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About Jon
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Sabermetrician Likes Dodgers' Chances
2005-03-15
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Mitchel Lichtman, the longtime sabermetric researcher who is now a part-time statistical analyst for the St. Louis Cardinals, told Dodger Thoughts on Monday that he ran 10,000 simulations of the 2005 season and found the Dodgers to have the best chance to win the National League West.

"That is with no unusual injuries or trades of course," said Lichtman, who talked at length about the 2005 Dodgers in this earlier Dodger Thoughts interview.

The Dodgers finished first in Lichtman's NL West simulations with an average of 86 victories, one more than the San Diego Padres. Trailing distantly were San Francisco and Colorado (tied, shockingly to me, at 76 wins apiece) and Arizona (74).

"I am not very impressed with San Francisco," Lichtman said. "And of course if Bonds goes down, you can subtract a win for every 15 games he is out."

Lichtman said that in his simulations, the Dodgers won the NL West 49.7 percent of the time and the wild card another 6.7 percent. They advanced past the Division Series round 30 percent of the time, the League Championship Series 14.3 percent and won the World Series just over six out of every hundred.

"Penny is the biggest question mark," Lichtman said. "The rest of the team is pretty straightforward."

He added that if used correctly, Wilson Alvarez could be a difference maker.

"If Penny could not pitch or was not effective, Alvarez would be fine," Lichtman said. "As you know, I think he is one of the more underrated pitchers in baseball. I don't know why he is not a full-time starter. I know he is not that durable, but surely he could start and go 90 pitches max or so. When he does pitch, either as a spot starter or a reliever, he is terrific. The way they use him is very inefficient (I think). He used to suck (for two years) before he was (acquired by) the Dodgers, but he was hurt (surgery in 2000 I think) and recovering for those two years. Before that, he was very good for a long time. For some reason, people forgot about him and how good he used to be..."

Because I haven't ruled out predicting that San Francisco will win the NL West - but I had pretty much locked the Rockies in last place - I asked Lichtman to explain why he thought the teams would converge.

"Colorado gets no respect going into the season because, well, they are Colorado," Lichtman said. "In fact, they have a bunch of decent young offensive players (I like Closser a lot) with no black holes in their lineup, and one superstar (top-10 player in baseball). They have several pitchers who are excellent but get little or no respect. This kid Francis may be the real deal - possible superstar. Kennedy used to be excellent and may be almost 100 percent healthy and back to his winning (or at least good pitching) ways. Cook and Jennings are above average. If not for Jamey Wright, they would have a really good rotation from top to bottom. They also have an outstanding bullpen (with Chacon back in the rotation - hopefully, for Rox fans)."

Lichtman said that his simulation might even be underestimating the Rockies, but he is hedging because of where they play.

"The reason for the conservative (actually) projection for them is that pitchers can implode pitching for them (and the pitching staff in general gets taxed heavily)," he said, "and the road 'hangover effect' is greater (in a negative way of course) than the extra home field advantage they have."

Conversely, Lichtman sees little upside in San Francisco, beyond the obvious.

"The Giants, on the other hand, just plain stink," Lichtman said. "Schmidt is one of the best pitchers in baseball and Bonds is of course the best hitter in baseball, but that's about it. Well, they have an excellent closer in Benitez. Matheny is a black hole offensively, and everyone else in the lineup besides Bonds is around mediocre in hitting for their position, and their team defense is atrocious (on a par with the Yankees). We're talking five-extra-losses-per-season defense. Probably one of the worst all-time team defenses in modern baseball."

Pressing, Lichtman found a little more to consider in the Giants' favor.

"Jerome Williams is very good and Lowry has a chance to be a good pitcher (only a little above average now), but Tomko (despite showing a little something last year with them) and Reuter are awful. They also have terrible management (IMHO). My projection for them is generous."

Personally, it is the Giants' pitching (plus Bonds, of course) that I think could still get them a division title. I think they might well find sooner than later that they have better options than Reuter, and Tomko can probably get through the season without too much catastrophe. But just as an example, the contrast between the praise for signing Mike Matheny and Omar Vizquel vs. the ridicule some have given the Dodgers for signing Jeff Kent and not solving their catching problems is inappropriate. Both teams have things to worry about.

