Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Team-Building Amusement Exercise - Part 4

Well, sorry for the delay. It was caused by a combination of lack of power, and lack of motivation. I'm here now, though, and ready to wrap this up.

1) Tom Pagnozzi (Catcher), 1991 - 140 games, 510 plate appearances (PAs), 24 2Bs, 5 3Bs, 2 HRs, 57 RBIs, 9 SBs, .264 AVG/.319 OBP/.351 SLG/ .670 OPS.

Other stats: OPS+ 89, -6 Batting Runs Above Average (BRAA), +16 Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA), WARP3 of 4.8.

Man, nine stolen bases from my catcher? That's pretty sweet. Or it was until I noticed he was caught stealing 13 times. Hmm, might have to rein him in a little. It understandable though, since the '91 Cards had only one player with double digit home runs (Zeile, with 11). If you can't hit the big bombs, you might as well run a lot. Anyway, this was Pagnozzi's first year as starter, after years of backing up Tony Pena and then Zeile. Based on his WARP3, this wasalso his best season, probably owing to it being his best defensive season, since his offense was never much better than "slightly below average". So Pagnozzi and Molina somewhat compliment wach other, Molina being more patient, Pags having more pop and speed, and he can probably mentor young Yadi, the way Mike Matheny supposedly did.

2) Albert Pujols (1st Base), 2006 - 143 games, 634 PAs, 33 2Bs, 1 3B, 49 HRs, 137 RBIs, 7 SBs, .331/.431/.671/1.102.

Other stats: OPS+ 178, 69 BRAA, 6 FRAA, WARP3 9.3.

This was the year Albert first started to really have to carry the show himself. Larry Walker was replaced by Juan Encarnacion. Jim Edmonds was not what he used to be, and missed the last six weeks of the season with back issues (or post-concussion syndrome, I forget which). Scott Rolen's shoulder was going to hell. The second best hitter on the team was Chris Duncan, whose defensive shortcomings and failures against lefties I've mentioned frequently. Still, Albert puts up those numbers. The scary thing is, based on WARP3, this is Albert's worst season as a first baseman, and it's still really damn good. I suppose the question might arise of why not McGwire, and the basic answer is, ignoring all the performance-enhancing stuff, McGwire's just too limited a player for my tastes. He has no speed, which makes him a baserunning liability, and defensively, he's nothing to write home about. If I couldn't have fit Albert onto the team, my next choice was potentially Gregg Jefferies, then Pedro Guererro, then Jack Clark. Seeing as my pitching staff isn't loaded with fireballers, I need good defense, and Albert provides it. And the seven SBs with only 2 caught stealings doesn't hurt either.

3) Delino DeShields (2nd Base), 1997 - 150 games, 643 PAs, 26 2Bs, 14 3Bs, 11 HRs, 58 RBIs, 55 SBs, .295/.357/.448/.805.

Other stats: OPS+ 111, 20 BRAA, -12 FRAA, 3.3

It's actually pretty likely Jose Oquendo, circa 1989, would have made a better chocie, but finding good utility infielders isn't always easy, and Oquendo was a known quantity there. Plus, I let myself be seduced by the 55 stolen bases. I told you I'd be interested in speed. Hopefully the infielders on either side of Delino can make up for his defensive shortcomings, though Baseball-Reference's defensive stats say he actually was worth 2.6 runs above average for the season. Hmm.

4) Scott Rolen (3rd Base), 2003 - 154 games, 657 PAs, 49 2Bs, 1 3B, 28 HRs, 104 RBIs, 13 SBs, .286/.382/.528/.910.

Other stats: OPS+ 138, 41 BRAA, 15 FRAA, WARP3 8.5.

2004 would have been a better choice (his WARP3 was 11.6 that year, and his FRAA was 41), but this is still pretty good. It's his second best season in the StL, 4th best overall, and his presence ought to ensure that Albert won't suffer from the lack of protection I mentioned for the '06 season. Interestingly, B-R's stats say Rolen was actually a run or so below average defensively in '03, so I don't know what to make of their numbers.

5) Ozzie Smith (Shortstop), 1987 - 158 games, 706 PAs, 40 2Bs, 4 3Bs, 75 RBIs, 43 SBs, .303/.392/.383/.775.

Other stats: OPS+ 105, 23 BRAA, 17 FRAA, WARP3 8.0

Going by WARP3, this isn't in Ozzie's top 5 seasons, which is kind of staggering. Then again, being 17 runs above average with the glove is pretty bad by Ozzie's standards (in 1985, he was +50 with his glove, which tends to compensate for only being +13 with the bat). Still, this was his 2nd best offensive year, and a down year for Ozzie with the glove is still a career year for a lot of shortstops.

