Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sizing Up the AL Playoffs, Part III

Anticlimactic (an-ti-cli-mac-tic) adj: of, relating to, or marked by an outcome that is strikingly less important than expected.

Ouch.

We have been hoping that dabbling with baseball statistics for the Yankees, Rays, Twins, and Rangers for the past two weeks would give us an insightful look into who would win the American League pennant.  It's fun, for some fans, to check out statistics and learn something new or see if their assumptions can be verified.  Over the past fifteen days, we have created an insane formula that really has no basis in advanced mathematics.  I'll try to share it tonight, but it's mostly a biased picture of what I consider the most important factors for postseason success.

Stats we used from Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference include:

Team Runs Scored
Team Runs Allowed
Team Pythagorian Records
Team wOBA
Team RE24 by position
Team wOBA by position
Team avWAR
Individual avWAR
Individual RE/24boLI
Individual tERA for Starting Pitchers
Team Rtot (Total Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Average)
Team UZR

In addition, we devised comparative rankings for the following roster components and positions:

Playoff Rotations
#1 Starter
Bullpen
Closer
LHPH
RHPH
C, 1b, 2b, SS, 3b, LF, CF, RF, DH, Util

Justim Morneau hasn't played
since July 7 and is out for ALDS
The raw data was then thrown into a recipe assigning weighted value to each team statistic or comparative rankings of statistics by individual positions and team groupings above.  There was room for my own biased observations and rankings.  These intangible biases icluded demerits for injuries (that really hurt the Twins, losing Morneau's full influence on rankings) and additional credit for past postseason success (hi CC, Jeter, and Mariano!).  When it was possible, we included averages for the past 3 years where each year's statistic had less value than the more recent season.

Boring (bohr-ing) adj: causing or marked by the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest.

Double Ough.  Ok, we get it.  Boooooooring.  This could be the reason we have taken so long to publish this post.  It's boring.  It's anticlimactic.

Here is what the formula we devised currently shows for statistics of raw data: (The best score is the lowest number)

1. Yankees 2.41
2. Rays 6.48
3. Rangers 10.66
4. Twins 10.73

I'm not sure we can have an interesting discussion given these results.  It doesn't say much.  I guess the Yanks should be expected to win the pennant, and we would be surprised if the ALCS included the Rangers or Twins.

The Rangers have a chance
with Lee, Wilson, and Lewis.
Another issue with our expectations is that the Playoffs are a crapshoot.  We've seen outstanding teams bow to the dominance of starting pitchers throwing strikes.  The Rangers and Twins have more than a puncher's chance with Cliff Lee and Francisco Liriano capable of shutting down the fiercest lineups.

Perhaps we can add some value to the post by breaking down the positions in an old school fashion, taking about intangibles, feelings, who's better, who's best, and maybe throwing a stat in here and there to make us look like we're on the right track.

Playoff Rotations
The Rangers may have the best 1-2-3 with Cliff Lee, CJ Wilson, and Colby Lewis.  Since we are comparing Aces independantly, this category forcuses more on the the #2 & #3 starters.  Wilson and Lewis have the best tERA's.  Observe:

Colby Lewis, Rangers 3.51 tERA
CJ Wilson, Rangers 3.78 tERA
Brian Duensing, Twins 3.99 tERA
Carl Pavano, Twins 4.00 tERA
Phil Hughes, Yankees 4.02 tERA
Andy Pettitte, Yankees 4.04 tERA
Kevin Slowey, Twins 4.08 tERA
Scott Baker, Twins 4.15 tERA
James Shields, Rays 4.45 tERA
Jeff Niemann, Rays 4.51 tERA
Wade Davis, Rays 4.61 tERA
Matt Garza, Rays 4.67 tERA
AJ Burnett, Yankees 4.77 tERA

Slowey and Baker have been hurt for the Twins.  So, it's difficult to know whom they can count on besides Liriano and Carl Pavano.  Pavano has become a new person outside of New York.  Or is he back to his old self?  No matter, he has become a team leader for the Twins.

Number One Starters
Here is how we assigned our rankings to the Aces for each team.  Again, the lower the number, the better.

"Feed Me!"
CC Sabathia 2.2
David Price 2.4
Cliff Lee 2.6
Francisco Liriano 2.8

You may have other ways of ranking them, from 1, 2, 3, 4.  We felt the four of them are so good, that they have to be grouped more closely together.  Again, to be clear, if we thought they were all exactly the same, they would each have 2.5 points.  This is almost a dead heat, but we are giving much credit to Sabathia's track record and David Price's fastball when giving them slight nods over Lee and Liriano.

If there is a demand for it, we may get into the other positions, bullpen, closer, team stats, etc.  For tonight, we will spare you the details.  Starting pitching wins championships anyway, right?

While everyone is enjoying NFL week 4 tomorrow, don't forget to check into the Padres/Giants game and the Braves' game to see who's going to the senior circuit's postseason.  Oh yeah, and Go Bears!

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