Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 09, 2004
BASEBALL: 2004 NL Central Established Win Shares Report

Finally, at long last, I've completed my division-by-division walk around the major leagues by Established Win Shares Levels with the biggest division, the NL Central. Some time in the next week or so, I'll have to go back and pull together an overall summary of the results for all six divisions. To review, you can go back over my previous efforts:

*The Top 25 Players in Baseball and explanation of EWSL method

*AL West EWSL Report & explanation of team method

*AL East EWSL Report & slight modification to team method

*AL Central EWSL Report

*NL West EWSL Report

*NL East EWSL Report

A few recurring notes on the method: Recall that the projected win totals below are probably a bit on the low side, in part because I only list 23 players, and that these aren't really projections at all, so much as estimates of how much established major league talent is on each roster. Also, as before, I've indicated the players who are ranked only on 2002-03 with a #, players ranked only on 2003 with a *, and rookies with a +. For rookie non-pitchers with everyday jobs, I've arbitrarily pencilled in 10 Win Shares , 5 WS for rookie pitchers with rotation slots, 3 for bench players and 2 for relievers.

Chicago Cubs

Adjusted EWSL: 276.0 (92 wins)
Unadjusted EWSL: 271.2 (90 wins)
Weighted Age: 30.562

PosPlayerEWSLAge
CMBarrett827
1BDLee2328
2BMGrudzielanek1634
SSAGonzalez1531
3BARamirez1626
RFSSosa2735
CFCPatterson1024
LFMAlou1737
UTTWalker1731
C2PBako432
INFRMartinez831
OFTHollandsworth731
13TGoodwin435
SP1MPrior#1623
SP2KWood1527
SP3CZambrano#1323
SP4MClement929
SP5GMaddux1538
CLJBorowski1033
R2LHawkins1131
R3KFarnsworth528
R4MRemlinger838
R5GRusch329

I tried as much as possible to stick to the pre-season rosters; there's actually been relatively few dramatic changes in who each NL Central team plans to play at each position, if only they can get healthy. EWSL concurs with the general preseason consensus that the Cubs had the most loaded roster in the National League, although the reasons for their underachievement thus far this season are fairly obvious, primarily the rash of pitching injuries. EWSL does tend to overvalue teams that have guys on the bench who played regularly recently, and that's true here with Walker and Grudzielanek, although both would have played significant roles this season if Grudzielanek wasn't ailing.

St. Louis Cardinals

Adjusted EWSL: 257.0 (86 wins)
Unadjusted EWSL: 251.0 (84 wins)
Weighted Age: 30.409

PosPlayerEWSLAge
CMMatheny1133
1BAPujols3624
2BTWomack834
SSERenteria2328
3BSRolen2729
RFRSanders1636
CFJEdmonds2634
LFRLankford437
UTMAnderson1230
C2CMcKay+030
INFJMabry433
OFRCedeno1029
13STaguchi*234
SP1MMorris1229
SP2WWilliams1237
SP3JSuppan1229
SP4CCarpenter329
SP5JMarquis325
CLJIsringhausen1031
R2SKline731
R3RKing530
R4CEldred336
R5JTavarez731

The preseason favorite for the wild card, by EWSL calculations. That infield is just scary, even with Womack: a collective EWSL of 94, and 36 thus far this season through June 3, a pace for 110 even with Renteria playing poorly. In the Ken Boyer comment in the New Historical Abstract, Bill James notes that the record for Win Shares by one infield is 119 (the 1914 A's), and just 41 teams all time with 95 or more. That's pretty good company.

You can see here that pitching is what separates the Cubs from the Cards and to a lesser extent the Astros; St. Louis' staff starts out with what should be the middle of the rotation and goes downhill rapidly from there.

Even without casting any aspersions, the Cards have to lead the league in guys who seem like they ought to be older than they are. Izzy and Tavarez are only 31? Pujols, 24? Cedeno, 29?

Houston Astros

Adjusted EWSL: 253.1 (84 wins)
Unadjusted EWSL: 236.7 (79 wins)
Weighted Age: 31.771

PosPlayerEWSLAge
CBAusmus1135
1BJBagwell2436
2BJKent2436
SSAEverett*1127
3BMEnsberg*1528
RFRHidalgo1528
CFCBiggio1938
LFLBerkman2828
UTJVizcaino636
C2RChavez131
INFMLamb428
OFOPalmeiro635
13JLane#227
SP1ROswalt1426
SP2APettitte1432
SP3RClemens1441
SP4WMiller1227
SP5TRedding626
CLODotel1430
R2BLidge*827
R3DMiceli433
R4BBacke*126
R5BDuckworth328

I gave the Astros a bit of the benefit of the doubt on some of the judgment calls for what years to count (Everett, Ensberg). To an even greater extent than the Cubs and Cards, the Astros' big issues are age and injuries.

