July 22, 2014

Nick Swisher: A Risk Worth Taking

There are plenty of reasons to be bearish on the Nick Swisher signing that locks him in for at least four years and $56 million, and I think some of the unbridled enthusiasm1 out there might need a wee-bit of tempering before we get too far ahead of ourselves.

For one, he could get hurt.  Just because he has a track record of impeccable health—Swisher has played at least 148 games in every season since 2006—doesn’t mean that he’s immune to broken bones or pulled muscles or damaged knees.  Perhaps he’s just been lucky.  Perhaps he’s due.

There’s also the inherent performance decline associated with players in their middle 30s, especially corner guys whose primary skills comprise power and patience.  In other words, guys like Swisher do not tend to age gracefully, and we could end up with a $14 million per year part-time player in 2016 ala Travis Hafner. [Read more...]

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. h/t Billy Mumfrey []

Playing A Little “What If”

With the Indians playing sub-.500 baseball this year and the offense struggling mightily, it’s had many of us asking “what if”. What if the Indians players were just playing up to their career averages (nobody having a career year, nobody having a down year). What if the Indians were just scoring runs at the league average pace. What would the Indians record look like? How would it alter the current standings?

A “what if” that I prefer, though, is a little bit more simple. I would like to know what if the Indians were winning at their expected rate based on their run differential. Using the Bill James Pythagorean expectation formula (Win Pct = (RS^2)/(RS^2 + RA^2)), I made a simple spreadsheet to see how different the AL Central might look. You can click on the image below to view the full sized results:

Expected Wins

As you can see, the White Sox, Indians, and Tigers are all winner fewer games than they should based on run differentials while the Twins and Royals are winning more. Of all the teams, though, nobody is playing further below their expected pace than the Indians. Even with their offense as pitiful as it is, their pitching has been so good that they should be winning more games than they are losing. So why the discrepancy?   [Read more...]