I still see an NL West where it's not hard to find reasons that any given team could finish with fewer than 80 victories. So that means no team is a lock. I'm fairly optimistic about the Dodger pitching and think that the lineup will exceed mainstream expectations. But Los Angeles certainly doesn't have the look of a dominant team yet. San Diego has a nice young staff but a starting eight that doesn't overwhelm you. San Francisco could still ride Bonds and Schmidt. But as Lichtman points out, it could be a rougher ride than Bay Area fans might have bargained for.

Comments
2005-03-15 09:41:55
1.   Jacob L
Grain of salt. Grain of salt.

I think the Alvarez thing is interesting, because, obviously, his ability exceeds the amount of value the Dodgers extract from him. But, in his case, you can't just point to the stats and say he should be in a starting role. He says he can't do it (though I don't know if he's changed his stance), and he's shown he can't do it. He's been really ineffective when slotted in the rotation, and taking more than, say, 2 starts.

To find the appropriate role for Alvarez, the Dodgers are going to have to be more creative. Get him a start once every 2 or 3 times through the rotation, and use him in high leverage relief situations.

Is Moises Alou not better than a league average hitter for his position?

2005-03-15 09:46:22
2.   misterjohnny
I think he is underrating Lowry. He's going to be very good. But overall, I agree with him, although I would have thought that without Bonds the dropoff would be a lot more severe than one extra loss every 15 games. Let's say they are a 85 win team (85-77). Replace Bonds with Michael Tucker (and put some minor league dreck on the roster as PH) and they only go to 74-88? Without him, they've got no one on base!
2005-03-15 09:52:17
3.   Jon Weisman
I agree with your second point, Jacob. Just as long as they don't use him to only get lefties out in the bullpen. That'd be a total waste.

Alvarez said he couldn't start in the summer of 2004, but this year he re-entered himself in the race.

2005-03-15 09:55:17
4.   Nick from Washington Heights
one question: Isn't Durham above average for his position? I ask this because he's on my fantasy team and I'm wondering if I misread him as a player.

Interesting stuff about the Rockies, too. I just assume they suck.

By the way, what does he think of Lowe?

2005-03-15 10:00:51
5.   Dodgerkid
More things have to go right for us to win, then for the Giants to win. DePodesta has shown a good ability to trade at the deadline, so I'm not too worried, but I think the Giants are better than he thinks.
2005-03-15 10:35:46
6.   Howard Fox
my prediction...the Dodgers win 2 games in the NLCS...steady progress...

Jon, will there be the option to link my Yahoo home page to this new site like there was to the old site?

2005-03-15 10:40:46
7.   Jon Weisman
Howard - go to My Yahoo and click on "Add Content." There's an option to find the RSS feed by typing in the new URL. That should do it. E-mail me if there are any problems.
2005-03-15 10:40:58
8.   everett
Howard Fox,

RSS Feeds Are Up
http://fairpole.baseballtoaster.com/archives/156721.html

Dodger Thoughts: http://rss.baseballtoaster.com/blogs/dodgerthoughts.xml

--ev

2005-03-15 10:53:25
9.   Colorado Blue
Being a Dodger fan in Denver has given me the opportunity to witness the reconstruction of the Rockies up close. Lichtman's prediction does not surprise me too much... they are very high on their kids; Todd Helton has even said that he is looking forward to playing and mentoring the youngins'. There is definitely a certain "buzz" that the Rockies have about themselves this year. This feeling was definitely NOT around last year. And of course the fans are going to be behind the curve... I'm really excited to get good seats for next to nothing for at least the first half of the season.
Now, if they could just unload Johnson (and not to the Dodgers, please!) and his big contract...
2005-03-15 10:53:37
10.   everett
Scott Erickson hit up for 2 home runs in 3 innings against the braves... doh.

