Wednesday, May 15, 2013
It’s the day before a foul tip off the bat of Rajai Davis will fracture Francisco Cervelli’s hand, and the Yankees’ still-intact starting catcher is in excellent spirits. After spending almost all of 2012 in the minors, he’s happy to be back in the Yankees clubhouse. He’s also happy to be off to a good start with the bat, a start that’s about to get better; in a few hours, he’ll take Mark Buehrle deep for his third home run of the season. But how Cervelli hits is secondary, even to Cervelli.
“I’ve been focused on my defense, and that’s it,” Cervelli says. “And I’m going to keep doing that no matter what happens with my bat.”
A lot of eyebrows, and maybe a few middle fingers, were raised over the winter, when the Yankees — the team with the catching legacy of Dickey, Berra, Howard, Munson, and Posada, not to mention the $200 million–plus payroll — entrusted their catching duties to Cervelli and backup catcher Chris Stewart, a duo that entered the season with a combined .249/.315/.332 line in the big leagues. In the past, the Yankees would have dipped into the free-agent market and signed someone with a bigger bat and a bigger name — A.J. Pierzynski, perhaps, who was coming off a 27-homer season, or another offense-first option like Mike Napoli, who signed with the rival Red Sox. Both players agreed to one-year contracts, so they wouldn’t have hampered the Yankees’ goal of getting under the $189 million luxury tax threshold for 2014.1
Instead, they stuck with two players who are earning barely more than the major league minimum. And they’ll probably be better off. Cervelli and Stewart can do more to help the Yankees win with a subtle shift of the glove than Mariano Rivera can with his cutter, than Brett Gardner can in the outfield, than Ichiro can with his arm and his base-running ability combined. They have an ability that not only doesn’t show up in the box score but doesn’t show up in advanced stats like UZR and WAR. Baseball teams have always known it existed, but they haven’t known what it was worth until now. And one need only look at the lineup card to see how valuable the Yankees believe it is.
“They’re both exceptional defenders,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said of Cervelli and Stewart in a recent interview with Mike Ferrin on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio. “Tremendous pitch framers. We’re big into that.”
Perhaps the Yankees are smarter than some of us give them credit for?
H/T to his highness King Jon.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Mark Teixeira fielded ground balls. Curtis Granderson ran sprints. The newest arrival, Alex Rodriguez, hit off a tee as he began the next stage of his rehabilitation from January hip surgery.
Everything at the Yankees’ complex said it was spring training. Everything, that is, except the calendar.
It is May, of course, and the Yankees are in Colorado, getting ready to play the Rockies. Back in Tampa, rehabilitating from various injuries, are an impressive collection of Yankee players who, if healthy, could probably win a ballgame without much help from anyone else.
Joining Teixeira, Granderson and Rodriguez were Kevin Youkilis, Francisco Cervelli, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Clay Rapada and Cesar Cabral. Add to that roster Derek Jeter, whose fractured ankle is not yet ready for work on a practice field, and a manager would have a lineup that would be the envy of any number of teams.
“We always talk about injuries being a part of the game,” Rodriguez said. But this, he said, “is crazy!”
Rodriguez was in good spirits. He was also the only Yankee who emerged from the training facility and walked to the front gate, where he signed autographs for a group of fans and answered questions from a group of reporters.
I’m not sure how the position players rate vs. other underwater or dry swing squads, but I’ll tell you what, that’s one hell of a flat ground pitching staff.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
NEW YORK—Robinson Cano belted a three-run homer, Vernon Wells and Francisco Cervelli also cleared the fences, and the Yankees outslugged the Blue Jays, 5-3, on Thursday at Yankee Stadium.
The trio of blasts came off Toronto starter Mark Buehrle in support of right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who settled in after a shaky beginning to complete six innings and log his third victory of the season.
Edwin Encarnacion opened the scoring with a two-run homer off Kuroda in the first inning, and Brett Lawrie slugged a solo shot in the second to put the Jays up by three runs. Kuroda adjusted and held the Blue Jays to a total of six hits, walking one and striking out three.
Wells hit the first homer off Buehrle, going deep to center field in the second inning, and Cano gave New York the lead when he homered to right field with Jayson Nix and Brett Gardner onboard in the third.
Cervelli completed the power display by homering to left field in the fourth off Buehrle, who permitted seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. The lefty walked none and struck out three, taking his first loss in a Toronto uniform.
Kuroda was due for a clunker but he recovered nicely from the first two innings to keep the game close enough for Cano to do his thing and the bullpen was stellar to get through the last three. I thought Mo looked the best he’s looked so far this year. His command was great and his velocity seems to be improving.
Wells continues to defy expectations, and while I thought Francisco Cervelli had a chance to hit well enough for a catcher, he’s been much better than that. We shouldn’t expect either to last, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it while it’s happening.
I know this team still stinks, but they’re kind of fun to watch.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Yankees vs. Lefties through April 24, 2013
BR/650: Linear weights batting runs pro-rated to 650 PA.
A league average hitter in 2013 MLB is probably worth about 77-78 BR in 650 PA. So the Yankees so far have gotten better than average performance against lefties from exactly two players.
Now obviously we have sample size issues here, and we need to be careful to not assume that what these players have done is what they’ll continue to do going forward. I don’t think Ben Francisco is a .087/.192/.087 hitter against lefties, but I do think that’s the most obvious place the Yankees can look to upgrade. I don’t think playing Hafner at DH against all pitching is the answer, because he does need regular rest and doing it when he’s less valuable to the lineup is the best time to give him that rest. It’s also nice to have his bat available for pinch-hitting late in games in high leverage situations with a lineup that’s chock full of holes.
Francisco’s spot on the 40 man and 25 man roster could go to Ronnier Mustelier if he’s healthy, or David Adams, who’s hitting .317/.417/.463 so far this season in 48 AAA plate appearances after hitting .306/.385/.450 in 383 PA in AA last year. Adams is playing 3B now, which possibly gives the Yankees a better option to start at 3B vs. lefties instead of Jayson Nix. Here are the CAIRO projections for Adams, Francisco, Mustelier and Nix given 200 PA.
wOBA: Weighted on-base average
Mustelier seems like the best option if you want a pure DH, although he can play 3B in theory. Probably not well, but it’s an option. Adams may offer the best combination of offense plus defense if you want a 3B although he doesn’t project much better than Nix.
The main thing here is that Adams and Mustelier offer upside that Francisco does not. They are also players who could figure into the team’s plans after 2013. It makes a ridiculous amount of sense to have one of them getting the PAs that are going to Francisco right now for negative run production.
Which is why the Yankees will never do it.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
TORONTO—The Yankees withstood what manager Joe Girardi described as a hiccup in the eighth inning to win a game that should have never been as close as it was.
But a win is a win, and despite needing extra innings to finish the job, the Yankees have won five of six games and have a series sweep of Toronto on their minds.
Vernon Wells scored the go-ahead run as New York put a pair across the plate in the 11th inning on a throwing error by Blue Jays reliever Aaron Loup to drop Toronto, 5-3, in front of a sellout crowd of 46,095 at Rogers Centre on Saturday.
After Wells and Francisco Cervelli started off the frame with back-to-back singles, Ichiro Suzuki laid down a sacrifice bunt that Loup fielded before throwing it away when trying to get the lead runner at third. The ball sailed into left field, allowing the Yankees to break open the tie game and take a two-run lead.
It would have been a shame to waste a brilliant outing by Kuroda, but fortunately the bullpen was able to recover from a rare David Robertson meltdown and the Jays messed up while Joe Girardi was trying to give them free outs and the Yankees pulled this one out.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
How Horrific has the Yankees’ Infield Defense been through 4/16/2013?
Any time we talk about defensive metrics, we of course have to talk about the limitations. They are imprecise and somewhat subjective because they’re for the most part based on either stringers or assumed chances. They are particularly limited when we are talking about a subset of a season. But what the hell, I was goofing around with some defensive stuff and noticed what one particular metric says so far about the Yankees’ infield defense.
The metric in question is zone rating and here’s what it says.
CH: Fieldable chances
PM: Plays made
AvgPM: Estimated plays made by an average defender over the same number of CH
Diff: Difference between PM and AvgPM
RS: Runs saved compared to average (Diff times run value of plays made/not made at each position)
Despite not making errors, apparently Nun-E is still not making plays he should be making. It hasn’t been visually obvious to me, but I suppose it’s feasible.
Obviously sample size is an issue here. But I do think Kevin Youkilis is a below average defender at 3B now. I’d expect Cano to move back to average/above average as we get more games in. Shortstop should be better, even if it isn’t going to end up being good.
We should also remember that zone rating is but one defensive metric. It doesn’t adjust for difficulty of chances or anything else. Two metrics that do (Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating) are more charitable to the Yankee infield at -2 and -5 respectively. So they have probably been better than standard zone rating thinks they’ve been.
The good news is the outfield has been above average in all three metrics so far.
What’s particularly interesting to me is that their current rate Yankee SS would be 77 runs below average over a full season. That means getting Derek Jeter back would be a defensive upgrade. Who’d have though that?
Hurry back Captain!
Monday, April 15, 2013
2013 Yankees bWAR through April 14
|Position Player Total||2.8|
A replacement level team would win something like 4 out of 11 games, so the Yankees should be about 7-4 or 8-3 according to this.
Sunday, April 7, 2013
DETROIT—CC Sabathia allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings in a strong performance, leading the Yankees to a 7-0 victory over the Tigers on Sunday at Comerica Park.
Jayson Nix slugged a two-run homer and Francisco Cervelli drove in two runs to support the ace’s effort as the Yankees salvaged the final game of a three-game series in Detroit with the victory, their second in six contests to open the season.
Sabathia is known for a history of slow starts in April and did not appear dominant on Opening Day, sparking concerns about his velocity. But he rebounded with a good showing to best Justin Verlander in an appealing matchup of former Cy Young Award winners.
The Tigers only moved one baserunner as far as second base against Sabathia, who threw 114 pitches while walking three and striking out four.
I feel this team will only go as far as CC and Nix take them. CC didn’t look great, but he looked better than he did in the opener and that’s good enough for me. Also of note was Francisco Cervelli getting two more hits, his ninth and tenth of the season. That gives him exactly 10 more hits than Russell Martin.
The Yankees should have gone around 3-3 over their first six games so 2-4 doesn’t put them too far behind where they ought to be at this moment. But it would be cool if they started winning more than 1/3 of their games.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
A Tale of Four Lineups
Obviously the Yankees as constituted today aren’t as good as the Yankees might be if they ever got to full strength. The question I’m asking myself and then attempting to answer here is whether we can quantify the difference.
First, here are the CAIRO projected wOBAs vs. LHP,RHP and overall for what are probably the best lineups the Yankees can put together today vs. LHP and RHP.
The lineup versus RHP would project to score about 4.64 runs per game, which isn’t bad. The lineup vs. LHP is much worse at a projected 4.45 runs per game. That’s the equivalent of being 31 runs worse than the lineup vs. RHP over a full season.
In the perfect world scenario where Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez come back healthy and nobody gets hurt, how much better would the Yankees’ lineups possibly look?
In a perfect world scenario you’d probably be platooning Youkilis and Hafner at DH with the occasional Rodriguez/Youkilis swap at 3B. Vs. RHP they’d be the equivalent of 45 runs better over a full season, but the big difference comes vs LHP, where they’d improve by the equivalent of 90 runs over a full season.
Tying it all together, you can basically say that the full strength perfect world Yankees would be something like 60 runs better than the current Yankees (ignoring defense).
Now realistically, the most likely scenario is that as some people come back healthy others get hurt, or maybe some never quite come back healthy, or people just keep getting injured and no one comes back ever and eventually the Yankees are the eastern version of the Houston Astros’ Rookie League team. But if you wanted to estimate how much better the Yankees could be than they are right now, this should give you a bit of an inkling.
Monday, April 1, 2013
To open a spot on the Yankees 40-man roster, lefty Clay Rapada has been designated for assignment. The move clears the way for Lyle Overbay to make the Opening Day roster. Here’s the roster.
Unless Rapada’s injury is more serious than the Yankees have let on, I really don’t get keeping Cody Eppley over him. Rapada’s a player who has a very limited role, but he’s really good at it. Eppley’s role is similar, but he’s not as good at it and there’s less of a need for it.
Chad Jennings runs through the 25 man roster and here it is.
52 CC Sabathia
18 Hiroki Kuroda
46 Andy Pettitte
47 Ivan Nova
41 David Phelps
42 Mariano Rivera
30 Dave Robertson
62 Joba Chamberlain
48 Boone Logan
27 Shawn Kelley
38 Cody Eppley
43 Adam Warren
29 Francisco Cervelli
19 Chris Stewart
55 Lyle Overbay
24 Robinson Cano
36 Kevin Youkilis
26 Eduardo Nunez
17 Jayson Nix
33 Travis Hafner
11 Brett Gardner
31 Ichiro Suzuki
12 Vernon Wells
45 Ben Francisco
22 Brennan Boesch
15-DAY DISABLED LIST
65 Phil Hughes
2 Derek Jeter
25 Mark Teixeira
14 Curtis Granderson
60-DAY DISABLED LIST
71 Cesar Cabral
35 Michael Pineda
13 Alex Rodriguez
That doesn’t look like a division-winner to me.
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.
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.
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.
Thursday, February 7, 2013
The Yankees’ thin catching corps was left more vulnerable when it was revealed Tuesday that Francisco Cervelli, one of the two leading candidates to be the team’s starting catcher, had visited a Miami clinic under investigation for dispensing performance-enhancing drugs.
Cervelli said on his Twitter account that he took no banned substances and was only seeking “legal ways” to heal a foot injury he sustained in March 2011.
Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said he could not discuss the issue because it was in the hands of Major League Baseball, but he said nothing had happened in the last 24 hours that would make him rethink the Yankees’ plans at catcher.
“We have Cervelli and Chris Stewart, with Austin Romine on the outside looking in,” he said.
