The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Looking Ahead to 2013 - Cervelli and Stewart

Although it looks like Francisco Cervelli is the likely starting catcher heading into the season, I figured I’d run both he and Chris Stewart through the projection gauntlet.  I’m not going to go over their 2012 since neither played that much.

First up, here are Cervelli’s 2013 projections.

Projection PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB HBP SO GDP avg obp slg wOBA BR BR/650 BRAR
cairo 276 246 29 60 10 1 4 29 3 1 24 3 54 6 .245 .321 .337 .297 26 62 6
davenport 305 271 29 68 11 1 2 25 2 1 26 8 62 7 .251 .338 .321 .303 29 61 7
marcel 215 189 24 51 8 1 4 27 3 1 19 3 37 5 .270 .343 .386 .323 25 74 9
oliver 404 356 43 86 15 1 8 39 4 2 33 9 89 9 .242 .320 .357 .302 40 65 11
steamer 278 246 28 58 12 1 3 24 4 2 23 4 54 6 .236 .309 .329 .286 25 58 5
zips 328 291 29 68 11 2 3 31 3 1 25 8 69 10 .234 .308 .316 .285 28 55 4
average 301 266 30 65 11 1 4 29 3 1 25 6 61 7 .245 .323 .339 .298 29 62 7
2012 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 .000 .500 .000 .360 0 75 0

wOBA: Weighted on-base average
BR: Linear weights batting runs
BR/650: BR per 650 PA
BRAR: BR above replacement level, adjusted for park and position

The bar for being above replacement level offensively for a catcher is low.  Cervelli projects to clear that bar, although not by a ton.  If he gets 450 PA his average projection puts him around 10 BRAR. 

Stewart actually doesn’t project much differently than Cervelli, which surprised me.

Projection PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB HBP SO GDP avg obp slg wOBA BR BR/650 BRAR
cairo 276 246 27 58 12 0 4 24 2 1 23 3 41 5 .234 .308 .339 .290 25 60 6
davenport 152 139 14 32 4 0 3 11 1 1 12 2 23 2 .230 .306 .324 .286 13 55 2
marcel 297 266 32 64 14 1 6 26 3 1 23 2 45 4 .241 .303 .368 .294 29 64 8
oliver 338 301 35 73 14 1 6 33 3 1 27 4 52 5 .243 .311 .355 .295 33 63 9
steamer 266 238 26 55 12 0 3 24 4 2 21 3 36 4 .231 .300 .319 .279 23 55 4
zips 241 218 24 52 11 0 3 21 2 0 17 4 34 4 .239 .303 .330 .286 22 59 5
average 262 235 26 56 11 0 4 23 3 1 20 3 38 4 .237 .306 .342 .289 24 60 5
2012 157 141 15 34 8 0 1 13 2 0 10 1 21 1 .241 .287 .319 .270 13 55 2

The difference between them over the same # of PA doesn’t appear to be worth more than a run.

So the question becomes defense.  Cervelli had a pretty good defensive season as he threw out 10 of 23 base runners attempting to steal (43.5%) and was worth 4 runs above average in just 241 innings according to DRS.  Since then he’s only thrown out 13 of 92 runs (14.1%) and has been 4 runs below average in about 1040 innings.  DRS doesn’t consider pitch framing, although Mike Fast’s data on Cervelli shows him as around -4 over 141 games.

On the other hand, Stewart has had very good DRS numbers over the last two years.  He was +12 in 460 innings in 2011 and +4 in 395 innings last year.  According to the data from Mike Fast’s study linked above shows Stewart as being worth another 10 runs over 93 games.

Obviously we have a bit less certainty about quantifying a catcher’s defense than we do about their offense.  Cervelli’s looked very good so far in spring training, which I do think has value from a scouting perspective.  I also think he is a better bet to at least provide some OBP at the bottom of the lineup than Stewart will.  But at least according to the offensive projections and defensive numbers Stewart’s probably the better choice for starting catcher.  If we assumed 450 PA of each, figure something like:

Cervelli: 11 BRAR, -6 defense, 0.5 WAR
Stewart:  9 BRAR, + 10 defense, 1.9 WAR

If Cervelli’s fixed his throwing issues and Stewart’s defense isn’t really quite that good then maybe it’s closer to even.

