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Monday, December 12, 2005

Schwarz on THT

Alan Schwarz wrote a nice piece in The New York Times that gave prominent mention to The Hardball Times and one of our fearless leaders Dave Studeman. What I love about the article is that it illustrates how much disparity there still exists between many baseball insiders subjective valuations of players and what performance analysis would indicate.

"When taken seriously, and asked to assess the victory value of the players they acquired during the industry's annual swap meet, the answers usually sounded like the one Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire gave when he spoke about his new speedy second baseman, Luis Castillo.

'He's worth 15 wins, potentially,' Gardenhire said of Castillo, a .293 lifetime hitter acquired from the Florida Marlins. 'We lost 30 one-run games last year. With Luis' ability to get on base, steal bases, score runs and play defense, a guy like that can make a difference in at least half those one-run games going the other way.'"

Of course those who are familiar with Win Shares know that 15 wins would be the equivalent to 45 Win Shares, a total that Luis Castillo has never and will never approach. Albert Pujols led the majors in WS with 38 last season with Derrek Lee and Alex Rodriguez tied for second at 37. Last season Castillo totalled 17 WS and as Schwarz points out, that doesn't take into account the Win Shares that any replacement level second baseman would contribute.

It's interesting that the White Sox, a team that you wouldn't think would use performance analysis, use a more analytical approach and estimate that the Jim Thome for Aaron Rowand trade will net them 15 runs (+20 for Thome and -5 for Rowand) or 1.5 wins using the standard 10 runs per win estimate.

1 comment:

birtelcom said...

It was great to see the NYT citing THT. One quibble though: I wouldn't use THT's Win Shares Above Bench to estimate a team's likely range of improvement from a free agent signing, as Schwarz does. It seems to me more appropriate to compare the free agent's raw Win Shares to the raw Win Shares of the actual player or players the free agent will be replacing. After all, many free agents are replacing starters with their own significant Win Share totals, not a generic bench-level or replacement-level player. Using the bench-level assumption, for this particular purpose, will thus result in continuing overexpectation of free agent-based improvement. Quibble aside, though, it was a pleasure to see Win Shares taken seriously in the mainstream press.