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The Championship Caliber Yankees (10-6) @ Rays (7-9), Friday, April 18, 2014, 7:10pm
(103 Comments - 4/19/2014 2:51:51 am)

Fangraphs: Sullivan: Masahiro Tanaka’s Non-Secret Weapon
(28 Comments - 4/18/2014 6:47:24 pm)

The Championship Caliber Yankees (9-6) @ Rays (7-8), Thursday, April 17, 2014, 7:10pm
(149 Comments - 4/18/2014 3:26:21 pm)

Yankees.com: Offense, defense, pitching a winning blend for Yanks
(44 Comments - 4/18/2014 1:39:27 pm)

NJ.com: Mark Teixeira could return to Yankees Sunday; David Robertson targeted for Tuesday
(52 Comments - 4/18/2014 8:06:46 am)

Yankees.com: Pineda’s six shutout innings steer Yanks to sweep
(26 Comments - 4/17/2014 3:36:52 pm)

Cubs (4-8) @ The Championship Caliber Yankees (7-6), Wednesday, April 16, 2014, Double Header
(288 Comments - 4/17/2014 12:00:23 am)

Lohud: Murphy and Sizemore called up; Cervelli placed on 60-day
(29 Comments - 4/16/2014 9:07:48 pm)

NY Post: Why the Yankees are using the shift more than ever
(13 Comments - 4/16/2014 12:11:02 pm)

NY Post: Cervelli going to DL as Yankees continue to jumble roster
(23 Comments - 4/15/2014 7:29:53 pm)


Look what people have to say about the RLYW!

CAIRO just takes the Marcels and changes the underlying assumptions and components in a bunch of ways that make the Yankees look better.
-alskor

Wow, two stupid posts in one day. I think you’ve reached your yearly quota.
sabernar

I don’t know if any of you current posters were around for that, but if so, I just can’t understand how you can call yourselves Yankee fans. Pathetic quitters is what you sounded like. Of the lame posts I could stand to read, the only person who had any confidence in the Yankees at that point was a (yeesh) Red Sox fan.
Jeter is King

Quite the attitude you have SG. Maybe you should shitcan this blog and join Steve at WasWatching? Or follow some other stupid team that has made the PS 15 of the last 17 years. Jeez… and some people think Yankee fans are entitled.
OldYanksFan




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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014 - The Team

I’m still not sure how the rest of the 25 man roster will fill out by Opening Day, but I figure it will change throughout the year anyway so I took a stab at creating depth charts anyway.  I don’t think I’m going to be able to run my full projection blowout this year, but I should be able to post CAIRO’s projected standings by Monday.  Before that, let’s take a look at what the 2014 Yankees might look like on virtual paper.

I am calculating linear weights batting runs, defense and pitching runs allowed for CAIRO and the three projections available on Fangraphs (Oliver, Steamer and ZiPS) to get an overall view of the team.  We’ll start with the position players.

Player Pos PA cairo oliver steamer zips avg def
Jacoby Ellsbury CF 525 69 69 66 73 69 6
Derek Jeter SS 450 49 45 48 47 47 -9
Carlos Beltran RF 550 83 77 79 76 79 -5
Mark Teixeira 1B 525 70 67 71 73 70 4
Brian McCann C 500 66 71 70 67 68 -2
Alfonso Soriano DH 550 67 68 62 73 67 1
Kelly Johnson 3B 525 61 61 62 61 61 -3
Brian Roberts 2B 350 35 32 36 35 35 -1
Brett Gardner LF 550 67 65 63 67 65 12
Starters 4525 567 555 556 573 563 4
Player Pos PA cairo oliver steamer zips avg def
Ichiro Suzuki OF 360 35 33 37 37 36 7
Eduardo Nunez SS 350 35 31 34 37 34 -12
Dean Anna IF 200 21 19 23 21 21 0
Brendan Ryan SS 250 19 18 19 21 19 10
Francisco Cervelli C 185 18 18 16 18 18 0
Zoilo Almonte OF 175 18 18 19 17 18 2
Bench 1520 146 138 147 150 146 7
Total 6045 713 693 703 723 708 11

As I said, these numbers are an estimate of the linear weights batting runs in each projection and CAIRO’s projected average defense using DRS, UZR and zone rating pro-rated to estimated playing time. 

