Category Archives: Team Ranking

Career Rankings Part 2

Today is opening day at Wrigley Field and there’s almost an inch of snow on the ground — almost enough to think about shoveling it.  Arggghhh!  Normally we do an analysis of each Cubs’ series at the start and if there are some strange shifts in the Ouija board we’ll look at that particular game and talk through it.

Most likely they’ll call this game and play a double header sometime later in the season.  In the old days when they played two you only had to buy one ticket.  Those days are long gone.

Since we finished the career scripts, instead of analyzing the CHN PIT matchup, which we can’t really do because we have no current year data to crunch, let’s look at all 30 MLB teams based upon career.  The table below is the same format used for playoff horse race last September.  The win loss column is meaningless right now so it’s zeroed out.  Total is the sum of Pitchers and Hitters, Pitchers is the sum of Starters and Relief.  All players categorized by how they’re listed on the active roster.

Careers are limited to the last three years service (i.e. what have you done for me lately).  Although Albert Pujols is clearly the highest ranking career player in baseball and most likely unanimous HOF first ballot, he’s near the end of his career.  He’s ranked #71 for his last three years which is still very very productive.  More on him later.

The below table is sorted by Total value from best to worst.

TeamID Hitters Pitchers Starters Relief Total W-L
HOU 49.53 70.04 35.28 34.76 119.57 0
CHN 49.94 55.63 36.47 19.16 105.57 0
CLE 32.33 59.88 26.13 33.75 92.21 0
WAS 36.34 55.19 40.93 14.26 91.53 0
BOS 55.55 35.24 23.90 11.34 90.79 0
LAN 17.97 65.55 48.05 17.50 83.52 0
TOR 40.74 41.30 26.12 15.18 82.04 0
NYA 30.25 51.65 17.22 34.43 81.90 0
COL 59.60 10.11 -3.68 13.79 69.71 0
NYN 25.85 34.70 25.38 9.32 60.55 0
BAL 35.79 9.31 -15.11 24.42 45.10 0
MIL 15.53 24.69 8.49 16.20 40.22 0
MIN 15.78 19.32 4.18 15.14 35.10 0
ANA 24.16 10.20 5.10 5.10 34.36 0
SFN 13.20 17.68 0.33 17.35 30.88 0
ARI 10.90 13.62 19.42 -5.80 24.52 0
TEX 24.26 -1.94 -4.78 2.84 22.32 0
OAK 7.10 12.83 -4.28 17.11 19.93 0
SLN 15.17 4.10 8.72 -4.62 19.27 0
SEA -7.55 15.31 6.93 8.38 7.76 0
TBA -17.78 17.43 9.99 7.44 -0.35 0
MIA 0.65 -3.47 -13.06 9.59 -2.82 0
CIN 1.02 -4.12 -2.82 -1.30 -3.10 0
PHI 0.62 -6.06 -5.49 -0.57 -5.44 0
PIT -9.62 3.55 -0.73 4.28 -6.07 0
CHA -4.03 -4.82 -12.68 7.86 -8.85 0
KCA -25.54 7.30 -0.22 7.52 -18.24 0
ATL -11.08 -8.34 -17.33 8.99 -19.42 0
SDN -16.12 -15.16 -10.71 -4.45 -31.28 0
DET -14.45 -23.97 -11.29 -12.68 -38.42 0

The Cubs are #2 behind Houston as having the best career talent.  Theo Epstein is using the same model as ours.   In Part 3 of this series we’ll look at past career rankings at the beginning of various seasons and, since we are from the future, compare that to how things turned out that year.  Until then….

Playoff Horse Race Part 4

This episode in our playoff horse race series shows a table listing the top MLB teams sorted by their total value based upon current roster.  There are only 8 teams left and a playoff roster is the most culled of any roster a manager has for an entire season.  It is expected that these will be much higher than regular season and they are.  Here is the current table listing the 8 MLB teams left in the playoffs.

TeamID Hitters Pitchers Starters Relief Total W-L
WAS 21.66 30.56 21.09 9.47 52.22 32
NYA 23.19 28.63 11.38 17.25 51.82 20
CLE 19.30 28.61 17.35 11.26 47.91 42
LAN 10.48 36.91 21.29 15.62 47.39 46
HOU 25.71 19.67 16.69 2.98 45.38 40
ARI 15.99 24.49 15.98 8.51 40.48 24
CHN 18.85 20.20 7.41 12.79 39.05 22
COL 19.80 7.53 -0.11 7.64 27.33 12
BOS 7.56 19.71 8.69 11.02 27.27 24

Correction 10/9/2017For some reason I left out BOS who are in the playoffs and left COL who got eliminated by ARI in the NL wild card gaem.  BOS has the worst total WAA of the 8 teams left.  As of now they’re down 2-1 in ALDS with one more home game.  This will be easier when there are only four teams.

