Friday, September 24, 2010

Sizing Up the AL Playoffs, Part II

We're taking this one step at a time.  In Part I of this series, we broke down the first steps towards constructing a recipe to see which teams will perform better in the relative crapshoot that is baseball's postseason.  The recipe consists of ranking teams by position, team stats, team stats by position, weighing each statistic by my own bias of what is most important.  I'll try to detail the nitty gritty concisely once the task is complete.  Sorry that I wasn't able to finish the homework by tonight.  Where I had team ranks by position, on my own opinion, I decided to look at team wOBA by position, avWAR by starter, oWAR for Catchers*, and do whatever the math is called where you index them out against their average score, blah, blah, blah.

*Since catcher defensive numbers are the trickiest, we want to stay away from overall WAR that takes defense into account.

While I keep crunching the numbers, let's take a quick peek at the American League Cy Young Race.

"What's a relief pitcher?
What's integration?"
This has probably been the most compelling story in the American League the last week, or so.  Old School baseball guys count pitcher wins and won't vote for someone who has fewer than 18 or 19 weeks.  The Saber community has become a bit more learned, wins don't mean what they once did.  Our friend, Keith Law, wrote a piece* (ESPN Insider required) about how the pitcher Win statistic has been devalued over the years.

*I didn't want to give the article a superlative adjective because all of his posts are outstanding.

The blurb highlighted in the piece:
If you tell me a starting pitcher went 15-10, the only thing I can tell you is that he appeared in 25 games that year. I don't know if he pitched well, if he pitched really well but got lousy run support, or if he pitched poorly but played for an offensive powerhouse with good defenders. Pitcher wins apply a team outcome to an individual player in a sport where no one individual player can win a game.
Since I recommend ESPN Insiders, I don't think the worldwide leader will mind if I include another snippet free of charge:
Even a pitcher who throws a perfect game needs some help from his defenders and at least one run of support from his offense, to say nothing of the umpiring involved. The starting pitcher might be the most important player in determining whether his team wins or not, but we can't even give him half of the pie.
"Put me in your top 5..."
It would be a great 'Win' for the advancement of improved statistical analysis if Felix Hernandez wins the award he, so far, deserves.

This year, the number of people who can be voted on for the Cy Young has been increased from three to five.

Not that starts in September are more important than any other starts, after CC Sabathia's rough outing last night, Felix Hernandez's brilliant 1-0 loss, and Francisco Liriano leaving tonight's game with stomach problems, here is how we see the American League Cy Young race shaping up.

1.) Felix Hernandez, Seattle
"...in fact, make me #1."
2.) Cliff Lee, Rangers
3.) Francisco Liriano, Twins
4.) Jered Weaver, Angels
5.) Jon Lester, Red Sox
~
Honorable Mention:
Clay Buchholz
Zack Greinke
David Price
CC Sabathia
Justin Verlander

As Mr. Tony Kornheiser would say:

"That's it.  That's the list."

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