James Shields: I was recently reading Andy McColough talk about under-performing Royals. He was defending James Shields' recent performances. He acknowledged that although Shields had thrown a couple of clunkers recently, his overall line for the season was still good and what one would expect from him. With my curiosity peaked, I decided to investigate a little closer. Since I'm a busy person, I didn't really want to investigate extremely close. So, I decided to just look at WAR.
First I went to Fangraphs to see his fWAR. I had looked previously and knew at one point this season he had been above 1 fWAR. So, that coupled with a few poor outings, I wasn't surprised to see that his fWAR had dipped below 1 fWAR. It's a little disappointing a third of the way through the season, but SSS and all not worthy of panic.
Next I went to Baseball Reference to see his bWAR. I don't go there very often, so I don't know what his bWAR was like before his recent string of clunkers. Well interestingly enough, He was below replacement level with the dreaded negative zero bWAR. (Note: after Sundays game he went up to 0.2 bWAR.)
Now, I don't want to get into the differences between fWAR and bWAR. I just thought it was a little on the odd side, that our 4 in our 4-1-1-1-1 line-up was below replacement level by at least one measure. So, I looked a little furher at how fWAR and bWAR had judged James throughout his career. bWAR definitely has a love hate relationship with BIG Game. He has much higher highs and lower lows with bWAR than fWAR. If you throw out his partial first year and awful 2010, He has a range of variance of almost 4 bWAR. On the other hand, fWAR must see him as the safe secure, but boring boyfriend. Because he has much lower highs and higher lows. In fact, his Variance in fWAR minus first year and 2010 is 1.0 fWAR. Plus, even his awful 2010 is rated as slightly below average instead of bWAR's below replacement level rating.
The Free Agent: Going into this year, most people were worried about the prospect of Emilio Bonifacio being our everyday second baseman, with the rest worried that Chris Getz was coming back again. So, many where excited when Dayton pried open the Glass Vault long enough to give an aging injury prone Veteran 4 years and $30 million.
So, it has come as no surprise to us that in typical Royals fashion, that the $3.5 million in house option in providing 0.8 bWAR and 1.1 fWAR. While our expensive and getting older every day free agent Omar Infante is putting up -0.1 bWAR and 0.0 fWAR with an amazing 0.277 OBP. But, what probably may come as a shock, is that, SSS aside, Bonifacio has in fact been the better defender. He also has provided much more offensive production even though he's hitting below his career average Babip.
Now of course, this is only the start of the season and things can look much different later, but it is an interesting oddity.
The Trade: Another apparent need going into the season for the Royals was right field, although some people thought a platoon of Maxwell and Lough would suffice. Dayton finally decided to trade off some of his excess relievers. In the end we got Nori Aoki and we lost Wil Smith. Although generally well received, except for a few of us Jiggy-Heads, we have another interesting oddity.
Wil Smith has been a stalwart 7th inning guy in the Brewers bullpen, that has them in first place. Nori has of course been a hugely entertaining performance artist for the Royals.
But what do Fangraphs and Baseball reference have to say at this incredibly random point of the season. Wil Smith although struggling with the walks this year has been very good with strikeouts earning 1.2 bWAR and 0.8 fWAR (take that Big Game James). Aoki on the other hand has had mixed decisions by the two major WAR sites. He has earned an abysmal -0.7 bWAR and a more acceptable 0.3 fWAR.
Maxwell of course is smashing the ball in AAA after Dayton skillfully played the market to slip him through waivers. Meanwhile Lough has the same 0.3 fWAR as Aoki and Baseball Reference agrees with a 0.3 bWAR. (Although, to be fair Lough is playing for Baltimore and we have Valencia as a back-up in case Moose struggles at third-base.)
In the end what does this all mean? I don't know. But, it an interesting oddity at this random point of the season. Although, in the end maybe its just another case of the Royals being Royal.