Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hunter Pence Trade Analysis

The Giants said that they weren't looking to make a big move at the trade deadline and then they went out and made a pretty big move to get Hunter Pence from the Phillies.

I wrote up some analysis on the trade for Bay Area Sports Guy, here is the conclusion:
Pence in right field replaces the Schierholtz/Gregor Blanco combo. When you look at what ZiPS projects for the rest of the season Pence will be worth approximately 1 WAR, the Shierholtz/Blanco combo was projected to be worth around 0.75 WAR. So the Giants are better, but not by a huge margin.
Fortunately for the Giants this isn’t a pure rental situation, as Pence has one more season of team control. He is projected to earn about $13 to 14 million next season, so if he is a 3-4 WAR player he could potentially have some decent surplus value. At worst, the Giants could flip him in the off-season if they decide they can’t afford him.
Overall the Giants probably got a pretty even amount of value in Pence for what they gave up in Schierholtz, Joesph and Rosin. I would have loved to see these trade chips used to get better at a position that has really killed them (like second base) but there really wasn’t much available there.
Today’s trade might make the Giants offense better. However, unless Pence is able to produce a fluky-hot second half like he had in Philadelphia last season, this isn’t really the game-changer kind of deal that guarantees an NL West title.
Read the whole thing. 

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Extending Melky Cabrera

Cross posted from Bay Area Sports Guy:

One of the hardest questions as a Giants fan is do you want to offer Melky Carbrera a long term contact. If so, how high would you be willing to go?

Complicating the matter is the fact that he has two distinct periods in career, on e in which he has produced at a below average rate and one at an above average rate. Prior to his 2011 stint with the Royals, he was a prospect who didn’t live to his hype and was a tweener in the outfield. From 2011 to this year, he has hit like gangbusters and has played at the worst an average corner outfield defense.

That brings up the question when you considering a long term deal: Which is the real Cabrera?

Is it the guy that failed to live up to the expectations placed upon him? Or the guy that blew past previous hype and is now a certified All-Star?

Luckily, we have a few ways to look at things when forming out opinions on long term contracts. The first is the always there when you need it Oliver from the Hardball Times (which is provided by @SFBleacherGirl because I decided paying for daycare was more important than a projection system) that provides six year projections. In addition I will use more simplistic models that assume 0.5 decay in WAR production, along the same lines a 10% WAR decay per year model. And, last but not least, I will look at what the ten players that Baseball-Reference said were his most similar players through age 27 did over these years.

Here are some projections:

Age Year Oliver 0.5 Decay 10% Decay BBRef Comp Avg
28 2013 1.4 4 4 1.3
29 2014 0.9 3.5 3.6 2.2
30 2015 0.7 3 3.2 1.4
31 2016 0.4 2.5 2.9 1.3
32 2017 0.1 2 2.6 0.9
33 2018 -0.1 1.5 2.4 0.6
34 2019 -0.3 1 2.1 0.2
The Oliver projection isn’t pretty, but that is expected because projections never project career years for guys with the track record of a Cabrera. That being said it, that doesn’t mean that Oliver is wrong either.

The 0.5 decay and 10 percent decay are pretty straight forward and only change based on the assumed WAR of the starting year for which I used 4 WAR, his total last season.

The Baseball-Reference list is the simple average of the WAR that each player produced. His most similar players produced at a nearly league average rate until about age 31 and then suffered pretty large declines with each passing year. This seems to be a pretty fair approximation, although I would hope that Cabrera could be a bit better in the first couple years of the deal.

Looking at a rough average of all four would give you something like this: 3, 2.5, 2, 2, 1.5, 1, and 1. I think that this is a very good ball park for what to expect going forward. This seems like a good middle of the road guess that I feel comfortable using going forward.

The next step is looking at what a win will be valued at. This is kind of a crude method, but it works pretty good to give a general ball park of what the market rate is for free agents. Right now, a win is worth approximately $5 million on the open market. For this, we will look at three different inflation scenarios over the next few years.

Years 10% 7% 5%
3 $45.16 $42.83 $41.31
4 $59.80 $55.93 $53.47
5 $71.88 $66.45 $63.04
6 $80.74 $73.96 $69.74
7 $90.48 $81.99 $76.78
At shorter term deals, there isn’t really that much difference. When you go longer, however, you start to see some divergence. With how his comparable players aged, I would feel uncomfortable with the Giants going long term. It seems that the Giants have gotten a bit more selective in their long term deals over the last few years.

The range that I would love to see would be the three to four year even, so long as it came with a higher average annual value that would push the deal to $45 to $55 million. It would also give Cabrera the chance to sign one more significant contract as a free agent after either his age 30 or 31 season after proving his last couple season weren’t fluky.