Because of the Yankees’ relative weakness all over the field this year, a lot of attention has been focused on catcher.  The days of getting 4-5 wins from Jorge Posada or 2-3 wins from Russell Martin appear to be gone, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think they can get a 1 - 1.5 wins out of some combination of Cervelli and Stewart.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be enough for a team that’s looking like a mid 80s win team right now.


--Posted at 7:31 am by SG / 58 Comments | - (0)


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To apply [19] from the previous thread…

They’re shitty.

If Cervelli’s throwing problems are truly fixed and he can get back to what he was before (rookie year, reputation from the minors), I think it’s very possible they could get 2+ WAR total from the position.  Cervelli around 1.5, Stewart another .5-1.  Good?  No.  Awful?  Also no.  There are of course a lot of “ifs” in there.  But it’s entirely possible that catcher won’t be a weakness.

Josh Norris is reporting that the Yankees have signed Chien Ming Dynasty Wang.

[0] Obviously we have a bit less certainty about quantifying a catcher’s defense than we do about their offense. 

FWIW, all of the comments from Cashman and Girardi indicate that their projection tools and methods are placing a lot of value on catcher defense. So, while we can look at our publicly available data and traditional tools and come to the conclusion that Cashman basically punted this position this year, it’s my feeling that he’s trying an alternate approach. Whether or not his method is correct remains to be seen, but that’s my retort for the “I can’t believe we let Martin go !” crowd.

Or it could be that he punted the position but is trying to save face.

Dallas McPherson, anyone? Yeah, me either.

[5] I suppose. But my position that the Yankees are trying to buy undervalued defense seems to be backed up by Cashman signing Ichiro, and even moreso by signing Ichiro into 2014. Ichiro may or may not hit, but he very likely will be an above average, if not elite, defensive OF, for both 2013 and 2014.  If you don’t look at it that way, signing Ichiro and not, say, Hunter or Cabrera, is a head scratcher.

Cashman may have turned into Steve Phillips over the off season, but I think it’s more plausible that he’s just employing a different strategy. Will it work? Who knows. You can’t win games where you don’t score runs, no matter how many you prevent.

[7] I agree with this.  Most of the people who do a lot of data-crunching agree that the teams have a LOT more data available to them than they do, and that they also have smart people looking at it.  So I think it is likely the Yankees have more and better information than we do.  They may still be flat out wrong of coruse.

Also, for scoring runs…I think the Yankees still projected to have an above-average offense coming into the season, if only slightly.  Some of their issues with offense have to do with hopefully short term injuries to Teix and Granderson.  Generally speaking, a run-saved = a run-scored.  But yes at the extremes that isn’t true.

I’m sort of amazed Stewart could actually provide close to 2 WAR.  Yay position adjustment!

I’m fully aware of the possibility that teams have much better internal models than we have available to us, but the last GM that tried the “Defense is undervalued” approach put together the Seattle Mariners.  Just sayin…

[10] He also made several other questionable moves that could indicate he isn’t that bright.  And, he went to the extreme on the “no offense” side, and probably passed up on players that added “more” value just to get slightly better defense. 

I think Cashman fully recognizes he needs offense.  But also I think - with the backdrop of $189MM for next year - that if he can get a player they value at +20 runs (offense+defense) getting most of the value on offense, it may be a better value to get a +17 player with most of the value on defense, for 1 less year and several million less.  Or put another way, in the past Yankees could overpay by several million for those extra 3 runs, but now they would rather underpay and save the $$‘s for something else.

The one positive that I anticipate from the approaching season is that certain commentators will get to see what not hitting too many home runs looks like.

[12] How ever many HRs the Yankees hit is too many.

[10] Yeah, but most of those guys could not hit at all.

Like Ichiro and Stewart?

[3] According to RAB Wang is working out with the Yankees in Tampa, but a deal has not yet been signed.  Sounds promising though…

[15] I think Ichiro’s hitting ability is not determined yet. Ichiro basically ahd a full year of hitting terribly, then had a bit of a bounce back with the Yankees. It’s not all that dissimilar to Jeter’s terrible ~year of hitting and he was pretty good last year. They also are pretty similar hitters. Ichiro may be done, but he’s a unique talent.

