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Total WAR Project, Part X: Philadelphia Phillies

Posted by Michael Baumann, Sat, April 03, 2010 02:54 PM | Comments: 17
Analysis, Commentary, Opinion, Posts, Projections, Raising Questions, Season Preview, Total WAR Project

The Total WAR Project is a series of posts that analyzes the closest competition facing the Phillies in 2010. The posts use Wins Above Replacement, a metric designed to use offensive and defensive production within a single stat. You can check out the rest of the teams in our series here.

All winter, we’ve been doing this Total WAR Project, and hearing a chorus of “We don’t care about the Cardinals, or Mariners, or Red Sox–what about the Phillies?”

Well, two days before the first pitch of the season, we can finally answer that question–what about the Phillies?–after the jump.

2009 Roster

C1: Carlos Ruiz (2.2 WAR)
C2: Chris Coste (0.4 WAR), Paul Bako (0.1 WAR)

1B: Ryan Howard (4.8 WAR)
2B: Chase Utley (7.6 WAR)
3B: Pedro Feliz (1.3 WAR)
SS: Jimmy Rollins (2.4 WAR)
INF: Eric Bruntlett (-1.0 WAR); Greg Dobbs (0.0 WAR)

OF1: Jayson Werth (4.7 WAR)
OF2: Raul Ibanez (4.3 WAR)
OF3: Shane Victorino (3.4 WAR)
OF4: Ben Francisco (0.6 WAR)
OF5: Matt Stairs (o.5 WAR)

SP1: Cole Hamels (3.8 WAR)
SP2: Cliff Lee (2.4 WAR)
SP3: Joe Blanton (2.2 WAR)
SP4: J.A. Happ (1.8 WAR)
SP5: Brett Myers (-0.5 WAR), Jamie Moyer (0.6 WAR), Pedro Martinez (0.6 WAR)

CL: Brad Lidge (-0.7 WAR)
SU: Ryan Madson (1.4 WAR)
RP: Chan Ho Park (1.5 WAR)
RP: Clay Condrey (0.2 WAR)
RP: Chad Durbin (-0.4 WAR)
RP: Scott Eyre (0.0 WAR)
RP: Jack Taschner (-0.2 WAR)

2009 Total WAR: 44

What this illustrates is how good Pedro and Cliff Lee were last year, piling up those WAR numbers in only 2 months. It also illustrates how bad the bullpen was, with three below-replacement-level pitchers eating up significant innings. Also, Eric Bruntlett’s historic badness crops up once again.

There were minor contributions by a host of other pitchers like Kyle Kendrick and Rodrigo Lopez, but they were close to zero.

Ordinarily I’d dive into the contributions of Lee and Utley and the down seasons had by Lidge and others, but I think you know the story. One point that bears mentioning is that Chad Durbin, who had a good 2008 and is looked on as the team’s top middle reliever, was below replacement level in 2009, as was J.C. Romero, though Romero only pitched a handful of innings and was injured.

On to 2010

2010 Roster

C1: Carlos Ruiz (2.4 WAR)
C2: Brian Schneider (1.5 WAR)

1B: Ryan Howard (4.4 WAR)
2B: Chase Utley (6.1 WAR)
3B: Placido Polanco (3.0 WAR)
SS: Jimmy Rollins (3.8 WAR)
INF: Juan Castro (-0.5 WAR); Greg Dobbs (0.6 WAR)

OF1: Jayson Werth (3.2 WAR)
OF2: Raul Ibanez (2.0 WAR)
OF3: Shane Victorino (2.9 WAR)
OF4: Ben Francisco (2.2 WAR)
OF5: Ross Gload (-0.3 WAR)

SP1: Roy Halladay (6.4 WAR)
SP2: Cole Hamels (3.9 WAR)*
SP3: Joe Blanton (2.6 WAR)*
SP4: J.A. Happ (2.3 WAR)*
SP5: Jamie Moyer (0.7 WAR)*, Kyle Kendrick (0.4 WAR) 4.96 FIP, 167 IP

CL: Brad Lidge (0.5 WAR)*
SU: Ryan Madson (1.2 WAR)*
RP: Jose Contreras (2.5 WAR) 3.79 FIP, 68 IP
RP: Danys Baez (0.3 WAR) 4.69 FIP, 47 IP
RP: Chad Durbin (-0.4 WAR) 4.46 FIP, 68 IP
RP: J.C. Romero (-0.3 WAR) 4.57 FIP, 39 IP
RP: David Herndon (0.0 WAR) 5.61 FIP, 55 IP
RP: Antonio Bastardo (o.1 WAR) 4.93 FIP, 85 IP (as a starter)

2010 Projected Total WAR: 51.5

I know this is more than 25 players, but I’m trying to compensate for Blanton, Lidge, and Romero starting the year on the DL.

