Tag Archive | "Statistic"

Early Patience Is Encouraging For Hosmer

The Kansas City Royals are poised to turn a corner in 2013.  Eric Hosmer and his return to form would be a big part of that.

Photo courtesy of Charles Sollars - copyright i70baseball

Photo courtesy of Charles Sollars – copyright i70baseball

In a dismal sophomore year for Eric Hosmer, there was an encouraging statistic that jumps out.  His power numbers took a big dip but he started to show patience at the plate and was able to increase his walks dramatically.  During his rookie campaign, Hosmer drew 34 walks and increased that number to 56 during the 2012 season.  Early on in Spring Training, he is showing good pitch selection once again.

It is hard to make much of Spring stats.  It is even harder to try to find something substantial about the stats this early.  The one thing that jumped out of the recent box scores to me was Hosmer drawing two walks and then drilling an RBI triple on Tuesday.

The two walks brings his Spring total to three, in eleven plate appearances.  His average is still low and, other than the triple, there are no extra base hits on his early record.  Still, he is driving in runs early, striking out less, and driving a higher on base percentage.  If he can translate that into his game come time for the regular season, the Royals and their fans will be very happy.

Hosmer’s power numbers will increase as his plate selection gets better.  Many fans are frustrated with the under performance from Hosmer last season and rightfully so.  The team is poised with a strong pitching staff to alter their makeup and show a willingness to win this season.  To get there, Hosmer will need to be a big part of it.

Patience will be the key to his season.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Going To WAR On The Trades Of The GMDM Era- Part 3: 2008

After analyzing the trades made by the Dayton Moore regime with the Kansas City Royals in 2006 and 2007, we now take a look at the deals made in 2008.

As we mentioned in the first column of this series, there are three phases to “The Process”, as Dayton Moore likes to refer to the Royals journey toward building a championship-caliber team.  The Royals have completed Phase One (rebuilding the farm system), and are nearing completion of phase two (transitioning of the farm system talent to the major league roster).  Assuming that Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, etc continue to live up to expectations, there are still going to be a few holes to fill.  And while some of this may be able to be done via free agency, most will have to be done via trades.  Dayton must shrewdly determine which young talent he is going to keep, and who the potential trade chips might be.  So as we approach this final phase in “The Process”, we take a look at the success (or lack thereof) Royals trades past, so as to be able to better predict the the success of Royals trades of the future.  We use the WAR (wins above replacement) statistic to determine who came out on the winning end of each trade.  In 2006 and 2007, it was clear that Dayton was more or less cleaning house of talent he felt was not part of the Royals future, exchanging for similar type players in other organizations hoping to find a diamond in the rough. The early part of 2008 was more of this, but after a promising end to the 2008 season, Dayton got a bit more aggressive as soon as the post-season hit:

March 19, 2008: The Cincinnati Reds traded Brad Salmon to the Kansas City Royals for a player to be named later. The Kansas City Royals sent Henry Arias (minors) (June 13, 2008) to the Cincinnati Reds to complete the trade.

Neither of these players played for either team they were traded to and both appear to be out of baseball.

DRAW

March 26, 2008: The Colorado Rockies traded Ramon Ramirez to the Kansas City Royals for a player to be named later. The Kansas City Royals sent Jorge De La Rosa (April 30, 2008) to the Colorado Rockies to complete the trade.

This one is interesting.  De La Rosa was inconsistent at best with the Royals, if not consistently maddening.  For those that remember “Ram Ram”, he was lights out for the Royals in 2008 coming out of the bullpen.  With Joakim Soria settled in as the closer and a recently rehabilitated Zach Greinke setting up, the Royals had one of the most dominating back ends of the bullpen we have seen in some time.  The forgotten man in the back end of that bullpen is Ramon Ramirez.  For Royals fans that may not recall, take a look at the line he posted in 2008:

Innings Pitched: 71.2

SO: 70

ERA: 2.64

WHIP: 1.228

Ramirez left the Royals after the 2008 season, but he has continued to pitch at this level in each of his 2 stops with the Red Sox and the Giants after leaving the Royals after the 2008 season.  As for De La Rosa, he also came into his own after this trade was made, becoming a very reliable starter, thus earning himself a 3 year deal worth roughly $30 million with the Rockies after the 2010 season.  Even with the season Ramirez had in 2008, most Royals fans would probably have liked to see De La Rosa experience his success in a Royals uniform rather than a Rockies uniform.  In fact, he would probably be the ace of the Royals staff if that were the case.

