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July 23, 2010

Ahead in the Count

Buyers and Sellers

by Matt Swartz

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Adding players halfway through a season is worth far more to a contender than half of their full-season value. Those players can make in a difference in a situation where a couple of games could make or break a team's season. The Mariners traded for Cliff Lee in December 2009 with the expectation that he would help them contend for the American League West title in 2010, but it turns out that an underperforming offense rendered his wins useless towards that goal and they traded him to the Rangers two weeks ago. However, any team competing for the National League wild card knows that it will probably be decided by a couple games and that one big acquisition can make the difference. Sometimes adding two wins in a half season from a four-win player does more for a team's playoff odds than adding four wins for a full season. As an extreme example, consider two teams who are tied for the division lead with one game left to play against each other. How much would they pay for an ace? Certainly more than 1/162 of his value because the odds of that pitcher pushing a team over the top are very high.

This naturally begs the question of which teams would get the most value from adding any of the remaining players on the market. Players like Dan Haren, Roy Oswalt, Jayson Werth, and Prince Fielder can all add about four or five wins over a full season, and still could generate a couple extra wins for a team in the final two months. Thus, I created the following tables for each division explaining the estimated impact of adding a 4 1/2-win player on each team’s playoff odds and championship odds (through Wednesday’s games). These use the PECOTA-adjusted Playoff Odds Reports to generate a distribution of possible records after a hypothetical trade and the associated odds of winning enough games to make the playoffs. I also used the log5 method for post-season games to create a rough estimation of each team's championship odds with and without that 4 1/2-win player. These numbers certainly give a decent estimation of what happens to a team's odds upon making the playoffs. I used the same adjustments to approximate pre-season projected standings and odds, and considered the effect of adding a 4 ½-win player to teams at the beginning of the season, too.

AL East
Pre-Season Playoff and Championship Odds

Team

Playoff Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds Added

Champion-ship Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds Added

Yankees

53.2

78.7

25.5

9.6

18.9

9.3

Rays

53.3

78.8

25.5

9.6

18.9

9.3

Red Sox

76.4

92.5

16.2

13.7

22.2

8.5

Blue Jays

0.0

0.1

0.1

0.0

0.0

0.0

Orioles

0.5

3.0

2.5

0.0

0.3

0.3

July 22 Playoff and Championship Odds

Team

Playoff Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds Added

Champion-ship Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds Added

Yankees

92.8

97.3

4.6

17.0

23.9

6.9

Rays

83.1

92.4

9.3

12.9

18.1

5.2

Red Sox

22.2

37.9

15.7

3.4

7.4

4.0

Blue Jays

0.3

1.0

0.7

0.0

0.1

0.1

Orioles

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

The three best teams in the AL East are probably the three best teams in baseball. Going into the season, that certainly appeared true, but only two teams can make the playoffs from one division. This put a premium on wins, which explains why the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays had the most to gain by adding a star at the beginning of the season.

Closing in on the July 31 trade deadline, the Yankees still have a lot to gain by adding a star player, even though they are very likely to make the playoffs regardless. The Red Sox and Rays both stand to gain by adding a star player as well, though the Red Sox have less to gain. The Red Sox find themselves the likely odd team out as they are 4 ½ games behind the Rays for the AL wild card, but they could increase their chances to about 38 percent if they added a 4 1/2-win player. If they did reach the playoffs, even a likely home-field disadvantage would not change the fact that they would probably be favorites in any series against an AL Central or AL West team. The Rays stand to help themselves more by adding a star, because they would increase their odds of putting away the Red Sox, and they have a better chance of utilizing the star in their playoff battles as well.

The Blue Jays and Orioles appeared to be sellers at the beginning of the season, and nothing has changed. Compared to a contender who often stands to increase its odds of reaching the playoffs by about 6 percent for every win worth of talent it adds before the season starts, these teams would have no real changes in their playoff odds by adding a star.

