Monday, December 10, 2007

Lastings, 'Lijah and Kearns, Oh My!

Warning: Non-rigorous pseudo-statistics lay (not lie!) ahead.

So our new outfield... what's it mean? Is it improved, and is it going to lead to more wins? Damned if I know, but let's make some rough estimates.

Our friends at have shared the Bill James 2008 projections with us for our quartet.

Milledge: .286/ .350/ .463
Kearns: .272/ .368/ .457
Dukes: .253/ .351/ .459
Pena: .277/ .335/ .495

You can see that they're all basically the same player. Kearns gets on base a little more, but slugs less. Pena slugs more, but doesn't get on base much. They have slightly different skill sets, but their overall net offense is close enough that they're interchangeable (ignoring defense, of course).

To measure offense, as you've seen, I like to use runs created. It's great about measuring the net effect of differences in percentage stats above, letting you know their impact on the team's bottom line: runs. Now, there are about 1,001 different ways of calculating RC with various flavors of complication. I'm throwing that all out the window and going with something simple cause I don't care about 3 standard digits of precision. I want to see broad outlines, not the cellular level.

The easy-ass formula I'm using is AB * OBP * SLG. That's it. Just to show you that it's closer to the complicated formula, let's sample a few players.

Nook Logan RC, 34. Short formula, 34.1. Brian Schneider RC, 45. Short Formula, 44.6. Austin Kearns RC, 88. Short Formula, 85.6. Close enough!

So the trick, you see, is figuring out how much playing time the guys get.

Nationals OFers combined for 1787 ABs last season. We know that a certain percentage of those ABs are going to be taken by 5th outfielders for rust reasons or because of injuries. So let's make an arbitrary decision to assign 87 of those ABs to the pure backups, giving us 1700 to divvy up. And, hey, for the hell of it, let's assume that Dukes doesn't knock up one of the Lerner granddaughters and stays healthy, and the ABs are divided pretty evenly, leaving 425 a piece. (You'll see that it doesn't much matter in that if Dukes does go down, as long as the other big 3 are upright, they'd be able to pick up his level of production without a dropoff)

Here are the RC projections using the short formula:
Kearns: 71
Pena: 70
Milledge: 69
Dukes: 68

How does that compare?

As it stands, the top 5 outfielders from last year (Kearns, Church, Logan, Langerhans and Pena) combine for a total of 1677 ABs, again, close enough for this purpose. Using the same short form RC total, that produces a total of 237 runs created. 279-237 gives us an approximate improvement of 42 runs. Every 10 runs or so is a win, so that's a total improvement of about 4 wins on offense. (Now, of course, this isn't factoring in defense, and I've read enough scouting reports on most of these guys to know that nobody has a farkin' clue. They'll either be great or terrible -- how's that for a prediction!)

Now, of course, this could blow up in the team's face. These are, afterall, only on-paper predictions. But that's where the beauty of this also comes in. Two of the four are truly young. And none of them are really old. Because of that, it's not inconceivable for one of them to have a truly breakout season. And if that does, they'll way overshoot that RC estimate. There are a lot of unknowns, of course, and the randomness of life has a funny way of making fools of us all, but at least for now, on paper, last week's shuffle and re-signings greatly improved the team. (But still, lock up your daughters!)


  • No more Langerhans ABs should be good for about twenty wins.

    Looks like Kearns fares much better with the short calculation than the long.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/10/2007 9:52 AM  

  • Ha! Damn typos! Thanks...

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 12/10/2007 9:54 AM  

  • Are the Bill James projections adjusted for park factor yet, or at least normed so RFK isn't dragging them down?

    Also, aren't Pena's stats a bit low? He was slugging .500 with us last year. I'm guessing James assumes that those stats were fluky?

    By Blogger Michael Taylor, at 12/10/2007 10:15 AM  

  • Pena's slugging was over .500 with us, but it was just .439 on the season. The first half counts.

    He's a career .472 slugger, and hasn't been above .500 over a full season since 2004. (The only time he's done that)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 12/10/2007 10:18 AM  

  • True, but he also hasn't played a full season....ever. His plate appearances top out at 336 in 2004. His batting could be in line with his career average, but the sample size is kind of small, particularly when you factor in possible confounding variables like preferences for playing everyday, etc. He hasn't played everyday during any year of his career and most of his 2004 campaign was built on just two months where he played everyday.

    Also, he's still very young, and it's entirely possible he'll add even more power as he ages.

    Of course, this doesn't really support my dream of watching him break out this year either.

    I think the safest thing we can really say about Wilfredo Modesto is that we really have no idea how he's going to play. He's never been allowed to start daily for anything longer than a 2-month period.

    By Blogger Michael Taylor, at 12/10/2007 12:54 PM  

  • Well, the optimist in me believes Kearns will have a much much better year. He is a better hitter than he showed last year. Pena will benefit from a starting roll, which leaves Manny with only having to fix one of the other two. Everyone's power numbers should benefit from leaving RFK, although it'll hurt the averages, especially the two corner guys. So we may be up from those numbers.

    The pessimist shudders to think...

    By Blogger Unknown, at 12/10/2007 2:29 PM  

  • Optimistically speaking, the upside on Dukes and Milledge could mean even more runs. Jimbo could have traded himself into maybe 6 more wins this year, all things being equal. If the pitching doesn't suck, suck, suck, you could see an 81 win team, no? And with two of the four OFers being teh Cheap! the future's so bright I gotta wear shades!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/10/2007 3:20 PM  

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