De La Rosa: 5.6 WAR with Rockies (2008-2011)

Ramirez: 2.1 WAR with Royals (2008-traded after ’08 season to Red Sox for Coco Crisp)

Rockies win trade by 3.5 WAR

  June 6, 2008: The Los Angeles Dodgers traded Juan Rivera (minors) and cash to the Kansas City Royals for Angel Berroa.

Who is Juan Rivera?  A 24 year old Dominican who never made it past high A ball with the Royals before falling out of baseball following the 2010 season.  That doesn’t matter though.  Because the bottom line is the Royals found someone dumb enough to take Angel Berroa off their hands.  So even if the WAR doesn’t say so, this has to be considered a win for the Royals.

Berroa: 0.0 WAR with Dodgers (2008)

Rivera: 0.0 WAR (never played for Royals)

DRAW

August 9, 2008: The Kansas City Royals traded Horacio Ramirez to the Chicago White Sox for Paulo Orlando (minors).

Paulo Orlando is a 26 year old who played in Triple A Omaha in the Royals organization in 2011.  He is likely just organizational depth and unlikely to ever contribute at the major league level.  Most will remember that Horacio Ramirez was not gone from the Royals for very long.  He was dealt in August of ’08, and back in a Royals uniform by Opening Day 2009.

Ramirez: -0.3 WAR with White Sox (last 2 months of 2008)

Orlando: 0.0 WAR (has yet to appear in a game with the Royals)

Royals win trade by 0.3 WAR

October 31, 2008: The Florida Marlins traded Mike Jacobs to the Kansas City Royals for Leo Nunez.

There are many Royals fans who will blast Dayton for this trade.  And if you only look at how it turned out for the Royals, then one cannot argue that this was not a terrible trade.  However, as referenced before, the Royals had a dominant bullpen in 2008.  Nunez was a part of this bullpen.  Coming off a 2008 season in which Nunez put up a 2.98 ERA as a 26 year old, they dealt him to Florida for Jacobs, who was coming off a 2008 season that saw him hit 32 home runs with 93 RBI.  Most Royals fans also know it has been a long time since the team has a had a guy hit 32 or more home runs in a season.  So Dayton dealt from a position of strength (bullpen) for power, which the Royals desperately needed at that point.  Needless to say, it didn’t work out.  Nunez is a solid closer for the Marlins, while Jacobs played one horrbile season for the Royals and is now out of baseball.

Nunez: 2.1 WAR with Marlins (2009-2011)

Jacobs: -0.9 WAR with Royals (2009)

Marlins win trade by 3.0 WAR

November 19, 2008: The Boston Red Sox traded Coco Crisp to the Kansas City Royals for Ramon Ramirez.

This was an exciting trade at the time.  The Royals needed a CF badly.  Again, Dayton decided to deal from a position of strength by shipping Ramirez off to Boston in exchange for Crisp.  Coco Crisp was definitely the type of player the Royals needed to add.  He was a true lead-off hitter who could get on base at a high clip, and an excellent defensive CF.  The only problems?  Crisp had shown throughout his career to be extremely injury-prone, and the Royals had now lost 3 of their top 4 relief pitchers from the 2008 season.  Nunez had gone to the Marlins, Ramirez to Boston, and Zach Greinke back to the starting rotation.  Dayton thought the additions of Kyle Farnsworth and Juan Cruz would be enough to piece together another respectable bullpen in 2009.  So what happened?  Crisp played in just 49 games, batted .228, got hurt, and was done for the year.  And oh yeah…the bullpen sucked.  Meanwhile, Ramirez went on to replicate his 2008 performance in 2009 with the Red Sox.

Ramirez: 1.9 WAR with Red Sox (2009 and most of 2010)

Crisp: 0.9 WAR with Royals (2009)

Red Sox win trade by 1.0 WAR

So as you can see, Dayton did not make out so well with trades in 2008.  In aggregate, he came out on the short end by 6.2 WAR.  It is easy to understand Moore’s thought process with some of these deals, but the results were not good.

Next week, we take a look at 2009 and we’ll see if Dayton was able to make up a horrendous year of trades in 2008.

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Going To WAR On The Trades Of The GMDM Era- Part 2: 2007

Last week, we took a look at the deals pulled off in Dayton Moore’s first 6 months with the Kansas City Royals.  Now, we take a look at his first full year with the organization.