In summary, as of right now, I would suggest the following decisions on the part of teams:

Yankees: Strong Buy
Rays: Strong Buy
Red Sox: Strong Buy
Blue Jays: Strong Sell
Orioles: Strong Sell

AL Central
Pre-Season Playoff and Championship Odds

Team

Playoff Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds Added

Champion-ship Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds Added

White Sox

24.0

50.0

26.1

2.6

7.5

4.9

Twins

34.7

62.4

27.7

3.8

9.4

5.5

Tigers

24.0

50.0

26.1

2.6

7.5

4.9

Royals

4.9

17.3

12.4

0.5

2.4

1.9

Indians

19.4

43.8

24.4

2.1

6.6

4.4

July 22 Playoff and Championship Odds

Team

Playoff Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds Added

Champion-ship Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds Added

White Sox

61.3

77.3

16.0

6.6

10.2

3.6

Twins

23.1

38.9

15.8

2.5

5.1

2.7

Tigers

16.4

30.3

13.8

1.8

4.0

2.2

Royals

0.0

0.2

0.2

0.0

0.0

0.0

Indians

0.0

0.1

0.1

0.0

0.0

0.0

Going into the season, the Twins looked like a slight favorite to win the AL Central, and adding a 4 1/2-win player could have increased their Championship Odds by 5.5 percent. While some players have underperformed, the larger damage to the Twins' playoff chances has been stronger than expected performances from the Tigers and White Sox. Even adding a star now would only push the Twins towards the 39 percentrange, so they are likely better served not to make a move. I do not think it would be wise for a team still very much in contention to start trading pieces away, but if they fall back a few more games before the deadline, the Twins could probably get some return on Carl Pavano, Orlando Hudson, Jim Thome, and Jon Rauch. Those players could each plug holes for contenders.

The White Sox suddenly find themselves on top of the AL Central and adding a star player would vault their odds of making the playoffs by about 16 percent. However, their playoff odds are strong enough without making a move that I would only advise a weak buy. They are not likely to be favorites in any playoff series, and risking too much on this season would not be wise.

The Tigers are also in a position where they should only consider buying, and should be very cautious about it. Even adding a 4 1/2-win player would move them up to about a 30.3 percent chance of making the playoffs, where they would also be underdogs. The Tigers may gain a lot more by saving their bullets for the offseason, and assessing whether adding big-name players can vault them in front of the Twins and Tigers.

Like the AL East trailers above, both the Indians and Royals should be looking to get market value for players that are unlikely to be part of their next championship team.

In Summary
White Sox: Weak Buy
Tigers:
Hold
Twins:
Hold
Royals
: Strong Sell
Indians:
Strong Sell

AL West
Pre-Season Playoff and Championship Odds

Team

Playoff Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds Added

Champion-ship Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds Added

Rangers

34.7

62.4

27.7

4.2

10.0

5.8

Angels

15.3

37.7

22.4

1.8

6.0

4.2

Athletics

24.0

50.1

26.1

2.9

8.0

5.1

Mariners

34.7

62.4

27.7

4.2

10.0

5.8

July 22 Playoff and Championship Odds

Team

Playoff Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds Added

Champion-ship Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds Added

Rangers

86.7

94.2

7.5

13.0

14.1

1.1

Angels

10.9

21.7

10.8

0.4

1.2

0.9

Athletics

3.0

7.6

4.6

0.1

0.4

0.3

Mariners

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

With the AL West race leaning strongly towards the Rangers even before the Lee trade, it probably did not make much sense to acquire him. While Lee certainly helps the Rangers’ chances of begin competitive in the playoffs, there is a real ceiling in terms of how much he could add to the their already-good chances of getting there. At this point, the Rangers should not go in any further. With a very strong farm system that makes them likely contenders for many years to come, it is not wise to trade away players that have a good chance of being part of winning squads in a couple years.

The Angels certainly should consider trading away parts at this stage if they get blown away by an offer. The Rangers have a few extra games in the bank already and a much better team with Lee aboard. The Angels do not have much to trade, as many of their players are under contract through 2011 when Los Angeles will likely have a better chance, but they should be listening on guys like Hideki Matsui and Brain Fuentes.

