Friday, August 06, 2004


Interesting article today by BP's Jonah Keri on the Diamondbacks' 2004 collapse. The problem for me was the article dealt with why the D-Backs performed below expectations... not why they performed badly. It's more illustrative of the limitations of any projection system (or at least, PECOTA) than of the D-Backs' woes. Oh, sure, it's clear that the pitching bears the lion's share of the blame for the awful year, but it's not like we needed BP to tell us that.

Keri also glides over two other reasons for the poor performance:
1. Brandon Webb hasn't had a good year.
2. Richie Sexson (and Luis Gonzalez) got injured.

Keri calls it these the "easier story angle," but just because it's easier doesn't make it any less wrong. I don't have a BP subscription, so I don't know what Webb's projected VORP was for 2004, but it would have to be close to the 49.3 VORP he had in 2003. His actual 2004 VORP, pro-rated to the end of the season? 16.8. The difference is similar to the differences in the rest of the rotation. As for Sexson, again, I don't know the projected 2004 VORP, but difference between 2003 (58.7) and 2004 (6.9, and that won't change except for minor statistical flukes) is just as big as the pen. Add another 30-or-so VORP decline for Gonzo (which probably wasn't as big because I imagine his 2004 projected VORP was below his 2003 actual VORP), and all of a sudden these three things, while "easy" are also, if you're a D-Backs fan, "bad."

Perhaps the D-Backs have just been unlucky -- they've lost 10 more games than their 3rd-order Pythagenport record would suggest. But in the end, the D-Backs have a weak starting rotation compounded by a weak bullpen and an offense that, given the departure of Finley, Gonzo, and Sexson, is, at best, fair. In retrospect, this seems obvious; the real question is, why wasn't it in March?

[Note: I didn't start doing this until April, so I was saved the ignominy of having to do projections of my own. If I did, I suspect I would've been optimistic, because that's my general nature. You can slam me next year.]

And just for fun, here's a recent Bill Simmons mailbag.

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