Ichiro is like jeter going into last year, not this year, and most STILL don’t project much from Jeter this year. His numbers with the Yankess are textbook SSS and at this point shouldn’t be given much weight.

I am optimistic on Cervelli. I think he will be an average defensive catcher and has some upside with the bat. He has no power, but very good approach at the plate.

I think the catcher position is going to susprise us in a good way. Still not enough to make the Yankees a 90 win team.

I’m fully aware of the possibility that teams have much better internal models than we have available to us, but the last GM that tried the “Defense is undervalued” approach put together the Seattle Mariners.  Just sayin…

I thought that the Tampa Bay Rays have been doing the whole “defense is underrated” approach, as well. The A’s did, as well, but I don’t know if they changed their approach this past year when they actually became good.

[20] The Rays also use a ton of shifts which clouds our ability to determine both pitching and defensive abilities.

His numbers with the Yankess are textbook SSS and at this point shouldn’t be given much weight.

Which I think fits in with “yet to be determined”.  He’ll likely be below average, and quite likely near replacement.  But I think it’s fair that there is a larger chance that he approaches average than there would be with most 39 year old hitters with his results the last two years.

[21] But we should be able to take prior knowledge of how several of the players have done to have an idea of how they are choosing to assemlbe their team.  E.g. Jose Molina had almost 5000 previous innings at C before signing with the Rays, and for the most part he’s been good defensively (and has a good reputation).

[23] There’s no doubt the Rays value defense, but they do seem to have a balance, they’ve rarely been a great offensive team, but they’ve never been Mariners bad. I do think a decent portion of their defensive prowess comes from the smart use of shifts.

Jeter got a cortisone shot. I feel the Nun-E era upon us.

[24] Right.  The Mariners completely punted on offense to try to assemble a great defensive team.  I don’t think the Yankees are doing that.  A lot of their early season offensive problems are because of injuries to Teix and Granderson.  When healthy, they’ll still have probably an average offense in the OF (Gardner about average LF, Granderson probably enough above in CF to offset Ichiro), and an above average IF (Youk and Tex a little above average, Jeter at least average, Cano >>> average).  The IF more than makes up for C, or any limitations on the bench.

Yankees biggest downside this year remains their ability to stay healthy.

I wouldn’t really consider any of the Rays top position player producers (Zobrist, Longoria, and Upton) defense guys.  They all can hit, and some play decent defense but none of them get a significant portion of their value from defense.  Other than that, there best players are pitchers like Shields and Price. And most of their talent comes from top draft picks back in the suck days.

They do have some below average hitters like S-Rod and Fuld but they’ve also brought in guys like Damon and Pena (Manny as well but he was supposed to be DH).

[0] Stewart actually doesn’t project much differently than Cervelli, which surprised me.

Are Stewart’s projections done using MLE’s at all?  Some may not realize this, but despite being 31 years old, Stewart has only 394 *career* PA’s in the majors. The next season where he sees significant playing time will be his first. He had a bit higher OBP in the minors (.320’s/.330s), and clearly even a slight uptick at the MLB level would help out.

[27] Zobrist is hard to figure out since he plays roughly 6 positions a year, but he never seems to grade out negatively. But I was under the impression that Longoria was a very good defensive 3B, just not a very healthy one.

[19] Holy schnikes, krank, I almost fell out of my chair.  What’d you have for breakfast this morning?

In that spirit, I’m gonna say that Jeter is gonna be out but Nun-E is gonna rise up and confound all negative expectations as the regular SS for the 2013 Yankees.

[30] I am generally confused at how Nunez can be so consistently bad at throwing a baseball. So he’s already confounding me.

“Cashman said Eduardo Nunez will be the starting shortstop if Jeter is not ready.”

Worst opening day lineup since…?

[29] - Longoria is a good defender but it’s his bat that makes him who he is, not his defense.

Besides, my main point was I’m not sure you can point to that move as one that was made because the Rays value defense more than other teams.  He was the #1 overall pick and the consensus choice for the #1 overall pick in all the write-ups leading up to the draft.

