Friday, December 02, 2011

Posey Power Activated!

Clearly I have to write this post first.  People still think that the offense is not good enough to win with.  Notice the difference in my language, "good enough to win" versus "good offense".  It is a natural fan inclination to think "more, better, best" for anything regarding their favorite team, that is why it is helpful to fight that inclination and think through some obvious changes to the offense, even as it exists now, and realize that your internal panic alarm going off is going off for naught.

One of the clearly big differences is that Buster Posey is returning to the lineup.  Sure, people are glad about that but they don't really understand the magnitude of that change from Posey as starter versus Chris Stewart and Eli Whiteside as co-starters (with a sprinkling of Hector Sanchez).  I will try to make that clearer with some analysis.

In 2011, the four catchers, by Bill James Runs Created methodology, created a total of 49 Runs Created (RC).  Also, collectively, by Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), they saved a total of 7 runs.  However, in 2012, it should just be Posey and, for now, probably Stewart, at the catching position.

Bill James projections has Posey creating 91 RC in 2012.  Unfortunately, there is no Stewart forecast there, but they have projected Whiteside at .609 OPS and 16 RC.  ZiPS projections just came out, and while there is no Whiteside projection, there is a Stewart projection for .640 OPS.  Assuming Stewart produces at least as much as Whiteside projects, that's 107 RC from the catching position in 2012 per Bill James projections.  That is a +58 RC improvement over 2011.

Defensively, assuming Posey plays as well as he did in 2011 and projecting out the innings he caught, he had 2 DRS in 361.0 innings in 2011, and triple that is roughly what the top catchers caught in 2011, so let's call that 6 DRS.  That leaves about 396.0 innings for the backup.  Stewart in 2011 had 9 DRS in 460.1 innings.  Assuming some drop, as that is high, I think +6 is reasonable, but even if he did only 1 DRS, the defense would still be the same as in 2011.  But going with the more realistic scenario, that works out to +12 DRS which is 5 runs better than the +7 DRS the Giants catchers had in 2011 (Whiteside was -3 DRS and Sanchez -1 DRS).

Looking at their baserunning, it appears that they were roughly equal, though there should be some improvement there because Posey and Stewart added bases via their baserunning whereas Whiteside subtracted.  But as there is no run equivalency provided, it is hard to estimate the effect on run production, other than it would add to it.  Still even at 4 bases to a run, the numbers involved is so small that there is a negligible increase in run production.  Call it even.

Assuming a base RA of 580 or 3.58 RA/game (basically the average of the past two seasons), that +58 RC results in an additional 6.55 wins and that +5 DRS results in an additional 0.60 wins.  Together, that adds up to 7.15 wins.

Thus, losing Posey cost the Giants approximately 7 wins in 2011, roughly 6.5 wins on offense and 0.5 wins on defense.  They won 86 games in 2011, so had Posey not been taken out by a rogue runner with no conscience (or at least was acting like one, which is the same effect), the Giants probably would have won somewhere in the 93 game range.  With the Cards at 90 wins, even if this is off a little, most probably the Giants would have won the Wild Card slot, and not the Cards, who eventually won the World Championships (so they probably should send a full share of the championship money to Cousins, because they might not have made the playoffs had he not took Posey out).

Looking to 2012, the Giants 2011 offense was roughly even with the defense, which works out to  a roughly .500 record per Pythagorean.  Adding 7 wins to that puts the Giants at 88 wins for 2012 currently.

The addition of Melky Cabrera, according to Bill James added 70 RC to 2012, by his projections.  Torres, Rowand, and Ross collectively had around 60 RC.  By DRS, Melky was -3 DRS but collectively the Giants CF were 0 DRS (while Torres is good, Ross and Rowand were not).  So that is a roughly 7 run improvement, which is roughly a one win improvement.  That puts us at 89 wins.  And ZiPS projects him to hit .284/.330/.435/.765, which is higher than the .745 OPS that Bill James has him hitting.

However, I would note that any projections assume that Cabrera did not break out in 2011.  Projection methodologies are not savvy enough yet to figure out when a batter or pitcher broke out, for sure.  If he repeats his 2011 season - and that is possible, as the Bill James park factors for LHB and RHB is almost the same between KC and SF, and the given reason for his improvement was a dedication to conditioning and getting into shape - that would add 22 RC, or about 2.5 wins.