So this is what we get–replacing Bruntlett with someone who’s going to be almost as bad, a slight rebound out of a few key players, and predicted regression to the mean for Ibanez and Werth. Utley’s going to be the best position player, and Halladay the best pitcher–I think we knew that. I’m not sure why Werth is being tipped to drop so much, but it does worry me. Pretty much everyone else stays in line with previous production. Brian Schneider’s going to be a good backup catcher–he’s almost exactly like Ruiz behind the plate, but with a better arm. You know how Ruiz loves to try to pick runners off? Well, Schneider does that too, except when he does it he doesn’t put the ball into the second row of seats.

David Herndon is also worth mentioning. I know a lot of people are excited about his spring training numbers. Don’t be. First of all, there’s no point in getting excited about 11.2 innings of spring training ball from a pitcher who, at age 24, has never been above AA ball before. Second, look at his minor league numbers. Even in the low minors, he only strikes out about 5 batters per 9 innings. If you can’t miss more bats than that in A-ball, how are you going to strike anyone out in the majors? He gets a lot of ground balls (a ratio of about 3.5/1 in spring training), which helps, but I see him as, at best, a replacement-level mopup guy, and at worst, a guy who costs the Phillies a couple of close games in April before landing back in the Angels’ minor league system by July 4.

So the Phillies got a little bit better this offseason. I think we knew that. But how did they compare to their rivals?

Team

2009 Total WAR

2010 Projected WAR

Difference

Phillies

44

51.5

+7.5

Braves

46.8

52.6

+5.8

Mets

23.4

37.3

+13.9

Rockies

44.7

52.6

+7.9

Cardinals

44.6

43.9

-0.4

Dodgers

47.3

45.7

-1.6

Brewers

33.4

42.3

+8.9

Mariners

37.7

43.5

+5.8

Yankees

59.8

62.9

+3.1

Red Sox

53.1

58.6

+5.5

As you can tell, the projected WAR is, across the board, up for most of these teams. I’d chalk this up to two factors: first, the reliance on fan projections from FanGraphs for relievers (the fans tend to overrate compared to CHONE), and the fact that the WAR projections don’t take into account the possibility of Carlos Beltran, for instance, missing the whole season.

Here’s what we can conclude. First, that the Phillies, at worst, kept pace with their title rivals. The teams projected to improve the most are the Mets and Brewers, both of which were well off the pace last year. Behind them are the Phillies and Rockies, two teams that are expected by many to be a couple wins better than last year.

Second, we can conclude that the Yankees and Red Sox are light-years ahead of the other teams. Not like we didn’t have evidence of that already, but this is just one more statistic reinforcing what we already know.

What I consider to be the most interesting (and most fortunate, for the Phillies) is the expected regression of the Dodgers and Cardinals. Neither team made any major moves in the offseason, both carry significant flaws, and both are getting older. The projections don’t show a major drop-off for either team, but when you’re standing still while your rivals, by the same method, are shown to be significantly better, there’s a problem.

Now, just because we can, let’s put together an all-star team from these WAR projections. I’m not sure what this is supposed to predict or prove, but we’ve got all this data, so why not have some fun?

C: Brian McCann (4.7 WAR)
1B: Albert Pujols (7.2 WAR)
2B: Chase Utley (6.1 WAR)
3B: David Wright (5.2 WAR)
SS: Troy Tulowitzki (6.4 WAR)
OF1: Curtis Granderson (4.9 WAR)
OF2: Ryan Braun (4.8 WAR)
OF3: Matt Holliday (4.8 WAR)
SP1: Roy Halladay (6.4 WAR)
SP2: Felix Hernandez (6.0 WAR)
SP3: Cliff Lee (6.0 WAR)
SP4: Jon Lester (5.6 WAR)
SP5: CC Sabathia (5.5 WAR)
CL: Jonathan Broxton (2.6 WAR)

So there you have it. This concludes Total WAR Project 2009-10. I hope you’ve had as much fun reading it as Paul and I have had writing it, and I hope it hasn’t been as much of a pain to read as it was a pain to write.

The best news is that we can all quit projecting, because baseball starts for real tomorrow night, and Phillies baseball starts for real on Monday. Have a happy Easter, and may you have a wonderful 2010 season.

C:

1B:

2B:

3B:

SS:

OF1:

OF2:

Avatar of Michael Baumann

About Michael Baumann

Michael Baumann has written 229 articles on Phillies Nation.