Unlike Part one, two, and three, this table is sorted by best total WAA value according to this data model.  In part 3 made a couple days before the end of the season Cleveland led in total value with 49.3.  Now Washington is on top,.

Starters and relievers add to make pitchers, hitters and pitchers add to make total.  Bold blue is the top team in that category, regular blue second.  For starters WAS and LAN are close enough to be considered tied for the best starting staff.  This can be deceiving because some teams are placing relievers in as starters.   Right now the Yankees have the best relief with Dodgers second.  Dodger relievers as a squad helped win a playoff game yesterday.  Yankee relievers as a squad lost a playoff game yesterday and badly.

The numbers above represent past results based upon 162 games of data.  The playoff season can make great players play terribly.

Rank WAA IP ERA Gs Gr Name_TeamID Pos
-013- -2.50 107.3 4.53 18 4 CC_Sabathia_TOT PITCH  playoffs
-030- -1.91 89.0 4.45 14 4 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH  playoffs

Neither of the above pitched well last night.  Kershaw is arguably the best pitcher since Greg Maddux.

Rank WAA IP ERA Gs Gr Name_TeamID Pos
+182+ 1.16 197.7 3.28 30 8 Greg_Maddux_TOT PITCH

Maddux pitched almost 200 innings in post season.  Considering this is Greg Maddux he should be ranked at least in the top 100 or top 50.  He pitched well but even Greg Maddux didn’t pitch completely like Greg Maddux in the playoffs.

Note the Cubs have the second lowest total.  The Cubs were an average team at the All Star break and they climbed to their current total mostly in the second half of the season.  If we called the first half of the season a Mulligan and sorted on second half value the above table would look very different.  Perhaps that’s something to do for Part 5.  Until then….

Playoff Horse Race Part 3

There are only a few days left in the season.  Let’s take one final look at the playoff horse race before we actually dive into the playoffs.  As explained in Part1 and Part2, the following table is derived by taking current rosters and adding up players’ WAA into groups of hitters, starters, and relievers.  We add starters and relievers to get pitchers and pitchers and hitters to get a team total.  The last column is the only column that matters, real wins and losses.  Once in the playoffs even regular season wins and losses won’t matter anymore.

TeamID Hitters Pitchers Starters Relief Total W-L
LAN 9.96 35.75 21.55 14.20 45.71 44
CLE 16.07 33.23 15.27 17.96 49.30 39
HOU 25.82 10.24 15.20 -4.96 36.06 37
WAS 18.80 29.58 20.48 9.10 48.38 33
BOS 5.06 26.14 9.88 16.26 31.20 25
ARI 19.29 22.28 16.47 5.81 41.57 24
NYA 23.28 24.74 10.59 14.15 48.02 19
CHN 17.32 14.72 6.19 8.53 32.04 19
COL 17.53 2.23 -3.49 5.72 19.76 12
MIN 10.06 -5.27 -7.04 1.77 4.79 9
MIL 2.01 18.43 6.71 11.72 20.44 9
SLN 8.49 17.05 7.63 9.42 25.54 7
ANA 2.78 1.46 -3.94 5.40 4.24 -1

Teams colored in purple are division leaders, most of whom have already clinched, green are the 4 wild card teams.  MIL and SLN still might have a shot at overtaking COL.  The Cubs haven’t completely clinched the NLCS either.

Bold blue are top value scores for that category, regular blue second.  Bold red the worst, regular red second worst in the above list.  The Yankees will probably get in through a wild card yet on paper they are more or less tied having second best total value in MLB with the Nationals.  Cleveland has the best team on paper and MIN has the worst of the ten teams in post season (if the above stands).  Cleveland has the best relief and Houston has the worst.  Houston may start with Boston who has the second best relief squad in MLB.  The Dodgers still have the best set of starters and best overall pitching.  Houston and the Yankees have the best hitting of the bunch.

It’s hard to say which team will end up on top.  NYA should be heavily favored over MIN but then they’ll have to face the Cleveland Indians.  Can NYA’s hitting defeat CLE’s pitching?    The Dodgers will probably face ARI who have a similar total value and the Cubs will have to deal with the Nationals who have much better starters and hitting.  Dusty Baker conveniently chose not to let Cub hitters see Gonzalez or Scherzer during their last series.