This week, we continue our examination of Kansas City Royals’ General Manager Dayton Moore’s deals.   In 2006, the Royals had little in their system at that time that any other organization really wanted, and they got little in return for what they dealt away.  While according to our WAR statistic, Dayton came out a bit on the short side of those deals, the trades in 2006 had little impact on the present.  What will the trades made in 2007 tell us?  Let’s take a look…

January 10, 2007: The Cincinnati Reds traded Russ Haltiwanger (minors) to the Kansas City Royals for Jeff Keppinger.
We me mentioned in last week’s column, with regard to the 2006 trade FOR Jeff Keppinger, that it was unlikely most Royals fans even remembered his tenure with the Royals.  That is because he did little during that tenure worth remembering.  However, it was immediately after the Royals shipped him off to Cincinnati,  that Keppinger began making himself a somewhat useful Second Baseman.  And as you could probably guess, Russ Haltiwanger never played a single game with the Royals, or any other MLB franchise for that matter.

Keppinger: 1.1 WAR with Reds (07-08)

Haltiwanger: 0.0 WAR (never played for Royals)

Reds win trade by 1.1 WAR

March 23, 2007: The Atlanta Braves traded Tony Pena to the Kansas City Royals for Erik Cordier (minors).
Who would have thought that it took Dayton almost an entire year before he made his first deal with his favorite organization to exchange players with, the Atlanta Braves.  This was a time when the Royals were absolutely desperate for a shortstop.  While previous shortstop and 2003 American League Rookie of the Year, Angel Berroa was still on the roster, it had become abundantly clear that a change was needed.  Pena had a reputation as a good defensive shortstop that couldn’t hit a lick.  He pretty much lived up to that reputation.  Cordier was a 2nd round pick of the Royals in 2004 and pitched for the Braves AAA affiliate last year as a 25 year old.  He has gone through Tommy John surgery and has some limited upside still as a major league pitcher.

Cordier: 0.0 WAR with Braves (has not yet reached majors but still only 25 and in Braves system)

Pena: -2.5 WAR with Royals (2007-2009)

Braves win trade by 2.5 WAR

March 27, 2007: The Kansas City Royals traded Max St. Pierre to the Milwaukee Brewers for Ben Hendrickson.
Not much worth discussing here.  Neither player ever played for the team they were traded to.  Hendrickson is out of baseball and St. Pierre is currently in the Tigers’ organization.

DRAW

June 14, 2007: The Kansas City Royals traded Graham Koonce to the Atlanta Braves for Bill McCarthy (minors).
Here we go again.  Trade #2 with the Braves for Dayton was pretty forgettable for both organizations.  Koonce never played for the Braves, and McCarthy never played for the Royals.  Both players are now out of baseball.

DRAW

July 13, 2007: The Detroit Tigers traded Roman Colon to the Kansas City Royals for Daniel Christensen (minors).
Colon certainly didn’t light it up with the Royals, but at least he pitched.  Christensen never pitched for the Tigers and is now out of baseball.

Christensen: 0.0 (never pitched for Tigers)

Colon: 0.1 with Royals (2009-2010)

Royals win trade by 0.1 WAR

July 31, 2007: The Kansas City Royals traded Octavio Dotel to the Atlanta Braves for Kyle Davies.
And here is trade #3 of the Dayton Moore era with the Braves.  This is one that most Royals fans undoubtedly remember.  Dotel was having a nice year for the Royals as their closer, but they were going nowhere and going into free agency.  The Braves needed bullpen help, the Royals needed young pitching.  Did Davies suck more often than not during his time with the Royals?  Absolutely.  Could the Royals have gotten more for Dotel?  Perhaps.  But this is the type of trade that you make in this situation, particularly if the GM has history with the player he is trading for, which Moore did with Davies.  It is also worth noting that Dotel became injured almost immediately after this trade and was done for the year.

Dotel: -0.1 WAR with Braves (2007)

Davies: 0.9 WAR with Royals (2007-2011)

Royals win trade by 1.0 WAR

December 14, 2007: The Kansas City Royals traded Billy Buckner to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Alberto Callaspo.
Some may remember this trade being criticized at the time it was made.  In December of 2007, Buckner was a 24 year old 2nd round pick who had just tasted his first big league action with the Royals that season. During that still sad time in Royals history, Royals fans were tricked into thinking that fringe prospects like Buckner were actually top prospects that should be worth far more than some career .220 hitting utility infielder with legal issues.  Well, chalk one up for Dayton on this one.  Callaspo came into his own with the Royals and has proven himself as a very reliable almost everyday player in the major leagues.

