31 July, 2008

Manny and Bay moving...

With the tremendous deal that sent Manny Ramirez to lala land and Jason Bay to beantown we breakdown the plusses and minuses for the three teams involved.
On the surface it looks like the Dodgers came out on top of this deal. They get Manny Ramirez, a productive future Hall-of-Famer, for the rest of the season for two "prospects," and no financial expenditure. The Red Sox seem to be the losers by netting Jason Bay for Manny Ramirez, Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss, all the while paying the remainder of Manny's contract.
The Red Sox certainly didn't get equal value in return, but they had to make a change in order to preserve the integrity of the organization. Craig Hansen is a solid 24 year old pitcher who projects to be a solid set-up man and potentially a closer. Brandon Moss is a 24 year old who projects as a viable fourth outfielder. The Red Sox were essentially forced to throw in two viable future major league semi-regulars for a bat that is more or less equal to Manny's.
While Manny is a much bigger star, Jason Bay has very comparable numbers to Ramirez's this season:
Another plus is the difference in age. Manny Ramirez is 36 years old and will most certainly begin to see a deterioration of his skills. Jason Bay is 29 years old and will be able to maintain a high level of play for at least the next 2 or 3 seasons. Furthermore, the Red Sox control him next year at the bargain price of $7.5 million.
Taking a look at what the Dodgers had to give up, Andy LaRoche is a 24 year solid third baseman. He has had to deal with some injuries in his young career, but his upside is very strong. The Pirates will hold onto LaRoche until even better options are ready, at which point they will be able to spin LaRoche in another deal. In addition, the Bucs receive Bryan Morris, a 21 year old righty who could become a solid option over the next couple of years.
Essentially this was a good deal for all three teams, but for drastically different reasons. The Pirates finally get enough talent for a player they needed to move, the Dodgers get the bat they desperately needed, and the Red Sox have sanity restored in their organization.
This is perhaps the greatest example of an athlete whose selfishness cost a team more than money. Manny Ramirez is a tremendous talent, most of his antics were funny - a welcome change in pace from the self-absorbed seriousness of many modern athletes. In the end however, Manny Ramirez took his act to another level - that of a quitter, who didn't care about winning. The Dodgers will welcome his bat, but must hope that it comes with true effort. In a time when many in the game are being criticized for their use of performance-enhancing drugs, we forget to consider just how horrible the sin of apathy can be. A complete apathy for winning and apathy for full-time commitment to excellence.

27 July, 2008

RDB's MLB Rankings: 21 July - 27 July

Just after the all-star break and the world is starting to return to normal. The Cards have slowed, the Brewers and Cubs have taken claim of the division. The Rays are still kicking, but the Sox and Yanks are back to their old ways. The Angels are all alone and the Pirates are getting plundered by the Yankees.

1 - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim W-L: 64 - 40 ExpW-L: 56 - 48
Running away and hiding with the division might prevent this team from being in top form in October.

2 - Boston Red Sox W-L: 60 - 45 ExpW-L: 61 - 44
Even with the Yankees knocking on their door this is still the most complete team in baseball.

3 - New York Yankees W-L: 58 - 45 ExpW-L: 57 - 46
Adding Nady and Marte for next to nothing gives the Yanks the best bullpen in the game and a more balanced offense.

4 - Milwaukee Brewers W-L: 60 - 45 ExpW-L: 55 - 50
They've cooled a bit, but if they can get the bullpen in order they might be unstoppable in the NL.

5 - Chicago White Sox W-L: 59 - 44 ExpW-L: 60 - 43
Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye have given the ChiSox an unexpectedly solid offensive attack.

6 - Chicago Cubs W-L: 61 - 44 ExpW-L: 63 - 42
With Soriano back the Cubs are ready to stake their claim on the division.

7 - New York Mets W-L: 57 - 48 ExpW-L: 57 - 48
The Mets could have used the robbery that the Yankees made of the Pirates, still a corner outfielder and a reliever away from top contenders.

8 - Tampa Bay Rays W-L: 61 - 43 ExpW-L: 56 - 48
Must find a way to win on the road if they are to hang on in the dog days.

9 - Minnesota Twins W-L: 57 - 47 ExpW-L: 54 - 50
Joe Mauer is the best hitting catcher since Piazza's heyday, but with solid defense.

10 - Philadelphia Phillies W-L: 55 - 49 ExpW-L: 59 - 45
Finding ways to come back after their starters put them in a hole.

11 - Florida Marlins W-L: 55 -50 ExpW-L: 49 - 56
Must find a way to improve the bullpen and steady the rotation.