Now that assumes that there is no improvement anywhere else.  But there was a lot of underperformance in 2011 across the whole team.

Giants 1B only hit .258/.318/.414/.732.  Between Huff and Belt, there has to be an improvement there in 2012 offensively.  Pablo's replacements at 3B didn't quite match him (obviously), and Giants 3B "only" hit .294/.339/.478/.817.  Sandoval is projected by Bill James to hit .311/.363/.525/.888, by ZiPS to hit .299/.347/.497/.844, and he hit .315/.357/.552/.909 in 2011 (again, hard for systems to judge whether 2010 was an aberration, so that damps down forecasts, though James is pretty close).

Giants SS only hit .210/.265/.299/.564 in 2011.  For Crawford, Bill James projects .232/.297/.340/.637, ZiPS .225/.291/.336/.627.  Giants LF only hit .222/.310/.374/.684, while Bill James projects .266/.358/.482/.840 for Brandon Belt, ZiPS .268/.365/.452/.817 (right now I think Belt is the starting LF, given the personnel we have now).

So basically, the Giants look like a 89 win team, or thereabouts.  90 wins was necessary to get into the playoffs in 2011. They should already have it via Sandoval at 3B, as he should hit much better than what 3B hit collectively, as long as he is healthy, heck, together the 3B had roughly 90 RC (and that is ignoring the great defense Pablo played) and Bill James projects Sandoval at 102 RC for 2012, which is roughly a 1.5 win improvement.  

The Giants should also get improvement at 1B, SS, LF, or CF, as it is unlikely whoever plays there in 2012 could be any worse.  The possible improvements at the other four positions are buffers against declines at RF (since Beltran is not around and Schierholtz is the starter there) and in the pitching staff.  Shoot, Huff could add around 5 wins by returning anywhere close to what he did in 2010, by himself.  And if Belt could actually reach his projections, that would probably add another 5 wins in LF.

Thus, that is why I see the Giants offense being no worse than a 90 win team in 2012.  And there are a lot of areas of improvement where we could push that up, potentially a lot, depending on who delivers and who don't.  But conservatively, I don't see why the Giants are not competitive in 2012, as is, and could be another blockbuster team, like 2003, if the cards fall right for them, particularly Huff and Belt, though Vogelsong repeating would also greatly improve things as well.

14 comments:

  1. Excellent. Losing Posey was crushing last year. I cannot wait to have him back. While I'd love to stack the deck some, I'm so happy with this core group. I've seen a lot of whining about our "terrible offense" and some half ass 80-82 win projections. Very psyched to see your projections, there is a whole lot to be optimistic about.

    Not only did we lose the 7 wins when Posey went down, we lost the guy who wouldn't allow that losing streak to sink us. He is a natural leader and a great ballplayer. Can't wait to have him back. Good stuff OGC.

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  2. I'd take 90 wins. But I still think our odds of making it to the post-season would be greatly increased if we resign Beltran.

    Alex Gonzalez... not so much.

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  3. Amen to that Shankbone, I am really pumped to have him leading our team for the indefinite period. I know this is weird but I felt inspired when I heard him speak at the parade.

    ScottA, yes, I would love to get Beltran too, and I still think that is a possibility if the market does not move away from us.

    Yes, Alex Gonzalez, not so much, but as long as he's not getting big money, I look at acquiring him this way: while I think (operative word there, THINK) that Crawford will be OK for us at SS, there is no guarantee that he will. People assume Gonzalez will be the starter, but given the stats I saw on him at El Lefty Malo, as long as Crawford hits decently, the Giants will give him a chance to win the job.

    Bochy has been, to my eye, very supportive of Schierholtz becoming the starter, giving him chance after chance, and I expect the same to happen with Crawford, he hit amazingly well for us despite seemingly overmatched, yet pitchers could not get him to strike out frequently. Bochy is unlike Baker, who I think is more a vet preferrer. Bochy is a performance perferrer, and if the young guy performs, he's going to get a chance, you can bet on it, but if he don't, he'll of course prefer the vet who at least HAS done it before.

