Monday, February 07, 2005

Vorpal Swords

Jacob Luft
over at Sports Illustrated takes a look at the new Mets lineup by VORP (PECOTA projection) and position and comes away impressed:

Pos. Player VORP Player VORP (Proj.)
C Jason Phillips -5.3 Mike Piazza 24.2
1B Mike Piazza 29.9 Minky 12.7
2B Jose Reyes 5.2 Kazuo Matsui 25.9
3B David Wright 21.2 David Wright 32.4
SS Kazuo Matsui 23.7 Jose Reyes 12.7
LF Cliff Floyd 20 Cliff Floyd 23.1
CF Mike Cameron 27 Carlos Beltran 51.6
RF Richard Hidalgo 7.4 Mike Cameron 24.4

Totals 129.1

Losses: Jason Phillips, Richard Hidalgo
Additions: Minky, Carlos Beltran
Estimated VORP differential: +77.9

A couple things to point out here:

1) The Mets lineup last year was, for lack of a better word, vomitous.

2) However, for 2005, PECOTA predicts improvements at every position but 1B and SS

Hitting rock bottom may suck in the current season but it certainly gives one hope for the future (oh, and Carlos Beltran gives a wee bit of hope as well). One can easily expect improvements from David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Kaz Matsui. Minky upgrades first over Jason Phillips (who should have a bounce back year as a backup) and Beltran is, well, god.

But do the Mets improvements catch them up to the rest of the NL East? Let's take a look at the changes in the other lineups using PECOTA. For the sake of my sanity, I'm only using the primary player at each position rather than adding in the backups. I know this doesn't work well for platoons but we're looking for gross differences here anyway.


Pos. Player VORP Player VORP (Proj.)
C Johnny Estrada 41 Johnny Estrada 20.5
1B Adam LaRoche 19.1 Adam LaRoche 19.9
2B Marcus Giles 35.9 Marcus Giles 35.8
3B Chipper Jones 32 Chipper Jones 30.3
SS Rafael Furcal 38 Rafael Furcal 28.3
LF Charles Thomas 12.9 Brian Jordan -0.7
CF Andruw Jones 36.6 Andruw Jones 39.2
RF J.D. Drew 78.7 Raul Mondesi 7.6

Totals 294.2

Losses: JD Drew, Charles Thomas
Additions: Brian Frickin' Jordan, Raul Mondesi
Estimated VORP differential: -114.7


Pos. Player VORP Player VORP (Proj.)
C Mike Redmond 3.7 Paul LoDuca 16.3
1B Hee Seop Choi 27.5 Carlos Delgado 42.5
2B Luis Castillo 33.5 Luis Castillo 20.3
3B Mike Lowell 53.9 Mike Lowell 33
SS Alex Gonzalez 11.3 Alex Gonzalez 14.7
LF Jeff Conine 20.1 Jeff Conine 9.8
CF Juan Pierre 44.6 Juan Pierre 19.9
RF Miguel Cabrera 54.4 Miguel Cabrera 43

Totals 249

Losses: Mike Redmond, Hee Seop Choi
Additions: Paul Lo Duca, Carlos Delgado
Estimated VORP differential: -49.5


Pos. Player VORP Player VORP (Proj.)
C Mike Lieberthal 26.8 Mike Lieberthal 22.8
1B Jim Thome 60.3 Jim Thome 47.2
2B Placido Polanco 31.5 Chase Utley 21.9
3B David Bell 32.2 David Bell 4.9
SS Jimmy Rollins 50.9 Jimmy Rollins 34.9
LF Pat Burrell 21.8 Pat Burrell 19.7
CF Marlon Byrd -8.7 Kenny Lofton 10.6
RF Bobby Abreu 83.8 Bobby Abreu 54.8

Totals 298.6

Losses: Placido Polanco, Marlon Byrd
Additions: Kenny Lofton, Chase Utley
Estimated VORP differential: -81.8


Pos. Player VORP Player VORP (Proj.)
C Brian Schneider 16.6 Brian Schneider 7.3
1B Brad Wilkerson 48.2 Nick Johnson 22.9
2B Jose Vidro 36.9 Jose Vidro 30
3B Tony Batista 10.3 Vinny Castilla 0.1
SS Orlando Cabrera 5.3 Cristian Guzman 9.7
LF Termel Sledge 18.1 Brad Wilkerson 23.5
CF Endy Chavez 14.5 Endy Chavez 10.5
RF Juan Rivera 30.2 Jose Guillen 25

Totals 180.1

Losses: Tony Batista, Orlando Cabrera, Termel Sledge, Juan Rivera
Additions: Nick Johnson, Vinny Castilla, Cristian Guzman, Jose Guillen
Predicted VORP differential: -51.1

2005 Totals:

1) Phillies 216.8, (-81.8)
2) Mets 207, (+77.9)
3) Marlins 199.5, (-49.5)
4) Braves 180.9, (-114.7)
5) Nationals 129, (-51.1)

Looking these over there are several things that stand out:

1) The Mets are the only NL East team with a positive differential, and would have one even if all of their youngsters failed to improve thanks largely to Mr. Beltran.

2) JD Drew is a huge loss to the Braves that they haven't replaced at all.

3) The declines in VORP for the Marlins and Phillies is based largely upon declines in players who had outstanding (Bobby Abreu) or breakout (Juan Pierre) years. These are players that could sustain those levels of production even though PECOTA projects them to come back to earth a bit. In fact, I wouldn't be totally surprised to see the Marlins or Phillies improve offensively next year at all.

4) Nationals of 2005, meet the Mets of 2004 and welcome to hell.

5) I hate Brian Jordan, even if he sucks.

So what's the bottom line to take away from all of this?

Out of all the teams in the NL East, the Mets have the most potential for improvement offensively.

Of course, offense is only half of the game. I'll take a look at the projections for the NL East starting rotations sometime soon...


At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's good to see the Mets on the rise. I don't get too excited by stats especially since the last two years left us with just about only one way to go and that's up. Any lower and the Mets would be a AAA team.

It's a new year and I am excited to see if the team will be good, healthy and consistent. I am really expcting good things from Reyes and Wright. I love Beltran but I am not expecting him to carry the club. I will be happy with .275, 25 HR, 90 RBI, 30 steals and 70-100 walks.

If Reyes and Wright shine and every one else has an "average" year, the Mets should be pretty good. I am not sure about the playoffs but at least decent.

The only thing I really don't agree with in the anayliss on the lineups is that the Marlins' Vorp drops. With Delgado, I think it will higher than 2004. I don't think the other guys will fall back that much.

At 1:16 PM, Blogger Jay said...

I was really, really surprised to see the degree of decline in the Marlins VORP projections. But take a look at how these guys did against last year's projections (2004 Proj. 50th percentile /2004 actual):

Juan Pierre (17.9/44.6)
Mike Lowell (38.1/53.9)
Miguel Cabrera (13.1/54.4)

As I understand it, since PECOTA is based partly on past performance and all these guys had breakout years, the system is projecting them all to come back to earth a bit. But given their ages, I wouldn't be surprised to see them maintain this level of production or improve. (BTW, if I'm misinterpreting this, someone please correct me). But because of their spectacular years, they have a lot of room to regress.

In contrast, the Mets had only one player exceed expectations like that last year, David Wright, and he's still projected to improve. The Mets lineup basically has no where to go but up.

At 10:32 PM, Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

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