Table of Contents

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Carroll tests positive, suspended

Reds RHP prospect Scott Carroll tested positive for human chorionic gonadotropin, and will have to sit out the first 50 games of next year's season. Doug Gray broke the news. Here's what I posted in response:

This is a real shame. I have a lot of sympathy for the guys like this, as I can imagine the sort of temptations and pressures that lead them to this. Carroll’s not a top tier prospect, but he’s the sort of guy who could make it to and be successful in the majors if he’s able to develop like we think he can. If you make it to the majors, you get a paycheck and you realize your life’s ambition. If you don’t, you’ve “wasted” most of your life and are left with virtually nothing…

Doesn’t excuse it, and doesn’t make me tolerant of it…but it helps me understand how this kind of thing can happen.

Someone claiming to be Scott’s parents wrote me a few months ago and indicated that he was frustrated by the fanbase down in Sarasota. My reply was bounced back address unknown, so I don’t know if it was real or not. But assuming it was, I wonder if that frustration also was contributing to frustration in his progress through the system or something. We’ll never know.

As for the prospect of releasing him…I’m a liberal, so I believe in redemption. He needs to serve his time, and it will be a set-back for his career. But I see no reason to think that this can’t be a learning experience for him, and that he’ll be back on the field mid-next year looking to prove that he can do it legitimately.
Bumped up from the comments (er...comment), Doug brings news that there may be something else going on here:
Sounds like there is a bit more to the story than what was originally thought.

Interestingly enough, I read something posted by Scott’s brother on Redszone. Sounds like something fishy is going on. Apparently what he tested positive for is something you must inject, not something you could take in a pill/spray form. Scott says he has never injected anything like that and the Reds and himself actually got bloodwork done to refute his positive test. One scary thing is, testicular cancer has been linked to producing what he tested positive for. Apparently there is a history of that in his family and he is being checked for it.

It sounds like Scott and the Reds are on the same page that he didn’t take anything illegal and have tried to show their case. Apparently of the 60+ players suspended recently, over 50 of them tested positive for the exact same substance as Scott. That also comes off as very weird.

It will be interesting to see what comes of it all in the end.
The wikipedia article I linked above also mentions that hCG can be a tumor marker. As a biologist, I wish I knew more about this stuff...but I'm not an endocrine guy. I work on the evolution and neurophysiology of insect eyes. So I'm not going to be of much help.

Hopefully everything will check out health-wise for Scott...but if something like this can be medically demonstrated to be the cause of his positive test, I would think that the league would have to release Scott from this suspension. If Doug's quote is right and the majority of minor league suspensions have been for this particular marker--and they indicate something other than drug use--then MiLB may need to modify their testing parameters. I'd much rather err on the side of false negatives than have false positives messing up peoples' careers.

At the same time, if this test helps Scott catch a serious medical problem early, then there's something positive that can come out of this situation as well. We'll see what happens.

I Speaking Statistically

I was asked to contribute to this week's roundtable discussion at StatSpeak. Leading up to my appearance there, they had roundtable discussions with people like Will Carroll, J.C. Bradbury, and Paul freaking DePodesta. So, yeah...this week has to be kind of a letdown for the StatSpeak crew, eh? :)

In all seriousness, thanks again to Pizza Cutter for the chance to contribute.

Anyway, click here to see the discussion. We trade views on advances in baseball research, what new data we need to advance fielding statistics, whether one should bring back an ace early for a particularly important game, overlooked players, and what to make of the Astros' recent surge.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Total Value Estimates - Through 5 September, 2008

I've updated the total value estimates for 2008 players. You can read about all the methods in this series of posts.


  • Total value estimates for every MLB position player, based on hitting (RAR; Runs Above Replacement level based on linear weights), fielding (Fielding), and their position (PosAdj). Units are runs produced above a replacement player.
  • Fielding measures are based on the average runs saved according to zone rating (ZR) and revised zone rating (RZR).
  • Pitchers are listed according to RAR (base runs saved above replacement) and FIP-Runs (a defense-independent pitching stat estimating runs saved above replacement).
  • League differences are taken into account. So are park differences.
  • Closers get a leverage-based bonus in value (though it's pretty rough).

Note: I've heard a report that someone was getting server errors trying to access this spreadsheet. If you do, please let me know, because I haven't been able to replicate it and want to know how widespread the issue is.

A huge thanks to Joel Luckhaupt, who used his visual basic wizardly to automate the population of my makeshift spreadsheets. Thanks also to the Hardball Times, who supplied most of the data.