LA DODGERS
1 0 0 1
ATLANTA
0 2 1 3 (END BOTTOM 3)

HOME RUNS: ATL - JULIO FRANCO (1) OFF SCOTT ERICKSON IN THE 2ND
KELLY JOHNSON (1) OFF SCOTT ERICKSON IN THE 3RD

2005-03-15 10:57:48
11.   fanerman91
I think the opposite Dodgerkid. More things have to go right for the Giants to win. The Giants are banking on Bonds (and the rest of their aging lineup) to stay healthy, Alou being like he was last year (which is unreasonable), and no decline from anybody on their lineup (can we expect any of them to do better than they did last season?). Their starting pitching is their surest bet (I think Lichtman underrates Lowry, but that may just be caution on my part). If something goes wrong, I don't see how they can recover.

Our biggest question mark is Penny, and our starting rotation is really deep so we have what may be called a contingency plan. Maybe we overpaid for Lowe but now that the season's starting, it's probably better to focus on the fact that he's here. If our worst problem is having Ishii as our #5 starter, I think we'll be in good shape. With Erickson and Jackson as potential options, we should be okay.

Our offense may end up as only so-so, but when isn't our offense better than so-so? Does anybody expect our offense to be worse than so-so? I don't think so. Our biggest question mark is probably Choi. If he does like I hope he'll do, we can actually be above average. Drew is probably a question mark, but most people probably expect him to miss 20 or so games anyway. I think we'll only be in trouble if he misses more than that (I'm sure that's something DePo considered when he signed him). Also note that everybody in our line-up is pretty young and improvement could be expected out of people like Bradley and Choi. At least we have no reason to expect decline (well, maybe Ross, but he seems to have hit rock bottom and can't decline further even if he tried). We also have a bunch of back-up plans here, people like Nakamura, Perez, and Navarro.

Our defense, contrary to popular opinion, is stellar of course. Our outfield is fantastic. Izzy is great. The rest of our infield is underrated (look at numbers and REAL scouting reports if you don't believe me).

Also remember that even if not everything pans out, our farm system is so deep that a mid-season trade would not noticeably deplete it.

In the end, I say that the Giants have to hope everything goes right because they don't seem to have much of a plan in case things don't go perfect, whereas we do. Fragile is the operative word for them. Flexible is the word for us.

2005-03-15 11:05:09
12.   molokai
I saw a quote from Wilson earlier this spring where he said he'd like to be considered for the rotation this year because he's healthy this year.

Aren't the Giants counted out every year and come Sept they are somehow in the hunt. Their young pitchers J Williams/Lowry/Foppert/Cain/Valdez have as much upside as ours and Williams/Lowry/Foppert are already going to contribute at the major league level while ours are all destined for minor league ball. I have alot of respect for Litchtman but his comment that the Giants stink is just wrong. Matheny may be an offensive hole but no one in baseball(scouts,gm's) doesn't think he won't have an impact on the pitching/defensive side of the equation. Given that our catchers are Ross/Rose/Bako calling someone else's catcher position a black hole is comical. JT Snow had an incredible 2nd half last year. If he doesn't cut it then Pedro Feliz can slide over there. Durham has been above league average for a 2nd baseman his whole career. He's no star but he's very usefull. Omar's contract may suck in a couple years but he is way better then what they had the last several years at SS. Alfonzo is no big deal but compared to Valentin he's pretty good. Alou/Grissom/Bonds may be old and probably won't last the season but will our young but brittle outfield play more games?

76 wins, to me that puts his whole simulation program into question. Did he only give Bonds 200 ab's? Of course that is why we play the game but if 76 wins was the over/under at Vegas I'd be betting the house on the over. Lets check back in October.

2005-03-15 11:11:11
13.   FirstMohican
I think the Giants are being seriously underestimated. Do his projections take into account the previous year?

The Giants came very close to winning the division last year (thanks in part to a pitching collapse by the Dodgers). After being edged out of the title, the Giants upgraded their offense (Alou-Pierz is still an upgrade) and defense (matheney & vizquel).

Maybe the numbers don't work out in MAlou's favor because of his age, but I'm sure no number crunching saw Alou or Finley's aged outbursts last year. If Alou hits like he did last year - or even close - he's huge for the Giants. All this still doesn't figure in the pitches Bonds will enjoy because he's hitting in front of Alou, or the extra runs the Giants will enjoy because they have Alou to drive Bonds home.

Of course you can argue that the Dodgers have upgraded pitching and at best maintained their offense, but I think the uncertainty with the Dodgers is much greater due to injuries and especially the unfamiliarity of new players - of course Jim Tracy's track record makes you less concerned about that.

