Friday, September 30, 2011

Reviewing my MLB predictions

At the All-Star break, I tried to predict how each division would shake out by the end of the season. So first I am going to give how each division actually shook out, and then how I predicted it. Then, I will give excuses and random comments.

AL East

Rays (Wild Card)
Red Sox
Blue Jay

I predicted:
Red Sox
Blue Jays

Excuses and Comments: Okay, so I didn't have the Red Sox collapsing. I did have the Rays making the playoffs (commentators should stop saying no one did), but I had the Yankees making the collapse. Oops. I don't think anyone saw the Red Sox's starting pitching falling apart like it did, or the bullpen choking. At least I didn't. As expected, the Jays played very solid, but weren't able to keep up.

AL Central

White Sox

I Predicted:

White Sox

Excuses and Comments: I wasn't very high on the White Sox or Twins (unlike many), but I was even too easy on them. The Royals played much better in the second half to get themselves out of the cellar.

AL West


I Predicted:


Excuses and Comments: I correctly picked the Rangers to hold off the Angels, but missed on the bottom of the division. Right after the All-Star break, the Mariners when on one of the worst slides in recent memory. The Athletics also played mediocre baseball under Doug Melvin, so credit to them.

NL West


I Predicted:


Excuses and Comments: Well, where to start? I had this totally wrong. The Diamondbacks got hot and the Giants folded, and could not buy a run at times. I also thought the Dodgers would fold it up and go home, but they ended up having an okay season at around .500, playing well down the stretch. With the players they have, they should contend next year.

NL Central

Cardinals (wild-card)

I Predicted:


Excuses and Comments: I actually got this division right, I just didn't have the Cardinals making the Wild-Card. I am proud of myself picking the Pirates collapse, even if that hurts Pittsburgh fan.

NL East


I Predicted:

Braves (Wild-Card)

Excuses and Comments: I didn't see the massive collapse of the Braves coming. How awful was that? I over estimated the Marlins and underestimated the Nationals and Mets some.

Division Winners: I went 4 out of 6. Not bad.
Playoffs Teams: 5 out of 8. Could have been better. Would have been better if the Braves wouldn't have collapsed.
Cellar Picks: 2 out of 6. Ouch, I am not good at picking the worst team in the division.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Playoff Preview: Tigers vs. Yankees

This is the final series of the first round to be previewed. Before looking at the statistics, I had the Tigers winning the series because I felt they had better starting pitching depth and the lineups are similar.

It appears that the Yankees will go with just 3 starters, using Sabathia (.203 WAR per Start, -1.98 PE), Nova (2.24 PE, .129 WAR per start), and Garcia (.13 WAR a start, 1.7 PE). Their bullpen will probably include: Rivera, Robertson, Ayala, Colon, Laffey, Valdes, Soriano, and Logan. Their stats add up to a -8.37 PE and a 9.8 WAR. Their lineup will probably include (in no particular order) Granderson, Swisher, Martin, Texiera, Cano, Jeter, Rodriquez, and Chavez. Their stats add up to a .173 WAR per game, 13.344 PPG, 23.608 PAPP. The Tigers, will use 4 starters it looks like: Verlander (-3.73 PE, .253 WAR a start), Fister (.16 PE, .26 WAR a start), Scherzer (.44 PE, .073 WAR per start), and Penny (9.87 PE, negative WAR). Detroit's lineup will probably look like this (in no order): Jackson, Young, Raburn, Cabrera, Martinez, Aviles, Ordonez, Peralta, and Inge. This adds up to a .127 WAR a game, 10.06 PPG, 25.864 PAPP. Their bullpen will include: Valverde, Coke Benoit, Porcello, Perry, Alburquerque. Schlereth, and Pauley. Their stats add up to -9.7 PE, and a 10.8 WAR.

So while the Tigers have a better bullpen, the Yankees have a better lineup and better starting pitching. That is not good news for the Tigers and so I pick the Yankees after statistics.

Playoff Preview: Phillies versus Cardinals

I picked the Phillies to win the World Series, so of course I have them winning the series before statistics.

Everyone expects the Phillies to use this rotation: Halladay (.23 WAR per start, -2.75 PE), Lee (.22 WAR per Start, -3.52 PE) , Hamels (-2.33 PE, .17 WAR per start), and Oswalt (2.01 PE, .06 WAR per start). Their lineup should look like this (in no particular order): Victorino (.04 WAR a game, 2.5 PAPP, 1.47 PPG), Ibanez (1.2 PPG, negative WAR, 3.6 PAPP), Pence (.04 WAR a game, 1.44 PPG, 2.32 PAPP), Ruiz (.02 WAR per game, .72 PPG, 2.72 PAPP), Howard (.017 WAR per game, 2.58 PAPP, 1.53 PPG), Utley (.032 WAR per game, 2.79 PAPP, 1.17 PPG), Rollins (.025 WAR per game, 2.56 PAPP, 1.36 PPG), and Valdez (Negative WAR, 3.47 PAPP, .74 PPG). Madson (-3.08 PE, 1.7 WAR), Lidge (.3 WAR, -5.92 PE), Worley (-1.51 PE, 2.5 WAR), Stutes (-1.14 PE, 0 WAR), Bastardo (-5.83 PE, .7 WAR), Kendrick (.4 WAR, 2.29 PE), Blanton (2.45 PE, .5 WAR), Herndon (-.6 WAR, 1.16 PE), and Schwimer (-.1 WAR, .18 PE) should round out their bullpen.

For the Cardinals, the starting rotation should look like: Carpenter (.11 WAR per Start, .07 PE), Lohse (.083 WAR per start, 1.66 PE), Garcia (.028 WAR per start, .34 PE), and Westbrook (3.91 PE, Negative WAR).  Their bullpen maps out with these guys: Rhodes (2.95 PE, -.6 WAR), Rzepczynski (1 WAR, -2.07 PE), Dotel (-4.04 PE, .9 WAR), Jackson (1.38 PE, 3.8 WAR), Salas (-3.93 PE, 1 WAR), Mclellen (3.23 PE, negative WAR), Motte (-3.15 PE, 1.6 WAR), and Boggs (.3 WAR, .43 PE). They will probably run out this lineup (in no order): Jay (.01 WAR per game, 2.92 PAPP, .63 PPG), Berkman (.036 WAR per game, 1.5 PPG, 2.21 PAPP) , Holliday (.033 WAR per game, 1.48 PPG, 2.4 PAPP), Pujols (.037 WAR per game, 2.33 PAPP, 1.7 PPG), Freese (1.1 PPG, .019 WAR per game, 2.71 PAPP), Furcal (.028 WAR per game, 2.855 PAPP, 1.12 PPG), Schumaker (.005 WAR per game, 3.05 PAPP, .63 PPG), and Molina (2.71 PAPP, .99 PPG, .028 WAR per game).

As expected, the Phillies have the much better starting pitching. However, I still found it a little shocking just how much better is. The Cardinals' lineup does have a better WAR, and Plate Appearances per Positive play, but the Phillies have slightly better pop, with a better Production per Game. The bullpen situation is a little weird too, with the Cardinals having a much better WAR (perhaps slightly skewed by Edwin Jackson), but the Phillies have a much better Pitching Efficiency. All said, most of the numbers lean toward the Phillies, so I am sticking with the Phillies for this series.

Playoff Predictions: Texas versus Tampa Bay

Before the numbers, because I picked the Rangers to go to the World Series, I have the Rangers winning the series.
I expect Texas to run out: Wilson (.148 WAR per start, -1.87 PE), Lewis (.061 WAR per start, .51 PE), Holland (.55 PE, .081 WAR per Start), and Harrison (.13 WAR per Start, 1.17 PE) as starting pitchers. Their projected bullpen looks like this Ogando (3.4 WAR, .3 PE), Feliz (-1.8 PE, .8 WAR), Gonzalez (-.55 PE, .2 WAR) , Adams (-5.24 PE, 1.7 WAR), Uejara (1.2 WAR, -7.09 PE), Oliver (-2.01 PE, 1.2 WAR), Feldman (.98 PE, .2 WAR), and Tateyama (.1 WAR, -.92 PE). Their lineup will probably look like (in no particular order): Hamilton (.03 WAR per game, 1.723 PPG, 2.42 PAPP), Cruz (.011 WAR per Game, 1.52 PPG, 2.74 PAPP), Murphy (2.74 PAPP, .966 PPG, Negative WAR), Napoli (2.13 PAPP, .045 WAR per game, 1.504 PPG), Kinsler (2.39 PAPP, 1.67 PPG, .035 WAR per Game), Andrus (.024 WAR per game, 1.32 PPG, 2.68 PAPP) Beltre (1.76 PPG, .043 WAR per game, 2.63 PAPP), Torreabla (.006 WAR per game, .75 PPG, 3.14 PAPP), and Young (.015 WAR per game, 2.5 PAPP, 1.33 PPG).

Tampa will probably run out these starters: Shields (.185 WAR a start, -2.11 PE), Price (-2.06 PE, .124 WAR per start) Neimann (.048 WAR per start, .79 PE), and Hellickson (.141 WAR per start, .62 PE). Their lineup should be this (in no order): Upton (.025 WAR per game, 1.45 PPG, 2.52 PAPP), Jennings (.037 WAR per game, 2.45 PAPP, 1.58 PPG), Joyce (.022 WAR per game, 1.25 PPG, 2.5 PAPP), Damon (.019 WAR per game, 1.25 PPG, 2.79 PAPP), Kotchman (.02 WAR per game, 2.67 PAPP, .71 PPG), Zobrist (2.511 PAPP, .032 WAR per game, 1.47 PPG), Longoria (.045 WAR per game, 2.53 PAPP, 1.54 PPG), Rodriquez (3.29 PAPP, .75 PPG, .018 WAR per game), and Jaso (.0022 WAR per game, 3.25 PAPP, .66 PPG).The bullpen should include Farnsworth (.9 WAR, -2.71 PE), Howell (-.5 WAR, 2.64 PE), Moore (-7.85 PE, .4 WAR), Peralta (-2.41 PE, .8 WAR), Davis (.9 WAR, 3.31 PE), Cruz (0 WAR, -1.22 PE), Gomes (.2 WAR, -1.13 PE), McGhee (-.2 WAR, 0 PE).
The Rays clearly have the better starting pitching staff in both Wins After Replacement and Pitching Efficiency. However, the Rangers have a much better bullpen in both statistics. The Rays lineup actually has a slightly better WAR per game, and that could probably be explained by defense. As expected though, the Rangers lineup has a significantly better PPG, and a better PAPP. So according to the statistics, this is two differently styled teams, but they seem to be evenly matched. So it is the ultimate never-dying baseball question, would you rather have the better offense and bullpen, or the better fielding and starting pitching? The ironic thing is that both managers Joe Maddon and Ron Washington preach pitching and defense. As we saw last year with the San Francisco Giants, starting pitching wins championships. However, they also had a very good bullpen, and Texas has the better bullpen in this series. Also, one should consider that the Rays rotation will be out of order because of the way the season ended. It appears Niemann will go against Wilson in game 1, which is a clear advantage for the Rangers (one could counter that is likely Shields will go against Holland or something like this, which would be an advantage for the Rays). These teams went all 5 games in the ALDS last year, and it appears they will again, this is an evenly matched series, so neither team winning would surprise me. However, I am going to pick Rays to win the series after looking at the numbers.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Playoff Preview: The Brewers and Diamondbacks

