FanPost

WAR retrospective, DM era


In this link here, I explored individual teams' actual vs. expected record, using WAR. As noted there, the Royals' actual performance compared to their expected performance is, not surprisingly to those who follow this team on a daily basis, one of the worst in the major leagues.

So then, I was interested in what the main reason for the Royals' poor performance this year, specifically the measurable components using WAR. I then wanted to take a look at the past 4 seasons to see if there were any trends that showed up during the DM era.

Because we're dealing with about 1/2 of a season worth of data, I made some adjustments to the numbers, specifically to "lock" Crisp's and Aviles' performance since both are out for the year. I also pro-rated Gordon's performance based on about 1/2 season of his performance from 2008 and added that to his WAR numbers in order to come up with an estimate for 2009.

First, the good news (all numbers courtesy of fangraphs):

Pitching WAR

 

Start

Relief

WAR

2009

        19.1

          3.1

        22.2

2008

        16.2

          3.3

        19.5

2007

          9.9

          6.1

        16.0

2006

          4.2

          0.6

          4.8

 

Pitching WAR has improved every year under DM, primarily because of the starting pitching. Relief pitching, while still above the performance of Allard-era pens, has decreased for two straight years.

Now for the bad:

Positional WAR

YR

Batting RAR

Fld RAR

WAR

2009

       (44.0)

       (33.1)

          9.5

2008

       (66.7)

        10.2

        12.7

2007

     (100.4)

        73.1

        15.0

2006

       (45.0)

        58.2

        19.0

One bit of good news, even in the overall downward trend: it does appear, believe it or not, that the Royals hitters have steadily improved since 2007, at least from a RAR perspective. This, despite the fact that Aviles has been a significant loss this year. If one were to assume that Aviles gave us just 1/2 of what he did offensively last year, our RAR would be (25.3), which would be our best since 2003 (-12.9). Throw in a healthy Gordon for the whole year and it looks even better.

However, those defensive numbers are absolutely ghastly, and the decreasing trend is even more worrisome. Believe it or not, however, the Royals are only the 9th worst team in 2009, ahead of the Twins, Mets, and Red Sox; but all of the teams below us have significantly better offenses than ours. They would also not be the worst of any of the years listed, either. Assuming a healthy Crisp, and again a full year of Mike Aviles at just 1/2 of his 2008 performance improves the results some, but still shows an overall downward trend.

Who are the main culprits: you don't need me to tell you that Guillen (-14.9) and Callaspo (-6.8) make up most of the entire number, but Teahen (-5.6) and Bloomquist (-3.5) have also chipped in. 

DM, despite his efforts to the contrary, has, put together a worse defense each year in 2008 and 2009. Who was added to the team for 2008 and 2009? Guillen and Callsaspo.  

Callaspo, while terrible on D, is at least playable because of his bat. However, in the short-term and medium-term, this team has absolutely got to get Guillen out of RF. My hope is that when Gordon comes back, that Teahen goes to RF and Guillen serves as the primary DH. That would improve the team two ways-by improving the defense in RF, and by improving the offense by limiting Jacobs' at-bats (for good measure, I would just cut or demote Jacobs if he has an option and bring up Kaaihue). Guillen, while not stellar at the plate, would be an upgrade over Jacobs and perhaps you "platoon" them against right-handers, giving them about equal PA.

In summary, these numbers make me feel somewhat better about what DM's done so far. The Guillen contract (not exactly a news flash) has been an albatross, but there are signs of improvement at the big-league level. I think that DM has got to continue to focus on bringing in better defenders in order to continue the improvement. Acquiring a SS and finding someone to play a good RF every day would significantly improve this team. Bringing in a better manager that would get the players to buy in would be another step, as would upgrading the training staff.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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