Serious Baseball


Serious Baseball: Win Value Project, Carlos Beltran

Now that I don’t have to introduce the system again, as I did that in my first two articles in this series, these Win Value write-ups will be much shorter.

Let’s figure the Win Value of Carlos Beltran.

Beltran is the opposite of Lance Berkman (my last subject) in that he adds to his total value by fielding his position, and running the bases well.

If you recall, Berkman, while a very good hitter produced at a level below what his salary called for, and probably will in the future due to this aforementioned lack of agility in the field and on the bases

Beltran is a much better value…

It was in the midst of his 2004 season with the Kansas City Royals when Beltran was traded to the Houston Astros where he went on to star for the them in the post-season and assured himself of a large contract that off-season—his first as a free agent.

The New York Mets ended up being the team to give him that large contract when, in January 2005, Beltran signed a contract with them worth a total of $119 million over 7 years. The total value of the contract includes an $11 million signing bonus, of which $7 million was paid to Beltran in 2005, and $2 million paid in both 2006 and 2007. These signing bonus amounts are included his salary structure presented below:

2005: $17 MM
2006: $14 MM
2007: $14 MM
2008: $18.5 MM
2009: $18.5 MM
2010: $18.5 MM
2011: $18.5 MM

Actually, $8.5 million of Beltran’s salaries in the 2008-2011 seasons are being deferred and paid to him after the contract expires. Even though the Mets aren’t paying him that amount in those seasons, he is being paid that amount for those seasons so we’ll use the full $18.5 million salaries for the analysis.

Here is a chart showing Beltran’s season stats and win value for each season he’s played under the new contract:

Beltran was a disappointment in 2005 only providing 3.56 wins while his salary called for 5.05. He made up for that in 2006, though, by providing a whopping 8.7 wins while his salary called for 3.76.

While he didn’t perform as well in 2007 as he did in 2006 he still provided great value to the Mets providing 4.67 wins while only being paid for 3.41.

For the years remaining on his contract Beltran is being paid for the following:

2008: 4.11 Wins
2009: 3.74 Wins
2010: 3.40 Wins
2011: 3.09 Wins

Can he achieve these win totals?

According to The Book Blog a player in his decline phase should be assumed to deteriorate by .5 wins per year. Beltran, being 31 this season is already in this phase, so subtracting .5 wins in each future season leaves him the following projected win values (amount of wins he’s being paid for in parentheses):

2008: 4.17 (4.11)
2009: 3.67 (3.74)
2010: 3.17 (3.40)
2011: 2.67 (3.09)

It seems Beltran will be right around his perceived value for the next two years, while being slightly overpaid in the last two.

A player with Beltran’s skill set (good fielder, good base runner, good patience at the plate) has a great chance to “beat the age curve” by a tad and I think for the remainder of the contract, Carlos Beltran will be “spot on” if not better than what he’s being paid for.

It’s funny because at the time of this signing many people thought the Mets drastically overpaid for Beltran. Now, it seems he is actually underpaid!

The entire value of the Beltran’s contract calls for him to provide 26.56 total wins to be “worthy” of his salary. Using those projected total win numbers from above (for 2008-2011) and adding them to his actual total win values from 2005-2007 would put Beltran at 30.61 total wins at contact’s end. Meaning he ends up providing about 4 wins more than he was paid for.

Unless something goes drastically wrong in the next four seasons (injury?) the New York Mets definitely deserve a “tip of the hat” for this signing.

I hope those who read this article will email me at, or post a request for me on one of the message boards that I hope this article reaches and request that I figure out another players win value. I will be more than happy to do so.


Win Value Project: Lance Berkman

Back to the Win Value Project…

I have to admit it, I love this idea, but it’s not mine in its originality. Analysts and writers far smarter than I, such as Tom Tango and Dave Studeman, have done, and are still doing projects just like this. But my study was vastly different than theirs (and inferior) in that it used different statistics, and different monetary figures.

Well, after a reception to my first article that can only be called tepid at best, I decided to get to work on overhauling this puppy.