12 - St. Louis Cardinals W-L: 58 - 49 ExpW-L: 55 - 52
The surprising ride looks like it may be coming to an end.

13 - Los Angeles Dodgers W-L: 51 - 52 ExpW-L: 53 - 50
The Blake deal helps, but the Dodgers still rely mostly upon pitching.

14 - Detroit Tigers W-L: 53 - 51 ExpW-L: 55 - 49
It may be too late, losing two of three to the Sox was a major setback.

15 - Arizona Diamondbacks W-L: 52 - 51 ExpW-L: 53 - 50
If they could find a way to add Teixeira they'd be among the top 3 or 4 clubs in the NL.

16 - Toronto Blue Jays W-L: 53 - 52 ExpW-L: 56 - 50
They'll need to get creative if they ever want to compete in the mightiest of divisions.

17 - Texas Rangers W-L: 54 -50 ExpW-L: 50 -54
Two MVP candidates doesn't make up for a lack of pitching.

18 - Oakland Athletics W-L: 52 - 51 ExpW-L: 57 - 46
Throwing in the towel was actually the right move. Look out in 2010.

19 - Colorado Rockies W-L: 48 - 58 ExpW-L: 49 - 57
Must be careful not to let last year's incredible run convince them they're competitors this year.

20 - Baltimore Orioles W-L: 49 - 55 ExpW-L: 50 - 54
Time to make some moves to help the team down the line.

21 - Cincinnati Reds W-L: 50 - 56 ExpW-L: 47 - 59
Should be doing all they can to find suitors for Griffey and Dunn.

22 - Atlanta Braves W-L: 49 - 54 ExpW-L: 55 -48
Management seems to always make the right decisions, throwing in the towel is the right decision this year.

23 - Houston Astros W-L: 48 - 56 ExpW-L: 46 - 58
Decisions on the pieces to keep are always tough in Texas.

24 - Kansas City Royals W-L: 47 - 59 ExpW-L: 45 - 61
Can they move some pieces while making improvements for next year?

25 - Cleveland Indians W-L: 45 - 58 ExpW-L: 52 - 51
Absolutely brilliant sells thus far. The Tribe doesn't get the management fan fair of the Twins and A's, but have proven to be just as versatile.

26 - Pittsburgh Pirates W-L: 48 - 57 ExpW-L: 46 - 59
Giving away pieces is why the Bucs are always in the bottom third of any power rankings.

27 - San Francisco Giants W-L: 43 - 60 ExpW-L: 44 - 59
Good move to dump Durham, now to get rid of Winn and Vizquel if possible.

28 - San Diego Padres W-L: 41 - 65 ExpW-L: 42 - 64
Moving Maddux would be a great move, even if it's within the division. The upside of young talent would make the Dodgers regret it in a couple of years.

29 - Seattle Mariners W-L: 39 - 65 ExpW-L: 44 - 60
Dumping Washburn, Ibanez and Beltre would be smart; but moving Suzuki would be a mistake.

30 - Washington Nationals W-L: 38 - 66 ExpW-L: 40 - 64
They're not even stockpiling talent, what is their goal?

23 July, 2008

RBI/HR Breakdown Part I

Since the development of advanced baseball analysis, or general sabermetrics, RBI have been relegated to a less and less significant role within knowledgeable baseball circles. The primary reason being that the statistic in and of itself sheds very little light on an individual's value to his team. The greatest thrust of sabermetrics is the quest to interpret the value of individual players to their teams, based upon statistical analysis. So while RBI totals have been one of the staples of the back of a baseball card, they hold very little interpretive value. As part of an ongoing series we start to look at other ways to view RBI and how some within baseball circles are using them (for good or bad).
One breakdown worth looking at is RBI/HR. This is only the beginning of interpreting RBI. Again, this statistic in and of itself only gleans a small insight into the value of a player. Let's start by looking at the leaderboard among RBI/HR among players with a minimum of 2500 AB:
(All statistics are computed from raw data from www.baseball-reference.com)
Player-----------Total RBI-----Total HR---RBI/HR Ratio
Davy Force----------373--------------1-----------373
Bob Ferguson--------356--------------1-----------356
Duane Kuiper--------263--------------1-----------263
Emil Verban---------241--------------1-----------241
Tommy Thevenow---456--------------2----------228
Al Bridwell-----------348--------------2----------174
Jimmy Slagle---------344--------------2----------172
Mike Tresh-----------297--------------2----------148.5
Muddy Ruel----------534--------------4----------133.5
Lee Tannehill--------346---------------3----------115.33
Johnny Cooney-------219--------------2----------109.5
Frank Taveras-------214---------------2----------107
Bill Bergen-----------193---------------2-----------96.5
Nemo Leibold--------284---------------3-----------94.67
Joe Sugden-----------283--------------3------------94.33