Michael is a graduate student at Temple University who lost his childlike innocence when, at the age of 6, his dad let him stay up for the end of Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. Unsettled by the Phillies' recent success, he has threatened over the years to leave the team he loves if they don't start losing again, but has so far been unable to follow through. Michael spent 4 years as an undercover agent in Braves territory at the University of South Carolina, where he covered football and soccer for The Daily Gamecock before moving back up north. He began writing for The Phrontiersman in June 2009 before moving to Phillies Nation in January 2010.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 WFC010

    So according to these WAR charts, pretty much every potential contending team is better than the Phillies, right?

    This is why I don’t like it when people count on WAR alone to decide a teams worth or talent , because they make it look like the Phillies have no chance against teams with significantly larger WAR projections, and that’s really not a completely accurate way to look at things.

    I appreciate all the effort you have put into this projects, but it freaking KILLS ME when it ends up leading to more whining from Phillies fans about just how much “better” the Yankees and Red Sox supposedly are. Even the Braves and Rockies have higher WAR projections than us!

    I just hope that people will understand that WAR is only ONE way of indicating how good a team is, and that they will be smart enough to look at other factors as well.

     
  • Posts: 0 John

    Agreed WFC, WAR is a neat stat, but certainly not the most reliable in terms of projection I don’ think. With baseball being dependent on so many variables that when you try to combine everything, such as WAR does, you obviously have a much larger room for error.

    I wonder…did the projection for Shane include his move to the 7 spot? Do injuries (Raul, Lidge, Romero) have much of an impact on these projections? Does the number for Polly factor in his new teammates?

    Thanks again, PN, for putting these together. A very nice series of posts!

     
  • Posts: 0 Repeat!

    War….hunh!what is it good for? absolutely nothing… sorry but i couldn’t resist. the NL will be all about the phillies in 2010. kinda getting used to it.. but i’m not going to take it for granted. more importantly, neither should the Phillies front office. the phillies have the best core of home grown talent in baseball. if they don’t win at least one more WS title with this core the brass will only have themselves to blame. this core has the potential to go down as truley one of the greatest “team nucleus” in MLB history.

     
  • Posts: 0 Yankee Fan, Phillies Phriend

    Nice wrap-up, baumann. What Total project can you and the Paul unleash on us next? I say a beards spread, where you try to grow facial hair comparative to the best player in a week.

    Just brainstorming here.

     
  • Posts: 0 derekcarstairs

    A question and comments:

    Is there a win total for a team consisting solely of replacement-level players, such that you can add it to each team’s WAR to project each team’s actual total wins?

    An underlying assumption in calculating team WAR is that the whole equals the sum of its parts, i.e., that team WAR is a linear function of individual WARs. I doubt that this is true, since it does not consider the synergistic effects of various player combinations.

    For example, in constructing a lineup, the WAR total may be higher with a lineup of 9 sluggers than with a lineup combining guys with high OBPs and others with high slugging percentages, but the latter lineup may actually be better at producing runs.

    For another example, a team filled with defensive stars at every position has more value behind ground-ball pitchers than behind high-strikeout pitchers; yet, simply adding individual WARS together would not reflect accurately the run-prevention capabilities of different defensive alignments.

     
  • Posts: 0 gabriel

    firstly, i don’t think war = nostradaumus. nobody said this is predicting anything, it’s just another stat.
    that being said…
    notice in the top 5 SP’s, the phils could have potentially had TWO of them… just sayin

     
  • Posts: 0 Blaise

    Don’t worry about it. The Braves were 2 over us last year and we beat them by what, 6 games? We’ll be back in the playoffs easily once again

     
  • Posts: 0 Repeat!

    hey derekcar… please stbleep up with all the harvard level talk. you’re ruining my high dude. the end.

     
  • Posts: 0 MikeB.

    I realize it was only a ST exhibition game but for us Phillies fans who dislike the Atlanta Braves, the White Sox beat up on them 12-4 today in Atlanta and roughed up Tim Hudson and Jo Reyes.

     
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  • Posts: 96 Paul Boye

    Avatar of Paul Boye

    I’m really digging the pingbacks.

     
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  • Posts: 0 Badfinger

    @derekcarstairs, a team that is all replacement players is one of the worst in baseball history. They project to win about 42-45 games. So with 51.5 WAR, if you were using it as a projection you’d peg the Phillies to win about 93-95 games. Seems reasonable, right?

    I don’t know why it looks like the Phillies “have no chance” against teams with a higher WAR, especially since there are only two teams with a value significantly higher. WAR just tries to assign a relative value to players on a scale against other players that also matches up to team performance.

     
 
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