More historical playoff data coming soon.  Had to rewrite some scripts to compile the event data but they’re almost finished.

Playoff Horse Race Part 2

Today we’ll cover the playoff horse race with a table of the top 15 teams.  We published a similar table on August 30 showing valuations according to this data model using  current rosters.  With September call ups rosters will be expanded.  Here is a current table as of today.

TeamID Hitters Pitchers Starters Relief Total W-L
LAN 8.11 32.50 19.65 12.85 40.61 43  -10
CLE 15.20 31.36 13.10 18.26 46.56 36  +18
HOU 23.00 10.48 16.24 -5.76 33.48 33
WAS 12.63 27.87 20.20 7.67 40.50 31
ARI 15.63 24.88 19.20 5.68 40.51 24
BOS 4.22 25.14 10.54 14.60 29.36 21
CHN 16.45 13.55 5.94 7.61 30.00 17
NYA 19.33 21.91 11.10 10.81 41.24 15
COL 19.59 0.59 -4.60 5.19 20.18 14
MIL 3.70 17.40 5.60 11.80 21.10 9
MIN 6.70 -4.83 -5.17 0.34 1.87 7
SLN 8.39 22.06 12.91 9.15 30.45 5
ANA 4.15 1.80 -4.59 6.39 5.95 3
SEA 5.04 -0.87 -2.81 1.94 4.17 -2
TEX 15.52 -0.52 -2.16 1.64 15.00 -3

The layout of this table is the same as before.  Columns are team value for hitters, pitchers, starters, relievers and the total for the entire roster.  Teams are sorted from top to bottom by the  W-L column.

The 6 teams highlighted in purple are leading their division and green are  wild card leaders for each league.  Our data model does not discern AL or NL so neither does this table.  The bottom 15 teams have been eliminated for clarity.

Dodgers and Indians top MLB with their records.  The last notes column highlights their WAA (W-L) since August 30, part 1 of this series.  LAN has dropped 10 and CLE has added 18, both of which are incredible streaks in their respective directions.  The Dodgers won’t encounter the Indians until the World Series if they get there.   Teams that flat line into the playoffs may not perform very well.  We’ll look into that when we do historical playoff data.

The highlights above were hand colored so there may be mistakes.  Bold blue is top of that category, bold red bottom.  Regular blue second top (or close to tied for second),, regular red worst runner up.   We eliminated half of MLB so these bottoms are for the teams that are left.

LAN has the best pitching now they have Kershaw and Wood back but CLE is a very close second.  A LAN/CLE World Series could be a pitching duel.  Cleveland has the best relief and Washington the best group of starters.  Since the above includes call ups this will shift when playoff rosters are decided.  Right now Cleveland has the best total value according to our data model, Yankees second.   Yankees could get knocked out in WC round early unless they overtake Boston.  NYA needs to make up 6 real wins.

The worst teams are in red.  Amazing Minnesota is still eligible to be a wild card.   The  Cardinals have a +30 team and they’re currently not eligible for anything.  That  shows how diligent their front office is keeping them competitive throughout the season and most likely into the future.

That is all for now.  Cubs start a new series tomorrow.  We’re having problems with the historical playoff data which may take a couple of days to compile.  Playoffs are only a couple weeks away.  Until then….

WAR Roster Dump

Today we’ll do a WAR roster dump table like we generated a few days ago here as part1 of our playoff horse race series.  WAA has additive properties and WAR does not which we showed here back in 2013.  Here is the WAR table listing total WAR for hitters, pitchers, starters, relief and total.