The Athletics and Mariners should be in sell mode. In the game's smallest division, both could be contenders very quickly, but to catch up with the Rangers, they should be looking to see what they can get to make it a fairer fight.

In Summary
Rangers: Hold
Angels:
Weak Sell
Athletics:
Strong Sell
Mariners:
Strong Sell

NL East
Pre-Season Playoff and Championship Odds

Team

Playoff Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds Added

Champion-ship Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds Added

Braves

46.9

73.8

26.8

5.2

12.5

7.4

Mets

15.3

37.7

22.3

1.2

4.9

3.7

Phillies

59.5

83.1

23.6

7.4

14.5

7.1

Marlins

15.3

37.7

22.3

1.1

4.5

3.4

Nationals

4.9

17.3

12.4

0.2

1.4

1.1

July 22 Playoff and Championship Odds

Team

Playoff Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds Added

Champion-ship Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds Added

Braves

88.0

95.0

6.9

9.2

15.8

6.5

Mets

12.1

23.8

11.7

1.0

3.1

2.1

Phillies

11.4

22.8

11.4

1.0

3.0

2.0

Marlins

3.4

8.5

5.1

0.3

1.1

0.8

Nationals

0.0

0.1

0.1

0.0

0.0

0.0

One way of looking at the Phillies' decision to trade Lee was that they would have been pre-season favorites in the NL East with or without him, and the playoffs are enough of a crapshoot that they might have been better off trading for the future because simply being favorites in 2010 did not make them guaranteed winners. This was flawed thinking, which underestimated the young Braves team that underperformed in 2009, and also ignored the natural variance in win totals around one’s true talent level. In fact, the Phillies actually stood to gain more from a 4 1/2-win player than 25 other teams in the league. Now, the Phillies are far enough behind that even adding a 4 1/2-win player would add only about 2 percent to their championship odds, while many other teams in the league could increase their championship odds by 6 or 7 percent. The best decision would be to hold, and to trade Werth for young talent if they continue to skid before the deadline, and not trade for Oswalt.

On the other hand, the Braves have a chance to really improve their chances in the playoffs by adding a 4 1/2-win player. They will probably win the NL East either way, but they can strongly help their playoff odds with another great player as well, since they could not only increase their chances of home-field advantage but of being the best team in every post-season round.

The Mets looked like they were in trouble going into 2010, but they are still in pack, albeit toward the back, of six teams competing for the NL wild card. For the Mets, who are not necessarily any better than the other five wild-card contenders, small upgrades could be helpful but an eye on the future is more important.

The Marlins and Nationals have basically sunk 2010, and should be looking to trade what they can.

In Summary
Braves: Strong Buy
Phillies: Hold
Mets: Hold
Marlins: Strong Sell
Nationals: Strong Sell

NL Central
Pre-Season Playoff and Championship Odds

Team

Playoff Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds Added

Champion-ship Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds Added

Cardinals

65.5

86.7

21.3

8.2

15.2

7.0

Reds

11.9

31.9

20.0

0.7

3.2

2.5

Cubs

15.3

37.7

22.3

0.9

3.8

2.8

Brewers

15.3

37.7

22.3

0.9

3.8

2.8

Astros

15.3

37.7

22.3

0.9

3.8

2.8

Pirates

4.9

17.2

12.4

0.2

1.2

1.0

July 22 Playoff and Championship Odds

Team

Playoff Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds Added

Champion-ship Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds Added

Cardinals

85.5

93.6

8.2

7.4

11.9

4.5

Reds

47.1

64.8

17.7

4.1

8.2

4.2

Cubs

0.1

0.5

0.4

0.0

0.0

0.0

Brewers

0.1

0.2

0.2

0.0

0.0

0.0

Astros

0.0

0.1

0.1

0.0

0.0

0.0

Pirates

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

The Cardinals seemed like they would run away with the NL Central before the season began, but the Reds have put up a strong fight and are still only a game and a half a game behind St. Louis. At this point, both the Cardinals and Reds should be looking to buy. The Cardinals have the better team, and are more likely to emerge now that they have retaken the division lead, but with both teams in good position to get the wild card, neither team should give in.