Buckner: -1.7 WAR with Diamondbacks (2008-2010)

Callaspo: 4.3 WAR with Royals (2008-midway through 2010)

Royals win trade by 6.0 WAR

So how did Dayton do in 2007?  Overall, he ended up winning his deals by 3.5 WAR, mainly on the strength of the Callaspo trade.   At this point in his tenure, Moore was just trying to find some under-appreciated players from organizations that could fill a role for the Royals.  And in Callaspo and arguably Davies, he was able to do this without giving up much in return.  And for those counting,  counting, 3 of the 7 trades made in 2007 were with the Atlanta Braves.

Next week, we continue with our analysis as we move on to 2008.

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Going To WAR On The Trades Of The GMDM Era- Part 1: 2006

By most accounts, “The Process”, as Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore has often referred to his vision for the Royals, can be broken down into 3 phases. Phase One would be the rebuilding of the farm system. There is no denying that phase is complete. The second phase is transitioning the talent in the farm system to the Big League roster. Most would agree that this phase is mostly complete as well. The third and final phase to “The Process”, would be to identify the missing pieces and fill those gaps via free agency and trade. The Royals are just beginning to enter this phase now. Since Dayton Moore took over his post as Royals GM in June 2006, the trades that he has pulled off have drawn mixed reviews. So as he and his staff embark on Phase Three of “The Process”, it is important that we review the history of the Royals trades in the Dayton Moore era, so as to help predict the success of the recent and future trades that will be made by this regime.

We will use the WAR (Wins Above Replacement) statistic to determine the positive or negative impact of each trade. For those unfamiliar with this statistic, it is defined as: A single number that presents the number of wins the player added to the team above what a replacement player (think AAA or AAAA) would add. In fairness, we will only take into consideration the production that each player the Royals traded FOR had with the Royals, and each player the Royals traded had with the team they traded that player to. So while this study does have some flaws, it will provide a pretty good snapshot as to how Dayton has fared in the trade department.

In the first of this multi-part column, we examine the trades that took place in 2006:

June 20, 2006: The Tampa Bay Devil Rays traded Fernando Cortez and Joey Gathright to the Kansas City Royals for J.P. Howell.

Before Dayton even had time to pick out the furniture in his new office, he decided to go shopping for a=n athletic, speedy center-fielder. Enter Joey Gathright and somebody named Fernando Cortez, and exit J.P. Howell.

Howell: 3.2 WAR since Trade with Rays(06-11)

Gathright: 0.9 WAR with Royals(06-08)

Cortez: 0.1 WAR with Royals (2007)

Rays win trade by 2.2 WAR

July 19, 2006: The New York Mets traded Jeff Keppinger to the Kansas City Royals for Ruben Gotay.

Keppinger has been a useful starting major leaguer for a number of years, and it is easy to forget that he was even a Royal. And there surely have been plenty of times since July 19,2006 that Royals fans would have much rather seen him patrolling 2nd base rather than whoever they had out there. Unfortunately, for the 3 months he was a Royal, he did prety much nothing

Gotay: 0.2 WAR with Mets (2007)

Keppinger: -0.1 WAR with Royals (2006)

Mets win trade by 0.3 WAR

July 24, 2006: The Kansas City Royals traded Mike MacDougal to the Chicago White Sox for Tyler Lumsden (minors) and Dan Cortes.

Mac the 9th didn’t really do much after leaving the Royals. But at least he actually played for the team that traded for him, unlike the 2 gentlemen the Royals got in return.

MacDougal: 0.4 WAR with White Sox (2006-2009)

Lumsden: 0.0 WAR (never made majors)

Cortes: 0.0 WAR (never made majors with Royals before being shipped to Mariners for Yuniesky Betancourt)

White Sox win trade by 0.4 WAR

July 25, 2006: The Los Angeles Dodgers traded Blake Johnson (minors), Julio Pimentel (minors), Odalis Perez and cash to the Kansas City Royals for Elmer Dessens.

Dessens had been a mediocre at best reliever for the Royals for the first part of 2006, so the fact that they were able to flip him prior to the deadline for a serviceable former all-star starting pitcher like Perez, makes this the first decent trade of the DMGM era.