PA are based on a rough estimate of outs made.  Obviously the hope is that the Yankees can keep their key players healthy.  The Yankees scored 650 runs last season, and they should be a fair amount better than that this year health permitting, projecting around 708 runs on average with these playing time assumptions.  Granted, that’s not a high bar to clear.  Defense does not include catcher framing which is something that Brian McCann has rated well in so maybe you can add another win there.  The defense should be better than average despite Jeter and Nun-E, although I think Jeter’s projection is somewhat rosy.  He was 5 runs below average last season in very limited time and would be close to 50 runs below average if he played a full season in the same way.  Kelly Johnson also hasn’t played a whole lot of 3B in his career and it’s possible he doesn’t play well there.  On the plus side, maybe Nun-E won’t play as much as expected here.

The most glaring thing here to me is that the Yankees don’t have a true superstar hitter.  They’re paying a few players like they are superstars, but they aren’t.  The average AL team scored 702 runs in 2013, so that’s about where the Yankee offense likely projects for this season.

Pitching is obviously going to have to be better than average to make up for that, and it has a good chance to be.

Player Role IP cairo oliver steamer zips avg
CC Sabathia SP 200 96 83 96 96 93
Hiroki Kuroda SP 200 91 83 95 89 90
Ivan Nova SP 190 90 83 90 89 88
Masahiro Tanaka SP 190 88 55 90 88 80
Michael Pineda SP 140 79 61 67 78 72
David Phelps SP 120 61 56 62 65 61
Vidal Nuno SP 65 33 28 35 36 33
Starters 1105 538 450 536 542 516
Player Role IP cairo oliver steamer zips avg
David Robertson CL 65 20 22 22 27 23
Shawn Kelley SU 60 29 24 26 30 27
Matt Thornton SU 50 21 19 23 23 22
Matt Daley MR 40 16 15 17 19 17
Dellin Betances MR 40 25 23 20 28 24
Cesar Cabral MR 30 20 16 14 18 17
Adam Warren LR 60 33 29 29 32 31
Bullpen 345 163 149 152 177 160
Team 1450 701 599 688 718 677

I guess what’s most striking to me here is how much Oliver likes the Yankee pitching relative to the other projections.  Part of that is due to the fact that Oliver does not adjust for park, but that doesn’t explain it all.  Another part of it is that Oliver thinks Mashahiro Tanaka will be the best pitcher in the AL.  It’s certainly possible but it’s not likely in my opinion.

Some of the bullpen projections are probably a bit pessimistic, particularly Dellin Betances who has taken well to the bullpen but whose projection includes a lot of time when he was a bad starter in the minors.  I can also see Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda outpitching their projecctions.  On the downside I’m still concerned about CC Sabathia adjusting to his reduced velocity.

So what does this all mean?

stat cairo oliver steamer zips avg
RS 713 693 703 723 708
RA 701 599 688 718 677
Def 11 11 11 11 11
wpct .515 .574 .518 .510 .529
p162 83 93 84 83 86

If you want optimism, Oliver’s your forecast.  The other projections agree with my gut feeling that this is a mid-80s win team on talent and they will need a few things to go better than expected to contend.

That can certainly happen, of course.  Last year’s Red Sox team looked like an 84 win team heading into the season.  The 2012 Giants looked like one as well.  But I’d feel better if the Yankees had better depth to cover for the risks they are carrying in the infield.

At the very least, this team should be more fun to watch than last year’s team.  So that’s something.

--Posted at 8:53 am by SG / 58 Comments | - (0)




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014 - David Robertson

The unenviable task of replacing the legendary Mariano Rivera goes to David Robertson.  Robertson has been brilliant over the last three seasons and should be able to handle the closer role if the Yankees can ever get him a lead.