One of the emails I received in response to that first article “linked” me to Tom Tango’s “The Book” Blog where I learned valuable lessons on how to figure out a player’s yearly W.A.R (Wins above replacement), found each player’s fielding runs as figured by Mitchel Lichtman’s UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) system, and found more accurate dollar figures for my project.

Just as importantly, there were studies done there to show why the stats I was using in the Varitek article (VORP, and FRAR) were wrong.

I’m not going to lie; I delved right into the blog and started using Tom Tango’s numbers “digit-for-digit.” I did, though, have to calculate W.A.R. on my own. I am assuming my products are correct, but if they are not, I beg of any reader to email me and put me in my place.

I have also changed my concept of a team having its “own price” for a marginal victory. This is how I stated this theory in the original article:

“To do this I used a spreadsheet to figure out what each team paid for a marginal win in any given year. By using each teams total payroll, subtracting the league minimum and dividing that by the number of marginal wins they accrued (number of wins over 45) I was able to derive how valuable, in monetary terms, a marginal win was to each team…”

“One advantage any team has when signing a free agent is that the money they agree to pay a free agent in, say 2005, always remains the same. Regardless of inflation, or the rise in price of a marginal win, if a team paid player X $10 million dollars for two years in the off-season of 2005, the only way they had of measuring what they were paying for was their previous seasons “Price per Marginal win.”

This concept is silly in that it ignores the law of inflation, and fails to recognize that all teams, no matter how cheap, buy players in the same market. Just because the Kansas City Royals paid approximately $2.7 million per marginal win in 2004, doesn’t mean that is the number they should use to evaluate a free agent that off-season. They have to value him in a way close to what other teams would.

So what is this value? Based on numbers, again shown in The Book Blog, the price per marginal win after the 2006 season was $4 million. This price goes up 10% in each successive year due to inflation and that is why this past off-season that number had risen to $4.4 million.

This time around I will be using completely different dollar figures, and completely different stats, except for Equivalent Base running Runs (EqBrr) since, to date, there are no other publicly available base running metrics.

After adding each players W.A.R., UZR Fielding Runs, and EqBrr I came up with a number that represented how many marginal wins any player was worth in any given season.

Then I just took that player’s marginal salary, divided it by the price per marginal win, and saw if that player “earned” what he was being paid.

Let’s get to it.

Over on one of the readers of my first article asked me to figure the win value for Lance Berkman. While it took me quite a bit of time (as I was overhauling the system), here is that breakdown.

In the 2004 off-season Berkman was entering his sixth year of service and would have been a free agent after the season. He had asked for an $11 million annual salary for the 2005 season in arbitration, while the Houston Astros proposed $10 million. They settled on $10.5 million.

Then, in March of 2005 Berkman agreed to a six year $85 million dollar deal. The structure of the contract paid Berkman the already agreed upon $10.5 million in 2005, $14.5 million each season through 2010, and a guaranteed $2 million as part of a team option for 2011. Since his 2005 salary was already settled, the Astros, in all actuality, signed Berkman to a 5 year (2006-2010) $72.5 million deal (number excludes $2 MM guaranteed in 2011 as part of a team option).

It is important to note that Berkman was not a free agent at the time of the deal, so we shouldn’t use the full value of a “Free Agent marginal win” to figure his win value. According to The Book blog—again—estimates of what dollar figures to use for pre-free agency players are as so (based on years of service time):

20% - 2.x to 3 years less a day

40% - 3 to 4 years less a day
60% - 4 to 5 years less a day
80% - 5 to 6 years less a day

This means we would use 20% of the free agent marginal win price if a player signs a contract when he has between 2-3 years of service time, and so on down the line.

Since Berkman wasn’t a free agent at the time of the signing, according to the above chart the Astros are presumed to have paid him 80% of the free agent price per marginal win. This is what we will use for the analysis.

