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  1. Going out on a limb here, I’m guessing the answer is “pretty good.” Though it may be true their objective win total is 98 wins, don’t forget they play in the NL East, and get to feast on the Nats and Mets and Marlins, and though the Braves should be good, it’s not like the NL East is going to be quite a fierce as the AL East. I’m sure you brain boys are running the regressions now, but an objective 98 wins should, in the NL East, translate into 102+.

    Of course this guarentees nothing in the playoffs except for a spot and some likely good pitching, but everyone knows that anyway.

    Comment by Dan in Philly — December 14, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

  2. Good article. Vegas odds aren’t saying the Phillies are going to win the World Series, it is just saying it is the most likely outcome – all other things held constant of course.

    We saw what the Giants did to the Phillies in 2010, so color me slightly concerned about our offensive production.

    Comment by Bay Slugga — December 14, 2010 @ 4:03 pm

  3. -2 WAR (Blanton)
    +7 WAR (Lee)

    -5 WAR (Werth)
    +2 WAR (Brown)

    =+2 WAR plus whatever extra production they get from Utley/Rollins being healthy

    OMG! GREATEST TEAM OF ALL TIME!!!

    Comment by Easier Calculation — December 14, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

  4. I’m seeking some understanding about WAR. If a team has 50WAR, they end up with 17 wins over average?

    So an average team is worth 33 WAR?

    Does 1 WAR above average project to an 82-80 season? Or is that 2 WAR over average?

    Comment by Joe — December 14, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

  5. I think much of it is attributable to the belief that pitching wins championships. I would love it if someone on Fangraphs analyzed the performance of past WS Champions and compare with how they pitched and hit over the course of a season.

    Comment by YiYang — December 14, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

  6. I second the sentiment. People are sooo overreacting.

    But, also add in half a season of oswalt over kendrick.

    And lee is replacing moyer

    Comment by andy s. — December 14, 2010 @ 4:08 pm

  7. “The Twins put up that same number last year, while the Twins came in at +49″

    Not sure that’s quite what you wanted to say there.

    Comment by Theo — December 14, 2010 @ 4:08 pm

  8. You mean 2 Wins plus whatever from Utley/Rollins being healthy (lets say 2 total) on top of a 97-win team? So you’ll grant a 101 wins.

    You’re mocking people for being excited for a 101-win team? Seriously?

    Comment by Jimmy the Greek — December 14, 2010 @ 4:08 pm

  9. The Phils 50 WAR is in the NL. They don’t need to play the Yanks, Red Sox, Rays 19 times.

    Even though they’ll be pretty close to even with the Red Sox, the Phils clearly have the easier path to the playoffs, and at that point it is a crap shoot.

    Comment by Locke — December 14, 2010 @ 4:09 pm

  10. I think pitching wins regular seasons — not neccessarily championships.

    Comment by JK — December 14, 2010 @ 4:11 pm

  11. I’m mocking people who are suggesting this is the greatest team of all time and will push 120 wins. 101 wins doesn’t amaze me, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up in the mid-90s given the age of their team.

    Comment by Easier Calculation — December 14, 2010 @ 4:12 pm

  12. WAR = Wins above Replacement, so WAR above average in sort of nonsensical. It would just be WAA.

    A team full of replacement level players would win about 48 games. The average team will win 81 games, making them +33 Wins Above Replacement. A team that is just +1 WAR would project to win 49 games.

    Putting a number to replacement-level is hardly an exact science, so recognize that these are all approximations; but the general construct holds.

    Comment by Rick — December 14, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

  13. I have yet to see or hear a single person predict any sort of crazy win total. That’s a strawman.

    What people are saying is that they are the favorite to be the best team in baseball. In almost any year, a team that wins 100 games would be the best team in baseball.

    Obviously, if you’re a 98-win team on paper, you need luck to get over 100, and bad luck could easily push you into the low to mid-90s. But to say a team looks like a 98-100 win team with reasonable projections is to say that’s a damn good baseball team, and frankly one worth getting excited about, considering how cool and unique this sort of rotation is.

    Comment by Jimmy the Greek — December 14, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

  14. One could argue that they should be the favorite, if only because one of the two AL dominant teams will have to get by the other just to make it to the WS – that should make Philly roughly twice as likely to win it all as either Boston or New York individually, if you assume all three teams are approximately equal at +50 WAR or so…

    Comment by Mike Williams — December 14, 2010 @ 4:26 pm

  15. On a related note, I think that the Giants pitching is probably in line for something like 25 WAR themselves. I don’t know that this even gives the Phillies the best rotation in baseball considering the black hole that is their #5 starting spot.