Current MVP Rankings
American League
Last First Lg Team Pos PA OPS R/G RAR Fielding PosAdj TtlValue
Sizemore Grady AL CLE CF 639 0.908 7.7 62.5 10.9 3.2 76.6
Rodriguez Alex AL NYA 3B 524 0.997 8.4 57.9 4.4 0.7 63.0
Pedroia Dustin L AL BOS 2B 638 0.883 6.6 47.2 5.4 0.8 53.5
Granderson Curtis AL DET CF 534 0.898 7.3 47.3 2.2 2.8 52.3
Roberts Brian AL BAL 2B 626 0.838 6.6 46.3 3.1 0.8 50.2
Mauer Joe AL MIN C 539 0.858 6.6 36.7 6.0 7.2 49.9
Hamilton Josh H AL TEX CF 615 0.903 6.6 45.3 3.0 0.9 49.2
Beltre Adrian AL SEA 3B 587 0.780 5.2 25.9 22.3 0.8 49.0
Youkilis Kevin E AL BOS 1B 538 0.947 7.1 45.4 4.5 -5.4 44.6
Markakis Nick AL BAL RF 620 0.897 7.3 52.5 -3.5 -5.1 44.0

Sizemore still has a commanding lead, though A-Rod is holding his own despite 100 fewer PA's. If you value rate stats, you probably go with A-Rod. But if you count playing time, as replacement-level statistics do, Sizemore is the clear choice. Similar offensive contributions, and excellent defense at a premium position.

National League
Last First Lg Team Pos PA OPS R/G RAR Fielding PosAdj TtlValue
Pujols Albert NL STL 1B 558 1.110 10.7 78.2 15.7 -6.6 87.3
Berkman Lance NL HOU 1B 584 1.027 9.1 68.0 14.6 -7.1 75.5
Jones Chipper NL ATL 3B 480 1.021 9.4 56.0 10.7 0.6 67.4
Utley Chase NL PHI 2B 620 0.925 7.1 48.6 17.5 0.8 66.8
Ramirez Hanley NL FLA SS 626 0.926 7.9 59.2 1.1 4.9 65.2
Beltran Carlos NL NYN CF 614 0.851 6.5 40.3 13.1 3.4 56.8
Holliday Matt T NL COL LF 562 0.974 7.9 51.9 9.2 -4.6 56.6
Wright David A NL NYN 3B 641 0.897 7.0 48.2 4.7 0.9 53.7
Giles Brian NL SD RF 567 0.839 6.8 40.1 16.9 -4.6 52.4
Braun Ryan J NL MIL LF 570 0.934 7.0 45.2 7.9 -4.7 48.4
Chipper's really fallen behind, but that's due not so much to him taling off (though he has a bit) as Albert Pujols going all ridiculous on us. Berkman's still hanging in there, but Albert continues to be the standard against which all hitters are judged. Doesn't hurt that he's such a good defensive first basemen.

Current Cy Young Rankings
American League
Lee Cliff AL CLE 194.3 2.32 2.60 0.601 2.82 68.7 65.9
Halladay Roy AL TOR 218.0 2.64 2.98 0.621 3.04 71.8 64.8
Santana Ervin R AL LAA 192.0 3.23 3.23 0.638 3.44 54.7 51.7
Burnett A.J. AL TOR 193.3 4.47 3.52 0.740 4.52 31.8 45.7
Vazquez Javier AL CHA 182.7 4.34 3.41 0.747 4.43 31.9 45.5
Mussina Mike AL NYA 172.3 3.39 3.34 0.729 4.12 36.0 44.3
Danks John W AL CHA 164.7 3.44 3.33 0.692 3.78 40.7 42.5
Pettitte Andy AL NYA 188.3 4.49 3.68 0.751 4.60 29.4 41.3
Beckett Josh AL BOS 154.3 4.20 3.32 0.706 3.88 36.3 40.0
Lester Jon T AL BOS 181.7 3.37 3.72 0.706 3.84 43.6 39.1
I opted to sort this time based on FIP-Runs, which is a defense-independent indicator of pitching performance. But, at least in the AL, it doesn't really matter. This is a two-horse race between Halliday and Lee, as it has been most of the year. Lee's rate stats are a bit more impressive, while Halliday has continued his typical workload and thrown more innings.

National League
Lincecum Tim NL SF 190.3 2.60 2.77 0.610 3.06 57.3 56.0
Haren Dan NL ARI 190.0 3.41 3.00 0.664 3.41 49.9 51.1
Webb Brandon NL ARI 192.0 3.19 3.13 0.628 3.10 56.9 49.0
Lowe Derek NL LAN 188.7 3.53 3.28 0.652 3.43 49.0 44.8
Sheets Ben NL MIL 179.0 2.97 3.17 0.660 3.45 46.2 44.7
Hamels Cole NL PHI 203.0 3.01 3.47 0.634 3.18 58.4 44.1
Billingsley Chad R NL LAN 175.7 3.13 3.22 0.672 3.89 36.8 43.0
Dempster Ryan NL CHN 183.7 2.99 3.38 0.630 3.24 51.6 41.7
Volquez Edinson NL CIN 170.0 3.12 3.33 0.669 3.77 37.8 39.5
Santana Johan NL NYN 196.0 2.71 3.77 0.660 3.69 45.3 35.9
You can make a strong argument that the current Cy Young leader in the National League is the guy who was taken two slots after Drew Stubbs in the 2006 draft. I know, coulda/shoulda/woulda. But that pick is probably never going to stop bothering me...