6) Ron Gant (Left Field), 1996 - 122 games, 500 PAs, 14 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 30 HRs, 82 RBIs, 13 SBs, .246/.359/.504/.863.

Other stats: OPS+ 125, 20 BRAA, 5 FRAA, WARP3 3.8

I've never been much of a Ron Gant fan. Struck out a lot, didn't hit for average, had kind of a bad attitude. Still, the Cardinals haven't been overflowing with outstanding left fielders over the last 25 years. Vince Coleman never walked, Bernard Gilkey didn't really hit his stride until he left, and the positions been a revolving door the last seven seasons or so. With all that in mind, I'm not sure who was left to choose, so Gant it is. THe B-R page does say he was worth about 10 runs with his glove, for what that's worth.

7) Willie McGee (Center Field), 1984 - 145 games, 604 PAs, 19 2Bs, 11 3Bs, 6 HRs, 50 RBIs, 43 SBs, .291/.325/.394/.719.

Other stats: OPS+ 103, 13 BRAA, 6 FRAA, 4.3 WARP3

This is one of those selctions with little justification. I'm sure both Jim Edmonds and Ray Lankford have a staggering number of seasons superior to this one, and there are really only two factors to mitigate that. One, I like Willie McGee more than either of them. Two, I didn't feel I had many good options from the 1984 season. It's at the edge of the seasons I have any knowledge of, beyond just looking at stats. There aren't many even average offensive seasons, or many good pitching perfomances, and here was a player who had a decent season, that I knew and liked, so why not choose him?

8) Brian Jordan (Right Field), 1998 - 150 games, 617 PAs, 34 2Bs, 7 3Bs, 25 HRs, 91 RBIs, 17 SBs, .316/.368/.534/.902

Other stats: OPS+ 134, 35 BRAA, 0 FRAA, WARP3 4.7

It's Jordan's best season. of course, hitting in front of or behind Mark McGwire for an entire season probably had something to do with that. Hopefully hitting near Albert Pujols will suffice. Contrary to Baseball Prospectus, B-R says Jordan was worth of 26 runs with his glove. I have no idea who to believe here, you know.

Theoretical batting order: DeShields, Rolen, Albert, Jordan, Gant, McGee, Pagnozzi, Ozzie. I've heard it's a good idea to have a decent on-base percentage guy near the bottom of the lineup, to improve the odds your best hitters (at the top) come up with people on base. Well, Ozzie's OBP is second only to Albert's, so I'd guess he makes a good candidate.

Looking over this, I think I may need to revise some of my selections a bit. I can probably optimize it better, just by selecting different years for some of the players.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Team-Building Amusement Exercise - Part 3

I don't have any sort of lead-in planned for this section. I have five bench players, and between them, I think I have a fair mix of speed, power, and defensive versatility. OK, the defensive versatility is concentrated in one player in particular, but it's still there.

1) Yadier Molina (Backup Catcher), 2004 - 51 games, 151 plate appearances (PAs), 6 2Bs, 2 HRs, 15 RBIs, .267 AVG/.329 OBP/.356 SLG/.684 OPS.

Other stats: OPS+ of 78, -4 Batting Runs Above Average (BRAA), 3, Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA), WARP3 of 0.9

Yadi was pretty much going to be either the starter or the backup, and based on the year's I felt I could choose him from for starting, I was better off with my other option. This was a pretty typical offensive year for Yadi, in that he had and OK average, walked a little, struck out rarely, and didn't show much power. His defense wasn't where it is now (he had 11 wild pitches and 4 passed balls, for example), but he did well at controlling the other team's running game (threw out 8 of 17 base stealers), and he should work reasonably well as the backup.

2) Eduardo Perez (Backup 1st Baseman/Corner Outfielder), 2000 - 35 games, 102 PAs, 4 2Bs, 3 HRs, 10 RBIs, 1 SB, .297/.350/.440/.790.

Other stats: OPS + 97, 1 BRAA, 3 FRAA, WARP3 0.5.

Perez would have been more useful if I'd taken his '02 or '03 versions, but that's the way things go ('02 would have been possible, but then I'd have to find someone in the 2000 bullpen to replace Veres, and I wasn't seeing many appealing options). I narrowed it to Perez, Craig Paquette, or Shawon Dunston. Dunston and Paquette have greater defensive possibilities, at least in LaRussa's eyes. Really, though they were both below average at every position they played. And most critically, theyw ere inferior to Perez at first base, and that's what is really critical, as his primary utility (besides as a bat with moderate power off the bench) is to give my first basemen that one day off a month he needs. Might has well have the person be a good first baseman for when that happens, and Perez wasn't terrible in limited opportunities in the corner outfield slots, either.