The playoffs are here and it took the most exciting night in recent baseball history to get here. So what I am going to do in my playoff previews is reveal my biases (say who I would pick before looking at the numbers), then use the same numbers I use in other articles to grade players to predict a winner. To be clear, without the numbers, I predict a Rangers/Phillies World Series, with the Phillies winning in 5 games. In this series, I think the Brewers pitching is better, and cancels out similar lineups, so I have the Brewers. But here we go:

I expect the Brewers to use Gallardo (.08 WAR a start, -1.85 PE), Grienke (-3.21 PE, .056 WAR per start), Marcum (-.11 PE, .1 WAR a start), and Wolf (1.78 PE, .1 WAR a star) as the starting pitchers. Their bullpen will probably include Saito (.2 WAR, -2.23 PE), Rodriquez (-3.48 PE, 1.4 WAR), Axford (-5.22 PE, 1.8 WAR), Loe (-.62 PE, 1.2 WAR), Hawkins (1.17 PE, .7 WAR) De La Cruz (.1 WAR, -.23 PE), Narveson (1.5 WAR, 1.36 PE), and Dillard (-1.01 PE, .3 WAR). Their lineup will look something like this: (in no order) Morgan (.018 WAR per game, 2.9 PAPP, .97 PPG), Braun (2.07 PAPP, .05 WAR per game, 1.9 PPG), Hart (2.52 PAPP, .03 WAR per game, 1.33 PPG), Lucroy (.003 WAR per game, 3.066 PAPP, .84 PPG), Fielder (1.52 PPG, .03 WAR per game, 2.24 PAPP), Weeks (.025 War per game, 2.6 PAPP, 1.3 PPG), Betancourt (.007 WAR per game, .91 PPG, 3.43 PAPP), and McGehee (3.38 PAPP, negative war, .82 PPG).

The Diamondbacks will probably use Kennedy (.167 WAR per start, -1.84 PE), Saunders (2.83 PE, .079 WAR per start), Hudson (.35 PE, .076 WAR per start) , and Collmenter (.1 WAR per start, .95 PE) as starters. Their lineup will look something like this (in no particular order): Upton (.027 WAR per game, 1.55 PPG, 2.46 PAPP), Young (.032 WAR per game, 1.3 PPG, 2.66 PAPP), Parra (2.52 PAPP, .013 WAR per game, .88 PPG), Goldschmidt (.002 WAR per game, 1.38 PPG, 2.47 PAPP) , Hill (2.67 PAPP, 1.41 PPG, .053 WAR per game), Bloomquist (2.95 PAPP, .97 PPG, Negative WAR), Roberts (3.1 PAPP, 1.32 PPG, .024 WAR per game), and Montero (.033 WAR per game, 1.21 PPG, 2.71 PAPP). Their bullpen will include Zeigler (1.2 WAR, -.98 PE), Putz (-4.48 PE, 1.7 WAR), Hernandez (-3.59 PE, 1.3 WAR), Paterson (-1.1 PE, .3 WAR), Owings (.89 PE, .1 WAR), Miley (2.88 PE, .2 WAR) and Shaw (.2 WAR, -1.01 PE).

As far as starting pitchers go, the Diamondbacks have a better WAR, while the Brewers have the better Pitching Efficiency. The Brewers have the better bullpen in both Pitching efficiency and WAR. The Diamondbacks actually have the better lineup in all 3 categories used above. Perhaps this is disappointing because the statistics don't seem to pick a winner in this series. However, the stats clearly show that it is the Diamondbacks, not the Brewers that have the better lineup, and that makes me pick the Diamondbacks post-numbers.

How we did: Week 3 NFL Picks

 Big D in Bold, Me in italics

Giants defeated Eagles
Packers down Bears
Saints shock Texans
Steelers survive Colts
Cowboys squeak by Redskins

 Big D: 4-1 this week, 11-5 overall
Me: 3-2 this week, 9-7 overall

Monday, September 26, 2011

The bizarre trade of Pedro Strop

John Daniels of the Texas Rangers may be the most Jekyll and Hyde of general managers. He has made some historically great trades (the Mark Texiera trade comes to mind), and some historically poor trades (the Adam Eaton trade, sending Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young to the Padres). Even last year, he brought in Cliff Lee before the trade deadline and Vlad Guerrero out of free agency to help them win the AL Pennant, but also sent prospects away for Jorge Cantu and Christian Guzman, who did nothing. This year, he also signed Adrian Beltre, traded for Mike Napoli and brought in Mike Adams in a deadline deal, but he has also made some some strange mistake (the Rangers have clinched their second straight AL West title, so it is safe to say that the good moves have beat the mistakes at this point). Another move I find bizarre is the Pedro Strop-Mike Gonzalez deal made at the end of August. It was originally said that the Rangers would give up a "player to be named later" for Gonzalez, and I was thinking some longshot A-ball player. The next day it was announced that it would be Pedro Strop. On a baseball Facebook page, I suggested that this was a horrible move to part with such a good young pitcher. Someone shot back that the Rangers have plenty of good minor league pitchers and won't miss him. As a famous college football analyst might say, not so fast my friend. Just to give an idea how valuable Strop was to the AAA affiliate of the Rangers in Round-Rock, lets compare him to his teammates. Strop was tied for the team lead in games finished with 29, had the best ERA out of pitchers that pitched in at least 20 games, gave up just 2 home runs in 47.2 innings, had the most strikeouts out of the bullpen, and still has the team lead for saves. For the Orioles, he has been fantastic, appearing in 10 games and registering a .9 WAR (.09 WAR an appearance, Mariano Rivera is averaging just .06 an appearance this year). He has given up just 1 earned run giving him an ERA of .84 with a .656 WHIP. It is a small sample size, but he is pitching about as good as anyone right now. Mike Gonzalez has just a .1 WAR as a Ranger (in 6 games that is a .016 WAR per appearance). He had just a .2 WAR with the Orioles, so it is hard to imagine that they expected more from him. Worst of all, Gonzalez is a free agent at the end of the season, while Strop is not a free agent until 2016. Strop is making just $412,000 (about a WASP of 152 for his time as an Oriole), while Gonzalez is making $6 million (a horrible wasp of 20,000 for his time as a Ranger). One may argue that because the Rangers are in a pennant race, Gonzalez is in more pressure situations and more valuable because of it. That is not true either, his leverage index (what baseballreference and other sites use to measure pressure situations) is at .8, while Strop is at 2.0. This means the Rangers aren't even using him in pressure situations, while the Orioles are throwing out the 26 year old pitcher out in the fire (the average situation is 1.0)! Another amazing statistic for Strop, despite being a right-handed pitcher, his Batting Average against lefties is .133! Gonzalez is a left-handed pitcher and his BA against lefties is .208 (nothing to sneeze at, but righties are batting .283 off of him). In late/close games, Gonzalez has given up a BAA of .313. When the game is on the line, every hitter turns into Wade Boggs against Mike. He has also struggled against some of the teams the Rangers might face in the playoffs (Boston Red Sox are hitting .360 off of him, Yankees .306, Rays .261). Not good news for the Texas Rangers on this one.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Moneyball Review: Ricardo Rincon

Early on in the movie, Billy Beane tries to trade for Cleveland Indians reliever Ricardo Rincon. That is when he meets Jonah Hill's character as the trade doesn't go through. During the season, because the Indians are out of it, Beane is able to trade for Rincon. In the trade he gave up minor leaguer Marshall Mcdougall. Mcdougall never appeared in the majors for the Indians. Rincon, on the other hand, played for the Athletics from the middle of the 2002 season until the end of the 05 season. In that time he earned a 2.1 WAR and made about $3.9 million dollars. This gave him a very nice WASP of 1857. I guess there was a reason that Beane and company wanted Rincon.

Ian Kennedy and the Cy Young

I don't think pitching records matter at all. They are just decorative and fun, but Arizona Diamondback pitcher Ian Kennedy is 21-4! Kennedy's WAR is 5.5 (Clayton Kershaw is clearly more deserving for the Cy Young at 6.8 WAR). Remember that the Yankees had this guy, and traded him in that 3 team deal that sent Austin Jackson to Detroit and Curtis Granderson to New York. His career in New York was marred by several different injuries. In 3 starts in 07, he had an ERA of 1.89, WHIP of 1.158, and a WAR of .6. This is a WAR per start of .2, Cliff Lee has a .219 WAR per start. Of course for Kennedy in 07, this was a small sample size, but the statistic potential was definitely there. In 2010, his first year in Arizona, he posted a 2.7 WAR in 32 starts. This was only .084 WAR a start, but he had a 3.80 ERA with a WHIP of 1.2, nothing to sneeze at all. This doesn't even mention that he was only making 403 thousand dollars last year, giving him a great WASP of 149.3. I have heard some analysts say that no one could have seen Kennedy's season coming, and I find that quite hard to believe. Only people with their heads in the sand, or people that don't pay attention to numbers could have not saw this coming. In AAA in 09, Kennedy made 4 starts and posted a 1.59 ERA, had more strikeouts than innings pitched, and a WHIP of 1.103. There was a reason the Yankees took him in the first round. Kennedy has put it all together this year, posting a 2.88 ERA, a .17 WAR per start, a WHIP of 1.086, and 8 strikeouts per 9 innings. It has been a very special year, but it should have been expected.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A reminder of how great Cy Young was

The 100th anniversary of Cy Young's last win (he hasn't won a game in a 100 years? What a slacker.) was this past week. When you look at Cy Young's numbers, you realize just how special he was. One thing I find interesting, and this probably has to do with how many pitches he had to throw, was that he was not a strikeout pitcher (only 3.84 strikeouts per 9 innings). He very much pitched to contact, walking just 1 per 9 innings in his career. His career ERA was 2.36, and his FIP (fielder independent ERA) was just 2.57. His career WHIP was a very nice 1.130. Then there is the sheer fact that this guy pitched for 22 seasons! 5 of those years he threw over 400 innings (no one really throws 250 any more), and 16 years he threw at least 300 innings.

Moneyball Review: Scott Hatteberg or Carlos Pena?

The face of Moneyball is Scott Hatteberg. Who can replace Jason Giambi? Hatteberg. Why? Because he can get on base. "Play Hatteberg" becomes the mantra of Billy Beane, much to the dismay of Art Howe, who wanted to play Carlos Pena. So who was right? Despite being one of the big decisions, if not the key decision of Billy Beane's moneyball A's, some have suggested that the move is actually antithetical to the principle of moneyball. In 2002, Carlos Pena was making just $202,000, while Hatteberg was making $900,000. Pena was also a much younger player, although this doesn't really matter to Beane. The first question is whether Hatteberg or Pena was better in 2002 for the Athletics. The answer is easily Hatteberg. Hatteberg posted a 2.7 WAR (he bizarrely had a .7 WAR on defense, when the big question was whether he could play first base, he obviously could), while Pena posted just a .4 WAR in his time with the Athletics. Carlos Pena played in 40 games, giving him a WAR per game of .01, while Hatteberg (played in 136 games) had a .02 WAR per game. Hatteberg post a 333 WASP (if you are unsure what any of these statistics mean, check the tabs above), while Pena had a 505. While both numbers are great, Hatteberg was better value, despite having a bigger salary. For what it is worth, Hatteberg was also better in his Athletic career than Pena's Tiger (Pena was traded to Detroit by the A's) career. The big number for Beane and the A's though was OBP (on base percentage), and in 2002 it wasn't even close. Hatteberg had a .374 OBP, and Pena had just a .302. Pena had a PAPP of 2.88, while Hatteberg had a better PAPP of 2.57. Pena's PPG was a bad .875, while Hatteberg's was a better, but still not great .99. So yes, it seems that Beane was right, the stats were on his side in the Pena versus Hatteberg fight.

