2008 UZR/150

Just a quick graphical comparison between the Pirates’ defense on opening day 2008 and opening day 2009. I used 2008 UZR per 150 games, courtesy of Fangraphs. Keep in mind that there are some sample size issues with these numbers. Many players will be receiving their first opportunity to start regularly this season, and played a limited amount of innings in the field. For example, while Nyjer Morgan had a 5.1 UZR in limited playing time, he probably would not have a 20.5 UZR over a full season. So just take these numbers with a grain of salt.

Since many of the outfielders played multiple positions during the season, I simply used their overall outfield UZR.

 

 

 

When Andrew McCutchen joins the team, the Pirates could have a pretty solid defensive outfield.  Keeping Freddy and Jack healthy will also be very important.

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Posted in 2008 Pittsburgh Pirates, 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates. Comments Off on 2008 UZR/150

2008 UZR/150

Just a quick graphical comparison between the Pirates’ defense on opening day 2008 and opening day 2009. I used 2008 UZR per 150 games, courtesy of Fangraphs. Keep in mind that there are some sample size issues with these numbers. Many players will be receiving their first opportunity to start regularly this season, and played a limited amount of innings in the field. For example, while Nyjer Morgan had a 5.1 UZR in limited playing time, he probably would not have a 20.5 UZR over a full season. So just take these numbers with a grain of salt.

Since many of the outfielders played multiple positions during the season, I simply used their overall outfield UZR.

 

 

 

When Andrew McCutchen joins the team, the Pirates could have a pretty solid defensive outfield.  Keeping Freddy and Jack healthy will also be very important.

Posted in 2008 Pittsburgh Pirates, 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates. Comments Off on 2008 UZR/150

If the Pirates kept Bay and built through free agency

In Dejan’s Q&A today, someone questioned why the Pirates do not take advantage of the current market, in which prospects are arguably overvalued while free agents are undervalued. In the subsequent discussion, Dejan endorsed the idea that the Pirates should have held onto Jason Bay and tried to build a competitive team in 2009. I am not going to go into why that would have been a bad idea, as Charlie has already done an excellent job of doing so. Be sure to read his breakdown.

I want to look at what the Pirates would have needed to do in free agency to give the team a shot at the postseason in 2009. Let’s assume that the Pirates made the Xavier Nady/Damaso Marte trade, but decided to hold on to Bay. Below is the team’s hypothetical starting lineup to finish 2008, along with each player’s age and total value in runs. I am using Justin Inaz’s player values, which include defensive value.

Pos. Player Age Value
C Ryan Doumit 27 28.1
1B Adam LaRoche 28 16.6
2B Freddy Sanchez 30 -1.7
3B Jose Bautista 27 0.8
SS Jack Wilson 30 9.6
LF Jason Bay 29 31.6
CF Nate McLouth 26 31.7
RF Nyjer Morgan 27 7.7
Total     124.4

If we add it all together, we have a total of 124.4 runs. Now let’s assume the Pirates had an unlimited budget and could sign any free agent they wanted. Here’s a hypothetical 2009 lineup, with each player’s 2008 value.

Pos. Player Age Value
C Ryan Doumit 28 28.1
1B Mark Teixeira 29 74.2
2B Orlando Hudson 31 12.9
3B Joe Crede 31 18.4
SS Rafael Furcal 31 24.2
LF Jason Bay 30 31.6
CF Nate McLouth 27 31.7
RF Manny Ramirez 37 56.1
Total 277.2

This lineup totals 277.2 runs, an improvement of 152.8 runs over our first lineup. Now let’s do the same thing for the starting rotation. First, a 2008 rotation. Second, a hypothetical 2009 rotation.