3) Jose Oquendo (Swiss Army Knife), 1988 - 148 games, 518 PAs, 10 2Bs, 1 3B, 7 HRs, 46 RBIs, 4 SBs, .277/.350/.350/.700.

Other stats: OPS + 102, 5 BRAA, 2 FRAA, WARP3 of 2.9.

As surprising as it may seem, Oquendo did rack up over 500 plate appearances, but was not the starter at any position, though he had taken 2nd base from Luis Alicea by season's end. But 1988 was the year he truly earned the nickname "Secret Weapon", as he played at least 1 inning at every position on the field, even pitching 4 innings (where he allowed 2 runs and walked 6, but still, points for effort). He logged over 500 innings at 2nd, over 370 at 3rd, and another 101 at SS, so he effectively covers all the infield positions Perez can't. Plus, his 7 home runs represent half of his career total. And yes, he still only had a .350 slugging, but power was never Oquendo's game. Drawing walks, that he was good at, and he earned 52 of them in '88, which makes up for the less-than-impressive power. One thing Oquendo doesn't have is speed. He was caught stealing 6 times in 1988, so I couldn't use him in the running game as much as I might like, but it's a small flaw that I can live with.

4) Ryan Ludwick (Backup Outfielder), 2007 - 120 games, 339 PAs, 22 2Bs, 14 HRs, 52 RBIs, 4 SBs, .267/.339/.479/.818.

Other stats: OPS + 110, 6 BRAA, -3 FRAA, WARP3 1.6.

It probably would have been more useful to take his 2008 season as my starting rightfielder, but I had other plans for that season, and I'm reasonably pleased with the RF I chose. HArd to believe though, as poorly as Edmonds played, and with Duncan and Encarnacion both being hurt at times during the season that Ludwick couldn't manage to get enough innings to be a starter. He logged 324 innings in LF, 252 in RF, and 22 in CF. Statistically, he seems to have been better in center than right, so I'd be more willing to use him there than TLR was, but really, he'd get playing time in all 3 spots. He doesn't walk a whole lot (26 BB to 72 K), but his power means his skills should mesh well with ther other backup outfielder.

5) Brian Barton (Backup Outfielder), 2008 - 82 games, 179 PAs, 9 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 2 HRs, 13 RBIs, 3 SBs, .268/.354/.392/.746.

Other stats: OPS + 97, 2 BRAA, 0 FRAA, 0.8 WARP3.

This is one of those choices that probably has no logical justification. I just like the Crabman. His defensive numbers don't look that great, but I'm betting they'd improve with the opportunity, as I can't imagine it helped his confidence that LaRussa yanked him out of every freaking game for a defensive replacement (and fuck you for that, LaRussa). He has more plate discipline than Ludwick, and more speed, so he offers a different response to situations than Ludwick does. And you can beleive he'll be getting more chances to use his speed than he had.

OK, so three-fourths of the way finished. Next time, whenever that is, I wrap it up with the starters.

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Team-Building Amusement Exercise - Part 2

So, the bullpen this time. I'm going to try and describe the role they'll fill as I go along, though it may be a bit vague in some cases. I ended up with 7 relievers, which wasn't my preference. I would rather have six bench players and six relievers, but when I was down to my last few seasons, there weren't many bench players I thought were viable options, not compared to the available relievers. I'll go through them chronologically, from the oldest to the most recent.

1) Ricky Horton (Long Relief/Spot Starter), 1986 - 42 games, 9 starts, 100.3 IP, 4-3, 49 K, 26 BB, 1 CG, 3 SV, 2.24 ERA.

Other stats: 17 Pitching Runs Above Average (PRAA), 4.2 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 1.027 WHIP, 3.5 WARP3

I always think it's kind of cool when a pitcher has saves and a complete game. I'm a sucker for versatility, and Horton has that. He's good against lefties (their OPS was .564), and righties (.612). He was actually better on the road (.572) than at home (.639). He pitched in every inning at some point or the other. He was, simply put, really good that year.

2) Ken Dayley (Lefty Reliever/7th or 8th Inning Guy), 1990 - 58 games, 73.3 IP, 4-4, 51 K, 30 BB, 2 SV, 3.56 ERA.