2013

IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
66 51 5 18 77 2.04 2.61 2.5

FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
WAR: Wins above replacement (RA based for CAIRO/ZiPS, FIP based for Oliver/Steamer)

Robertson had a very strong 2013, include the best strikeout to walk ratio of his career.  Robertson has steadily decreased his walk rate, which was the major concern with him.  His strike out rate has also been declining, but it has led to a more efficient Robertson.  Over his first four seasons Robertson averaged 4.40 pitches per batter faced, over the last two seasons he’s been at 3.98.

2014 Projections

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 67 54 5 24 80 2.64 2.80 1.7
oliver 63 50 5 22 78 2.98 2.75 1.2
steamer 65 53 6 23 72 2.94 3.17 0.9
zips 63 48 6 22 85 2.71 2.42 1.3
average 65 51 5 23 79 2.82 2.79 1.3

The projections generally agree that Robertson will pitch well again this year, although CAIRO likes him more than the rest, as it usually has.

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts

percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 81 50 17 16 3 20 96 1.91 1.82 1.97 2.8
65% 74 52 19 18 4 22 88 2.30 2.21 2.35 2.3
Baseline 67 54 21 20 5 24 80 2.75 2.64 2.80 1.7
35% 50 46 18 18 5 21 61 3.25 3.12 3.25 1.0
20% 35 37 15 14 5 17 43 3.82 3.68 3.80 0.5

I think Robertson will be his typical self, and should be closer to his 65% forecast than his baseline.

Robertson is in the final year of team control and I am not sure why the Yankees haven’t extended him yet.  I have a hunch that it is at least partially because they want to see if he has the appropriate “closer’s mentality.”  I don’t see any reason to think that Robertson can’t continue to get batters out just because he’ll be starting the ninth instead of the eighth.  It’s true that at this point in his career his save percentage is not good, but that’s because setup men get granted lots of save opportunities in games that they will not be given an opportunity to save, so their blown save rates are disproportionate.  Robertson has 124 saves and holds in his career in 134 chances.  He will be fine.

--Posted at 8:22 am by SG / 28 Comments | - (0)




Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bombers Beat: Girardi: Pineda is fifth starter

Michael Pineda has won the fifth starter competition. The Yankees will look at Adam Warren, David Phelps and Vidal Nuno out of the bullpen, manager Joe Girardi said.

Not a big surprise.

--Posted at 3:20 pm by SG / 25 Comments | - (0)



Looking Ahead to 2014 - Shawn Kelley and Matt Thornton

With Mariano Rivera’s retirement, David Robertson ascending to closer and Boone Logan off to Colorado, the Yankee bullpen is going to look a lot different this.  While there’s still some uncertainty about how the Yankees will fill out the pen, Shawn Kelley and free agent signing Matt Thornton are expected to play important roles this year.

2013
Kelley

IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
53 47 8 23 71 4.39 3.63 -0.1

FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
WAR: Wins above replacement (RA based for CAIRO/ZiPS, FIP based for Oliver/Steamer)

Kelley came to the Yankees in a spring training trade with Seattle and made the team out of spring training.  He got off to a bit of a rough start, with an ERA of 8.71 through his first nine appearances.  Then came a very impressive run from May 5 through August 20 where Kelley fanned 51 batters over 37.2 innings.  He had an ERA of 1.91 during that stretch of games and held opposing batters to a line of .165/.253/.263, helped by a BABIP against of .247. He didn’t pitch much after that, tallying only 5.1 innings over his last 10 outings of the season and got tattooed, allowing a line of .480/.517/.800 with an ERA of 13.50, fueled by a BABIP against of .526.  I don’t know if Kelley was hurt, fatigued, or just came crashing down to earth at that point, but it was a disappointing end to what had been a surprisingly good season.

Thornton

IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
43 47 4 15 30 3.74 4.04 0.3

For the fifth straight season, Thornton’s ERA+ declined from a peak of 172 in both 2008 and 2009 to last year’s 114.  He’s been steadily losing a bit of velocity (although he still averaged around 94 mph in 2013) and his platoon splits have become a bit more pronounced.  Righties hit him for a wOBA of .370 in 2013, compared to a wOBA of .299 in his career.  Lefties were not as successful with a wOBA of .280, which was more in line with the .287 wOBA he’s allowed against them in his career.

