Thursday, January 31, 2008

Top Prospects, 2008

Two top 100 prospect lists are out today, Keith Law has one at ESPN and Kevin Goldstein another at Baseball Prospectus. The same four Angels make both lists, so our top prospects right now are:

1. Nick Adenhart
2. Brandon Wood
3. Jordan Walden
4. Hank Conger

Simple division tells us the average team has 3.33 prospects on this list. Adenhart and Wood rank in the 30-40 range, with Walden and Conger towards the middle or bottom depending on which list you look at. Right now we're pretty much an average farm system in terms of top line talent. Part of that is because we've moved some excellent prospects into the majors recently, but to keep the machine going we're going to have to restock. Without a first round pick after the Hunter signing, this would be a good year to open the checkbook to a few latin american prospects.

Ready to kick some butt

SG, from Replacement Level Yankees, put the CHONE projections into Diamond Mind and ran 100 seasons. His average AL west Standings are:

Angels 90-72
Oakland 78-84
Rangers 76-86
Mariners 75-87

His simulations using his own projection system, CAIRO, has similar results with the Mariners and A's swapping places. I'm not sure what the timing was for each, whether they were run before or after the Haren and Swisher trades.

What I consider my official projections is where I sit down and decide to the best of my ability how much playing time each player/pitcher will get, and from that figure how many runs the team should score and allow, given their CHONE projections. I've done the preliminary work for the AL west, it will be official when I do all 6 division and make sure the wins/losses add up at the MLB level. I'll probably have the AL average 82 wins with the NL at 80 because of the talent disparity in the leagues. Anyway, it's more good news:

Angels 90-72
Mariner 78-84 (assuming Jones in RF and no Bedard)
Oakland 73-89
Rangers 71-91

I kind of hope the Bedard trade goes down, it's not going to make the Mariners more than an 82-83 win team, and if we can't beat 84 wins we don't deserve to be in the playoffs. Plus it means we don't have to worry about Jones turning into a superstar over the next 6 years.

We've won on paper. Now we just have to take care of business on the field.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Popups and Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter, while a great overall player and deserving future Hall of Famer, rates as a below average defensive shortstop by just about every defensive rating system that has been devised. He does not have good range on groundballs, but some say that he partially makes up for this by being great on relay throws (which I won't argue with) and catching popups.

Statistical evidence is hard to come by on popups, but I thought I'd give it a try. I need to look at it on a team level, since popups are almost always balls that can be caught by more than one fielder. I look at every popup, as coded by retrosheet, that is fielded by the shortstop or an adjacent fielder (3B, 2B, LF, CF). If the catcher, 1st baseman, or rightfielder catches a popup I'm going to assume that the shortstop has nothing to do with it. I get counts of how many were caught by this group of fielders, how many fell in for hits, and how many the shortstop handled.

For 2003-2007, all but 2.63% of popups to this fielding group were caught. Shortstops typically handle 35% of these.

Derek Jeter catches 36%, pretty much average. Out of 1176 popups, 36 fell in for bloops while Jeter was the shortstop, which is 5 below average. I would not use this to further knock Jeter's defense for two reasons: 1) Its only 1 extra popup per season, hardly a big deal and 2) The blame for these bloops is not all Jeter's, some goes to his teammates.

The shortstops who allow the fewest extra bloops were Bartlett, Lugo, and Aurilia (+6 each). The worst are Hanley Ramirez (-11), Troy Tulowitzki (-7) and Tony Pena (-7). Adam Everett (-5) was tied with Jeter.

These low rankings could be a product of luck, or bad fielding teammates, or maybe the shortstop is just not good at this area of the game. Statistical analysis can show there might be a problem, it would take some observation to confirm it. The bottom 3 are all 1st and second year players, it could be an experience thing.

Tulo caught 49% of the popups among his adjacent fielders, so it looks like he's a take charge guy. Perhaps his other fielders are backing off too soon and thinking he'll catch it? Lugo (42%) and our old friend Orlando Cabrera (41%, +1) try to get as many as possible too.