Assuming the rate of inflation is 10%, if I “backtrack” from the 2006 off-season (when the price per marginal win for a free agent was $4 million) I can figure out that the price per marginal win for a free agent rose as follows (figures are rounded to nearest thousandth dollar):

2004 off-season (when Berkman signed): $3.306 MM
2005 off-season (Berkman’s first year under new contract): $3.636 MM

and will continue to rise as so…

2007 off-season (this past off season) $4.4 MM
2008 off-season: $4.84 MM
2009 off-season (last off-season Berkman will be under contract): $5.324 MM

Here is a chart showing Berkman’s marginal win value in each season since (and including) 2006:

***Wins are figured by dividing runs by 10.5 (except for with WAR). This is different from the number I used in the Varitek article; 10. Again, this number comes from The Book Blog. ***

Berkman’s fielding and base running definitely leave a lot to be desired. Overall, though, due to his hitting, he is a net positive to the Astros.

Using the derived price per marginal victory (80% of free agent price) for each season and dividing it by Berkman’s marginal salary shows that Berkman hasn’t completely lived up to his end of the deal, thus far.

In 2006 the Astros paid him for 4.87 marginal wins and he provided 4.86...right on the money. Last season, though, Berkman had one of his worst years as a professional and only posted 3.20 marginal wins while being paid for 4.41.

Going forward the Astros will be paying Berkman to produce 4.01 marginal wins in 2008, 3.64 in 2009, and 3.31 in 2010.

Assuming that 2008 is Berkman’s age-32 season, it’s hard to believe he is going to post those types of numbers in his future seasons.

For what it's worth, I have Berkman as posting only 2.18 marginal wins in 2005. So if you take that into consideration you are looking at a player who has only surpassed the 3.5 marginal win level once in the last three seasons, and is over 30 years of age.

It seems that through 2010 Lance Berkman will be nothing but an all-hit, no-field, overpaid, lumbering first baseman.

I hope those who read this article will email me at, or post a request for me on one of the message boards that I hope this article reaches and request that I figure out another players win value. I will be more than happy to do so.Thank you


Win Value Project

I am the first to admit that the game of baseball is not played on computers or in a spreadsheet. There are, without question, factors in the game that cannot be measured by statistics. There can be no value assigned to the way a catcher handles a pitching staff, or the way a certain player can lead his team.

But, with all that said, the facets of the game that can be measured have been assigned values by statisticians and fans alike that, I believe, are very accurate. The leader in this field of “assigning value to measurable facets of the game” is Baseball Prospectus.

Their revolutionary stat “VORP,” standing for Value Over Replacement Player, measures how many offensive runs a certain player created more than a “replacement level” player, in any one season, would have that played his same position assuming the same number of plate appearances.

While I believe many agree with the concept and accuracy of VORP, other stats created by Baseball Prospectus to measure non-offensive areas of the game, such as fielding and base running, aren’t so universally agreed upon.

But, while the arguments about the accuracy and validity of these metrics will rage forever, they are more accurate than anything I can come up with, so I will be using Baseball Prospectus’ fielding metric FRAR (Fielding Runs Above Replacement) and their base running statistic EqBRR (Equivalent Base running Runs), combined with VORP to come up with a total amount of runs a player created over a season for this project.

I’ve titled this little endeavor my “Win Value Project.” It’s really not that complicated. The goal was/is to figure how much each team in baseball currently pays its players for a marginal win, and then finding out how productive that player must be to “live up” to the contract/salary his team is paying him.

To do this I used a spreadsheet to figure out what each team paid for a marginal win in any given year. By using each teams total payroll, subtracting the league minimum and dividing that by the number of marginal wins they accrued (number of wins over 45) I was able to derive how valuable, in monetary terms, a marginal win was to each team.

I wasn’t that creative in coming up with a title for that final amount, thus I titled it “Price per Marginal Victory.” I believe no questions are left unanswered with that title.

On a separate page of my geeky spreadsheet I figured out, using VORP, FRAR, and EqBRR, the total amount of runs that a player produced in any given season.

All of the runs measured by the above metrics represent “marginal” runs—runs created beyond what a replacement player would have (except for EqBRR which represents how many base running runs a player created more than an average base runner. I decided to use this because I think defining a “replacement level” base runner is an impossible task, while defining an average base runner, while not easy, is not as hard), and therefore, correlate with each teams marginal wins.

