Sunday, October 26, 2008
They are projections. What that means is that they are good indications of a player's true talent, and therefore what players will do in the future. While the stats that I release with the total value stuff tend to be a good indication of what players have done in the past year, they are not necessarily good indications of what players will do in future seasons.
Chone's defensive ratings, on the other hand, are a combination of multi-year ratings for TotalZone, ZR, and RZR. And on top of that, Chone regresses these ratings to the Fans' Scouting Report ratings. So if someone plays a lot, their ratings are largely based on the fielding stats. But if someone hasn't played much (e.g. Paul Janish), their ratings are largely based on the Fan Scouting Report numbers. I'm a big fan of that methodology.
So, as far as I'm concerned, these are the best publicly-available defensive ratings you will find. I'd trust them more than UZR, more than PMR, and more than Dewan's +/-, at least when looking at those statistics in isolation. Ideally, we'd use PMR or +/- instead of RZR, and use UZR instead of ZR. But there are usually minimal differences between those choices, at least compared to the differences between the statistics from Baseball Info Solutions (RZR, PMR, and +/-) and Stats Inc (ZR and UZR).
So with that in mind, here's how the Reds rate. Numbers are runs saved per full season of play. Unless I indicate otherwise, they're for the player's typical position.
Cabrera -3 (2b), -5 (3b), -5 (ss)
Freel -1 (2b), -1 (3b)
Hairston +2 (2b), -8 (ss)
Keppinger -5 (2b), -3 (3b), -13 (ss)
Valentin -5 (1b)
(no data on Alex Gonzalez, as he didn't play in 2008...but his projection for 2008 was +4 runs at shortstop...given his leg problems, I'd take at least 5 runs off that projection for 2009)
(all listed by their rating as a corner outfielder 1st, center fielder second)
Bruce +2 (corner), -7 (cf)
Cabrera -4, -15
Dickerson +3, -6
Freel -2, +6
Hairston +4, -4
Hopper +9, +2
Patterson +13, +7
Some former Reds of interest:
Adam Dunn -13 (corner), -27 (cf)
Ken Griffey -15 (corner), -29 (cf)
Chris Denorfia +3 (corner), -5 (cf)
Austin Kearns +7 (corner), +0 (cf)
Jorge Cantu +0 (1b), -14 (3b)
Brendan Harris -8 (2b), -5 (3b), -8 (ss)
Felipe Lopez -7 (2b), -7 (3b), -16 (ss)
So, the two primary defensive problems the Reds have remaining, after dumping Dunn & Griffey, are Encarnacion at 3B and Keppinger at SS. If the Reds can exchange those performances for average performances, they stand to gain almost 30 runs (3 wins) next season on defense alone. If the Reds are going to have any kind of chance next year, I think this absolutely has to be done, one way or another.
The problem, of course, is doing it in a manner that won't hurt the already rather weak offense by 30 or more runs. I'm glad it's not my job to figure out how to do that.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I tend to think that Longoria's the safer bet, but I think Joel's right that we're quite lucky to have Bruce on this Reds team. And I think we need to sign him to a contract extension ASAP. Here's what I wrote:
For more on this point, here's a set of nice posts about Evan Longoria's contract from skyking earlier this season. The first two are slightly mathy (though very readable), but the last one is written in straight-up English. You can basically substitute Longoria's name for Bruce's name throughout the article, and it does a great job of explaining why the Reds should sign Bruce to an extension NOW.
The other nice thing about Longoria, as a “property,” is his contract. He signed an extension about a week into his first season, and unless he gets injured it looks like it will result in an extremely good value for the Rays. I’d like to see the Reds do a similar extension with Bruce this offseason. By giving him guaranteed financial security for life (i.e. millions) this early in his career, teams can usually get players to sign at a massive discount below what you can reasonably (or even conservatively) project them to be worth during their arbitration and early free agent years.Other examples of this kind of thing include the Tigers’ extension of Granderson and the Rockies’ extension of Tulowitzki last offseason. I know Tulo had a bad season, but he missed much of it with injury and finished up strong. He looks, along with Granderson, to be a very nice value over the length of his contract.
Update: In a response to Chad's link friendly link, Dave from Louisville wrote this:
I think its funny that Justin is only talking about Bruce.
Votto and Volquez are higher on my list.
Here's my response:
I’m fine with extending all three of them. And maybe Cueto too. If you sign each for what is projected to be a major savings, you’re insuring yourself against some of them busting. Most of the time, the team comes out ahead. And the players win as well because they get guaranteed financial security against, for example, a career-ending injury occurring prior to making the good money.
The reason I mentioned Bruce specifically is that he was the subject of a comparison with Longoria at Red Reporter, as they were the #1 & 2 prospects at the start of the season. Longoria got locked up prior to “proving himself,” and signing Bruce now would more or less be the same thing.
Extending Votto and Volquez isn’t exactly the same thing, as they now have a very good season under their belts. In that sense, it’s more analogous to extending Tulowitzki, Granderson, or Shields. Seems less risky and easier to stomach, and therefore a bit more conventional (and thus less interesting to write about).
But the same arguments apply all around, and I agree that all of those guys should be signed to extensions this offseason. Hopefully it’ll happen. But I won’t hold my breath, as I’m feeling very pessimistic about the Reds management these days.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
These work much like the Fielding Bible awards. PC polled a bunch of statistically-friendly blogger types, compiled the results, and used that as the basis for the awards. Despite my almost complete lack of activity here the past several months, Pizza was kind enough to ask me to participate, and you can see my ballot here.