2005-03-15 11:11:28
14.   FirstMohican
Of course...
2005-03-15 11:21:31
15.   Icaros
"Alfonzo is no big deal but compared to Valentin he's pretty good."

Valentin 2004:
.216/.287/.473--.760 OPS

Alfonso 2004:
.289/.350/.407--.757 OPS

The numbers don't agree with your assessment, Molokai. Alfonzo's BA and OBP are definitely higher, but Valentin has a lot more power (30 HRs to 11). He out OPS'd Edgardo even with that low .216 average.

Considering the fact the LA will likely be platooning Jose with Nakamura or Perez, I think the Dodgers are better off at third than SF. At worst, they are even.

Valentin has looked pretty good defensively this spring as well, pledge notwithstanding.

2005-03-15 11:27:06
16.   fanerman91
Alou only hit well at Wrigley. He was HORRIBLE everywhere else. He hit .339/.405/.714 (an excellent 1.119 OPS) at home with 29 home runs. Away from Wrigley he hit .247/.316/.400 (a meager .716 OPS) with only 10 home runs. I'm not saying he'll be below average, but I certainly don't expect him to be very much above average, if at all. He's an upgrade from Pierzynski, but I doubt it's much.

By the way, Finley's numbers were pretty much in line with what he's been doing the last few years. Remarkable considering his age, but they weren't huge outliers, like Alou's numbers compared to the last couple years.

I don't think Pedro Feliz is anything more than an average player either. He doesn't walk much. He hits for his share of power, but for a 1B it's just average.

I think J.T. Snow is going to have to repeat last year if they want to contend. That's asking a lot considering he performed WAY past expectations last year.

Their infield defense is indeed better with Vizquel and Matheny there, but their outfield defense isn't (Alou was a horrible left-fielder. He'll probably be that much worse as a right fielder). I don't know how I can say their offense is better. It could be better, but I just don't see it happening.

Still, I think that 74 wins is very low for the Giants. I expect about 10 more (though I also figure we'll be in the 90s). I suppose I'm arguing more against the people who say they're favorites to win the West or something. As of right now, I worry more about San Diego than the Giants.

2005-03-15 11:46:33
17.   scareduck
fanerman91 brings up a good point. I should ask Tom Meagher how well he likes Alou in SBC.
2005-03-15 11:49:59
18.   Icaros
"I should ask Tom Meagher how well he likes Alou in SBC."

Perhaps you just did.

2005-03-15 12:51:22
19.   molokai
Sure if you want to compare Valentin's slug% at one of the best hitting parks in the AL against Alfonzo in one of the worst hitting parks in baseball they match up. In the 2nd half last year in 228 ab's Jose had the worse offensive line for a full time player in the AL. Think Dave Ross stinky. A 162 Average, 233 OBA, a 360 slug% giving up a 593 OPS. He's now our starting 3b. Alfonzo has been a 3b for several years and Valentin only for a few games. If I had to pick between the 2 I'd be picking Alfonzo. If you think Jose is going to hit 30 home runs again your dreaming. I use HQ for projecting stats because historically they have been more accurate then BP/ZIPS and others who do this for a living. At the age of 30 he might have been a nice pickup for 3b. At 35 were seeing serious decline and in the 2nd half last year it was not pretty. Let's look at what the projections based on Jose in LA and Alfonzo in SF.
Jose
HQ- 230/300/414/714
Dropping from 30 home runs to 19. Sure Dodger stadium does not suppress home runs but Comiskey is home run haven. His underlying skills are in serious deterioration. His contact rate has dropped from 81% in 2000 to 69% in 2004 with a few % drops each year.
Alfonzo
HQ -280/341/414/755
Same slug% but big difference in OB% strictly because of the low BA that Jose has.

Course you could use BP projections to prove your point but I'm not much of a fan of Pecota based on past history.

2005-03-15 13:18:04
20.   Jacob L
It looks like the Giants are finally embracing a more sabermetricky approach - in a very novel way.