Knowing this I could, theoretically, figure out what any team was expecting from a free agent it signed in an off-season. Using that teams previous season’s “Price per Marginal Win” and applying it to a free agents marginal salary (their yearly salary minus the league minimum), what they were expecting from “free agent X” became evident.

One advantage any team has when signing a free agent is that the money they agree to pay a free agent in, say 2005, always remains the same. Regardless of inflation, or the rise in price of a marginal win, if a team paid player X $10 million dollars for two years in the off-season of 2005, the only way they had of measuring what they were paying for was their previous seasons “Price per Marginal win.”

So, in the end, if team X paid $2 million per Marginal Win in 2004, that player signed in 2005 will be expected to produce about 4.8 wins over those two years—even if the price per marginal win goes up through the duration of his contract ($10 million minus the league minimum divided by the teams previous season Price per marginal win).

Wins are measured by the total number of marginal runs a player created divided by ten as the general concept of “ten runs equal one win” is one that is mostly agreed on.

Let’s plug a player in and see not only if he has, thus far, lived up to his contract, but what he must do in future seasons to live up to the remaining years of his deal.

Jason Varitek will be my example for this article.

Now, as stated in the beginning of the article, there are many things a player does to help his team win games that cannot be measured by statistics, and Varitek does this on a daily basis.

But, it will still be fun to see if a) Varitek has lived up to the first three seasons of the four-year, forty million contract he signed in the off-season of 2005, and b) what he must do in 2008 to “live up” to the last year of the contract.

First, we must know the essentials:

1) For the 2004 season the Red Sox paid $2,175,443.40 for each marginal victory (53). That number is what we will use to determine how many marginal wins they expect from Varitek over the length of his contract.
2) The structure of Varitek’s four year, $40 million contract pays him $9 million each season, plus a $4 million signing bonus in 2005—the first year of his contract. Knowing this we will use $13 million as Varitek’s base salary in 2005, and $9 million in each season thereafter.

Here is a chart showing Varitek’s offensive, defensive, and base running contributions, using the above-mentioned metrics, in each season of his current contract:

It’s just simple division now.

In 2005 Varitek’s marginal salary was $12,684,000.00 ($13 million minus major league minimum of $316,000). This means the Red Sox were paying him for 5.8 wins ($12,684,000.00 divided by $2,175,443.40). As you can see, Varitek was more than worth his salary in 2005.

Using the same method and adjusting for the changing league minimum salary, Varitek was/will be expected to produce 4 wins in each of the remaining three years of his contract.

In 2005 Varitek fell short of expectations due to injury, but in 2007 he rebounded nicely and rewarded the Red Sox by providing more than one full win over what was expected.

Now, the only question left would be, what does Varitek have to do in 2008 to “live up” to his contract? Knowing that he has been worth 13.19 wins thus far, and subtracting that from the 17.7 that the Red Sox are expecting him to produce based on his salary ($38,577,000.00 in marginal salary divided by $2,175,443.40 for the price of a marginal victory) throughout the contract, we know the answer to that question is that he needs to produce 4.5 wins.

It seems that if Varitek is healthy in 2008, he shouldn’t have a problem producing that number.

Based on his contributions in the catching game, his leadership, and steady presence though, I think it’d be fair to say that Varitek has already “lived up” to his contract.

That’s only my opinion though, I’m sure some out there don’t believe there is any inherent value in Varitek’s game-calling skills and truly believe that if he doesn’t post the numbers he is capable of in 2008 his contract will have been a bad one.

But, this is my article, and my place to vent and I believe the Red Sox made a very sound investment after their World Championship in 2004.

Will they give Varitek another contact after his current one expires after this season? And if so, how much will they be willing to pay a catcher in his late-thirties?

I hope this is just the first of a series of articles in my “Win Value Project.” I hope those who read this article will email me at, or post a request for me on one of the message boards that I hope this article reaches and request that I figure out another players win value. I will be more than happy to do so.

Thank you


The Smart Yankees

What a perfect follow-up to my last article stating discord with the Rockies long-term signing of Troy Tulowitzki!

If you read that article you are aware that I believe the Rockies should have waited to sign Tulowitzki to a six-year contract. He should have had to—at least--show he can be successful at the Major League level again before the Rockies committed so many years.