Based on what’s come out so far, it doesn’t seem like there’s enough evidence that Cervelli will be suspended. I don’t know if Cervelli or Stewart is the better option for primary catcher. Cervelli projects to be the better offensive player, but Stewart has the edge defensively. For the projections I have now (CAIRO, Clay Davenport, Marcel, Oliver and Steamer) Cervelli would project to be worth about 64 runs per 650 PA(.248/.318/.352) and Stewart would project to be worth about 61(.237/.304/.349). Based on the defensive numbers we have for both, Stewart probably makes up the difference. Cervelli projects to be worth about 2 runs worse than average over 130 games, Stewart projects at around 14 runs above average, with the appropriate small sample size issues for both.
The problem with losing Cervelli would be having Austin Romine on the big league roster when he’s likely to get sporadic playing time. He’d be best served playing full-time in AAA in my opinion.
But I am guessing it will be a non-issue.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
The ever-expanding web of the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic, which is being investigated by Major League Baseball for allegedly distributing performance-enhancing drugs to Alex Rodriguez and others, has ensnared another Yankee.
Catcher Francisco Cervelli was identified as a client of Biogenesis, according to records obtained by Yahoo Sports and reported on Tuesday. Also found in the records was Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League MVP, who successfully appealed a positive test for synthetic testosterone last offseason, and Baltimore infielder Danny Valencia.
I knew those 5 career HR by Cervelli were tainted.
This should prove once and for all that steroids don’t help baseball players.
Dear Lord, there really is a chance that Chris Stewart will be the starting catcher for the 2013 Yankees, isn’t there?
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Was told today that the Yankees have no interest in C George Kottaras, who was recently DFA by Oakland.
CAIRO says Kottaras would project to hit around .235/.330/.416 as a Yankee. More importantly than that, he’d project to have a wOBA of .334 vs. RHP, in contract to Francisco Cervelli’s projected wOBA of .292 vs. RHP and Chris Stewart’s projected wOBA of .283 vs. RHP. About 400 of the Yankees 619 catcher PAs last season came against RHP. Here’s the difference in run value over 400 PA with those numbers.
.334 vs. .292 = 14
.334 vs. .283 = 17
Is it possible defense nullifies that gap? It’s possible, but I also think it’s doubtful.
I really don’t get this team.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Cashman told the New York Daily News on Wednesday, Jan. 2, that he thinks Romine is more likely to begin next season in the minors while Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart battle for the No. 1 job with the big club.
“I expect Romine to go to Triple-A,” Cashman said. “He missed all of last year, almost. … I don’t expect him to be our everyday catcher out of the gate. He always has the possibility of taking it, but realistically, if I were in prediction mode, I’d say Triple-A. But he has a chance to alter that.”
Considering the fact that Romine has hit .197/.267/.342 in 86 AAA PA and missed most of last year with a back injury this makes sense. Hopefully he can stay healthy and hit enough to force himself into the picture at some point in 2013, but I’d bet against it happening before midseason at the earliest and I’d probably be more willing to bet it won’t happen at all.
If Francisco Cervelli could improve his defense he’s not a horrible option at starting catcher. Baseball Reference has him at -8 over 1300 MLB innings although Fangraphs has him at average. CAIRO projects him at around 11 runs better than a replacement level catcher offensively over 450 PA or so so his defense is really the key to whether or not he’s an asset or a problem.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
What Might the 2013 Yankees Look Like If They Do Nothing This Offseason?
I’m done with my first batch of 2013 CAIRO projections although I still have to check for errors so they’re probably not ready for public consumption. But that doesn’t mean I can’t use them to take a stab at projecting the Yankees for 2013 given the roster they have right now.
I’ll warn you now, it ain’t pretty. Here’s the lineup and bench.
I haven’t done defensive projections for 2013 so those are based on 2012 and probably shouldn’t be focused on much.
And the pitching staff.
FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
WAR: Wins above replacement (using RA, adjusted for role)
Yeesh, that rotation is the stuff of nightmares…
CAIRO LOVES Mark Montgomery, but I think it needs to chill a bit on him. He’s been outstanding so far in the minors, but so have lots of relievers in the past that didn’t turn out all that well. I’m optimistic on him, but not for early 2013. It continues to dig David Robertson too, as I think it should. It’s not particularly fond of most of the rest of the pen, although as Chamberlain and Aardsma get healthier they are probably good bets to beat those projections.
A team that scores 744 runs and allows 757 would project as around a .495 winning percentage or 80 win team. It’s worse than that because CAIRO was specifically created to make the Yankees look better than they are, which means they’re more like a 40 win team. I swapped Stewart and Cervelli’s playing time to see if it the defensive difference between made things better but it didn’t really matter.
Obviously it’s still early, they have a lot of moves to make, etc, Getting Hiroki Kuroda re-signed and replacing the SP7-10 innings with Adam Warren probably adds close to five wins. Getting a right-handed bat whose name doesn’t begin with Andruw and end with Jones to platoon with Chris Dickerson probably helps too. Better health from Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez (yeah, right) would also help I guess. Bringing back Russell Martin (.232/.327/.385 and 2.1 WAR projection) would add a couple of wins too.
But they’ve got their work cut out for them.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Building the 2012 Yankee Postseason Roster
With the Yankees’ playoff position locked in, it’s time for the always fun postseason roster thread. For the postseason this year I’m going to be using the Oliver forecast from the Hardball Times because I haven’t had a chance to run MLEs yet for CAIRO. I think they’re pretty solid projections, plus they aren’t designed to make the Yankees look better which should help us be a bit more realistic about their chances.
Here are the projections for everyone on the active roster as of yesterday, starting with the position players.
|Player||Age||Pos||Tm||Lg||PA||H||2B||3B||HR||SB||CS||BB||SO||GDP||avg||obp||slg||wOBA||v LHP||v RHP|
wOBA: Weighted on-base average
v LHP: Regressed projected wOBA vs LHP
v RHP: Regressed projected wOBA vs RHP
Oliver doesn’t project platoon splits, so I’m using CAIRO’s projected platoon split ratios to calculate the wOBA platoon splits for everyone.
Obviously you start with the locks, which is the primary starting lineup of:
Derek Jeter, SS
Ichiro Suzuki, LF
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Curtis Granderson, CF
Raul Ibanez, DH
Russell Martin, C
Then you have some locks for the bench.
Eric Chavez, 3B
Chris Stewart, C
Eduardo Nunez, IF
There’s room for more on the bench, but it depends on the composition of the pitching staff, so here are those projections.
Again, we start with the locks, which are:
So we’ve got 12 position player locks and 9 pitcher locks. So who should the remaining 4 spots go to?
Here are the projected wOBA of the six remaining candidates from the position player side (I’m assuming Jayson Nix is out) in descending order.
|Player||Pos||wOBA||v LHP||v RHP|
I’m guessing quite a few of us would quibble with Andruw Jones’s projection. But he does have the ability to pop one out and I’m guessing that’ll be enough to get him onto the roster. I’m guessing the Yankees will want to take at least 11 pitchers. That leaves two spots for bench players, one of which will go to Brett Gardner. Since Dickerson and Gardner have similar skill sets, that probably leaves the last spot to Casey McGehee since he can at least play 1st and 3rd.
Here are the projections for the remaining pitchers sorted by ERA in ascending order.
If they go with 11 pitchers, then I’d assume the last two will be Clay Rapada and Cody Eppley. But they may decide to punt McGehee and add another long man, which would probably be Ivan Nova or Derek Lowe. Lowe seems to have moved to the front of the pack for the spot, although I don’t see the sense in carrying 12 pitchers for a five man series.
So my postseason roster would look like this.
But I’m guessing they’ll put Lowe on instead of McGehee which isn’t a big deal.
I forgot the Shockmaster™ so scratch Lowe and McGehee. Then, the next question to ask will be, how good is that team? I’ll tell you in the next day or two.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Who Has Been the 2012 Yankees’ MVP?
As Mike K. pointed out in a prior thread, last night Michael Kay (hmm, Michael Kay, Mike K.?) made a statement that Derek Jeter was the Yankees’ undisputed MVP this year. Of course, from what we know of Kay he has little interest in the advanced metrics that tell a different story.
I have pretty much stopped posting things like WAR and run value because frankly it’s all available in a few places now and everyone knows how to get to it. Although I quibble with a few of the components at the various sites, in general it doesn’t make a huge difference as long as you understand the limitations of each implementation and adjust them accordingly.
That doesn’t mean we can’t parse some of the data and see if there’s something that’s not necessarily being captured that could paint a different picture than the one we see if we just blindly accept the numbers as presented.
So, does Derek Jeter have any case for being the Yankees’ MVP? I’m going to limit this to position players.
|Player||Team||Batting||RE24||BaseRunning||Replacement||Position||Total||rTotal||Fielding||Total w Fld||rTotal w Fld||Diff|
Batting: Runs created above an average player
RE24: Run expectancy added above an average player accounting for base/out state
BaseRunning: Value added by base running
Replacement: Replacement level adjustment (roughly 20 runs over a full season)
Position: Adjustment for positions played
Total: Batting + Baserunning + Replacement + Position
rTotal: RE24 + Baserunning + Replacement + Position
Diff: rTotal with fielding minus total with fielding
The table above is sorted by Fangraphs’ version of WAR which includes UZR. If we use RE24 instead of their batting component to adjust for the context in which a batter’s performance came, Cano takes the biggest hit on the team, losing almost two wins of value. Despite that, once you factor in defense he’s still clearly the Yankees’ MVP, at least on the position player side.
But I think it’s fair to be frustrated by Cano’s lesser performance in more important situations. It’s not necessarily predictive, and he was great in those spots last year, but it should affect our understanding of how valuable he’s been to this point. It should not affect our understanding of how good he is.
What I find really interesting, and this may point to a problem with comparing Fangraphs’ batting value with RE24 directly, is that the Yankees have been worth 90 runs above average without adjusting for context and only 38 runs better than average when you do factor context in. That seems like a pretty large gap, but it also feels like it tells the story of a frustrating season pretty accurately. It’s 52 runs over 122 games. When viewed on that scale it seems eminently realistic. They only have five players who have been better in higher leverage situations, and two of them are Brett Gardner and Chris Dickerson who have barely played! And one of them is Andruw Jones who has been so awful that it hasn’t helped.
On the other hand, they have nine players who have been worse in more important situations, six or seven of whom are among the primary starters on the team depending on how you view Chavez/Ibanez.
I think the takeaway from this is that this team should be scoring more than they have, and hopefully it’ll start soon.
Friday, April 27, 2012
When it came to legit Cashman pitching blunders, whether it be A.J. Burnett, Kei Igawa, Carl Pavano or Jeff Weaver, the GM didn’t exactly skate, but his relationship with certain reporters, and the respect many others have for him, softened what could have been severe body blows.
Only now it will be fascinating to watch how Cashman’s relationship with the media evolves going forward. By normal Yankees standards, the pitching is in shambles, filled with inconsistent arms after CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova take their turns in the rotation.
I’m bringing back the complaint thread. If you don’t like them, don’t read this.
The impact of the Pineda injury is huge. If the Yankees were looking at Pineda as a 3-4 win player, it probably would have helped them move towards the $189 payroll in 2014 that they’ve been eyeing. Not having him for 2012, and possibly never having him, should possibly change the organization’s plans. I don’t know if it will, but let’s think about it logically.
- Say the Yankees were a 95 win team with Pineda, and that losing him makes them a 93 win team (assuming they get better than replacement level pitching from his replacement(s))
- In 2013, with just about every key player on the team likely to be worse since they’re past the age of the typical player’s peak, what would they be then? An 88 win team?
-Now subtract Mo, Hiroki Kuroda, Nick Swisher and Russell Martin from that. Say that’s 10 wins. So now what, 78 wins?
-They have $120M committed to 2013, without including arbitration salaries for Brett Gardner, Phil Hughes, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson. Giving them a 20% raise bumps the payroll commitment to about $135M or so.
-Assume that 90 wins is the target to qualify for the second wild card in most seasons. So the Yankees need to add about 12 wins for $54M to get to 90 wins in 2013, and that really just puts them on the periphery of the wild card race.
You probably can’t buy 12 wins for $54M on the free agent market due to what’s available and how it fits your roster as well as with competition from other teams. The better free agents are probably not going to want to settle for one year contracts and anything longer than that impacts the 2014 payroll.
Maybe they can replace Pineda’s wins with someone from the farm, although at this point it sure doesn’t seem like Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos are ready and the other arms behind them are either too far away or don’t project to be much more than back-end guys. They don’t have the position player prospects to replace the hole in RF, at least not for 2013. They could use a rotating DH to fill the hole there, but then that necessitates having a backup player or two that you’re comfortable playing in the field every day. I don’t know if Eduardo Nunez is that guy given his defensive issues and the uncertainty of his offense. Martin’s not making much of a case to be retained, but the falloff from him to some combination of Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine or Chris Stewart is probably still significant.
Because of that, the only way I can see the Yankees being competitive in 2013 is going over the $189M payroll target. If they’re not going to do that, I’d suggest rebuilding, but they don’t have anyone trade-able that would help reduce their payroll. Is anyone really going to take Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira off their hands?
As of now the Yankees only have $75M commited to the 2014 payroll. However, that number only includes CC Sabathia, Rodriguez, Teixeira and a $3M Derek Jeter buyout. They’d still have arbitration rights to Gardner, Robertson, Pineda, Ivan Nova, Nunez, Cervelli, Stewart and Ramiro Pena. How many games would that team win?
I understand the benefit to getting under the salary cap limit, but if the trade-off is a crappy team that will draw fewer fans and make less revenue it may not be worth it.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Looking Ahead To 2012 - Team Wrap Up
Opening Day is here, which means we can forget about projections and start complaining about games that count.
We’ve looked at the projections for most of the key players on the Yankees Opening Day roster, with apologies to Chris Stewart.