Player Age Value
Paul Maholm 26 27.7
Zach Duke 25 19.8
Ian Snell 26 14.3
XXXXXXXXXX 15.0
Total 76.8

Player Age Value
C.C. Sabathia 28 73.8
A.J. Burnett 32 57.0
Derek Lowe 26 52.2
Paul Maholm 27 27.7
Zach Duke 26 19.8
Total 230.5

I took a few liberties with the pitchers. Paul Maholm, Zach Duke and Ian Snell were the only pitchers to hang in the rotation for most of the season. Since I am assuming the superior 2009 rotation will have five healthy pitchers for the entire season, I think it is fair to assume that some combination of full seasons from Jeff Karstens, Phil Dumatrait, Ross Ohlendorf, Tom Gorzelanny, et al could combine for 15 runs while filling those final two spots. This obviously is not the most precise method, but I think it works for this purpose. The 2008 rotation is worth 76.8 runs, while the theoretical 2009 rotation is worth 230.5 runs. That is an improvement of 153.7 runs.

The Pirates finished the 2008 season with 61.8 third-order wins. If we nullified the Bay trade, we can adjust that to about 63 wins. If we were to assume that each player’s value would remain the same from 2008 to 2009, we can add 306.5 runs due to our improvements to the lineup and rotation. With 10 runs roughly equaling one win, that’s about 30 additional wins. That leaves us with 93 wins. The division winning Cubs had 94.5 third-order wins in 2008.

So there you have it. The Pirates could have competed for the postseason in 2009 if they held onto Bay. They simply would have needed to sign Mark Teixeira, Orlando Hudson, Joe Crede, Rafael Furcal, Manny Ramirez, C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe. And avoid any major injuries for the entire season. That’s all.

Pirates defense according to PMR

David Pinto has been releasing his 2008 Probabilistic Model of Range (PMR) numbers, so I figured we should check out how the Pirates performed. PMR is a fielding metric that basically uses an assortment of play by play data from Baseball Info Solutions (such as direction and velocity) to determine an expected number of outs for each team or player. Using the expected number of outs and the total number of balls in play, David can calculate the expected Defensive Efficiency Rating (DER). Finally, he compares the actual DER and the expected DER to come up with the PMR ratio. A ratio above 100 signifies a positive defense, while a ratio below 100 indicates that the defense is hurting the team.  (Click here for more details.)

Dan Turkenkopf converted these ratios to defensive runs above or below average per 4000 balls in play, or approximately a full season.

Here is how the Pirates fared in 2008, position by position.

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McLouth among Gold Glove winners

Just one week ago, I talked about Nate McLouth’s struggles in center field, recommending he move to a corner outfield spot in the future. Today, Major League Baseball announced the National League Gold Glove winners, and Nate was one of them. He is the first Pirate to win the award since Jay Bell in 1993. I don’t think he deserved it, but I am excited to hear the news. Congratulations, Nate.

Here are the NL winners:

  P Greg Maddux
  C Yadier Molina
1B Adrian Gonzalez
2B Brandon Phillips
3B David Wright
SS Jimmy Rollins
OF Carlos Beltran
OF Shane Victorino
OF Nate McLouth

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Posted in 2008 Pittsburgh Pirates, Jack Wilson, Nate McLouth. Comments Off on McLouth among Gold Glove winners

2008 in Review – Nate McLouth’s future in center field

Heading into the 2008 season, there were reasons to be optimistic that Nate McLouth could provide average offensive production for a centerfielder. His hot finish to 2007 seemed somewhat legitimate, as opposed to many Pirate centerfielders in the decade or so before him. Most projections had him about average, while his teammates had much higher expectations for him. We all know about the season McLouth had. But what does it mean for his future?

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The Pirates pitched poorly in 2008

We all know that the Pirates’ pitching was terrible in 2008, and many of you may be tired of the topic by now. But if you are interested in another reminder, here it is. R.J. Anderson is doing a project over at Beyond the Box Score in which he is converting FIP into the more convenient FIP+. It is similar to OPS+ or ERA+ in that it adjusts FIP for league and park, and translates it to a scale in which 100 equals league average.

He is going around the league, providing FIP+ for every pitcher and giving a brief synopsis of each team’s performance for the season. So far, each team has generally had a reasonable split of above and below average players. The highest numbers tend to belong to dominant relievers, such as Brian Fuentes’ mark of 208. There are also some starters that posted remarkable numbers, such as Tim Lincecum’s 158. Then we come to the Pirates.

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