2014 Projections and 2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts
Kelley

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 54 50 8 22 60 3.81 3.89 0.6
oliver 50 45 6 18 55 3.58 3.54 0.5
steamer 65 56 9 25 68 3.41 3.93 0.4
zips 49 44 6 19 57 3.88 3.68 0.3
average 54 49 7 21 60 3.65 3.78 0.5
percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 77 53 26 23 6 21 85 3.05 2.66 2.74 1.9
65% 65 52 26 23 7 22 72 3.64 3.20 3.28 1.2
Baseline 54 50 26 23 8 22 60 4.31 3.81 3.89 0.6
35% 40 42 23 20 7 19 45 5.08 4.52 4.62 0.1
20% 28 34 19 17 6 16 31 5.97 5.33 5.44 -0.2

Kelley was only available to the Yankees because he was coming off an injury in 2012, and he throws his slider about 50% of the time which may be part of the reason that he’s not a great bet to stay healthy.  In his career, Kelly actually has a reverse platoon split (.294 wOBA vs. LHB and .324 vs. RHB) but he had a more conventional split in 2013 (.329 vs. LHB and .308 vs. RHB).  If Kelly can pitch at his 65% forecast he can be solid as the primary set up man, but I am not sure how confident I am in that.

Thornton

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 67 69 4 20 64 3.21 2.86 0.9
oliver 54 53 5 17 44 3.47 3.67 0.4
steamer 55 52 5 20 46 3.60 3.76 0.4
zips 48 48 5 14 40 3.97 3.64 0.3
average 56 55 5 18 48 3.53 3.44 0.5
percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 83 66 25 21 2 17 79 2.71 2.27 2.11 2.0
65% 75 68 27 22 3 19 71 3.20 2.71 2.44 1.4
Baseline 67 69 28 24 4 20 64 3.75 3.21 2.86 0.9
35% 50 58 24 21 4 18 48 4.37 3.77 3.24 0.3
20% 35 46 20 17 4 15 33 5.08 4.40 3.73 -0.1

Because of the way righties have started hitting Thornton, he’s likely going to be used as primarily a left-handed specialist instead of a guy who will pitch full innings.  So I don’t think he’ll get much more than around 50 innings this year.  If his appearances against RHB are limited, I can see him exceeding his baseline projection on a rate basis.

Obviously, the biggest loss in the bullpen is Rivera.  But another potential loss that I don’t hear anyone talking about is bullpen coach Mike Harkey, who has moved onto Arizona as their pitching coach.  Harkey’s been Joe Girardi’s bullpen coach for Girardi’s entire managerial career in both Florida and with the Yankees.  I don’t know what a bullpen coach really does.  I do know that Girardi’s teams have generally had good bullpens, and have often gotten better than expected performances from some players and it’s possible Harkey deserves some credit for that.  The Yankees will need that again this year.  Hopefully new bullpen coach Gary Tuck will be up to the task.  And more importantly, hopefully Kelley and Thornton will both be positive contributors this year.

 

--Posted at 8:04 am by SG / 23 Comments | - (0)




Monday, March 24, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014 - Phelps and Pineda

Since David Phelps and Michael Pineda are both vying for fifth starter to open the season, I’ll lump them together.  I will resist the urge to call them the Killer P’s.

2013

IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
86 88 8 35 79 4.98 3.81 0.1

FIP: Fielding-independent pitching

Phelps’s 4.98 ERA in 2013 is a bit misleading, as nine of the 48 runs he allowed came in one brutal start in Baltimore.  Phelps saw time as a starter and reliever and his FIP of 3.81 was a better indicator of how he pitched for the most part.

Pineda spent 2013 rehabbing from labrum surgery and pitched 40 or so innings scattered at various levels in the minors.  He appears to be healthy, but his velocity hasn’t recovered back to where it was in his rookie season with Seattle.