The Speedy Brett Gardner
Andruw Jones and
Jesus Montero Raul Ibanez
Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia
$36M and a lost draft pick
Booooone Logan and Clay Rapada
Cory Wade and David Phelps
Mariano F’ing Rivera
So now I try to assemble that into a team projection. I’ll show the depth charts I used for the 2012 MLB Projection Blowout with CAIRO.
The biggest area of concern for the position players is probably Alex Rodriguez’s health. A weighted average of his past four years puts him at 459 PA. I’m also not particularly optimistic that Raul Ibanez can hit that projected line, although as half of a platoon it’s more feasible. To a lesser extent the team’s overall health is probably a concern, although in my mind it’s not a huge one. Losing Curtis Granderson or Robinson Cano for an extensive period of time wouldn’t be good since they’re probably the two most valuable position players on the team right now, but you can say that for any team losing one or both of their top two position players.
Regarding Chris Stewart vs. Francisco Cervelli, it’s a clear offensive downgrade. The question is how defense changes things. If we use Cervelli’s 2011 playing time as an estimate for the 2012 backup catchers, you’re looking at something like 137 PA. Let’s round that up to 200 PA in case Russell Martin misses some more time than expected.
200 PA of Cervelli projects to be worth 22 runs. For Stewart, 200 PA projects to be worth about 18 runs. As far as defense, I’m going to ignore pitch framing and blocking and just compare the difference between them in SB/CS. In their careers, that looks like this:
Runners may not run as frequently against Stewart if teams have more respect for his arm than they do for Cervelli’s, although runners have attempted 0.12 steals per inning vs. Stewart compared to 0.09 steals per innings vs. Cervelli in their respective careers. I’ll split the difference, which means 42 stolen base attempts over 400 innings. Using the linear weights values for SB/CS gives us this.
rv: linear weights run value of SB/CS.
A positive run value means more runs for the team stealing bases, so the difference between Stewart and Cervelli there effectively nullifies Cervelli’s offensive edge. Whether other factors of catcher defense change things beyond that, I have no idea.
Back to the rest of the team, the Yankees actually project to score more runs than any other team in baseball according to the aggregate projections I ran, although CAIRO sees them about nine runs behind Boston. They may be able to pick up a few more runs if they swap out Ibanez for Russell Branyan and/or Jack Cust at some point.
Most of the defense projects as average, aside from Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner and Nun-E. Overall they project about 12 runs better than average.
Of course, 90% of the game is pitching, so how’s that look?
Assigning innings to the staff was a bit trickier this year. The Yankees have a whole bunch of guys who could pitch in the middle/back of the rotation and injuries/circumstances may have a greater say in that than merit. There’s not a ton of difference in the projections of starters 2-7, although it’s probably fair to wonder how accurate projecting Andy Pettitte will be after a year off. But really, you can juggle the innings around between Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia and probably not see a big difference. CC Sabathia is really the one starter the Yankees can’t afford to lose for any appreciable amount of time.
As far as the pen, it looked better before Joba Chamberlain got hurt. There’s still probably not an end-game you’d take over Mariano Rivera/David Robertson, and for all the crap I spew about the Soriano signing he should be solid, but an injury to either Mo or Robertson suddenly makes it look a bit thin. David Aardsma may be able to pitch at some point, but that’s uncertain.
So, adding this up, this is what CAIRO says.
848 runs scored and 701 runs allowed plus 12 runs saved compared to average puts the Yankees at a Pythagenpat winning percentage of .598, which is equivalent to a 97 win team. CAIRO projected them at 96 in the projection blowout, which is probably a strength of schedule thing.
The other projections I ran say:
I am fairly certain about one thing in baseball this year. The best team in the American League will be the best team in baseball. I’m not quite as certain that the Yankees are that team. They project to be, but Texas has represented the AL in the last two World Series (shamefully, but still…) and if Yu Darvish is a front-line MLB starting pitcher(I think he is), it’s not a stretch to see them as the best team in the league. If the Angels stop dicking around with Vernon Wells and put Mike Trout in their outfield they also have a chance to be the best team in the league, plus they’ll sweep the Yankees in the regular season even if they’re not. Detroit’s defense looks like a problem to me, and while they should score plenty of runs, I have a hard time seeing them as being better than all three of the Rangers, Angels, and Yankees. Of course, we also have the two chief rivals in the AL East to worry about. It wouldn’t take much in the way of good fortune for Boston/Tampa Bay or bad fortune for the Yankees to drop the Yanks into third place.
Still, it’s hard to envision a scenario where the Yankees fail to qualify for the postseason. I suppose losing any of CC Sabathia, Robinson Cano or Curtis Granderson for an extended period of time would be one such scenario.
According to the average team projections I ran their probability of winning at least the second wild card at 82.5%, which is the highest in baseball and 7% ahead of Texas who rank second. CAIRO likes the Yankees even more than that at 83.5%, but that ranks second to Texas’s 84.1%. On average, it took 92 wins to win the first AL wild card and 89 wins to get the second one, but these are the Yankees. Division or bust! Wild cards are for losers!
Since rilkefan asked about how these projections have fared in the past, I did a quick little chart. This compares the average of however many projections I ran that year to what the Yankees actually did.
So the Yankees have been a bit less than two wins better than projected on average since I began running these in 2005. The methodology has changed, I think for the better, but it’s still limited. But I’m pretty comfortable the Yankees will be one of the best teams in baseball. That’s really all you can ask for as a fan when the season starts, right?
Yay Opening Day!
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Yankees Make a Bunch of Moves, Some of Which Don’t Make Sense
Sometimes no activity is better than bad activity.
TAMPA, Fla.—The Yankees completed a deal on Wednesday to address their organizational catching depth, acquiring veteran Chris Stewart from the Giants in exchange for right-hander George Kontos.
Because Stewart is out of Minor League options, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that the 30-year-old right-handed hitter will be on the Opening Day roster as the backup catcher, with a stunned Francisco Cervelli being optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Kontos was behind a lot pitchers on the Yankees’ depth chart so I can see why he’d be expendable. I just don’t see how adding a backup catcher who’s worse than the backup catcher that they already had makes the team better.
CAIRO has Cervelli projected to hit .264/.332/.373 with a wOBA of .315. It projects Stewart to hit .233/.311/.343 with a wOBA of .295. Over 250 PA Cervelli would project to be worth about 27 runs and Stewart would project to be worth 23. I suppose the defensive difference between the two could make them effectively equivalent, but it still strikes me as a move that accomplishes nothing and cost the team some depth.
The Yankees signed right-hander Ramon Ortiz, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. It’s a minor league deal, Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger tweets. The Giants recently released the 39-year-old Praver/Shapiro client.
Whatever. Shouldn’t have any significance.
David Phelps named long reliever
I’d be more annoyed about having Phelps rotting in the bullpen if I thought it was a long-term thing, but it shouldn’t be. At some point Andy Pettitte or Michael Pineda should take that roster spot and Phelps can return to starting in AAA.
Clay Rapada named second lefty
Chris Stewart named backup catcher
Justin Maxwell designated for assignment
Maxwell had a pretty good spring, but I don’t think he had much use on this team.
Bill Hall given his release
I figured Hall was a longshot to make the team, and Eduardo Nunez’s hot hitting cemented that.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Here’s the latest version of the 2012 CAIRO projections, which can be downloaded here: cairo_2012_v0.2.xls.
- Added more minor leaguers
- Added defensive projections for catchers and added Totalzone and Zone Rating projections for the other positions
- Added W-L for the pitchers, based on their current team and that team’s runs scored in 2011. This will change as teams’ offensive projections change, so keep that in mind.
- Took the Marcels and changed the underlying assumptions and components in a bunch of ways that make the Yankees look better.
So, what does CAIRO 2012 v0.2 think about how good the Yankees are right now?
The Yankees are not likely to add a position player who will significantly improve these projections, so I think the critical number here is 450. If they can get more than 450 PA out of Alex Rodriguez they’ll project a bit better. They can also probably shore up the bench by adding an outfielder who projects better than Chris Dickerson, or who can at least be platooned with Dickerson. That could be accomplished by bringing back Andruw Jones or signing Cody Ross perhaps. Ross would project to hit .261/.328/.444 as a Yankee, and is capable of playing all three OF spots. Plus he’s a clutch postseason monster. Until he isn’t.
We do know the Yankees are going to try and improve their pitching.
|SP8||D. J. Mitchell||25||28||17||3||13||14||6.29||5.81||5.26||-0.1|
Basically, the Yankees can add a win for every WAR they add to the rotation, since their rotation projects as replacement level after A.J. Burnett. That doesn’t mean none of the kids are better than their projections and would do the job in 2012, it just means they shouldn’t plan for that as what’s going to happen. The bullpen is fine, although they could probably benefit from adding a lefty reliever. An intriguing name that I’ve seen mentioned here and on Fangraphs is Dontrelle Willis. I’ll do a detailed post about him later.
Here’s what the overall picture looks like.
So we’re looking at around a 90 win team right now. I think 95 wins is the sweet spot for projecting as the favorite in the AL East. Adding C.J. Wilson probably gets them there. Adding Yu Darvish might. Other than that it’s tough to see a single move that would accomplish it.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Manager Joe Girardi doesn’t expect Cervelli to return on the Yankees’ road trip, perhaps a sign of the severity of the injury.
“He was fine yesterday,” Girardi said. “For whatever reasons, the symptoms came today.”
Meanwhile, the Yankees are so short on catchers that they may call-up prospect Austin Romine to add depth. Starter Russell Martin left last night’s 6-0 loss to the Angels after he took a foul ball off his right hand. Veteran Jorge Posada caught for the first time all season, picking up for Martin in the third inning, but Girardi said he will likely not catch tomorrow.
Instead, rookie Jesus Montero catch in the big leagues for the first time, even though Girardi has said repeatedly that he didn’t intend to start him at catcher. Montero put on his gear just in case he was summoned to replace Martin.
“I don’t know,” said Montero, who has waited for an opportunity to catch. “I haven’t heard any decisions. I don’t know anything yet. I might catch. I might not.”
Since I am done watching the Yankees vs. the Angels, let me know how it goes.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
BOSTON—CC Sabathia had no worries about his inability to beat the Red Sox in four previous starts against them this year, noting that he’d done it before and promised to do it again.
The ace left-hander made good on that, firing a season-high 128 pitches and striking out 10 batters as the Yankees defeated the Red Sox, 5-2, on Tuesday at Fenway Park.
It’s rarely pretty when the Yankees and Red Sox play, but I’ll take a win every time.
CC really had to labor tonight, although he didn’t have the greatest strike zone to work with, but he was good enough to hold Boston to two runs over six innings. I thought Girardi should have pulled Sabathia after five, but it worked out I guess. That doesn’t mean it was the right decision, but whatever.
That plus three scoreless out of the pen was enough for the Yankees to pick up their third win in 13 tries against Boston this year. The Yankee offense was mostly from Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez, who combined for seven of the nine Yankee hits on the evening, with an assist from Francisco Cervelli, who hit his second HR of the season, after setting a record last year for the highest OPS by a player in 300+ PA who failed to homer.
Monday, August 8, 2011
BOSTON—A proud Yankees career may be coming to a very quiet end, on the bench.
Jorge Posada, who has been a substantial part of five World Series championship teams, was dropped from the Yankees’ starting lineup on Sunday night. It is unclear when, or if, he might return to his primary 2011 role as the club’s designated hitter.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi spoke with Posada on Sunday and told the veteran that he would no longer serve as the regular DH. Girardi said he could not promise when Posada will next start.
I’ve got mixed feelings on this. Posada’s been such an important Yankee for such a long time that it’s rough to see him struggling the way he has almost all season. I had hoped he’d have a strong year at DH freed from the rigors of catching and augment a career that should be Hall of Fame worthy. As bad as he’s looked at times this season, I am still not sure he doesn’t have something left in him.
That’s the fan in me. The realist in me understands that the Yankees have essentially gotten replacement level production out of DH, and that a player on the roster who cannot play any position, is a bad baserunner and hasn’t hit much really should be on the roster. The Yankees are effectively using a 24 man roster, and that’s compounded by having 13 pitchers. So that limits their flexibility by quite a bit.
For now they can probably rotate their starters through DH and/or use a platoon of Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez. While the prospect of calling up Jesus Montero seems intriguing, I don’t think he fits with the current roster. They could demote Francisco Cervelli to make room for him, but I don’t know how comfortable the Yankees would be with DHing their backup catcher on a regular basis. When things will start getting hairy is when Alex Rodriguez returns from the DL. I suppose the easy move at that time would be to option one of their spare pitchers down to the minors. I get the sense the Yankees won’t release Posada even if it’s the best move they can make.
To be honest, I’m fine with that. I don’t want to see Posada released. The Yankees just need to hold serve for three weeks, at which point rosters can expand and they won’t suffer from the lack of options carrying Posada on the roster may cause. They can give him spot duty and give the fans a chance to say goodbye. And who knows? Maybe he’ll surprise us by rebounding a bit and make himself a viable option again for some DH time.
If the Yankees fail to make the postseason at this point it won’t be because of Posada or the opportunity cost of carrying Posada.
Friday, August 5, 2011
The Monkey On Their Backs
By any reasonable viewpoint, the Yankees have had a great year in 2011. They lead MLB in run differential/Pythagorean record, are tied for the top in the best division in baseball and have gotten a lot of good performances from unexpected places. In particular, a pitching staff that was touted as the team’s Achilles’ heel all offseason has been a legitimate strength.
Despite all that, it seems like a lot of us haven’t fully embraced the good things that this team has done, and I think it really just comes down to one thing. This team has gotten its ass handed to it by Boston every time they’ve played this year.
So who to blame? Here are the splits for the Yankees’ hitters vs. Boston and vice versa.
Mark Teixeira has been abysmal vs. Boston this year with some support from Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner.
Here’s a “fun” stat for you. Dustin Pedroia has provided more offense in 39 PA versus the Yankees than Jeter, Teixeira, Swisher, Gardner and Jorge Posada have provided in 173 PA against Boston (10.9 BR to 9.4 BR). Maybe fun is not the right word.