Hardly enlightening, but perhaps interesting trivia.
Now let's take a look at RBI/HR in conjunction with a minimum of 200 HR:
Player-----------Total RBI-----Total HR---RBI/HR Ratio------Level of Player
Joe Medwick--------1383-----------205-----------6.75-------------------HoF
Jim Bottomley-------1422-----------219-----------6.49------------------HoF
Goose Goslin---------1609----------248-----------6.49-------------------HoF
Al Oliver-------------1326----------219-----------6.06-------------------AS
Bill Dickey-----------1209----------202-----------5.99-------------------HoF
Al Simmons---------1827-----------307-----------5.95-------------------HoF
Robin Yount---------1406----------251-----------5.60-------------------HoF
Ted Simmons--------1389----------248-----------5.60-------------------AS
Bobby Doerr---------1247----------223-----------5.59-------------------HoF
Paul Molitor---------1307----------234-----------5.59-------------------HoF
Buddy Bell-----------1106----------201-----------5.50-------------------AS
Roberto Clemente---1305----------240-----------5.44-------------------HoF
Wally Joyner--------1106----------204-----------5.42-------------------AS
Roberto Alomar-----1134----------210------------5.40-------------------AS (Probable HoF)
Rogers Hornsby-----1584----------301------------5.26------------------HoF
Kirby Puckett-------1085----------207------------5.24------------------HoF
Brooks Robinson----1357----------268------------5.06------------------HoF
George Brett--------1595----------317------------5.03------------------HoF
Rusty Staub---------1466---------292------------5.02-------------------AS

A very impressive list indeed. This isn't just a list of individuals who made the Hall of Fame or multiple all-star games because of high RBI totals, these are bonafied greats.
It is worth making a couple of points here. First of all, we have not accounted for the affect of the team on these totals. Of course the hitters batting in front of these individuals influence the ratio to some extent just as they influence the RBI totals. This statistic is far from independent, but in conjunction with HR totals becomes a useful total. Secondly, looking at leader totals is not enough. We must have some empirical data to compare. That empirical data is something we will look at later in this series. For now, we emphasize players with a respectable home run total (200-300 career HRs) and a correspondingly high RBI total are among the greatest to ever play the game.

18 July, 2008

VORP Pitching Greats

Very few pitchers have had seasons that result in a VORP approaching a hundred. There are some exceptional seasons that we would expect to see among the greatest pitching seasons ever, and a few that come as a bit of a surprise. Below are the top 15 pitching seasons, according to VORP, since 1959.

Rank---------Player--------------- Year-------VORP
1 -------------Pedro Martinez------2000------- 116.7
2 -------------Roger Clemens-------1997------- 116.3
3 -------------Pedro Martinez------1999------- 102.3
4 -------------Sandy Koufax--------1966-------- 99.5
5 -------------Dwight Gooden-------1985-------- 99.3
6 -------------Randy Johnson-------1999-------- 99.3
7 -------------Jim Palmer-----------1975-------- 98.8
8 -------------Pat Hentgen----------1996-------- 98.2
9 -------------Steve Carlton---------1972-------- 97.3
10 ------------Ron Guidry-----------1978-------- 94.6
11 ------------Greg Maddux---------1995-------- 94.2
12 ------------Dean Chance----------1964-------- 92.8
13 ------------Roger Clemens--------1987-------- 92.8
14 ------------Randy Johnson--------2001------- 92.8
15 ------------Johan Santana---------2004------- 89.5
(All stats from www.baseballprospectus.com)

One other season worthy of note is Greg Maddux's 1994 strike-shortened season. Through 25 games started Maddux posted an astounding 84.7 VORP. Over 35 games this VORP would interpolate to 118.58, perhaps the greatest pitching season ever.
Something worth discussing is the fact that so many of the top seasons correspond to the "steroids era." This should not come as a surprise. A pitcher who is completely dominant during a hitter's era is more valuable because of the rarity of his performance.

13 July, 2008

RDB's MLB Rankings: 7 July - 13 July

The all-star break is here. The Red Sox are finally back where we expected them to be. The Rays are struggling through some adverse times. The Brewers and Cubs gear up for a battle du jour down the stretch. The Mets remind us all of just how talented their roster is. The break comes at a good time for many and the rest of the month will determine a tremendous amount in all of the races.

