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2009 Archives http://www.dbacksvenom.com/table/2009-articles/november/ Wed, 23 Jul 2014 03:42:10 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb The 2009 NL MVP Award, and what are OPS, Win Shares, WARP, and WAR all about? http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/ns.html http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/ns.html Unlike the 2009 NL Cy Young Award, the NL MVP award is expected to be runaway victory for Albert Pujols. After that, there are a number of players battling for the #2 slot, including Chase Utley, Troy Tulowitzki, Prince Fielder, and Hanley Ramirez. Even though this year’s winner seems apparent, let’s examine the criteria involved in selecting the MVP. Does the player’s team have to make the playoffs? Or at least be a contender for the playoffs? Should pitchers be considered? How can we weight batting, baserunning, and defense? And how do the “advanced” stats like OPS, Win Shares, WARP, and WAR fit into this? In this article, I’ll try to address these questions.

Let’s address the team performance issue first. The MVP is an individual award, so I don’t see any good reason to eliminate a hitter from consideration just because he has lousy teammates. We often hear about players on bad teams racking up big stats in meaningless games, but in reality, most games are significant. The Nationals, for example, were out of the race early, but the games they played against the Braves down the stretch were extremely important to the Braves and the Rockies. If two players on different teams are very close in performance, I can understand an argument that performing during a pennant race could be a tie-breaker, but for now, let’s start by considering everyone.

One logical way to choose an MVP is to estimate how many Wins each player contributed to his team, including offense, pitching, and defense. There are three major stats that try this – Win Shares (Bill James Online), WARP (Baseball Prospectus), and WAR (Fangraphs).

Evaluating Offense - Traditional Stats Let’s start by looking at the leaders in the traditional offensive categories:

Batting AVG HOME RUNS RBI
HRamirez 0.342 APujols 47 PFielder 141
PSandoval 0.330 PFielder 46 RHoward 141
APujols 0.327 RHoward 45 APujols 135
THelton 0.325 MReynolds 44 RBraun 114
JVotto 0.322 AGonzalez 40 DLee 111
CCoghlan 0.321 ADunn 38 HRamirez 106
RBraun 0.320 JWerth 36 AEthier 106
MTejada 0.313 DLee 35 RZimmerman 106
FLopez 0.310 RIbanez 34 ADunn 105
NMorgan 0.307 RZimmerman 33 MReynolds 102

Only one player finished in the Top 10 of all three traditional Triple Crown categories, Albert Pujols.  Pujols actually finished in the Top 3 in all of them – that’s one reason why he’s expected to easily win the MVP. But are these three stats an accurate way to estimate a player’s batting contribution? Batting Average measures the rate at which a player gets a hit per official at bat. But it ignores several key factors. First, not all hits are equal, but batting average treats a single the same as a Home Run. Second, it does not include walks, which means that it completely ignores the fact that players like Pujols reach base over 100 times that way.

What about Home Runs? They are certainly very important, but on their own, they don’t tell you nearly enough about a player’s offensive contribution. And what about RBIs? They are the stat that has historically correlated highest with MVP voting, but RBIs are a very team-dependent stat. To get an RBI, there usually has to be a batter or batters on base already (except for HRs). But there are very large disparities in the RBI opportunities for different players (see table below). Although Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez both finished with 106 RBI last year, Ethier actually had 56 more runners on base in his at bats than Ramirez. And what about hits that move runners around, but don’t actually score the run – those are ignored too. Finally, neither Home Runs and RBI take into account the number of opportunities that a player had. So looking at HR/RBI probably isn’t the best way to assess a player’s contribution to an offense.

Batter RBI Runners on Base
PFielder 141 507
RHoward 141 500
APujols 135 475
RBraun 114 486
DLee 111 428
HRamirez 106 428
AEthier 106 484
RZimmerman 106 486
ADunn 105 471
MReynolds 102 428

Evaluating Offense - Some History Runs Created In the late 1970s, Bill James introduced the Runs Created stat in his Baseball Abstract. The basic concept is that scoring runs involves two things – getting runners on base, and then advancing base runners. At the team level, these two concepts can be quantified by On-Base Percentage (how often players reach base safely) and Slugging Percentage (total bases per at bat). The first Runs Created formula was simply OBP*SLG*AB, and remarkably, this simple formula usually predicts how many runs a team scores within 5%. Here are the results for 2009, where Runs Created is predicted by the simple formula RC = 0.98 * OBP * SLG *AB.

Team AB OBP SLG RUNS RC RUNS % Error
PHI 5578 0.334 0.447 820 816 -3.9
COL 5398 0.343 0.441 804 800 -0.5
MIL 5510 0.341 0.426 785 784 -0.1
LAD 5592 0.346 0.412 780 781 0.2
FLA 5572 0.340 0.416 772 772 0.0
ATL 5539 0.339 0.405 735 745 1.4
STL 5465 0.332 0.415 730 738 1.1
ARI 5565 0.324 0.418 720 739 2.6
LgAvg 5493 0.331 0.409 718 729 1.5
WSN 5493 0.337 0.406 710 737 3.7
CHC 5486 0.332 0.407 707 726 2.8
CIN 5462 0.318 0.394 673 671 -0.3
NYM 5453 0.335 0.394 671 705 5.1
SFG 5493 0.309 0.389 657 647 -1.5
HOU 5436 0.319 0.400 643 680 5.7
SDP 5425 0.321 0.381 638 650 1.9
PIT 5417 0.318 0.387 636 653 2.7

As the table shows, the simple formula comes remarkably close to the actual values. Combining Runs Created with the so-called Pythagorean Theorem (Team Win Percentage = RS^2/(RS^2 + RA^2), where RS = Runs Scored and RA = Runs Allowed) were a revelation for most baseball fans. They allowed fans to make fairly accurate estimates of things like “How many more runs would the Braves scored if Bob Horner had been healthy?” or “Suppose the Giants could replace Johnny LeMaster with Dave Concepcion?” Although this simple RC formula gets pretty close to the actual runs scored by a team, the formula has been refined over the years to have unique coefficients for singles, doubles, triples, and HR, and to include SB and CS. Variations of this are RC/27, which estimates the runs scored per game, or 27 outs.

Linear Weights A second method for quantifying a player’s offensive contribution, based on linear weights, was developed by George Lindsey in 1963. Using play-by-play data, Lindsey quantified the run-scoring value of each event. This technique was later expanded by Pete Palmer in the book Total Baseball, using game data as well as simulations. LWTS = 0.46*1B = 0.80*2B + 1.02*3B + 1.40*HR + 0.33*(BB+HBP) + 0.30*SB – 0.60*CS – 0.25*(AB-H) Linear Weight models are the basis for many current batting evaluators, including Equivalent Average (EqA) and weighted On-Base Average (wOBA).
Evaluating Offense - Today
OPS Since team runs can be estimated so well by only two parameters, OBP and SLG, naturally people looked at these two stats at the individual level. And, to simplify the math, adding the two numbers together became a common way to quantify a player’s offensive contribution – OPS=OBP+SLG. Here are the leaders in these three stats for the NL in 2009.

OBP SLG OPS
APujols 0.443 APujols 0.658 APujols 1.101
NJohnson 0.426 PFielder 0.602 PFielder 1.014
THelton 0.416 DLee 0.579 JVotto 0.981
JVotto 0.414 RHoward 0.571 DLee 0.972
PFielder 0.412 JVotto 0.567 AGonzalez 0.958
HRamirez 0.410 PSandoval 0.556 HRamirez 0.954
AGonzalez 0.407 TTulowitzki 0.552 PSandoval 0.943
LBerkman 0.399 RIbanez 0.552 RBraun 0.937
ADunn 0.398 RBraun 0.551 RHoward 0.931
CUtley 0.397 AGonzalez 0.551 TTulowitzki 0.930

Although OPS correlates very well to Runs Scored, it’s not the best run estimator around. But it is popular because it is easy to calculate. But more refined calculations have shown that OBP should be weighted higher than SLG, rather than just adding them equally. And the fact that SLG treats a HR as 4 times better than a single isn’t quite right; people have since found better coefficients.

WIN SHARES
Win Shares were presented by Bill James a few years ago in his book of the same name. Three notable things about Win Shares are: 1) The sum of the individual player’s Win Shares match up with the total Wins by the team. 2) The stat incorporates “clutch” stats such as hitting with RISP and hitting HR with runners on base. 3) Play-by-play data is not used for the defensive evaluations; rather, the totals for assists, putouts, DPs, errors, etc. are used. 4) There are no “Loss Shares” or negative Win Shares for players who play below replacement level.

