Before I get started, let me thank whatever merciful higher power that’s responsible for finally snuffing out the soul-murdering, unspeakably played out Sex and the City…
Since the recent signing of Greg Maddux by the Cubs, a flurry of “who’s got the best rotation” navel-gazing has ensued. In mainstream circles, the debate has generally come down to a derby comprising the Red Sox, Cubs, A’s and Astros, with the Yankees thrown in on occasion. Rather than listen to me pontificate on who I think has the best starting five, let’s see what the PECOTA 2004 Weighted-Mean Projections say. We’ll take the VORP for each projected member of the rotation and use the team totals to determine the rankings. For some clubs, the back spot or two of the rotation is up for grabs, but, irrespective of who comes out of the spring-training wash, the rankings aren’t likely to be substantially altered.
And here’s how they shake out:
Rank Team Total Rotation VORP 1. Red Sox 217.4 2. Cubs 191.9 3. Yankees 188.2 4. A's 151.8 5. Astros 148.9 6. Mariners 122.4 7. Phillies 120.2 8. Angels 118.2 9. Twins 114.0 10. Blue Jays 112.6 11. Diamondbacks 106.1 12. White Sox 102.6 13. Dodgers 98.7 14. Marlins 94.1 15. Cardinals 93.3 16. Padres 90.1 17. Royals 89.5 18. Giants 87.3 19. Expos 70.7 20. Orioles 70.0 21. Pirates 65.9 22. Braves 64.3 22. Mets 64.3 24. Indians 59.7 25. Rangers 57.7 26. Rockies 48.8 27. Brewers 43.3 28. Reds 42.3 29. Devil Rays 41.8 30. Tigers 37.3
Some ruminations on the data…
- The staggering VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) projection of Boston’s Pedro Martinez (70.0) is better than that of the entire rotation of 10 other teams (including the sum total of the state of Ohio).
- Only two projected members of Opening Day rotations, Jimmy Haynes of the Reds (-5.2) and Wes Obermuller of the Brewers (-2.3), have negative projected VORPs.
- PECOTA projects only a 7.0 VORP for Jon Lieber, which sounds a bit low. He seems like a good bet to heartily out-perform the projection, and the Yanks could wind up with a better corps than the Cubs.
- Besides having what’s likely the best lineup in the senior circuit, the Phillies also project as having one of the best rotations.
- Ben Sheets stands out on an otherwise sub-optimal Brewers rotation. Of the 43.3 rotation VORP, Sheets supplies 31.4 of it, or 72.5%.
- PECOTA says the second-best starter on the Angels isn’t Jarrod Washburn, Kelvim Escobar or Ramon Ortiz; rather, it’s John Lackey, who’s tabbed for a VORP of 25.1.
- We know that the Blue Jays can knock the crap out of the ball, but it may come as a surprise that PECOTA tabs them as having the seventh-best rotation in the AL. It’s possible the best three teams in baseball may all be in the AL East.
- Maddux will indeed strengthen the Cubs’ rotation. But the addition of Curt Schilling, combined with incumbents Martinez, Derek Lowe and Tim Wakefield, projects to top them all.
Thank you for reading
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