That would be ideal but when dealing with free agents things often don’t work out so nicely.

The deal that is talked about as one Cabrera is looking as a model is Andre Ethier, who recently signed a five-year $85 million deal. Even under the best assumptions, such a deal looks to be a bad bargain for the Giants and if some team is willing to go to that level, the Giants will probably lose him. It will be sad to see him go, but the Giants will be smart to let some other team take on the risk with a deal that has little upside.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Projecting the Series: Giants vs. Phillies

The Phillies have been an under performing team this season but by no means does it feel like this should be an easy series. For one going into Philadelphia is never easy, the crowd I am sure still has no love for the Giants and will want to let it be known, the weather is going to be pretty gross with warm nights (at least not hot) and thunderstorms, oh yeah and their is a still pretty good baseball team that plays there.

In case you forgot or haven’t seen the explanation, here is a quick description of how the model works:
  • I start by estimating the runs scored and allowed for each team given the starting pitcher, bullpen, defense and each team’s offense.
  • The data used in the projection model is based on the current season’s statistics to date and ZiPS projections, with the weighting shifting more toward the actual stats as the season progresses.
  • The estimated run differential is then converted into a projected winning percentage using the pythagorean expectation.
  • Then, it’s converted into an odds of winning the game using the log5 method developed by Bill James

Probables (via MLB.com):

  • Friday, July 20, 4:05 PM: Tim Lincecum vs. Vance Worley
  • Saturday, July 21, 1:05 PM: Matt Cain vs. Cole Hamels
  • Sunday, July 22, 10:35 AM: Barry Zito vs. Joe Blanton


Game 1
Game 2
Game 3
2 out 3
1 out 3
0 out 3
Win Series
Lose Series

The projection model has not given up on Tim Lincecum and it is reflected in the games one odds where it says that the Giants are favored. I am a bit skeptical, and I will continue to be until Lincecum puts together a decent string of starts that suggest that it is more than a one game thing.

The Game two match-up is an exciting one with two of the best starters in the National League squaring off. The model suggests a tight low scoring game is in order and I sure hope that is the case.

Game three isn't as exciting as the first two with the Phillies having a pretty big edge. Barry Zito has done some pretty crazy things in this up and down year so I guess it is possible that he could bring the same stuff that shutout the Braves for seven innings with him to Philadelphia. I am not counting on it but it could happen.

I am going to go against my nature and say that I expect a series victory in this one, I hope Lincecum shows that his last start wasn't a fluke and builds on it on his way to a resurgent second half. I hope that Cain out duels Hamels. I hope that Zito gives the Giants a chance to win and doesn't kill the bullpen. So here's hoping to at least two out of three of those things happen.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sanchez > Belt ???

Whoa, there sure are a bunch of cob webs here. It's been a while since I have written here because most of my writing has been over at Bay Area Sports Guy but as time allows I will make an effort to keep this blog going as well. I have been a bit of a slacker and hope to do better in the future.

Today I want to take a second to talk about a very important subject.

I asked Bochy if Sanchez's bat is preferable to Belt's. "Yeah, I think that's fair to say. Wouldn't you?"

Yeah so about that I don't believe that it is true but don't take my word for it. Let's take a look at the numbers.

Batting Average:
Sanchez - .278
Belt - .250

Advantage Sanchez

On Base Percentage:
Sanchez - .282
Belt - .360

Advantage Belt

Slugging Percentage:
Sanchez - .381
Belt - .408

Advantage Belt

Isolated Power:
Sanchez - .103
Belt - .158

Advantage Belt

If one was skeptical to these stats and the results that they pointed to, they may say something like this: A man can advance 2-3 bases on a hit, but one on a walk. 4 walks is only better than 3 hits if those are station-to-station singles.

That is true. Linear weights says so, a single is worth .46 runs while a walk is worth .303 runs. So three singles is worth 1.38 runs while four walks is worth 1.212 runs. Both of these are worth less than one home run is. Given the choice you would rank your choices: 1-4 with a homer, 3-4 with 4 singles and then 0-0 with 4 walks.

It's too bad there isn't a stat that keeps track of all of this over a full season is there. Oh wait yes there is, it is called weighted on base average and uses linear weights to give everything a batter does it's proper credit.

Sanchez - .284
Belt - .336

Advantage Belt even when you take into account that hits are more valuable than walks.

Anyway that you measure it besides looking at just batting average Belt is a better all around hitter. He may not make contact at the same rate but his at bats will help the Giants win more games than Sanchez's. I really like Sanchez, he is a good back up but it really makes no sense to put him in the lineup at the expense of Belt.

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