Boston’s outscored the Yankees at close to a 2-1 rate and if you compare the BR to the actual runs there’s not a lot of evidence of good or bad luck in there.
Two other things I found
interesting aggravating are the HBP and IBB columns.
Well, maybe looking at the pitching will cheer us up.
That didn’t really help.
It would have been nice to have Alex Rodriguez back for this series, although maybe Eric Chavez can stay healthy through Sunday (assuming he’s off tonight with Jon Lester pitching).
Pitching matchups for the weekend are Colon vs. Lester tonight, CC vs. Lackey tomorrow, and Garcia vs. Beckett on Sunday. So the Yankees are probably slight underdogs tonight, favorites tomorrow, and strong underdogs Sunday. Logic says we should be happy if they take one of the three, and that’s the most likely scenario, but after losing 8 of 9 to Boston, including all 6 at home, I won’t be happy with anything less than a sweep.
I suppose I could settle for a 2-1 series win.
Seriously though, barring catastrophe both of these teams will be in the postseason, so I suppose we shouldn’t get that worked up about whatever happens here.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Many held their breath in the fourth inning when Francisco Cervelli stepped to the on-deck circle instead of Derek Jeter. Everyone knew better than to think Cashman had traded Jeter, but it was unclear just how long the shortstop would be out after taking a pitch on his right hand to lead off the third inning.
Was anyone really holding their breath?
Brett Gardner provided a welcome distraction from those concerns, hitting a decisive bases-loaded triple with Cervelli on deck to key the Yankees’ 4-2 win. Two innings later, fears were quelled when the Yankees announced that X-Rays on Jeter’s right middle finger were negative, revealing just a bruise and making the captain day to day.
The Yankees were aided by what has become a typical Freddy Garcia performance in 2011—more substance than style, more movement than speed.
In helping the Yankees close out this 10-game homestand with a 7-3 mark, the 34-year-old Garcia pitched his eighth quality start in his last nine outings, striking out six over six innings while surrendering two runs on five hits.
By winning three games in the last 30 hours the Yankees were able to finish up the homestand at 7-3, which is probably about as good as any realistic expectation.
The non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone, and it looks like the Yankees stood pat. I’m fine with that.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Trying to put 2011 Offense in Context
One of the things that’s made 2011 seem somewhat frustrating for me to watch at times this year is what appears to be poor performances by many of the key Yankee offensive players. Obviously there’s no way to spin Nick Swisher’s season as anything but awful, and Jorge Posada’s season long performance is lousy for a DH although there are signs of life lately.
The thing that I haven’t really gotten a good handle on is how the run environment of the 2011 AL has changed compared to the recent past and what that means as far as how we should look at player and team performance to this point.
Here are the AL league averages from 2009-2010 pro-rated to 2520 PA to match 2011.
The drop between 2009 and 2010 was bigger than the drop from 2010 to 2011 but it doesn’t feel like that to me. It looks like the drop from 2009 to 2011 can be attributed in equal parts to HRs and a drop in BABIP. On a league-wide level, a drop in BABIP is almost certainly more meaningful than a similar drop would be for an individual player or team. It could be due to changes in environment, or due to teams seeking new ways to improve their defense, or many other reasons. What I don’t know is if things will stay at this level through year-end.
I thought that adjusting the player’s lines to account for the change between 2009-2011 might give us get a better idea of how they’ve performed relative to their environment on a scale that matches more typical expectations. So I just multiplied all the component stats by their ratio of an average for 2009-10 compared to 2011.
Suddenly some of those lines look a bit better.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Just How Awful Have The Yankees Been Against Boston?
The Yankees dropped their seventh game in eight tries against the Red Sox last night in yet another inspired effort. It’s been frustrating to see the way the Yankees have rolled over for the Red Sox this year. What they’ve done is spotted Boston a six game advantage in the standings.
We know the won/loss record is bad. It’s even worse when you realize they’ve played three games in Boston and five(soon to be six) in New York and are on the verge of being swept at home twice. After today the Yankees will only play Boston three more times at home and they still have to play them six times in Fenway, which rarely goes well.
For a team to go 1-7 against another team while playing five of those eight games at home, they’d have to be around a 49 win team playing against a 113 win team. At this point I don’t doubt the Red Sox are better than the Yankees, but I’m not sure that they’re 65 wins better.
So let’s assign the blame.
BR are linear weights batting runs. BRAA are BR above an average AL hitter, not adjusted for position.
Because the offense in MLB is down significantly this year, while that line looks awful relative to our normal context, in the context of today’s AL it’s not that bad. AL average line right now is .253/.321/.396. We also don’t know if that performance is good or bad in the context of the “strength” of the Yankees and the strength of the Red Sox. It’s really only useful in terms of comparing how the players stack up against each other. In this case you can see the Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are the chief problems on offense, but there’s a whole lot of stinking going on there.
The team’s actual runs scored are a direct match for their batting runs, which indicates they’ve scored as many runs as they should have given their component stats and have not been unlucky or lucky in terms of how their performance has translated to runs on the scoreboard.
There’s more blame to dish out!
RSAA are runs saved compared to an average pitcher using RA vs. league average RA. FIP is Fielding-independent pitching which focuses on a pitcher’s HR, BB/HBP and Ks against. Again, neither of these account for the context of the opponent so it’s more for comparison among Yankees.
I’m thinking the Yankees may want to skip Freddy Garcia’s next turn against Boston. The Yankees have allowed 52 total runs against Boston, and according to linear weights they should have allowed 49, so just like on offense there’s no evidence of bad luck here. They’ve pitched as poorly as the basic stats say they did. The Yankees have a team BABIP against of .281 this season against everyone but Boston. Against Boston it’s .311. Whether that’s on the pitchers or the defense or some combination of both, I don’t know.
It’s sad, but it’s gotten to the point where I am not even bothering to watch these games. When you finish dinner and turn on the game and see your team is already down 3-0 before they’ve even gotten an out, why watch?
I’d like to say I have a good feeling about CC Sabathia going today, but unfortunately with the Yankee offense backing him you get the feeling that anything less than perfection won’t be good enough.
Again, I’ll say I don’t think the Red Sox are 65 wins better than the Yankees. 60, maybe.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Salvaging The Road Trip From Hell
On May 5, the Yankees were 16-9 and in sole possession of first place in the AL East. They led Tampa Bay and Baltimore by four in the loss column and Toronto and Boston by six.
The lost three of four to Detroit in a series where they probably should have split but salvaged a bit by taking two of three in Texas. By log5 they should have gone 3.5-3.5, so by going 3-4 they ended up only losing about one-half game on expectations. Only Tampa Bay picked up any ground on them in the loss column. So all in all, despite what seemed to be a disaster in the making, the Yankees aren’t really much worse off than they were before the road trip.
IMO, the real story of the road trip is the possibility that Derek Jeter may still be a useful player on offense.
|3/31 - 4/10||105||23||2||0||0||9||10||3||.242||.314||.263||.272||.072||.021|
|4/11 - 5/2||29||11||1||0||2||1||5||0||.393||.414||.643||.449||.021||.250|
|3/31 - 4/10||7||45||.271||15||62||8||7||17.6%||72.9%||9.4%||8.6%||9.5%|
|4/11 - 5/2||6||132||.429||4||12||7||2||17.4%||52.2%||30.4%||3.4%||17.2%|
FB: fly balls
GB: ground balls
LD: line drives
IFH: infield hits
woba: weighted on-base average
isoD: Isolated plate discipline (obp - avg)
isoP: Isolated power (slg - avg)
br: linear weights batting runs
br/650: br pro-rated to 650 PA
babip: batting average on balls in play
Jeter appeared to be hitting the ball harder over this road trip, and that’s borne out in his LD% and isoP. Of course, you never want to make too much of 29 PA, but I am encouraged. Not because of the results of 29 good PA, but because Jeter demonstrated something I really didn’t think he was physically capable of doing any more.
Time will tell if yesterday’s game was a blip like June 12, 2010 or the announcement of his return to offensive prominence.
It was a good thing Jeter hit over the road trip, because some of his teammates didn’t.
I’m fairly certain Martin, Cano and Rodriguez will hit going forward, and if Andruw Jones doesn’t he won’t play. Jorge Posada may just be in an unlucky stretch and should be hitting better than he has so far, but if he isn’t, at some point the Yankees really need to start getting more production out of DH.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
ARLINGTON—Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson hit back-to-back homers, and Francisco Cervelli crushed his first career grand slam, powering the Yankees to a 12-5 victory over the Rangers on Sunday at Rangers Ballpark.
Jeter blasted his first two homers of the season in the win, slugging a fifth-inning solo shot to chase starter David Bush and then connecting for a tiebreaking shot in the seventh to greet Arthur Rhodes.
If you had told me this morning that the over/under on Derek Jeter home runs for 2011 was one, I’d have taken the under.
Perhaps he’s not quite done just yet.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Looking Ahead To 2011 - Position Player Wrap-Up
With the bench looking settled now, I’ll buzz through the projections for Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones, Eduardo Nunez, Chris Dickerson, Francisco Cervelli and Gustavo Molina and summarize the team’s position players.
wOBA: Weighted on-base average (does not include SB/CS)
BR: Linear weights batting runs
BR/650: BR pro-rated to 650 PA
BRAA: BR above an average player in projected playing time (adjusted for park, but not for position)
BRAR: BR above a replacement level player (adjusted for park and position)
2010: Un-adjusted 2010 performance
None of those projections inspires much confidence, except maybe Dickerson’s. In the context of a backup catcher there’s also nothing wrong with that Cervelli projection either I guess.
I suppose you can hope that better health lets Chavez exceed his projection, and that platooning lets Jones be a bit better on a rate basis, and that Nunez’s tools mean he can beat that projection, but really, the Yankees need their starters to stay reasonably healthy, which I think we already knew.
CAIRO has the Yankees projected as scoring around 821 runs, using this basic depth chart.
br are linear weights batting runs, and rs are estimated defensive runs saved compared to average. I’ve purposely set the bench to average because I don’t know that projecting defense for part-time players who may play multiple positions makes any sense. We can probably figure that Jesus Montero will be below average and that Eric Chavez should be decent.
The same depth chart with the other projection systems plus CAIRO average out to about 812 runs scored. That’s the second highest total projected runs scored in baseball behind Boston, and it’s the best total if you account for park. So barring major injury, the offense should do its part, which I think we already knew. I’ll include the defense with the pitching wrap-up.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Meet Your 2011 Opening Day Yankee Bench
By way of Chad Jennings at Lohud
Justin Maxwell and Ramiro Pena optioned to Triple-A.
Jesus Montero and Doug Bernier assigned to Triple-A.
Austin Romine assigned to Double-A.
Ronnie Belliard released.
Romulo Sanchez’s contract sold to a team in Japan.
Eric Chavez added to the 40-man.
So it looks like Gustavo Molina will back up Russell Martin until Francisco Cervelli returns. Molina doesn’t look like he’ll be any better than awful, but if the Yankees didn’t see enough out of Montero to justify him starting the year in the majors, I am not going to get that upset about it.
So you’re looking at a bench of Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez, Molina, and Eduardo Nunez to start the year, with Chris Dickerson (if healthy) waiting in the wings should Curtis Granderson need to be DL’ed to start the year I guess.
I suppose this means I can’t put off my position player wrap-up any more, so look for that tomorrow.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
How Unlucky Were Some of the Yankees’ Hitters in 2010?
In my Derek Jeter 2011 projection post I mentioned his xBABIP (expected batting average on balls in play)and what it might mean going forward. Moshe Mandel of The Yankee Analysts e-mailed me to tell me about a spreadsheet available at the Hardball Times that calculates xBABIP. What’s nice about this spreadsheet is it does account for many of the factors that explain the variance in skill for players and their BABIP.
BABIP was better explained as a function all batted-ball types and ratios with speed/power/strikeout considerations.
So I figured I’d see what it said about Jeter in 2010, which then led me to figuring I might as well run it for the rest of the Yankee starters since we are hoping for bigger years from Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira and hoping we don’t see severe drop-offs from Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher.
|player||team||pa||babip||br||xbabip||xbr||dbr||-2 Std||-1 Std||1 Std||2 Std|
babip: batting average on balls in play.
br: linear weights batting runs (does not include GDP or SB)
xbabip: expected batting average on balls in play
xbr: linear weights batting runs adjusted for xBABIP
dbr: xbr minus br
A postive dBR means a player would have been better if they hit to their xBABIP.
This looks about right to me. If the Yankees had hit to their xBABIP instead of their BABIP in 2010 they’d have scored about 28 more runs. In theory this means we can probably expect slightly worse years out of Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher and better years out of almost everyone else, with the caveat that a single season’s xBABIP should only be part of the player’s projection.
I’m also encouraged to see Posada’s xBABIP at .322, since it means CAIRO’s 2011 projection of .319 isn’t completely crazy.
Friday, March 4, 2011
TAMPA, Fla. – The backup catching competition was blown open Friday when the Yankees announced that Francisco Cervelli will miss six to eight weeks because of a broken left foot. His injury increases the likelihood that Jesus Montero, the touted 21-year-old prospect, will make the opening day roster, although Joe Girardi said that Austin Romine and the veteran Gustavo Molina also remain in the mix. The Yankees still plan to use Jorge Posada at designated hitter.
“We still have plenty of guys here that can earn that spot,” Girardi said.
I wonder if the Yankees can bring Chad Moeller back from Colorado. I think Romine + one of the Killer B’s would do it.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
He added, “I don’t like to be comfortable, I always want to learn, learn, learn. I want to be one day a starting catcher or (win) a Gold Glove, something like a Molina brother. That’s my dream.”
For Cervelli, who turns 25 next month, the big news of his offseason is that he spent most of it training with pal Robinson Cano in the Dominican Republic. Cervelli arrived in the Dominican on Dec. 1 and lived in a hotel near Cano’s house so the two could meet for daily workouts.