On the other hand, the other four teams in the NL Central have fallen from contention and should be looking to trade what they can.

In Summary
Cardinals: Strong Buy
Reds:
Strong Buy
Brewers:
Strong Sell
Cubs:
Strong Sell
Astros:
Strong Sell
Pirates:
Strong Sell

NL West
Pre-Season Playoff and Championship Odds

Team

Playoff Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds Added

Champion-ship Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds Added

Padres

3.5

13.5

10.0

0.2

1.6

1.4

Giants

29.1

56.3

27.2

2.9

8.5

5.5

Rockies

46.9

73.8

26.8

5.2

11.8

6.6

Dodgers

24.0

50.1

26.1

2.6

8.0

5.4

Diamondbacks

24.0

50.1

26.1

2.6

8.0

5.4

July 22 Playoff and Championship Odds

Team

Playoff Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Playoff Odds Added

Champion-ship Odds w/o 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds w/ 4.5-win Player

Champion-ship Odds Added

Padres

64.6

79.8

15.2

7.3

13.2

6.0

Giants

33.4

51.1

17.6

3.0

6.6

3.6

Rockies

37.0

55.1

18.1

4.2

9.1

5.0

Dodgers

17.3

31.3

14.0

1.9

5.2

3.2

Diamondbacks

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

With the exception of the Diamondbacks, who should certainly be selling at this stage, the rest of the NL West is in contention. The Padres looked like they had the worst chances of anyone in the West coming into the season, but they put together a very strong first half, and look like one of the better teams in the league. The division is not yet won, and even at this stage, the odds of one of the other three division contenders going on a winning streak is high. This explains why the Padres only have a 65 percent chance of making the playoffs in spite of their four-game lead. However, a solid addition to their lineup could make a big difference for the rest of the regular season and in the postseason. The Padres should be looking to deal, but should also remember that their young squad should be competitive for several years if they do not trade away too much talent.

The Rockies are probably the best of the teams in the division, but at most, two teams from the NL West can make the playoffs. The Rockies also stand to gain a lot from adding a top player who could help them. The Dodgers are also very talented, but a horrible start to the second half has sunk their odds and moved their “strong buy” status to “weak buy.” The Giants might not be as good as the other teams in the division, so they are more likely to fall out of the race, but they have the pitching staff to match up with anyone. Adding a big bat might make a difference for them, but they should keep an eye on likely regression that could knock them out of the race anyway. The Giants should probably wait until the deadline to decide what to do.

In Summary
Padres: Strong Buy
Rockies: Strong Buy
Dodgers: Weak Buy
Giants: Weak Buy
Diamondbacks: Strong Sell  

Matt Swartz is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Matt's other articles. You can contact Matt by clicking here

28 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

John Collins
(110)

So the Twins would increase their chance of making the playoffs as much as any AL team by adding a 4.5 player, but they should stand pat? I think this analysis underrates the value of making the playoffs (while coming up short of a championship). And the non-PECOTA version of the playoff odds has MN already at +30% chance of the playoffs...

While I quibble with the conclusion re: the Twins, this article is a nice idea and nicely done.

Jul 23, 2010 00:50 AM
rating: 2
 
elm
(41)

Yeah, the Twins conclusion is an odd one, especially when seeing that the Red Sox are a strong buy. Obviously, Matt's not being a slave to his own metric here and is allowing his judgment to independently influence his conclusions, which is good, but I'd like to see more justification for these two conclusions.

Also, it seems odd that the numbers appear to contradict the frame of the article: for every team but the Padres, a 4.5 win player has less (often much less) influence now than they would have at the start of the season.

Jul 23, 2010 07:34 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Matt Swartz
BP staff

John, the Twins did have a huge jump in playoff odds added by bringing somebody in, but because their odds are not all that great in the first place, they have a relatively small gain in championship odds. I based most of my decision about what to do on championship odds. The Twins are a good enough franchise that they should be looking at that too, I think. Why sacrifice a championship later for a division title now?

