Will is a lifelong New Yorker and Yankees fan who splits his time between finance, music, and baseball. He was one of the early contributors to IIATMS, though life took him away for some time. He is very excited to be back.

Author Archives: Will@IIATMS

Are the Red Sox suffering from sticker shock?

Consider that they’ve now put $185 million into 11 combined years of Lackey and Matsuzaka, neither of whom is as good a pitcher as Josh Beckett, and both of whom are larger injury risks based on their history. Maybe the kitty has run dry; maybe they really do think Beckett is injured; maybe they’re just using the press as a negotiating tactic (though this wouldn’t look great given that both sides have agreed to not discuss negotiations with the press. Oops.)

My best guess as to what’s really going on? They want to prop Kevin Youkilis up, by finally, finally, freeing him of the title “ugliest player on the Red Sox”.

You be the judge.

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We’re DOOOOOMED (or: Dispelling The Rotation Myth, Chapter 2)

Let’s revisit some of the key ones:

Season Team G IP ER HR SO FIP ERA
2 year Yankees 341 1994 838 191 1869 3.56 3.78
2 year Red Sox 248 1533 656 166 1365 3.82 3.85

 

That includes the additions of Lackey and Vazquez to the teams. It’s worth noting that the FIP figure is far more important than ERA, as it tends to be a much more accurate predicter of future ERA….than past ERA is. Odd, but true. This includes Buchholz as the Sox’ #5, and Joba as the Yankees’ #5.

Another look below–blue is better, red is worse. I’ll go further and note that the most important number in this is either the 2Yr FIP or the 4 Yr/3Yr FIP–I’d actually lean toward the 2 year (and not just because the Yankees handily win all five matchups by that category). Looks pretty clear to my eyes which rotation is stronger.

Boston 2Yr FIP 2Yr ERA 4Yr (3Yr) FIP 4Yr (3Yr) ERA          
Lester 3.39 3.31 3.74 3.67          
Beckett 3.42 3.94 3.72 4.05          
Lackey 4.03 3.79 3.63 3.51          
Matsuzaka 4.27 3.66 4.14 4.01          
Buchholz 4.77 5.36 4.51 4.92          

 

NYY 2Yr FIP 2Yr ERA 4Yr (3Yr) FIP 4Yr (3Yr) ERA
Sabathia 3.12 3.02 3.12 3.11
Vazquez 3.26 3.75 3.46 4.01
Burnett 3.83 4.06 3.85 3.98
Pettitte 3.92 4.36 3.89 4.26
Joba 3.90 3.92 3.71 3.62

 

Even past the flat statistics, let’s ask this question: Why on Earth is the Sox rotation so steady when they’ve got Matsuzaka and Buchholz penciled in as the #4 and #5 starters?…

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The difference three years makes

He didn’t end up getting posted in 2005–but his legend continued to grow. He helped pitch the Japanese to the WBC championship in 2006, and walked away with the MVP. By this time, any NYYFans.com or SOSH regular knew exactly who this guy was. People started raising their expectations. High estimates had his posting fee at $25 million, and in some cases $30 million (unprecedented numbers).

Of course, the times had changed. People had figured out that his gyroball was in fact a shuuto, basically a screwball mated with a changeup* (see him throw a few during the WBC here). Some people started to question whether his later years would be as productive given how much abuse his arm had taken as a youngster. But the numbers were there, and those who questioned his transition to MLB couldn’t deny that he’d made a lot of very productive MLB hitters look downright foolish in the World Baseball Classic.

*How do changeups screw?

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Dispelling the Rotation Myth

Season Team G GS CG ShO SV BS IP TBF H R ER HR BB IBB HBP WP BK SO FIP ERA
2 year Yankees 341 309 18 6 0 1 1994 8419 1899 916 838 191 660 24 70 61 10 1869 3.56 3.78
2 year Red Sox 248 247 14 5 0 0 1533 6503 1490 695 656 166 507 9 61 44 3 1365 3.82 3.85

These are the aggregate pitching statistics for the Yankees and Red Sox expected rotation (which includes Joba as #5 on the Yankees, and Buchholz as #5 on the Red Sox). As you can see, over the last two years, these numbers favor the Yankees rather heavily. While the bombers have a slight edge in ERA, they have a much larger edge in FIP (which happens to be a lot more useful in projecting future ERA than….well….ERA.

And while it’d be pretty easy to leave it at that, here are the numbers for the two rotations over looks backs of 2-4 years.…

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Free Brett Gardner!

