Wednesday, 14 March 2012

AL Contenders - the Fangraphs comp: Part 2

Continuing the previous discussion, this time concerning the pitching. I'm going to do this a bit differently than they did at Fangraphs since I had to split this into two posts anyway. Rather than list them by units, I want to compare them one at a time. For the most part I'll go with the order they used according to projected WAR but I will at times modify them in order to match similar guys (the more veteran guys, the lefties, the youngsters, the other guy, etc).

Also, as before, I reserve the right to modify something I think is glaringly wrong, but I will note where I make such a change.

Followed by a total for the starters and commentary, then I'll repeat the process for the bullpens.

The AL Average of IP by starters in 2011 was 982, however, the average for these seven teams was 995. and for the purpose of this exercise, I'll pro rate all these teams in order to get them to 1000 IP, +/-20.


Starter #1

DT - Verlander - 6.5
LAA - Weaver - 5.5
NYY - Sabathia - 5.5
TBR - Price - 4.5
BRS - Lester - 5.5
TR - Darvish - 4.0
TBJ - Romero - 3.5

Ricky's high value for WAR, as measured by Fangraphs, was actually in 2010 when it was 4.1 and, frankly, I think he's roughly as good as he's going to get. in any given year he might have a career year and spike up over 5, but most of the time that 4-4.5 range is probably what you can expect. In that sense, most of the guys here are clearly on a somewhat higher plane, though I think Lester might be a candidate to regress back away from the leaders a bit. Look for Price to be the candidate to jump to the top of this list by next year.

Starter #2

LAA - Haran - 5.0
TBR - Shields - 4.0
DT - Fister - 4.0
TBJ - Morrow - 3.5
NYY - Pineda - 3.5
TR - Harrison - 3.0
BRS - Beckett - 2.5

Sort of the reverse, here, in my mind. in that Morrow has a considerably higher ceiling than what the projection systems are able to identify. i'm not complaining about ZIPS here, it can only work with the actual events that are factored in, but Morrow could easily be at the top of this list by October. And in reality, a year from now he's more likely to be on the #1 list and Romero on this one which would be a much more even comparison. Shields and Fister are both candidates to drop a bit more than this too, IMO.

In order to properly compare these teams, let me add the results of the top two spots together as the "top tier" of the respective rotations:

LAA: 10.5
DT: 10.5 (I think this might be a bit high - I don't believe in Fister that much)
NYY: 9.0
TBR - 8.5
BRS: 8.0
TBJ: 7.0
TR: 7.0

I think, call me a homer, that it's easy to see another 2-3 WAR out of the Jays top 2. Admittedly if Price spikes as he very well might that still puts them on top of the division in this comparison but I think all four ALE teams are much more closely matched than the projections here reflect. All of them in the 8-10 WAR range.

Starter #3

LAA - Wilson - 5.0
DT - Scherzer - 3.5
TBR - Moore - 3.0
TR - Holland - 3.0
TBJ - Alvarez - 2.5 (pro-rated to 190 IP)
BRS - Buchholtz - 2.0 (only 140 IP)
NYY - Nova - 2.0

(Yes, I know that Cecil is nominally the #3 starter for now, but alvarez is better than hi in my view)

I worry that Moore might be even better than 3.0, but rookie pitchers don't always run wild so we'll have to see - but he's a candidate for better results than projected. With Alvarez, I just boosted up the IP a bit. You could potentially do the same with Buchholtz. Really, the AL East is pretty well matched up at this spot. Everyone sitting in the 2.5-3 range with Nova potentially a step behind.

Starter #4

LAA - Santana - 2.5
TBR - Hellickson - 2.5
DT - Porcello - 2.5
TR - Lewis - 2.5
NYY - Kuroda - 2.0
BRS - Bard - 2.0 (120 IP)
TBJ - Cecil - 1.0 (100 IP)

Cecil should go more than 100 IP, so he's rated lower in results than he should be. That and his weight-loss situation might lead to maybe twice the results projected here. I have no idea how they figure Bard doing that well. It's been a long time since he started and he wasn't very good when he did (in the low minors). I think one should be really cautious about presuming the transition will go smoothly. Bottom line is that the all the contenders here are in the 2-2.5 neighborhood in terms of projections and essentially this spot is a wash.

Starter #5

TBR - Neimann - 2.0 (130)
TR - Feliez - 2.0 (130)
TBJ - McGowan - 1.0 (100 - they had only 50)
NYY - Garcia - 1.0 (100)
DT - Turner - 1.0 (100)
BRS - Cook - 1.0 (100)
LAA - Williams -0.5 (75)

Some models suggest Wade Davis will be the Rays #5 but I used the guy with the best projection here. I'm torn regarding McGowan as I don't like to assume injury, but the more I increase his innings the more I impact Drabek and I have a strong feeling they will get a lot of major league quality out of Drabek this year. Garcia might now be supplanted by Petite but there's no projections for him. Turner is out indefinitely so Detroit will need to make an acquisition or patch over this spot.

The take-away for me here is that the only teams here with the chance to have the "#5" spot vault into a high WAR resource are Texas (Feliz being a complete wild card) and Toronto (either by a healthy vintage McGowan or a revived Drabek or some combination thereof.

At worst the Jays are on par with the others here, and could gain an advantage.