Moneyball Review: Carlos Pena

Art Howe loved Carlos Pena in Moneyball
A point of contention during the whole movie of Moneyball is Carlos Pena. Manager Art Howe wanted to play Pena because he claimed that he was a better first baseman, while Beane wanted Hatteberg to play because he "got on base" (I will address Pena versus Hatteberg in another article). Beane ends up trading Pena away so Howe couldn't play him anymore. In reality, the Athletics sent Pena, Jeremy Bonderman, and Franklyn German to the Tigers, and got Ted Lilly, John-Ford Griffin and Jason Arnold from the Yankees, and much needed cash from the Tigers. In 4 years as a Tiger, Pena posted a 1.3 WAR. In his final year as a Tiger, he made 2.75 million and posted a 0 WAR, giving him a bad WASP of 5500. Jeremy Bonderman (who was originally the "player to be named later") spent 03-10 with the Tigers, posting a 5.6 WAR. However, he made 41 million in his time there, giving him a horrible WASP of 7380. Franklyn German spent 4 years with Detroit, but couldn't figure it out at a -.2 WAR. As far as the players the Athletics received, Ted Lilly played a year and a half with the A's, pitching 201.2 innings. He earned a 2.3 WAR in this time while making just $453,575 in that time (and part of that could be offset with the money the A's got in the trade), giving him a phenomenal WASP of 197.2. Griffin and Arnold never played for the A's in the Majors, but Lilly alone seems to tilt this trade to the Athletics. The Tigers got better overall WAR in the trade, but the Athletics got much more value.

Moneyball Review: Chad Bradford

As promised, this is part of a series I am doing off some of the moves found in the movie "Moneyball". Firstly, I wanted to talk about one of my favorite pitchers in the past decade or so, Chad Bradford. In the movie, Jonah Hill's character notes that Bradford was overlooked because people didn't like his strange delivery, which I have always loved personally. Jonah Hill's character claims that Bradford is worth 3 million dollars. This is a very large claim, since he made $170,000 with the White Sox in 98. In his last year with the White Sox in 2000, Bradford posted a WAR of .3, which is clearly not worth $3 million dollars a year. However, he did this in only 13.2 innings! If the White Sox gave him about 50 innings (more or less average for a reliever) in 2000 (assuming he pitched with the same success) he would have posted about a 1.14 WAR. This means (according to the Halladay Standard in WASP) he would have been worth $3,409,091. In 2000, his ERA was 1.98, with a 2.04 FIP (Fielder Independent ERA, tries to take fielders out of the equation), gave up no home runs, left over 70% of runners on base, and walked just one person. The movie doesn't really stress trade details on many players (which is probably a good thing for cinema sake), and doesn't mention that he was traded to the Athletics from Chicago for catcher Miguel Olivo. Olivo, unlike Bradford, is still in the Majors, but has bounced around and is playing for the Mariners. He played in pieces of the 2002, 2003, and 2004 seasons for the White Sox, playing in 166 games. He was really mediocre, posting a .5 WAR in that time, and was shipped off to Seattle. Bradford, on the other hand, was pretty nice for Oakland. He played for them from 01-04, pitching 248 innings with an ERA of 2.70, and a WHIP of 1.23. He averaged about 65% groundball outs, and picked up 61 holds in 02-04. His total WAR was 3.9 and he only made 1.7 million during that time (a far cry from the 3 million dollars a year he was worth), giving him an amazing WASP of 436 over that 4 year period. After the 04 season, he was traded to the Red Sox for Jay Payton. Payton's OBP wasn't all that great as an Athletic (.302 in 05, .325 in 06), but he was a formidable player, posting a 2.3 WAR in his 2 seasons. He made 6.25 million in his two years as an A, giving him a solid 2717 WASP. Bradford only spent 05 with the Red Sox, posting just a .5 WAR. Certainly the trade for Bradford, and then even the trade sending Bradford away, were trades that worked out greatly for the Athletics. Some of these moves seem quite magical, but they made sense when you looked at the numbers. When you do that enough times, you get movies made after you.

NFL Picks: Week 3

Big D in bold. Me in Italics

Eagles versus Giants
Packers versus Bears
 Saints versus Texans
Steelers versus Colts
Cowboys versus Skins

Moneyball review: Part 1

Over the next few days (or weeks, who knows) I will be posting about Moneyball the movie. Most of the posts will be about the actual trades Billy Beane made at the time, and will try to use some of the same methods (along with some of my own) they used to see if the moves actually worked. However, I would like to give a short review. I am no movie critic, and have no skill grading acting, so I am just giving an opinion. With that said, if you consider yourself a baseball fan, you need to watch this movie. It is now my favorite baseball movie. They used a nice mixture of actual game-footage and simulated acting for game moments, and its the best I have seen in a sports movie. Because it's based on real life events, we don't get the crummy storylines included in many sports movies. The players are real, and the story-line is (mostly, at least) real. Great job on research to not only know all the players involved with the A's but also the players on other teams (I was caught in quite a few "o yeah, I forgot about that" moments, such as that Raul Ibanez played with the Kansas City Royals for a time). For those not baseball fans, it is a good underdog story, with slight political overtones, its the rich versus the poor, the fortunate versus the not so much. Whether sportsy or not, its a good story-line, the good guy doesn't necessarily win, and life is complicated. Of course, the cast is very good as well, headlined by Brad Pitt (for the female viewer, there are many scenes of him working out, and probably one two many closeups of his chest area) and Jonah Hill. A minor complaint might be that Carlos Pena looks nothing like Carlos Pena in the movie, although that is really hard to cast (Jeremy Giambi didn't look like Giambi either). Other than that, there is not a lot to complain about. There are some kind of soft, mushy moments, but they don't over do it, and they seem appropriate. I think everyone should at least give this movie a chance, and I will give it an A-.

Remembering the Hafner trade

Just the other day, Cleveland Indian first baseman Travis Hafner recorded his 1,000th hit (injuries in recent years is the only reason this took so long). In 2002, the Texas Rangers sent Hafner and Aaron Myette to Drew Carey-land for Ryan Drese and Einar Diaz. At the time, Baseball America called it one of the most lopsided trades in history. Certainly there have been more lopsided trades in baseball history, but its pretty lopsided (sorry Ranger fans). Hafner is really the only guy in the trade that turned out to be any good at all (Drese had one nice season for the Rangers). The Rangers got a grand total of 3.8 WAR from Drese and Diaz in Texas, while Cleveland has gotten 22.9 Wins after Replacement from Hafner (Myette only gave them a -.3 WAR in his one year). Hafner's PPG has been 1.38 in his career (he had a 1.6 PPG in the Rangers minor league system) and he has had 2 seasons with an OPS of over 1,000. For what its worth, his minor league metrics per season was 1 more homer, .017 on the batting average, .025 on the OBP, and 13 more RBIs.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The new Berkman contract

The Cardinals have announced that they are giving Lance Berkman a contract for next year worth 12 million dollars. At a 8 million dollar salary this season, Berkman has a 1633 WASP. If he can put together another 4.9 WAR season next year, he will still be a 2449 WASP, still a very solid number. However, in 2010, when he battled injuries, with both the Yankees and Astros put up only a 1.2 WAR. The big question is whether last year was the outlier or this year is the outlier. Or, are they both outliers and the real result is somewhere in the middle? For his career, this year is actually pretty normal, and maybe a little under average. He has had 4 seasons of above 6 WAR, in 2008 he had a OOP of 663 and a PPG of 1.68 (compared to an OOP of 565 and a PPG 1.51 this year). He is walking at the same ratio he did last year (at about 16%), and striking out at a slightly smaller ratio. He clearly wasn't as strong last year as he is this year (he had a .166 Isolated Slugging last year, and a .255 ISOS this year).  The main issue seems to be health, and thats nearly impossible to predict injuries other than looking at the track record. Other than last year, he has been pretty healthy throughout his career. Astros' TV color guy Jim Deshaies said something I hadn't thought of, this is their insurance policy at first base in case they don't resign Albert Pujols (which I have argued the Cardinals should not resign). This deal makes sense for where the Cardinals are at right now, but it could really blow up in their face.

Behind the horrific season Kevin Slowey is having

Perhaps I am just a sadist, but I find a horrifically ugly season interesting and entertaining. Horrific and ugly are two words that quickly come to mind when assessing Twins starting pitcher Kevin Slowey's 2011 season. The bizarre thing is that Slowey has had moderate success in the Majors before this year. In 08, he put together a 3.99 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, and a ratio of over 5 strikeouts per walk. Last season, his stats weren't quite as good, but very formidable (2.3 WAR in 08, .8 WAR last season). This year, his numbers look something like this. 0-7 (I put very little stock in pitching records), 6.54 ERA, 1.360 WHIP (not awful, and I will show you why his WHIP isn't bad in a second), a -.4 WAR, and a WASP of 6480. What went wrong? Well, it appears that Slowey's problems with the longball have finally caught up with him. His 1.5 homers allowed per 9 innings is about standard for his career and is way too high. He doesn't walk hardly anyone (averaging just .8 walks per 9 innings, an amazing number), but perhaps that is the problem. The stats seem to show he is not throwing it out of the zone at all. He has thrown 70 percent of his pitches for strikes, while the artist of quality strike throwing, Cliff Lee, is throwing 69 percent of his pitches for strikes. It is pretty easy to claim that Slowey has neither the stuff or control to live in the strike zone as much as Lee does. His batting average against is .303 and .321 on balls put in play. That means that either he is extremely unlucky or is getting the ball hit hard off him. The Twins have not been good on defense all year, and statistics seem to show that Slowey may be just unlucky this season, as his FIP (fielder independent ERA) is 4.49 (which is still a career high). Also, what was fly balls in previous years for Slowey, have turned into line drives (a career low in fly ball percentage, and career high in line drive percentage). Another thing that may hurt the "he is unlucky case" is that he hasn't even given up an infield hit. Slowey's curveball is being hit unlike its ever been hit before as Fangraphs notes that his curveball has given up 4.1 more runs than an average curveball. Is Slowey experiencing bad luck on a bad team? Sure, but he is not exactly Cy Young either.