These are significant because the other stats (WAR, WARP) are based on the components (2B, HR, BB, etc.), not the actual team wins. So teams and players who win more games than predicted (presumably for better clutch performance) get extra credit for it. James assigned 3 Win Shares per team win. The first step is to divide the team’s win shares between offense and defense, based on the team’s relative strengths from a Marginal Runs calculation (including park effects). Then, within this, Win Shares are awarded to each player based on their contribution.
Offense – Once we know how many Win Shares the team has in total, this total is divided among the players based on the fraction of the team’s runs they created using the latest Runs Created formula. James also includes some “clutch” and RISP numbers in his formulas.

Defense - There is a different set of formulas for fielding Win Shares at each position. The stats used are things like Assists, Putouts, Errors, Double Plays, etc. Fielding Win Shares are based on cumulative stats, not play-by-play data.

Pitching - For pitchers, the Win Shares are allocated using a component ERA method – calculating a prediction of how many runs the pitcher gave up based on the number of singles, doubles, etc. that he allowed – sort of an inverse Runs Created formula. Again, there are correction factors for things like Saves tacked on at the end. More details on Win Shares can be found here.

Here are the 2009 NL Leaders in Win Shares (from Bill James Online):
2009 NL Win Shares Leaders

Rank Player Batting Fielding Pitching Total
1 Albert Pujols 36.5 2.6 --- 39.1
2 Prince Fielder 34.5 1.2 --- 35.6
3 Ryan Braun 33.9 1.7 --- 35.6
4 Hanley Ramirez 28.1 6.1 --- 34.2
5 Adrian Gonzalez 31.5 2.6 --- 34.0
6 Chase Utley 24.6 7.0 --- 31.6
7 Pablo Sandoval 23.1 3.8 --- 26.9
8 Ryan Howard 24.0 2.5 --- 26.5
9 Matt Kemp 19.7 6.3 --- 26.0
10 Jayson Werth 21.5 4.2 --- 25.8
11 Troy Tulowitzki 16.5 7.6 --- 24.1

WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player) WARP is the stat used by Baseball Prospectus to combine all of a player’s stats into Wins above a Replacement Player. WARP is not directly connected to the actual number of wins that a team had, but is based on summing up the individual performance of each player. Offense - Offense is based on BP’s stat Equivalent Average. This is a park-adjusted linear weights-type formula that converts all of a player’s stats into a number that is scaled to the same scale as batting average, so that an average player is at .260 EqA.   This can then be converted to Equivalent Runs, and to Runs Above a Replacement player. Defense – BP uses “Seasonal Totals” rather than Play-by-Play data.  Adjustments are made for the nature of the pitching staff (LH/RH, GB/FB). Pitching – BP bases their pitching wins on stats based on park-adjusted ERA and Innings Pitched, as discussed in the VORP section of LINK.
2009 NL WARP Leaders

Rank NAME RARP1 FRAR1 PRAR1 WARP1
1 Albert Pujols 97 26 0 12.1
2 Adrian Gonzalez 77 17 0 9.2
3 Chase Utley 69 31 0 8.6
4 Dan Haren 7 2 67 8.3
5 Matt Kemp 56 35 0 7.9
6 Prince Fielder 81 2 0 7.9
7 Javier Vazquez 4 3 62 7.6
8 Ubaldo Jimenez 5 6 57 7.6
9 Tim Lincecum 3 2 63 7.4
10 Hanley Ramirez 73 14 0 7.3

Wins Above Replacement (WAR)
WAR is the stat used at FanGraphs to rank players. The key differences to note are: 1) Defense is evaluated based on play-by-play data, not seasonal data, using Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). 2) Pitching is evaluated based on Fielding-Independent stats (see 2009 NL Cy Young article). 3) A positional adjustment bonus is given to difficult defensive positions. 4) Catcher’s Defense is not yet rated, so all catchers are rated equal defensively. Offense – Offense is evaluated based on weighted on-base average (wOBA). This is also a park-adjusted, linear weights system, scaled to match on-base percentage. Defense – Defense is quantified using Ultimate Zone Rating. UZR divides the field into 64 zones, and counts how often the player makes plays in his nearby zones. Park factors, the speed of the batted ball, the handedness of the pitcher, and the flyball/groundball nature of the pitcher are also considered.

Pitching – Pitchers are evaluated based on FIP, rather than actual ERA. The logic here is that FIP is a better assessment of the pitcher’s contribution than ERA, which involves the interaction of the defense and relief pitchers. 2009 NL WAR Leaders

Rank Name Batting Fielding Replacement Positional RAR WAR
1 Albert Pujols 72.1 1.3 23.3 -12.4 84.3 8.4
2 Chase Utley 39.4 10.8 22.9 2.4 75.6 7.6
3 Hanley Ramirez 44.2 -0.3 21.7 7 72.6 7.3
4 R. Zimmerman 27.4 18.1 23.1 2.3 70.9 7.1
5 Prince Fielder 55.4 0.6 24 -12.5 67.5 6.8
6 Adrian Gonzalez 48.9 3.8 22.7 -12.4 63 6.3
7 Troy Tulowitzki 27.4 -1.2 20.9 7 54.1 5.4
8 Derrek Lee 39.8 3.7 20.5 -10.9 53.1 5.3
9 Pablo Sandoval 34.9 -4.2 21.1 -0.1 51.7 5.2
10 Matt Kemp 23.2 2.6 22.2 2 50.1 5.0

Summary Win Shares, WARP, and WAR all attempt to combine all of a player's stats into a single number, on the scale of Wins. Win Shares is the only one that uses actual Team Wins, while the other two assign Wins based on the individual component terms.  However, the way that Win Shares divides shares between offense, fielding, and pitching is very complicated, and often quite arbitrary.  All three methods have approximately equal methods to evaluate batting. However, WAR uses fielding-independent pitching, rather than the real ERA or hits allowed. Is this a better way to isolate the pitcher's performance? The jury is still out of this one, as we saw in some controversial ballots in the Cy Young voting. WAR is also the only one to evaluate fielding based on actual play-by-play data, rather than seasonal fielding totals.  However, since Win Shares and WARP use seasonal defensive totals, they can be calculated throughout baseball history, while WAR is restricted to modern data. The table below summarizes the NL leaders in the stats of Win Shares (from Bill James Online), WARP (from Baseball Prospectus), and WAR (from FanGraphs), with their rank in parenthesis.

My NL MVP Ballot

Rank Player WAR WARP1 (Win Shares)/3
1 Albert Pujols 8.4 (1) 12.1 (1) 13.0 (1)
2 Chase Utley 7.6 (3) 8.6 (3) 10.5 (6)
3 Hanley Ramirez 7.3 (4) 7.3 (10) 11.4 (4)
4 Prince Fielder 6.8 (6) 7.9 (6) 11.9 (2)
5 Tim Lincecum 8.2 (2) 7.4 (9) 7.5 (18)
6 Matt Kemp 5 (15) 7.9 (5) 8.7 (9)
7 Adrian Gonzalez 6.3 (8) 9.2 (2) 11.3 (5)
8 Troy Tulowitzki 5.4 (12) 6.3 (18) 8.0 (11)
9 Pablo Sandoval 5.2 (14) 5.8 (24) 9.0 (7)
10 Ryan Howard 4.8 (18) 5.4 (28) 8.8 (8)
11 Ryan Braun 4.8 (19) 6.8 (15) 11.3 (3)

Pujols is the clear #1, in every ranking system. I have the middle infielders, Utley and Ramirez, at #2 and #3, with Utley's defense just edging Ramirez's offensive advantage. Prince Fielder gets the #4 slot, while Lincecum is the highest ranked pitcher at #5. I have the 6-11 slots filled with Kemp, AGonzalez, Tulowitzki, Sandoval, Howard, and Braun, although I expect that Tulo will finish much higher in the actual voting.

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amitlal@cox.net (Amit Lal) November Mon, 23 Nov 2009 08:24:09 +0000
The 2009 NL Cy Young Award, and what are ERA+, VORP, xFIP, and tRA all about? http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/the-2009-nl-cy-young-award-and-what-are-era-vorp-xfip-and-tra-all-about.html http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/the-2009-nl-cy-young-award-and-what-are-era-vorp-xfip-and-tra-all-about.html The National League Cy Young Award will be awarded on Thursday, and the leading candidates are Tim Lincecum, Chris Carpenter, and Adam Wainwright. Over the last few years, the statistics used to evaluate pitchers have evolved, from the traditional stats like Wins and Losses and ERA, to more advanced stats such as VORP (Value over Replacement Player), FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) and tRA (true Run Average). In this article, we’ll take a look at these stats, and see how they can help us determine the best pitcher of 2009.

