2012 AL West EWSL Report

Part 3 of my preseason previews is the AL West; this is the third 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.
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 Anaheim California-Based Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim
Raw EWSL: 273.50
Adjusted: 285.03
Age-Adj.: 252.76
WS Age: 30.9
2012 W-L: 97-65

C 29 Chris Iannetta 11 10
1B 32 Albert Pujols 30 24
2B 28 Howie Kendrick 18 18
SS 28 Erick Aybar 16 16
3B 29 Alberto Callaspo 15 15
RF 36 Torii Hunter 20 14
CF 25 Peter Bourjous# 9 13
LF 33 Vernon Wells 13 11
DH 29 Kendry Morales 7 6
C2 29 Bobby Wilson# 2 2
INF 26 Mark Trumbo* 7 15
OF 38 Bobby Abreu 18 12
13 31 Macier Izturis 12 10
SP1 29 Jered Weaver 21 18
SP2 31 Danny Haren 17 13
SP3 31 CJ Wilson 17 13
SP4 29 Ervin Santana 13 11
SP5 30 Jerome Williams 2 1
RP1 24 Jordan Walden# 6 8
RP2 36 Scott Downs 9 8
RP3 37 Hisanori Takahashi 7 5
RP4 39 LaTroy Hawkins 5 4
RP5 27 Kevin Jepsen 2 2

Subjective Adjustments: None.
Also on Hand: Position players – Hank Conger, Alexi Amarista, Ryan Langerhans, and – arriving sooner or later, and off to a hot start in AAA – outfield super-prospect Mike Trout.
Pitchers – Jason Isringhausen, who despite not being listed here is more or less in the closer mix, given the wobbly Walden.
Analysis: This team is the very picture of depth and balance, with just two really major stars (Pujols and Weaver, although in truth Weaver is only slightly better than Haren) but almost no weaknesses and a mix of young players and seasoned vets jostling for playing time (Trumbo, for example, hit 29 home runs last season and is basically reduced to playing all-purpose backup to Pujols, Callaspo, Morales, Hunter and Wells, while fending off Abreu and Trout). The only two conspicuous weaknesses are Wells, who with any non-insane contract would have been cut by now (fun fact: Vernon Wells made as much money as Mitt Romney in 2009 and 2010), and the uncertain Jerome Williams as the fifth starter.
American League Champion Texas Rangers
Raw EWSL: 235.50
Adjusted: 250.96
Age-Adj.: 230.02
WS Age: 29.9
2012 W-L: 90-72

C 30 Mike Napoli 17 16
1B 26 Mitch Moreland# 6 8
2B 30 Ian Kinsler 19 18
SS 23 Elvis Andrus 19 23
3B 33 Adrian Beltre 18 16
RF 31 Nelson Cruz 17 14
CF 31 Josh Hamilton 19 16
LF 30 David Murphy 11 10
DH 35 Michael Young 20 15
C2 33 Yorvit Torrealba 9 8
INF 29 Alberto Gonzalez 4 3
OF 28 Craig Gentry# 3 5
13 25 Brandon Snyder+ 0 4
SP1 32 Colby Lewis# 10 9
SP2 25 Derek Holland 8 9
SP3 25 Yu Darvish+ 0 4
SP4 24 Neftali Feliz 12 14
SP5 26 Matt Harrison 9 10
RP1 37 Joe Nathan 5 4
RP2 33 Mike Adams 10 7
RP3 28 Alexi Ogando# 9 10
RP4 37 Koji Uehara 8 6
RP5 29 Mark Lowe 3 3

Subjective Adjustments: None, although as I noted last year with Andrus, EWSL tends to overrate the growth potential of very young players whose value is disproportionately defensive. But by now, the more reasonable reading of the age adjustment is a built-in assumption of offensive improvement.
Also on Hand: Position players – Julio Borbon, Lonys Martin, shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar. I always read his name to myself using the Don Pardo voice: “Juuuuricksonn PrOWfarrr…” Try it once, I guarantee it will stick with you.
Pitchers – Scott Feldman, Robert Ross.
Analysis: It remains to be seen, but right now the difference in the AL West is CJ Wilson pitching for the Angels instead of the Rangers. we’ll get a better fix now on exactly how well the Nolan Ryan-led organization’s pitching strategies work with the move of Neftali Feliz to the rotation and Alexi Ogando back to the pen, as well as Yu Darvish’s adjustment to the majors as the rare non-gimmicky Japanese power pitcher to enter a rotation (the example of the late Hideki Irabu was not encouraging, but Irabu had a variety of issues).
The Rangers lineup is older than you think it is. Guys like Hamilton and Cruz got late starts in the big leagues, so it’s easy to forget they’re on the wrong side of 30 now.
Seattle Mariners
Raw EWSL: 147.50
Adjusted: 186.06
Age-Adj.: 183.55
WS Age: 28.8
2012 W-L: 74-88