A bright spot in the dark White season

It has been a really frustrating season for the White Sox. They have the 5th highest payroll in baseball at about a 130 million dollar payroll (at 76 wins, $1,710,526 a win, and a WASP of 5000). Big money failures like Adam Dunn (who is putting up a historically bad season) and Alexis Rios have fueled the failure. However, as in most cases, there are some shining lights. Recently, the biggest has been Alejandro De Aza. At the end of the 09 season, the White Sox claimed De Aza off waivers from the Marlins. His salary for this year has not been released (and it was 390,000 in 09) and he is arbitration eligible at the end of the year, so it is safe to say he is making about $400,000 this year. Despite being called up late and only playing in 47 games, he has been very valuable, with a 1.9 WAR and playing every outfield position. This gives him a great WASP of 210.5. His OOP is a nice 419 (not too far behind Cameron Maybin), and a PPG of 1.34 (better than both Cameron Maybin and Starlin Castro). He is another guy who strikes out a lot (about 1/5th of his at-bats, he also walks 8% of the time, a 2 strikeouts to 1 walk ratio is a nice ratio), but is still pretty productive, because when he hits the ball, magic happens (a .400 Batting average on balls put in play). It is very possible that the White Sox will use De Aza to replace Juan Pierre or Alexis Rios as they attempt to rebuild this team.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why I like the Rays: Part 1,000,000

If you read the blog regularly, you know that I like and respect the Rays organization because of what they are able to do with so little money. Here is another move that has made a lot of sense: during the off-season, the Rays traded starter Matt Garza and 2 minor leaguers (that haven't played for the Cubs yet) for Sam Fuld, Brandon Guyer and 2 minor leaguers (that haven't played for the Rays yet). Of course, who "won" this trade will ultimately be decided by how the minor leaguers for both teams turn out. However, we can grade how this trade affected the teams this year. Despite losing Garza, the Rays still have the second best pitching in the American League at 3.59 and have the most complete games at 15 (mainly because of James Shields). The Cubs however, are last in the NL in fielding. For the Rays, Sam Fuld has given them a 1.6 WAR, and 1 WAR on defense (not to mention all those cool highlight catches). Brandon Guyer has given the Rays a .3 WAR (all on defensive WAR). So this year the Rays have gotten 1.9 WAR from those two outfielders and haven't missed Garza in the rotation. Matt Garza (with a complete game no earned run performance on Wednesday) has given the Cubs a 2.2 WAR. It is tempting to say, just by looking at the WARs, that the Cubs won the trade. However (not even mentioning that the Cubs desperately could use the outfield play of Fuld and Guyer), this is ignoring the salary situation and the real genius of Friedman and Maddon (and the reckless decision making by the Cubs that got their GM fired), Matt Garza is a free agent at the end of the year, and is making 5.95 million dollars this year (he is giving them a solid WASP at 2704, but he is definitely a candidate to be overpaid next year, and the Cubs are awful about doing that). Fuld, on the other hand, is making 421,000 this year (a great 263 WASP) and isn't even arbitration eligible at the end of the year (and won't be a free agent until 2016!). Guyer made his debut this year, so his official salary hasn't been released, but it is probably at the minimum of 400,000, and he won't even be arbitration eligible for a couple of years. This is why I like the Rays (as I write this, the Yankees are tied with the Rays 2-2 with Jeremy Helickson, making $416,000 this year, facing off against CC Sabathia, making 23 million dollars this year).

Why Didn't the Astros move these guys?

The pitiful Astros have been involved in 4 major trades (and another substantial  one in trading Jeff Keppinger to the Giants this year) in the past 2 seasons, all at the deadline. Last year, they dumped both Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman for prospects, rather obvious moves. This year they traded Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, both rather young players, for lots of good prospects. However, I was really surprised they didn't make more moves. I am thinking of 3 guys in particular. Firstly Wandy Rodriquez is making 7 million dollars this season and will make 10 million next year. He has a WAR of 2.1, giving him a WASP (this season) of around 3300 (making him over the Halladay Standard. He is also 32 years old. There are/were teams in the hunt that needed starting pitching (there were rumors about Wandy going to the Yankees, but it never materialized). There is really no excuse for the Astros not moving him for prospects. Similarly, Outfielder/First baseman Carlos Lee should have been moved, and was not. He is in the middle of an absurd 100 million dollar contract, and is making 18.5 million dollars. Even with his 4.4 WAR, he still has a WASP of 4204. His 475 OOP (39 SOOP) and 1.14 PPG (16228 PPGS) are hardly worth the big salary (if you are unsure what any of these statistics mean, check the pages above) and he is 35. Surely someone could have used this guy and would have given up a couple of prospects and freed up money for the 'Stros. Starting pitcher Brett Myers is the third guy on this list. He is 31, has a WAR of just .6, and a salary of $ 7 million (10 million dollars next year). Holding anybody with a 11666 WASP when you are a rebuilding team is inexcusable. The Astros' management sure have provided some head scratchers.

In honor of "Moneyball": Mark Ellis and Jemile Weeks.

It has been a frustrating season for the Oakland A's. It is not a good sign when the highlight of your season is when Brad Pitt is cast as your GM. In honor of Moneyball (which is getting mostly good reviews, I will probably be posting mine on Saturday), we should probably look at a very "moneyball" move the A's made this year that is already paying off. Mark Ellis had been a very solid 2nd baseman for the Athletics for several years, but once it became apparent the A's wouldn't be competing for the playoffs they traded him off for a couple of prospects from the Rockies. They didn't just trade him to trade him though, they had someone waiting in the wings. Enter Jemile Weeks, the little brother of stud 2nd baseman Rickie Weeks of Milwaukee. Jemile, unlike his brother, doesn't hit for any power (still no big league homers), but is still a very solid hitter (.298/.336/ .740 OPS). His defense still needs some work (already 12 errors and -.9 D-WAR), but he is only 24. Since he just made his debut this season, his salary hasn't been released, but its probably around $400,000. His total WAR this year has been .9 (remember, he came up in June, imagine if he becomes a better fielder and is allowed to play a full year), giving him a WASP of around 444, which is great value. Mark Ellis, on the other hand, is making 6 million this season (and will be a free agent at the end of the year). He has registered just a .7 WAR since joining the Rockies (and since he has played half the year there), giving him a WASP of 4286 (well above the Halladay Standard). If Weeks turns out to be the 2nd baseman the A's were looking for, then it's safe to say that Billy Beane still has it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Craig Kimbrel: Super-Valuable

Rookie closer Craig Kimbrel was one pitch away from getting a save in Florida Monday, when a little chopper ate up the elderly Chipper Jones at third. He got ahead of Omar Vizquel, a former Brave teammate, and had 2 strikes on him before Vizquel put one in the stands, ending the game. Kimbrel has actually given home runs in each of his last 2 appearances and seems to be struggling. He may be out of gas, as he has appeared in 77 games this season. He has been downright nasty all year, with 45 saves, an ERA of 2.03, WHIP of .996, and 124 strikeouts (this doesn't mention what he did last year, with a .44 ERA in 21 appearances). His WAR is 3.0, he has left 80% of runners on base, .173 BAA, walks less than 10% of batters, all this with throwing his fastball 70% of the time. The best part is, of course, that he is making $421,000. This gives him an amazing WASP of 120. Anytime you can bring up a prospect or a young player and contribute, its beautiful. If the Braves complete the collapse, they can't blame it on what they got from Kimbrel this year.

The obligatory Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder article

Everyone who follows baseball knows, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder will be free agents at the end of the season. In the past 4 years, Pujols has registered a 31.8 WAR, a 27.4 offensive WAR and a 3.8 defensive WAR. That means his average year (in the past 4 years) is 7.95 WAR, 6.85 O-WAR, .95 D-WAR. He is making 16 million dollars this year (with a 5.3 WAR) and has a WASP around the Halladay Standard at 3018. However, if he made 16 million in his average year, his WASP would be a solid 2013. His average year merits a 23.8 million dollar a year contract according to the Halladay Standard. Prince Fielder is a slightly different story. His WAR in the past 4 years is 15.9, 17.9 O-WAR, -2 D-WAR. He is making 15.5 million this year, (and with a WAR of 4.7) making his WASP pretty bad, at 5741 (Carlos Pena of the rival Cubs is slightly more efficient). His average WAR is 3.975, 4.475 O-WAR, -.5 D-WAR. According the Halladay Standard, his average season deserves 11.925 million dollars. Back to Pujols, since the minimum wage for Major League players is at $400,000, if he ends up making 23.850 million dollars, that would be equal to 60 minimum wage players. It would be nearly impossible to argue that Albert Pujols is worth 60 players, even minimum wage bubble players. Think about it, would you rather bring Albert Pujols to spring training, or 60 pre-arbitration major and minor league players?  The 60 players would only have to equal a .1325 WAR a piece to equal Pujol's production. Unless your a big money team with no worries about money or efficiency (especially because of injuries, can you imagine paying Pujols 23 million to sit on the DL because he tore up his knee in spring training?), it would be just goofy to sign Pujols to what he is worth.

A reminder of just how amazing this Rays run is

What looked like a non-race for the AL Wild Card has become a race, as the Rays have gotten streaky hot, and the Red Sox have cooled off big time. I wanted to take some time to show the drastic difference between the two in payroll. The Red Sox payroll currently sits at about 160 million dollars. Back when it was 25 man rosters, this was about 6.4 million dollars a player. Now that it is 40 man rosters, its 4 million dollars a player. The Tampa Bay Rays' payroll, on the other hand, is 42 million dollars. On 25 man rosters, that is 1.68 million dollars a player. In current September 40 man rosters (if a team paid all their players "minimum wage" determined by baseball, the payroll would be 16 million), it is just barely 1 million dollars a player. So each Red Sox player is being paid at least 4 times as much, on average, than Rays players. The Red Sox have 88 wins, which means they spend about 1.8 million dollars per win. The Rays on the other hand, spend about $450,000 per win. According to WAR and Saber-metric calculations, a team with all "replacement players" would have a .320 winning percentage (the Astros have a .346 winning percentage), which would be 49 wins at this part of the season. The Red Sox have 39 wins over the replacement level, giving them a team WASP of 4102 (higher than the "Halladay Standard" 3000). The Rays have 36 wins over the replacement level, and with their smaller salary, their WASP is around 1166, nearly 4 times more efficient than the Sox. If Joe Maddon doesn't win manager of the year and Andrew Friedman executive of the year, then the award process is broken. Theo Epstein and Terry Francona have done a great job in Boston, winning 2 World Series, but it should be put in perspective. I know that Boston employees some famous sabermetrician experts, but they are just a Yankee-like big money cudgel and that's how they win. Spend big and hope it works out, and that's what is wrong with baseball right now. 

How we did: Week 2 NFL Picks

Big D's picks are in bold, mine are italicized
Patriots smoked Chargers
Excuse: I picked against the Patriots. Dumb. 
Cowboys survived 49ers
Jets crushed Jaguars
Falcons swarmed Eagles
Excuse: This was sort of a pick 'em game, Eagles led most of the way, their defense collapsed, that surprised me.
Giants toppled Rams
Excuse: I don't like either of these teams, but the Rams played horrendous, that just wasn't a very good pick

Big D: 3-2 this week, 7-4 for the year
Me: 2-3 this week, 6-5 for the year 

Another Japanese Pitcher coming to the majors? Tsuyoshi Wada

With all the hype around Yu Darvish, another Japanese pitcher that has announced he may come to the States is being overlooked. Tsuyoshi Wada is a left-handed pitcher with a funky long delivery that hides the ball well. According to my Japanese baseball scout (okay, he is a twitter friend that is very knowledgeable about Japanese baseball, you can follow him @inter_ueno), he throws a fastball, curve, slider, forkball (been a while since I have seen one of those), and change-up and can control all his pitches. He is 30 years old, and in his career in Japan, he has a 1.17 WHIP, 3.37 ERA, 8.29K's per 9 innings, averages about 7 innings a start, and 3.5BB per 9 innings. This is certainly not Yu Darvish numbers, but solid numbers nevertheless. If you remember my article on Yu Darvish, and the Japanese metric we came up with by comparing Japanese pitchers' stats in Japan and the Majors, you remember that we subtract 30 strikeouts for a season's totals, add .086 to the WHIP, and .61 to the ERA. If he comes over to the States and is a starter, you can expect 184 strikeouts, (and regardless of starter or bullpen assignment) 1.256 WHIP, and 3.98 ERA. Max Scherzer is having a season slightly worse than that, and has a WAR of 2.2. A 2.2 WAR with a "Halladay Standard" WASP (see my page on WASP above) would be about 6.6 million a year. This is small enough that a lower tier team (as far as budget goes) can take a chance on him and try him as a number 2 starter. With Darvish and Wada, we will have more data for comparative metrics between Japanball and MLB.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Make the most of your time: Takashi Saito

One of the strengths that has emerged for this year's Milwaukee Brewers is the back end of their bullpen. Takashi Saito has been a very underrated reason for this. While K-rod and Axford get all the press, Saito is quietly being dominant. In only 23.2 innings he has registered a .9 WAR (for perspective, Cliff Lee has a 6.6 WAR in 220 innings, about 1 per 33 innings). He has done this by registering a 1.80 ERA, 1.183 WHIP, stranding over 90% of base-runners, and hitters hitting just .227 on him (its actually been much lower most of his career). Right handers are hitting just .180 off him, and in the hot August the Brewers had, he gave up just a .138 batting average. The best thing? He has already outdone his salary in 23.2 innings by posting a 1944 WASP. He is a free agent at the end of the year, and there is a good chance that a big market team will overpay him to be their setup man.