Now the New York Yankees step in and show the right way to sign players.

Who would have thought that the Yankees would be the team setting the example of how to develop and sign youngsters?!

With rumored negotiations between the Bombers and their 25 year old second baseman Robinson Cano resulting in a possible contract anywhere from a four year/$30 million to six year/$56 million deal, we now have a template of how to “be patient” and use a player’s cheapest (pre-arbitration) years as an evaluation period to help make more-informed decisions.

Cano’s “evaluation period” showed that he, indeed, is worth a commitment.

Called up in 2005 Cano has been the New York Yankees full-time second baseman since then and has accumulated the following statistics (1720 plate appearances):

.314/.347/.490, 4.24 BB%, 12.03 K%

Those are very good numbers overall, but coming from a second baseman, they are great numbers. Combine this with the fact that Cano is a very good fielder and the Yankees have, truly, found a gem.

While some may look at those statistics above and say Cano doesn’t walk enough (2007 AL mean BB% of 8.54) and therefore isn’t a good bet to stay productive, I disagree.

There is no such thing as “not walking enough.” If a player’s strength is making contact, a lower walk rate doesn’t hurt him if he uses that strength and strikes out at a lower rate than average (2007 AL mean K% of 17.31).

Cano’s K% shows that he can put the ball in play, but his batting average shows that he is very good at collecting hits on those balls in play.

One thing that some may worry some critics about Cano is his career BABIP of .337 (compared to league average around .300). This does not worry me, and it obviously doesn’t bother the Yankees. The sample size (1720 plate appearances) that is Cano’s career shows that he does has some, innate, ability to collect more hits than average when he puts the ball in play.

Cano has not been lucky. The career he has posted to this point is legit, and any worry of a severe downturn in his production over the length of his new contract should be minimal.

The Yankees used the advantages given to them by the system—unlike the Rockies. They used Cano’s pre-arb years as a “minimum wage” way of evaluating his true talent and skill level, and then made a decision. And while there are no guarantees of Cano’s continued productivity, this was a better-informed decision and holds a better chance of success than the one the Rockies made just a few days ago.


Did the Rockies unnecessarily rush?

What’s the hurry?

Why did the Rockies feel the need to sign Troy Tulowitzki to a six year deal now—when he has a pre-arbitration year left? (Structure of contract can be found here.)

Why wouldn’t they just let him play out 2008—at minimum wage—and prove 2007 wasn’t a fluke before committing for the next six years?

Now, I know Tulowitzki was great last year; both offensively and defensively. I also know he had a good season in the minor leagues in 2006, and I do understand that he projects to be a very good player in the future.

Both the scouts and the numbers agree. But scouts, and numbers, are often wrong…especially in baseball.

It was just two short years ago in 2006 that Tulowitzki batted .291/.370/.473 in the Texas League (AA) over 484 plate appearances. Good numbers indeed, but not great. They do get better, though, when you consider his great BB/K numbers from that season. His BB% of 9.5 was a tad better than the average for the Texas League (9.16), but his K% of 14.67 was much better than the mean (18%). ***

The kid definitely showed patience and a good ability to make contact. He also posted a very good ISO (.182) for that level—Texas League average of .150—showing power was part of his game as well.

It seemed Tulowitzki was on the path to stardom. All he would have to do is post great numbers in AAA in 2007 and he’d be ready. Instead, after batting .321/.379/.434 in 53 Spring Training AB’s before the 2007 season, the Rockies decided to have “Tulo” forego a season in AAA and inserted him into their every day lineup.

This was definitely the wrong move, right? After all, “Tulo” would only be 22 in 2007, and as noted before, while he was very good in the minors, it was only one year, and it’s not like he was extraordinary.

Anyhow, the rest is history, and apparently it was the right move. Tulowitzki went onto lead the Rockies to the World Series in 2007 while batting .291/.359/.479, smashing 24 HR’s, and fielding the shortstop position wonderfully.

Should those two seasons (one at the double A level) be enough to make the Rockies commit to him for six seasons—especially when he has a pre-arb year left?

It shouldn’t be.

