As one of the millions of people who undoubtedly read yesterday's Driveline Mechanics column on optimizing the 2009 Royals' lineup, I have little doubt you saw all those numbers for the Royals forthcoming offensive prowess and thought, "yeah, but I'd like to see how those adjust for position, and in different defensive combinations;" or perhaps, "those look pretty good, but Dan Szymborski mocked the Farnsworth and Ho-Ram acquisitions, and I didn't appreciate his analysis of the Bloomquist deal, either. ZiPS is probably even more biased against the Royals than Dave Cameron and Kevin Goldstein." Maybe you have serious doubts about PECOTA's MLEs. Maybe you one of the many people out there who can out-scout the defensive stats, or, like J. C. Bradbury, you have issues with the concept of "replacement level."
You've come to the right place, my friend. Read on, as I have provided a menu from which you can pick a 4 course meal that will turn even the most saber-unfriendly folks around a WAR-spouting blabbermouth like myself: it's Choose Your Own WAR Projection for (most of) the 2009 Royals Position Players.
Yes, yes, I know, I should probably have done my "So what is the deal with WAR" before I did this, but consider this an appetizer. I don't work here, anyway, I'll do what I want!
In a typical Royals Review exchange last week, we were arguing over exactly how bad a certain player was (I almost titled this post, "Who, exactly, sucks?," but thought that would be too negative and get me banned). I figured, "you know, we keep arguing about this, why don't I just post the projections for all the guys on the roster so we all have something to reference." But that's boring and predictable, different people prefer different projection systems, or don't like them at all, or don't like defensive stats... For the Driveline post I did, I averaged the offensive projections from CHONE, ZiPS, and PECOTA, which makes sense, of course, but sometimes one system will be very different from the other two...
So I thought what would be fun (and perhaps instructive on a practical level) would be to do a "Choose Your Own Projection" that broke down a lot of the components into run form so that we both have the "reference" material and people could really get a sense of how simple, on a basic level, a seemingly complex concept like Wins Above Replacement (WAR) really is. Pitchers are a different matter, these are just (most) of the position players that may or may not have made the roster this season (some are on just for "fun.")
So here's the numbers, and I'll give some explanations on where they come from and how to use them following.
|Willie Bloomquist (OF)||-12.5||-15.2||-22.3||-16.7||5||-7.5||1||-18.2||1.8||0.2|
|Willie Bloomquist (2B)||-12.5||-15.2||-22.3||-16.7||-3||2.5||1||-16.2||3.8||0.4|
|Mark Teahen (3B)||4.9||6.5||-0.5||3.6||-15||2.5||0.8||-8.1||11.9||1.2|
|Mark Teahen (OF)||4.9||6.5||-0.5||3.6||-2||-7.5||0.8||-5.1||14.9||1.5|
|Tony Pena, Jr.||-34.8||-43.5||-42.4||-40.2||1||7.5||0.3||-31.4||-11.4||-1.1|
|David DeJesus (OF)||4.9||10.3||-1.1||4.7||11||-7.5||1.1||9.3||29.3||2.9|
|David DeJesus (CF)||4.9||10.3||-1.1||4.7||5||2.5||1.1||13.3||33.3||3.3|
What are these numbers and where do they come from?
- The Columns labeled "CHONE," "ZiPS," and "PECOTA" are how many runs above or below average. I generated these using wOBA (well, for PECOTA, CHONE and ZiPS projections are already coverted to wOBA at FanGraphs' player pages). That's the best thing about wOBA, in my opinion -- unlike more 'traditional" stats, it corresponds quite directly with offensive value - if a player has a higher wOBA than another player, he's the better hitter (at least for the period being evaluated), period. This version of wOBA incorporates stolen bases. I project it, as I did for everything here, over what 105 games/625 plate appearances, so we can compare the players in equal playing time. Nothing here projects what I think the actual playing time will be.
- R/625 is simply the average of all three projection systems, if you want to use that.
- Fld. is for fielding runs above/below average per 150 games. Fielding is the "big thing" in sabermetric analysis. There is still a ways to go, and a lot of controversy about them, and doubly so for projecting fielding. I tried to do my own, but I settled on using the recenlty posted TotalZone projections found on CHONE's player pages. Not everyone likes TotalZone, but it's stacks up pretty well, and, moreover, I knew the projections are made to be compatible with the previous data, that Sean Smith is good at what he does, and stuff. Take these how you want, which is the whole point of doing the post this way...
- Pos. is for positional adjustment. They are Tom Tango's adjustments, which should be prorated by this number of runs per a certain number of games/innings/PAs. Here, just assume 625 PAs. They are as follows: C 12.5, SS 7.5, 2B/3B/CF 2.5, LF/RF -7.5, 1B -12.5, DH -17.5.
- BsR is baserunning runs (apart from steals, already included in the offensive numbers) above and below average per 625 PAs. I did these crude projections myself, actually, from BP's EQBRR numbers and some other stuff, as I detail in my Driveline Post, so you can read about it there.
- RAA is Runs Above Average (negative means below average, of course) per 625 PAs projected. This sums the averaged offensive projection with the fielding, positional, and baserunning numbers.
- RAR is runs above replacement level per 625 PAs/150 games. Here, the assumption is that, altogether, a replacement level player (a player who is freely available at the league minimum) will be 20 runs worse than average over 625 PAs/150 games. So we add 20 runs to the RAA to generate this to show how much value the player is projected to provide of the replacement level player.
- WAR is wins above replacement. After all, we're after not just runs, but wins! The general run-to-win conversion is about 10 runs to 1 win in modern baseball. I use last season's AL run environment in my calculations (about 10.17 to 1), but 10:1 is usually pretty close.
- But what is a "good" WAR? Keep in mind that replacement level is 20 runs/2 wins below average. So generally, we can think of WAR for position players like this: 0 replacement level/out of the major leagues, 1 bench/platoon player, 2 average, 3 above average, 4 very good, 5 great, 6+ best players in the league. It might be helpful to think of them like school grades (pre-grade inflation): 0 = F, 1 = D, 2 =C, 3 = B, 4=A. So, yes, someone complaining about a player's peformance when the player is a 4+ WAR player is... well, insert the appropriate expression here.
Choose Your Own Projection!
It's simple -- just pick the offensive projection you think it the closest, then add in the fielding runs figure, or discard them if you don't like defensive stats or projections or disagree with these (for example, trying to figure out Mark Teahen's numbers at 2B is of interest... I put his 3B projection up just to give a starting point). If you don't like this way of doing positional adjustments, use your own instead. If you think I'm a crank and don't like my baserunning numbers, don't use those. If you like to reference league average rather than replacement level, just go with that. Divide by 10, and voila, you have Chosen Your Own projection for a player's Wins Above Replacement (or average).
Note that this all projects relative player value givne equal playing time.time. You might be thinking, "Hey, maybe Bloomquist isn't all that bad -- 0.4 WAR at 2B." That's if he get 625 PAs. We're talking about something like "true talent" here. You'll want to prorate for how much playing time you think he'll get to test the contract, for example. This also comes into play with the catchers, since catcher almost never get 600+ PAs, especially not guys like Buck and Olivo.
Not much more to say... I haven't gotten into how much teams do/should pay for each WAR, but that's for another time, or the comments. You have the material: Let the projecting, evaluating, and, most importantly, arguing, begin! You're all sabermagicians now!