As you can see, while I seriously doubt that any of the other voters (there were 18 in all, myself included) used my total value rankings to make their decisions, the overall rankings of players conforms very closely to my rankings. For example, my AL MVP pick, Grady Sizemore of Cleveland, has generated several critical comments over the past month or so. But he came in tied for first with Minnesota's Joe Mauer (who I picked third). That's reassuring and gratifying--at the risk of sounding like a blowhard, I really do think that the data I post are the best of their kind that you can find on the internets.
There were only a handful of players who got a top-3 ranking in the Renegade awards who didn't also get at least a mention in my awards post. Here they are, along with what the total value stats say about them:
For NL Cy Young: Cole Hamels (60.2 RAR, 47.6 FIPRAR), voted to a tie for third.
Hamels was in a 3-way tie with Sabathia & Webb for third place in the votes. It's a very defensible choice: he ranked 3rd overall in the NL in RAR. But his FIP (3.56) wasn't quite as glorious as his ERA (3.09), and that knocked him down to "just" 7th place according to FIPRAR. I'd like to think that doesn't take anything away from him--he had a fabulous season, and he flat out overmatched the Brewers in the first playoff game.
For AL Rookie of the Year: Alexi Ramirez (17 RAR, -9 field, +2 position adjust = 10 total value), voted third.
Here's the only one that I have some actual issues with. Ramirez didn't net any first place votes (Evan Longoria was the unanimous winner), but he got two second-place votes and three third-place votes, ranking him third overall, though well behind Mike Aviles. Offensively, while Ramirez showed nice power, he also proved to be very averse to the walk, resulting in a below average OBP of 0.317 and a fairly unimpressive RAR of 17. And defensively, at least based on one year of data, he doesn't look particularly good either. I discarded my rookie rankings by accident after making my awards post, but 10 runs above replacement in total value puts him very far down on the rookie rankings according to my numbers. Maybe in the 10th to 15th range among AL rookies?
By contrast, mine was the only vote for Denard Span of Minnesota. Now, we're only talking about a third place vote here, but I think the guy deserves a bit more recognition. Oh well!
For the NL Rookie of the Year: Joey Votto (38 RAR, +10 field, -11 posadj = 37 total value), voted second.
I actually did mention Votto in my awards post, but by the numbers he was just barely outperformed by the strong rookie pitching tandem of Jurrjens and Kurota. Nevertheless, the guy had an outstanding season, showing a nice balance between on-base ability and power. It's true that he wasn't a world beater for a first basemen on offense, and I wonder if he'll get much better...but his plus defense for his position puts him in the second tier of first basemen this year, behind only Pujols, Teixeira, Berkman, and Youkilis, and essentially tied with Carlos Pena. I'm very happy to have him on my team moving forward.
Thanks again to Pizza Cutter for asking me to participate in his project!
Sunday, October 05, 2008
AL East Division Wrap-Up
Nevertheless, the Rays had a combination of good offense and quality pitching, which put them in position to take advantage of a bit of luck. Congrats to them. They certainly have waited long enough to see some success.
While it pales in comparison to his amazing 2007 season, the Rays' best hitter was clearly Carlos Pena. Remember when he was available for nothing back in 2006? Oh well. After a slow start, Pena really turned it on in the second half, posting a 0.418 OBP & a 0.561 SLG...the Rays need him back in their lineup as soon as possible.....BJ Upton's power vanished this year, but he keeps getting on base thanks to a terrific walk rate and that provides a lot of value....Dioner Navarro had his best offensive season of this still-young career, bouyed primarily by a tremendous 24% line drive rate...players often return back to the 20% range following a season like that, but there are some who manage to maintain high line drive rates like that year after year (e.g. Chone Figgins).....The best power mark on the team, at least as measured by ISO, belongs to Ben Zobrist and his 10 2B's and 12 HR's in 200 AB's. That's rather out of character for him given his minor league career, though, so I'd be inclined to think that it's a mirage.....According to PrOPS, players who hit substantially better than their stats would indicate include Carlos Pena (might explain his first half?), Eric Hinske, Cliff Floyd, Willy Aybar, and Jonny Gomez. Players who may have gotten a bit lucky include Akinori Iwamura and (marginally) MVP-elected Jason Bartlett.
Overall, the Rays' offensive linear weights total 811 runs, which is 21 more than they actually scored. This arguably helps close the gap a bit between their Pythagorean record and their actual record.
Position Player Total Value
Overall, the Rays' pitching base runs total 697, which is 12 more than they actually allowed. Combining this with the linear weights estimated total of 811 runs and plugging into a basic Pythagorean formula gives an expected winning percentage of 0.575 (93 wins). That's still 4 fewer than they actually had, and would move them down to second in the division. But it's one more win then you'd expect using their actual runs scored and allowed totals.
Overall, this is a good, balanced team with a lot of youth. Their best hitter (Pena) had a second-half resurgence, and they lost their MVP (Longoria) for a month due to injury. They have an excellent rotation, plus defense, and at least average hitting. The main weakness I see is a fairly weak back end of the bullpen, but that's bouyed to some degree by their quality middle relief in Balfour and Howell. It's an exciting team, and one that could absolutely win it all by the end of the month.