The best catching duo in baseball

During the 09 season, the Rangers traded for Ivan Rodriquez, who was a longtime Ranger and a fan favorite. After the season ended, they decided not to resign him, and the Washington Nationals picked him up. In his two years in Washington, he has made 6 million dollars and registered a WAR (Wins above Replacement Player) of just .4. This equals a WASP (see the page about WASP above) of 15000, which is simply not good at all. After having some struggles in the '10 season, the Rangers acquired two new catchers, Mike Napoli (in one of the more lopsided trades of the year), and Yorvit Torrealba. Napoli has been fantastic, leading all catchers in BA, OBP, SLG, and HRs. His OPS is over 1.000 and he has a WAR of 5.1 (there are MVP candidates with lower WAR). His WASP is also a very good 1137. Yorvit Torrealba has also proved to be rather valuable, registering a .6 WAR (you may think that is low, but this is the backup catcher we are talking about, most teams would kill to get this kind of production for the backup catcher). He is still overpaid at a 5000 WASP, and has an OBP barely over 300, and an Isolated Slugging of just .112. However, he has caught nearly 800 innings, and hits about equal (actually slightly better against righties, despite being right-handed) against lefties and righties. Simply put, the Rangers have the best catching duo in baseball and that is a big reason they are winning the AL West.

The knuckleball is fun, and the Mets agree

R.A. Dickey's story is now relatively familiar across baseball-land. He was a first round pick by the Texas Rangers, but then received a much smaller bonus when a doctor saw a picture of him, and determined that he was missing a ligament in his shoulder. Then he took some lumps in the big leagues, changed into a knuckleball pitcher, struggled more. He was then let go by the Rangers, bounced around, and then found himself pitching for the Mets. Then last year, he had a stellar year, and has become either the Mets number 1 or number 2 starter. This year he has been phenomenal, posting a 4.6 WAR and making on $2.75 million. This gives him an incredible 598 WASP. His WHIP is a solid 1.250, and a very good ERA of 3.35. When he gets ahead in the count, its basically all over, as his opponent batting average is .225, with a .168 average with 2 strikes. Key divisional opponents aren't doing much against him either, as the Braves are hitting just .190 off him, and the Phillies just .222. He is averaging 5.8 strikeouts per 9 innings, which is higher than he has ever had in the big leagues, and in his two years as a Met he has kept his home runs allowed per 9 innings under 1, something he had never done before. He is getting more groundballs than ever before, and throwing twice as many strikes as balls (with 75% of them being the knuckler). It is hard to pinpoint what exactly finally went right for Dickey, it may just have been gaining familiarity with the knuckleball, but things are going extremely right, and the usually inefficient, unlucky Mets somehow have this guy.

Aramis Ramirez

The Cubs did a really curious thing this season. Despite being stuck in a terrible season with a large payroll, they didn't really part with any of their high paid players at the trade deadline (besides Fukudome). Among those kept was Aramis Ramirez, who is scheduled to be a free agent this year (if the Cubs decide not to exercise the option on his contract). There are now reports that the Florida Marlins will pursue him this off-season (as they plan to turn into a big market team with a new stadium). Ramirez is currently overpaid at 14.6 million with a WAR of 3.7 (giving him a WASP of 3946), but my guess would be that he will still get at least this much in free agency. He has proved to be an absolute liability on defense with a -5.9 D-WAR career-wise. He has also been inconsistent on offense, despite a good year this year, as 09-10 (both injury plagued) were not very impressive. I would stay far far away from this guy if I were the Marlins or any other National League team with limited payroll, he is clearly diminishing in skills, and seems best suited as a DH.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Transformation of Matt Lindstrom

Matt Lindstrom, currently a reliever for the Colorado Rockies, had a profoundly mediocre year for the Houston Astros last year. His ERA was 4.39 and his WAR was .3, which gave him a WASP of 5416.7. It was no surprise at all that the Astros didn't bring him back. For the Rockies this year, he has been much better, a 3.06 ERA with a 1.2 WAR. Even after the bad year of last year, the Rockies still paid Lindstrom more than he made in 2010. In fact, he is making nearly twice as much. However, his WASP is still a decent 2750. What are the reasons for this change? Well, there could be several. For one, he appears to be more healthy this year, he spent some time on the DL last year for the Astros, and didn't appear to be the same pitcher down the stretch and was yanked from the closer position. Statistically, Lindstrom was more of a strikeout pitcher last year, with 7.26 K's per 9 innings (5.94 K's per innings this year). He has walked less people though (2.52bb per 9 innings this year, and 3.38bb per 9 innings last year), and when people put the ball in play, they have done a lot less damage this year (.358 Batting Average on Balls in Play last year and a BABIP of .283 this year). The Astros sure could have used this year's Matt Lindstrom last year or this year.

The (kind of) Efficient Tigers

They are ranked 10th in payroll, so they have money and are able to spend it, but they can't miss as much as teams like the Phillies or Yankees.They have shown to be Jekyll and Hyde when it comes to salary efficiency. They have really missed bad on some big money players, or they have just been having down years, while some young players being paid almost nothing are huge contributors for the recently  clinched AL Central Champions.
Alex Aliva has an amazing WASP of 78.7, even better than Mike Stanton's. He was the starting catcher in the All-Star game for the American League at age 24. He has an OBP of .388, an OPS of .902, a .220 Isolated Slugging (for comparison, David Ortiz has a .265, Evan Longoria a .250, and Carlos Lee a .180), .367 average on balls put in play, and has created 86.5 runs for the Tigers.
Their ace, Cy Young favorite, and MVP candidate Justin Verlander is at a very good 1593 WASP. I have already written about Doug Fister and his amazing WASP, and Austin Jackson has an awesome 440 WASP.Their high paid slugger Miguel Cabrera is around the Halladay Standard at 3174.
Valverde the closer who has been perfect in save opportunities has a Halladay Standard WASP of around 3000 as well.
Some of their big disappointments have been Magglio Ordonez who has a terrible 39000 WASP, Victor Martinez is also overpaid at 4800 and Brandon Inge's is a horrific 14850.
Good trades and development, along with some extra cash, have outweighed the Tigers bad free agent contracts.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Japanese Players don't Always work out: Tsuyoshi Nishioka

The Minnesota Twins have announced that they are shutting down middle infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka for the rest of the season due to injury. Over the offseason, the Japanese player came over for a 3 year, 9.25 million dollar deal. He has rewarded the Twins with a -1.8 WAR, a .278 OBP, 0 homers, and a .527 OPS. His WASP?  11716. As bad as his offensive numbers are, his defensive numbers are worse (-1.4 WAR defensively, -.4 WAR offensively) with a miserable .961 fielding percentage. When discussing why the Twins were bad this year, the obvious reasons getting nothing from their two top sluggers in Mauer and Morneau, but Nishioka doing nothing didn't help either. And perhaps this is a reminder to teams looking at Japanese pitching phenom Yu Darvish, yes some Japanese players have come over and played great, but there have also been a few that have really really scuffled.

Big Time Slugger or Speedster who doesn't strikeout? Which would you rather have?

A theoretical debate in baseball has always gone something like this: "Would you rather have a guy that strikes out a lot and is slow, but hits tons of home runs, or a guy who is fast and rarely strikes out, but can't hit the long ball?". We have seen this in criticism of Ichiro Suzuki (before this lackluster year), as critics insist he is overrated because he only cares about hits (his next one will tie him with Mickey Mantle, and this doesn't count any of his hits in Japan) and doesn't hit home runs. So I wanted to take 4 real examples of current players' best seasons (2 sluggers and 2 speedsters) and see what the key saber-metric statistic, WAR (Wins after Replacement Player), had to say on the debate. For Brett Gardner of the Yankees (clearly in the speedster category), his best year was 2010, when he had a .383 OBP, 47 RBIs, 47 steals, with 101 strikeouts. His offensive WAR (we are going to ignore defense for this post) was 3.3. The other speedster I picked was, of course, Ichiro. His best offensive season was his first year in America, where he had a OBP of .381, 56 stolen bases, 69 RBIs, 8 homers, and 53 strikeouts. This gave him a WAR of 6.2 on offense. The first slugger I picked is pretty obvious, Ryan Howard. He has some of the highest single season strikeout totals in National League history. His best year was in 2006, when he had a .425 OBP, 181 strikeouts OPS of 1.084, with 58 bombs, and 149 RBIs. His WAR was 5.6. The second slugger I picked was Carlos Pena. His best year was in 2007, when he had an OBP of .411, 142 strikeouts, 46 homers, 121 RBIs, and a OPS of 1.037. His offense WAR was 5.9. There are plenty of more sluggers and speedsters that we could evaluate, but looking at just these 4 seem to show that both the slugger and the speedster are equally valuable.

NFL Picks: Week 2

Big D's picks are in bold, mine are italicized

Patriots versus Chargers
Cowboys versus 49ers
Jets versus Jaguars
Eagles versus Falcons
Rams versus Giants

Revisiting that Brandon McCarthy-John Danks Trade

Before the 2007 season, the Rangers traded John Danks, and Nick Masset to the White Sox for Brandon McCarthy. Brandon McCarthy has had a very nice year in 2011, with a 3.35 ERA, 1.150 WHIP, and a 3.3 WAR (a WASP of 303, which is amazing). The only problem, he is pitching for the Athletics, not the Rangers. The Rangers released him after he was unable to make a single appearance for the Major League team in 2010. In his time with the Rangers, he recorded a grand total of 1.2 WAR (because he never made much money for the Rangers, his WASP was still pretty good, but not near what it is as an Athletic). He also is a free agent this year, and with the constant need of starting pitching, expect him to bring in some nice money from a team. Nick Masset (who is now a nice reliever for the Cincinnati Reds) appeared in 32 games for the White Sox and registered a .2 WAR in 2008. He was then part of a trade to the Reds for Ken Griffey Jr. Griffey was a disaster for the White Sox at a -.4 WAR, making the Masset part of the trade a -2 for the White Sox. John Danks is a different story, he has been a great success as his WAR has been 19.1 since the trade (and he has been worth it too, as he has registered an awesome WASP of 562, even though this year has been around the Halladay Standard of 3000). The trade has won about 19 games for the White Sox (with a 18.9 WAR), while the trade won just 1.2 for the Rangers. John Daniels is rightly a respected GM for the Rangers, but he has had his misses (especially early on).