Reed Johnson:

Season Team Batting Fielding Replacement Positional RAR WAR Dollars Salary
2003 Blue Jays 3.3 -3.4 15.2 -5.0 10.1 1.0 $2.8
2004 Blue Jays -13.4 4.5 19.4 -4.8 5.6 0.5 $1.7 $0.3
2005 Blue Jays -2.7 6.1 14.6 -6.1 12.0 1.2 $4.1 $0.3
2006 Blue Jays 19.8 15.3 17.2 -5.4 47.1 4.5 $16.8 $1.4
2007 Blue Jays -12.1 -0.3 10.2 -3.7 -5.8 -0.6 ($2.3) $3.1
2008 Cubs 1.2 -0.3 12.5 -0.3 13.1 1.3 $5.9 $1.3
2009 Cubs -1.1 -1.2 6.2 -0.2 3.8 0.4 $1.7 $3.0

Jonny Gomes:

Season Team Batting Fielding Replacement Positional RAR WAR Dollars Salary
2003 Devil Rays -2.0 0.5 -0.9 -2.3 -0.2 ($0.6)
2004 Devil Rays -2.8 0.5 -0.5 -2.9 -0.3 ($0.9)
2005 Devil Rays 20.9 -2.3 13.6 -7.8 24.4 2.5 $8.3
2006 Devil Rays -3.1 -2.2 15.4 -12.1 -2.0 -0.2 ($0.7) $0.4
2007 Devil Rays 3.2 -8.6 13.1 -7.8 -0.2 0.0 ($0.1) $0.4
2008 Rays -3.7 -8.0 5.9 -6.2 -12.0 -1.2 ($5.4) $1.3
2009 Reds 10.2 -9.1 10.5 -5.2 6.3 0.6 $2.8

Xavier Nady:

Season Team Batting Fielding Replacement Positional RAR WAR Dollars Salary
2003 Padres -1.0 5.1 13.5 -5.1 12.5 1.2 $3.4 $0.8
2004 Padres -0.5 -0.4 2.8 -1.4 0.5 0.0 $0.1
2005 Padres 4.7 -3.4 11.9 -5.1 8.2 0.8 $2.8 $0.5
2006 Mets/Pirates 3.2 -8.9 17.1 -7.1 4.3 0.4 $1.5 $0.4
2006 Mets 3.6 -5.0 9.7 -3.5 4.9 0.5 $1.7 $0.4
2006 Pirates -0.4 -4.0 7.3 -3.5 -0.5 0.0 ($0.2) $0.4
2007 Pirates 6.5 -9.3 15.7 -5.3 7.5 0.7 $3.0 $2.2
2008 Pirates/Yankees 23.3 3.8 20.2 -7.4 39.9 4.0 $17.9 $3.4
2008 Pirates 20.6 3.5 12.0 -4.2 31.9 3.2 $14.3 $3.4
2008 Yankees 2.7 0.3 8.2 -3.2 8.0 0.8 $3.6 $3.4
2009 Yankees -0.2 -1.4 1.0 -0.4 -0.9 -0.1 ($0.4) $6.6

So, let’s get this straight.…

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So What's Changed: Take 2

Bat Fld Rep Pos RAR WAR
3-season Fangraph Old Yanks 101.7 -5.5 113.2 -52.2 157.2 15.6
New Yanks 133.4 6.9 112.1 -17.5 235.0 23.3
Bat Fld Rep Pos RAR WAR
5-season Fangraph Old Yanks 167.5 -34.5 188.7 -60.0 261.7 26.0
New Yanks 164.3 22.3 168.5 -30.9 324.3 32.1

Note: for the purposes of this calculation, I zeroed the fielding component of both Matsui and Johnson. This hurts Johnson in the comparison, as he’s not a bad defender, while Matsui is absolutely awful, but given that we were looking at either of them as purely the DH, it gives us a clearer picture of value going forward. I also include an adjustment (discussed after the chart) of the “Rep” column, as it can bias the data pretty significantly if not accounted for.

So what does this show? Over the last five seasons, the new Yankee duo has been worth roughly 6.1 wins above average more than the old Yankee duo–about 1.2 wins per season.…

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Granderson & Johnson versus Damon & Matsui

BA OBP SLG OPS
3-Year Johnson and Granderson 0.279 0.379 0.485 0.864
Damon and Matsui 0.284 0.365 0.463 0.828
5-Year Johnson and Granderson 0.276 0.372 0.473 0.846
Damon and Matsui 0.292 0.366 0.467 0.833
V. LH Johnson and Granderson 0.252 0.340 0.392 0.733
Damon and Matsui 0.286 0.348 0.422 0.770
V. RH Johnson and Granderson 0.279 0.371 0.489 0.860
Damon and Matsui 0.291 0.361 0.463 0.825

Apologies for the formatting, but Joomla isn’t very helpful with such things, and thus here we are. Numerically, it is fairly clear that over the last 3 and 5 year periods, Johnson and Granderson are significantly better than Damon and Matsui. It should be noted, that these numbers are the player’s last 3 and 5 years, so Nick Johnson’s 3 year sample includes 2009, 2008 and 2006 (as he was injured the entirety of 2007). The splits then show that Damon and Matsui have been significantly better against left handed pitching (but Granderson and Johnson have been better against right handed pitching).…

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