Elm, the frame of the article was that adding a player halfway through the season could have almost the same impact as adding him at the beginning. Except for circumstances like the Padres, the full season is going to help more than a little more than a third of the season in expectation. The point is that stars add about 2/3 the value for 1/3 the season for a lot of contenders.

Jul 23, 2010 07:46 AM
 
elm
(41)

Ah, I see what you're saying now (and I see that I should have seen it all along, i.e., it wasn't because you were unclear, I just misread.)

However, on John's point, there still seems to be a disconnect with the Twins and Red Sox unless you really think ~1% difference in change in championship odds or ~2% difference in overall championship odds is that big of deal. Also, hasn't previous research documented how much monetary value there is in just making the playoffs? So there would be value in adding, maybe not the best players available, but someone from the second tier of talent even if it doesn't change the championship odds much.

Maybe this is quibbling, but I'd think that if the Red Sox are strong buyers, then the Twins should be at least weak buyers and if the Twins should hold, then the Red Sox should at most be weak buyers.

Jul 23, 2010 09:21 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Matt Swartz
BP staff

I think that a big part of the huge boost in expected revenue upon making the playoffs is that there is a good chance even the worst team in the playoffs advances or even plays in the World Series. I'm not sure that the biggest payoff is the first round, per se, but I'm not sure. I guess there would be something more to be said for some of the teams with 20-30% chances of making the playoffs becoming buyers if I'm underestimating the gain from making but being eliminated the first round.

Jul 23, 2010 10:44 AM
 
Richard Bergstrom

The Rockies might be a strong buy, but besides some bullpen help and maybe a second baseman, I'm not sure where they could improve.

Jul 23, 2010 04:54 AM
rating: 0
 
Sophist

How reliable/accurate are the playoff odds with ~70 games to go?

Jul 23, 2010 07:40 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Matt Swartz
BP staff

I assumed they were pretty good, but even if they are 5-10% off, the relative change in playoff odds added and championship odds added should be about right.

Jul 23, 2010 07:47 AM
 
Sophist

Yeah, looking over the divisions, for the purposes of this article it wouldn't seem to make much difference. I have just been curious about their reliability for awhile now and hadn't been able to find anything on the topic in the archives. Thanks, Matt.

Jul 24, 2010 05:59 AM
rating: 0
 
hyprvypr

How grim do things look in Philly now. Not only are they struggling to hit in a hitter's park, but their new shiny contract Ryan Howard continues to play like an above-average 1B at the price of the absolute best one. That contract should be fun to laugh at in 4-5 years.

I saw a curious comment early this week also related to Howard. Some guy in Chicago covering the White Soxs said the club was having a hard time dealing with the 'price' of Adam Dunn and was quoted as saying something like "What do they think Dunn is? Ryan Howard?" .... Uhm, well yes, he pretty much is.

They're very similar but you could certainly make the arguement that Dunn is BETTER then Howard, not the other way around, at least based on recent trends.

They certainly are very similar yet some baseball folks still don't understand that a .240/.370/.530 player is more valuable then a .270/.350/.540 player.

Jul 23, 2010 07:50 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Matt Swartz
BP staff

Adam Dunn is underrated and Ryan Howard is overrated. Hopefully, some team is smart enough to offer the Nationals a good haul on Dunn. I think that you're probably underestimating Dunn's relative OBP advantage and underestimating Howard's relative SLG advantage, but the reality is that their offense is very similar in value. The difference in skill is really that Ryan Howard has average defensive skill and the jury is still out on Dunn's defensive skill. Dunn has been better at first this year, but Howard's had a couple average years in a row at first since he lost weight and worked on his agility. As I wrote at the time, Ryan Howard's contract is going to depend on how well he ages and how much salary inflation baseball sees. He's worth the money now, but if he ages like Mo Vaughn instead of Jim Thome, that's going to be what determines if the contract is a disaster. If the economy sputters and salaries hold, though, it could be anyway.