Wins and Losses Wins and Losses are still the stats that are most identified with starting pitchers, but most fans now appreciate their limitations. For a pitcher to get a win, in addition to preventing the other team from scoring, he needs his offense to score runs for him and his bullpen to preserve the lead if he leaves the game. These last two items are ones that the pitcher has virtually no control over. In 2009, Braden Looper had a 14-7 record for the Brewers despite a 5.22 ERA. How did that happen? Because the Brewers scored runs at an 8.97 rate while Looper pitched, allowing him to get “Wins” even why he pitched rather poorly. For example, in Looper’s final win of the season on 10/2, he gave up 2 runs in the 1st Inning, 3 more in the 3rd, and another in the 4th, yet still was credited with a Win when the Brewers scored 12 runs over the final four innings. In his 13th Win, he gave up 5 runs over the first 5 innings, but received a Win since his offense scored 9 runs for him. Which pitchers received the best run support in the NL in 2009? Here are the Top 5. and it’s easy to why De La Rosa, Looper, and Lowe were credited with so many Wins – their teams happened to go score a ton of runs while they were on the mound.

Pitcher Run Support ERA W-L
Jorge De La Rosa, COL 9.00 4.38 16-9
Braden Looper, MIL 8.97 5.22 14-7
Max Scherzer, ARI 8.35 4.12 9-11
Derek Lowe, ATL 8.14 4.67 15-10

Many pitchers were also on the unlucky side of the run support stat. Take Clayton Kershaw, for example, who finished 8-8 with a 2.79 ERA in 171 IP. The conventional wisdom is that Kershaw’s low Win total was because he ran up high pitch counts and couldn’t go deep into games. While that was true to some extent, Kershaw was also remarkably unlucky in his starts. For example, on 7/29 against St. Louis, Kershaw threw 8 scoreless IP, but left without a decision. Pitchers in that situation received Wins in 68 out of 77 such occurrences (88%) in 2009. On two other occasions, Kershaw threw 7 scoreless IP without a Win (the starting pitcher earned a Win 81% of the time last year), and two more times went 6 shutout innings without a Win. For the season, Kershaw had 11 starts with at least 6 IP and 1 ER or less, yet was only awarded wins in 5 of them. Aside from Run Support, another big factor in Pitcher Wins is the Bullpen. Take another Dodger, Chad Billingsley, for example, who finished 12-11 with a 4.03 ERA and was eventually dropped from the rotation in the playoffs. Yet there were 5 games in 2009 where Billingsley left the game with the lead, and saw the bullpen give the game away after he left. I am pretty sure that if Billingsley’s record had been 16-8 or 17-9 instead of 12-11, the fans and Joe Torre would think more highly of Billingsley.


ERA and ERA+ Since it’s clear that Wins can be deceptive, it may be better to look at a pitcher’s ERA, which eliminates the Run Support factor and reduces the bullpen effect. Here are the NL leaders in ERA in 2009: 2009 NL ERA Leaders Chris Carpenter, 2.24 Tim Lincecum, 2.48 Jair Jurrjens, 2.60 Adam Wainwright, 2.63 Clayton Kershaw, 2.79 This is clearly a much better group of pitchers than the Win leaders, which included de la Rosa and Lowe in the Top 5. But there are several things that ERA doesn’t account for. One of these is the pitcher’s home park, since some stadiums are easier to score runs in than others. ERA+, or Adjusted ERA, tries to account for this, by scaling a pitcher’s ERA with a Park Factor for each stadium. ERA+ is also normalized to league average (ERA+ = 100*(lgERA/ERA), adjusted for ballpark), so a score of 100 is average. This makes it useful for comparing players across different seasons and eras. Here are the leaders in ERA+ in 2009: 2009 NL ERA+ Leaders Chris Carpenter, 183 Tim Lincecum, 176 Jair Jurrjens, 158 Adam Wainwright, 157 Matt Cain, 151

VORP Another factor to consider with ERA is that it is a rate stat, and not a counting stat. A pitcher who gives up 1 ER in 6 IP has an ERA of 1.50, but is clearly not as valuable as one who pitches 250 IP with an ERA of 2.50. But would a pitcher with 200 IP and an ERA of 2.30 be worth more than the 250 IP-2.50 ERA pitcher? VORP (Value over Replacement Pitcher, developed by Keith Woolner at Baseball Prospectus) is a stat that combines the pitcher quality (runs allowed) with the quantity of innings pitched. The idea is to calculate how many runs this pitcher saved compared to a “replacement-level” pitcher. So the formula for VORP is VORP = (Replacement_Level – RA)/9*IP, where Replacement_Level is generally defined as around 40% higher than league average for starting pitchers. Here are the 2009 VORP leaders in the NL: 2009 NL VORP Leaders Tim Lincecum, 69.8 Chris Carpenter, 68.7 Adam Wainwright, 67.1 Matt Cain, 61.3 Jair Jurrjens, 60.5 Dan Haren, 60.2 Again, the Top 3 of Carpenter, Lincecum, and Wainwright are very close.

SNWL SNWL (Support-Neutral Wins and Losses) looks at a pitcher’s performance on a game-by-game basis, rather than over the season total of ER and IP. For each game pitched, it calculates the probability that the team would win the game, assuming a league average offense and bullpen. So given the IP and Runs Allowed by the pitcher in that game, we can find the probability that the team should win (This is similar to the discussion above with Clayton Kershaw). SNWL is reported as either as a Win-Loss record, or can be converted to a “Value over Replacement” scale, SNVAR. Here are the SNWL and SNVAR leaders in 2009 for the NL:

Pitcher SNW SNL SNVAR
Adam Wainwright 21.4 12.6 7.5
Chris Carpenter 18.8 9.2 7.3
Tim Lincecum 20.4 11.6 7.3
Jair Jurrjens 20.7 13.3 6.7
Matt Cain 20.2 12.8 6.6

FIP (and xFIP) A big split in the evaluation of pitchers came with stats like DIPS (Defense Independent Pitching Stats, by Voros McCracken) and FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching, by Tom Tango).  The stats listed above (ERA, VORP, SNWL) are all based on the actual runs given up by a pitcher.  However, it is clear that ERA involves many players besides the pitcher – namely the defense behind him.  A good defense will obviously make more outs and give the pitcher a lower ERA.  So how can we isolate the contributions of the pitcher from the defense behind him? One attempt to isolate the impact of the pitcher alone is FIP.  FIP removes the effects of the fielders, and only looks at the things that the pitcher has control over – strikeouts, walks, HBP, and Home Runs allowed.  The formula for FIP is: FIP = (HR*13+(BB+HBP-IBB)*3-K*2)/IP (plus a scaling factor to match the scale to that of ERA or RA)

Why do analysts think this is more useful that looking at things like ERA?  One, because it eliminates the huge variability of fielders from the equation.  And two, because it turns out that using FIP is a better predictor of future performance than ERA (or ERA+).  That is, a pitcher who has managed a low ERA despite high BB and HRs (hence a high FIP) is much more likely to see that ERA rise in the future than one with the same ERA and a low FIP. So it may be a better evaluator of a pitcher’s true performance and skill than ERA.

Here are the leaders in NL FIP in 2009: 2009 NL FIP Leaders Tim Lincecum, 2.48 Javier Vazquez, 2.77 Chris Carpenter, 2.78 Josh Johnson, 3.06 Clayton Kershaw, 3.08 Adam Wainwright, 3.11

xFIP adds one more level of correction.  The rate at which pitchers give up Home Runs is primarily a function of their fly ball rate and the home park.  So is a pitcher who gives up a lot of warning-track fly balls showing a skill or just getting lucky?  The research indicates that it’s probably just luck, and isn’t likely to continue.  So xFIP takes out the pitcher’s actual HR rate, and uses the fly ball rate instead, assuming that an average percentage of fly balls will result in Home Runs.

