Dan starts to bring it all home in his look at baserunning, as he tallies up each of his metrics and shows us the best and worst runners from 2000-2005.
So we've finally reached a turning point in our series on quantifying baserunning. Since mid-July we've developed a methodology and framework for crediting baserunners for advancing on ground outs (Equivalent Ground Advancement Runs, or EqGAR), advancing on outs in the air (Equivalent Air Advancement Runs, or EqAAR), and attempted stolen bases as well as pick offs (Equivalent Stolen Base Runs, or EqSBR). This week we'll look at total picture and evaluate which players got the most and least from their legs over the past six years.
It's not just the city in the team name that's uncertain: Jeff Erickson wonders who you should be drafting from the Angels lineup this year.
The catcher battle is pretty straightforward--Jose Molina and Jeff Mathis will split time behind the plate, and Michael Napoli will work on his defense in the minors. Molina's offense isn't anything special, but look for him to get more playing time than Mathis. Mathis struggled quite a bit in 2004 at Double-A Arkansas, hitting only .221/.306/.389 there, but rebounded to have a better season at Triple-A Salt Lake last year, hitting .276/.340/.499 thanks in part to the hitter-friendly altitude. Mathis, who turns 23 in March, already draws compliments from scouts on his defense, so the primary question for him is whether he can handle the jump to major league pitching at the plate, and not behind it.
We have a few perennially valuable hacksters this year, as Darin Erstad, Tony Womack, Cristian Guzman, and Eric Milton form the first group of four players to make the All-Star team and be listed on 300 or more entries. There were four shockers this year, fewer than usual, as Jason Kendall, Mike Lowell, Eric Byrnes and Corey Patterson were listed on a total of 6 entries and accumulated the highest ESPN at catcher, third base, left field and center field. After you sort through the four proven hackers and the four surprises, we have World Series rookie and small ball aficionado Willy Taveras, followed by this year's MVP, Jose Lima. Props go out to the 89 entrants who pegged Lima's campaign at the beginning of the year.
It's a Beast-less ALCS, as the White Sox and Angels square off in what figures to be a dramatic series.
The aborted decision to move the opening game of the American League Championship Series back a day in light of Saturday's rainout ensured that regardless of who advanced on Monday night, the real winners were the White Sox. While the Angels were logging some 4,700 air miles to make their third game in three days in three different time zones, the Sox were enjoying three days off at home, basking in the afterglow of having eliminated the defending World Champion Red Sox in three straight games for the team's first postseason series win since before Shoeless Joe said it was so.
It's an all-pitching edition of Prospectus Notebook, as we take a closer look at the Marlins' rotation, the Angels' bullpen, and Mets ace Pedro Martinez.
IP ERA K/9 WHIP OPS VORP
Starters 347.2 3.26 7.02 1.27 .670 83.1
Relievers 149.1 4.22 6.18 1.49 .763 10.0*
*Accumulated in a little less than half the innings pitched
Can the rotation realistically be that good going forward?
Dontrelle Willis is a fine young pitcher, but if he
maintained anything close to his 2.13 ERA his 2005 would end up
ranking in the top 10-15 pitcher-seasons since 1993. A.J.
Burnett and Josh Beckett are both
outplaying their 75th percentile PECOTA projections, and they're
doing so by a good margin. All three should expect some regression to
the mean, but assuming Burnett's elbow pain isn't a serious problem
they should all continue to be top starters. One through three, the
Marlins can match up with any other rotation in baseball.
Job battles figure to go down to the wire for the Angels, Cubs and Brewers.
Who's on First (and DH): The Angels may be planning to use Juan Rivera and Jeff DaVanon as a platoon for the DH slot. With Darin Erstad hanging on to first base by way of his Gold Glove and reputation for being a team leader, one wonders what will become of Casey Kotchman. PECOTA projected the following for these four players in 2005:
The Angels and Red Sox had curve-wrecking weeks, balanced out by the latest collapse by the Orioles and a heartbreaking slump by the Indians. Professor Goldman explains his grades inside.
In a kind of breakthrough for the Angels--and defeat for those of us looking for easy hooks on which to hang our analysis--you can no longer complain about Darin Erstad. Sure, the average AL first baseman (which, from a New York vantage point, seems an entirely mythical creature) is batting .263/.344/.441 and Erstad is only hitting .319/.369/.436, but this is a distinction hardly worth quibbling over, especially since the man with a paucity of vowels in his surname has hit .351/.408/.503 since the All-Star break and played good defense.
This year's Yankees are an exception to the unrecognized truth that bullpens aren't bought or made, but found. In any given season there are about 12 actual closers, relievers who are consistent enough to earn their pay, and a bunch of other guys who earn their share of saves by virtue of the way their managers use them. Add in the 20 or so really reliable middle relievers and you have the total population of relievers worth building around. At present, the Orioles don't have any of those guys--even the indefatigable Buddy Groom generally gets smacked around, not that that's anything new. The O's have an aggregation of no-names who happen to be pitching well at the moment. This may or may not continue, but it had better, as the starting rotation looks like something that was dreamed up by Wile E. Coyote. Meanwhile, all bets on offense have panned out with the exception of Luis Matos. That's about to change as Lee Mazzilli makes Jerry Hairston Jr. the DH, a huge misapplication of baseball's version of Free Parking. "Sometimes you look for the prototypical DH who's a power-type guy, but with our lineup and the way I like to run the guys, Jerry fits in fine for me," said Mazzilli, who doesn't quite recognize he's giving up the initiative to teams with DHs who can hit for power--that is, the teams in front of and behind him. In a productivity contest in which the winner gets to eat the loser's DH, it's going to be a barbecued Hairston every time. Then again, it could be a showcase. If this fustian writing leads to Custian time/ you'll forgive the bad writing, and even this rhyme. There's a better chance of hell freezing over, on both counts. GRADE: B
The Angels overspent for Garret Anderson. The Cubs hope Matt Clement can shake his early-season struggles. The Brewers will use Junior Spivey as trade bait. These and other news and notes out of Anaheim, Chicago and Milwaukee in this edition of Prospectus Triple Play.
Irrational Exuberance: The Angels' Arte Moreno opened up his wallet for Garret Anderson and found 48 brand new million dollar bills to be doled out over four years. To be fair, at times we've been overly critical of Anderson--that was mostly in the early days of his career when his superficial counting stats (BA, RBI) ruled the day. He's become a very useful ballplayer, even if he lacks the gaudy on-base percentage or spectacular defense that might raise him to star status.