When you consider that Tulowitzki was aided by an abnormally high BABIP in 2007 (.336 vs. NL average of .301) you’d have to assume he was somewhat lucky. Shouldn’t the Rockies want to see if this high BABIP was a “repeatable” skill?

Also, you’d think the Rockies would want to see if Tulowitzki’s high K% would fall.

By striking out 130 times in 2007--19.2% of his plate appearances--Tulowitzki tied Alfonso Soriano for 11th in the NL in that category. While we know strikeouts aren’t deemed as bad as they was 30 years ago, I’d think it’d be in the Rockies best interest to see if Tulowitzki can lower that number before committing.

Also, even though this deal make Tulowitzki’s home Coors Field for the foreseeable future, wouldn’t you think the Rockies would be a little worried about his horrible road/home splits from 2007:

Home: .326/.392/.568, 15 HR
Road: .256/.327/.393, 9 HR

Shouldn’t the Rockies want “Tulo” to prove he isn’t just another player who, outside of Coors Field, isn’t even average?

These are all things that should have prevented the Rockies from signing Tulowitzki long term when they could have—at least—used 2008 as an extremely cost effective way of deeming his 2007 season as fluke, or a barometer of his true skill.

Now don’t get me wrong. I hope this deal works out. I really do. I hope Tulowitzki becomes the next Derek Jeter, and leads Colorado to the post-season for many years to come.

The Rockies didn’t use the advantages that are granted to them—three pre-arb, “minimum wage” years—by the system; and I’m just scared it may come back and bite them.

***Texas League averages from

Frank Bundy III


Carlos Pena Going Forward

Draw more walks, hit more home runs.

Sounds like a pretty good formula for success, does it not? After all, that is the exact formula Carlos Pena used in 2007 to win the American League Comeback Player of the Year award.

The funny thing about that formula is that it is so simple. Usually, when looking at a season where a player drastically improved you can point to several things he improved upon that led to his newfound success.

There are usually many factors that come together to produce a players breakout/career year. For example, you might find that a player drew more walks, struck out less, hit more line drives, had a higher batting average on balls in play, and hit more ground balls to contribute to his improvement.

Not with Carlos Pena though. He only did two things significantly better to improve…and what an improvement it was!

In 2007 he set career highs in HR (46), BA (.282), OBP (.411), SLG (.627), OPS (1.038), Hits (138), Doubles (29), RBI (121), and BB (103).

What led to all of this improvement? Go back and read the first line of this article.

Let’s take a look at some stats of Pena’s through 2006, compared with those same stats in the 2007 season:

PA/HR: 22.37 thru 2006, 13.3 in 2007

Here is an obvious, large improvement. Pena hit a HR once every 22 plate appearances through 2006, then exploded to hit one every 13 plate appearances in 2007.

PA/K: 3.83 thru 2006, 4.31 in 2007

Yeah, Pena stuck out a little less in 2007, but not by a significant amount. He pretty much struck out once every four plate appearances through 2006, and in 2007.

PA/BB: 9.21 thru 2006, 5.94 in 2007

Here’s another significant improvement in 2007. After only walking once every 9 plate appearances through 2006, he walked once every six in 2007.

GB%: 38.11 thru 2006, 37.46 in 2007

In 2007 Pena hit a tad less ground balls, but not by much at all.

FB%: 42.66 thru 2006, 44.51 in 2007

Obviously, in 2007 Pena turned his ground balls into fly balls. Again, though, this is not a significant difference from the rest of his career coming into the season.

LD%: 19.23 thru 2006, 18.03 in 2007

He actually did a little worse in this category in 2007. This one is close to being a significant, but not enough to call it an extreme difference.

HR/FB: 17.62 thru 2006, 29.11 in 2007

We can call this an extreme improvement. Even though Pena didn’t hit many more fly balls overall in 2007, many more of them became home runs.

BABIP: .295 thru 2006, .305 in 2007

One of the biggest indicators of luck doesn’t show a high degree of fortune for Pena in 2007. While his BABIP was higher than his career average coming into the season, it wasn’t that much higher, and was exactly the league average in 2007.