Here are the leaders in xFIP for the NL in 2009 (from The Hardball Times 2009 NL xFIP Leaders Javier Vazquez, 2.89 Tim Lincecum, 2.94 Dan Haren, 3.16 Ricky Nolasco, 3.29 Josh Johnson, 3.42 Adam Wainwright, 3.45 Chris Carpenter, 3.45 By the way, Zach Greinke, who deservedly won the AL Cy Young award despite only 16 wins, is a big fan of FIP. After winning the award, Greinke was quoted in the New York Times as saying "That’s pretty much how I pitch, to try to keep my FIP as low as possible."

tRA True Run Average (from Graham MacAree) is similar to FIP, in that it attempts to isolate pitching from the defense.  The primary difference is that it divides batted balls into ground balls, fly balls, and line drives.  By looking at the vast amounts of data available, the expected outcome for each type of batted ball has been determined:

Strikeout Line Drive Ground Ball Fly Ball (OF) Fly Ball (IF)
1.000 0.305 0.812 0.830 0.985

This table shows that (for 2008), 83% of fly balls to the outfield were converted to outs, while 98.5% of fly balls to the infield became outs. From this data, the expected run outcome of each type of batted ball can be calculated. Then, since we have the batted-ball breakdown that each pitcher allowed, we can calculate the expected, or true, Run Average, given an average defense behind the pitcher. 2009 NL tRA Leaders (from Fangraphs) Tim Lincecum, 2.83 Chris Carpenter, 3.02 Clayton Kershaw, 3.36 Josh Johnson, 3.41 Adam Wainwright, 3.56 Javier Vazquez, 3.67 One interesting fact from the tRA data is that Javier Vazquez goes from the best in xFIP down to #6 in tRA. This is because his line drive rate of 23.6% was one of the worst in the league.

Conclusions 2009 has several pitchers who were very close in performance:

Pitcher W-L ERA/ERA+ IP VORP SNVAR FIP xFIP tRA
Tim Lincecum 15-7 2.48/176 225 69.8 7.3 2.48 2.94 2.83
Chris Carpenter 17-4 2.24/183 193 68.7 7.3 2.78 3.45 3.02
Adam Wainwright 19-8 2.63/157 233 67.1 7.5 3.11 3.45 3.56
Javier Vazquez 15-10 2.87/143 219 58.8 6.3 2.77 2.89 3.67
Dan Haren 14-10 3.14/146 229 60.2 5.8 3.23 3.16 4.12
Jair Jurrjens 14-10 2.60/158 215 60.5 6.7 3.68 4.44 4.06
Matt Cain 14-8 2.89/151 218 61.3 6.6 3.89 4.26 4.38
Clayton Kershaw 8-8 2.79/141 171 49.0 5.7 3.08 3.94 3.36
Josh Johnson 15-5 3.23/131 209 52.3 5.4 3.06 3.42 3.41

Carpenter has the lowest ERA of the group, but also the second fewest innings pitched. Wainwright has the most Wins and IP. Lincecum is 2nd in ERA, but led the league in strikeouts, and led all of the fielding-independent stats. It's very close, but I would rank them: 1. Tim Lincecum, SF 2. Chris Carpenter, StL 3. Adam Wainwright, StL

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amitlal@cox.net (Amit Lal) November Thu, 19 Nov 2009 01:09:05 +0000
Diamondbacks' Players of the Decade - 2000s http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/diamondbacks-players-of-the-decade-2000s.html http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/diamondbacks-players-of-the-decade-2000s.html The Diamondbacks are coming off a poor season in 2009, but a strong case can be made that the 2009 season had the team’s best performance of the decade at 3 positions – C, 3B, and RF. Here are my picks for the best individual seasons of the decade, at each position (minimum 80 games at that position). C Miguel Montero, 2009: 294/355/478, 16 HR/59 RBI/61 R, 112 OPS+ 1B Tony Clark, 2005: 304/366/636, 30 HR/87 RBI/47R, 154 OPS+ 2B Junior Spivey, 2002: 301/389/476, 16 HR/78 RBI/103R, 11 SB, 117 OPS+ 3B Mark Reynolds, 2009: 260/349/543, 44 HR/102 RBI/98R, 24 SB, 125 OPS+ SS Stephen Drew, 2008: 291/333/502, 21 HR/67 RBI/91R, 110 OPS+ LF Luis Gonzalez, 2001: 325/429/688, 57 HR/142 RBI/128R, 174 OPS+ CF Steve Finley 2000: 280/371/544, 35 HR/96 RBI/100R, 12 SB, 120 OPS+ RF Justin Upton 2009: 300/366/532, 26 HR/86 RBI/84R, 20 SB, 128 OPS+ LHP Randy Johnson 2002: 24-5, 260 IP, 2.32 ERA, 1.031 WHIP, 334K/71 BB, 197 ERA+ RHP Curt Schilling 2001: 22-6, 256.2 IP, 2.98 ERA, 1.075 WHIP, 293K/39 BB, 157 ERA+ RP Byung-Hyun Kim 2002: 8-3, 2.04 ERA, 1.071 WHIP, 84 IP, 92K, 26 BB, 224 ERA+ At C, Miguel Montero’s 2009 season was the only one of the decade with an OPS over 800. Johnny Estrada had the highest BA (.302) and most RBI (71) in 2006, but only had a 302/328/444 line. At 1B, Tony Clark and Chad Tracy both had big power seasons in 2005, although each only played around 80 games at 1B. Mark Grace’s 2001 season (298/386/466, 113 OPS+) was probably the best among those who played over 100 games at the position. 3B is a very close call between Reynolds’ 2009 season and Troy Glaus in 2005 (258/363/522, 37 HR, 97 RBI, 126 OPS+). The two players were very close offensively, and both were below average on defense. Fangraphs has Glaus at -15.5 runs defensively in 2005, and Reynolds at -7.7, so Reynolds gets the nod for a being a little “less bad”. Junior Spivey’s 2002 gets the nod as the best 2B season of the decade, but a trio of seasons by Orlando Hudson (2008, 2007, 2006) were very close. At SS, Stephen Drew’s 2008 led the decade in HR, RBI, and SLG. Honorable mention goes to Alex Cintron in 2003 (317/359/489 in 117 games). The best individual seasons in the OF are pretty easy to pick. Luis Gonzalez is the clear choice at LF. His 2001 season is by far the team’s best individual season of the decade, and he also has the 5 next best seasons in LF. Steve Finley’s 2000 season, with a 904 OPS and gold glove defense, is an easy choice for CF. In RF, Justin Upton’s 2009 season edges out Reggie Sanders’s 2001 (263/337/549, 117 OPS+) and Shawn Green’s 2005 (286/355/477, 114 OPS+). It was an outstanding starting pitching decade for the Diamondbacks in the 2000s. Randy Johnson collected 3 Cy Young Awards in the decade, Brandon Webb won once and finished second twice, and Curt Schilling had 3 Cy Young runner-ups. Johnson’s 2002 season (24-5, 2.32 ERA, 260 IP, 334K/71 BB) was easily the best by a left-handed starter in the entire National League. Among the right-handers, Schilling’s 2001 is the pick (22-6, 2.98 ERA, 256.2 IP, 293K/39BB), just edging out Brandon Webb’s 2007 and 2008 season. Byung-Hyun Kim’s 2002 is the choice for relief pitcher (8-3, 2.04 ERA, 36 Saves, 84 IP, 92K/26 BB), just edging out Jose Valverde’s 47 Save season in 2007 (but with a 2.66 ERA and only 64.1 IP). Finally, here are the Diamondbacks' leaders in several stats for the decade. Home Runs: Luis Gonzalez 198 Steve Finley 119 Mark Reynolds 89 Chad Tracy 78 Chris Young 71 Runs Batted In Luis Gonzalez 663 Steve Finley 376 Chad Tracy 318 Mark Reynolds 261 Conor Jackson 236 Runs Scored Luis Gonzalez 668 Steve Finley 391 Craig Counsell 343 Chad Tracy 293 Tony Womack 281 Stolen Bases Tony Womack 110 Eric Byrnes 88 Craig Counsell 68 Steve Finley 62 Chris Young 54 Hits Luis Gonzalez 1131 Steve Finley 691 Chad Tracy 654 Craig Counsell 611 Stephen Drew 512 Batting Average Danny Bautista .296 Orlando Hudson .294 Shea Hillenbrand .294 Luis Gonzalez .292 Shawn Green .285 On-Base Percentage Luis Gonzalez .389 Orlando Hudson .365 Junior Spivey .363 Conor Jackson .361 Mark Grace .359 Slugging Percentage Luis Gonzalez .526 Tony Clark .520 Mark Reynolds .500 Steve Finley .494 Justin Upton .485 OPS+ Luis Gonzalez 128 Tony Clark 113 Mark Reynolds 111 Justin Upton 111 Steve Finley 110 ]]> amitlal@cox.net (Amit Lal) November Sun, 15 Nov 2009 04:15:12 +0000 Players of the Decade http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/dbacks-2000.html http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/dbacks-2000.html amitlal@cox.net (Amit Lal) November Sun, 15 Nov 2009 04:08:46 +0000 2010 Diamondbacks' Top 21 Prospects http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/2010-diamondbacks-top-21-prospects.html http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/2010-diamondbacks-top-21-prospects.html Top 4 Diamondbacks Prospects for 2010
The Diamondbacks' minor league system had taken a big hit over the last few years. The Dan Haren trade sent 6 top prospects to Oakland, including Brett Anderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Carter, and Aaron Cunningham.  Since 2007, the D'backs had graduated Justin Upton, Chris Young, Mark Reynolds, Miguel Montero, Max Scherzer, and Gerardo Parra to the Major League club, and had also traded away Alberto Callaspo, Micah Owings, Dustin Nippert, Tony Pena, and Emilio Bonifacio.  That left the farm system in 2009 ranked near the bottom in the majors, and almost completely devoid of elite hitting prospects.