Corey Patterson has been a disaster for the Cardinals

In one of his final games as a Toronto Blue Jay, Corey Patterson was put in as a substitute fielder in the bottom of the 9th in Texas. He misjudged a ball, it sailed over his head and the Rangers won on a walk off. Yesterday, the Cardinals were up by 1 in the 9th, and a Corey Patterson error caused them to go into extra innings (they won anyway, beating the Phillies). Granted, it was his 1st error as a Cardinal and he had a slightly positive defensive WAR coming into the day as a Cardinal, but he has been absolutely atrocious on offense, with a .180 OBP, .416 OPS, 0 homers or steals, and just 3 rbis since coming over at the end of August. In the massive trade between the two teams, there were some curious players included. It didn't make any sense for the Blue Jays to pick up Trever Miller (who has already been released and picked up by the Red Sox), and I certainly wasn't excited about the Cardinals picking up Corey Patterson (he isn't a young prospect or anything). Yes he is making very little by Major League standards ($900,000), and had a WAR of .9 with the Blue Jays this year (giving him a very nice WASP of 666 for his 4 months as a Blue Jay), but he has racked up a -.4 WAR as a Cardinal (because they are giving him so little money for his two months of play, his WASP is still very good). It was a small risk for the Cardinals, but its hard to imagine that Patterson would be this bad.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Beware of the World Series MVP, and the Reds SS problems.

Edgar Renteria is basically became the Reds shortstop because of one pitch and one swing. Don't get me wrong, it was a beautiful swing at the most important time possible, as Renteria's 3 run shot off Cliff Lee in the World Series to give the Giants the lead for good in game 5 sealed the deal and Lincecum shut the Rangers down. The Reds, because the Giants wouldn't sign him (even though he was the MVP of the World Series), gave him $2.1 million to join the club for the year. I thought it was a bad deal (more on how terrible the deal actually is) to start with, but its really hard to be as bad of a deal as the Giants were in with him. In 2 years in San Francisco, he made $18 million, had an OPS below 700, hit a grand total of 8 homers, 70 rbis, and posted a WAR of just .4. This gave him a horrifying WASP of 45000 in his time as a Giant. How has he been this year? A replacement player. Exactly a 0 WAR. He has a WASP of 4200, a lot better than his one as a Giant, but still not good at all. The even bigger problem the Reds have faced this year? They have no replacement. Their other shortstop Paul Janish has appeared in 105 games, but he is barely over the Mendoza line, an OBP of .251, a OPS of .502, all for a total of a -.4 WAR (he is only in the majors because he can field at a 1.1 WAR, because his offense is at -1.5). The only good news is that he is making only $438,000, giving him a WASP (see previous posts on how to calculate WASP) of 1051 (its a very nice WASP, because they are paying him near league minimum they shouldn't expect anything from him is what the statistic assumes). However, he is already 28, and its hard to imagine he will improve anymore, meaning that the Reds really really need help at shortstop.

How Much is Yu Darvish Worth? Comparative Statistics.

It appears that after Rangers' lefty C.J. Wilson, who I have already written about, will be the most sought after starting pitcher in free agency this year. Second place goes to Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, who has all the hype Daisuke Matsuzaka had. Darvish is just 25 years old, and going into this season had a career ERA of 1.81 in Japanball. His WHIP is .909, averages 10 strikeouts per 9 innings, and he is a starter! Its not hard to contend that Japanball is at a lower level of play than the Major Leagues (mainly because the United States is a bigger country, and players from Japan, the Dominican and Venezuela come to play as well), but the question is by how much. So i want to look at a few pitchers that pitched in both Japan and America and see how Darvish compares. First, Dice-K (Matsuzaka). In Japan, Dice-K registered a 2.95 ERA and averaged 169 strikeouts a season (Darvish has averaged around 200), with a WHIP of 1.12. For the Red Sox, his ERA has been 4.18, and he has averaged 108 strikeouts a season (he has missed quite a bit of time with injuries), and a WHIP of 1.40. This is 61 less strikeouts per season, .28 extra in WHIP, and 1.23 extra in ERA. Hiroki Kuroda, the second starter for the LA Dodgers, is an anomaly for sure. His Major League stats are better than his Japan ball stats. In Japan, he had a 3.69 career ERA with 1257 strikeouts, with a WHIP of 1.35 in 10 seasons. In the Majors, his ERA is 3.43 with 488 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.19 in 4 seasons. It is hard to determine whether one should dismiss him as an outlier or keep his statistics in the mix as well, but I will keep him in the mix (for no real reason, except to have more pitchers to compare to). Rangers reliever Yoshi Tateyama had an ERA of about 3.79 with 488 strikeouts (41 a year) and a WHIP of .999, and in the Majors he has a 4.71 ERA with 40 strikeouts (in 1 season) and a WHIP of 1.10. Koji Uehara (also currently with the Rangers, was actually a high school teammate of Tateyama's, came to the majors as an Oriole) has very similar statistics in both countries. In Japan, he had a 3.01 ERA with 137.6 strikeouts a year and a WHIP of .992, while he has an ERA of 3.03 with 55 strikeouts a year, with a WHIP of 1.00 in America. There are a couple of other Japanese players that we could look at too, but I want to look at a player that is not Japanese but played in Japan. Colby Lewis is a key starter for the Texas Rangers, but had previously struggled so bad that he went to Japan to see if he could figure it out. And figure it out he did, as he had an ERA of 2.82 and 369 strikeouts in two years (184.5 a year) and a WHIP of 1.00. Since coming back to the states, he has an ERA of 4.00 with 173 strikeouts per year, with a WHIP of 1.21. This means on average, that the Majors add .086 to the WHIP, add .61 to the ERA, and subtract 30 strikeouts from the Japanese numbers. If we do this to Yu Darvish's numbers, he would have an ERA of 2.42, WHIP of .995, and about 192 strikeouts per season. This is really close to Cliff Lee's season (his ERA would be slightly above, his WHIP slightly below, and his strikeout total would be a little lower)! Lee has a WAR of 6.7, and is making about 24 million dollars a year. Comparative statistics across leagues is not a science, but we have enough evidence that shows that Japanese pitchers can come over here and dominate. One has to believe that Darvish is worth/will make at least 20 million dollars a year. Teams that want to bring him in better expect to pay this much.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Logan Morrison has a grievence to file

On the same day as he launched a homer against the Phillies, Logan Morrison filed a grievance on his own team (the Florida Marlins) for sending him down to AAA for 10 days last month. That solo shot gave him his 68th RBI of the year, and his 19th homer, he has a mediocre OBP of .333 and .796 OPS. But the problem hasn't be on offense, as he has a 1.7 Wins after Replacement on offense. His defense has been terrible though, as he has made 5 errors and only 6 assists, giving him a -1.6 WAR on defense. This isn't the American League where you can hide a bad fielder in the DH role, he has to go out and field (and I doubt the Marlins want to use him as just a pinch hitter). I like "LoMo" and think that the Marlins have mined prospects to make another great run in years to come, but I am not totally sold that he has a case here.

Jason Giambi, and the big veteran pitch hitter.

Every National League team needs (and every American League team could use) someone like Jason Giambi. Giambi, 40 years old, once the top slugger in baseball (and an admitted steroid user), is no longer a player that can play 150 games a year, or hit 50 homers and drive in 100. However, he isn't making 20 million dollars a year anymore. He can still hit too, and hit it hard. In 123 At-Bats, he has 13 homers, meaning he homers every 9.5 At-Bats. Albert Pujols homers once in about every 15 At-Bats (this season). His OBP is a very respectable .368, an OPS at 1.022 (!), and he has driven in 32. This is a guy that the Rockies can bring off the bench to hit for the pitcher (or in a key situation) and expect real results. Not to mention that he gives the Rockies a formidable DH in interleague play, something many NL teams simply do not have. He has a WAR (wins above replacement player) of 1.2 and an 13 RAR (runs above replacement player). Making a million dollars, his WASP (Wins above Replacement player and Salary Per) a very nice 833. He has also shown that he can play the occasional first base, as he did last night, with a .1 WAR on defense.

Got 'Roids?: Eliezer Alfonzo

Rockies catcher Eliezer Alfonzo has been suspended for 100 games for failing his second test for "performance enhancing drugs". When talking about steroids in baseball, we usually mean the stars like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmerio, and Sammy Sosa. However steroids are not just used by very good players to put them over the top, but also by minor league players to put them in the big leagues. Lets bring in Alfonzo now, he has a career WAR (wins above replacement player) of -1 at the big league level (with a -.4 this season), a career RAR (runs above replacement, or in this case, he has produced 9 less runs than a replacement player) of -9, a horrific OBP of .271, and just 17 homers since coming up with the Giants in 06. And this is him with steroids! To play a fun, very unscientific game, lets look at Barry Bonds' stats. Its generally believed that he was not on steroids with the Pirates, but was with the Giants (or that is just how we will simplify it). This may give us a gauge of just how much steroids (allegedly) helped his performance, and how terrible Alfonzo would be without them. In his 7 years with the Pirates, Bonds recorded a 50.2 WAR (which is quite awesome). Since he spent 15 years with the Giants, we multiply that number by 2.14(285714...) and get 107.6. In reality, his Giants WAR was 121.6, giving a difference of 14 over 15 years (there are other factors that could also account for the difference, but we don't really know what they are, so lets just have fun and assume this is accurate), giving him a .93 extra WAR a year. If we assume that steroids have given Alfonzo the same .93 WAR a year extra, he would have gained 5.6 extra WAR in his 6 year career. So if we subtract that from his already -1 WAR, he would have a career -6.6 WAR in the big leagues without steroids. If he was this bad, he would never have seen the big leagues. This is how steroids and performance enhancing drugs really screw with the numbers.

How to build a bullpen

I have often lamented that many relievers are overpaid, such as Rivera, Soriano, etc. One could also look at someone like Joaquin Benoit of the Tigers, who had a couple of really nice years and then got a big contract, as he has a WASP of 4583. It seems that big contracts with relievers rarely work and are almost never efficient. There are a few exceptions, the biggest one that comes to mind is Scott Downs, who was given a pretty big contract by the LA Angels. Downs is making 5 million this year, giving him a WASP of 2272 (under the Halladay standard of 3000, see previous posts for explanations of the Halladay standard and WASP). Downs numbers are just sick, a 1.29 ERA, with a WHIP .958 (meaning he lets less than 1 runner on an inning!). He has given up just 7 earned runs all year! However, the best course of action in a bullpen seems to be to bring up players from the minors (as it pretty much is at every position). For example, as the Texas Rangers' closer, Neftali Feliz eats up only .5% of the teams salary. His WASP is a microscopic 304. As great as Scott Downs is, you can have a bullpen full of Neftalis for the same price. The trick is of course, finding people in your minors that can throw hard with command. Joe Smith (along with winning the most generic name contest) of the Cleveland Indians is another good example, he makes just $870,000 but has a WAR of 1.8, giving him a WASP of 483. Even the extremely inefficient Yankees have used this route as well, with David Robertson posting a stunning 135 WASP. There is another option for teams that struggle with development, the Jamey Wright option. Jamey Wright was a long time journey-man back of the rotation starter-turned reliever whose career looked over last year when he was released by the Indians. The Mariners quickly gobbled him up however, and have used him as a reliever. They are paying him less than a million dollars, and he is pitching quite well, posting an WAR of .8. This gives him a very nice WASP of 1125. This usually takes time though, and doesn't always work out (they must have good stuff, not great command won't hurt them as much), but its usually very low risk. Another success story is Kameron Loe of the Brewers. A failed starter for the Texas Rangers, Loe went to Japan for a couple of years and returned as a reliever, and he is turning in a solid 1562 WASP this season. Other ones, like Kerry Wood, have been less successful. I expect a similar move to the bullpen will happen to Dontrelle Willis in whatever team he ends up with next year (unless he decides to become an outfielder, since he is an excellent hitter).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How we did: Week 1 NFL Picks

As I said last week, Big D and I will be picking select games every week for the NFL. This is just a follow up post showing how we did. Italics are my picks, bold are his (we agreed on all of them this week). When I miss a game, I'll make excuses:

Patriots over Dolphins
Eagles defeated Rams
Redskins beat Giants 
Excuse: I really don't like either teams chances this year, as the Redskins are the Redskins, and the Giants cut loose a bunch of key veterans. So for me, this was a "pick 'em" game that could have gone either way. That offensive line looks terrible for the Giants and the Redskins receivers really saved Grossman with some great catches.
Jets knock off Cowboys
Ravens pummel Steelers
Raiders played less bad than the Broncos
Excuse: This game was pretty ugly. The Broncos kept falling down and losing grip of the football, this was another one of those "pick 'em" games where neither team is very good. I just thought the Broncos would play a little less terrible.