Dessens: 0.1 WAR with Dodgers (2006)

Johnson: 0.0 WAR (never made majors)

Pimentel: 0.0 WAR (never made majors)

Perez: 1.0 WAR with Royals (2006-2007)

Royals win trade by 0.9 WAR

July 25, 2006: The Kansas City Royals traded Tony Graffanino to the Milwaukee Brewers for Jorge De La Rosa.

This is an interesting one. Because if you consider what De La Rosa has been able, when healthy, to do since leaving the Royals then this one without question swings in the Royals favor. However, during De La Rosa’s tenure wiht the Royals, he was one of the most frustrating to watch and at times ineffective pitchers to wear a Royals uniform.

Graffanino: 1.9 WAR with Brewers (2006-2007)

De La Rosa: 0.8 WAR with Royals (2006-2007)

Brewers win trade by 1.1 WAR

July 31, 2006: The Kansas City Royals traded Matt Stairs to the Texas Rangers for Jose Diaz.

This turned out to be pretty equal trade in terms of Suck for Suck.

Stairs: -0.3 WAR with Rangers (88 plate appearances in 2006 before being shipped off to Detroit for the remainder of the season)

Diaz: -0.2 WAR with Royals (6.2 innings in 2006)

Royals win trade by 0.1 WAR

July 31, 2006: The Colorado Rockies traded Scott Dohmann and Ryan Shealy to the Kansas City Royals for Jeremy Affeldt and Denny Bautista.

Royals fans should remember this one quite well. Affeldt was a maddening pitcher for the Royals. I will never be able to hear about a pitcher having blisters on his throwing hand again without thinking of Jeremy Affeldt. Affeldt has since put it together to become a very effective left-handed reliever, but it didn’t happen with the Rockies. Bautista was supposed to have this “electric stuff” that he just needed to harness. Well, it never happened with the Royals, or anywhere else for that matter. And in Shealy, the word was that the Royals had finally found their 1B of the future and could begin taking the pressure off of Mike Sweeney. And…who is Scott Dohmann again? Whoops…

Affeldt: -0.3 with Rockies (2006-2007)

Bautista: -1.1 with Rockies (2006-2007)

Shealy: 0.2 WAR with Royals (2006-2008)

Dohmann: -0.6 WAR with Royals (2006)

In aggregate, both teams essentially added less than replacement talent with this trade,but in this study, the Royals came out on top.

Royals win trade by 1.0 WAR

December 6, 2006: The New York Mets traded Brian Bannister to the Kansas City Royals for Ambiorix Burgos.

For awhile, this trade was the crown jewel trade of the Dayton Moore era. Bannister immediately arrived in Kansas City and settled in as a steady starting pitcher and finishing 3rd in the Rookie of the Year balloting, while Burgos soon encountered legal issues in his native Dominican Republic and never played again.

Burgos: 0.1 WAR with Mets (2007)

Bannister: 2.8 WAR with Royals (2007-2010)

Royals win trade by 2.7 WAR

December 16, 2006: The Kansas City Royals traded Andy Sisco to the Chicago White Sox for Ross Gload.

It is hard to imagine why Kenny Williams was so interested in taking all of the ineffective relievers off of the Royals’ hands. This should have been a good trade. And for one year it was. But when “Gloady” as Buddy Bell liked to call him, is getting 418 plate appearances in a season and starting 95 games at 1st Base, that says a lot more about your team than it does about a steady utility player like Ross Gload.

Sisco: -0.3 WAR with White Sox (2007)

Gload: -1.4 WAR with Royals (2007-2008)

White Sox win trade by 1.3 WAR

So what does this tell us? Other than the fact that the Royals did quite a bit of exchanging of “junk” with other teams in 2006, Dayton Moore came out slightly on the short end of his trades in by -0.6 WAR, based on this study. The big ones were the J.P. Howell trade, which he lost, and the Brian Bannister trade, which he won.

Next week, we analyze the trades made in 2007…

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Does Crime Pay?

If you’re looking for a hard hitting article that sheds light on crime in sports, you clicked on the wrong article. This article might be more to your liking.

Is stealing bases worth the risk?