In just a few months, however, the Diamondbacks have really turned things around, thanks primarily to 7 picks within the first two rounds of the 2009  draft.  As a result, only 3 players from last year's top 10 list are among the organization's top prospects this year.  Most of the players on this year's list are still at the A Ball level and a few years away, but the upside potential is very high.

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amitlal@cox.net (Amit Lal) November Sun, 15 Nov 2009 03:56:21 +0000
Free Agent Starting Pitcher Rankings - 2010 Diamondback Possibilities http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/free-agent-starting-pitcher-rankings-2010-diamondback-possibilities.html http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/free-agent-starting-pitcher-rankings-2010-diamondback-possibilities.html $10-15M to spend on new acquisitions, and a free agent pitcher is likely a priority. Unfortunately, this year's free agent pitching class is one of the weakest in recent years, with most of the high-quality pitchers coming off injuries. The Diamondbacks could offer arbitration to Doug Davis, who made $8M last season. Davis has managed decent ERAs despite very poor peripheral stats. Other LHP options include Randy Wolf, Erik Bedard (coming off injury), Aroldis Chapman, and Jarrod Washburn. Here is a look at this year's free agent class. Almost every pitcher on the list has some question marks. Stats shown are Wins-Losses, ERA, WHIP (Walks+Hits per Inning), Innings Pitched, Strikeouts/9, Walks/9, HRA/9, ERA+, and Quality Starts/Total Starts. 1. John Lackey, LAA (31, RHP) (Type A) - $9M salary in 2009 2009: 11-8, 3.83 ERA, 1.270 WHIP, 176.1 IP, 7.1K, 2.4BB, 0.9 HR, 118 ERA+, 16/27 QS, 2008: 12-5, 3.75 ERA, 1.231 WHIP, 163.1 IP, 7.2K, 2.2BB, 1.4 HR, 119 ERA+, 16/24 QS 2007: 19-9, 3.01 ERA, 1.210 WHIP, 224 IP, 7.2K, 2.1BB, 0.7 HR, 150 ERA+, 24/33 QS John Lackey is the best free agent pitcher in the market this year, but even he is coming off two consecutive years with time on the disabled list. Before that, he had had five straight years with over 200 IP, including 224 IP in 2007 with a league-leading ERA of 3.01. Lackey is expected to get a multi-year deal averaging over $10/season. 2. Randy Wolf, LAD (33, LHP) (Type A) - $8M 2009: 11-7, 3.23 ERA, 1.101 WHIP, 214.1 IP, 6.7K, 2.4 BB, 1.0 HR, 122 ERA+, 24/34 QS 2008: 12-12, 4.30 ERA, 1.377 WHIP, 190.1 IP, 7.7K, 3.4 BB, 1.0 HR, 92 ERA+, 18/33 QS Randy Wolf had suffered through injury-plagued seasons in 2005, 2006, and 2007, but has put together back-to-back 200+ IP years. In fact, Wolf is coming off his best season, finishing with career highs in IP, QS, ERA+, and WHIP. At this point, he may be the most reliable starting pitcher available. 3. Rich Harden, CHC (28, RHP) (Type B) - $7M 2009: 9-9, 4.09 ERA, 1.340 WHIP, 141 IP, 10.9K, 4.3BB, 1.5 HR, 110 ERA+, 14/26 QS 2008: 10-2, 2.07 ERA, 1.061 WHIP, 148 IP, 11.0K, 3.7 BB, 0.7 HR, 211 ERA+, 14/25 QS Harden has the best stuff of any pitcher available, with a career strikeout rate of 9.4K/9 IP, and only allowing 7.2H/9 IP. The downside has always been Harden's health, as he has only thrown over 150 IP in a season once in his career, and that was way back in 2004. Last year with the Cubs, Harden also showed a tendency to give up too many walks and home runs, and only managed to go beyond 6 IP in 5 out of 26 starts. Most teams will be afraid to give Harden a long-term deal, but he may get a large one-year offer. 4. Aroldis Chapman, CUBA (21, LHP) 2009 (CUBA): 11-4, 4.03 ERA, 1.445 WHIP, 118.1 IP, 9.9K, 4.7 BB, 0.5 HR 2008 (CUBA): 6-7, 3.89 ERA, 1.243 WHIP, 74 IP, 9.6K, 4.5 BB, 0.4 HR Aroldis Chapman is a 21 year LHP who defected from Cuba last year, and throws over 100 MPH. He's young, and there have been questions about his maturity, but he has a great arm from the left side. He may not be ready to help a major league club in 2010, but he should get a multi-year deal. 5. Tim Hudson, ATL (34, RHP)- $13M 2009: 2-1, 3.61 ERA, 1.465 WHIP, 42.1 IP, 6.4K, 2.8 BB, 0.9 HR, 114 ERA+ 2008: 11-7, 3.17 ERA, 1.162 WHIP, 142 IP, 5.4K, 2.5 BB, 0.7 HR, 133 ERA+ 2007: 16-10, 3.33 ERA, 1.221 WHIP, 224.1 IP, 5.3K, 2.1 BB, 0.4 HR, 131 ERA+ The Braves have a $12M option for Tim Hudson in 2010, but are expected to negotiate a new multi-year contract with him. Edit: Hudson and the Braves have agreed to a 3 yr, $27M deal: Link. 6. Andy Pettitte NYY (37, LHP) (Type B) - $10M 2009: 14-8, 4.16 ERA, 1.382 WHIP, 194.2 IP, 6.8K, 3.5 BB, 0.9 HR, 103 ERA+ 2008: 14-14, 4.54 ERA, 1.412 WHIP, 204 IP, 7.0K, 2.4 BB, 0.8 HR, 98 ERA+ Andy Pettitte is a free agent, but will almost certainly re-sign with the Yankees if he pitches in 2010. 7. Erik Bedard SEA (30, LHP) (Type B) - $7.75M 2009: 5-3, 2.82 ERA, 1.193 WHIP, 83 IP, 9.8K, 3.7 BB, 0.9 HR, 154 ERA+, 6/15 QS 2008: 6-4, 3.67 ERA, 1.321 WHIP, 81 IP, 8.0K, 4.1 BB, 1.0 HR, 115 ERA+, 7/15 QS 2007: 13-5, 3.16 ERA, 1.088 WHIP, 182 IP, 10.9K, 2.8 BB, 0.9 HR, 146 ERA+, 21/28 QS Erik Bedard has been a good pitcher when healthy, but is recovering from a torn labrum, and will probably not be ready for opening day. Returning to the Mariners is a possibility, as is pitching for the Blue Jays in his native Canada. 8. Jon Garland, LAD (30, RHP) (Type B) - $6.25M 2009: 11-13, 4.01 ERA, 1.402 WHIP, 204 IP, 4.8K, 2.7BB, 1.0 HR, , 111 ERA+, 23/33 QS 2008: 14-8, 4.90 ERA, 1.505 WHIP, 196.2 IP, 4.1K, 2.7BB, 1.1 HR, 91 ERA+, 18/32 QS Jon Garland has shown excellent durability in his career, racking up double-digit victories and logging over 190 IP for eight consecutive seasons. He pitched well for the Dodgers last September (2.72 ERA), but the Dodgers declined his $10M option, choosing instead to have the D'backs pay his $2.5M buyout. Garland's low strikeout rate is worrisome, but he seems to be a lock to give a team 30 starts with a league average ERA. 9. Jason Marquis COL (31, RHP) (Type B) - $9.875M 2009: 15-13, 4.04 ERA, 1.380 WHIP, 216 IP, 4.8K, 3.3BB, 0.6 HR, 113 ERA, 21/33 QS 2008: 11-9, 4.53 ERA, 1.449 WHIP, 167 IP, 4.9K, 3.8 BB, 0.8 HR, 102 ERA+, 12/28 QS Much like Jon Garland, Marquis is a low-strikeout pitcher who manages a league average ERA with good durability. Marquis had an excellent 1st half with a 3.56 ERA, but faded in the 2nd half to 4.56, and only threw 1 IP in the postseason. The Mets have been rumored as a possibility. 10. Ben Sheets (31, RHP) $11M (2008) 2009: DNP 2008: 13-9, 3.09 ERA, 1.150 WHIP, 198.1 IP, 7.2K, 2.1 BB, 0.8 HR, 136 ERA+, 18/31 QS 2007: 12-5, 3.82 ERA, 1.238 WHIP, 141.1 IP, 6.8K, 2.4 BB, 1.1 HR, 116 ERA+, 14/24 QS Sheets is coming off a torn flexor tendon, and missed all of 2009. When healthy, he was one of the best pitchers in baseball. He expects to beready to go in 2010. 11. Justin Duchscherer, OAK (32, RHP) (Type B) - $3.9M 2009: DNP 2008: 10-8, 2.54 ERA, 0.995 WHIP, 141.2 IP, 6.0K, 2.2 BB, 0.7 HR, 163 ERA+, 15/22 QS Justin Duchscherer also did not pitch in the majors in 2009. He started out on the DL with an elbow problem, but did throw 11 scoreless innings during a minor league rehab in August. He then was diagnosed with clinical depression, and was shut down for the season. He could be a good bargain in 2010. 