Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 9, 2005
BASEBALL: 2005 AL East EWSL Report

Time to kick off the 2005 division-by-division EWSL reports (Established Win Shares Levels are explained here). And where else could we start but the home of the reigning World Champeeen Boston Red Sox?

The Hated Yankees

RAW EWSL: 325.2 (108 Wins)
Adj EWSL: 327.66 (109 Wins)
Age Adj EWSL: 270.06 (90 Wins)

PosAgePlayerRaw EWSLAdj EWSLAge-Adj EWSL
C33Jorge Posada232316
1B37Tino Martinez141411
2B35Tony Womack12128
SS31Derek Jeter232320
3B29Alex Rodriguez323228
RF31Hideki Matsui#212521
CF36Bernie Williams171715
LF36Gary Sheffield323226
DH34Jason Giambi191917
C237John Flaherty443
INF37Rey Sanchez664
OF39Ruben Sierra776
1327Damian Rolls333
SP141Randy Johnson191916
SP236Mike Mussina141412
SP329Carl Pavano141412
SP440Kevin Brown111110
SP529Jaret Wright776
CL35Mariano Rivera161610
R237Tom Gordon12129
R336Paul Quantrill887
R432Felix Rodriguez665
R538Mike Stanton665

Every time I think the age adjustments are just too brutal on veteran players, I remind myself that they are based on my actual results from last season. Of course, more years' data will help, but the fact is, we generally underestimate how consistently the aging process erodes players' productivity. What you see above is right on the two big things: (1) the Yankees would win close to 110 games if everyone performs to their recent levels of established success; and (2) given the advanced age of the roster and the declines already underway, that's not gonna happen. Is 90 wins (tweaked upward a bit by the contributions from those last few roster spots) too few? We'll see.

I prefer to err on the side of the more established player, here by listing Damian Rolls here instead of Bubba Crosby . . . typically, the Yankees have a large number of other familiar faces in camp besides these guys. Steve Karsay may also have a key role in the bullpen if he can get up to 100% at some point and stay there.

World Champion Boston Red Sox

RAW EWSL: 295.66 (99 Wins)
Adj EWSL: 299.66 (100 Wins)
Age Adj EWSL: 258.06 (86 Wins)

PosAgePlayerRaw EWSLAdj EWSLAge-Adj EWSL
C33Jason Varitek171712
1B33Kevin Millar161611
2B30Mark Bellhorn151514
SS29Edgar Renteria212119
3B34Bill Mueller161614
RF31Trot Nixon1199
CF31Johnny Damon232319
LF33Manny Ramirez282820
DH29David Ortiz191917
C234Doug Mirabelli554
INF26Kevin Youkilis*488
OF32Jay Payton151513
1328Ramon Vazquez667
SP138Curt Schilling202017
SP242David Wells121210
SP330Matt Clement111110
SP428Bronson Arroyo667
SP528Wade Miller9910
CL32Keith Foulke161614
R239Mike Timlin776
R335Alan Embree553
R438Tim Wakefield11119
R531Matt Mantei443

Yes, Number Two is back in its old familiar preseason slot, ring or no ring; either way, Yanks-Sox remains a tight race. You can clearly see that Damon merits his spot as one of the three real stars of this team along with Manny and Schilling. The Sox get a boost from a deep bench, which they could need - bet on seeing Payton in for Nixon and Youkilis in for Mueller, and not only by choice.

Obviously, Wakefield may end up in the starting rotation, and John Halama and Byung Hyun Kim could play major roles (although the Sox would probably trade Kim if he shows signs of being able to pitch), but this is what I expect the Sox staff to look like if healthy, and Mantei seems to be further along to being counted on than Karsay with the Yanks.

Injury-wise, other than the strength of Schilling's ankle, Wade Miller is the big wild card here; he's the rare pitcher whose numbers will benefit from moving to Fenway, if he's able to stay in the rotation.