This article is about a different crime; The Stolen Base. If you’ve watched the Royals for any amount of time this season, or previous seasons you’ve probably noticed that the Royals organization wants you to know that the Royals are pretty good at stealing bases. In fact as of this writing (mostly on Thursday 8/18/11, all stats referenced in this article are based off the games ending on 8/17. By the time today roles around they will have changed) they are tied with Yankees as league leaders in stolen bases at 120. The problem is the Yankees are tied with the Boston Red Sox in another statistic; Wins, 74. It’s nice that the Royals lead the league in a positive offensive category. However, as a fan I’d like to see that offensive category mean something. The Yankees are stealing bases and winning games. If the Yankees are doing it, it must be a good idea, right?

I’ve been writing for I70 Baseball for about six months. This will be my first attempt at using statistical analysis to make a point. Maybe I should clarify. I haven’t actually done the research yet we’ll find out together. The way I look at it, when a team is on offense the goal is to score runs. I do not fancy myself a Stathead, but I know one thing: Teams that score more runs than their opponents at the end of nine innings are undefeated. Because of this I’m going to look at the correlation between a team leading the league in stolen bases, and see if that means they end up near the stop of the league in runs scored.

To accomplish this I looked back five complete seasons; essentially the Dayton Moore era in Kansas City; and looked at the top five teams in stolen bases from the American League. Here is the Data:

2006:
1. LA Angels – 148 SB, 11th in RS, 766 R, 89 Wins, 2nd in ALW
2. NY Yankees – 139 SB, 1st in RS, 930 R, 97 Wins, Lost in ALDS
3. Tampay Bay – 134 SB, 14th in RS, 689 R, 61 Wins, 5th in ALE
4. Baltimore – 121 SB, 10th in RS, 768 R, 70 Wins, 4th in ALE
5. Seattle – 106 SB, 13th in RS, 756 R, 78 Wins, 4th ALW

2007:
1. Baltimore – 144 SB, 9th in RS, 756 R, 69 Wins, 4th in ALE
2. LA Angels – 139 SB, 4th in RS, 822 R, 94 Wins, Lost in ALDS
3. Tampa Bay – 131 SB, 8th in RS, 782 R, 66 Wins, 5th in ALE
4. NY Yankees – 123 SB, 1st in RS, 968 R, 94 Wins, Lost ALDS
5. Minnesota – 112 SB, 12th in RS, 718 R, 79 Wins, 3rd in ALC

2008:
1. Tampa Bay – 142 SB, 9th in RS, 774 R, 97 Wins, World Series Runner Up
2. LA Angels – 129 SB, 10th in RS, 765 R, 100 Wins, Lost ALDS
3. Boston – 120 SB, 2nd in RS, 845 R, 95 Wins, Lost ALCS
4. NY Yankee – 118 SB, 7th in RS, 789 R, 89 Wins, 3rd in ALE
5. Minnesota – 102 SB, 3rd in RS, 829 R, 88 Wins, 2nd in ALC

2009:
1. Tampa Bay – 194 SB, 5th in RS, 803 R, 84 Wins, 3rd in ALE
2. Texas – 149 SB, 7th in RS, 784 R, 87 Wins, 2nd in ALW
3. AL Angels – 148 SB, 2nd in RS, 883 R, 97 Wins, Lost ALCS
4. Oakland – 133 SB, 9th in RS, 759 R, 75 Wins, 4th in ALW
5. Boston – 126 SB, 3rd in RS, 872 R, 95 Wins, Lost ALDS

2010:
1. Tampa Bay – 172 SB, 3rd in RS, 802 R, 96 Wins, Lost ALDS
2. White Sox – 160 SB, 7th in RS, 752 R, 88 Wins, 2nd in ALC
3. Oakland – 156 SB, 11th in RS, 663 R, 81 Wins, 2nd in ALW
4. Seattle – 142 SB, 14th in RS, 513 R, 61 Wins, 4th in ALW
5. Texas – 123 SB, 4th in RS, 787 R, 90 Wins, World Series Runner-Up

The average rank in runs scored is 7.16, or a little worse than half. Average number of wins is 84.8, might win you a bad division. There are two World Series runner-ups in this group. There are the 2010 Mariners, who were one of the worst offensive teams in several years. Ten of the teams made the play-offs. There is no correlation between stealing bases and scoring runs, and there is even less correlation to overall team success. When I look at who the teams are on this list I make two observations. The first, teams with bad offenses use the stolen base to make up for their line-up’s weaknesses. As you can tell this doesn’t work that well. The stolen base will not make up for a weak offense. The second, is teams with good offenses do everything well, and will use the stolen base get better.

