Where we Blundered 2011 pt 4September 14th, 2011 by Eric Kesselman in Uncategorized
3 more teams get discussed…….
Jason Grey & Paul Jones-
In many ways, this team may have had the most impressive showing of the year. They're in 5th place, only 5 points out of 4th despite having what have to be the two biggest dissapointments of the year, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios. Dunn is at .159 with 10 hrs, and Rios is at .208 with 6 hrs and 8 sbs. They have 74 runs and 62 RBI between them. Wow. You'd have to think any team that is in fifth place with that kind of damage had to have some offsetting career years elsehwere, but they really didnt. They nabbed League and Hosmer, but that wasn't really blind luck. Nelson Cruz has been midlly dissapointing, especialy in the sb department. Really the only above average perfomrance they've had on offense has been Jhonny Peralta, which isn't anything crazy and is mostly a higher than expected average. Likewise I look at their pitching, and the best good fortune I can find is they got 11 wins and a 1.03 whip out of Josh Tomlin.
For a while I was relieved to see them struggling for much of the year. I had often been leery of Jason Grey's player valuations, it was comforting to see him be so wrong about some players. However, with some more time to reflect, I think these guys' performances was so off the charts unpredicticble that I can't really take much comfort in it. That just leaves me wondering how easily they might run away with the league if they actually got lucky.
Larry has had a fine season, but given his great start, he has to be feeling a bit dissapointed. In 1st as early as week 3, he mostly held that position until week 15. He started to slip a little, and around week 20 really began to nosedive. Today he is fighting for 3rd place with Andrew and Brian, 16 games out of 1st. Where did it slip away?
He's lost points all around, but largely it was a collapse in the pitching. In week 13 he was sitting in 1st place with 50 batting points, and 50.5 pitching points. While his offense mostly held that stellar total, slowly drifting into the mid 40's, his pitching died. Starting from week 13 here is his pitching totals every two weeks: 50.5, 46.5, 43, 40.5, 35. Today he is at 36.5.
Just looking at category totals:
week 13: ERA 3.52 (4th) Ks 551 (1st) WINS 45 (1st) WHIP 1.23 (2nd) Saves 20 (6th)
today: ERA 3.98 (6th) KS 1015 (1st) WINS 72 (tied 6th) WHIP 1.29 7th Saves 32 (8th)
Nothing really leaps out at me there, let's look a bit deeper.
Larry's pitching staff hasn't changed much all year. He's run Felix Hernandez, Doug Fister, Trevor Cahill, Jason Vargas, Alexei Ogando, with half portions of Bruce Chen, Nick Blackburn, and the recently acquired Ubaldo Jimenez. He's had a dollop of Dice-K and Brad Bergesen. The bullpen has mostly been Mariano Rivera and Joel Peralta.
It's kind of hard to look at that staff (esp pre-Ubaldo) and feel very good about it. I think Larry got pretty lucky to get the performances he did out of this cast. This is admittedly subjective, and probably rich with hindsight, but I suspect if I were sitting on that staff and a league leading pitching total, I'd be inclined to blow it all up. It might not have been trivial to do, but I think there were people out there who would've gambled on many of these guys, and with a half season of first place stats already, I don't want to be that guy. I mentioned last year in a few articles that the desire for volatility varies inversely with your position in the standings, and having pretty much hit the jackpot so far, I think Larry should have found more dependable pitchers. Instead he doubled down on the same cast, and was fortunate to add an Ubaldo Jimenez (although less fortunate in how he has pitched.) Even if these guys kept performing, you have to doubt whether they can keep up in wins. Felix Fister and Vargas are all Mariners. Cahill, Chen, Blackburn, and Bergeson are all on bad teams. Ogando was a converted reliever. I want to say the writing was on the wall here, but I'm not sure an easy remedy existed. It's not like he can sell most of those guys for much. Perhaps they just needed a medium sized addition, if for no other reason to address the likely slip in wins.
On the flip side, I kind of have to tip my hat to Larry for getting 36 points out of this pitching staff, and doing it for the prices he did. Fister $2, Vargas $3, Ogando 3$, Chen $1, even $2 Downs (traded early) was a profitable scoop. Further playing devil's advocate, while I think he got lucky on his dinks, Felix could have been quite a bit better.
I also have to question the 1 reliever strategy. Rivera is going to single handedly earn Larry 5 points in saves this year, but a second closer would have Larry battling the rest of the league for 7 more points.
I think overall, I'd feel a lot more comfortable with this configuration of a pitching staff if he were fighting for era, whip and saves (without punting ks and wins entirely) instead of ks, era, whip and wins (without punting saves entirely). I think that approach might reduce his 2nd half volatility, and free up some capital that could be employed elsewhere.
So I'm left with mixed feelings, and a general sense that the cast should have been shook up hard, but I certainly can't point to anything that Larry did wrong.
ANDREW WIGGINS/ BRIAN HASTINGS-
These guys have put in an impressive showing, fighting for 3rd place with Larry. Andrew finished 3rd last year as well, so he has certainly managed to hold his own in very competetive crowds. I don't see an unreasonable amount of good fortune on their roster, and I think they've got a good complaint for being unlucky in batting avg. They're dead last in average, and I think reasonably could've hoped for better out of guys like Teixera, Beckham, Nishioka, Abreu, Carlos Santana, maybe even Inge. Adam Jones also hit .235 for them.
Looking at their stats, it looks like their capital is generally decently deployed, although there are clearly a few bits of waste.
1) 22 saves is a fair amount of waste for two points. They're ahead only of me, who has been punting saves all year. They did a good job of snagging closer to be Sergio Santos, but failed to capitilize on their find by either adding another closer or trading him early enough for value. Certainly some flexibility is a good thing, and its not like he was clearly 'the closer' early on allowing him to be traded for good value, but I think they still could have made more out of their good fortune here.
2) They've largely failed to have nine active pitchers for much of the season. In the first few weeks of the season some of the guys supposed to round out their staff like Jenks and Zumaya went down, and they just never got replaced by other middle relievers. There's no justification for this, and they're fortunate to be winning in Wins and WHIP anyway, with a good ERA score. However, they're only .04 ERA points from 1st place (currently in 3rd) and 16 strikeouts buys them 3 more points right now. A good couple of middle relievers (basically free from the waiver wire) could give them 3-4 more points pretty easily. That's kind of inexcusable, and they're lucky the opportunity cost damage isn't higher in wins and whip.
3) They've managed their faab poorly, with $85 left now, and not a lot of major finds over the course of the season. I'm sympathetic a bit here, as this is an extremely tough crowd to fight for value out of the faab pool with.