Big D's season record: 4-2 
My season record: 4-2

Johnny Damon, the Rays, and the Red Sox

As the Rays continue to try to run down the Red Sox in the Wildcard, we should constantly reminded of the difference in salary between the two teams. The Red Sox have a payroll of 160,000,000 (the third highest), while the Rays have the second lowest payroll at 42,000,000 (a difference of 118,000,000). Johnny Damon, who got his 200th steal last night, is the highest paid Ray, at $5.2 million. If he was on the Sox, his former team, he would be (about) the 12th highest player. Since Damon left, the Red Sox have had all kinds of failed big money out-fielding projects. The most egregious has been J.D. Drew, who has done absolutely nothing this season with a WAR of -.2. He has a WASP (Wins above replacement and salary per) of 5303 since joining the Red Sox, while Damon has a much better WASP of 2080 this year. The Red Sox also gave big money to Carl Crawford (a former Ray) this year, as he is making over 14 million this year. He has been utterly terrible this year as well, with a negative WAR, giving him a him a horrific WASP of 31200 (about 16 times larger than Damon's, and smaller is worse). Once again we are shown the difference between the big teams and small teams. That the Rays are able to compete at all is just a testament to that organization.

So you have saved 600 have you? Mariano Rivera

Last night, Yankee's closer Mariano Rivera saved his 600th game. He did this around midnight Central time in Seattle, on a, bizarrely, failed Ichiro (I am really starting to question whether this season is just an aberration for Ichiro, he may be done) stolen base attempt, with little fanfare and no celebration. Rivera, who is now just 1 save behind all-time leader Trevor Hoffman, is still pitching great, with a 2.05 ERA, .930 WHIP, nearly a strikeout per inning pitched, only 1 walk per 9 innings, 21 RAR (Runs Above Replacement), and 3.1 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). For his career, Rivera has a 55.9 WAR (basically meaning he has single handedly won 60 games for the Yankees, when you add up all his accomplishments), and this doesn't even mention the post-season success. Saber-metrically, his career compares to Dennis Eckersley who compiled a 59 WAR in his career. However, it is quite silly to call (as I have been hearing lately) Rivera "the most valuable Yankee" or "greatest pitcher ever, as Greg Maddux had a WAR of nearly 100 for his career, and C.C. Sabathia more than doubles Rivera's WAR on the season with a 6.5. Relief pitchers, no matter how great, cannot be as valuable as good starting pitchers (this explains how Brandon League's, clearly having the better year, WAR is lower than Brandon Morrow's, who has struggled for the most part). As far as Rivera salary to performance (measured by WASP, which is discussed in previous postings here) he is well above (above is bad, below is good) the "Halladay Standard", posting a WASP of nearly 5000. But one could correctly make the point that the Yankees do not need to worry about efficiency because they are able to spend so much money. During his career, Rivera has made an eye popping $144 million and change. However, his career WASP is under the "Halladay Standard" of 3000 at 2585.51, so even for moneyball teams, Rivera would have been worth it. An obvious hall of famer, Rivera will become the all-time leader in saves with in the next few days, and its always fun seeing old guys do great

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grading the Chris Carpenter contract

The Cardinals announced this week that they were giving the 36 year old righty Chris Carpenter a 2 year $21 million extension. Giving multi year deals to players over 35, especially pitchers, is usually not advisable. This year he was making a mind numbing 15 million dollars, and is having a year that most people agree is not quite his best. However, there is nothing to complain about as he has given them over 200 innings, with a 3.75 ERA, 1.299 WHIP, and a 23 RAR. Just as far as the eyeball test goes, he doesn't appear to be losing it, and has posted a WAR of 2.6. However, because of his large salary, his WASP (Wins above replacement and salary per) is 5769, much too high. Seeing that he will make around 10.5 million dollars next year, an exact same WAR would give him a WASP over 4000 (what I call the "Halladay standard" is 3000, that should be the goal for "good", like a .280 BA or 4.00 ERA). His WAR dropped from 3.2 in 2010 to 2.6 in 2011, and if that happens again with his new contract, his WASP would be a disastrous 5250 (still lower than this year's).  Fox Sports wrote that this is "a good deal for both sides", I beg to differ.

When Moneyball wasn't Moneyball: Overpaid Athletics

As the Moneyball movie comes out (to some very positive reviews), its interesting to look at where the Athletics are currently. Not only are they third place in the AL West, but they have found themselves in some very bad contracts. The whole point of "moneyball" was to maximize production in a very small payroll. This is why they groomed the trio of Hudson, Mulder, and Zito, but let them go when they got expensive, and replaced them with groomed Rich Harden, Houston Street, and Joe Blanton, only to get rid of them when they got expensive to replace them with Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Dallas Braden (who can't stay healthy it seems). For the most part, the pitching has worked, but their struggles to develop hitters have cost them. Not to mention, Billy Beane has done something very anti-moneyball. This offseason, he signed/traded for 3 aging players with large deals. Hideki Matsui is making 4.25 million dollars this year (he was clearly worth this much when he was with the Yankees, but didn't show enough with the Angels last year to merit this), but barely has a positive WAR, giving him a WASP of over 6000. Josh Willingham is making 6 million dollars with a WAR of 1.5, giving him a sub-par 4000 WASP. Reliever Brian Fuentes is making a mind-numbing 5 million dollars, and with his .3 WAR, he has a WASP of 16,666. A GM that built his team using sabermetrics and avoiding deals like this has turned into the Cubs, who sign a bunch of old players that are overpaid and watch the thing blow up.

That disastrous Scott Kazmir trade is still funny

When teams are in pennant races, like both the Angels and Rays currently are, its important to look at previous roster moves to see how they got to this point. In the heat of a pennant in the 09 season, the Angels bizarrely traded for Rays starter Scott Kazmir, who had a 5.92 ERA and -.7 WAR. They gave up 3 minor league players, Sean Rodriquez, Matt Sweeney, and Alexander Torres. Scott Kazmir is no longer affiliated with any organization. In his Angels career, he posted a .3 WAR (he actually posted a 1.6 WAR in the 09 season) and an ERA well over 5. He has taken in about 18 million dollars from the club (!), giving him a horrific WASP (Wins after Replacement and Salary Per) of 60,000. Sean Rodriquez (who was originally the "player to be named" in the trade), has already given Tampa a 3.1 WAR and has made less than a million dollars over his time as a Ray, giving him a very good (remember, you want low numbers) WASP of 268.7. The other two players haven't even made it to the majors yet and it's already a great trade for Tampa. Torres has posted a 9-7 record with a 3.08 ERA, and 1.483 WHIP this year in AAA, and he strikes out nearly 10 batters every 9 innings. Sweeney has really struggled at hitting in AAA and seems much farther off. There are rumors that Tampa GM Andrew Friedman could become the Cubs GM, imagine what he could do with a club that has money.

How much should CJ Wilson make?

C.J. Wilson, the Left-handed Ace for the Texas Rangers, looks to be the top pitching free agent this season. He is expected to get really big money, and I want to take a look at how much he is worth statistically. I'll start by assuming that Roy Halladay is the standard for performance and pay ( has him at "worth it", with a slightly better percentage of performance than team salary according to their metrics). He is making 20 million dollars this year with a RAR of 59 and a WAR of 6.5. This gives him a WASP of 3076. C.J. Wilson's WASP is currently 1562 (with a salary of $7.5 million and a WAR of 4.8). While WASP can't really help calculate the amount of years a player deserves (and that is a big sticking question in baseball, especially pitchers, because of guaranteed contracts), but using the Halladay standard on WASP, C.J Wilson is worth about twice as much as he is making. A $15 million dollar deal would be reasonable, remember that number when we get to the Winter Meetings.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Is Mark Reynolds worth it?

Mark Reynolds is an interesting player that causes a mini-debate in baseball. He is someone who strikes out a lot (in fact, his last 3 seasons have been record breaking) but every once in a while gets into a ball and sends it a long way. The debate is whether all the strikeouts are worth the extra-base hits. He was originally drafted by the Diamondbacks (who were terrible last year with Reynolds, not a good sign), but moved onto the Baltimore Orioles in the off-season. His stats this year (at this point) look exactly like this: .220 BA, .322 OBP, .793 OPS, 32 bombs, 76 Rbis, 2 RAR, and a .2 WAR (a 2.7 offensive WAR is almost all canceled out by his horrific -2.5 WAR, and with Vlady on the team, they cannot DH him). Because of his big salary upgrade this season, his WASP is a miserable 25,000 (You want low numbers, and even the aging Hideki Matsui has a WASP of 6071). For what its worth, if Reynolds was an average defender, his WASP would be a 1851, a pretty solid number. So Reynolds isn't really worth it, but its not because of his offense, its because of his miserable defense.

Just in case you didn't notice, Doug Fister is awesome.

