So a while back I made some comments about how the Rays had gone from horrible to great in just one season, and used OPS to show how we too could go down the same path and quickly become contenders.
Thats been sitting in the back of my mind and I wanted to do a more detailed, accurate version using VoRP to determine just how much better we would have been. To be honest I was a bit surprised at what I found.
VoRP (value over replacement player)- is essentially the number of runs that a player creates (or loses) compared to a mythical league "average" player. Positive runs mean that the player helped his team score that many more runs than an average player, while negative means an average player would have made more. Generally 10 "runs" of VoRP is about a win. So Albert Pujols with his herculean 90+VoRP made 9 more wins for the cardinals than a league average 1B.
So what does this mean for the Royals? Basically that making a few, very reasonable changes can push them closer to contention than you might think.
For our purposes I took the 5 worst position players, and the 5 worst pitchers, provided replacements from inside the organization (and their VoRP's where applicable, If not we simply assume league average) and calculate the number of wins that the Royals COULD have had. I tried to get as close as possible in terms of number of innings pitched/ Plate attempts.
1. Tony Pena Jr. (-24.9 VoRP) [Mike Aviles(35.0 VoRP)]- Wow...The diffrence right here alone is nearly 41 runs during the time Pena played. [Pena -25, Aviles +21] Had Aviles played the whole year, his VoRP would have been 56. Good for 17th in the MLB and right behind Joe Mauer.
2. Ross Gload (-7.5 VoRP) [Ryan Shealy (7.4 VoRP)]- Again...WOW in just 80 PA Shealy managed to win the Royals 1.5 more games than Gload did in 5 times as many PAs. This is the only really hard one to calculate since the number of PAs is so diffrent. So I left it out of the final calculation.
3. Joey Gathright(-6.1 VoRP) [Replacement (0.0 VoRP)]-Well I was going to say Maier...till I realized his VoRP wasn't much better. Dear DM, Corner OF should be a MAJOR PRIORITY.
4. Esteban German(-4.6 VoRP) [Alberto Callaspo (7.4 VoRP)]- Alberto actually managed to come in 5th on the team in VoRP, despite haveing only 230 PAs.
5. John Buck (-2.8 VoRP) [Miguel Olivo (7.0 VoRP)]- I like this comparison least because of the way the two were used, since I can't help but think that If Miguel had faced more RHP he would not have done as well.
( I will hold off putting Soria in for a SP, please note however that in 67.3 innnings, he has almost the same VoRP (30.1 to 38.3) as Gil Meche (210.3 innings))
Also, Kudos to Greinke for being the only Royal in the top 30 (24th) in VoRP.
1. Brett Tomko(-9.7 VoRP) [Ducky! (4.7 VoRP)]- Well Ducky's VoRP surprised me quite a bit, but he has been relatively effective.
2. Yimmy Yobble (-9.6 VoRP) [John Bale (4.1 VoRP)]-another one of those, "Wait...really?" picks
3. Brian Bannister(-8.3 VoRP) [Replacement (0.0 VoRP)]- I'd like to put Rosa here. Just for the record Hochevar is actually right at replacement level.
4. Hideo Nomo(-6.3 VoRP) [Yasuhiko Yabuta(3.3 VoRP)] - It seems easier to get a positive VoRP as a pitcher, that or our Offense REALLY sucks
5. Jeff Fulchino (-6.0 VORP) [Neal Musser(0.6 VoRP)]- Neal's likely would be much higher, but he only pitched for an inning...This is possibly the second most egregious misuse of talent, other than the Pena-Aviles problem.
So what does this all equal out too?
From the position players(sans Gload) the Royals could have had almost 69 more runs, just by using in house replacements.
From the pitching staff the Royals could have had almost 53 more runs, just by using in house replacements.
For a grand total of 122 more runs this year. Using the rough estimation of 10 runs = 1 win the Royals could have had 12 more wins THIS YEAR, for a record of 87 and 75.
With even a little luck that is a team that could have won the division.
So Dayton, don't go spend happy this off-season. We don't really need it. Simply make sure that the best players are playing. Oh, and a corner OF bat really wouldn't hurt. [*Cough* Raul Ibanez (39.3 VoRP) is worth about 4 wins over Gathright *cough*]