Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Carolus Macer

Carlos "Skinny Chuck" Delgado decided on the Marlins, who were generous enough to hook him up with $52 million over four years. This is bad for us, since the Marlins are in our division and Delgado is going to smack the hell out of our pitchers on the regular for a few years. It's not like this is going to stop us from competing or anything - we weren't going to do that anyway.

The other local-interest angle is that Delgado is just the latest in a humiliatingly long line of free agents who snubbed the Orioles. As with Carl Pavano, I think the Orioles win by losing. This exhaustive post at Orioles Warehouse provides a great deal of evidence that Delgado is not a good bet to age well. He's a big, slow first baseman past 30, and guys like that don't tend to last long. There's no doubt that the Marlins will be happy with Delgado for at least a couple years, but let's see how they feel when they're giving him $16 million in 2009 (if his option vests) before we start hooting that the Orioles screwed up again.

Baseball Prospectus has released their 2005 PECOTA, which is a system for forecasting player performance. The real reason it exists, of course, is so that during the lean winter months they'll have something write about. During PECOTA Season, BP features a large number of cart-before-the-horse pieces in which the authors tell us what GMs should have done based on this statistical crystal ball. Anyway, I don't want to delve too deeply into Nats player projections, as the spreadsheet is available only to subscribers (i.e., the suckers who pay for Dayn Perry's subscription to Maxim and Man Show video archive). Suffice it to say that, according to BP, pretty much everyone sporting the Walgreen's logo is due for a decline. Don't despair, though, because I think they're full of crap. "Bluegrass" Brad Wilkerson, for instance, gets a 254/362/462 line (BA/OBP/SLG) with 22 homers and 23.5 VORP. I have no idea why they think a 28 year old who's improved in every season he's played will decline so drastically from his 2004 (255/374/498, 32 homers, 48.2 VORP), but consider that they projected only a 17.2 VORP for him last year (it seems playing time tripped them up in this case). So feel free to ignore them. I know I will.

Speaking of PECOTA and VORP and all that stuff, let me know if any of this doesn't make sense. Really, I don't know if I'm writing for an audience made up mostly of Bill James-reading BP-subscribers or of people unfamiliar with OPS+ and the like. I don't want to bore the former, but I will if it avoids overwhelming the latter.


Anonymous said...

I don't have any idea what you are talking about, but it is written with such a degree of certitude that I find it both readable and believable.

Anonymous said...

Haven't a clue about VORP or ZAPATA or whatever. Eyes glazing over and head lolling kind of stuff.

Still love the site though!

WWB said...

I'm still learning. I've at least read "Moneyball," so I'm not completely out of the loop.

I come from Portland, Oregon, where at best you can follow MLB (usually the M's) from afar. Now that I'm out here and have a team of my own, I've got serious catching-up to do.

VORP as you wish.

Ryan said...

I'll probably start working on a basic glossary in case anyone's interested.

Inquirer, I'd say BPro's worth it. In fact, my plan this year is to renew BPro and forego the book. I figure I can read all the Nats stuff in an afternoon at Barnes and Noble. As Yuda mentioned, Chris Karhl is great (and a DC resident), and I'm a big Steven Goldman fan.

Olivier said...

I think one of the great joy of baseball fandom today is the possibility of confronting one's observations with the orgy of statistical analysis available online. Maybe it's because I'm a bit of a stats geek myself (tough not that much), but I find it truly enriching.

An example: I still, after two years of watching him, haven't made my mind on Endy Chavez true defensive value. If it was only of my eyes, I'd say he is an average outfielder who hasn't made any real progress (in stark contrast to, say, Vlad Guerrero who made huge improvements and Brad Wilkerson who didn't improve much because he came out of the minors with a gold glove in his hands). But the stats nibs at me: he gets to an absolute ton of balls, and many metrics rate him pretty high. So I still wonder.

Another example: I think it's defensive Win Shares who, a couple of years ago and probably because of small sample size, rated Fernando Tatis as an above average 3b. Todd Zeile looked like Scott Rolen compared to that guy ("Look! He just relayed the ball to first base!").

So, to me, stats are very important: they challenge the inner fan because they help grasping a very important fact of baseball: it's a long long long season, and sustained excellence (or above averageness) can challenge ephemeral greatness. Your post on Livan and the inclusion of VORP was a very nice way of putting it.

The glossary is a good idea, but the consistent and meaningful use of stats (ie, don't just throw VORP, DIPS or something else up there, build it into your text) is an even better one (the post on Livan, once again, was very good on that aspect). I mean, stats are not very complicated, and they are very good at underlining the sloppy writing and tought process of whom is using them.

Anonymous said...

i know some of what you're talking about -- did read "moneyball" last year -- but not a lot, maybe about 30 percent. a glossary would be helpful as well.