2014 Projections
Phelps

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 100 100 14 41 89 4.34 4.37 0.7
oliver 111 112 16 41 98 4.20 4.39 1.0
steamer 144 139 17 57 119 4.43 4.25 1.5
zips 102 101 14 38 92 4.51 4.31 0.9
average 114 113 15 44 100 4.37 4.32 1.0

WAR: Wins above replacement (RA based for CAIRO/ZiPS, FIP based for Oliver/Steamer)

Phelps projects to be a bit below average as a starting pitcher, but if you can get his projected performance out of your fifth starter you’re going to be very happy about it.  These projections are a hybrid of starting and relieving, so we can probably assume he’d be a bit worse as a full-time starter and bit better if he’s primarily a reliever.

Pineda

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 91 87 14 35 78 4.61 4.53 0.5
oliver 82 77 12 29 75 3.97 4.33 0.8
steamer 48 44 6 18 44 4.02 4.12 0.6
zips 81 80 12 30 75 4.65 4.39 0.7
average 75 72 11 28 68 4.35 4.37 0.7

I debated whether I should even post these, because the data that was used to build them is pretty much irrelevant at this point.  Pineda’s doesn’t have the fastball he had in 2011, and the numbers from last year are meaningless because he was rehabbing and probably not pitching at full strength.  Pineda could be pretty good, or he could be horrendous.

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts
Phelps

percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 165 136 65 62 15 52 148 3.57 3.37 3.38 3.0
65% 131 119 59 56 15 47 118 4.05 3.83 3.81 1.7
Baseline 100 100 51 48 14 41 89 4.57 4.34 4.37 0.7
35% 76 84 43 41 12 36 68 5.15 4.90 4.80 0.1
20% 54 66 35 33 10 29 48 5.79 5.52 5.38 -0.3

Baseline is probably about right for Phelps, but with more innings.

Pineda

percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 150 116 66 59 15 43 131 3.94 3.56 3.48 2.7
65% 119 102 59 54 15 40 104 4.47 4.06 3.94 1.5
Baseline 91 87 51 46 14 35 78 5.06 4.61 4.53 0.5
35% 69 73 44 40 13 30 59 5.72 5.22 5.02 -0.1
20% 49 58 35 32 11 24 42 6.45 5.90 5.65 -0.5

I’ll reiterate the uselessness of trying to forecast Pineda right now.

In theory, Pineda has upside that Phelps does not have.  But from what I’ve seen, Pineda isn’t throwing significantly harder than Phelps right now and there’s a pretty good chance he never will.  Pineda’s slider has looked great this spring, and if he can develop a workable changeup he might be able to be pretty good even with diminished velocity.  Pineda has put up a slightly better stat line than Phelps has this spring, although both have been very effective.

There are political reasons to think Pineda has the inside track on the fifth starter job, but even if Pineda does win it out of camp his innings will probably be restricted this year.  Because of that, Phelps will still be an important part of the team.

My guess, Phelps will get 15-20 starts this year even if he doesn’t break camp as the fifth starter.  And he should be up for the task.

As for Pineda, I figure that he should at least be as valuable as Jesus Montero.

--Posted at 12:55 pm by SG / 28 Comments | - (0)



Looking Ahead to 2014 - Ivan Nova

2013 started out badly but ended well for Ivan Nova, who has had to fight for a rotation spot throughout his career.  He may not have to do that anymore.

2013

IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
139 135 9 44 116 3.10 3.47 3.7

FIP: Fielding-independent pitching

After four mostly bad starts, Ivan Nova was placed on the disabled list on April 27.  He was activated a month later, made two relief appearances and then was demoted to AAA so the Yankees could activate Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira from the disabled list.  Yeah, that worked out.

Nova made three starts for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre then was recalled to start June 23.  From that poiint on he was the Yankees’ best starter, throwing 116.2 innings with a 2.70 ERA.  Nova scrapped his slider that had been a pretty effective pitch for him at points in the past and made more use of his curveball and it made a big difference.

I’ve been bullish on Nova because of his stuff, and I continue to be. But what do the projections think?