Jul 23, 2010 08:20 AM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Also another difference is that Dunn at a .784 OPS isn't quite as hopeless versus left handers as Ryan Howard with a .741 OPS is.

Jul 23, 2010 11:31 AM
rating: -1
 
Richard Bergstrom

Er, those OPSes are over the last three years (2007-2010).

Jul 23, 2010 11:31 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Matt Swartz
BP staff

Splits always need to be regressed back to the average split, because they are such a small sample size. I think that a good estimation is that you need 1000 PA on each side to even consider a player's true split skill level to be 50% his split and 50% the league average split. I'm not sure about the 1000 but it's something like that.

Regardless, that doesn't matter much because Howard is better at RHP and worse at LHP. It doesn't seem to affect Howard's overall performance in high leverage PA, so it shouldn't make much difference.

Jul 23, 2010 11:36 AM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Might it matter? I have no data to back this up, but since we talk about people like Dunn and Howard as having "old player skills", I'd guess that a player who has an extreme split is more likely to fall off the shelf performance-wise as they age. As their bat speed slows, I'd think someone who can only hit opposite-hand pitching would be less likely to hit that pitching... but if they still had some ability to hit same-hand pitching, they'd retain their performance a bit longer.

I might be wrong... but maybe it's a good article idea?

Jul 23, 2010 12:17 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Matt Swartz
BP staff

I guess it's possible splits could provide a clue about aging, though it would actually work the other way in your example, because a player could be platooned once they get below replacement level against same-handed pitching, so they'd lose less value in that sense.

Jul 23, 2010 12:28 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

True. I guess I picture that someone who has severe splits as having a hole in their swing or something wrong in their approach, and as they get older and their bat slows, that hole gets wider. But what you say is also valid... someone with more even splits would degrade across the board, and be less likely to have any role.

(Btw, sorry if this is a big digression from your article)

Jul 23, 2010 13:59 PM
rating: 0
 
Sophist

There have been some Howard-like sluggers of former eras with similar platoon splits who aged well. Willie Stargell was a .249/.317/.446 career hitter vs LHP. Willie McCovey was .248/.336/.440 against southpaws.

There are more LHP in the league than there were in the 60s and 70s (Howard faces about 250 a year, McCovey faced around 140-170 from '63-'78), so his overall effectiveness is more limited by the splits, but there may not be anything about a weakness against lefties that hints at holes in the swing. Those are two examples anyway.

Jul 24, 2010 06:15 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

I would think there were some people with platoon splits who had long careers, just as there are people with "old player skills" who end up having long careers... I just wasn't sure if there was a general trend there or not.

Thanks for the extra info and analysis on this (and on Howard's splits)

Jul 24, 2010 10:17 AM
rating: 0
 
Sophist

Yeah, I have no idea about trends. Just thought they were interesting comparisons for Howard.

Jul 24, 2010 13:05 PM
rating: 0
 
Sophist

Howard is quietly improving against lefties. His approach against them (and pitchers overall) seems to be in flux this year. The shift will never allow his BAbip to be at 2006 levels vs LHP, but he's cut his K% down by about 12% from last year against them and brought his HR/FB up closer to 2006-2008 levels. There are a couple of concerns besides permanence, for instance the increased contact rate has his BB% way down, but he's hitting .269/.324/.507 vs LHP this year. Is it sustainable? I think it is, given that his BAbip is at post-shift levels. We'll have to see. The guys been a monster this summer (.331/.387/.663 since June 3rd).

Jul 24, 2010 06:08 AM
rating: 0
 
Nater1177

I'm not sure I follow the logic here. The Red Sox, who by adding a 4.5 win player would increase their playoff odds 15.7% up to a total of 37.9% and their championship odds by 4.0% to a total 7.4%.

The Twins would increase their playoff odds by 15.8% to a total of 38.9% by adding a 4.5 win player. Their championship odds go from up 2.7% to a total of 5.1%.

The White Sox increase their playoff odds by 16.0% to a total of 77.3% and championship odds increase 3.6% to a total of 10.2%.