It’s obvious the Royals strategy to be aggressive on the base paths is coming from the front office. I thought the problem was a Trey Hillman thing, but Ned Yost has been even more aggressive. The Royals were 6th in stolen bases last season, see how well that worked out? Now that we have some evidence that stealing bases is a break even proposition at best. Let’s try and figure out if attempting a crime spree is hurting the offense.

I tried to find a statistic of caught stealing runners that would eventually score had they remained at first and their out not been recorded. But apparently I’m not smart enough to find it. If someone knows where I can find it send me an email. I find it hard to believe no one is tracking this. But no fear, we’ll see if the Royals have enough caught stealing numbers to impact their runs scored numbers.

Remember when I said the Yankees lead the league in stolen bases? They do NOT lead the league in caught stealing. The Royals do, 47. Right now the Royals are 6th in the league in runs scored, 540. Even if all the 47 caught base runners scored; which is preposterous; they would only move up to 4th in runs scored, 587. If you use the Pythagorean Expectation this is worth 2.33 wins for the Royals. But that is a best case scenario. Let’s say all of those guilty base runners were in scoring position. A base hit would score them. The Royals are batting .267 as a team. This would net the Royals another 12 runs. Throw that back into the Pythagorean Expectation and you’re looking at .60, just a little over half a win.

I’ve been concerned that the Royals aggressive base running has been hurting their chances of scoring more than it’s been helping. After going through these numbers I’m not sure it matters. Bad offenses will struggle to score no matter how many bases are stolen. If you want to increase wins, preventing runs is the best way to do that. But I don’t need to write an article to spell out the Royals shortcomings on that side of the equation.

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Is Fernando Salas A Closer ?

Entering the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, Fernando Salas was called on to protect a slim one run lead. He had been successful on 22 of 25 chances so far, and the Cardinals really needed him to convert number 23. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Salas gave up a solo home run for his fourth blown save of the year. Ironically, the Cardinals would lose the game two innings later when newly acquired Arthur Rhodes also gave up a solo home run.

Now trailing the Milwaukee Brewers by 7 games with just 39 left to play, it is only natural to start asking questions about how this can happen. When you do, one statistic screams for attention – this game was the 21st blown save of the year for the Cardinals bullpen. If the Cardinals had converted just half of those into wins, they would have a 1 1/2 game lead over the Brewers, rather than the 7 game deficit they now face.

Lets take a closer look at these blown saves, and see what we can learn.

Pitcher Chances Saves Blown
Ryan Franklin 5 4
Mitchell Boggs 8 4
Fernando Salas 26 4
Jason Motte 3 3
Trever Miller 3 2
Eduardo Sanchez 7 2
Miguel Batista 1 1
Lance Lynn 2 1

When you look at how the blown saves are distributed, Fernando Salas is suddenly looking like a pretty reliable closer. Throw in the fact that he is also 3 for 3 in holds, and we might need to look elsewhere for those extra 10 wins.

So, how does Fernando Salas stack up to other closers in Cardinals history – and what about all those blown saves ?

Whitey Herzog (1982-1989)

Looking at bullpen save data too much before the Whitey Herzog era doesn’t make a lot of sense. Relief pitchers were used much differently than they are today. Even in the early parts of Herzog’s time, closers were routinely called on for multiple inning saves. Bruce Sutter averaged nearly 2 innings per appearance for much of his time in St. Louis. By the time Todd Worrell had taken over, that number was closer to 1 1/2 innings per appearance.

Let’s take a look at the bullpen efficiency during Whitey Herzog’s time as manager.

Year Chances Saves Blown Saves Leader Saves Blown Save Pct
1982 62 15 Bruce Sutter 36 9 80%
1983 45 18 Bruce Sutter 21 9 70%
1984 65 14 Bruce Sutter 45 8 85%
1985 56 12 Jeff Lahti 19 1 95%
1986 58 12 Todd Worrell 36 10 78%
1987 71 23 Todd Worrell 33 10 77%
1988 62 20 Todd Worrell 32 9 78%
1989 60 17 Todd Worrell 20 3 87%

The first thing to notice is that successful teams (1982, 1985, 1987) sure seem to have a lot of save opportunities. More than that, they also convert a high percentage of them into wins. That doesn’t bode terribly well for the 2011 group, does it ?

Another interesting item are the number of blown saves from Bruce Sutter and Todd Worrell, two of the most highly regarded relievers in Cardinals history. Even in good years, you could still expect for each of them to fail to convert around 10 saves. Fernando Salas’ 22 out of 26 save opportunities (85%) this year is looking better all the time.

