Friday, December 03, 2004

Looking Back: The Players 

OK, I've looked at the effects of luck and injuries on the D-Backs' 2004 season. In this final installment, I want to take a look at the players themselves. There are lots of numbers in here, so apologies in advance.

I've split this analysis into position players and pitchers, and further between "holdovers" (those that appeared on the D-Backs in both 2003 and 2004) and "changers" (players that only appeared in one of those seasons). Remember my goal here is to look at the changes from 2003 to 2004. I've already explained how to get from 51 wins in 2004 to 62 wins, but need to explain another 22 wins to get to 84 in 2003. Also remember that the injuries discussion incorporated the effect of Gonzo's, Sexson's, and Johnson's injuries and Finley's trade, so we don't need to discuss them here.

Position Players


Let's split this up between those who improved their Win Shares from 2003 to 2004 and those that didn't.

-- Improvers (name: 2003 Win Shares - 2004 Win Shares):
Hillenbrand: 6 - 14
Bautista: 5 - 11
McCracken: 1 - 3
Terrero: 0 - 3

-- Decliners:
Cintron: 14 - 8
Kata: 8 - 3
Hammock: 6 - 2
Baerga: 7 - 1

The net effect: 47 Win Shares in 2003 declining to… 45 Win Shares in 2004. In other words, the holdovers (even those that left temporarily like McCracken) barely explain 1 additional loss in 2004. Obviously some of the changes are a result of changes in playing time, including injuries. And even the improvers had negative "Win Shares Above Average" scores.


-- 2003 Win Shares only (total = 46)
Spivey: 10
Overbay: 6
Moeller: 6
Barajas: 5
Counsell: 5
Mondesi: 4
Dellucci: 4
Williams: 3
Womack: 2
Grace: 1

-- 2004 Win Shares only (total = 26)
Tracy: 11
Hairston: 4
Alomar: 3
Snyder: 3
Devore: 2
Hill, Mayne, Olson: 1
Estalella, Zinter, Colbrunn, Sadler, Kroeger, Gil, Green, Brito: 0

Net effect: A loss of 20 win shares from 2003 to 2004, or another nearly 7 losses.

Combined, declines in position player performance only explain another 7-8 losses total.

Before moving to the pitchers, I wanted to compare 2003 and 2004 win shares by position (excluding Gonzo and Fins). Here you go (though obviously caveats apply to how the players are categorized -- e.g., Cintron wasn't solely a shortstop).

C: Moeller/Barajas/Hammock: 17 vs. Hammock/Snyder/Hill/Mayne/Estalella/Brito: 7 (net loss of 10)
1B: Hillenbrand/Overbay/Grace: 13 vs. Hillenbrand/Sexson: 18 (net gain of 5)
2B: Kata/Spivey: 18 vs. Kata/Hairston/Alomar: 10 (net loss of 8)
SS: Cintron/Womack: 16 vs. Cintron: 8 (net loss of 8)
3B: Counsell/Williams: 8 vs. Tracy: 11 (net gain of 3)
OF: Bautista/McCracken/Terrero/Mondesi/Dellucci: 14 vs. Bautista/McCracken/Terrero/Devore: 19 (net gain of 5)
Bench: Baerga: 7 vs. Baerga/Olson/Colbrunn and others with 0 WS: 2 (net loss of 6)

Moving on then to the pitchers. Parents, please cover your children's eyes.


Now before getting into the pitchers, I should mention that the Hardball Times' Win Shares methodology changed between 2003 and 2004, permitting negative scores in 2004, while holding scores in each category at 0. It's unclear how many pitchers would've achieved negative scores in 2003 and, had negative scores been permitted, if that would've increased the scores of high-performing pitchers such as Webb, Schilling, and Batista. In any case, I don't have a solution here, so I'm just presenting the data. I think the magnitude of the pitching collapse is such that there's plenty of responsibility to go around.


Again, let's split this up between those who improved their Win Shares from 2003 to 2004 and those that didn't. This is sort of depressing.

-- Improvers (name: 2003 Win Shares - 2004 Win Shares):
Koplove: 5 - 7

(Yeah, that's it.)

-- Decliners:
Webb: 17 - 12
Randolph: 6 - 3
Dessens: 7 - 3
Valverde: 11 - 2
Good: 2 - 1
Villarreal: 11 - 0
Service: 1 - 0
Mantei: 14 - (-2)
Gonzalez: 1 - (-3)

That, my friends, is not good. 75 Win Shares in 2003 became 23 in 2004, a net decline of 52 Win Shares, or 17 wins.


-- 2003 Win Shares only (total = 36)
Schilling: 15
Batista: 14
Kim: 3
Oropesa, Capuano, Jose, Myers: 1
Bottalico, Prinz, Raggio, Patterson, Reyes: 0

-- 2004 Win Shares only (total = 9)
Aquino: 5
Choate: 3
Bruney: 2
Gosling, Villafuerte, Sparks: 1
Fassero, Reynolds, Durbin, Nance: 0
Fetters, Daigle, Cormier, Fossum: (-1)

Net effect: A loss of 25 win shares from 2003 to 2004, or another 8 losses.

Combined, declines in pitcher performance only explain another 25-26 losses total.


So, you add the position players to the pitchers, and you get a net loss of 99 Win Shares (22 from the position players, 77 from the pitchers), or 33 wins, moving from 2003 to 2004.

But wait a minute, Stefan, you said you needed to only explain 22 losses. Where's the extra 11 losses going?

Well, I included Sexson's 2003 totals in the injuries and absences discussion when I really shouldn't have because he wasn't here in 2003. (I was more interested in showing why we could've expected a better team than 51-111.) So if you take out the 8 or so net losses in I attributed to Sexson, plus the 3 losses attributed to luck that are already buried in these Win Shares numbers, there's your 11 wins.

So, a revised explanation of the decline from 2003 to 2004 would say…
Luck: 3 wins
Gonzo/Finley/Johnson: net effect of 0 wins
Remaining players: 30 wins

But it was clear looking at the Win Shares for this discussion that there was something happening because of injuries that I didn't pick up in my first look at the subject. Kata, for example, wasn't having a great year, but his WSAA of (-2) was much better than Hairston's WSAA of (-6). Sexson had a WSAA of 1 when he left; Hillenbrand, though having a decent year, had a WSAA of (-2). And so on.

This has gone on too long. I may come back to this at a later date with a few additional thoughts.

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