At the other end, Tejada, Clayton, Felipe Lopez, Renteria, and Jack Wilson only catch 31% of the popups. They are quite comfortable letting someone else handle it. For Tejada, it works out just fine, when he was on the field his team was +4 on popups.

Play by play defensive systems usually ignore popups. That its not a big deal as far as runs saved seems to be a safe assumption. In just a few cases a popup rating could have a significant impact on a defender (Tulo, Hanley) but once you figure out how to divide the credit/blame among all the fielders who could have made a play and account for regression to the mean, the impact will be minimal even for these guys.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Defensive Ratings from Retrosheet

I published an explanation of my system and the results for the Hardball Times.

The next step is incorporating lots of adjustments, some things that I thought would improve the system and some suggested through the commentary on Baseballthinkfactory and Ballhype.

Its a long process, but I put together my DP ratings today. Here are the double play allstars from 1956 to 1992, though I should extend this through 2007. While there are plenty of other sources to calculate defensive runs, I don't think anyone else who does DP runs publishes the results.

The top DP turners:

3B Brooks Robinson +26. His replacement, Doug DeCinces comes in at +12, Wade Boggs and Clete Boyer at +10.

SS: Cal Ripken +29. Ozzie is +21, then Dick Schofield +19 (a bit of a surprise) with Concepcion and Trammell at +18 each.

2B: Bill Mazeroski +40 - the legend is accurate here. Willie Randalph was close, +37, followed by Bobby Grich +23 and Tom Herr +21.

1B: Don Mattingly +9 - there just aren't enough balls hit to first for this skill to have a large run value, but Donnie Baseball was better than anyone at starting the 3-6-3. Keith Hernandez and Kent Hrbek come in at +6.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Congratulations Goose

My first little league glove was a Goose Gossage model. He's in the Hall of Fame, the only player elected this season. Jim Rice just missed. In 1978, Goose pitched the final 2 2/3 innings to save the Yankee win in game 162. He didn't pitch especially well, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, but he avoided blowing it. In the 8th inning he allowed 4 hits to the first 5 men he faced, the one out was Jim Rice. In the 9th inning, down by one with 2 runners on, Rice again flew out to right. A hit in either situation and today's vote might have been different. Glad to look back on a time when the good guys won, and congratulations, Goose.

As for my previous post, Tim Raines is now the best outfielder eligible for the HOF and passed over at least once. My new OF is Evans, Smith, and Raines. Dawson gets bumped to 4th outfielder status, as I'm not a fan of the DH.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Hall of the Exceptionally Good

Here's my allstar team of players who:

1) Played some portion of their career in the retrosheet era
2) Have been eligible for the Hall of Fame
3) Have been passed over at least once

C Ted Simmons - I don't rate him as that bad a fielder, only -24 runs over his career, not enough to negate his excellent hitting. Best C who was a good fielder - Bill Freehan

1B) Mark McGwire (best w/o steroid issues? Will Clark or Keith Hernandez)

2B) Lou Whitaker (Bobby Grich a close second, both similar in quality to Sandberg)

3B) Ron Santo (close over Nettles, Buddy Bell, and Darrell Evans)

SS) Alan Trammell

RF) Dwight Evans

CF) Reggie Smith

LF) Andre Dawson (didn't play much LF, but I'm going with the 3 best OF and he played there more than Smith or Evans)


Somewhere on that team is the best player not yet in the Hall of Fame.

Average offense, by position, retrosheet years

All numbers are in linear weights runs per 650 PA, with hitting by pitchers, pinch hitters, and designated hitters excluded:

Before my birth, 1956-1969
1b +11
2b -14
3b -1
ss -15
rf +12
cf +5
lf +11
C -10

The turf years, 1970-1984
1b +12
2b -11
3b +2
ss -21
rf +9
cf +3
lf +10
C -7

Last years before the offensive explosion, 1985-1992
1b +14
2b -5
3b +1
ss -15
rf +7
cf +2
lf +7
C -11

Offensive surge, 1993-1998
1b +18
2b -8
3b 1
ss -15
rf +10
cf -1
lf +6
C -10

The modern game, 2000-2007
1b +15
2b -7
3b 0
ss -11
rf +9
cf -3
lf +10
C -13