1. Boston Red Sox W-L: 57-40 ExpW-L: 58-39
And just that quickly a sense of order is returned to the AL East.

2. Chicago Cubs W-L: 57-38 ExpW-L: 57-38
If Rich Harden stays healthy the Cubs are unstoppable in the NL.

3. Chicago White Sox W-L: 54-39 ExpW-L: 55-38
Gavin Floyd has been a big reason behind the re-emergence of the White Sox.

4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim W-L: 56-38 ExpW-L: 49-45
The offense still sputters at times, but the pitching has been very solid.

5. Minnesota Twins W-L: 53-42 ExpW-L: 49-46
Justin Morneau is quietly having another superb season.

6. Oakland Athletics W-L: 51-43 ExpW-L: 55-39
The A's continue to contend despite being sellers.

7. Milwaukee Brewers W-L: 52-43 ExpW-L: 49-46
A rough week, but the acquisition of Sabathia will keep them relevant for the rest of the season.

8. St. Louis Cardinals W-L: 53-43 ExpW-L: 50-46
A shaky bullpen needs to be addressed before the deadline.

9. New York Mets W-L: 50-44 ExpW-L: 50-44
Not only the first team in the modern era to have 5 consecutive games allowing 3 hits or less, but perhaps more importantly 7-3 against division rival Phillies this year.

10. Tampa Bay Rays W-L: 55-39 ExpW-L: 52-42
The wheels have come off, can the young club pick up the pieces before it's too late?

11. New York Yankees W-L: 50-45 ExpW-L: 50-45
A-Rod might be a head case, but he's still the best player in the game.

12. Philadelphia Phillies W-L: 52-44 ExpW-L: 56-40
Missed a good opportunity to pull away, but the offense has rebounded very nicely.

13. Florida Marlins W-L: 50-44 ExpW-L: 45-49
Must hope that the injury to Hanley Ramirez is not serious.

14. Texas Rangers W-L: 49-46 ExpW-L: 46-49
Taking it to some of the big boys and staying strong.

15. Los Angeles Dodgers 45-49 ExpW-L: 47-47
If Andruw Jones were not allowed to play this team would probably be in first place.

16. Arizona Diamondbacks W-L: 47-48 ExpW-L: 48-47
In desperate need of a bat before they slip out of first for good.

17. Detroit Tigers W-L: 47-47 ExpW-L: 47-47
They need Sheffield to produce to reach their true potential.

18. Cincinnati Reds W-L: 46-50 ExpW-L: 43-53
Selling Dunn and Griffey for some minor league talent could give them one of the most formidable young organizations in recent memory.

19. Toronto Blue Jays W-L: 47-48 ExpW-L: 50-45
Must not allow recent success to blind them from being sellers.

20. Atlanta Braves W-L: 44-50 ExpW-L: 50-44
Perfect time to trade Teixeira and reload.

21. Kansas City Royals W-L: 43-53 ExpW-L: 42-54
Must be very careful when choosing which parts to sell.

22. Pittsburgh Pirates W-L: 44-50 ExpW-L: 41-53
Enough teams are in need of the services of Bay and Nady that the Pirates can drive a hard bargain.

23. Cleveland Indians W-L: 41-53 ExpW-L: 48-46
Nice move in selling Sabathia early, time to look forward a couple of years.

24. Baltimore Orioles W-L: 45-48 ExpW-L: 46-47
Adam Jones is the real deal, a couple of more moves like the Bedard deal and the O's will be competing with the Sox and Yanks.

25. Houston Astros W-L: 44-51 ExpW-L: 43-52
They have pieces that can be sold, and they must avoid hanging onto them for some perceived run next year.

26. Colorado Rockies W-L: 39-56 ExpW-L: 40-55
Trading Matt Holliday could bring in a load, but is it the right long-term move?

27. Washington Nationals W-L: 36-60 ExpW-L: 36-60
8 walk-off wins ranks second in the majors.

28. Seattle Mariners W-L: 37-58 ExpW-L: 41-54
Finally a team with enough guts to cut the big contract.

29. San Francisco Giants W-L: 40-55 ExpW-L: 41-54
Time for Omar Vizquel to hang up the cleats.

30. San Diego Padres W-L: 37-57 ExpW-L: 38-56
Top three salaries this season (Maddux, Giles, Hoffman) need to be allowed to move on.