It was a plan Cano hatched during the season last year, Cervelli said. “He’s trying to help me,” Cervelli said. “He’s got a good disposition to teach…good friend, good teacher.”
Asked what he learned, Cervelli, a .271 hitter last year, laughed and said, “I tried to learn a little bit how you can hit the ball.” Seriously, though, Cervelli said Cano helped him learn how to better use his hips while swinging. And Cano’s fitness routine helped him shed fat.
Doesn’t Cervelli know that Cano is lazy and unmotivated?
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
What If the Yankees Go in 2011 With the 40 Man Roster they Have Right Now?
With it looking like the Yankees contract negotiations with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera aren’t going to be decided any time soon, and with Andy Pettitte still undecided about a return, I was wondering what would happen in the highly unlikely scenario that the Yankees signed no one and traded for no one and went into the season with the team they have right now.
So here’s a run-through the position players and pitching staff using my 2011 CAIRO projections.
BR: Projected linear weights batting runs
Def: Projected runs saved compared to average defensively.
The offense doesn’t really look that good, projecting to score about 40 fewer runs than last year’s team. I’d also be hesitant about assuming they’re a +15 defense given the uncertainty of Jesus Montero and Eduardo Nunez’s defense.
The pitching staff is actually even worse off right now.
If the Yankees don’t bring back Pettitte or Rivera and don’t sign Cliff Lee, here’s what they may look like. While I doubt Kei Igawa sees any time in MLB, I’m using him as a proxy for sub-replacement level pitching.
If Alfredo Aceves can come back healthy that will help the bullpen some, but it’s still a little ugly.
Adding it up looks like this.
Pythagenpat W:Estimated Pythagenpat wins
You can subtract a win from that 84.5 estimate for every ten runs below average Montero and Nunez may be defensively. So if they’re a collective 20 runs worse than average the Yankees would be more like an 82.5 win team.
Thankfully, it’s not very likely that the Yankees will go into 2011 with this team. Can they add the 10+ wins they probably need to put themselves solidly in contention with what’s available to them? That’s the next question.
Monday, November 15, 2010
How Good Might the 2011 Yankees Be on November 15, 2010?
So now that we have projections to look at, what do they tell us?
First, let’s consider the primary starters who played in 2010 and are still under contract for 2011.
Here are their performances in 2010:
And here’s their CAIRO projected performance in 2011:
BRAR: Linear weights batting runs above replacement level (park and position-adjusted)
wOBA: Weighted on-base average
Def: Projected runs saved defensively compared to average
WAR: Wins above replacement level (BRAR plus Def divided by 10)
The whole replacement level thing gets a little fuzzy here since Posada’s being treated as primarily a catcher in 2010 but as a DH in 2011. So if we ignore position and just look at the seven players, we see that 2010’s collective put up a wOBA of .361 and an OBP of .360 in 4483 PA, and that the 2011 version of those same seven players would project to put up a wOBA of .359 and an OBP of .356. The 2011 version would be about 15 runs worse over a full season, which is a non-trivial, but not a massive down grade.
You may not be aware of this since it’s gone strangely unreported by the media, but Derek Jeter is a free agent. Shocking, huh? Apparently, he has yet to resign with the Yankees and no one is talking about it. This has the potential to be MAJOR.
|2010 Derek Jeter||SS||738||179||30||3||10||18||5||63||106||.270||.340||.370||.319||22||-14||0.8|
|2011 CAIRO Jeter||SS||699||181||29||2||13||15||5||63||96||.290||.360||.406||.342||32||-7||2.4|
Jeter had a bad year by his standards last year, but his offense was fine for a shortstop, somewhere around 22 runs better than replacement level. The bigger issue with Jeter was how you assessed his defense. UZR thought he was slightly below average, around -5. However, a combination of UZR, zone rating and John DeWan’s plus/minus were much harsher, putting Jeter around -14 defensively and making him effectively only about one win better than replacement level.
I have no idea which is closer to the truth, so even though my spreadsheet says Jeter was less than one win better than replacement level last year, I’m going to say that that was not necessarily true.
Either way, CAIRO expects Jeter to bounce back a bit in 2011 on a rate basis, but it also expects him to play a bit less. Overall it likes his chance for a reasonable rebound.
But what if? What if the Yankee decide that Jeter is asking for too much and decide to let him walk? It won’t happen, but if it did, here’s who they have on hand to replace him.
So yeah, replacing Jeter with Nunez or Pena looks like a two win down grade in CAIRO.
I suppose we could look at possible free agent SS but there’s really no sense. Jeter will be a Yankee in 2011 and we just have to hope CAIRO knows what it’s doing.
So we’ve effectively covered everything except DH and catcher. Last year’s Yankee DH’s combined for a line of .256/.338/.440, which isn’t really all that good for a position that has no defensive value. CAIRO thinks Jorge Posada will exceed that line, but betting on a 40 year old who’s caught over 1600 games in his career to hit well and stay healthy is probably risky. The Yankees will probably use DH to rest their older regulars a bit as well, so if Posada’s reasonably healthy they should get decent production out of DH.
That leaves catcher. If Posada’s not catching, then it means some combination of Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero and Austin Romine may be, unless the Yankees surprise us by going after someone like John Buck.
Montero’s almost certainly the best offensive player of the bunch, and he should probably be the favorite to being the year as the starting catcher, but his defense may end up being bad enough that he can’t stick there.
Cervelli’s not a horrible catcher, and he profiles as a pretty good backup, but he’s also not someone you want to see starting half the games.
CAIRO doesn’t think Romine’s ready, but who knows with young players?
On the position player side, the Yankees’ only real questions are shortstop and catcher. There isn’t a free agent SS available even comparable to Jeter, so unless they make a bold trade he’ll be back in 2011. John Buck is sort of interesting on the catching side, but if you think Montero is going to be the catcher of the future, you probably don’t commit to him for as long as some other potential suitors might. I guess they can shore up the bench with a RH outfielder too, or bring back Marcus Thames.
So at least as of right now, I get the sense we’re not going to see anything particularly interesting happening on the position player side with this team heading into 2011.
Come on Cliff Lee I guess…
Sunday, November 14, 2010
2011 Yankee Position Player CAIRO Projections v0.1
Here are the first set of my 2011 CAIRO projections for the Yankees’ position players. I’m still eyeballing the overall projections to make sure there are no egregious errors and double-checking all my aging/park factor/regression formula so these may change slightly, but they appear pretty close to what I’d have expected.
BRAR: Linear weights batting runs above replacement level (park and position-adjusted)
wOBA: Weighted on-base average
Def: Projected runs saved defensively compared to average
WAR: Wins above replacement level (BRAR plus Def divided by 10)
Defense is projected using an average of Chris Dial’s Zone Rating Runs Saved from Baseball Think Factory, Ultimate Zone Rating and John Dewan’s plus/minus runs saved, both from Fangraphs. Since Sean Smith does his own TotalZone projections as part of his CHONE projections I’ll just wait for those and then add them in as well.
If a player has not played in the majors yet, I didn’t project their defense so they are rated as average. I’m not saying I think Jesus Montero is going to play average defense, I’m saying I have no idea how good or bad his defense will be and I’m not going to try and fudge it.
I do have most of the minor leaguers projected but didn’t include all of them in this table since I’m still looking over the MLEs. Pitchers should be done this week as well, and hopefully the first set of projections for everyone will be out next week.
Anyway, now that we have this we can start to think about where the Yankees’ lineup could use some improvement and what the options are for said improvement, which I’ll start tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
ace to face Brian Cashman informed Jorge Posada that he will be the Yankees designated hitter next season, The Post has learned.
Cashman met with Posada in Manhattan this week to tell the veteran to, as usual, prepare to catch, but the team’s first option is to have youngsters Jesus Montero, Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine compete in spring training for the two primary jobs.
It is quite a risk to team an expensive, mostly veteran staff with such inexperienced catchers. But it is indicative of how much the Yankees believe Posada’s defensive game has slipped in all areas.
It is possible that plans could change if the Yankees use one of the catchers in a trade and/or they feel there is enough budget left to secure a free agent such as John Buck. For now, though, the Yankees are going to hope that Montero, in particular, is advanced enough to handle a significant portion of the catching as a way to begin working the top prospect’s ultra-promising bat into the lineup.
Not sure Posada’s going to hit enough as a DH to make him particularly valuable, but this move makes sense looking out past 2011. It’s sink or swim time for Montero as a catcher with several other interesting options behind him, so throw him in the water and see what happens.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Rangers Beat Yankees, Win ALCS 4 - 2
It’s our first reaction as fans to say “our team lost” rather than the other team won. No one should be able to beat our team, they can only beat themselves.
The Rangers beat the Yankees. They outplayed them this series. We can talk about why it happened, but that’s the bottom line, and that’s why they’re going to the World Series and the Yankees are going home. The Rangers outscored the Yankees 39-18 over the six games of the ALCS.
Joe Girardi did not manage a good series IMO. While his biggest flaw prior to this series was a love for the sacrifice bunt which is actually probably not nearly the issue we made it out to be, I refuse to think his strategy of IBB half the Rangers lineup was anything but asinine. Of course, a proper analysis of each situtation when it came up would tell us more, and I’d guess it probably won’t be as bad on paper as it ended up turning out. But that doesn’t make it any less aggravating right now.
As poorly as I thought Girardi managed, to the point where I really don’t care if he is not back next year, the Yankees lost because the Rangers out-hit them and out-pitched them. Although they won CC Sabathia’s two starts, he really didn’t pitch that well. Phil Hughes didn’t pitch well either, obviously, and Andy Pettitte’s gem came in a game where Cliff Lee pitched one of the best games you’ll ever see.
Is it Dave Eiland’s fault that some of the key Yankees didn’t pitch well in 2010 after pitching well in 2009? Or is it the fact that pitching is unpredictable and volatile? Do we blame Eiland for Hughes and Joba Chamberlain having “disappointing” seasons, or do we blame ourselves for setting unrealistic expectations for young pitchers and ignoring the historical fact that the majority of pitching prospects don’t become elite pitchers?
To be honest, I think calling Hughes’s season disappointing is a stretch too, even though it didn’t end well, but that’s a post for another day.
The bullpen didn’t distinguish themselves much in this series either, but most of the damage done came in games the Yankees were already well on their way to losing. Sure, Girardi could have used Mo in games earlier and kept them closer, but I saw nothing from the offense that indicated they would have come back from a 7-3 deficit rather than a 10-3 deficit.
Of course, the offense is as much to blame as the pitching. Give some credit to the Rangers for pitching well, but that doesn’t make the performances by anyone not named Robinson Cano any less frustrating.
I try not to think of any Yankee season where the Yankees don’t win a World Series as a failure, because the odds are against even the best team in baseball in any given year winning the World Series. But when you don’t win your division and have to back into the postseason as the wild card, getting your asses handed to you in the ALCS doesn’t feel like much of an accomplishment to me. I wouldn’t call this season a failure, but I wouldn’t call it an achievement either.
As far as where the Yankees go from here, emotion would tell us to get rid of all the chokers and bring in new blood, Working off emotion is probably stupid though.
The Yankees shouldn’t need to make drastic moves to be in a position to be back in the hunt for the World Series, but they do need to be smart about this offseason, because many of the key players on this team aren’t going to be any better than they are now and some will almost certainly be worse, and adding a few veteran band aids to try and coax another World Series out of them may be as fruitless as it was this year.
I haven’t really thought about who the Yankees should go after in 2011. Obviously most of the talk will be about Cliff Lee, but my first impulse is he alone wouldn’t make this team a clear World Series favorite. I’m also not sure the Yankees will be able to just outbid everyone for him. If Texas decides to try and keep him, they’ll have the advantage of no state income tax in any bid they make for him, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a team like the White Sox go after him hard as well.
You also have the questions about who to bring back in 2011. While the idea of letting Girardi and Eiland go seems tempting, it would depend on who would replace them, wouldn’t it? I’m certain no matter who the manager ends up being, he’ll have flaws that we fixate on anyway. Jeter and Mo will obviously be back, but the terms of their returns will be the subject of much conjecture. Do the Yankees eschew Carl Crawford and stick with Brett Gardner, or do they try and trade Gardner for something they can’t get through free agency? Do they promote Jesus Montero to the majors, and if so is it as a catcher or a DH? Does that mean the end of Francisco Cervelli’s reign of terror, or does it mean more Jorge Posada at DH?
Anyway, I don’t feel like thinking about 2011 yet. I’m just going to get very inebriated at this wedding I have to serve in today and forget about baseball for a few days.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
AJ Burnett’s 2010 Splits by Catcher
I don’t necessarily think this means anything, but I am not the manager of the Yankees so it doesn’t matter what I think.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
2010 ALCS Preview: Rangers vs. Yankees
Rangers in 3 or 4?
Well, we’re down to two teams in the quest for who gets to lose to the Phillies in the World Series.
The Rangers have returned to the postseason for the first time since 1999 and have won a postseason series for the first time in their history, beating the AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS.
The Yankees weren’t even good enough to beat out the Rays for the AL East and instead had to back into the playoffs as the wild card. To put this simply:
A) The Rays are better than the Yankees as evidenced by winning the AL East
B) The Rangers are better than the Rays as evidenced by winning their playoff series against them
Despite this, they are actually going to play the games, so maybe the unexpected will happen.
Here’s how the Rangers’ position player project.
|Lineup||Pos||2010 OBP||2010 wOBA||Proj OBP||Proj wOBA||PA||Outs||BR||Def|
wOBA: Weighted on-base average
PA: Plate appearances
Outs: calculated as (1- Proj OBP) times PA
BR: Linear weights batting runs over series estimate of playing time
Def: Projected defense over series estimate of playing time using an average of DRS, TZ, UZR and ZR
The Rangers offense isn’t great, but they’ve got some pretty good hitters and and a strong defensive team. One thing that they may benefit them is that they project slightly better against LHP.
I’m assuming they would play Jeff Francoeur and Jorge Cantu against lefties since they project better than Julio Borbon and Mitch Moreland, but the Rangers may have reasons for not doing that. Even if they don’t, they still project better versus lefties, which is good for them since the Yankees would be starting lefties in four of the potential seven games.