Check this out:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/03/15/MNG8VBPIM01.DTL

2005-03-15 13:22:53
21.   Icaros
Your argument about Valentin's second half numbers means about as much to me as Choi's time with the Dodgers in 2004. I think a full season tells the whole story, not some selected rough spots. Do you think Shawn Green will match his 2004 second-half numbers for a full season this year? That's hard to predict either way.

I figured that you'd come back with the Comiskey argument to downplay Valentin's power numbers. Are you then saying that Alfonzo would've hit 30 HRs had he played in Chicago last year? I doubt it. I don't think even Coors Field would add 19 HRs to Alfonzo's total.

I'm not saying Valentin is going to hit 30 in LA (mainly because he'll be platooning and get less at-bats), but I think he'd hit more home runs than Alfonzo wherever they played. He has more power.

And while Alfonzo is four years younger than Valentin, he has had his share of injuries in his career, including back problems, which are always a danger. If Valentin was signed for more than one season, I'd be more concerned with his age. Jeff Kent did fine at age 35, so have a lot of other players.

I'm really not trying to argue that Valentin is way better; I think, all-told, the two players hold similar value, but a good platoon situation should put LA ahead of SF at third base, in my opinion.

2005-03-15 13:54:19
22.   fernandomania
My brother's friend (a Giants fan) wrote his analysis of the Giants vs. Dodgers at www.wezen.net. I rebutted his analysis in the comments. It might make interesting reading to some.

Short version of my conclusion: The Dodgers are way, way better than the Giants.

2005-03-15 14:11:47
23.   Vishal
alou doesn't have to have the season he had last year. even if he loses a quarter of his homers and doubles, he should still get over 100 RBIs with Sir Walks-A-Lot batting ahead of him. heck, alou will probably come up with runners on base for at least half of his plate appearances.
2005-03-15 15:12:47
24.   adevandry
Is Lichtman a "Rox" homer?

Everything he said about the Rockies is a joke. They will be in last place all season long.

2005-03-15 15:22:56
25.   molokai
FYI-HQ projection for Moises Alou is not kind.
19 Dingers
290/361/474
Quite a comedown from last year.
Wrigley increases RH home runs by 37% and SF decreases them by 26%.
That is a 3 year trend from 2002-2004.

FYI-
Comiskey increases LH home runs by 21% and Dodgers stadium is neutral. For RH home runs Comiskey increases by 37% and Dodger stadium by 11%.
Courtesy of Baseball HQ.

2005-03-15 15:29:53
26.   Eric L
"Everything he said about the Rockies is a joke. They will be in last place all season long."

Can you explain why you think this? At least he explained why he thought they might end up being better than everyone is predicting right now.

2005-03-15 15:31:16
27.   molokai
76 wins for the Rockies seems possible to me. Decent young players in Barmes/Closser/Aktison/Hawpe/Holliday with one super stud in Helton and with Francis and Tsao the pitching should be improved. None are going to be stars but they should be a big improvement on the team they fielded last year. Not like 76 wins is anything to get excited about and yes they should finish in the cellar but I think they will give the Diamondbacks a run. If I was a Rockie fan I'd be excited by the young blood coming up and the fact they are finally spending draft choices on hitting again and have two of the best prospects in all of baseball with Ian Stewart and Chris Nelson.
2005-03-15 15:47:09
28.   MGL
Nick, yes, Durham is above average in hitting for his position. I missed that one.

#13, the sims have nothing to so with how many games the Giants won last year. It is based on the projections I have for all the players, and the team's schedule.

As far as Choi is concerned, despite all the "controversy" surrounding him, he has a solid 3 year track record of decent (excellent for his age) hitting (2002 mostly in the minors). Reliably projecting Choi's hitting is not a difficult task. There are many difficult and unreliable projections that sabermetricians make in baseball. Choi's hitting is not one of them.

Regardless of what we project a team's w/l record to be, there is a lot of random fluctuation; that's not considering inuries, playing time, poor projections, etc. For those of you who have a little stats background, the binomial standard deviation for wins in a season is 6. That means that even if we knew exactly what a team's "true" w/l record (which we never do of course) were, if they played the real season out over and over again with exactly the same talent in each season, and all the other teams had exactly their same talent each season, they would win or lose 6 games more than they "should" 32% of the time, 12 games more, 5% of the time, etc. The adage that "over a 162 game season, the best team will usually win" is ridiculous; unless of course you have a conservative defintion of "usually."