    I view any acquisition of Gonzalez as insurance in case 1) Franchez is not ready and 2) Crawford regresses and sucks. As long as it's not a lot of money ($3M and under), it is a lot of meh for me.

    Plus, I usually don't respond to rumors about Giants signing players, as you don't know if the players agent is throwing out names just to make it seem like there is logical competition. I remember one AZ 1B agent kept on bringing up the Giants yet he eventually signed somewhere for minimal pay, which would not have happened if the Giants really wanted him.

    Especially for a person like him that won't make or break our 2012 season either way.

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  4. I can't believe I'm saying this but I wouldn't mind Jerry Hairston Jr. as a utility guy to be that right handed bat. What is the world coming to where a Hairston is an acceptable solution? Its not worth getting too upset either way, they are obviously looking to caddy Crawford as you laid out last month. Good prediction.

    I can only imagine Sabean is furious for being mentioned for Bloomquist, Barmes, Hairston and now Sea Bass. There are enough suitors the agents can't help themselves. If I was OK with 2/12 for Barmes I'd better be Ok with whoever else comes along. As long as they can play good defense and preferably right handed bat, its not that important. The goal is solid vet, team player, nothing flashy but consistent. Hopefully OK with bunting when asked.

    It may take the Brewers getting their plate full and maybe the Reds. Cards as well. There maybe some good non-tender guys like Theriot as well.

    I'm still not ruling out a trade though.

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  5. When Posey went down, Jonathan Sanchez stopped throwing strikes!

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  6. Baggs tweets that they've got meetings with 4-5 teams. I'm liking that trade prediction.

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  7. OGC - Hairston Jr of course goes to the Doyers. Love the wacky offseason. I know you don't like to comment on offseason moves til they happen but I'd love to hear a little rant from you on a few of these non-moves.

    Baggs just confirmed what I suspected - Affeldt wasn't shopped per se but teams inquired about him so the Giants sent out a league wide fax.

    I am really digging all the info thats coming out - confirming that Sabes is sticking to 1 year offers. As a bonus, Bochy told ESPN that they are looking for backups to Zito. I'm really liking this offseason so far.

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  8. Shankbone, that Japanese SS rumor is exactly what I was talking about. How does one go about discerning which are real to respond to and which are not?

    I used to post more to rumors, but find it a useless exercise in repeating my thoughts plus reacting to false news. Wasted energy which at my age (I'm getting up there) I don't feel like expending, let the young pups yap around the house chasing after that ghost.

    As I've noted, all that these rumors are really good at is exposing the bias and thoughts of the people responding to it, for the most part. As most of the rumors are pretty stupid if Sabean were to do them, they get a lot of ammo blasting Sabean but I've not seen one at least come out afterward and admit that they were wrong, because as far as they are concerned, Sabean would have done it.

    For all we know, Sabean has been dancing around the same so-so players that other teams have, just in order to drive up the price. That is a whole different view of this, assuming they had some basis of truth in them.

    I don't know, all I know is that most of Sabean's moves have made some sense given the circumstances at the time, and the needs of the team vs. what was available. We can rail about Hillenbrand and Garko all we want, but that obscures the fact that the players they replaced, Niekro and Ishikawa, were not really all that great playing at the time of the trade (though I would have preferred that they kept on playing Ishikawa, but Garko had some good qualities, perhaps they picked him up to see how he plays out).

    I mean, do we really want our GM to avoid risk in s trade just to avoid bad PR? A GM could easily just do nothing when there are trade options, do we really want him to sit on his hands when there are not really any great deals out there, or do we want him to take a roll of the dice every once in a while? I was OK with most of the roll of the dices, we never lost anyone of real consequence thus far, besides Nathan, and in his case we picked up a hitter who fits our ballpark (but unfortunately not a personality who fit) who was good offensively and defensiviely.

    I see a lot of people talk about results, and claiming that Sabean has had poor results. Baloney.

    Top rotation in the majors, youth and excellence there, in the bullpen too, plus the middle of the lineup, and it looks like soon for the top of the order.

