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Posts Tagged ‘OPS’

While it was generally accepted that the Giants would be a team to be reckoned with in 2010, GM Brian Sabean started the party early, acquiring first baseman Ryan Garko from the Indians and second baseman Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates.  My prediction is that these two players will help the deliver the Giants an NLCS championship.  They are huge upgrades over the production that the Giants are currently getting from these positions.  At first base, the Giants received a .747 OPS, ranked 25th in the league, and at second, a .601 OPS, good for a rank of 28. 

Sanchez brings to the table a .776 OPS, and will probably give the giant an extra fifteen runs above average based on weighted on-base average.  Garko owns a .826 OPS, and based on the same statistics, should give the Giants an extra five runs over their current production.  Over the course of 61 games, twenty runs is nothing to shake a stick at.  An extra .33 runs per game would move them from the 27th ranked offence in runs scored to 23rd, a significant increase.  If you add .33 runs per game to their current statistics this season, their Expected Pythagorean Record winning percentage would jump from a pedestrian .532 to .615.  To put that in perspective, the Yankees and Dodgers are leading the league with a .614 winning percentage. 

Already leading the Wild Card Race, the Giants, barring a serious injury to Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain, should slide comfortable into the postseason.  This is when they will be the most dangerous.  Lincecum and Cain form the most dangerous 1-2 punch in the NL, and will be extremely effective in a post-season series.  Let’s take a look at the Giants new and improved roster.

Lineup

C – Bengie Molina (80 OPS+)

1B – Ryan Garko (114 OPS+, 12.1 UZR/150)

2B – Freddy Sanchez ( 109 OPS+, 6.3 UZR/150)

3B – Pablo Sandoval (142 OPS+, -1.07 UZR/150)

SS – Edgar Renteria (65 OPS+, -1.9 UZR/150)

LF – Fred Lewis (93 OPS+, 3.0 UZR/150)

CF – Aaron Rowand (102 OPS+, 8.4 UZR/150)

RF – Randy Winn (86 OPS+, 15.1 UZR/150)

Utility IF – Juan Uribe (94 OPS+, 7.38 UZR/150)

On average, this line-up has an OPS+ of 98.3, barely below league average.  When you combine that with their stellar pitching, they will be a force to be reckoned with.  They are also an above average defensive squad, with a cumulative UZR/150 of 49.31 among these nine players.  This is 49 runs that the Giants will save on defence alone. 

Pitching

SP – Tim Lincecum (2.30 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 1.99 FIP)

SP – Matt Cain (2.27 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 3.81 FIP)

SP – Barry Zito (4.54 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 4.37 FIP)

SP – Jonathan Sanchez (4.92 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 4.33 FIP)

SP – Randy Johnson (4.81 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 4.91 FIP)

Bullpen – (3.37 ERA , 1.32 WHIP, 3.74 ERA)

While starters three through five leave much to be desired, Lincecum and Cain are so dominant and throw so many innings that the Giants still have second best starting pitcher ERA in the league.  The bullpen is ranked third.  Even when you factor out the excellent fielding; the starters and relievers rank third and fourth respectively in FIP.

Even though Sabean gave up a big part of the future in Tim Alderson to acquire Sanchez, it was well worth it.  So there you have it folks, the 2009 NL Champion San Francisco Giants.

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Former MLB All-Star and current MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds recently wrote an article on his blog in which he argued that the OPS statistic was overrated.  He is obviously an old-school mind who has not embraced the statistical revolution.  One of his arguments is that great power hitters on bad teams, like Adrian Gonzalez, have an inflated OPS because pitchers do not pitch to them, meaning they walk a lot in addition to their home runs.  He is also claims that they have a higher OBP than the rest of their teammates because they clog the bases; not sure how that one makes any sense. 

Obviously, I disagree tremendously with his point of view.  OPS is an excellent tracker of player performance, and helps predict how many runs a player or team will score over the course of a season.  It is much more accurate than archaic stats like batting average, RBI, and even home runs.  Let me put it this way.  If you had to assemble a historical team but were only allowed to base your selections on one statistic, what would that stat be?  A lot of people would argue VORP, or win shares (which would be difficult due to the lack of historical fielding statistics), and these would be valid, but I think I would go with OPS+.  I know it does not take defence into consideration, but like I said, if you want to be using guys like Babe Ruth, there are not going to be any effective defensive stats to monitor them anyways.

I decided to make a team based on OPS+, and OPS+ alone, to prove how ridiculous Reynolds point is.  A player can only play the position he actually played that year.  This is what my starting line-up would look like, arranged according to batting order.  I bet you can figure out who each player is based on the information given.OPS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are of course Roger Hornsby, Ted Williams (technically a left fielder but I lumped corner infielders into one group), Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Honus Wagner, George Brett, and Johnny Bench.  As you can see, OPS is so overrated that my nine players include six first ballot Hall of Famers and the asterisked home run king.  I would hardly call a team that steals 124 bases a bunch of base-cloggers either.  The only player on the team that you could call a legitimate slowpoke on the basepaths is Ruth, and maybe Bench but he is a catcher.

If you were to use more traditional statistics like batting average and RBI, you would get a significantly different team.  I will not go through the list, but good players can fluke out and knock in 191 runs or hit .350.  It takes a lot more skill to have one of the best single season OPS.  To put that in perspective, three players (Bonds, Ruth and Williams) occupy the top eleven spots on this prestigious list, discounting the two guys from 19th century who played a much different game.   

You may not find this article overly informative, but I find looking up historical stats a pleasure, so it was a lot of fun to write.  I also like to critique individuals like Reynolds who are stuck in their ways and refuse to embrace the changes that are happening around them. 

As an aside, I think we should all take a moment to appreciate Joe Mauer.  Going through the list of all-time OPS+ seasons, I had to go all the way down to 413th to find the first catcher.  The next lowest position was Brett at 45th.  It is incredibly difficult for catchers to put up the kind of numbers that Mauer does, and he could be the guy that you tell your grandkids about just as much as Pujols. 

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