06 July, 2008

RDB's MLB Rankings: 30 June - 6 July

As we head toward the All-Star break the Rays and Twins continue to surprise and impress. The Yanks are on the ropes, and the Mets are in the midst of determining whether the rest of their season will matter or not. The Diamondbacks are doing everything thing they can to give the division lead away and may finally be finding a taker.

1. Tampa Bay Rays W-L: 55-32 ExpW-L: 52-35
There can be no doubt which team is the best team in the majors right now.

2. Chicago White Sox W-L: 51-37 ExpW-L: 53-35
Carlos Quentin is getting the recognition he deserves.

3. Chicago Cubs W-L: 53-36 ExpW-L: 54-35
The North-siders will be well represented at the all-star game.

4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim W-L: 53-35 ExpW-L: 46-42
John Lackey's last outing was a bit of a slip, but the Angels' staff is still one of the most fearsome in baseball.

5. Boston Red Sox W-L: 52-38 ExpW-L: 53-37
Manny Ramirez needs some rest, but the Red Sox can ill afford to sit him down.

6. Minnesota Twins W-L: 50-38 ExpW-L: 47-41
Delmon Young is starting to live up to the tremendously high standards he set for himself.

7. Milwaukee Brewers W-L: 49-39 ExpW-L: 45-43
With the organizational depth the make a trade deadline move the Brewers are right in the mix of things.

8. St. Louis Cardinals W-L: 50-40 ExpW-L: 47-43
With two pitchers returning from the DL, the Cards are primed for a second half surge.

9. Oakland Athletics W-L: 47-41 ExpW-L: 51-37
The A's will have to enter into one of their customary second half surges to stay in the middle of things.

10. New York Yankees W-L: 46-42 ExpW-L: 46-42
Mike Mussina is doing his part to keep the Yanks afloat.

11. Philadelphia Phillies W-L: 48-40 ExpW-L: 52-36
They have their foot on the throat of the Mets, it's time to put it down.

12. Texas Rangers W-L: 46-43 ExpW-L: 43-46
Will the Rangers ever have enough pitching to complement their amazing hitting?

13. Detroit Tigers W-L: 43-44 ExpW-L: 43-44
Their hot streak is slowing down, but they can't allow that to happen long.

14. Florida Marlins W-L: 45-43 ExpW-L: 42-46
Valued by position Hanley Ramirez is the NL MVP.

15. New York Mets W-L: 43-44 ExpW-L: 44-43
The Mets chance to get into the race is now.

16. Los Angeles Dodgers W-L: 43-45 ExpW-L: 45-43
If Garciaparra can make a difference the Dodgers might get into this, but Jones won't be doing a thing.

17. Arizona Diamondbacks W-L: 44-45 ExpW-L: 45-44
Even mediocre play could have helped them keep their significant lead.

18. Baltimore Orioles W-L: 44-43 ExpW-L: 44-43
Adam Jones is showing why the O's got the best of the Bedard deal.

19. Cincinnati Reds W-L: 43-47 ExpW-L: 40-50
Jay Bruce has been streaky, but when he locks in he'll be a perennial all-star.

20. Kansas City Royals W-L: 39-50 ExpW-L: 38-51
The Royals had a couple of players overlooked for all-star bids, certainly because the team continues to struggle to post wins.

21. Atlanta Braves W-L: 41-47 ExpW-L: 47-41
How far has Jeff Francoeur fallen?

22. Toronto Blue Jays W-L: 42-47 ExpW-L: 46-43
The pitching still has hiccups, but it is a very deep staff.

23. Houston Astros W-L: 41-47 ExpW-L: 40-48
Will the Astros become important sellers?

24. Pittsburgh Pirates W-L: 40-47 ExpW-L: 38-49
The key for the Bucs is selling the right parts, they may only be a couple of years away from contention.

25. Cleveland Indians W-L: 37-51 ExpW-L: 43-45
Will the Indians sell more than Sabathia?

26. San Francisco Giants W-L: 39-50 ExpW-L: 40-49
Outside of Zito the Giants' starters are quite solid.

27. Washington Nationals W-L: 34-56 ExpW-L: 32-58
A lot of close losses don't make the number of losses any less painful.

28. Seattle Mariners W-L: 35-52 ExpW-L: 38-49
A solid framework could make turning things around quick.

29. Colorado Rockies W-L: 37-52 ExpW-L: 38-51
They can slug it out, but pitchers are still few and far between.

30. San Diego Padres W-L: 35-54 ExpW-L: 35-54
How can the Padres be so bad when Gonzalez and Peavy can be so good?