C 33 Miguel Olivo 10 9
1B 25 Justin Smoak# 7 11
2B 24 Dustin Ackley* 7 18
SS 30 Brendan Ryan 12 10
3B 24 Kyle Seager* 3 4
RF 38 Ichiro Suzuki 20 13
CF 29 Franklin Guitierrez 10 10
LF 34 Chone Figgins 9 7
DH 22 Jesus Montero+ 1 11
C2 28 John Jaso# 8 9
INF 26 Mike Carp* 4 8
OF 25 Michael Saunders 3 4
13 27 Casper Wells# 4 6
SP1 26 Felix Hernandez 20 22
SP2 29 Jason Vargas 8 7
SP3 37 Kevin Millwood 6 5
SP4 23 Blake Beavan* 3 6
SP5 25 Hector Noesi* 1 2
RP1 29 Brandon League 9 8
RP2 28 Tom Wilhelmsen* 2 3
RP3 25 Lucas Luetge+ 0 4
RP4 28 Steve Delabar+ 1 4
RP5 35 George Sherrill 4 3

Subjective Adjustments: None.
Also on Hand: Position players – Muenenori Kawasaki, who has been doing the bulk of the infield backup work, Alex Liddi, Trayvon Robinson.
Pitchers – Shawn Kelley, Erasmo Ramirez, Hisashi Iwakuma (an import who’s still looking to crack the rotation).
Analysis: The Mariners have clipped about 3 years off their WS average age since last season, albeit partly because some of the older guys like Figgins and Ichiro are coming off tough years. But the road back is long, long enough that in the absence of marketable veterans they had to part with Michael Pineda to get a young hitter in Montero (not a bad deal, but a costly one for a rebuilding team). It’s hard to see the Mariners getting rebuilt before King Felix has either gotten injured or left town. This division remains stratified very sharply between the two strong and two weak teams.
Ichiro enters tonight’s action with 2438 hits in the American League to go with 1287 in nine seasons in Japan, dating back to age 18, a total of 3725 hits. It’s almost a certainty that he’d be on the doorstep of 4000 hits by now if he’d been in the majors that whole time: due to the shorter Japanese schedule, he made it to 200 hits only once in Japan, as a 20-year-old hitting .385 in 1994; from age 21-26, Ichiro batted .354 but averaged 172 hits in 486 at bats per season; in the majors from age 27-36, he batted .331 but averaged 224 hits in 678 at bats. Give him an extra 50 hits a year and he’d be over 4000 by now.
Oakland A’s
Raw EWSL: 114.00
Adjusted: 169.35
Age-Adj.: 167.16
WS Age: 28.3
2012 W-L: 69-93

C 28 Kurt Suzuki 10 10
1B 26 Daric Barton 10 11
2B 25 Jemile Weeks* 8 18
SS 28 Cliff Pennington 17 17
3B 26 Josh Donaldson+ 0 11
RF 25 Josh Reddick* 4 8
CF 26 Yoenis Cedpedes+ 0 11
LF 32 Coco Crisp 13 10
DH 31 Jonny Gomes 11 9
C2 28 Anthony Recker+ 0 4
INF 26 Eric Sogard+ 0 4
OF 29 Seth Smith 12 11
13 28 Kila Kaiaihue# 0 0
SP1 28 Brandon McCarthy 6 6
SP2 39 Bartolo Colon 5 4
SP3 25 Tyson Ross# 2 2
SP4 25 Tom Milone+ 1 4
SP5 27 Graham Godfrey+ 1 4
RP1 34 Grant Balfour 7 5
RP2 36 Brian Fuentes 7 6
RP3 28 Jerry Blevins 2 2
RP4 25 Andrew Carignan+ 0 4
RP5 25 Ryan Cook+ 0 4

Subjective Adjustments: None.
Also on Hand: Position players – Adam Rosales, Brandon Allen, Jermaine Mitchell, Grant Green, Chris Carter.
Pitchers – Fautino de los Santos, Jordan Norberto, prospect Jarrod Parker and the injured duo of Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden, whose dual absence blows a huge hole in the Oakland rotation.
Analysis: Even for the annually reborn A’s, who almost always exceed their EWSL due to overperforming young starting pitchers and a season-long influx of new discoveries, a non-age-adjusted total of 114 Established Win Shares (38 wins’ worth) is a narrow base upon which to build. The Astros can’t arrive in this division soon enough for Oakland.
You want good news? It’s nice to have a guy who can throw like this.

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.
Check out previous AL West previews from 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005 and 2004.

One thought on “2012 AL West EWSL Report”

  1. I’ll be in Europe for the 17 days but I will look forward to your essay on Bobby Valentine’s tenure as Red Sox manager of 14 (hell, hopefully 13) games. What a f***ing disaster.

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