12. John Smoltz, STL (43, RHP) - $5.5M 2009: 3-8, 6.35 ERA, 1.449 WHIP, 78 IP, 8.4K, 2.1 BB, 1.3 HR, 69 ERA+ 2008: 3-2, 2.57 ERA, 1.179 WHIP, 28 IP, 11.6K, 2.6 BB, 0.6 HR, 164 ERA+ 2007: 14-8, 3.11 ERA. 1.182 WHIP, 205.2 IP, 8.6K, 2.1 BB, 0.8 HR, 140 ERA+ John Smoltz will be 43 next year, and did not have very good results in Boston. However, he pitched better in St. Louis, and did maintain very strong peripherals all season. I think he still has something left. 13. Vicente Padilla, LAD (32, RHP) (Type B) - $12M 2009: 12-6, 4.46 ERA, 1.425 WHIP, 147.3 IP, 5.9K, 3.3 BB, 1.0 HR, 100 ERA+, 11/25 QS 2008: 14-8, 4.74 ERA, 1.462 WHIP, 171 IP, 6.7K, 3.4 BB, 1.4HR, 94 ERA+, 12/29 QS After being released by the Rangers, Padilla found himself with the Dodgers, going 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA down the stretch. He even started three games in the postseason, moving ahead of Chad Billingsley in the rotation. He was called a horrible teammate while with the Rangers, and it's not clear if he salvaged his reputation in LA. 14. Brad Penny SF (31, RHP) - $6M 2009: 11-9, 4.88 ERA, 1.396 WHIP, 173.1 IP, 5.7K, 2.6 BB, 1.1 HR, 94 ERA+, 16/30 QS 2008: 6-9, 6.27 ERA, 1.627 WHIP, 94.2 IP, 4.8K, 4.0 BB, 1.2 HR, 66 ERA+, 5/17 QS 2007: 16-4, 4.33 ERA, 1.376 WHIP, 208 IP, 5.8K, 3.2 BB, 0.4 HR, 146 ERA+, 26/33 QS Brad Penny had his mid-90s fastball back in 2009, but it didn't help him much in Boston, as he struggled to a 5.61 ERA. After his trade to the Giants, he somehow improved to 2.59, although his strikeout rate was only 4.3 per 9 IP. With his injuries, fitness issues, and shaky performance, most teams will be unwilling to offer a multi-year deal. 15. Jarrod Washburn DET (35, LHP) - $10.35M 2009: 9-9, 3.78 ERA, 1.188 WHIP, 176 IP, 5.1K, 2.5BB, 1.2 HR, 116 ERA+, 17/28 QS 2008: 5-14, 4.69 ERA, 1.458 WHIP, 153.2 IP, 5.1K, 2.9 BB, 1.1 HR, 90 ERA+, 14/26 QS Jarrod Washburn had an outstanding half-season with the Mariners, going 8-6 with a 2.64 ERA. After the trade to the Tigers, Washburn fell apart, posting a 7.33 ERA. For the three previous seasons, Washburn had been a league average pitcher. Maybe a return to Seattle would work. 16. Doug Davis ARZ (34, LHP) (B) - $8.75M 2009: 9-14, 4.12 ERA, 1.505 WHIP, 203.1 IP, 6.5K, 4.6 BB, 1.1 HR, 111 ERA+, 22/34 QS 2008: 6-8, 4.32 ERA, 1.534 WHIP, 146 IP, 6.9K, 3.9 BB, 0.8 HR, 108 ERA+, 14/26 QS Doug Davis is another soft-tosser who has shown excellent durability. It's amazing that Davis keeps putting up better than league-average ERAs despite walking over 4 batters per game and allowing over one hit per inning. The Brewers are rumored to be interested in bringing him back. 17. Joel Pineiro, STL (31, RHP) (B) - $7.5M 2009: 15-12, 3.49 ERA, 1.145 WHIP, 214 IP, 4.4K, 1.1 BB, 0.5 HR, 118 ERA+ 2008: 7-7, 5.15 ERA, 1.446 WHIP, 148.2 IP, 4.9K, 2.1 BB, 1.3 HR, 83 ERA+ Pineiro had the best control in the NL in 2009, walking only 1.1 batter per 9 innings. Is Pineiro a Dave Duncan success story, or was 2009 a fluke? 18. Brett Myers, PHI (29, RHP) - $12M 2009: 4-3, 4.84 ERA, 1.373 WHIP, 70.2 IP, 6.4K, 2.9 BB, 2.3 HR, 88 ERA+, 6/10 QS 2008: 10-13, 4.55 ERA, 1.379 WHIP, 190 IP, 7.7K, 3.1 BB, 1.4 HR, 96 ERA+, 15/30 QS Brett Myers had two nice seasons as a starter in 2005 and 2006, but has seen his strikeout rate drop from 8.7/9 IP to 6.4. He may end up back in the bullpen. 19. Carl Pavano, MIN (33, RHP) (Type B) - $2.8M 2009: 14-12, 5.10 ERA, 1.375 WHIP, 199.1 IP, 6.6K, 1.8 BB, 1.2 HR, 84 ERA+ 2008: 4-2, 5.77 ERA, 1.485 WHIP, 34.1 IP, 3.9K, 2.6 BB, 1.3 HR. 77 ERA+ Carl Pavano was finally healthy in 2009, and had decent peripherals. He may end up back with the Twins or Indians. 20. Randy Johnson, SF (46, LHP) (Type B) - $8M 2009: 8-6, 4.88 ERA, 1.333 WHIP, 96 IP, 8.1K, 2.9 BB, 1.8 HR. 90 ERA+ 2008: 11-10, 3.91 ERA, 1.239 WHIP, 184 IP, 8.5K, 2.2 BB, 1.2 HR, 119 ERA+ Randy Johnson missed most of 2009 with a torn rotator cuff, and might decide to hang 'em up. 21. Braden Looper * MIL (B) - $4.75M 2009: 14-7, 5.22 ERA, 1.490 WHIP, 194.2 IP, 4.6K, 3.0 BB, 1.8 HR, 77 ERA+ 2008: 12-14, 4.16 ERA, 1.312 WHIP, 199 IP, 4.9K, 2.0 BB, 1.1 HR, 102 ERA+ 22. Kelvim Escobar LAA - $9.5M 2009: 0-1, 3.60 ERA, 1.600 WHIP, 5 IP, 9.0K, 7.2 BB, 0.0 HR, 125 ERA+ 2008: DNP 2007: 18-7, 3.40 ERA, 1.267 WHIP, 195.2 IP, 7.4K, 3.0 BB, 0.5 HR, 133 ERA+ Escobar is hoping to pitch in the Venezuelan winter leagues during the offseason. 23. Jose Contreras COL - $10M 2009: 6-13, 4.92 ERA, 1.473 WHIP, 131.2 IP, 7.2K, 3.6 BB, 0.9 HR, 94 ERA+ 2008: 7-6, 4.54 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, 121 IP, 5.2K, 2.6 BB, 0.9 HR, 101 ERA+ Pitched well as a reliever for the Rockies; not so well as a starter for the White Sox. 24. Bartolo Colon CWS - $1M 2009: 3-6, 4.19 ERA, 1.444 WHIP, 62.1 IP, 5.5K, 3.0 BB, 1.9 HR, 111 ERA+ 2008: 4-2, 3.92 ERA, 1.385 WHIP, 39 IP, 6.2K, 2.3 BB, 1.2 HR, 118 ERA+ 25. Todd Wellemeyer STL - $4.05M 2009: 7-10, 5.89 ERA, 1.774 WHIP, 122.1 IP, 5.7K, 4.2 BB, 1.4 HR, 70 ERA+ 2008: 13-9, 3.71 ERA, 1.252 WHIP, 191.2 IP, 6.3K, 2.9 BB, 1.2 HR, 115 ERA+ After a disappointing season, Wellemeyer will probably not be back in St. Louis. 26. Mike Hampton HOU - $2M 2009: 7-10, 5.30 ERA, 1.554 WHIP, 112 IP, 5.9K, 3.7 BB, 1.0 HR, 79 ERA+ 2008: 3-4, 4.85 ERA, 1.423 WHIP, 78 IP, 4.4K, 3.2 BB, 1.2 HR, 87 ERA+ Hampton is not expected back in Houston in 2010. 27. Livan Hernandez WAS - $1.3M 2009: 9-12, 5.44 ERA, 1.563 WHIP, 183.2 IP, 5.0K, 3.3 BB, 0.9 HR, 76 ERA+ 2008: 13-11, 6.05 ERA, 1.632 WHIP, 180 IP, 3.4K, 2.2 BB, 1.3 HR, 71 ERA+ After two very poor seasons, no team would be considering Livan for their rotation in 2010, right? Still more options: Brandon Backe HOU, Tom Glavine ATL, Daniel Cabrera ARZ, Sidney Ponson KC, Jason Schmidt LAD, Odalis Perez WAS, Adam Eaton COL ]]> amitlal@cox.net (Amit Lal) November Wed, 11 Nov 2009 08:30:17 +0000 2010 Diamondbacks Projected Roster and Payroll http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/2010-diamondbacks-projected-roster-and-payroll.html http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/2010-diamondbacks-projected-roster-and-payroll.html Pos Starting Lineup 15.25M C Miguel Montero 1.00 1B Brandon Allen 0.40 2B Tony Abreu 0.40 3B Mark Reynolds 1.00 SS Stephen Drew 3.50 LF Conor Jackson 3.20 CF Chris Young 3.25 RF Justin Upton 2.50 Pos Bench 16.95M C Chris Snyder 4.75 MI Ryan Roberts 0.40 CI Josh Whitesell 0.40 OF Eric Byrnes 11.00 OF Gerardo Parra 0.40 Pos Starting Rotation 19.15M SP1 Brandon Webb 8.50 SP2 Dan Haren 8.25 SP3 Max Scherzer 1.60 SP4 Billy Buckner 0.40 SP5 Kevin Mulvey 0.40 Pos Bullpen 5.50M CL Chad Qualls 3.50 LHP Dan. Schleerth 0.40 RHP Esme. Vasquez 0.40 RHP Bryan Augenstein 0.40 RHP Juan Gutierrez 0.40 LHP Clay Zavada 0.40 Pos Others 3.50M Jon Garland 2.50 Chad Tracy 1.00 Total 60.35M This total team payroll is only around $60M, much below the $73M spent in 2009. However, the Diamondbacks have stated repeatedly that they are not planning to reduce payroll in 2010, so there is certainly an opening to sign a couple of free agents. The most expensive player on the roster, Eric Byrnes at $11M, will probably be a reserve or might even be released. In fact, the salary for the five bench players exceeds that of the starting lineup. One likely position for a free agent signing would be at the 1B or LF position. Brandon Allen, despite a 3-Run HR in Saturday's Arizona Fall Leagie Rising Stars game, has been struggling in the AFL and has only played 53 games in AAA. If the D'backs feel he is not ready for the starting job, they may opt for a free agent or trade, with Conor Jackson available to play either 1B or LF. A recent trade rumor had backup catcher Chris Snyder going to Toronto for 1B Lyle Overbay, but those trade talks have reported ended. The other likely upgrade is in the starting rotation.  The front three, with Webb, Haren, and Scherzer, should be very good if healthy, but the back of the rotation is questionable. Also, all five of the current starters are right handed, so bringing in a left-handed starter would make sense. The bullpen, aside from closer Chad Qualls, is very inexperienced, so adding a veteran relief arm is also likely. In the next post, we'll take a look at the available free agent options for the starting rotation and bullpen.]]> amitlal@cox.net (Amit Lal) November Mon, 09 Nov 2009 01:16:28 +0000 2010 Diamondbacks Top 21 Prospects. http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/2010-diamondbacks-top-21-prospects.html http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/2010-diamondbacks-top-21-prospects.html The Diamondbacks' minor league system had taken a big hit over the last few years. The Dan Haren trade sent 6 top prospects to Oakland, including Brett Anderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Carter, and Aaron Cunningham. Since 2007, the D'backs had graduated Justin Upton, Chris Young, Mark Reynolds, Miguel Montero, Max Scherzer, and Gerardo Parra to the Major League club, and had also traded away Alberto Callaspo, Micah Owings, Dustin Nippert, Tony Pena, and Emilio Bonifacio. That left the farm system in 2009 ranked near the bottom in the majors, and almost completely devoid of elite hitting prospects. In just a few months, however, the Diamondbacks have really turned things around, thanks primarily to 7 picks within the first two rounds of the 2009 draft. As a result, only 3 players from last year's top 10 list are among the organization's top prospects this year. Most of the players on this year's list are still at the A Ball level and a few years away, but the upside potential is very high.