    Comment by AK707 — December 14, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

  16. It’s not a strawman simply because it doesn’t apply to you. Not everybody is criticizing you personally, calm down buddy.

    Comment by Easier Calculation — December 14, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

  17. I had figured a team of replacement level at 51-101, allowing for 15 slots of 2 WAR per position to get to a 81-81 team. That’s 8 position players of averaging 150 games, 5 starter spots of 200 innings, and the core relief taking 400 innings for the equivalent of the last two spots. B y definition the bench and mop up are replacement innings.

    Comment by JMN — December 14, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

  18. It was a 95 win team last year by pythag, 90 wins by BP’s 3rd order wins, and 89 win team by BtB’s power rankings. Let’s be crude and average those with the 97 wins they actually got, and last year they were ~93 win team. You’re getting about 2 wins better this year, bringing you to 95. And I think that’s generous, since I think BtB and 3rd order wins are more accurate: I’d peg them at about 92 wins, really. WAR is a bad way to go, since xFIP should be used rather than FIP for pitching. But I digress.

    The injury argument is flawed one. Sure, you may pick up, say, 4 wins on having healthy Utley and Rollins, but iirc, aside from those two, the Phillies were pretty healthy last year. So you’re likely to lose those 4 wins from injuries in other places.

    Phillies are really probably a 92 win team this year. Don’t be too disappointed, Philadelphia.

    Comment by Andy S — December 14, 2010 @ 4:37 pm

  19. WAR is Wins Above Replacement. Not Wins Above Average. An average team would be expected to be right around 81 wins for half the season. A team with all replacement players would be at 0 WAR, and for the purposes of the analysis in this article, that was set at 48 wins. Given that the worst teams in MLB history have generally been in the mid to high 40s, its a pretty decent estimate.

    Thus, if a team has 50 WAR, they end up with 48+50 Wins or 98, which as you say is 17 wins over an average team, which would have 81.

    1 WAR more than the average WAR (if one wanted to use that stat for some reason) would likely be right around an 82-win season, but it would depend on the definition of replacement, which is kind of vague.

    Comment by GTStD — December 14, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

  20. the rest of their roster isn’t good enough to make them the easy choice to win it all next year.

    As opposed to all the years where there is an easy choice? *grin*

    A team will have to beat Halladay or Lee twice to win the WS against the Phils. Favorites. The Phils offense is also pretty good (obviously).

    So, 2011 will basically be like every other year. There are multiple teams with decent chances to win the WS. One of them has to be the favorite. No team is guaranteed to do so.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 14, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

  21. Expanding upon Keith Law’s suggestion that the Phillies could dangle Hamels for right-handed hitting outfielder, would the Brewers consider dealing Braun for Hamels and Brown? Obviously I’m thinking out loud here, and presenting this as a very unlikely possibility.

    Braun’s signed through 2015 while Hamels’ servitude expires in two seasons. Would six years of Brown and two of Hamels be enough for Braun? These are the same people who traded six years of Brett Lawrie for a couple years of Marcum.

    Let’s say Braun is worth 25 WAR over the next five years, and Hamels is worth roughly 7.5 for two seasons. Brown most certainly would compensate for that gap over the next six years. Something to ponder.

    Comment by John — December 14, 2010 @ 5:06 pm

  22. I think replacement level for wins is lower in the NL than the AL (isn’t it?) so 50 WAR in the NL accounts for the fact you don’t play the AL East.

    Comment by Azmanz — December 14, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

  23. Brewers wouldn’t even consider that trade…

    Comment by Sal Bando — December 14, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

  24. There’s also something to be said about the sum being more than its parts. 4 guys who can go 7-8 innings everyday, pitching at All Star caliber level, could result in a team that far and away exceeds its pythag. The excitement level coming from everyone is probably an understanding that 1 WAR plus 1 WAR doesn’t always equal 2 WAR.

    Comment by Ed Nelson — December 14, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

  25. if only there were a team that did beat Lee twice in order to win a WS…

    Comment by Mike — December 14, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

  26. Howard, Victorino, Polanco, Ruiz, Madson, Happ and Blanton all had DL stints during last season, so I wouldn’t exactly call them healthy outside of just Rollins and Utley.

    Comment by Jimmy the Greek — December 14, 2010 @ 5:20 pm

  27. Winning games (both
    post and during season) is done by scoring more runs than your opposition. Thus, good pitiching and good hitting result in winning. Why is it more helpful for a pitcher to save 10 more runs that a replacement, than it is for a hitter to earn 10 more runs than a replacement? If anything i’d rather have the hitter as he is less likely to get hurt.