2014 Projections

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 156 162 18 51 124 3.99 4.07 2.3
oliver 169 174 19 51 131 3.95 4.06 2.1
steamer 173 168 16 57 138 4.04 3.80 2.6
zips 165 167 16 53 124 3.98 3.94 2.7
average 166 168 17 53 129 3.99 3.96 2.4

WAR: Wins above replacement (RA based for CAIRO/ZiPS, FIP based for Oliver/Steamer)

The projections are expecting Nova to give back some of his gains from 2013, which is what projection systems do.  But they are all in agreement that Nova is an above average pitcher now.  200 innings of his average projection would be worth close to 3 WAR.

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts

percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 210 187 81 76 17 55 169 3.48 3.25 3.28 5.0
65% 182 175 78 73 18 54 146 3.86 3.60 3.59 3.5
Baseline 156 162 74 69 18 51 124 4.26 3.99 4.07 2.3
35% 119 135 62 58 16 44 95 4.70 4.40 4.30 1.2
20% 86 105 49 46 13 35 68 5.17 4.86 4.69 0.4

I need to see more of Masahiro Tanaka, but I think Nova has the most upside of anyone in the Yankee rotation.  He throws harder than anyone else in the rotation, and the only pitch that might be as good as his curveball is probably Tanaka’s splitter.  I actually think Nova’s 65% forecast is his floor and think that he could exceed that.

That being said, Nova’s shown flashes before and then disappointed and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that it could happen again.  Nova is out of options, so he shouldn’t have to worry about going back down to the minors like he had to in 2011 and 2013.

As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, I don’t have an emotional connection with a lot of the players that now wear Yankee uniforms.  More and more it feels like I’m rooting for laundry.  Nova is one of the few that I do feel a connection to, and I hope he can pitch like he did last year for many more years.

--Posted at 8:03 am by SG / 10 Comments | - (0)




Friday, March 21, 2014

CBS New York: Yankees Get ‘Good News’ On Ellsbury’s Ailing Right Calf

FORT MYERS, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was sent for an MRI Thursday of his ailing right calf, which was negative.

No word on the status of his left calf.

--Posted at 8:25 am by SG / 46 Comments | - (0)




Thursday, March 20, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014 - Masahiro Tanaka

The jewel of the Yankees’ offseason spending spree has to be Masahiro Tanaka.  The Yankees paid a steep price to land arguably the best free agent pitcher on the market. 

2014 Projections

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 179 173 21 34 141 3.68 3.61 2.8
oliver 205 176 15 32 193 2.59 2.63 6.1
steamer 192 186 22 40 156 3.76 3.66 3.5
zips 191 180 17 35 187 3.68 3.01 3.8
average 192 179 19 35 169 3.41 3.21 4.0

FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
WAR: Wins above replacement (RA based for CAIRO/ZiPS, FIP based for Oliver/Steamer)

I don’t know why CAIRO’s WAR projection is so much lower than the other projections despite similar rate stats and I am not that worried about it since we can project the team using runs and not WAR.  Oliver LOVES Tanaka.  The other projections all think he’ll be solid.  The Yankees are clearly leaning towards Oliver, despite their attempt to temper expectations by calling Tanaka a third starter.  Tanaka has youth on his side, but he’s also thrown a lot of innings in his career.

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts

percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 217 175 80 70 17 30 172 3.32 2.89 2.91 5.4
65% 196 176 83 73 20 33 155 3.79 3.32 3.28 3.9
Baseline 179 173 83 73 21 34 141 4.16 3.66 3.61 2.8
35% 138 144 70 62 19 30 108 4.56 4.03 3.88 1.5
20% 98 113 56 50 16 25 76 5.18 4.59 4.36 0.4

Because we have more uncertainty in translating what Tanaka did in Japan, his range of forecasts is wider than most pitchers.  He could blow away his baseline and it wouldn’t surprise me, but he will be adjusting to a different workload in a different country against different opponents with a different ball in a disgraceful bandbox so that may be a bit optimistic.  I have some concerns about how much of his good control in NPB was due to not being afraid to catch the plate against weaker opponents and how that will translate to MLB, but I do believe Tanaka will be at least as good as his baseline.