Truth be told, the pitching staff is where the Rangers really shined in 2010. Here’s how they project.
|Pitcher||Role||2010 RA||2010 FIP||Proj RA||Proj FIP||IP||R|
2010/Proj RA: 2010/projected run allowed per nine innings
2010/Proj FIP: 2010/projected Fielding Independent Pitching
IP: Estimated innings pitched in this series
R: Estimated runs allowed in this series (Projected RA divided by nine times IP)
Obviously, we all know about Cliff Lee, the greatest postseason pitcher ever. Lee’s not scheduled to start until Game 3 though, with C.J. Wilson getting the nod in the opener and Colby Lewis following up in Game 2.
Wilson’s a lefty who was primarily a reliever the last few years, but was moved into the rotation this year and did very well. He may not be 3.35 ERA good, but he’s good.
Lewis was a pretty hot prospect a few years ago but put up a 6.71 ERA from 2002-2007 before winding up in Japan, where he pitched for the Hiroshima Carp in 2008 and 2009. Lewis pitched very well there and then made a triumphant return to MLB and put up a very good year. He doesn’t throw as hard as he did when he first came up, but he’s shown an improved slider and better command. His peripherals are in line with his performance too, so he looks like he’s a legitimately good pitcher now.
Cliff Lee has NEVER lost a postseason game. EVER. Think about how amazing that is. No one has every faced Cliff Lee in a postseason game and beaten him. In the entire history of baseball.
Seriously, we know Lee’s good, and the Yankees are probably going to have to beat him at least once if they want a shot at advancing.
I’m not sure if the Rangers will go with Tommy Hunter as their fourth starter, but it could be him or Matt Harrison I guess. Whomever it is, he’ll be better than A.J. Burnett at least.
Here are the Yankees’s position player projections. They’re the same as they were for the ALDS aside from adjusting the playing time to reflect a seven game series.
|Lineup||Pos||2010 OBP||2010 wOBA||Proj OBP||Proj wOBA||PA||Outs||BR||Def|
There’s really not much I can tell you here that you don’t already know. Expect to see Thames against lefties and Berkman against righties at DH, and I have a hunch that Francisco Cervelli will get a start with Burnett since they had such good chemistry this year.
And the pitching projections, again just adjusted for a seven game series.
|Pitcher||Role||2010 RA||2010 FIP||Proj RA||Proj FIP||IP||R|
The Yankees will go with CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte and Burnett in the first four scheduled games, which sets up Sabathia, Hughes and Pettitte to pitch in Games 5-7 if necessary. Expect to see most of the relief innings going to Mo, Kerry Wood, Dave Robertson and Boone Logan primarily, perhaps with some Joba Chamberlain mixed in.
On paper, the Yankees are probably the better team. However, if we factor in the fact that the Rangers are better against LHP and the Yankees are worse against LHP, that narrows the gap some. Since the Rangers did the honorable thing by winning their division, they get home field advantage in this series, which narrows the gap a hair more.
I received an email asking me about this article at Fangraphs by Dave Cameron saying that there was no difference in win probability between Cliff Lee starting Games 1 and 5 versus 3 and 7 and running some simulations to show that it’s false. The only problem is, it’s not false. A team’s probability of winning a series is the sum of their probabilities of winning each game, and the order doesn’t matter, assuming playing time is the same. If you want to argue that starting Lee earlier means you have the potential to use him more later in the series, then I suppose that’s possible, but aside from that, it doesn’t matter which games he starts.
Pythagenpat: Estimated win percentage based on projected offense/defense + pitching, adjusted for home field advantage
p162: Pythagenpat times 162 games (full season win equivalency)
Anyway, based on these depth charts and accounting for HFA, the Rangers look like around a 98 win team and the Yankees look like around a 105 win team. So what happens if they play the ALCS 10,000 times?
Which is all just a fancy way of saying Rangers in 3.
Monday, October 4, 2010
How Strong Are the 2010 Yankees Heading Into the Postseason? (Position Player Edition)
Now that the regular season is wrapped up, we can think about how the Yankees stack up in a short series and get a better feel for how they match up against the Twins.
As I tend to beat to death, we need to understand that what the players did in the current season should only be part of our assessment of their true talent level. The random fluctuations that happen during a season can skew our perception of how good or bad a player is. For that reason, I’m going to use projections for the postseason series previews instead of the actual 2010 data.
By doing this, I can:
a) Account for anomalously good or bad performances that are not likely repeatable.
b) Acount for the fact that the team that played over the 162 games is not the team that will be playing in a short series. If we want to think about how good the Yankees’ current 25 man roster is, there’s nothing useful in including the performances by people like Randy Winn, Colin Curtis, Kevin Russo or Chan Ho Park. So any analysis based on 2010 Pythagorean performance or what have you is woefully incomplete in my opinion.
That being said, projections are inherently limited. While the general principle behind them is essentially right for the body of professional players as a whole, they will not necessarily capture the nuances of a player’s performance in its entirety. If a player has suffered an actual physical change in his talent that has changed his ability to do some of the things he did prior to the year, the projection for that player is going to be wrong. We try to account for that by making sure we weigh recent performance most heavily.
So for the CAIRO projections that follow, be aware they are based on about 40% 2010, 60% 2007-2009 for position players. For pitchers I weigh recent performance a bit more heavily, around 45%.
First up, here are the Yankee position players’ offensive projections.
|Lineup||Pos||2010 OBP||2010 wOBA||Proj OBP||Proj wOBA||PA||Outs||BR||Def|
wOBA: Weighted on-base average
PA: Plate appearances
Outs: calculated as (1- Proj OBP) times PA
BR: Linear weights batting runs over series estimate of playing time
Def: Projected defense over series estimate of playing time using an average of DRS, TZ, UZR and ZR (links at the bottom)
This is a rough depth chart based on assuming a five game series and assuming 25 outs made while batting per game. I’ve shown the 2010 actual OBP/wOBA as well as the projections. In the picture of a series, you’re looking at a total of about 27 runs in five games, roughly equal to an 865 run full season offense. I’ll get into the defense thing in more detail so ignore that for now.
This depth chart with the 2010 actual data would put up a wOBA of .354. Using the projection data instead puts it to .358. That’s less than a run’s worth of difference over 200 PA.
The other thing we need to think about is platooning. In the postseason, understanding how two teams match up is particularly crucial. If a team that is more susceptible to LHP is facing a team with the ability to throw several lefties against them, they’ll have a more difficult time than they would against an equally talented team which is not able to exploit a platoon advantage. So here’s how the Yankees primary starting lineup project overall as well as against LHP and RHP.
This version of the Yankee lineup is a bit more susceptible to LHP. The difference between a team that scores 5.9 runs per game and one that scores 5.5 runs per game is about five wins over a full season, although it depends on the run environment and the team’s pitching/defense. The Twins are going to have Francisco Liriano potentially going twice, and they may start Brian Duensing as well, and they have Jose Mijares and Brian Fuentes in the pen as useful lefty relievers so that could be an issue.
The good news is the Yankees can improve the lineup versus lefties by a bit if they replace Lance Berkman with Marcus Thames. They go to 5.6 runs a game with a straight swap. They may also want to consider replacing Granderson with Austin Kearns, although with the way the two are playing right now what may seem to be an upgrade on paper isn’t necessarily going to be one.
Now, we need to consider defense. It’s probably been apparent to regular readers that I haven’t talked as much about defensive metrics as I have in the past. The reason for that is the more I learn about the defensive metrics we have, the more I realize that they have some serious limitations that we need to be cognizant of.
That doesn’t mean we should ignore defense all together, it just means we need to probably consider any and all metrics that are based on a solid methodology and temper how much we believe any of them in either isolation or in the aggregate.So, here’s how the Yankee defenders look based on a weighted average of the last five seasons using Chris Dial’s Zone Rating system(ZR), Fangraph’s Ultimate Zone Rating(UZR), John Dewan’s Defensive Runs Saved(DRS) and Sean Smith’s TotalZone. While the data is available to go back to 2002 in all of these metrics, player fielding ability changes enough that I don’t think there’s much use in going back further than that.
These are the full season equivalents of how many runs each player would project to save compared to an average defender. As a team they’re a bit better than average, with the OF being the strong point. I think Cano’s probably better than his projection right now, but I also think Jeter may be worse, but overall defense isn’t a weakness, which is kind of nice after years of it being one.
Last year, the same basic analysis had the Yankees at an estimated 28.6 runs scored over a five game series. With the pitching staff that was projected they were equivalent to about a 107 win team. This year’s team looks more like a 26.7 run team. While a two run difference may not seem like a big deal, pro-rated over a full season it’s around a 60 run difference.This year’s team projects a bit worse offensively, and a hair better defensively, but I think it’s fair to say this year’s position players are not as good as last year’s were.
Of course, we do also have to consider the pitching staff, so that’ll be the next post.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
First Draft of the Postseason Roster
I still need to run my projections and do this with more effort, but I figured we could start goofing around with a what a potential 25 man roster for the postseason could look like.
First, here are the locks:
Starting Pitchers (4)
Relief Pitchers (5)
That’s 20, which leaves five spots open to fill out the bullpen and bench. They’re probably going to carry at least one long reliever, and the best candidate for that is probably Javier Vazquez. If they’re playing Minnesota, they may want to take Royce Ring as a second lefty to deal with Jim Thome. Against Texas it’s less of an issue as most of their best players are RH. I really think they should try Nova out of the pen a couple of times during the last few games and see if he can be a second long man, one with a fastball that can crack 88 mph.
They’re almost certainly going to take one of Ramiro Pena/Eduardo Nunez and possibly both. Although Thames is in theory a candidate for the outfield, if they’re smart they’ll try to avoid putting him out there at all costs. 0 So that probably opens up a spot for Greg Golson as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner. Update: I forgot about Austin Kearns, he’d probably get this spot instead of Golson.
So the 20 locks plus Vazquez, Ring, one of Pena/Nunez and Kearns leaves one open spot. I’d like to see Nova get it.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Berkman went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout in his second minor league rehab game with Double-A Trenton on Tuesday night. The Yankees are also expected to add Jonathan Albaladejo, Chad Moeller and Greg Golson to the roster.
You know, if Berkman can’t get a hit in AA, do we really want him back?
I’d like to see if Albaladejo’s success in AAA this year carries over into the majors and he’ll surely get his chances to pitch with the detritus that is the Yankee rotation.
Chad Moeller is not Francisco Cervelli, so that’s a plus, and Greg Golson is probably not going to start much but could be useful as a pinch runner for Brett Gardner.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
ARLINGTON, Tex.—With one away in the eighth inning and the go-ahead run for the Yankees standing just 90 feet away on third base, manager Joe Girardi allowed backup catcher Francisco Cervelli to hit, leaving Jorge Posada and his much more imposing bat on the bench.
The result? Cervelli lined out softly to first and Brett Gardner grounded out to end the late threat against the Rangers, a key development in a 4-3 Yankees’ loss in which Posada was only available in an emergency.
After the game, Girardi said Posada experienced discomfort in his right shoulder while making a throw on Monday afternoon against the Red Sox, prompting Yankees manager Joe Girardi to keep the veteran on the bench.
Right-hander Javier Vazquez pitches for the Yankees tomorrow. If the Yankees stick with catching rotation they’ve established this season, Cervelli would be in line to make another start, giving Posada another day off.
- Let’s assume the idea behind the “catching rotation” is that Jorge Posada is healthy enough to catch three of every five games
- Let’s assume that A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez are the worst two starters in the Yankee rotation (non-Moseley edition)
- Let’s assume that on the days Burnett and Vazquez pitch, you need more offense than you do on the days that Sabathia, Hughes or Pettitte pitch
This catching rotation stinks.
Of course, it’s certainly possible that the first idea is simply wrong, and Posada’s just not healthy enough to play as much. That’s a major problem, because at this point Francisco Cervelli’s just not a viable major league hitter. Over his last 50 games, he’s hit .197/.269/.237. But his BABIP is only .234 you may say. BABIP is a SKILL, especially for a hitter. There’s a very good chance this low BABIP is predictive, and not a function of random variance.
That being said, I don’t think calling up Jesus Montero is going to happen. I have yet to read anything saying he now looks like he’ll clearly be able to handle catcher defensively in the majors, and as nice as it is that he’s been hitting well lately, his 2010 MLE(major league equivalency) is still only around .240/.300/.400. Of course, that’s Ruthian compared to the recent vintage of Cervelli, and MLEs are a blunt tool that don’t necessarily capture all the nuances of how a player’s game may translate at the highest level.
If there were trade options out there, you’d think the team with the best farm system in baseball could have done better than Kevin Cash when they lost their catchers, although perhaps that was a function of how much they were willing to pay.
The Yankees don’t NEED Cervelli to hit like he did in April and the first half of May to win, if people like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson hit closer to how they projected to. But since that’s not happening, it magnifies the impact of Cervelli’s struggles.
CAIRO has Posada projected at a wOBA of .357 over the rest of the season, and Cervelli at a wOBA of .296. So, over the 50 remaining games, there’s about an 11 run difference on offense. That’s a bit more than one win, which isn’t huge in a vacuum, but in the context of this year’s AL East could be the difference between playing baseball or golf in October.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Rest of 2010 CAIRO Projections - Berkman and Kearns
The implications of these potential acquisitions really require a detailed analysis that looks at how to best utilize them in tandem with the rest of the current roster and leveraging things like platoon advantages, but I generally don’t like to spend my weekends doing detailed analysis so that’ll have to wait.
But here are the rest of season projections for Lance Berkman and Austin Kearns.
|rest of season||313||261||41||69||15||1||13||46||49||58||4||2||.264||.378||.477||.375||48||12|
|rest of season||174||151||21||37||8||0||4||19||20||35||1||1||.245||.342||.380||.327||20||3|
BRAR: Linear weights batting runs above replacement level, adjusted for posiiton.