    The problem there that I see is that people don't have a realistic understanding of how hard it really is to find and develop top playeres for a team, plus that they don't really understand what a top prospect is, thinking that Niekro, Linden, Bowker are good prospects, expecting the same out of them as we would Posey and Belt. That is a huge disconnect I see out there that I'm finally tired of explaining at the regular Giants watering holes, because I'm like Don Quixote aiming at windmills.

    I feel sad for them, when there is a lot of happiness to be had from following the Giants right now, this is a golden era that begun a few years ago ("there's magic inside!") that they are missing, but I'm finally realizing that you sometimes can't even lead the horse to water, let alone make it drink.

    I still stand by my stand that none of them deserve to enjoy the Championship if they don't acknowledge Sabean's achievement. Think of it: their stance that he won it only via luck, but heck, I'm going to enjoy it anyway. How does that even work?

    What good is a championship that you think is won solely by luck? That there was not any good planning and strategy, like focusing on pitching, pitching, pitcing, and defense, good drafting, good incremental additions to build to a playoff capable team, good talent evaluation in knowing who to keep.

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  9. And that is one of my biggest nits that I pick on, that none of these people try to reconcile the fact that Sabean has shown impeccable talent at knowing who to keep and who to trade, with the fact about free agents and trades.

    That should be a huge conundrum and inconsistency that it would bother the hell out of me (and did because I was once a Sabean Naysayer) until I resolved it.

    The only thing that makes sense to me is this: Sabean knows talent pretty well, but when you are dealing with trying to trade or sign free agents, it is not like there are a lot of high OBP hitters, for example, just sitting there to be gotten. And he picked up two pretty good OBP, gap hitters in Durham and Alfonzo, but then had those players go bad on him.

    So do you want Sabean to do nothing because there are not the players you want on the trade or free agent markets, or do you want him to take a chance on the best offer available? Especially if your young players are under water trying to figure out the majors, when they might be better served going back to the minors and figuring things out there under less pressurized environs?

    He could sit on his high horse and not make a deal because he's not getting a high OBP or power hitter, or he can take chances with them, as long as they are not players that you really need. Given that he's been good at letting go of marginal players to get that roll of the dice, I have had no problems, for the most part.

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  10. So, Shankbone, is that a good enough rant? :^)

    About the Affeldt rumor that everyone blasted Sabean over, the salient facts to me is that Sabean signed him in the first place, then gave him an extension, at basically the same prices, and has performed basically as expected, so Sabean clearly still believes that Affeldt is a very good reliever, so shouldn't that be enough for these people that Sabean picked up the option?

    Aren't these the same people that WANT Sabean to make a trade to get a hitter? Unless they know we can get one by trading Craig Whitaker or someone similar, the way to get a trade done is by having a talented player available to trade. Isn't that good enough to pick up the option?

    And as much I would love to keep all our players, if another team made a deal that would benefit the team greatly, I would be willing to trade away anybody on this team, including Lincecum and Cain (though that would require a much higher hurdle to past muster with me). So how does the payroll affect that decision making?

    Plus, do these people ever consider, as I'll be posting soon on media bias, that the writers are projecting their biases and subjective views into these rumors and writings?

    The rumor on Affeldt, for example, I know Sabean would not talk with a reporter about it. So where does it come out that the Giants are doing that to save money, which a lot of Giants fans jumped on immediately, like a dog on a bone (it's ridiculous)? Probably the same rumor monger who probably just heard that Affeldt's name is being circulated, but then projected their own feelings into the rumor by adding the payroll issue, as that would make sense as a reason, but is not necessarily the reason why the Giants are circulating his name.

    As was subsequently reported, the Giants were just reacting to demand for his services, which has nothing to do with their payrolls, and all about seeing if you can get a great deal from someone.

    Why not if you can find a sucker, er, trade partner?

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  11. Shankbone, where did you see that one year limit? Not doubting, just didn't see it myself and I like not to just take people's word for it, I like seeing it.

    I know the Giants have basically been operating on a two year and option limit, based on deals we've seen, though they did go 3 years with LaRoche (is he kicking himself over that deal now?) and it sounds like the intimations from the press is that they are only going two years with Beltran, where he's looking for more.