Unless zombies Jeter and Ichiro make a return we’re looking at a very dismal season.

[34] - WTF?  When did Ichiro get hurt?

The fact that I actually care shows how bad things are right now.

Jeter may open the season on the DL.  Looks like dred was right about the amputation.

[35] Well, I mean that unless Ichiro plays better than his barely over replacement level projections, we’re in for a rough ride.

[31] Hopefully it was just poor mechanics, which they have now fixed.  Proof is in the pudding, but I think we have examples of fielders fixing a problem to go from poor to average or better.  Actually we specifically have that with Posada’s throwing motion several years ago.  Whether Nunez can effectively implement the changes - and whether that fixes him - is obviously unknown.

Are Stewart’s projections done using MLE’s at all?

They should be for every system but Marcel, but he only has 795 total PA in the minors since 2009.  And none last year, which means his MLEs aren’t carrying a whole lot of weight, most likely.

Not watching but caught these comments on RAB

“I am watching this game on mute on account of being in the office. I have seen about a 30 to 1 ratio time for Farrell to Girardi, and about a 200 to 1 ratio of Bradley to anyone on the Yankees.

I fucking hate ESPN”

“Um, I hate Jackie Bradley Jr. already.”

I seem to remember defensive stats showing that even with his lapses, Nunez is a better defensive shortstop than Jeter.  By better I mean, makes more plays.  Do I remember correctly or did I just make that up?

Do I remember correctly or did I just make that up?

I think zone rating may have shown something like that, but if you pro-rate the last three seasons at short for Nunez and Jeter to 1350 defensive innings it looks like this.

Nun-E: -27 DRS, -25 UZR
Jeter: -16 DRS, -10 UZR

The big difference is that Nunez’s errors comprise about 90% of his negative defensive value, where as Jeter’s sure-handedness actually rates as a positive but his range drags him down to below average.

[42] Also I think there is a morale aspect, if you can’t trust the player behind you to make routine plays, who cares if he makes a spectacular one every once in a while?

The phrase “Looking Ahead” at the top of this post connotes a sense of optimism and faith in the future that simply have no basis in reality with this team.

How about “Casting a Reluctant Eye upon 2013”?

[55] “Peeking Through Fingers, Despite Better Judgment”

[44] “Beholding 2013 With Eyes Weeping Partially From Fear, Partially From Infection By Acanthamoeba Keratitis”?

[44] Yeats puts it (on his own gravestone):

Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

I knew we’d have some real winners before long

We need robot or at least cyborg players.  Then it would be, “And now I see, with eye serene, the very pulse of the machine.”  Anyone here have a serene eye?

[49] How close is a calm eye?

Of course if we are talking about the current Yankees, it’s less a pulse and more a jerking, slipping disaster on the brink of failure.

So Jeter “may” start the season on the DL. After the way the Teix situation unfolded, does anyone have any faith that it won’t be Nunez out there on April 1st? Here’s the Yankeespeak dictionary as I see it:

Player X isn’t injured = Player X may be injured

Player X may be injured = Player X is injured

Player X is injured = Player X is dead and we just haven’t told anyone yet.

51 Weekend at Hal and Cash’s

Defense tend to be hard to properly view, yeah you can generally predict if a guy is gonna be good or bad, but the variation from year to year tend to be a lot bigger than offense.

[53] I’m no expert, but I thought that the issue was more with the limits of the existing systems to measure defense, not the fact that defense itself varies so much year to year.

[54] Combination of the existing systems and the relatively small sample sizes of defensive chances.

[54] I’m making stuff up, but it’s probably both. Obviously having a bad system of measurement doesn’t help, but it takes relatively few extra outs to add a lot of value and “everyone” makes 80% (or whatever) of the plays, so I would expect a fair amount of fluctuation.

yeah, chances obviously is an issue, for example 600 PA obviously gives good sample size, but last year Posey had 125 SB attempt on him and I think that was the most in the league or something (mostly because Posey’s so good they can’t afford to keep him out of the lineup.) even most full time catcher don’t see over 100 attempts a year. let alone part time once.

As for Wang, being the complete homer I’ll say he wins 19 games for the Yankees this year again wink or gets hurt and the Yankees somehow win the WS raspberry

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