Pena only did two things significantly better in 2007 to become the beast he was last year. But is this success something he can maintain long-term? Or even throughout the duration of the new three year, $24 million contract he just signed with the Tampa Bay Rays?

One way too look at this would be to just simply look at his BABIP and say, “Well, last year wasn’t based on luck, so he can stay this productive.”

While it’s a fact that Pena “legitimately” posted the numbers he did last year without the aid of a high BABIP, I think decline is in his future.

Pitchers that make it to the Major League level aren’t stupid. And the employees of the teams they pitch for, that prepare scouting reports on Carlos Pena, aren’t either. They know that the key to Pena’s breakout season was the abnormally high amount of walks he had drawn.

While this is somewhat a “skill” shown by Pena—to draw walks--it depends highly on the pitcher throwing the balls. A batter can be as adept as ever at taking balls, but that won’t mean anything if the pitcher isn’t throwing them.

Put simply, if pitchers throw more strikes to Pena in the future, he’s going to be less productive (when I say strikes I, obviously, don’t mean meatballs down the heart of the plate). Now, I know that sounds ridiculous, but Pena’s career batting average shows he isn’t great at collecting hits.

While he did do a good job hitting strikes last season, as shown by his .282 batting average, his career number coming into 2007 was .243. That .243 accumulated over 1924 plate appearances says more than the .282 he posted in 612 plate appearances last season.

Carlos Pena is not a good hitter for average. He may be better than he was before 2007, but he is still a “high walk, low average” hitter; who strikes out way too much.

While there are some hitters out there who have had a successful career using the “high walk, low average” attack, most of them can at least post a league average batting average (.269 in 2007). Pena is not this kind of hitter.

When pitchers throw him more strikes in the future, Pena will be forced to swing at more pitches, most likely resulting in less contact, which in turn will lead to less walks.

Just by the mere fact of getting more strikes to hit, Pena will not be able to use half of his “formula for success in 2007;” draw more walks, hit more HR’s.

As for the other half of the formula, hitting more HR’s, this is an area Pena will suffer in for the obvious reason that he cannot sustain the type of success he had in 2007, again. I know this isn’t “sabermetric” enough of a reason, but Carlos Pena will hit less home runs going forward simply because he is not Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, or Barry Bonds—or even close to those guys.

Does this bring him back down to the .243/.332/.459 hitter he was before 2007? Quite possibly; and it also doesn’t help that next year will be his age-30 season.

Pena will be a better hitter in 2008 because he has shown he can have success in the league, but, I wouldn’t use the numbers he posted in 2007 as a starting point for improvement. I would use his pre-2007 numbers, and post a small improvement from there.

Frank Bundy III


The Playoff Predictor: The NL Wild Card

Are you up late at night trying to figure out which team is going to win the NL Wild Card race? Are you losing sleep because you just can’t figure out whether the Philadelphia Phillies, Houston Astros, New York Mets, Washington Nationals, or the Florida Marlins will make the post-season?

Well I’m here to stop your sleepless nights. I can tell you exactly who is going to win the NL Wild Card race.

How am I going to do this?

By using my brand new “Playoff Predictor.”

What does the “Playoff Predictor” do?

The “Playoff Predictor” is a machine that runs all playoff-contending teams through a three-layer filter to figure which of the contending teams really is the best team, and which one has the easiest road to victory.

As a note, before I start the “Playoff-Predictor,” even though there is definitely a chance for the Chicago Cubs, and the Milwaukee Brewers to win the Wild Card, for this analysis the only teams I inputted into the machine were ones whose record is currently above .500

This leaves us with the above-mentioned Philadelphia Phillies, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, and the New York Mets.

Before we start, here is a look at the current NL Wild Card Standings as of 8/19/05:

Philadelphia: 65-57; 0 GB
Houston: 64-57; ½ GB
Washington: 64-57; ½ GB
Florida: 63-57; 1 GB
New York: 61-59; 3 GB

The first filter that the “Playoff Predictor” runs is done by looking at each team’s adjusted record in the “Current Adjusted Team Standings” over Baseball Prospectus.