    And it only makes sense to find a backup to Zito, one to push him with competition, two as insurance in case Vogelsong just as suddenly doesn't have it, third as insurance that TINSTAAPP doesn't strike one of their pitchers and put them on the shelf for the season, fourth as an improvement over Moto in long relief, fifth to provide depth for the 2012 season.

    Lots of good reasons.

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  12. That was awesome. Thanks for posting a little rant. There is way too much negative energy on Giants blogs right now.

    I am trying to contribute a bit here and there on MCC, but I really find only a half dozen peoples opinions interesting and the bitching gets to me. Its too bad, it is the smartest bunch of people on a forum in my opinion. Baggs should ban the half dozen bozos who monopolize his comments section, and the sfgiants site... oh boy.

    What turns me into a Sabean sympathizer is looking at the trade and FA markets. There aren't any jewels to be plucked, its all about compromise. This latest brew hah about the lefties is a good example - Sabean just reacted to a market inefficiency. I think both those contracts are great. Personally I like a pen that get us through tight games. Why interwebz experts can't see that is beyond me. And the "Sabean didn't realize his budget and is now trading Affeldt" joke wasn't funny or accurate. He has one of the top 3 pens in baseball along with the Braves. It is completely undervalued and ridiculed, but its a competitive advantage.

    It may turn out that having a public budget figure will have been a mistake, but that has to play out first. It looks like Ortiz is accepting arb in Boston, if the cry poor strategy leads to 2 years with Beltran I'll be pretty damn happy. And if it doesn't, I'll be happy with the guys we have. 5/8 homegrown and young is damn exciting to me. Fans have decided to throw most their anger at ownership onto scorn of Sabeans (mainly non-)moves. Pretty pointless.

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  13. One year limit - my theory, just based on whats happened recently. Bloomquist may have been given an offer greater than he accepted. Barmes took less than I expected to be a starter, but there was no concrete bid, just that we were in on him. Hairston ultimately takes 2/6MM I was expecting more, that tells me Sabean is drawing the line in the sand at 1 year. Alex Gonzo obviously wants 2 years, if they offered it I think he would be signed. Maybe there are 2 years offers as well, but the talk about exploring the trade market instead tells me they are being pickier about things then people are giving them credit for, which I like. Now a cynic would mention the budget, and then go off about 10MM for LOOGYs. But I like being cheap about a backup IF and a 4th OF. And patient. Obviously I'd love to have Torres back, but who knows what the whole story is with him.

    There are some interesting interviews with Bochy on MLB and with the beat reporters. Playing Huff in LF makes some sense, its showing they really want Belt and will use Pill as the stalking horse. And some Posey too. It seems like they're really impressed with Hector Sanchez tearing up the VZ league, he may be a factor sooner than later.

    They are going more and more with kids, the ones who perform. That's awesome. Lefty had a funny comment today about the lunatic fringe reacting to that. Basically when the Giants play vets they're dumb and should play kids, when they play kids now they should be spending more money on... the good vets?

    One more thing - even DrB was making Coco Crisp predictions and jokes after Sabean announced he had no CF and that would be addressed. He goes sideways and grabs Melky, somebody I think is very underrated by the cognoscenti, and avoids the stereotypical move that we discussed a lot. Gets lambasted for giving up on Sanchez immediately. That wasn't very fair either. I think Melky has a lot of potential.

    Every incoming player is being underrated - Huff is drunk, Posey is broken, Freddy is always broken, Melky is career year, Belt won't be played by Bochy, Crawford can't hit, Pablo is fat... well that last one might be going too far, but seriously, I've never seen a team I like get ragged on this much. Its crazy. And if Sabean has stated there might be money for Beltran if things fit, I believe that, they'll give it an effort but they won't overextend, which is damn smart if you ask me. Who wants to pay 38-39 year old Beltran?

    5/8 homegrown and Huff/Sanchez/Melky on 1 year deals. Thats pretty cool if you ask me. Looking forward to some analysis of actual moves when they come OGC.

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  14. Ram-Ram and Torres to the Mets for Angel Pagan. This one is a bit twisty - the exact trade I wanted... with my boy Andres thrown in. I like Pagan a lot. It hurts some to get Torres thrown in, I'll admit that. I think I like the trade still though.

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