Career Rankings Part 4

Today we’ll go back 2 years to the beginning of the 2015 season.  At the beginning of the 2016 season, the season which the Cubs won a World Series, they were ranked middle of the pack of 30 teams

The Cubs were last of 30 teams based upon career data at the start of the 2015 season.  They were probably last, or close to last the last 5 seasons before that too but that’s all water under the bridge now.  How did the Cubs go from last in valuation at the start of a season to making the playoffs that season?  First let’s look at a truncated table showing the top 5 and bottom 5 teams in April of 2015.

April 2015 Team Career Valuation

TeamID Hitters Pitchers Starters Relief Total W-L
DET 51.2 32.2 27.5 4.8 83.5 0
WAS 10.5 67.2 47.1 20.1 77.7 0
ANA 40.7 28.3 12.0 16.4 69.0 0
SEA 22.5 44.7 30.1 14.6 67.2 0
SLN 36.8 26.4 20.2 6.2 63.2 0

TBA -0.4 5.5 -2.3 7.9 5.1 0
PHI -6.4 11.1 2.0 9.1 4.7 0
MIN 16.8 -18.7 -23.4 4.7 -1.9 0
HOU -5.0 -2.2 -13.8 11.6 -7.2 0
CHN -12.6 -9.0 -15.0 6.0 -21.6 0

The above are sum of career value from 2012-2014 of players on each team’s opening day roster for 2015.  Notice how Detroit is #1 in 2015 but this season, right now, they’re at the bottom like the Cubs were in 2015.  HOU is also at the bottom in 2015 and now at the top.  Both these bottom two teams wins a World Series in the next 3 years!  This is quite a switcheroo showing fortunes can change, good and bad, for a team in only a few years.

Let’s see who the Cubs had pitching in April that year.

April 2015 CHN Starters

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+188+ 3.1 Jon_Lester_CHN SP
XXXXX 2.3 Kyle_Hendricks_CHN SP
XXXXX -1.3 Jason_Hammel_CHN SP
XXXXX -2.3 Travis_Wood_CHN SP
XXXXX -3.4 Jake_Arrieta_CHN SP
XXXXX -13.5 Edwin_Jackson_CHN SP
Total -15.1

Lester was their big off season acquisition and WAA=3.1 was his 2012-2014 split.  The Cubs starting rotation was saddled with Edwin jackson who was one of Theo’s (we’ll spare Jed on that one 🙂 first acquisitions as a Cub.  Just cutting Jackson greatly increases their starter value.  Joe Maddon makes Jackson a reliever and then shortly after they cut ties with him.

April 2015 CHN Relievers

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+170+ 3.5 Pedro_Strop_CHN RP
XXXXX 2.3 Neil_Ramirez_CHN RP
XXXXX 1.5 Jason_Motte_CHN RP
XXXXX 0.8 Hector_Rondon_CHN RP
XXXXX -0.6 Brian_Schlitter_CHN RP
XXXXX -1.5 Phil_Coke_CHN RP
Total 6.0

Pedro Strop had the highest 3 year split of any Cub starting the season in 2015.

EDIT:  Anthony Rizzo (below) has the highest career 3 year split at the start of 2015.

April 2015 CHN Hitters

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+120+ 4.9 Anthony_Rizzo_CHN 1B
XXXXX 1.1 Jorge_Soler_CHN RF
XXXXX 0.7 Miguel_Montero_CHN CR
XXXXX 0.5 Dexter_Fowler_CHN CF
XXXXX 0.0 Mike_Olt_CHN BAT
XXXXX -0.3 Matt_Szczur_CHN LF
XXXXX -0.3 Arismendy_Alcantara_CHN BAT
XXXXX -1.1 David_Ross_CHN CR
XXXXX -2.4 Tommy_La_Stella_CHN 2B-3B
XXXXX -3.2 Chris_Coghlan_CHN LF-RF-2B
XXXXX -3.3 Jonathan_Herrera_CHN 2B-3B
XXXXX -4.1 Welington_Castillo_CHN BAT
XXXXX -5.1 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS-2B
Total -12.6

Those are all three year splits and may not be reflective of their overall careers.  These last three tables verify the sums in the total table and show how it was tabulated.  You should not read this that Mike Olt is better than David Ross.   This model measures offensive production and catchers are the most important defensive fielding asset on the field.  They’re involved in every play. This model is limited to showing value derived from generating or not generating runs.  The defensive value of a catcher is outside the scope of this data model.  For more thoughts on defensive related positions see our All Star picks article last July.

Values that hover around 0 are not that meaningful in the context of evaluating a player.  It shows they haven’t done much above or below average.  Sometimes an average player is useful for other purposes a manager may need — like pinch running and being a fast guy in the outfield who can run down errant fly balls late in a close game.  Mike Olt, should be hitting well above average as 3B is usually a productive position on most playoff contending teams.

Kris Bryant comes up from the Iowa later and replaces Mike Olt.  Jake Arrieta starts his Cy Young award winning performance mid June, and Maddon gets everyone to click.

This kind of report will be available for any team any year.  You’ll be able to look up to see how the Cubs or Detroit ranked based upon 3 year career splits at the start of 1935 or 1945 or whatever year.  Once we compile all the years I’ll run some numbers to see how well these rankings predict the end of season results.  As always, past results do not affect future results, they only show capability.  It is important however to have an accurate evaluation of past results.  Much of Sabermetrics is far from accurate.

Enough of this table.  In Part 5 we’ll look at top MLB careers from 1900 – present.  We have all 15,000+ players ranked from top to bottom but we only assign rank to the top 1000.   Until then….