Baltimore Orioles

RAW EWSL: 224.17 (75 Wins)
Adj EWSL: 231.17 (77 Wins)
Age Adj EWSL: 214.83 (72 Wins)

PosAgePlayerRaw EWSLAdj EWSLAge-Adj EWSL
C34Javy Lopez212118
1B28Jay Gibbons111112
2B27Brian Roberts131313
SS29Miguel Tejada292925
3B33Melvin Mora212114
RF36Sammy Sosa191916
CF26Luis Matos667
LF27Larry Bigbie999
DH40Rafael Palmeiro151512
C229Geronimo Gil332
INF34Chris Gomez776
OF40BJ Surhoff887
1332Chris Stynes444
SP128Sidney Ponson101012
SP229Rodrigo Lopez11119
SP326Erik Bedard*366
SP428Bruce Chen223
SP524Daniel Cabrera*4810
CL26Jorge Julio777
R229BJ Ryan887
R332Steve Kline665
R439Steve Reed775
R527John Parrish444

I believe it was George Bernard Shaw who, in reviewing a book, remarked that the book was both good and original, but that unfortunately the parts that were good were not original, and the parts that were original were not good. So it is with the Orioles, who are both young and talented, but for the most part, the guys who are young are not talented, and the guys who are talented are not young. If the O's hope to break the chains of mediocrity and finish single digits out of the Wild Card, they need some real development from the back end of their starting rotation. Bedard looks promising, and Chen put up good numbers last year at AAA, but lesser men have gone to their graves waiting for Bruce Chen. On the other hand, I continue to be skeptical of "Melvin Mora, superstar," and Sosa and Palmeiro are riding powerful waves of downward momentum.

It remains to be seen if Ryan can finally wrest the closer's job from Julio now that Ryan has finally lived up to the hype that surrounded him five years ago, but if Julio is adequate, the O's may benefit from having the monster in the bullpen handle the 7th/8th inning crises rather than the ninth. Ryan's comparables at the same age include a number of guys like Stanton, Cadaret and Assenmacher who pitched forever.

If you're wondering, Kurt Ainsworth's season last year brought his raw EWSL down to zero (of the players I rated last year, only one entered 2005 with a negative raw EWSL: Tyler Yates of the Mets, who followed that performance by blowing his arm out).

Toronto Blue Jays

RAW EWSL: 181.66 (61 Wins)
Adj EWSL: 197.4 (66 Wins)
Age Adj EWSL: 203.89 (68 Wins)

PosAgePlayerRaw EWSLAdj EWSLAge-Adj EWSL
C34Gregg Zaun665
1B27Eric Hinske111112
2B27Orlando Hudson151516
SS24Russ Adams*122
3B32Corey Koskie171715
RF24Alexis Rios*479
CF26Vernon Wells191920
LF31Frank Catalanotto997
DH29Shea Hillenbrand141412
C223Guillermo Quiroz+066
INF34Frank Menechino665
OF28Reed Johnson#91012
1330John McDonald222
SP128Roy Halladay161619
SP229Ted Lilly121211
SP334Miguel Batista121210
SP428Josh Towers556
SP525David Bush*4810
CL31Justin Speier776
R227Jason Frasor*477
R330Billy Koch555
R426Vinnie Chulk*244
R531Scott Schoenweis443

Youth: the great leveler, bringing up the Jays as it brings down their top three division rivals. Not that they will catch anybody but Tampa, and Tampa is young as well. Toronto still has a nice core with Wells, Halladay, Hudson and Lilly, plus Koskie's not a bad short-term guy to have, plus the bullpen makes up in depth for what it lacks in front-line quality. But there are way too many stopgap solutions here, with the outfield corners iffy and the left end of the defensive spectrum filled by guys who have no business DHing, like Hillenbrand, Johnson and Hinske. These are solvable problems, but no solutions are yet on the horizon.

The catching situation is unsettled, with Quiroz needing to prove himself to unseat two older guys who have never had full-time gigs, although Zaun has actually had some decent years with the bat. The third catcher, Greg Myers - who had a career year of his own in 2003 - is so old he came up with the Blue Jays before Pat Borders. I guess Ernie Whitt wasn't available . . .