1. Jarrod Parker (20), RHP 2009 Stats Visalia, High A: 19 IP, 1-0. 0.95 ERA, 0.842 WHIP, 21K, 4BB, 0 HR Mobile, AA: 78.1 IP, 4-5, 3.68 ERA, 1.481 WHIP, 74K, 34 BB, 2 HR A 6-1 righthander, Jarrod Parker was drafted out of high school as the #9 pick overall in 2007. He has shown a fastball consistently in the mid-90s, and also has a plus slider, curve, and an improving change-up. He dominated at High A Visalia, and was moved up to the Southern League as a 20 year old. Although his overall AA numbers weren't great, he got a lot of strikeouts, only gave up 2 HR in 78 IP, and got a lot of ground balls. Parker was ranked as the #5 prospect in the Southern League by Baseball America. Parker was shut down in July last year, and underwent Tommy John surgery with Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham on October 28th.  Before the injury, Parker was one of a handful of pitchers in the minors to have ace, Cy Young Award potential.  Early reports are that the surgery was successful, and he should be at full strength by spring training 2011.  You can follow Parker's progress on his blog: http://jarrodbparker.mlblogs.com/.
Could become the next: Roy Oswalt

2. Brandon Allen (23), 1B, LHB 2009 (AZ): 116 PA, 202/284/385, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 13R, 0/0 SB, 12BB/40K 2009 (AAA): 228 PA, 306/373/563, 13 HR, 40 RBI, 39R, 6/0 SB, 20BB/38K 2009 (AA): 274 PA, 290/372/452, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 39R, 1/2 SB, 30BB/47K Brandon Allen came to the D'backs from the Chicago White Sox in the Tony Pena trade. After hitting 306/373/563 with 13 HR in 228 plate appearances in AAA, Allen was ranked as the #14 prospect in the Pacific Coast League. He is a good athlete and has outstanding power. Allen is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League, and will be in the AFL Rising Stars game on Saturday, November 6th. We discussed Allen in greater detail in the D'Backs 1st Base Position Battle. He's the only hitter on this list likely to make an impact in 2010.
Could become the next: Ryan Howard

3. Bobby Borchering (18), 3B, S 2009 (Missoula - Rookie League) 93 PA, 241/290/425, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 10 R, 0/0 SB, 5 BB/27K Bobby Borchering was drafted #16 overall in the 2009 draft, and was considered the best high school power hitter in the draft. Borchering, a switch-hitter, has power from both sides of the plate, and should also hit for a high average. He struggled initially in the Pioneer League, but hit well in the playoffs, going .321 with 2 HR and 10 RBI in 6 playoff games. It remains to be seen if Borchering's defense will allow him to stay at 3B, or if he will eventually move to 1B.
Could become the next: Chipper Jones

4. Daniel Schlereth (23), LHP 2009 (ARI): 1-4, 18.1 IP, 5.89 ERA, 1.636 WHIP, 15 BB, 22 K, 1 HR 2009 (AA/AAA): 0-0, 27.2 IP, 0.98 ERA, 1.157 WHIP, 17 BB, 40K, 1 HR Daniel Schlereth was the Diamondbacks' first round pick in the 2008 draft, #26 overall, from the University of Arizona. Schlereth underwent Tommy John surgery in his freshman year, but came back without any loss in velocity. A hard-throwing lefty, Schlereth combines a mid-90s fastball with an above-average curveball, and has a closer's mentality. Schlereth has been very tough to hit in the minors, allowing only 21 hits in 39.2 career IP, while striking out 60. The big negative for Schlereth has been the walks - 23 in 39.2 IP in the minors, and 15 in 18.1 major league IP. He has used exclusively as a relief pitcher.
Could become the next: Billy Wagner