TeamID Hitters Pitchers Starters Relief Total W-L
LAN 22.80 10.30 4.20 6.10 33.10 51
WAS 15.20 19.00 17.90 1.10 34.20 30
HOU 27.60 12.20 7.90 4.30 39.80 26
CLE 15.00 19.40 13.50 5.90 34.40 20
BOS 12.60 15.00 9.10 5.90 27.60 19
ARI 12.40 22.80 18.00 4.80 35.20 17
CHN 17.00 9.40 3.80 5.60 26.40 12
COL 12.90 17.80 12.10 5.70 30.70 11
NYA 22.60 15.90 9.80 6.10 38.50 8
MIN 14.70 6.00 4.60 1.40 20.70 6
MIL 16.90 13.70 7.80 5.90 30.60 5
ANA 15.70 8.00 3.90 4.10 23.70 4
BAL 17.50 7.50 0.70 6.80 25.00 3
TEX 17.50 10.50 7.20 3.30 28.00 0
SLN 16.00 10.20 7.90 2.30 26.20 0
MIA 20.40 2.70 1.90 0.80 23.10 0
TBA 18.10 5.80 4.40 1.40 23.90 -1
SEA 16.10 6.20 1.80 4.40 22.30 -2
KCA 12.80 11.20 6.00 5.20 24.00 -2
PIT 8.00 13.30 8.40 4.90 21.30 -8
TOR 6.90 15.50 9.20 6.30 22.40 -11
ATL 8.60 10.40 4.10 6.30 19.00 -13
SDN 5.30 5.30 2.20 3.10 10.60 -15
NYN 0.30 6.80 4.70 2.10 7.10 -16
DET 11.80 9.30 6.20 3.10 21.10 -16
OAK 9.20 3.30 2.60 0.70 12.50 -17
CIN 21.30 1.60 0.10 1.50 22.90 -21
CHA 10.50 -1.00 0.20 -1.20 9.50 -27
SFN 4.50 7.70 4.80 2.90 12.20 -29
PHI 5.20 8.10 4.40 3.70 13.30 -34

Blue highlights are top of the league in that column, red bottom according to WAR.

WAR doesn’t go negative very often and we showed in this post how the sum of all hitters/fielders adds to exactly 600 and pitchers add to 400.  WAR folds subjective fielding math into hitters.  We suspected that WAR treats hitting 40%, pitching 40% and fielding 20%.  This model treats fielding as a separate class.   We measure fielding at a team level using the only reliable and official play by play metric, errors and the unearned runs caused by them.  Scorekeepers have been tabulating errors since the beginning of baseball.

Scanning the WAR Total column you notice there is very little disparity in WAR totals in the top 2/3 of MLB.   WAR is a fan value stat that tries not to upset fans of players not playing well.  Since WAR treats hitting as 60% and pitching 40% the hitting column is very high for all teams.  The relief column is low.  WAR does not handle part time players well and relievers could be considered part time compared to starters.   We have shown in past posts here how relievers have helped both Cleveland and the Cubs be in contention for the playoffs.

The Dodgers have an interesting line.  According to this table they have better hitters than pitchers.  That runs counter to their seasonal team status line.

BAT PITCH Rs Ra W L UR LR TeamID
32.2 159.1 655 439 91 40 20.1 4.6 LAN

Runs not let up due to pitching (PITCH) far exceeds their runs scored for the season (BAT).  The roster this dataset uses have Kershaw and Wood on DL which are WAR=4.4 and WAR=3.1.  If you add 7.5 to LAN’s starter total they don’t have the best pitching staff in MLB which is not true.  They don’t even have the best starting staff.   Their team status clearly shows their +51 is due to pitching.    In order to fold fielding into hitting, WAR takes value away from pitchers and gives it to hitters under the guise its formulae can discern who deserves what with respect to fielding.  They can’t.  We have shown time and time again how massive errors get introduced and this is why.  The Dodgers have the best pitching staff period.  We have Kershaw ranked #3 in MLB both pitchers and batters and that’s after not playing for a bunch of weeks.  WAR has him ranked #26.

And finally, this caught my attention when modifying some scripts to do these WAR tables.

Rank WAR Name_TeamID Pos
-002- -2.0 Albert_Pujols_ANA DH

WAR does not go negative often.  Even Edwin Jackson stayed positive in some version of WAR back in 2014 when he had a terrible season of historic proportions.  How did Pujols of all players get a -2.0 ranked the second worst player according to WAR?  This has to be another big mistake in whatever algorithm used to compute WAR.  Sometimes I think there are people pulling levers to favor certain players and not favor players they simply don’t like.  Perhaps someone is blaming Anaheim’s demise on Pujols.   These WAR numbers came from baseball-reference.  We don’t know how to compute it.

Rank WAA BA OBP PA RBI R Name_TeamID Pos
XXXXX 0.36 0.232 0.278 526 83 47 Albert_Pujols_ANA DH

Above is Pujols’ full line according to this data model.  We have him slightly above average and unranked.  For Pujols this is his worst year.  In no way does he suck this year.  WAR is simply wrong once again.

Edit: For a player making $30 or so million per season a 0.36 is well below what ANA expects for a top tier MLB salary.  Pujols should be at +3 at the lowest for the season.  Pujols is well below what is expected from him but as an anonymous MLB player he’s slightly above average according to his seasonal run production.   Albert Pujols is a first (possibly unanimous) ballot HOFer 5 years after whenever he decides to retire.  I’m starting to think his WAR listed at baseball-reference may be a joke.