Other stats: 5 PRAA, 6.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.268 WHIP, 1.5 WARP3

It isn't one of Dayley's better seasons, but it's still pretty good. He's still better than average, and I didn't feel like I could have a bullpen from the last 25 years and not have the guy who was the #1 lefty in the pen for a quarter of that time. Oddly, Dayley was much better against righties (.588 OPS) than lefties (.727), which is why I also listed him as a 7th or 8th inning guy. Lefties still aren't hitting that well against him, and Dayley's no one-out pitcher, so no reason I couldn't use him for entire innings.

3) Mike Perez (8th Inning Guy/Backup Closer), 1993 - 64 games, 72.7 IP, 7-2, 58 K, 20 BB, 7 SV, 2.48 ERA.

Other stats: 15 PRAA, 7.1 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 1.170 WHIP, 3.0 WARP3

Perez was a guy I wasn't sure I would add. I considered Gerald Perry as the sixth bench guy, essentially just a pinch-hitter. Eventually, I figured I had a guy who could fill Perry's role, and Perez was worth two more wins over replacement than Gerald, so higher value. Perez is a righty that's stronger against righties, but neither side hits particularly well against him. He did almost all his work in the 8th or 9th innings (of 297 batters he faced, 216 were in those two innings).

4) Rob Murphy (#2 Lefty Reliever/LOOGY), 1994 - 50 games, 40.3 IP, 4-3, 25 K, 13 BB, 3.79 ERA.

Other stats: 8 PRAA, 5.0 K/9 2.8 BB/9, 1.190 WHIP, 2.0 WARP3

Picking up lots of relievers in the mid-90s, which I imagine says something about the state of the team at that time. As you could tell from his number of games and innings, Murphy frequently pitched less than an inning at a time. What's interesting about that is he doesn't show much of a platoon difference that would suggest he should be a Lefty One Out GuY. Righties posted a .754 OPS, lefties a .729. What's even stranger is he faced more righties than lefties, so I really have no idea what Torre was thinking, but that's true of many of his bullpen decisions during his StL stint (taking Omar Olivares and Rheal Cormier out of the rotation and slotting them into the 'pen, like the team had dozens of viable starters lined up. Yeah, Allen Watson was a much better option).

5) Tom Henke (Closer), 1995 - 52 games, 54.3 IP, 1-1, 48 K, 18 BB, 36 SV, 1.82 ERA.

Other stats: 35 PRAA, 7.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 1.104 WHIP, 6.3 WARP3

The Cardinals have had several good closers the last 25 years (Worrell, Lee Smith, late career Eckersley, Izzy in a good year), but rarely have they pitched for such a lousy team. The '95 Cardinals are probably the worst squad of the last 25 years, and so it was pretty easy to select their rep. This was Henke's last year, and his only season in the NL, and it's a pretty good one. So the 9th ought to be locked down, by a pitcher with thick Coke bottle glasses, no less.

6) Rich Croushore (Mop-Up Pitcher), 1999 - 59 games, 71.7 IP, 3-7, 88 K, 43 BB, 3 SV, 4.14 ERA.

Other stats: 11.1 K/9, 5.4 BB/9, 1.549 WHIP

Croushore's not a pick that has any statistical justification, as you can tell by his high walk rate and less than impressive ERA. I picked him for one reason: He threw a screwball. In all my time as a fan up to then, I had never known of a Cardinal pitcher that threw a screwball, and that seemed really cool and unique. So Croushore gets in, and hey, I need a guy to pitch when the game is out of hand, so between him and probably Murphy, I'm covered. It should work out, Rich never settled into a consistent role under LaRussa, so why not mop-up guy?

7) Dave Veres (What Do You Need Done?), 2002 - 71 games, 82.7 IP, 5-8, 68 K, 39 BB, 4 SV, 3.48 ERA.

Other stats: 5 PRAA, 6.4 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 1.282 WHIP, 1.4 WARP3

I always liked Dave Veres. Maybe it was because his 2000 season demonstrated a competence that had been sorely lacking at the closer spot the previous two years under Jeff Brantley and Rickey Bottalicco. Maybe it was that he was effective without being overpowering (his success was heavily reliant on his splitfinger doing its thing, but not having too much movement). This season was part of it. Veres had sort of lost his closing job at the end of 2001, as Steve Kline took some of the save opportunities, and then the Cardinals signed Izzy in the offseason. Veres simply accepted the change in role, and did what the Cardinals asked. If they needed him to be 8th innings set-up guy, he was. If they needed him to pitch the 7th and 8th, he would. If the starter the next day bombed out, and they needed him to pitch the 4th through the 6th, sure, he'd do that. Whatever you needed. So here he is.

Next time, the bench guys. I know, I said I'd do the starters first, but I changed my mind.

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