5. Ryan Wheeler (21), 1B, LHB 2009 (A): 316 PA, 361/462/540, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 48R, 7/5 SB, 42 BB/32K Ryan Wheeler was the Diamondbacks 5th round pick out of Loyola Marymount Univeristy in the 2009 June draft. He played most of the year at Yakima in the Northwest League, and then finished up at South Bend in the Midwest League. He led the Northwest League in on-base percentage, and finished second in batting average and slugging percentage. The D'Backs named Wheeler their Minor League Player of the Year, which is a rare distinction for a short-season minor leaguer. Wheeler played some LF for Yakima, but 1B looks like his best position.
Could become the next: Left-handed Lance Berkman

6. Matt Davidson (19), 3B, RHB 2009 (A): 270 PA, 241/312/319, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 29R, 0/2 SB, 21BB/75K Along with Borchering, Davidson was considered one of the top 3 high school power hitters in last year's draft. He had committed to USC, but decided to sign with the D'backs after being drafted with the #35 pick. While in high school, Davidson won the Home Run Derby at the AFLAC All-American game at Dodger Stadium (with a wood bat). Although he didn't hit much for Yakima in the Northwest League, Davidson was the youngest starter in the league. There is a lot of potential with Davidson, but he is far away from the majors.
Could become the next: Matt Williams

7. A.J. Pollock (21), CF, RHB 2009 (A): 277 PA, 271/319/376, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 36R, 10/4 SB, 16 BB/36K A.J. Pollock was the #17 pick in the first round of the 2009 draft, coming out of Notre Dame, and then played for South Bend in the Midwest League. Pollock was the MVP of the Cape Cod league in 2008, and was considered one of the most polished college hitters in the draft. He has good speed and is a fine defender in CF, and is expected to move quickly through the minors. There is some concern about Pollock's power, but most scouts expect him to eventually hit 10-15 HRs in the majors, with plenty of doubles and triples.
Could become the next: Right-handed Mark Kotsay

8. Marc Krauss (22), LF, LHB 2009 (A): 130 PA, 304/377/478, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 14R, 0/1 SB, 14 BB/21K Marc Krauss was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft, the #64 pick overall, from Ohio University. He led the Mid-American Conference with 27 HR and 70 RBI, and led the Cape Cod League in 2008 in RBI and On-Base percentage. Defensively, Krauss is probably limited to LF, where he is only adequate, but the D'backs hope that his bat will make up for it. Kraus was one of the first players to sign from last year's draft, but suffered an ankle injury after one month that ended his season early. The Diamondbacks will try to move him aggressively through the system.
Could become the next: Lyle Overbay

9. Wade Miley (23), LHP 2009 (A/High A): 128.2 IP, 6-10, 4.20 ERA, 1.383 WHIP, 33 BB/102 K, 8 HRA Wade Miley was selected by the Diamondbacks with the 43rd pick in the 2008 draft out of Southeastern Louisiana University. He only has a low-90s fastball, but does have an above-average breaking pitch that he can throw for strikes. Miley gets plenty of ground balls and does a good job of keeping the ball in the park. To date, he has decent K/BB (3:1) and K/9 (7.3) ratios, but has given up more hits (10.1/9 IP) than expected. He probably profiles as middle of the rotation starter.
Could become the next: Jarrod Washburn

10. Mike Belfiore (21), LHP 2009 (Rookie): 58 IP, 2-2, 2.17 ERA, 1.241 WHIP, 13 BB, 55K, 2 HRA Another selection in the 2009 draft, Mike Belfiore was the #45 selection out of Boston College. He is probably best known for throwing 9 2/3 inning of relief in the marathon 25 inning game against Texas during the NCAA Regionals (and scaring away some scouts who worried about his arm). Belfiore has a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s, with a mid-80s slider and a decent changeup. He was primarily a closer (and 1B) in college, but began his pro career as a starter in Missoula, with fairly good success.
Could become the next: Joe Saunders

11. Kevin Eichhorn, RHP (19) - Injuries have limited the son of former major league pitcher Mark Eichhorn to only 18.2 IP since he was drafted in 2008, but he has struck out 25.
12. Chris Owings, SS (18) - 41st pick in 2009 draft; Solid across-the-board skills, and hit .306 in his Pioneer League debut
13. Josh Collmenter, RHP (23) - 4.15 ERA for High A Visalia, but averaged 9.4K/9 IP and only allowed 8 HR in 145 IP
14. David Nick, 2B/SS (19) - 4th Round pick in 2009, hit 286/351/440 with 16 SB in the Pioneer League.
15. Pat McAnaney, LHP (23) - 146Ks in 147 IP for Visalia in the California League, but gave up too many hits and walks (1.42 WHIP)
16. Trevor Harden, RHP (22) - Pitched well in the Pioneer League (1.91 ERA, 13.6K/9) and the Midwest League (2.39 ERA, 7.4 K/9), but struggled when called up to High A Visalia (4.43 ERA, 6.2 K/9)
17. Bryan Shaw, RHP (22) - 4.70 ERA for High A Visalia, but did strike out 8.0/9 IP with a 1.267 WHIP.
18. Evan Frey, OF (23) - After .400 OBPs in A/High A, dropped down to .348 OBP in AA Mobile. Very little power, but did steal 31 bases and can play CF.
19. Keon Broxton, OF (19) - Outstanding athlete who hit 11 HR with 6 SB in his Pioneer League debut, but also struck out 93 times in 297 plate appearances
20. Eric Smith, RHP (21) - 2nd round pick in 2009; gets ground balls, but needs to improve his control (4.7 BB/9)
21. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B (22) - 8th round pick from Texas State led the Pioneer League with 18 HRs. Can he keep it up at higher levels?

Others who could reach the majors in 2010: Cole Gillespie, OF (25), John Hester, C (26), Bryan Augenstein, SP (23), Cesar Valdez (24), Hector Ambriz, RHP (24), Tony Barnette, RHP (24), Barry Enright, RHP (23)

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amitlal@cox.net (Amit Lal) November Thu, 05 Nov 2009 04:26:19 +0000
2009 Fielding Bible Awards http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/2009-fielding-bible-awards.html http://www.dbacksvenom.com/2009-articles/november/2009-fielding-bible-awards.html 2009 Fielding Bible awards were announced today. These awards are based on the votes of 10 experts - John Dewan (author, The Fielding Bible), Joe Posnanski (Sports Illustrated, KC Star), Bill James (founder of "Sabermetrics"), Mat Olkin (consultant to many MLB teams, formerly at USA Today Baseball Weekly), Peter Gammons (ESPN), Rob Neyer (ESPN.com), Todd Radcliffe (Lead Scout at Baseball Info Solutions-BIS), Hal Richman (Strat-o-Matic Baseball), the Tom Tango Fan Poll, and the BIS Video Scouts. The ten voters ranked their Top 10 at each position in a 10-9-8...2-1 ballot, similar to the MVP ballots. The winners: 1B - Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals 2B - Aaron Hill, Toronto Blue Jays 3B - Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals SS - Jack Wilson, Pittsburgh and Seattle LF - Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays CF - Franklin Gutierrez, Seattle Mariners RF - Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners C - Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals P - Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox Although these awards are based on the subjective votes of the panelists, it is worth taking a quick look at the Fielding Bible's Plus/Minus fielding system, since 3 of the voters work with that system developed by Baseball Info Solutions (BIS). Video Scouts at BIS review video of every major league play and record details on every aspect of the play - the location of the batted ball, the speed, the type of hit, and the fielding result. For each play, they award a "plus" number for a play that most other fielders don't make, and a "minus" number for plays that other fielders do make. Then all of the fielder's plays are summed for an overall "Plus/Minus" number, and players can be compared to their peers. How did the Diamondbacks fare in the voting? Only two D'backs finished in the Top 10 at their positions - Justin Upton was 4th at RF, and Chris Young was ranked 10th at CF. SS Stephen Drew and C Miguel Montero both finished 13th at their respective positions. Among former D-backs, Orlando Hudson was ranked 5th at 2B, and Jon Garland was 6th among Pitchers. The complete vote totals can be seen here. ]]> amitlal@cox.net (Amit Lal) November Mon, 02 Nov 2009 19:44:39 +0000