Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fun with Graphs: Ripken, Tejada, Jeter, Trammell

This is basically another idea stolen from Beyond the Box Score. We do that well here, but at least we cite accordingly. Anyway, after the jump is a comparison of Cal Ripken Jr., Miguel Tejada, Derek Jeter, and Alan Trammell by graphically illustrating their seperate seasons' WARP from greatest to least.

Quick response: Man, Cal was so much better than any of them and Jeter is the second coming of Trammell . . . WARP-wise.


Ripken's peak was higher than Jeter or Trammell and his second tier seasons were about a half game higher. Miguel looks like a distant fourth. One thing to remember though about these graphs is that even though they are linked with a line . . . the data points are not directly related to the points on either side. It just looks prettier.

So discussion . . . hmmm, probably Jeter vs. Trammell is a good one to have. That might not be Oriole enough. I think one thing that we often miss was just how good Cal was. We tend to over look his first few years in the league, which were dominating. We also tend to view a lot of his numbers with a post '93 perspective. In reality, he was far better than many realize. I find it strange when on different boards how some will put forth the silly claim that Ripken is in the Hall because of the Streak. Really, his Streak happened because he was a dominant player who insisted on doing things his way.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Quick Excercise In Lineup Optimization...

A quick look at lineup optimization and how it could be used on the projected 2009 Oriole lineup.

I'm stealing this idea from Beyond the Boxscore but I don't think they are in any hurry to do this exercise with the Orioles so I'll do it here.

It's all about optimizing lineups, getting the most bang for your buck out of the players that you have. I think batting order is very overrated when it comes to run production (I think Sky at BtB has said the same thing) but it is interesting to see how unorthodox a lineup can look and, theoretically, score more runs per game.

Like BtB, I'll be using the standards found in The Book: Playing The Percentages in Baseball as well as David Pinto's lineup tool found at Baseball Musings.

Here are the main players for the Oriole lineup and their CHONE projections for OBA and SLG for 2009:

B. Roberts .359 .423
M. Mora .328 .414
N. Markakis .376 .474
A. Huff .354 .466
L. Scott .352 .462
A. Jones .337 .444
G. Zaun .313 .355
F. Pie .320 .407
C. Izturis .287 .326

Using the rules, the first step is to identify the top three hitters on the team. For the Orioles, that projects to be Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff. These guys will take up the top three spots in the lineup.

For leadoff, OBP is king. You also want the batter with the least power among those three elite hitters on the team. Speed is icing on the cake. Hello, Brian Roberts.

In the two hole, it's the best hitter between Huff and Markakis. This hitter comes to bat in more big situations than any other hitter in the lineup. #2 belongs to Nick.

Cleanup should be one of the best hitters on the team and the guy with power. This would be Huff. You could quibble that Markakis may have more raw power next season and you could swap the two without much argument from me. But Huff is #4 for now.

The next two best hitters on the team are Adam Jones and Luke Scott. More value is gained in the 5 slot with a batter who hits singles, doubles and triples rather than living and dying with the home run. Scott doesn't live and die with the homer but Jones is probably a more well-rounded hitter is this regard. Scott goes to #3 and Jones is #5.

Melvin Mora, Gregg Zaun, Felix Pie and Cesar Izturis are left. From here, the order goes from best hitter to worst with a caveat that if you have someone who can steal bases, they add some value in the 6 hole. Only Izturis is a fair stolen base threat at this point in his career but the bat is so bad that I don't think he will leverage that skill too often. Mora is the best of what's left, followed by Pie, Zaun and Izturis.

Your "optimized" 2009 Orioles lineup:

1 Roberts
2 Markakis
3 Scott
4 Huff
5 Jones
6 Mora
7 Pie
8 Zaun
9 Izturis

Plugging this information into the Lineup Optimization Tool, this lineup is estimated to score 4.885 runs per game. If you swap Huff and Markakis, the total is 4.879 so I was barely correct with Markakis in the 2 hole.

Pinto's best lineup? It scores 4.898 runs per game.

1 Roberts
2 Markakis
3 Jones
4 Huff
5 Scott
6 Pie
7 Zaun
8 Mora
9 Izturis

Mora and Pie, as well as Scott and Huff are interchangeable with the same production.

One wrinkle: what if we add Matt Wieters? Wieters' CHONE: .349 OBA and .439 SLG.

Wieters would fit in at the 5 slot and bump everybody down:

1. Roberts
2. Markakis
3. Scott
4. Huff
5. Wieters
6. Jones
7. Mora
8. Pie
9. Izturis

Just the addition of Wieters...brings the runs per game up to 5.031

Pinto adds this lineup for a runs per game of 5.041 moves Wieters to number three.

How about the run production for a "traditional" lineup?

1. Roberts
2. Mora
3. Markakis
4. Huff
5. Scott
6. Zaun
7. Jones
8. Pie
9. Izturis

This configuration gives you a runs per game of 4.857.