Don't let the record fool you (8-13 on they year, 17-31 for his career, most of that with the Mariners), Doug Fister is one of the top pitchers in the league. The Tigers brought him over in a trade at the deadline, and gave the Mariners 3 major league ready prospects. Why the Mariners even wanted to part with this guy amazes me, Fister has an ERA of 3.06 (2.28 with the Tigers) this season, and is a grand total of 27 years old. He has less hits than innings pitch and a WHIP (Walks and hits per innings pitched) of 1.125, which is quite stunning. His RAR (Runs above Replacement player) is 45 (last year's AL Cy Young Winner Felix Hernandez has a 47 this season, barely better than Fister) and his WAR (wins above replacement player) is 4.6 (C.J. Wilson, who is set to make tons of money in free agency after this year, has a 4.3). Best of all, he makes just (we all wish we could make "just" this much, but this is MLB relative) $436,500 this season (he is arbitration eligible after this year and will make more next year, but not "big money"). This makes his WASP (a statistic that tries to measure how much value a team gets from a player by dividing his salary by WAR, check out previous blog posts for more details) a microscopic 101 (better than other studs making around league minimum like Elvis Andrus and Matt Latos, but not quite as good as Mike Stanton of the Marlins).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Nick Swisher Trade

Before the 2008 season, Mr. Moneyball himself sent Nick Swisher to the Chicago White Sox for Ryan Sweeney, Gio Gonzalez, and Fautino De Los Santos. Swisher spent a grand total of 1 year with the White Sox (he currently plays for the Yankees) and had just a .332 OBP with 24 bombs and 69 rbis, with a WAR of -.8 (he made 3.6 million that year). After the season, he was dealt to the Yankees (along with Kanekoa Texeira) for Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez, and Jhonny Nunez. Texeira never pitched in the big leagues for the Yankees (although he has appeared in games for the Mariners and Royals) so we will throw him out. Betemit had just 1 terrible year with the Sox, with a WAR of -.4 with a salary of 1.3 million. In Nunez and Marquez's short time with the Sox (neither are in the organization anymore) they each registered a -.1 WAR (because neither of their salaries were disclosed, we will assume it was the minimum $400,000, and we will do this again later on Santos). The four players drew $5,700,000 from the White Sox and posted a combined -1.4 WAR, giving them a combined 19380 WAR and Salary Per. The Athletics story looks much happier. Fautino De La Santos made his major league debut this year and has pitched pretty well with a 3.54 ERA and a .2 WAR (his salary is not released so we will assume $400,000). Since joining the A's in 08, Sweeney has posted a WAR of 6.7 (further salt in the wound, his WAR was negative as a member of the White Sox) and has received $2,625,000 in salary in that time. Gio Gonzalez has racked up a 6 WAR while collecting $1,635,000 from the Athletics. This gives the 3 a total of 12.9 WAR (meaning that those 3 guys alone have won 13 games for the Athletics, while the White Sox players lost games for the team). Adding their salary together and dividing it by their WAR gives them an incredible 361 WASP (they have a value similar to MVP candidate Jacoby Ellsbury). Both in overall performance and value, this was an extremely lopsided trade towards the A's. I guess there is a reason they wrote a book and made a movie about Billy Beane

Yoshi: What Happened?

Today against the Athletics, Rangers reliever Yoshinori Tateyama came in with the bases loaded and promptly gave up a grand slam. His last two outings have been really bad: 1 out, 5 hits, 2 homers allowed, 6 ER. It hasn't been all bad though, in fact, Yoshi has been quite good. Even after recent struggles his ERA is 4.29 (with a 2-0 record), 40 strikeouts (with just 10 walks), and a WHIP of 1.024. His WAR is still .2, and with a salary of $800,000, his WASP (War and Salary Per) is 4,000 (which isn't all that great, but by no means horrible). The side armer has clearly been struggling with command as of late (something that was pinpoint when he first came up), and I think this is a much bigger issue than "the league figuring him out" (as one member of Twitter suggested).

Wait, Why hasn't Mark Prior been called up?

Last year, just a couple weeks after a Yahoo profile on former Cubs pitcher Mark Prior's success in independent ball, the Rangers gobbled him up to a minor league contract for the rest of the year. He pitched in just one game in AAA, but the Yankees made a priority (get it?) to sign him in the offseason to start the season in the minors. Prior has pitched for several different minor league levels for the Yankees this season, and his numbers look something like this (actually, exactly like this): in 11 games and 6 starts, he has racked up a 2.25 ERA with 15 Ks (against 4 walks) with a WHIP under 1. Prior must not be healthy, because the Yankees need the pitching help.

NFL Picks: Week 1

My friend Big D and I will be picking certain NFL games every week through out the season and keep records on how we do. For week 1, we both agree on our picks, and here they are:

Patriots over Dolphins
Eagles over Rams
Giants over Redskins
Jets over Cowboys
Ravens over Steelers
Broncos over Raiders

Looking back at the Josh Hamilton-Edinson Volquez Trade

Its always fun to look back at old trades and see which team "won" the trade. Just on the surface of it, it appears that the Rangers won this trade with the Reds. After the 07 season, the Rangers sent Edinson Volquez and Danny Herrera to the Reds for Josh Hamilton. Herrera (currently a member of the Mets, after beginning the season with the Brewers) spent 3 years with Cincinnati and recorded an even 0 WAR (Wins above Replacement), meaning he was no more than a replacement player or an average backup player. He made about $1,212,500 in salary in his time as a Red, making his WASP (War and Salary Per) 2,425. Volquez (still a member of the Reds, but has been up and down between AAA and the Majors this year, after being the Game 1 starter in the ALDS last year) has posted a 4.3 WAR in his 4 seasons as a Red (for comparison, Cliff Lee has a 6.1 just this year, and Verlander has a 7.7 this year, and WAR is not an average, it can and should be added up). In that time, he has made $2,897,500 in salary. This gives him a WASP (WASP works like an average, unlike WAR) of about 673 overall, which is actually very nice (his WASP for this year is 5346 though). Since Josh Hamilton has been a Ranger, he has made $11,451,830, much more than Volquez and Herrera combined. However, he has compiled a 16.8 WAR (along with an AL MVP and MVP of the ALCS), giving him a WASP of 681 overall (almost the exact same as Volquez). So it appears with both WAR and WASP (mainly because of Herrera's failure) the Rangers won this trade.

Hot Potato: Lance Pendleton

The Astros have claimed pitcher Lance Pendleton off waivers from the Yankees. The Yankees actually took Pendleton from the Astros, who got him in the rule 5 draft from the Yankees (who drafted him). I can't think of too many other examples of this hot potato that Pendleton has become for the Astros and Yankees. His career minor league stats are pretty impressive, a 35-26 record with a 3.36 ERA and a WHIP of 1.284. This year, the 27 year old pitcher made his major league debut with the Yankees, appearing in 11 games in relief, with no decisions and a 3.21 ERA. In his short time he registered a .2 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). A salary of $414,000, gave him a WASP (WAR and Salary Per, measures accomplishment compared to salary) of 2070, and one would think that would improve drastically given more time in the majors. This is a nice add for the Astros, and they need some pitching, one wonders if they will actually give him a real chance (even though he has done nothing to not deserve a real chance) or toss him back.

Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada

On the last day of August, the struggling San Francisco Giants designated veterans Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada for assignment. They were not claimed, and were finally granted outright release a little over a week later. Both had On Base Percentages of about .270, which is awful, with just 8 combined home runs. Aaron Rowand had a WAR of .8 with a salary of 12 million, giving him a WASP (read a couple of posts back for information on WASP) of 15000 (which is the same as Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter). He was getting $155,000 per hit (which would be the same value as Mike Stanton getting just 3 hits). Miguel Tejada was making $6,500,000 with a WAR of .9, equaling a WASP of about 7222 (better than both Jeter and Rowand). Just to compare with other shortstops, Elvis Andrus has an eyepopping 146, Clint Barmes has a 1306, Troy Tulowitzsky a 948, Omar Vizquel 4725, and Cliff Pennington a 323. At the money Tejada and Rowand were making, they were performing at an inexcusable level.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Brad Ziegler-Brandon Allen Trade

After the trade deadline, on this blog I graded some of the key trades at the deadline. This one between the Diamondbacks and Athletics I found interesting, because I like the reliever Brad Ziegler, and thought it was a good get for the D'Backs, but felt like that letting go of 1st Baseman Brandon Allen might hurt them, especially in the long run. Well we have some results a month after, and it seems like my suspicions were actually not only fulfilled, but exceeded. Since joining the Diamondbacks, Ziegler has a WAR of .1 (even though he has an ERA of less than 2, it is really hard for a reliever to rack up a big WAR in so few appearances, so please do not get the impression that I am saying Ziegler is bad, or even that the trade is necessarily bad). His salary this year is 1,250,000 but since he is only playing for the Diamondbacks for the last 2 months of the regular season, we will shrink it to 412,500. For the WASP (WAR and Salary Per, see my previous post) we would shrink it to 412.5 and divide it by .1 to get a 4125 WASP as a Diamondback. Brandon Allen is making 400,000 a year, so about 120,000 for his two months as an Athletic. With a WAR of .3 since the trade (higher than Ziegler's WAR since the trade), his WASP is 400 which is stunning (around the same as Ellsbury's WASP for the season). This is all subject to change though, and we will see how it goes.

Because Baseball Needs Another Statistic: the WASP

For those not familiar with baseball statistics or sabermetrics, "WAR" has been the hot statistic of the past few years. WAR (meaning Wins above Replacement or Wins After Replacement) combines statistics for both hitters and pitchers and tries to determine how many wins the player gave his (or her in softball I guess) team. A great, simple intro to WAR can be found here. So (at least theoretically) WAR measures players and make them easier to rank. So, for example, Derek Jeter (with a 1 WAR this year, which is not great by any means) is better than backup middle infielder for the Rangers Andres Blanco (with a 0 WAR this season, meaning he is, to use a fun sports term, "just a guy", any major leaguer that belongs in the majors could replace him). However, this doesn't tell us that Derek Jeter is paid much more than Blanco. There is a (sort of) relationship between salary and WAR, but not in the sense that I will suggest should be taken in account. Before we look into the details of the proposed statistic, I will first admit that this isn't necessarily new. I am just doing it in a different way, there are ways certain sites and people measure this, but to my knowledge they aren't using the formula I will give.
I call this statistic WASP (standing for War and Salary Per). It's really simple. First, take the player's salary, and since we mentioned Jeter, let's start with his salary of 15 million dollars (according to Then, because everyone in the MLB makes at least 6 figures, cut off the last 3 zeros. So we are stuck with the number 15,000. Next, you divide it by his WAR, and because Jeter's WAR is 1, you are left with 15,000. The rule for this stat is that the higher the number, the worse off. You want a low number (similar to ERA or WHIP for pitchers). So lets compare Jeter with Blanco. Blanco's salary is a much smaller $520,000. Obviously we chop off the last 3 zeros to get us to 520, but we have to treat negative and even WARs differently than a positive WAR, so the formula changes. On an even or negative WAR, you add (technically subtract, you are actually adding -2) 2 to the WAR (so if the WAR is -.5, change it to -2.5), change it to positive and multiply (not divide) it by the salary number (maybe I lied about the simplicity). So we change Blanco's 0 to 2 and then times it by 520, which gives you 1040. This number is lower (and lower is better, remember) than Jeter's. This means that Blanco is more "valuable" (in dollars and cents terms) than Jeter (statistically of course, this doesn't measure unmeasurables like leadership, I am looking forward to your comments Yankee fans). This is a statistic that is especially important to teams like the Athletics (it is kind of a "Moneyball" inspired statistic), Rays, and Marlins who have little to no money to spend. These teams must get the most value out of players as possible. So lets just look at how some other players stack up according to WASP. Mike Stanton of the Marlins has a WAR of 5.1 and a salary of 416,000. This gives him a WASP of 81.5, which is an absolute blowout of Jeter and Blanco. Jacoby Ellsbury, a MVP candidate outfielder for the Red Sox, has a salary of 2.4 million, and a 6.8 WAR. This gives him a WASP of about 353. Adam Dunn has a shocking WASP of 52,800, Justin Verlander has a 1655, Cliff Lee a 1833, Carlos Pena 5555, C.J Wilson 1639, Pat Burrell 1111, and Matt Latos at 287.5. It is certainly a stat that rewards any kind of production from players that are paid less than a million dollars. You can easily calculate the WASP of your favorite players or players on a certain team by using sites like and and a calculator. I will be playing around with this stat on the blog in the future, and if you have any interesting findings be sure to comment on the blog or email me at or follow me on twitter @clinthulsey.