Berkman’s rest-of-season projection is essentially Nick Johnson’s 2010 projection (wOBA of .375 compared to .377).
Ideally, what the Yankees should probably do is play Berkman at DH and Jorge Posada at catcher against all RHP. Against LHP, they can start Francisco Cervelli at catcher more frequently (,241/.288/.310 vs. RHP,. 323/.393/.385 vs LHP career), DH Posado or Marcus Thames, sit Curtis Granderson and move TSBG to CF, and throw Kearns in LF. Kearns can play any of the three OF positions as well.
My guess is these moves don’t translate to huge upgrade on paper, but with how tightly the bunched the AL East is looking right now, ANY upgrade is important. The Yankees should also now have the ability to rest some of the regulars a bit more frequently without losing too much on the field, as well as having a bit more insurance should injuries start popping up.
But I’ll crunch the numbers on Monday.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
2010 All Star Break Review - June Edition
June looked like the Yankees’ easiest month on paper, with 18 of their 27 games at home, and with a bunch of those games against minor league teams from Houston, Philadelphia and Queens. Log5 would have estimated them winning about 18 of those 27 games.
|Series||Start Date||# Gms||xW||aW||diff|
|Orioles at Yankees||6/1/2010||3||2.3||3||0.7|
|Yankees at Blue Jays||6/4/2010||3||1.8||1||-0.8|
|Yankees at Orioles||6/8/2010||3||2.1||2||-0.1|
|Astros at Yankees||6/11/2010||3||2.3||3||0.7|
|Phillies at Yankees||6/15/2010||3||1.8||1||-0.8|
|Mets at Yankees||6/18/2010||3||1.9||2||0.1|
|Yankees at Diamondbacks||6/21/2010||3||1.9||2||0.1|
|Yankees at Dodgers||6/25/2010||3||1.6||2||0.4|
|Mariners at Yankees||6/29/2010||3||2.1||1||-1.1|
xW: Expected wins for this series using log 5
aW: Actual wins
diff: Difference between xW and aW. Positive means team exceeded expectations
The Yankees did about a win worse than expected, with the home series against Seattle to end the month the biggest problem (this does include the game in July 1). It felt worse than that, but I think a big part of that was the drop in offense, as the team went from scoring 5.6 runs per game in April and 5.7 runs per game in May to 4.7 in June.
Once again, Robinson Cano was the most valuable offensive player on the team although Brett Gardner has the best rate performance. Derek Jeter had a relatively rough month, and reality slammed into Francisco Cervelli’s over-sized batting helmet with extreme force. But in general, the team overall just didn’t have a good month offensively. The only players who hit at least as well as they projected entering the season were Cano and TSBG.
On the plus side, the team’s run prevention in June improved over May, falling to 4.3 from 4.4. Of course, that’s at least partially a function of only pitching to 88.9% of a major league lineup for a large part of the month, and a function of playing some bad teams.
|Chan Ho Park||9||0||11.7||11||7||7||1||0||4||11||5.40||5.40||3.46||-0.2|
|SP + RP||87||26||236.33||208||112||108||29||9||93||211||4.27||4.11||4.30||33.4|
A.J. Burnett’s June could’ve gone a little better. Phil Hughes also had a disappointing month, but the it’s tough to quibble with how Sabathia, Vazquez and Pettitte did. The bullpen had its best month of the season overall, with David Robertson finally starting to resemble the 2009 vintage. It’s easy to forget how dominant Mo can be at times, but look at that June line and marvel at his awesomeness.
Once again the Yankees ERA was lower than their FIP, this time to the tune of about six runs. So it’s probably a safe assumption that the defense played pretty well, even if they don’t deserve all the credit for that difference.
The Yankees’ run differential in June was by far their worst of the season, as they allowed 114 runs to go with the 128 runs scored, a Pythagenpat winning percentage of .554. So the Yankees may have been a bit fortunate to actually only miss their expectations by one game.
And since it was requested, here’s a WAR pie chart for the Yankees through Sunday’s games.
Boone Logan: 0.2
Romulo Sanchez: 0.2
Damaso Marte: 0.2
Juan Miranda: 0.2
Alfredo Aceves: 0.2
Ivan Nova: 0.2
A.J. Burnett: 0.1
Kevin Russo: 0.1
Sergio Mitre: 0.1
Greg Golson: 0.1
David Robertson: 0.0
Colin Curtis: 0.0
Chad Moeller: 0.0
Chad Huffman: -0.1
Dustin Moseley: -0.2
Mark Melancon: -0.3
Ramiro Pena: -0.3
Chan Ho Park: -0.3
Joba Chamberlain: -0.4
Monday, July 12, 2010
2010 All Star Break Review - May Edition
After a solid April, the Yankees headed into May hoping to continue their winning ways.
On paper, the May schedule looked to be a bit easier than April’s. In terms of expected winning percentage, the Yankees were expect to win 12.3 of 21 games in April, a winning percentage of .585. May had 30 games scheduled, and their log5 expected wins was about 18.3, or a .609 winning percentage.
|Series||Start Date||# Gms||xW||aW||diff|
|White Sox at Yankees||5/2/2010||3||1.9||2.0||0.1|
|Orioles at Yankees||5/5/2010||3||2.3||3.0||0.7|
|Yankees at Red Sox||5/9/2010||3||1.5||2.0||0.5|
|Yankees at Tigers||5/13/2010||4||2.3||1.0||-1.3|
|Twins at Yankees||5/16/2010||3||1.8||2.0||0.2|
|Red Sox at Yankees||5/18/2010||2||1.1||1.0||-0.1|
|Rays at Yankees||5/20/2010||2||1.1||0.0||-1.1|
|Yankees at Mets||5/23/2010||3||1.6||1.0||-0.6|
|Yankees at Twins||5/27/2010||3||1.6||2.0||0.4|
|Indians at Yankees||5/31/2010||4||2.8||3.0||0.2|
xW: Expected wins for this series using log 5
aW: Actual wins
diff: Difference between xW and aW. Positive means team is ahead of their projected pace
The Yankees took care of business in the first three series they played, taking two of three against the White Sox and sweeping Baltimore before shipping up to Boston and taking two of three.
Then came a disappointing series in Detroit where they lost three of four, when they probably should have split.
They finished off the month by taking two of three from Minnesota at home then splitting a two-gamer with Boston. Then came the first series of the year were they didn’t win a game, as Tampa Bay came into DNYS and took a two-gamer. Next up came a three game exhibition series against the Mets in Flushing, where the Yankees dropped two of three. However, for some reason Bud Selig decided exhibition games should count so the Yanks got saddled with a series loss.
They finished up the month by doing what they should have done on the road against Minnesota and Cleveland, winning both series and finishing up the month with 17 wins, about one win less than log5 would have expected.
The Yankees scored 171 runs in May, an average of about 5.7 per game. That was a hair better than April. Here’s how the hitters performed.
The injury bug hit the Yankees in May, with Curtis Granderson, Jorge Posada and Nick Johnson all going down, pressing Francisco Cervelli, Randy Winn and Juan Miranda into the lineup a bit more than you’d hope for. Cervelli was up to the task, but it’s probably safe to say the others weren’t so much.
Nick Swisher was the best offensive player on the team in May, hitting .374/.441/.670 with seven homers. Alex Rodriguez also had a good month, and although Cano dropped from otherworldly to really good he was also very valuable. Mark Teixeira also showed signs of life after a disastrous April.
In April the pitching staff allowed an average of 3.76 runs per game, but they fell off in May, going to 4.4 runs per game.
rsar: runs saved above replacement level, calculated as n times league average RA minus pitcher RA time innings pitched, where n = 1.25 for starters and 1.15 for reliever.
May was the Phil Hughes show, as he was the most valuable pitcher on the team. Although his ERA went up by about a run, his FIP went down as he improved his walk rate from 5.5 batters per nine inning to 1.9. Andy Pettitte also continued to pitch well, and although Javier Vazquez’s final May line wasn’t very good, he ended the month pitching quite well. CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett both had rough months after good starts to the season.
Once again, the bullpen disappointed.
|Chan Ho Park||6||0||7.7||14||8||8||3||2||0||6||9.39||9.39||7.50||-3.6|
Even Mo had a rough month before going down for a while with an oblique injury. Joba Chamberlain had three spectactular disaster games.
On May 16 he started teh eighth with a 3-1 lead. He did manage to get two outs in between allowing two singles and a walk to load the bases, at which point Mo came in and did things he’d only done four times in his career.
a) He walked in a run
b) He gave up a grand slam
Apparently, one implosion wasn’t good enough for Joba, as he came in two days later on May 18 in a home game against the Red Sox with a 5-1 lead, and proceeded to allow four hits and four runs as Boston tied the game. An error in the ninth allowed Boston to score one against Mo and the Yankees had one of the most painful losses of the season.
Apparently, that wasn’t good enough either, because on May 29 he once again turned what looked like a sure win into a loss. This time, he came in with the Yankees ahead 10-6. Despite the fact that Cleveland had runners on first and second, the Yankees had a win expectancy of about 95% since there were two outs.
- A single cut the lead to 10-7, and the win expectancy to 90%
- A walk loaded the bases and cut the win expectancy to 85%
- A double cut the lead to 10-9, and the win expectancy to 67%
- Another double put Cleveland ahead 11-10 and cut the Yankees’ win expectancy to 33%.
- Another single gave Cleveland another run and cut the Yankees’ win expectancy to 21%.
Joba finished up strong though, striking out Shin-Soo Choo to end the inning and moving the Yankees’ win expectancy back up to 22%.
And hey, his FIP was 1.52 in May, so that’s something. I know bebop was wondering about Joba’s BABIP and if we could expect it to get better, and I’ll try and get to that in a few days.
The rest of the pen really didn’t do anything of note, although it should be noted that Chan Ho Park’s ERA of 9.39 was almost two runs higher than his 7.50 FIP, so he may have been a little unlucky.
As far as the defense, once again the Yankees cumulative ERA(4.25) was lower than their FIP (4.50). The gap wasn’t quite as big as it was in April, but that’s a difference of about seven runs. Again, I don’t think we necessarily want to give all the credit for that to the defense, but I’m sure they deserve some of it.
Despite the frustrating games where Joba turned what looked like wins into losses, in the big picture May wasn’t really a bad month either. You could almost say that to this point, the Yankees had been consistent.
2010 All Star Break Review - April Edition
With the All Star Break’s arrival, we have a chance to look back at what’s happened so far in 2010 and think about what it means going forward. So here’s a look at the Yankees’ performance in April.
|Series||Start Date||# Gms||xW||aW||diff|
|Yankees at Red Sox||4/7/2010||3||1.5||2.0||0.5|
|Yankees at Rays||4/11/2010||3||1.4||2.0||0.6|
|Angels at Yankees||4/15/2010||3||2.0||2.0||0.0|
|Rangers at Yankees||4/18/2010||3||1.7||3.0||1.3|
|Yankees at Athletics||4/22/2010||3||1.8||2.0||0.2|
|Yankees at Angels||4/25/2010||3||1.8||1.0||-0.8|
|Yankees at Orioles||4/29/2010||3||2.1||2.0||-0.1|
xW: Expected wins for this series using log 5
aW: Actual wins
diff: Difference between xW and aW. Positive means team is ahead of their projected pace
April had the potential to be a very rough month, with 15 of the first 21 games on the road, including the first six on the road against arguably two of the three best teams in baseball.
After dropping the season opener, the Yankees went on to win four of five games against Boston and Tampa Bay to jump a bit ahead of their log5 estimated pace. They then went home to win five of six against the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles and the Arlington Rangers of Texas. Next up came a six game west coast trip which saw the Yankees pick up two of three at Oakland before losing two of three to California. The Yankees then headed to Baltimore and finished out May by taking two of three.
The key series in April was the sweep of the Rangers, as it gave the Yankees an extra win over expectations.
The Yankees scored 118 runs during April, about 5.6 per game. Here’s how the hitters performed.
Robinson Cano obviously stormed out of the gate, as did Jorge Posada. Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner were also strong at the start. The rest of the starters were a bit underwhelming, although Marcus Thames did very well in his part-time role.
On the pitching side, it was all about the starting pitchers.
rsar: runs saved above replacement level, calculated as n times league average RA minus pitcher RA time innings pitched, where n = 1.25 for starters and 1.15 for reliever.
With one notable exception, the starting pitching was outstanding to start the season. CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes combined for about 40 runs saved above replacement level in 18 games. How good is that? To put it in perspective, if you had that rate of performance from your first four starting pitchers over a full season (132 games) you’d be 30 wins above a theoretical replacement level team. If replacement level is 60 wins, you’d win 90 games if the only thing you had was these four pitchers plus replacement level everywhere else.
The bullpen wasn’t quite as happy of a tale.
|Chan Ho Park||3||0||5.7||6||4||3||2||0||0||3||6.35||4.76||6.73||-0.7|
Before Joba Chamberlain became some hybrid of Juan Acevedo and Jose Veras, he was decent in April and of course Mo was Mo. The only real glaring weak spot was David Robertson, although in six innings anyone can look lousy, and his FIP was ok.
I don’t have the defensive data to look at the April split, although the team had a collective FIP of 4.03 compared to an ERA of 3.55. If you want to ascribe the entirety of that difference to the defense, they’d have been around a +10 overall. Of course, just because you need a large sample size of BABIP to ascertain a pitcher’s real skill doesn’t mean it’s not there, so it’s likely that at least some of that difference is due to the pitchers.
Anyway, unlike many recent Yankee teams, the Yankees started out well, which was nice.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
MINNEAPOLIS—Nick Swisher crushed a tiebreaking home run off Jon Rauch in the ninth inning to lift the Yankees to a 3-2 victory over the Twins on Wednesday night at Target Field.
After Andy Pettitte pitched his way out of a first-and-third, none-out jam in the bottom half of the eighth inning, Swisher belted a 381-foot blast, his eighth of the season, over the right-field wall to give the Yankees the lead.