Milwaukee Brewers

Adjusted EWSL: 139.7 (47 wins)
Unadjusted EWSL: 121.8 (41 wins)
Weighted Age: 28.796

PosPlayerEWSLAge
CCMoeller529
1BLOverbay*627
2BJSpivey1429
SSCCounsell1033
3BWHelms728
RFBGrieve828
CFSPodsednik*2228
LFGJenkins1429
UTBKieschnick232
C2GBennett532
INFKGinter#628
OFBClark531
13BHall*424
SP1BSheets825
SP2DDavis628
SP3WObermuller*227
SP4VSantos127
SP5MKinney329
CLDKolb529
R2MAdams025
R3LVizcaino429
R4DBurba437
R5CCapuano*125

Hoo boy, is there a dropoff here - granted, AL teams get a slight advantage from the DH (sort of), but EWSL rates the Brewers, Reds and Pirates as the three weakest teams in the Major Leagues entering 2004. Let's remind ourselves what that means: the least proven major league talent on the roster. In Milwaukee's case, improvement has come partly from guys who had not had a full major league opportunity before (principally Lyle Overbay), and partly from young players finally pulling it all together (Ben Sheets, Doug Davis). But I'm not that optimistic on this team finishing close to .500, since I don't see Overbay hitting 70 doubles and I really don't see who will step up when Overbay and possibly Sheets and Davis start to cool off.

Cincinnati Reds

Adjusted EWSL: 134.5 (45 wins)
Unadjusted EWSL: 128.0 (43 wins)
Weighted Age: 28.916

PosPlayerEWSLAge
CJLaRue1030
1BSCasey1329
2BDJimenez1426
SSBLarkin740
3BBLarson#128
RFAKearns#1424
CFKGriffey734
LFADunn1524
UTRFreel*328
C2JValentin128
INFJCastro532
OFWPena*122
13JCruz131
SP1CLidle932
SP2PWilson631
SP3JAcevedo126
SP4AHarang#326
SP5TVanPoppel332
CLDGraves930
R2TJones336
R3RWagner*321
R4MMatthews330
R5BReith226

Nothing like making pre-season predictions, as it were, in June to make you look stupid. The Reds depend heavily on people who just haven't gotten the job done in recent years, but things have gone extraordinarily well so far (other than Kearns batting .195) to give them the division lead. Of course, if you seriously think these guys are going to win this division, take three Reds pitchers and call me in the morning.

Sean Casey continues to follow the John Olerud career path with a huge breakout season after several years of imitating the performance that got Olerud, at the same age, traded for Robert Person. I've been particularly surprised by Paul "Mr. February" Wilson, who's perfected his pinpoint control, although I'll believe Wilson holding up for a full season in the rotation when I see it.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Adjusted EWSL: 123.9 (41 wins)
Unadjusted EWSL: 110.7 (37 wins)
Weighted Age: 28.941

PosPlayerEWSLAge
CJKendall1230
1BRSimon929
2BBHill#226
SSJWilson826
3BCStynes731
RFCWilson927
CFTRedman227
LFJBay*525
UTRMackowiak728
C2HCota+325
INFJCastillo323
OFDWard629
13ANunez928
SP1KWells1027
SP2KBenson229
SP3JFogg527
SP4OPerez#222
SP5RVogelsong026
CLJMesa1138
R2STorres232
R3JGrabow+225
R4BBoheringer535
R5BMeadows228

EWSL is a bit unfair to the Bucs - really, Tike Redman looked a lot better than a 2 Win Share player in limited action last season, but he'd played enough in past seasons and he's far enough into his twenties that I couldn't pretend those years didn't happen. Benson is also a guy giving some upside on his return from injury, and Oliver Perez is looking like a guy ready to join the NL's elite starters (although he is young yet, and could wear down). The good news is that neither they nor the Brewers are wasting their time with old guys anymore. Verdict: the Pirates should be better than the win total above, but don't expect them to come roaring back from their current slump.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 08:00 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)
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