Monday, October 04, 2004

2004 All-Stars

Mid-season all-star selections are a little silly for some reasons, although they have obvious practical advantages. So why does it seem no one ever chooses All-Stars after the season? Well, this year, I will.

In the AL, Johan Santana is the obvious choice to pitch. Ivan Rodriguez edges Jorge Posada and Jason Varitek narrowly (by defense with the former and offense with the latter) to catch. Mark Teixeira beats a relatively weak field at first base. Orlando Hudson would probably be the most controversial of my picks; he's been, by my reckoning, the most valuable second baseman in the AL by a narrow margin over lesser fielders Mark Bellhorn, Ronnie Belliard, and Alfonso Soriano. Alex Rodriguez' defensive competency and health edge out Melvin Mora and Eric Chavez, respectively. Miguel Tejada edges Carlos Guillen at short because of Guillen's time lost to injury. Carlos Lee's defense propels him just pass Manny Ramirez and Hideki Matsui. Mark Kotsay's defense gives him a very narrow win over Aaron Rowand and Johnny Damon, though had Carlos Beltran stuck around he'd have this spot. Vlad Guerrero beats Ichiro! and Gary Sheffield by a comfortable margin in right. Travis Hafner blows away the competition at DH.

Randy Johnson pitches for the NL, edging out Ben Sheets by a solid margin. Jason Kendall's superb defense separates him from Johnny Estrada to catch. Albert Pujols beats out Todd Helton by a hair, but we'll move him over to DH in a moment and keep Helton around at first. Mark Loretta was without question baseball's best second baseman in 2004. Adrian Beltre's edge in playing time breaks the tie with Scott Rolen. Jack Wilson's defense at shortstop nudges him past Jimmy Rollins and Khalil Greene. Adam Dunn's fine season in left field couldn't match some other guy's season, but his name escapes me. Jim Edmonds waltzes past Carlos Beltran in center. Bobby Abreu barely holds off J.D. Drew in right field, with Lance Berkman right behind.

So, how would these teams do against each other? I compiled each players MLVr (marginal lineup value per game; essentially, runs per game above average) and Defensive Rate (defensive runs saved per 100 games with 100 being average) as well as each pitcher's defense-independent ERA. The resulting chart:
Santana 2.54 92 P Johnson 2.7 92
Rodriguez 0.267 98 C Kendall 0.118 108
Teixeira 0.208 105
1B Helton 0.507 110
Hudson -0.006 113 2B Loretta 0.289 113
Rodriguez 0.205 104 3B Beltre 0.467 109
Tejada 0.24 113 SS Wilson 0.092 111
Lee 0.211 110 LF Bonds 0.947 100
Kotsay 0.157 112 CF Edmonds 0.475 109
Guerrero 0.421 101 RF Abreu 0.365 103
Hafner 0.398
DH Pujols 0.526

2.101 2.4867

3.786 2.6389

3.871


4.579

627.1 67.524

741.8 94.476















What are those extra numbers at the bottom? The first row is the average MLVr (2.101 for the AL, 3.786 for the NL) and average runs allowed (each pitcher's DERA minus the runs saved per game above average from the defense). The next row shows the average number of runs each team would score against the other using these figures, and the final row projects that total over a 162-game season and then uses those run totals to find the number of pythagorean wins. The NL team dominates, possessing a record resembling the Dodgers, while the AL flounders, looking like the final edition of Les Expos (speaking of which: if the Brewers and Expos both change hands this offseason, Bud Selig will have lost two 67-win teams in one offseason). The primary reason, of course, is Barry Bonds, but even if the NL ran out a replacement level left fielder (Adam Dunn's glove with Marco Scutaro's bat) they'd still project to 83.6 wins. This doesn't tell us anything whatsoever, but isn't it a lot more fun than all those stale MVP and Cy Young debates?

Song of the Day: "Berkeley is My Baby (And I Want To Kill It)," Blatz

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