Somehow the Red Sox rate as a 'Stong Buy' while the White Sox only rate as a 'Weak Buy' and the Twins only get a 'Hold'.

If the 'Buy' determination is based on making the playoffs firstly (added revenue) and championship odds secondly (since the playoffs are considered a 'crapshoot') then the Twins are almost exactly equal to the Red Sox. If the 'Buy' determination is based firstly winning the whole thing (flags fly forever), the White Sox are clearly in a stronger position than the Red Sox.

It seems if the 'Buy' determination is strongly influenced by 'who has the most money and who has shown predispositions to making trades in the past' in some places rather than strictly by the numbers.

Jul 23, 2010 07:53 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Matt Swartz
BP staff

I was basing things largely on Championship Odds Added, so the Red Sox at 4.0% were a little higher than the White Sox at 3.6%. In all honesty, I was updating this throughout the past week, and the White Sox number was growing and the Red Sox number was shrinking. If I did the analysis all in one shot, I probably would have called the White Sox a strong buy. Both are certainly up for debate. I still think the Twins should hold because of the low championship odds, or at least no more than a weak buy. They have a good franchise and a good window to win.

Jul 23, 2010 08:16 AM
 
ncassino

Matt, I like the theme of the article but I believe you are missing a very important factor in your analysis. Specifically, certain teams would not gain as much as others because of their current roster. For example, one team might be starting a team of all 2 win players. In their case, the marginal value of adding a 4.5 win player over the final two months is less than a team that is currently employing a 0 win first baseman (that could be replaced by a Prince Fielder for example). Also, there are a limited amount of 4.5 - 5 win players that are likely available for trade. They are limited to certain positions (you can probably find a starting pitcher, a first baseman and a corner outfielder but you might not be able to find a middle infielder, center fielder or catcher). Again, if a specific team doesn't have as much of a need to that position, then they would likely benefit less from making a trade.
I'm curious to hear your thoughts. It's entirely possible that I'm missing something here.
Thank you.

Jul 23, 2010 11:11 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Matt Swartz
BP staff

You're right in a sense. I checked into this issue when I was preparing to create MORP in the offseason, and I found that going into the offseason, teams generally had replacement level players at about 4-6 starting spots, and almost always at least 2 spots. But that's as of November. Teams certainly have less "vacancies" now. However, most teams are still pretty close to replacement level in the 4th and 5th SP spots, which is why it's always easier to move a pitcher at the trade deadline than a position player.

The Efficient Market Hypothesis economist in me wants to say that teams can trade away players in such a way to add to their roster, but these are high-friction markets, particularly in July, so that may be very unlikely. It's a good point that you make. Some teams are probably not going to be able to upgrade substantially even if it's an interesting question to consider how much they'd gain from an upgrade of 4.5 wins. Thanks for highlighting this.

Jul 23, 2010 11:33 AM
 
FLeghorn

I don't disagree with the argument about whether Texas acquiring Lee was 'worth it', but I do wonder if there is some thought in the Rangers front office that this needs to be an 'all-in' type of year. I only think this because of the superb seasons they are getting from Josh Hamilton and Vlad. I don't think that, considering their fragile health histories, the Rangers can count on anything like this in the future. I hope they can, particularly in Hamilton's case, because they are both great fun to watch, but I doubt anybody predicted such strong comeback seasons from either, and in the future it'd be a mistake to count on them having such seasons again.

Jul 23, 2010 15:56 PM
rating: 2
 
Morris Greenberg

Now that Jeremy Affeldt is on the DL, should the Giants also try to trade for a top notch reliever? Also, in terms of bats, with Aubrey Huff now playing some outfield, how much do they really need an impact bat? Andres Torres, Pat Burrell, Huff, Nate Schierholtz, and Aaron Rowand is a good enough outfield, and how many non-outfield impact bats are there on the market?

Jul 25, 2010 10:19 AM
rating: -1
 
Moneyball16

I loved this article! One of the best things I've read on BP in a while. Great job Matt.

Jul 25, 2010 16:30 PM
rating: 0
 
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