 15
1B 28 Adam Lind 12 12
2B 30 Kelly Johnson 16 15
SS 29 Yunel Escobar 19 18
3B 22 Brett Lawrie* 5 18
RF 31 Jose Bautista 30 25
CF 25 Colby Rasmus 13 16
LF 25 Eric Thames* 4 8
DH 29 Edwin Encarnacion 9 9
C2 29 Jeff Mathis 4 4
INF 45 Omar Vizquel 4 2
OF 31 Rajai Davis 10 8
13 30 Ben Francisco 6 6
SP1 27 Ricky Romero 16 14
SP2 27 Brandon Morrow 7 6
SP3 25 Brett Cecil 6 6
SP4 22 Henderson Alvarez* 2 5
SP5 25 Joel Carreno+ 1 4
RP1 28 Sergio Santos# 8 9
RP2 37 Francisco Cordero 12 10
RP3 41 Darren Oliver 7 5
RP4 27 Luis Perez* 1 2
RP5 34 Jason Frasor 6 5

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

C 26 Matt Wieters 17 19
1B 26 Chris Davis 4 4
2B 34 Brian Roberts 7 6
SS 29 JJ Hardy 15 15
3B 28 Mark Reynolds 17 17
RF 28 Nick Markakis 20 20
CF 26 Adam Jones 15 17
LF 28 Nolan Reimold 7 7
DH 30 Wilson Betemit 10 9
C2 31 Ronny Paulino 6 5
INF 28 Robert Andino 6 6
OF 34 Endy Chavez 4 3
13 33 Nick Johnson 4 3
SP1 29 Jason Hammell 7 6
SP2 26 Jake Arrieta# 4 6
SP3 25 Tommy Hunter 6 7
SP4 26 Wei-Yin Chen+ 0 4
SP5 25 Brian Matusz 4 4
RP1 29 Jim Johnson 8 7
RP2 32 Matt Lindstrom 4 3
RP3 34 Kevin Gregg 6 5
RP4 29 Darren O’Day 5 4
RP5 34 Luis Ayala 3 2

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.

One thought on “2012 AL East EWSL Report”

  1. 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.

Comments are closed.