After winning yesterday’s suspended game earlier this afternoon, the Yankees were able to take another one with the late HR by Swisher and some true battling over eight innings by Andy Pettitte. The key moment for Pettitte came in the bottom of the eighth when he was able to snare a liner off the bat of Orlando Hudson with runners on first and third and no outs then induce an inning-ending GDP from last year’s second most valuable AL player, Joe Mauer.
Any time you can pick up two wins in fewer than five hours against one of the best teams in the league in their park, you have to be happy about it.
It’s been frustrating to see the Yankees’ high-priced players continue to struggle (including the first baseman who may soon not deserve to be named), but when farm-system products like Brett Gardner, Francisco Cervelli and Kevin Russo help win a game for you, it’s more fun in many ways.
We don’t know how good any of those guys will end up being, although it’s probably more likely they’ll be support/role players or possibly league average for a few years, but tonight they were great.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
BOSTON—Mark Teixeira homered before and after the rains came, and Francisco Cervelli drove in three runs to pace the Yankees’ offensive attack in a 14-3 victory over the Red Sox on Saturday at Fenway Park.
Teixeira cracked a solo shot to give New York the lead off Boston starter Clay Buchholz in the fifth and belted another in the seventh off Ramon Ramirez, as the slugging first baseman doubled his homer output for the season in one afternoon.
With the Red Sox using reserve outfielder Jonathan Van Every to pitch the ninth, Teixeira belted a two-run homer off the light tower above the Green Monster.
Playing once again behind the plate in place of Jorge Posada, Cervelli notched five RBIs with a pair of singles, notching a run-scoring hit in the fourth and another in the fifth that chased home two runs, helping New York to its sixth consecutive victory.
Even a rash of injuries that would have made the 2009 Mets shake their heads can’t stop the Yankees right now.
Teixeira entered today’s hitting this game hitting .181/.328/.295 and ends it hitting .207/.343/.396. And you have to love what Cervelli’s been doing with Jorge Posada out injured, even if it’s a fluke.
Of course, no game would be complete without more injuries. This time, it’s Alfredo Aceves who was forced to leave with lower back stiffness.
To be honest, with how banged up they are, I had hoped the Yankees would just take one of these three games, but now anything less than a sweep would be unacceptable.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Yankee WAR Pie Chart Through Games of May 5, 2010
At 19-8, the Yankees have played at a pace that the mighty 1998 Yankees would have been proud of. More impressively, they were able to do it through what on paper looked like the hardest part of their schedule, although our estimates of the strength of the opposition may change as we move through the season.
So why have the Yankees been so good so far? It’s Pie Chart time!
WAR stands for wins above replacement. For position players it consists of batting runs above position-adjusted replacement level plus defense saved compared to average using an average of zone rating and UZR. For pitchers it’s just runs saved compared to a a replacement level pitcher using runs allowed per nine. These are context-neutral values, so they aren’t going to necessarily line up with actual game values once you factor in context.
Negative values don’t work with pie charts, so here’s the full list:
|Chan Ho Park||-0.1|
As a team, the Yankees have been 10.2 wins above replacement level. I set replacement level at around 50 wins per 162 games, so over 27 games a replacement level team would win about 8.3 games. So those eight wins plus the 10.2 WAR = 18.5 wins, which is essentially what the Yankees have actually done.
Random fun with small sample sizes:
- Andy Pettitte, A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes have combined for more than half of the team WAR at 5.3.
- Robinson Cano has been more valuable Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira COMBINED.
- TSBG = 0.9 WAR. A-Rod + Jeter + Teixeira = 0.9 WAR.
- The Yankee bullpen has combined for 0.4 WAR. Mariano Rivera has been worth 0.5 WAR.
Anyway, as always, remember that sample size is an issue, and that we should still expect players to play closer to how they projected to play going forward than how they’ve done so far this year. However, what’s happened so far can inform our going forward projections, so we shouldn’t ignore that either.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
NEW YORK—Francisco Cervelli stole the show with a triple, bunt single and a tumbling catch over the dugout railing, leaving A.J. Burnett content to work in the background and pitch the Yankees toward a 4-1 victory over the Orioles on Tuesday.
I thought that was Brett Gardner in a Francisco Cervelli mask. Cervelli’s performance was reminiscent of the speed game the last Yankee backup had, Jose “Wheels” Molino.
Burnett was nasty tonight, especially his curve. By allowing only one unearned run over 7.1 innings, he lowered his ERA on the season to 1.99. His FIP is 3.18, so we probably shouldn’t expect him to maintain a sub 2 ERA all year. He’s probably been a little fortunate in allowing just one HR so far, with 3% of his fly balls going for HRs compared to around 10.1% in his career, and I’d expect that to normalize some going forward.
The more encouraging thing to me is he’s cut down on the walks. Last season, Burnett walked 12.1% of the batters he faced, while striking out 21.8%, and led the league in walks allowed. This year, he’s walking just 6.7%, while striking out 17.0%. Also encouraging is that his GB% has gone from 42.8% last season to 48.5%. He’s thrown a higher percentage of fastballs this season at 74.3%, compared to 65.8% last year, and it seems to be working.
Right now, the starting pitching is carrying this team (with one notable exception), and it’s been fun to watch.
On an unrelated note, I was saddened to hear about the passing of Ernie Harwell. I used to listen to the occasional Tigers games on 760 out of Detroit, and Harwell was a great announcer, and by all accounts a wonderful person. RIP Mr. Harwell.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Yankee Run Values Through Games of April 28, 2010
As promised, here’s how the Yankees look in terms of YTD performance.
wOBA: Weighted on-base average
BR: Linear weights batting runs, not position adjusted
BRAA: Batting runs above an average player, not position-adjusted
BRAR: Batting runs above a replacement level player, position-adjusted
zRS: Runs saved compared to an average defender using zone rating:
uRS: Runs saved compared to an average defender using UZR:
aRS: Average of zRS and uRS
WAR: Wins above replacement, calculated as (BRAR + aRS) divided by 10
Robinson Cano’s been a monster offensively this season. Here are the AL leaders to this point.
Vernon Wells: 13.5 BRAR
Robinson Cano: 11.7 BRAR
Nelson Cruz: 11.1 BRAR
Justin Morneau: 10.2 BRAR
Miguel Cabrera: 9.5 BRAR
Evan Longoria: 8.8 BRAR
Jorge Posada: 8.7 BRAR
Ty Wigginton: 8.7 BRAR
Joe Mauer: 8.6 BRAR
Alex Gonzalez: 8.5 BRAR
Posada sneaks into this list too.
Unfortunately , Cano’s defense as reflected by both zone rating and UZR to this point takes away some of his value, although we have the standard caveats about the reliability of fielding metrics and the small sample size of 20 games that we need to take into account.
Hopefully Posada won’t need to miss too much time after being hit in the knee last night.
Would you be surprised if I told you that Cano has not been the most valuable Yankee this year?
|Chan Ho Park||Yankees||AL||RP||3||0||5.7||23||6||4||3||2||0||3||6.35||4.76||6.73||-1.3||-0.8||-1.0||-0.1|
TBF: Total batters faced
FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
RSAA: Runs saved above an average pitcher of the same role over the same # of innings, using RA.
RSAR: Runs saved above a replacement level pitcher (1.2 times average RA) of the same role over the same # of innings
FRSAR: RSAR if we use FIP instead of actual RA
WAR: Wins above replacement (RSAR divided by 10)
Battlecat just keeps on keeping on.
Here’s the whole team sorted by WAR.
|22||Chan Ho Park||-0.1|
You know what’d be cool? If Mark Teixeira and Nick Johnson stopped hitting like Randy Winn.
Monday, April 12, 2010
2010 Opening Week In Review
If you trust the results of the Diamond Mind Projection Blowout, the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays are probably the three best teams in baseball. So starting the season by playing six games on the road against two of the three best teams in baseball had the potential to be pretty painful. Fortunately for us, the Yankees were up to the task, taking two of three from both of their rivals, enabling them to stay close to the Toronto juggernaut in the AL East.
Here’s a look at how the team performed statistically.
BR: Batting runs using linear weights
BRAR: Position-adjusted BR above replacement level
At this point, Teixeira’s a sunk cost and the Yankees should probably just release him and eat his salary. How about that Posada kid though? And this Granderson fella can play a bit as well. On a slightly more serious note, the Yankees put up 36 runs in six games on the road against two of the better projected run prevention teams in the league, which bodes nicely for the offense going forward.
|Chan Ho Park||Yankees||AL||RP||2||0||3.7||4||3||2||1||0||2||7.36||4.91||5.65||-0.9|
RSAR: Runs saved above replacement level.
Yay Battlecat! And if you need further proof about how foolish it was to put Joba in the rotation, look at how dominant he’s been as a reliever so far. I don’t care about sample size, he’s clearly the Joba of old again. Vindication for the JSPTE crowd!
UZR is not yet available for 2010, but here’s how the team performed this past week according to zone rating.
GS: Games Started
CH: Playable Chances
INN: Defensive Innings at Position
DP: Double Plays
ZR: Zone Rating (PM/Ch)
PM: Plays Made
Avg ZR: ZR by average defender at the same position and in the same league
AvgPM: Estimated Plays Made over the same # of chances by an average defender
Diff: Difference between PM and AvgPM
RS: Runs Saved
Standard caveats about limitations of fielding metrics and sample size apply as always. At this point just one missed play can have a huge impact on a player’s RS total, so don’t make too much of these numbers yet, although I’ve been very pleased with Rodriguez’s defense at third so far. His hip doesn’t seem to be an issue in terms of his lateral range to this point.
For the hell of it, here’s how zone rating has all 30 MLB teams ranked (does not include catchers).
Shouldn’t the Red Sox be around +10 by now? Peter Gammons told me they were going to be historically great defensively.
When we looked at the April expectations using log 5, we saw that the Yankees would have been estimated to go 1.4 - 1.6 versus Boston and 1.5 and 1.5 versus Tampa Bay(and yes, I know you can’t win .4 or .5 or .6 games). That means they’d have been expected to be 2.94 - 3.06 after six games. All that means is they’re a game ahead of where we’d have put them, so we’d have to consider opening week a success.
|4-Apr||@Boston Red Sox||0.48||0.52||0.48||0.52||0||1||0||1||-0.48|
|6-Apr||@Boston Red Sox||0.48||0.52||0.97||1.03||1||0||1||1||0.03|
|7-Apr||@Boston Red Sox||0.48||0.52||1.45||1.55||1||0||2||1||0.55|
|9-Apr||@Tampa Bay Rays||0.50||0.50||1.95||2.05||0||1||2||1||0.05|
|10-Apr||@Tampa Bay Rays||0.50||0.50||2.44||2.56||1||0||3||1||0.56|
|11-Apr||@Tampa Bay Rays||0.50||0.50||2.94||3.06||1||0||4||1||1.06|
xW/L: Expected wins/losses using log 5
cxW/L: Cumulative expected wins/losses using log 5
aW/L: Actual wins/losses for games played
caW/L: Cumulative ctual wins/losses for games played
W+/-: caW - cxW. Negative means behind pace, positive means ahead of pace
So now it’s on to a six game home stand against the Orange County Angels and the Texas Rangers.
|13-Apr||vs. Los Angeles Angels||0.65||0.35||3.59||3.41|
|14-Apr||vs. Los Angeles Angels||0.65||0.35||4.23||3.77|
|15-Apr||vs. Los Angeles Angels||0.65||0.35||4.88||4.12|
|16-Apr||vs. Texas Rangers||0.61||0.39||5.49||4.51|
|17-Apr||vs. Texas Rangers||0.61||0.39||6.09||4.91|
|18-Apr||vs. Texas Rangers||0.61||0.39||6.7||5.3|
Log 5 would tell you that the Yankees should go 3.78 - 2.22 on this homestand, but they’ll get swept by the Angels, which is going to make that impossible. So I guess it’s good they’ve got a game in the bank.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Looking Ahead to 2010 - Position Player Wrapup
Unfortunately I didn’t really get to finish these up in the detail I’d like to due to time constraints, so I’ll consolidate these into a few more posts, one for the position player wrap up, one for the starting pitchers, one for the relievers and then one final one for the whole team.The table below just shows a rough estimate of projected playing time for the starters and the guys I think will be the primary bench players, and their projected outs and batting runs in each of the projection systems I've been using for these previews.
caOuts/caBR: cairo projected outs and linear weights batting runs for estimated PA
chOuts/chBR: chone projected outs and linear weights batting runs for estimated PA
mOuts/mBR: marcel projected outs and linear weights batting runs for estimated PA
oOuts/oBR: oliver projected outs and linear weights batting runs for estimated PA
pOuts/pBR: pecota projected outs and linear weights batting runs for estimated PA
zOuts/zBR: zips projected outs and linear weights batting runs for estimated PA
aOuts/aBR: average projected outs and linear weights batting runs for estimated PA
Team outs should add up to 4100 so keep that in mind when looking at each individual system. The systems that show more than 4100 outs would predict a few runs less than shown and the systems that show fewer than 4100 outs would predict a few more runs than shown, but the average is fairly close. 880 runs is about 15 runs fewer than the average projection showed in the Diamond Mind projection blowout, but that looks like it's due to slight differences in the playing time of some of the players compared to these.
If the Yankees can get a few more PA out of Nick Johnson and Jorge Posada, they should be able to get up to around 900 runs.
Defensively, the Yankees should look like this roughly.
RS are runs saved compared to average using an average of zone rating and UZR.
While it's likely more players than those on the original opening day roster will see time defensively, none of the players that would fall into that group have defensive projections that I'd feel comfortable using so I'm not going to include them here. The infield looks a bit below average and the outfield looks like they should be pretty decent. Overall, they could be around average as a unit, which would be nice.
I'm pretty sure this is the best group of position players in baseball on paper, so barring injury and/or worse than expected decline they should do their part to make the Yankees a mid-90s win team. Will the pitching staff be up to the task? That's a question for the next two posts.
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