Swap Wieters in for Zaun in the 6 spot? That gets you 4.999 runs per game.

Difference in runs per game using The Book rules vs. the traditional approach: .028

The Book vs Pinto? Pinto wins by .013

The Book vs The Book with Wieters? Wieters improves the rate by .146 runs per game.

Traditional vs. Traditional with Wieters? Wieters adds .142 runs per game.

Conclusion? I would love to see a team try one of these non-traditional lineups sometime but as you can see, it matters little. I suppose it might let you win a game or two over the course of a season which could be a facotr in a close race

But adding a better catcher? It improves jumps by at least a factor of 5.

So improving the actual members of the lineup means far more than the shuffling of said lineup. Go figure...


Monday, March 23, 2009

Why I prefer Angelos to Ripken as the Orioles Owner

Ok Guys, it just might be time to have a more full-throttle conversation. BORT has definitely gotten off to a slow start, but with the season soon approaching and this site being a place where some of us will post game time chats and recaps . . . much is to be looked forward to.

Over the past few years there has been a rumble about Angelos' intentions with selling the team. This past off season it was rumored that he was not aggressively seeking Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett, and others (not sure really what the O's had to do to be more aggressive in signing a very good 1B who did not want to come here and a perpetually somewhat injured Jekyll/Hyde starting pitcher, but eh) was to consolidate the salary structure and present it ready to be sold after this current season. This hopeful argument was then finished with the glee that Cal Ripken will ride throughout the kingdom on his white steed collecting offerings to generate enough cash to buy the team and restore us to our old glory, the Oriole Way.

Well . . . I'm not sure this is what Angelos is doing. I do not think he is consolidating payroll. I think there were good reasons not to dedicate the money to those players we lost out on. I actually advocated against signing either Burnett or Teixeira to megacontracts. All that is well and good for another discussion, but I will bring it back to why I do not want Cal Ripken to be the owner of the Orioles behind the jump.


Ego and good intentions paved the way to 11 losing seasons and counting. That was Peter's human faility. He took over ownership of the Orioles in the early nineties and proceeded to spend a good deal of money to bring a championship to the Orioles. He also refused to allow Pat Gillick the freedom to make deals as he saw fit. Angelos' spending and his hesitancy to let Pat trade away quality players (i.e. Bobby Bonilla, Jeffrey Hammonds) let the Orioles into the playoffs in 1996 and a return trip in 1997. This success went to his head. Angelos may have been right contradicting Gillick's intentions, but it was not because he had a better head for baseball. Sometimes even the most brilliant baseball minds are wrong.

After '97, Angelos was certain he knew baseball well. He succeeded at law and now was succeeding at baseball. He then tossed Davey Johnson and Pat Gillick to the curb by not allowing them to do their own jobs. The next decade was spent with the team acting like the guyin your office in the corner cubicle who perpetually loses the fantasy baseball league you are in. The guy who does not know who the good young under the wire players are and who still thinks that Mike Piazza is still capable of playing ball. Angelos wants to win. I am sure of that. He wants to win as much as that guy in the corner cubicle in your office failing at fantasy baseball. They both just have no idea how to do it. Angelos wound up listening to Syd Thrift. The guy in the cube listens to Steve Phillips and Joe Morgan.

It seems now though that regional hatred and a decade of losing has humbled the old man. Angelos seems to think now that he does not know what he was doing and has left the team in the hands of a competent, maybe above average, GM in Andy MacPhail. MacPhail, so far, has been doing well collecting talent and avoiding large expenditures on free agents that have little use to us. Angelos may revert back to his previous form by signing the Albert Belles and demanding that we draft a Rice pitcher, but that does not seem to be what he believes these days. His ego has given way and his good intentions have led him to isolating himself from the baseball side of the operation.

This is what concerns me with Cal Ripken. He is a Hall of Fame player. He is a Baltimore Oriole. He is regarded by some to be capable of nearly anything. That is a problem. If anyone knows about his traveling habits, his basketball pickup games, and his general demeanor . . . he has an ego. That is fine. Ego is what let him become such a great baseball player. His skill set was amplified by his sheer determination. His playing days are worthy of awe and celebration. Just like Angelos' adeptness at being a trial lawyer should be worthy of awe and celebration. Likewise, the abilities and skills required for playing baseball well are not the same as the abilities and skills required for running a baseball operation. Ripken, I am sure, will have good intentions, but I question how he will handle his ego. Will he recognize that he has little to offer during the offseason or draft day? Will he try to minimalize the GM? Will he use an internal bully pulpit to have the Orioles operate as he sees fits? Would Ripken be a Billy Beane or a Matt Millen?

What says you, BORT? Am I off base? Should Angelos sell? What would be the ideal owner (specifically a name)?