Update: Brian Cartwright, Creator of Oliver, Responds: Major League Equivalents for Cain, Giavotella and Lough

Note: Brian C's response is at end of article.

The Hardball Times (subscription area) has the MLE's based off the 2011 season.  I decided to see how 3 of the most frequent hitters that fans have asked to be called up to the majors, Cain Giavotella and Lough, stand.  Here are their MLE's:

Cain 358 10 0.285 0.339 0.453 0.792 0.341 9.1 2.3
Giavotella 437 7 0.308 0.349 0.428 0.777 0.339 -9.4 0.7
Lough 355 5 0.281 0.309 0.424 0.733 0.310 6.9 0.5

First, I don't know how much to take faith in the defensive numbers, but they seem to love Cain and hate Gia. Defensive numbers are the main difference in their WAR since they both play equally difficult positions and are hitting the same.

Second, differences in league difficulty and park factors generally seem imply that a player's OPS will drop close to 100 points (or multiply by 0.87) compared to what they are doing in the minors.

  • Cain: 0.912 to 0.792
  • Giavotella: 0.877 to 0.777
  • Lough: 0.843 to 0.733

Finally, if the wOBA numbers are correct, they would near the numbers for Frenchy (0.342) and Hosmer (0.341) and good for 6th and 7th highest value on the current team.

MLE's are not ideal for measuring a player's MLB production. It looks like both Cain and Giavotella deserve a shot on the major league team.


Brian Cartwright's Response

Several good comments from the readers. Oliver uses all the players over the past 13 years. Some players, for whatever reason, do not perform (good or bad) as expected when promoted. Some change their talent level. Maybe they can't hit a MLB slider, or get too uptight.
Specifically what would the SD's be that you are looking for? As one person commented, a single season MLE is a translation of a past event, so I'm not sure what to compare it to for an 'error'. For example, Projections can be compared against what a player actually did the next season. The projections are a weighted mean of recent season's MLEs.
You quoted 2011 MLEs for all the players being considered. A better way is to look at the entire four year period we present. The 2011 in-season projection does this according to Oliver's weighting and regression formula, but the reader can also look at the four years and use their own intuition, after Oliver has accounted for the ballparks and level of competition.
Here's Moustakas 
      PA wOBA  BA/ OB/ SA FR  WAR

2008 549  307 238/287/425 +3  0.8
2009 610  283 231/262/398 +1 -0.7
2010 534  358 287/325/525 +2  2.9
2011 417  273 224/277/346 +5 -0.5
Proj 608  310 255/294/431 +3  0.8

Unfortunately, which season does not match the rest?

He had a monster half season at NW Arkansas in 2010, which is an extreme hitter's park.
By level instead of year:
      PA wOBA  BA/ OB/ SA
A    550  307 238/287/425
A+   530  280 228/260/394
AA   299  387 306/360/559
AAA  486  310 253/286/445
Proj      310 255/294/431
The AAA MLEs are very close to the current projection - his bad MLB record (so far) cancel out the good numbers at NWA.
      PA wOBA  BA/ OB/ SA
AA   376  391 274/396/504
AAA 1401  346 249/360/420
Win   99  345 221/364/398
Proj      338 250/347/419
AAA translated to a 346 wOBA, where average 1B is 355 and DH is 360, higher for average starters at those positions.
Cain had a lousy 2009, but last two years are 330-291/349/394 and 341-285/339/452, 2.2 and 2.3 WAR. Looks like a solid MLB starter. Projection still looks at 2009, even though weighted down, and adds regression, so that's 324-275/332/408
Clint Robinson wOBAs 306, 320, 366, 331...average MLB DH 360, considering his fielding runs are -3, -9, -6, -3...only 2010 was above replacement, even though in isolation a 342-280/333/460 line looks good. If that's better than the player currently playing that position, go for it, but the low WAR says it's easy to find someone else who can hit and field just as well at that position
C Pena 0.5, Treanor 0.4, Perez 0.3, Kendall 0.2
1B Kila 0.4 Hosmer -0.2, Romak -0.6 (Hosmer has 335 wOBA proj now at age 21, expected to be in 350's by 2013)
2B Giavotella 0.3, Getz -0.5, Arias -0.8
3B Moustakas 0.8, Navarro 0.0
SS Escobar -0.1, Zawadzki -0.3, Colon -0.5, Falu -0.6 (Colon expected to improve wOBA from 291 to 310)
LF Gordon 2.7, Cabrera 1.4
CF Cain 1.3, Maier 0.0, Dyson -0.6
RF Myers 0.3, Lough 0.1, Francis -0.3, Francouer -0.6 (Myer now 327, peak 363)
DH Butler 2.2, Robinson 0.3
Expect 20 pt wOBA improvement from Hosmer & Colon, 35 from Myers.
Replace Getz with Gia now, make room for Colon in 1-2 years. Escobar good glove/no hit.
Put Cain in CF, platoon Melky & Frenchy until Myer comes up (next year?)

      PA wOBA  BA/ OB/ SA  FR  WAR
2008 608  291 251/303/359  +4 -0.2
2009 561  294 252/304/376 -11 -1.2
2010 667  330 288/342/417 -10  0.6
2011 485  339 308/349/428  -9  0.7
Proj      324 287/334/413  -9  0.3
2008 and 2009 nearly identical to each other, same for 2010 and 2011. Last two years have over 1150 PA, so a 330's wOBA quite reasonable. (I am evaluating methods which cut off past performance at a set of amount of PAs, instead of a strict four years). However, Oliver does not like his defense at all, consistently getting the same results as he progressed from A to A+, AA and AAA.

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