Despite never throwing a pitch in MLB, Tanaka was signed to one of the most lucrative contracts ever signed by a pitcher.  Will he be worth such a massive investment?  It’s tough to say.  I would expect some bumps in the road along the way.  He’s looked great so far this spring, although that’s of limited utility.  But just the fact that he might be worth his contract makes him worth watching, and makes the Yankees a more interesting team.

--Posted at 8:12 am by SG / 16 Comments | - (0)




Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014 - Hiroki Kuroda

Hiroki Kuroda decided to return to the Yankees around the same time Robinson Cano left for Seattle.  Because of that, I wasn’t all that excited about it at the time.  Kuroda’s been great for the Yankees over the past two seasons and although he struggled a bit over the end of the season, there’s little reason to think that it was anything more than a blip.

2013

IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
201 191 20 43 150 3.31 3.56 4.6

FIP: Fielding-independent pitching

Kuroda had arguably the best season of his career in 2012, and followed it up with a very good 2013.  He pitched about 18 fewer innings in the same number of starts, and tailed off appreciably from mid-August with a 7.33 RA and a 4.74 FIP after August 17 compared to a 2.39 RA and 3.41 FIP prior.  His BABIP against through August 12 was .251 and it leaped to .355 after.  His HR/FB rate was 8.3% through August 12 and 16.0% after.  He was likely outpitching his peripherals through the first selective set of endpoints and then was probably a bit unlucky over the second set.

2014 Projections

projection IP H HR BB K ERA FIP WAR
cairo 199 198 24 49 149 3.76 3.88 3.6
oliver 205 206 25 48 147 3.74 4.01 2.8
steamer 189 189 20 47 139 3.97 3.78 3.1
zips 178 177 21 42 135 3.74 3.88 3.4
average 193 192 23 46 142 3.80 3.89 3.2

WAR: Wins above replacement (RA based for CAIRO/ZiPS, FIP based for Oliver/Steamer)

Despite the difference in projected WAR, there isn’t a ton of difference in any of Kuroda’s projections.  The WAR difference comes down to an idealogical one.  CAIRO and ZiPS use RA to calculate WAR, Oliver and Steamer use FIP.  In his career Kuroda has an ERA of 3.40 compared to a FIP of 3.61.  It’s certainly possible that some of that gap is luck, but the projections do account for that with regression.  According to Baseball Reference, Kuroda’s been worth 5.5 and 4.1 wins above replacement for the Yankees over the last two seasons.

2014 CAIRO Percentile Forecasts

percentile ip h r er hr bb k ra era fip war
80% 222 191 84 77 20 43 167 3.41 3.13 3.28 5.7
65% 210 194 87 80 22 46 158 3.74 3.43 3.55 4.6
Baseline 199 198 90 83 24 49 149 4.08 3.76 3.88 3.6
35% 154 164 76 70 21 42 114 4.46 4.11 4.16 2.2
20% 111 127 60 55 17 33 82 4.86 4.49 4.49 1.1

In a vaccum I’d peg Kuroda somewhere between the 65% and baseline forecast, but there’s a pretty significant concern with him this year that has nothing to do with him specifically.  Among the 37 starting pitchers who qualified for the ERA title in the AL in 2013 (minimum of 162 innings), Kuroda ranked sixth in highest ground ball percentage.  It’s fair to say the Yankee infield defense right now is questionable at best, and it could be disastrous.  We’ll have to see what kind of impact that has on him.

Kuroda’s still a good bet to be a pretty good pitcher this year in what could be the last year of his career.  He may also serve an important role in Masahiro Tanaka’s transition to MLB, and it doesn’t hurt that his best pitch is a splitter much like Tanaka’s.  Because of that, I think it’s fair to say Kuroda’s value may be greater to the Yankees than just his contributions on the field in 2014, which should still be pretty valuable in their own right.

--Posted at 8:17 am by SG / 31 Comments | - (0)



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