Joe Torre (1990-1995)

The Joe Torre era, including the transitional year when Whitey Herzog resigned, is among some of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory. One look at the bullpen save rates will tell you all you need to know about them, and why they were so frustrating.

Year Chances Saves Blown Saves Leader Saves Blown Save Pct
1990 56 17 Lee Smith 27 5 84%
1991 68 17 Lee Smith 47 6 89%
1992 70 23 Lee Smith 43 8 84%
1993 78 24 Lee Smith 43 7 86%
1994* 40 11 Mike Perez 12 2 86%
1995 51 13 Tom Henke 36 2 95%

* strike shortented season

Lee Smith

Oh, the save opportunities were there, in abundance. And how good was Lee Smith ?

If it wasn’t Lee Smith, what were the problems during the Torre years ? The games that Lee Smith didn’t get in. It’s as simple as that.

By the time of the Big Man, the closer was a single inning reliever, and used nearly every time there was a save opportunity. And Smith was a machine, converting at a rate that often approached 90%. If you subtract his appearances from the totals, the other relievers were about 50/50 when taking the ball in the late innings.

But even that doesn’t account for the dismal performance in the era. It was those other games that were not save opportunties. Maybe if Torre had a more productive offense, or didn’t leave pitchers like Jose DeLeon in one inning too long, he might have had some greater success than he did.
Tony La Russa (1996-present)

16 years of the Tony La Russa era are hard to distill down into a single metric, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try.

 

Year Chances Saves Blown Saves Leader Saves Blown Save Pct
1996 67 24 Dennis Eckersley 30 4 88%
1997 58 19 Dennis Eckersley 36 7 84%
1998 75 31 Juan Acevedo 15 1 94%
1999 62 24 Ricky Bottalico 20 8 71%
2000 59 22 Dave Veres 29 7 81%
2001 56 18 Dave Veres 15 4 79%
2002 64 22 Jason Isringhausen 32 5 86%
2003 72 31 Jason Isringhausen 22 3 88%
2004 73 16 Jason Isringhausen 47 7 87%
2005 66 17 Jason Isringhausen 39 4 91%
2006 57 19 Jason Isringhausen 33 10 77%
2007 45 11 Jason Isringhausen 32 2 94%
2008 73 31 Ryan Franklin 17 8 68%
2009 57 14 Ryan Franklin 38 5 88%
2010 42 10 Ryan Franklin 27 2 93%
2011 56 21 Fernando Salas 22 4 85%

The two best seasons under La Russa (2004-2005) have some of the highest save chances combined with the fewest failures. That would seem to be a good recipe for a championship club. One of those teams went to the World Series, and the other got as far as a legendary Albert Pujols home run off Brad Lidge before falling just short of another trip to the fall classic.

We can thank Jason Isringhausen for a lot of that success, but at the same time we should also praise his supporting cast. When other relievers were called on to make saves, they didn’t disappoint. Even in 2006, when the bullpen efficiency was beginning to trend the wrong direction, they were good enough to win it all.

But there is some bad news in the numbers as well. You can find quite a few seasons with 30 or more blown saves – far too many to have any success. And this brings us back to Fernando Salas because the 2011 team was on a pace to dwarf all of those teams with a new dubious record, all to their own. That is until Salas took over, perhaps aided by an untimely injury to Eduardo Sanchez. The kid that we saw saving games with an almost robotic consistency in Memphis is learning how to do the same thing in the big leagues.

Is Fernando Salas a closer ? Absolutely.

Fernando Salas is not the problem with the 2011 Cardinals. The problem is the young man not getting enough save chances. And a big part of that was the manager being too slow to turn the late innings over to the young reliever. If Salas had been the closer on opening day, and assuming his save percentage would remain the same, the Cardinals might have 13 more wins than they do right now, and the Brewers fans would be the ones heading for the ledge.

One last observation, before it gets forgotten. Until Ryan Franklin’s struggles in 2011, he had been an extremely effective closer. Like Salas in 2011, he wasn’t the problem for the 2009-2010 Cardinals. It was too few opportunities because the team had fallen behind and failed to rally late in games. Ryan Franklin had been a very good closer on a team that should have played better than it did.

Bob Netherton covers Cardinals history for i70baseball.com and writes at On the Outside Corner. You may follow Bob on Twitter here or on Facebook here.

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