Thursday, January 21, 2010

WAR - it is good for something after all (Part 3)

Part 1 of this mini-series explained the concept of WAR and part 2 showed the level of accuracy of WAR in forecasting the final records of all 30 teams in 2009.

This final part will use WAR to preview the potential win total of the Pirates in 2010, by breaking down each person on the presumed 25 man roster.

I did not run simulations on how many AB's, home runs, doubles, an estimated range and arm strength, etc. Nor did I attempt to calculate the FIP for each pitcher and how many innings they would pitch.

Using Fangraphs' player profiles (and clicking on the "Value" tab), I simply looked at their previous WAR history and adjusted accordingly. I did use some judgment calls, which I will explain when they come up. Also, for those new to WAR, a WAR of 2 to 2.5 is considered to be an average/slightly above average player at his position.

C Doumit -- 2 WAR (he's ranged from 1.8 to the mid 3's, so this seemed safe)
1B Clement -- 0.5 WAR
2B Iwamura -- 2 WAR
SS Cedeno -- 1 WAR
3B Laroche (1/3 of season)/Alvarez (2/3 season) -- 3.5 WAR (every other position in this exercise has just one player, but we all now Pedro Is Coming. I gave 1 WAR to Laroche and 2.5 WAR to Alvarez)
LF Milledge -- 2 WAR (I actually am buying into the hype about him, but held back)
CF McCutchen -- 4 WAR (it's been a long time since the Pirates had a consistent 4 WAR player)
RF Jones -- 2.5 WAR (welcome back to Earth, but he'll still be good)

Bench Church -- 0.5 WAR
Bench Pearce -- -0.5 WAR
Bench Crosby -- -0.5 WAR
Bench Vasquez -- 0 WAR
Bench Jaramillo -- 0.5 WAR

SP1 Maholm -- 3 WAR (he's pretty consistent at this point)
SP2 Ohlendorf -- 2 WAR (WAR is not kind to non K pitchers, I would love to say he's a 3 WAR)
SP3 Duke -- 2 WAR
SP4 Morton -- 1.5 WAR
SP5 McCutchen -- 0.5 WAR

About the bullpen...WAR devalues relief pitchers (as they should be), so if these all seem low that's why. Recently, Dave Cameron had an article of Fangraphs explaining the "chaining effect" of a bullpen, meaning that if Dotel is hurt, Hanrahan will move in and not a call-up from AAA to close the games.

CL Dotel -- 1 WAR
SET Hanrahan -- 0.5 WAR
SET Meek -- 0.5 WAR
BUL Donnelly -- 0.5 WAR
BUL Carrasco -- 0.5 WAR
BUL Lopez -- 0 WAR
BUL Hart -- 0 WAR

Let's total it up:
48 baseline wins
17.5 starting batters
0 bench bats
9 starting pitchers
3 bullpen

77.5 wins
So WAR says a 78 win season...hmmm...using the +/- 4 win threshold, I'll feel more comfortable predicting a 76 win season in 2010 for the Pirates.

There you have it. Numbers don't lie. If the Pirates don't win 76, it's not math's's the players. All of this keeps the Pirates on track to break .500 in 2011 as I've predicted for a couple of years now.

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