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.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Deep Breaths, Folks 

So the D-Backs are "likely to deal" Randy Johnson, the Arizona Republic reports.

Except that there is absolutely no verification of any of that in the actual article. None. The only actual reporting is that Randy Johnson sat with Jeff Moorad at the Suns-Cavaliers game Wednesday night. (Now how about that for a blockbuster trade -- Randy to the Suns. Randy stays in town, the D-Backs get to rebuild, it's a win-win all the way 'round. Not sure how Randy fits in the Suns' new "small-ball" lineup, however.)

"A deal [for Johnson] reportedly could be made as early as next week." -- says who?

"It is expected Johnson would rather be traded now instead of waiting to see Arizona's complete, off-season re-tooling." -- says who?

"Meanwhile, Sexson informed the Diamondbacks through his agent, Casey Close, that he rejected the club's most recent contract proposals, a two-tiered package worth three years and another worth four or five years. Close indicated he has made another counterproposal, but Arizona is not expected to make another pitch to the free-agent slugger." -- This seems slightly more attributable (to Close), but still the phrasing is slightly odd.

"The Yankees figure to be his most likely destination, though numerous media outlets reported Wednesday that the Yankees have pulled out of talks for the time being, telling the Diamondbacks that their proposals were unreasonable." -- Except even Jayson Stark, who probably best summarized all the competing rumors, acknowledged that it could also be a negotiating ploy on the Yankees' part.

"A Boston deal reportedly could include sending right-hander Bronson Arroyo (10-9, 4.03 ERA), pitching prospect Jon Lester and another prospect to the Diamondbacks." -- Is anyone having nasty flashbacks to last winter's trade of a star pitcher to the Red Sox? This strikes me as little better, and at least last year we were explicitly making a salary dump, an argument which nobody has floated this year.

There might be some truth underneath all these echo-chamber rumors, but it's not worth more time to me than I've just invested pulling these quotes, especially when the deliberate misinformation out there is probably equal to the wishful thinking.

A couple other links of note, one baseball-related, one not. BP argued yesterday that David Dellucci should be interested in the Rockies' offer because he might hit 20 home runs at Coors Field, which would improve his shot at getting a multi-year contract the next year. Maybe it's just me, but isn't the fact Coors Field inflates offensive numbers known to everybody in baseball? Even the casual fan? I know fans love to slam general managers as being the 30 biggest idiots in baseball, but don't you think that maybe, just maybe, they discount Coors numbers a bit?

Finally, thanks to The Hot Button for directing me to Greg.org, whose New Yorker database includes links to every piece posted on the New Yorker's website. Sadly, there's still no link to the infamous Adam Gopnik "Metrozoid" article, but you can use it to find, say, Roger Angell's yearly summary of the season.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Everybody Likes Pie 

My wife and in-laws are not big turkey fans. As a result, it's been a few years since I've actually had turkey for Thanksgiving. In spite of my tryptophan deprivation, I've enjoyed the Thanksgiving food (aside from the more social aspects of the holiday, which are its best part). This year we tried making seafood lasagna, which turned out fairly well. But it was only in talking with co-workers and friends after the long Thanksgiving weekend that I realized what the true Thanksgiving food is:


Really. As someone, echoing the thoughts of others, told me this week, "It's all about the pie." No matter whether the turkey is dry, the sweet potatoes mushy, and the green beans bland, if the pie is good, it's all good.

And the pie is always good.

Pie would've been one of the things I'd've been thankful for, if I'd've bothered to post a list. I thought about doing so, but time constraints and realization that it would've been a really sappy read foreclosed that option to me. Thankfully, Jim was constrained by neither.

Of course, the fact that people like pie isn't exactly news. But, then again, neither is much else being reported around the Diamondbacks these days. I mean, the news is that there's, well, no news.

BOB will remain BOB in the 2005 season. (What's interesting here is that apparently the relevant poobahs have decided what the name is, they just haven't finalized the logo or color scheme.)

We still haven't heard from Richie Sexson's agent. We still haven't heard from Stephen Drew and Scott Boras. Heck, the biggest news is that David Dellucci thinks the D-Backs will be in the running for his services in 2005. Now, I was going to make some sarcastic comment about this, but as I thought about it, I decided this was actually good news. Dellucci had a VORP of 8.1 with 11 win shares (1 WSAA) last year, while Danny Baustista had a VORP of 14.4 and 12 win shares (-4 WSAA) and is a year older than Dellucci. Danny's going to want, what, $3 or $4 M this year? The D-Backs have offerred Dellucci $800,000. The article suggests that it might take $1 M to land Dellucci. I'd suggest that it'd probably be worth the extra $200,000 to sign him and let Bautista go.

In the absence of news, there's plenty of speculatin' going on, but I've generally found it difficult to get excited about that. I mean, the biggest Randy Johnson supporter would probably be happy to see the D-Backs trade Johnson for, say, Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, and Scott Rolen. And the biggest trade advocate wouldn't want to trade Randy to the St. Louis Cardinals for a bucket of warm spit. (Beer snobs may insert their own Budweiser joke here.) But without anything concrete from teams or players or agents (check out the repeated use of "may" or "reportedly" in the above article), it seems we don't know much of anything.

And, really, until we know where Richie's going -- if he's going -- I just don't see the D-Backs pulling the trigger on any Randy Johnson trade.