Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pointless Analysis, Part 1 of ?

Remember those pre-season rankings I concocted back in April in order to figure out my best guess for the eventual World Series winner this year? No? Well, then maybe you should click that link?

So you probably didn't click the link, knowing the overall lack of motivation around here. Here's a quick rundown of how five months ago, I chose the Chicago White Sox (yeah... my bad) to win it all. I went through the highly specialized and scientific process of picking each team's "worst player," and proceeded to rank each MLB team by its "worst player" in order to arrive at the conclusion that the most useful "worst player" would result in the season's eventual champion. Like I said, highly scientific.

Well, now the time to analyze the results of those picks has come because there is nothing better than spending valuable time on a pointless task. This is why I apply all of my free time and energy evaluating minor leaguers for fantasy baseball instead of making money off the stock market. Although, given today's returns from the markets, I may be better off with the hauls from my fantasy winnings.

The season isn't quite over yet, but my ultimate picks weren't too terrible compared to what what actually happened. Two of the picks (Phillies and Rangers) are going to cakewalk into the playoffs (watch the Rangers collapse now, sorry Texas). Two (Red Sox and Braves) are on the verge of making it in; although, I personally think the Braves are likely to choke. My other four picks (White Sox, Rockies, Rays, and Reds) will be playing golf in October for a myriad of reasons ranging from injuries to Adam Dunn. Honestly, that's not too shabby, considering no one outside of Phoenix (apart from a lonely soul in Valparaiso, Indiana) could have seen the Diamondbacks being competitive this year.

But I want to dig a little deeper, mainly to burn some free time, and look more closely at the original "worst players" I picked did and whether they actually had any bearing on the ultimate standings at the end of the season. Like I have titled the post, pointless analysis. And this is just part one, I have more up my sleeve for when the season ultimately finishes. But unlike those smarty pants statisticians at Fangraphs who do multi-part posts, I'm pretty sure the final results won't end in me being right, and I promise I won't chalk things going wrong up to luck (that would please Buster Olney tremendously).

A couple quick facts about the "worst players" I picked at the season's start. The highest WAR put up was 3.0, the lowest was -0.9. Three players never saw any Major League playing time (Kendall, Newhan, and Robertson). Seven players played for more than one team, three of them were traded (Diaz, McDonald, and Thome), while the other four were cut/waived and re-signed with another team (Batista, Bush, Helms, and Wood).

I know that I didn't originally rank the teams in my picks since I basically pooled teams together, but I will ultimately from here on out use the list in order as my rankings. So, I predicted the White Sox to have the best record and the Astros to have the worst, in other words (thanks for helping me out, Houston). This will be another cog that makes everything even more (un)scientific.

The first thing I want to look at is what the ultimate standings would have been with those players I picked. Based on the logic of this scientific process, the team that got the most WAR out of its "worst player" should have done the best on the season. I know the season isn't finished, so WAR isn't a complete stat, but it shouldn't change much over the next week, especially since most of these players spend a majority of their days riding the pine. Also, for players who split their season between two teams, I have only used the WAR they produced when on their original teams, to get that split, I used Baseball Reference WAR, which can be a little more (or less, if the player sucked) generous, instead of Fangraphs.

Here are the rankings of "worst players" 2011 WAR:

1  Carlos Lee   HOU              3.0
2  Chris Capuano   NYM              1.8
3  Miguel Cairo   CIN              1.8
4  Derrek Lee   BAL              1.5
5  David DeJesus   OAK              1.4
6  Jason Giambi   COL              1.3
7  John McDonald   TOR              0.9
8  Aaron Miles   LAD              0.9
9  Jim Thome   MIN              0.9
10  Brooks Conrad   ATL              0.7
11  Jason Varitek   BOS              0.5
12  Luis Ayala   NYY              0.4
13  Mark Kotsay   MIL              0.2
14  Will Ohman   CHW              0.1
15  Nate Robertson   SEA             0.0
16  Jason Kendall   KCR             0.0  
17  Guillermo Mota   SFG             0.0 
18  David Newhan   SDP             0.0  
19  Dave Bush   TEX             0.0  
20  Brandon Wood   LAA            (0.1)
21  Pete Orr   PHI            (0.1)
22  Carlos Guillen   DET            (0.2)
23  Adam Everett   CLE            (0.4)
24  Melvin Mora   ARI            (0.5)
25  John Grabow   CHC            (0.5)
26  Matt Stairs   WSN            (0.6)
27  Matt Diaz   PIT            (0.7)
28  Wes Helms   FLA            (0.7)
29  Miguel Batista   STL            (0.8)
30  Dan Johnson   TBR            (0.9)

So based on this theory with the "worst players" I originally chose, the Houston Astros would have had the best record because El Caballo came out of nowhere this year.

Another fun comparison, here are the biggest "winners" and "losers" compared to my original rankings of the teams based on how many spots they moved up or down, respectively.

WINNERS:
1. Houston Astros +29 (Yes, that's a worst to first.)
2. New York Mets +20
3. Toronto Blue Jays +16
4. Seattle Mariners +14
5. Oakland Athletics +10

LOSERS:
1. Tampa Bay Rays -23
T2. Philadelphia Phillies -16
T2. Texas Rangers -16
T4. St. Louis Cardinals -13
T4. Chicago White Sox -13

Essentially, the teams I picked to do well and received crappy performances lost while the teams picked to by shitty and received good performances lost, pretty obvious. One team, the San Francisco Giants, had overall zero movement as I picked them to be 17th and Guillermo Mota was 17th in WAR of this collection of "worst players."

So that was a lot of wasted words on some pointless analysis, but what have you come to expect around here? Look forward to the season's end, when more of these posts will be on their way...