So even if my projection for SF of 76 games were dead on, heck, 1 out of 6 times, they would win 82 games or more just by chance alone! That's not a hedge, that's just the way it is.

For example, and many of you will have a hard time believing this, in the 10,000 seasons I simmed, while KC was the worst team in the AL central with a mean win of 70 games, they actually won the pennant 10 times and the World Series 2 times! Those are legitimate numbers. A legitimately terrible team can win the WS! Another way of saying that is, "If a dark horse does win the WS (like Flo a few years ago) that DOES NOT mean that they are necessarily a great or even a good team." Every once in a while a truly terrible team (like KC this year) will win a pennant or even a world series, BY LUCK ALONE! And everything in between...

2005-03-15 15:47:58
29.   molokai
Icaros in further review I have to agree with you that our 3b situation is about even with the Giants if we don't use Jose against LHP. While Comiskey does increase left hand home runs by 21% all the other AL Central teams decrease home runs by double digits and Jose did manage 14 road home runs and I imagine a good % were against the AL Central since that is where he played most of his games. Unlike you I am worried when a 35 year old shows such a sharp decline in skills as he exhibited last year with no known injury for the cause. 228 ab's is not that small a sample size. Choi only had 62 ab's on a new team which I think is quite a bit different. Valentin's 1st half was awesome so maybe he and Choi can get us off to a fast start.
2005-03-15 15:52:26
30.   Jorge
This guy makes me feel better on the inside
2005-03-15 16:05:24
31.   molokai
I guess the 1988 Dodgers might be the team MGL is referring to when a truly terrible team can win the World Series on luck alone:) The baseball God has made us pay dearly for that WS ever since.
2005-03-15 16:17:12
32.   FirstMohican
Tell a BoSox fan that the Dodger fans have suffered dearly...
2005-03-15 16:30:36
33.   Jacob L
Tell a Dodger fan that the BoSox have suffered dearly. They won the World Series, like, what, 5 months ago!?! Let them at least lose on opening day before the "woe is me" routine starts up.
2005-03-15 16:32:50
34.   molokai
Since 1955 when your used to either winning a world series or playing in one every so often a 17 year drought is an eternity. This year, kids will graduate from high school and in their lifetimes the Dodgers haven't played in a World Series. That is a travesty:) If anything only related to sports can be considered a travesty.
1955,1959,1963,1965,1981,1988
33 years 6 world championships
1966, 1974, 1977, 1978
At least they got there.
I know those numbers by heart because I like to recite them to Giant fans just to remind them that they are only Giant fans and so a World Championship is not something they can aspire to.

Sorry for hogging the board today. I'm done.

2005-03-15 16:39:51
35.   Icaros
Fair enough, Molokai. I appreciate the thoughtful debate. By bringing up Choi's Dodgers time from last year, I was just trying to show that if we only focus on cold streaks, we're not seeing the whole picture. I know you know that, though, and obviously 228 ABs is a more reliable sample than 62 by quite a bit.

I guess my point is, to have such a lousy second half and finish with the strong SLG and HR totals that Valentin did, he must have killed in the first half, like you pointed out. So, what's better? Is it more desirable for a player to be consistent all season than to have a monster stretch followed or preceeded by a lousy one? Does it mean that Valentin will always be incredibly streaky?

Will a team with more consistent players win more games than a team with incredibly streaky players who put up the exact same season totals? I'm curious.

As far as Valentin goes, and I'm pretty sure DePo knows this, keeping him away from LH pitching as much as humanly possible is very necessary.

2005-03-15 19:33:29
36.   Nick from Washington Heights
"Tell a BoSox fan that the Dodger fans have suffered dearly..."

No! Red Sox fans can no longer play the martyr role. As a Yanks fan, this is the one point of solace I take from last year's debacle.

MGL, thanks a lot for your insights. Your Royals comments lead me to the question: Is there a team so bad as to not be able to win the world series in 10,000 simulated seasons? This year or last any other year? I'm thinking of my dad's favorite teams, the Mets of the early 60's. Is there a point where a team is so bad that not even the highest level of luck can guide them to a world series win?