Starter #6

NYY - Hughes - 1.0
TBR - Davis - 1.0
TR - Feldman - 0.5
LAA - Mills - 0.5
BRS - Miller - 0.0
DT - Oliver - 0.0
TBJ - Drabek - (0.5)

Not that there's a big swing here between the top and bottom of this list, but there's no way Drabek is that bad again. the system simply doesn't have a metric which can measure changing circumstances. Davis is facing a crowded situation but even if he was a full timer, he's just ordinary; Hughes is in an even worse position now that Petite is back and will likely be relieving.

The Jays are better situated at the back of the rotation than any of these teams are, IMO.


LAA - 19.0
TBR - 17.0
DT - 17.0
TR - 15.0
NYY - 15.0
BRS - 12.0
TBJ - 11.0

That's there numbers. Here's mine.
*I think LA is about right.
*I think the Rays will get more from Price, and less from Shields and will see there run of good luck concerning rotation health maybe come to an end. But I still think they tic upward a bit.
*I think the Tigers lose some on Fister and maybe Scherzer.
*The Yankess might get another top-shelf season from Sabathia and a tic less from Pineda than projected but are in the right neighborhood.but
*Texas is reasonable given you can't rationally guess what Darvish will do.
*Boston will get less from Bard, more from Buchholtz, but overall are in the right area.
*Toronto will get much more from Morrow (at least 2 WAR if not more) and more like 2.5 out of McGowan/Drabek rather than 0.5

So make it more like this:

LAA - 19.0
TBR - 19.0
TBJ - 15.0
NYY - 15.0
DT - 15.0
TR - 15.0
BRS - 13.0



NYY - Rivera - 1.5
TBJ - Santos - 1.0
LAA - Walden - 1.0
BRS - Bailey - 1.0
TBR - Farnsworth - 1.0
DT - Valverde - 0.5 (?)
TR - Nathan - 0.5

A WAR comparison is really insufficient to discuss the bullpen. I'm not sure anyone takes it at face value that Rivera is only worth 0.5 WAR more than Farnsworth, so I'll take more liberties here. Rivera is considerably better than everyone else here, even at his age. of the others, only Walden and Santos have any potential for upward mobility. The rest fall into the "they are what they are" category. At the moment, only NY has a significant edge.


NYY - Robertson - 1.5 (injury)
TR - Ogando - 1.5
TBJ - Oliver - 1.0
LAA - Downs - 1.0
BRS - Melancon - 1.0
DT - Benoit - 1.0
TBR - Peralta - 0.5

It jumps out a bit here to me that the Rays are a half-step behind, Peralta surely doesn't have the track record of some of the other guys here. But there's not much of a divide here, if any. the main thing to note is that Ogando would have the potential to break out and be dominante.


NYY - Soriano - 1.5
TR - Adams - 1.0
LAA - Takahashi - 1.0
BRS - Aceves - 1.0
TBR - McGee - 0.5
DT - Dotel - 0.5
TBJ - Cordero - 0.0

There was a time when Soriano was dominant, it's difficult to guess if he will be again. The system for some reason doesn't like Cordero here but I have a hard time believing a finding that he's less valuable than Dotel. McGee's the guy who might take a significant step forward here.


TR - Uehara - 1.0
TBJ - Janssen - 1.0
LAA - Thompson - 0.5
BRS - Albers - 0.5
NYY - Chamberlain - 0.5 (injury!)
DT - Coke - 0.5
TBR - Rodney - 0.0

Chamberlain is going to miss a big chunk of the season, which the system apparently didn't allow for, but I'm going to assume Hughes picks up that slack. I would thing the top two guys here bring more clear value to their teams than the others, and the difference is greater than 0.5 WAR regardless of what the system says.


NYY - Logan - 1.0
TBJ - Frasor - 0.5
TR - Tateyama - 0.5
LAA - Hawkins - 0.5
DT - Alburquerque - 0.0 (out til mid-season)

It says something when you get deep enough that some teams start running out of guys that have been projected. That's not to say they don't have candidates, but no reliable "likely" pitcher in that role. The marginal difference between Logan and Frasor here is real, but largely inconsequential.


NYY - 6.0
TR - 4.5
LAA - 4.0
TBJ - 3.5
BRS - 3.5
DT - 2.5
TBR - 2.0

Might be a tad generous to the Yankees but that's balanced by the way the system doesn't reward Rivera so I'm ok with it.

Combined pitching totals:

LAA - 23.0
NYY - 21.0
DT - 19.5
TR - 19.5
TBR - 19.0
BRS - 15.5
TBJ - 14.5

To repeat, I am not taking issue with ZIPS but I fully expect Morrow, and McGowan/Drabek to significantly boost the Blue jays totals here putting them right in the same neighborhood as the Rays.

Team Grand Total:

NYY - 53.4
BRS - 51.1
TR - 50.9
LAA - 48.5
TBR - 46.7
DT - 42.5
TBJ - 41.8

So on (their) paper, the Blue Jays still have a 5 WAR gap between them and the Rays and Angels (and more than that between them and the Red sox but there's no way I buy Boston being that high).

To review, I see Morrow as +2 (at least), the #5 spot as +2 (at least); and LF at +! at least. There's also some potential for Lind, Johnson, Rasmus, Cecil, and Santos to do better than the WAR figures used in these calculations. Which is to say, within 5 is certainly striking distance, but I can't pretend that this system does not leave a greater gap to overcome than my predictions have.

Which is cool, there's only so far you can go with objective mathematical calculations.

But the Jays need to find 5 or more WAR somewhere. And I, for one, am confident they are there to be found in some combination.

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