***To read more about Current Adjusted Team Standings see my last article. A team’s adjusted Win/Loss record is a team record based solely upon how my runs a team should score and allow based on theirs and their opponent’s batting line, then adjusted for strength of schedule. The adjusted record is one that is based solely on how good or bad a team has performed…therefore removing luck from the equation. ***

After looking at these adjusted records and rounding each teams win/loss total to the nearest whole number, the new “adjusted” NL Wild Card standings look like so:

New York: 65-55
Houston: 64-57
Florida: 63-57
Philadelphia: 63-59
Washington: 57-64

As you can see, these standings are quite different from the actual standings, and tell who has actually performed the best of the teams in the hunt: the New York Mets, but not by much.

The top four teams are fairly close, but the fifth team, the Washington Nationals, is too far behind to actually be considered.

The “Predictor” has chosen to eliminate them based on the fact that their actual record is 7 games above .500, but their adjusted record is 7 games below .500, which is a sign of turbulent times a coming. Expect the Nationals to drop out of this race quicker than Anna Nicole Smith’s weight.

Now the “Predictor” has narrowed the contenders to Philadelphia, New York, Florida, and Houston.

To run the next filter the “Predictor” looks at contender’s team stats ranked amongst the NL, and then re-ranks them amongst themselves to see who is better and worse at what.

First, here is each team’s NL rank in offense (runs scored), pitching (team ERA), and defense (DIPS%), this season:

New York---------6------------6--------------6

As stated earlier the “Predictor” uses these league rankings to make predictions by re-ranking these teams amongst themselves. The best team in a category will receive a rank of “4,” and the worst receivess a “1.” Then, it adds each team’s rankings together and the team that ends up with the most “ranking points” is declared the best (this is exactly how rotisserie baseball standings are figured).

It is important to note that the “Predictor” favors pitching when forecasting teams’ futures because it adheres by the old adage “pitching wins.”

The way that the “Predictor” weights the pitching category is to multiply each team’s rank in that area by 1.5. This will make it so that having better pitching is more valuable than having a better offense; something that the “Predictor” stands by.

After awarding “rank points” to each team, and completing the calculations, here are the results (the more points, the better the team):

Houston: 11 points
New York: 9 Points
Florida: 7.5 Points
Philadelphia: 7.5 Points

According to the pitching-weighted value system, the best team of the contenders is the Houston Astros. Even though they are the best though, no team had such a bad total value that they was eliminated, as the Nationals were earlier. While all the teams will continue to be analyzed through the next filter, the “Machine” will favor the Astros, and all close calls will go their way.

Breaking down each teams remaining schedule runs the final filter.

A breakdown of how many series each team has left versus sub-.500 teams and above .500 teams; as well as how many home and road series each team has left are used to determine which team has the easiest road to success.

Before the raw numbers are presented though, here is each teams home and road records thus far this season; so you can understand why it would be favorable for a particular team to have more or less home series:

Team------Home Record=====Road Record

As you can see, each team plays very well at home and struggles on the road. The Marlins, and Phillies though, are almost .500 on the road, while the Mets and Astros struggle badly on the road. With those numbers now fresh in your memory here is the breakdown of each team’s remaining schedule:

Team---Opp. Above-.500---Opp. Sub-.500---Home/Road Series

You don’t have to be a genius to see that the Houston Astros have a very easy road to conclude the season, while each of the other contenders has a very tough road. This unquestionably gives a very large edge to Houston.

As far as Home/Road Series remaining, even though Houston has more road series left than home series, they shouldn’t suffer badly from this because they don’t have any more road series remaining than the other contending teams; in essence, neutralizing the negative effect that this would cause.

So now that the third and final filter has been run, the “Playoff Predictor” has analyzed enough information to figure out exactly who is going to win the NL Wild Card.

Here is the printout from the “Predictor:”

I don’t even know why you asked this question. This is one of the easiest questions I’ve ever answered. It’s fairly obvious that the team with the best pitching, easiest remaining schedule, and just barely comes in second place after adjusting their record will win the race.

The team that will win the NL Wild Card race is the Houston Astros.

Next time, please come to me with a challenging question.

Thank you for reading,

Frank Bundy III

If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to email me at