2005-03-15 19:36:09
37.   MGL
Generally, in any contest, if you are below average, it helps to be inconsistent, if you are above average, it helps to be consistent. Now, whether any player or players has enough of an "ability" (i.e., their past consistency has some predictive value) to be consistent or not (or differences among players in terms of consistency is completely a result of chance) to make a difference in their win value, is debatable. In fact, it is more than debatable...
2005-03-15 19:44:16
38.   MGL
Nick, #36, I have an adage or a rule (one of MGL's "rules"), which is a statistical certainty - not my opinion. That is, "In any finite sample of events in baseball (in most things actually), anything has a greater than zero chance of occuring. So, the answer to your question, is, "No, there is not team that can be bad enough such that there chances of winning a WS is zero." There were several teams in my 10,000 season sim who won zero WS. That does not mean that they had a zero chance of winning one. Had I simmed enough seasons (that might take too long), no matter where I set each team's true WP (as long as they were all above 0%), they would all eventually win at least one WS.

BTW, when you estimate a team's true wp (win %) or chances of winning a division, etc., before the season starts, the range of numbers is (should be) small compared to what you typically see at the end of the season. It is almost imposible to project a team to have less than 67 wins or more than 96, or so. The range of wins you see at the end of a season is the sum of the variance of true ability among teams AND binomial RANDOM variance among 30 teams with 162 trials each...

2005-03-15 20:28:12
39.   Nick from Washington Heights
Follow up questions then: What is the worst team to win a world series? ever? last 10 years?

According to your projections, what team is most likely to win it all next year (I guess I mean which team won the most WS's in the 10,000 seasons?

2005-03-15 22:05:43
40.   Bob Timmermann
Worst team to win the World Series may have been the 1945 Detroit Tigers, but World War II pretty much made every team mediocre.

In the last 10 years, I'd tab either of the Marlins championship teams as being less than great.

The 1987 Twins were no great shakes.

2005-03-15 23:04:46
41.   MGL
Follow up questions then: What is the worst team to win a world series? ever? last 10 years?

I have no idea. It is hard to figure out because of the circularity of the results. A bad team that wins the WS probably got real lucky in the reg season (that's probably most of the luck) and then got lucky again in the playoffs or played against some other not-so-great teams that also got lucky in the reg season.

The only way to figure out (estimate) the true talent level of a team after the fact (whether they won the WS or not) is to look at the projections going into the season for all the players and figure out a porjected w/l record (reverse engineering the season, or doing just what I did - w/l projections - based on pre-season stats).

Of course you now have the luxury of knowing about playing time, injuries, etc. So assuming we are talking about "a bad team" in terms of the players that actually played, their actual health status and playing time, then you would pro-rate those individual player pre-season projections by the amount of actual playing time and tweak the projections for health status.

One more thing you want to do is to "double-check" or update or tweak those pre-season projections based on the performance of the players in the following season. If the performance the next season was in line with your projection plus the season in question (with the appropriate weights and age adjustments), then the projection was probably a good one. If that next year performance was more in line with the season in question's performance and out of line with the pre-season projection, then your projection was probably "wrong" (bad). So you can then tweak the projections again. Actually, the correct way to do that is to do your projections for the following season and use those as a proxy for the true talent of each player during the season in question. I'm not quite sure of that though; I'd have to think about that some more, to make sure there weren't some selective sampling problems going on there.

This is the only rigorous way to answer your question. I know it is kind of a confusing answer.

Almost any other attempt to figure out the true value of a team, independent of their w/l record is folly. Of course, it is a Bayesian problem, which means the correct question to ask is "Given a record of xx-xx and the fact that they won the WS, AND given our pre-season projections for each player AND given their season in question stats, what is our estimate of
their true value (true w-l record).

Answering that is not so easy, but the method is more or less what I described above. I'm not sure what criteia anyone else is using.

According to your projections, what team is most likely to win it all next year (I guess I mean which team won the most WS's in the 10,000 seasons?

That's easy! Yankees, 21%. After that, Cards and Boston at 14%. I cannot divulge any more!

2005-03-16 19:12:43
42.   fernandomania
You're awesome, MGL. I wish you'd come work for the Dodgers!

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