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

RAW EWSL: 162.5 (54 Wins)
Adj EWSL: 169.93 (57 Wins)
Age Adj EWSL: 175.71 (59 Wins)

PosAgePlayerRaw EWSLAdj EWSLAge-Adj EWSL
C29Toby Hall998
1B30Travis Lee666
2B37Roberto Alomar886
SS29Julio Lugo161614
3B32Alex Gonzalez10108
RF33Danny Bautista996
CF23Carl Crawford161620
LF28Aubrey Huff191922
DH27Josh Phelps888
C235Tim Laker221
INF20BJ Upton*244
OF23Rocco Baldelli#121519
1323Jorge Cantu*356
SP125Dewon Brazleton334
SP231Mark Hendrickson665
SP321Scott Kazmir*111
SP424Doug Waechter222
SP528Rob Bell556
CL27Danys Baez999
R230Lance Carter777
R329Travis Harper665
R427Jesus Colome444
R527Casey Fossum222

Welcome home to the basement? This team, like last year's Rangers, is almost impossible to rate on EWSL because so many guys are rated on a partial season's worth of playing time. Unlike last year's Rangers, though, there's nobody here likely to bust out with Teixera or Blalock type power. I cheated a bit here in listing Baldelli, who may be out for as much as half the season, and Upton, who will probably start the year in the minors, although I expect Upton to get in excess of 400 plate appearances when all is said and done, and Upton actually gets the shaft here because I rated him on his actual 2004 major league performance, in just 159 at bats. He'll almost certainly contribute double-figure Win Shares unless he gets buried in Durham. I listed Cantu because he's the only one of the reserve infielders he's battling for playing time who batted above .212 last season, and given Alomar's recent history, don't be surprised if Cantu takes his job.

Obviously, Lee will beat 6 WS if he stays healthy; he put up 12 in 2002 and 13 in 2003, still poor numbers for an everyday 1B but at least reflective of an everyday player.

Kazmir also gets the short end, but as with Upton I tried whenever possible to use actual performance numbers. You look at this rotation and tell me how Kazmir isn't going to be the staff ace by the middle of May. . . successful teams just don't start a season with guys like Rob Bell in the rotation . . . measured by Win Shares Above Average, there were three pitchers in baseball at -9 or -10; two of them (Fossum and Hideo Nomo) are in camp competing for jobs with the Rays.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:10 AM | Baseball 2005 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (2)

I'm trying to reconcile the prediction of 90 Yankee wins with an alternative method that takes last year's team and adjusts for changes in the squad. The Yankees added 3 starting pitchers who (on paper) are better than the ones they replaced. Their hitting is (hopefully) better due to Giambi apparently being healthy. They added some decent middle relievers. Offsetting these gains are the aging of many key players, especially Mo, Flash, Quantrell, Bernie, and Moose. Also, the loss of Lofton will hurt, since his replacement will be much weaker.

An imponderable is the likelihood that the top teams will add strength later in the year.

I think the net of all these changes is a small improvement (barring significant injuries.) This analysis suggests to me that the Yankees will win around 105 games.

Posted by: David at March 9, 2005 12:25 PM

Your intuition is correct enough, although I'm not really convinced that Wright and Pavano will be that much of an improvement, especially Wright. I personally expect the Yanks to come in around 100 wins. Where the age adjustments clash with our perceptions is in suggesting that the decline in the aging players could be more of a drag on the team than you think.

On the other hand, if the aging process manifests itself in injuries, the Yanks will probably shore themselves up via in-season trades, which makes it a bit of a fool's errand to project them by looking only at their current roster.

Posted by: The Crank at March 9, 2005 12:41 PM

Sorry about the thread necromancy.

Keep in mind that the Yankees overperformed their Pythagorean record by something like 10 games last year. They may be better than they were last year (though the age-related declines for Posada, Williams, Riveria, Jeter, etc are going to be very, very bad for this team, and at least one of those players will have that inevitable falloff this year rather than next), but they are not 12-15 games better.

If you want to start crediting intuition, I think Bernie Williams is going to be a disaster for the Yankees this year....

Posted by: NBarnes at April 2, 2005 9:01 AM
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