    Comment by Z — December 14, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

  28. For a site/group that treats everything as it were the “average”, there sure are a lot of comments about single exceptions.

    But, I get it. Even Lloyd Christmas will tell you that one in a million means, “there’s a chance”.

    In order for any team to win a 7-game series they will either have to beat the other team’s #1 or #2 twice, or beat the both once (and then beat the #3 twice). That type of thing will happen every single playoff series.

    When the #1 and #2 are Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, that feat becomes much more difficult. Those two are a nothc above even other “dynamic duos” (Wain & Carp, Cain and Timmy, Lester & Clay, etc).

    It can happen, but it is, by far, the toughest road for an opponent to take. That was the point.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 14, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

  29. I think most people here would agree that a team that projects to win roughly 98 games (a perfectly reasonable projection, strawmen about 120 victories aside), is comfortably a playoff team in the NL. I think that the reason they are World Series favorites is twofold: 1) they are in the NL, and therefore can advance to the World Series more easily without having to face the Yankees or Red Sox while those teams have to face each other (Cameron makes this point); and additionally 2) having talent concentrated in a few people is important in the playoffs given the extra days of rest and reductions in players seeing action. For example, the Reds and Twins both had quality depth/5-man rotations that aided them in the regular season (and in getting to their gaudy WAR totals); it did not prove helpful in the playoffs. The Phillies WAR production would come basically exclusively from the roughly 15 roster members who are likely to see meaningful action in a playoff series, and thus they would be likely to play above their WAR level in a short series.

    Of course, they should not be favorites against the field, as no one can be in baseball and the better team wins like 65% of the time, but they’re more likely to win than anyone else.

    Comment by Andrew — December 14, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

  30. Someone already has addressed this issue; their names are Nate Silver and Dayn Perry and their essay, “Why doesn’t Billy Beane’s Shit Work in the Playoffs,” can be found in Baseball Between The Numbers. The title, suggesting that their argument is a rebuke of Billy Beane and possibly Sabremetrics, is misleading. The article actually discusses how the value of pitching is suppressed in the regular season, while offensive value is inflated. Essentially teams with powerful offenses tend to win a lots of games in the regular season because they clobber bad teams, while teams with good pitching, because they play in a lot of close games, will invariably lose some games due to bad luck. Yet in the post-season the good pitching teams tend to outperform good offense teams. This hypothesis was gathered from a analysis of all playoff teams dating back to the 60s (I don’t have the book on hand so I’m going off of memory). According to the data, teams that qualified for the playoffs who had the best pitching (especially in the bull-pen) and played the best defense in their leagues consistently outperformed teams which had the best offenses in their leagues. This year’s playoffs seem to follow Silver and Perry’s model quite nicely. All 4 NL playoff teams were in the top half of their league in xFIP in September and October, with the Giants leading the pack at 3.28. (I’m using the Spet/Oct split in order to account for trade deadline acquisitions) Only 1 AL team was in the top half of the AL in Sept/Oct, the Twins, who unfortunately got knocked out in a wacky first round series.

    So to bring the conversation back to the Phillies, if they can make it to the playoffs, they would be in great position to win the World Series–according to Silver and Perry’s argument at least.

    Comment by Liem — December 14, 2010 @ 5:45 pm

  31. Agreed – eventually everyone will remember that the Phillies (a) couldn’t score runs against the Giants in the playoffs and (b) Cliff Lee couldn’t beat the Giants in the playoffs. I would still have to favor the Giants in any 2011 postseason series – but the Phillies seem like much more of a lock to get to the playoffs and have home field advantage.

    Comment by James — December 14, 2010 @ 5:45 pm

  32. But those were all minor injuries to average players. That all probably resulted in a 1-2 win difference…so if you want to say a 93 win team, okay.

    Comment by Andy S — December 14, 2010 @ 5:46 pm

  33. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/2010-disable-list-spreadsheet-and-team-information/

    One of the healthier teams.

    Comment by Andy S — December 14, 2010 @ 5:47 pm

  34. The window is small in Philly, this team is right at the cusp of being the 08/09/10 Astros and this contract is eerily similar to that of Carlos Lee’s – granted, Cliff is better hands down it’s a contract that could (/should) pose problems for the back half of it. Same goes for Halladay’s, Utley’s, Howard’s, Rollins’, etc.

    Comment by Brandon Heikoop — December 14, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

  35. That is all correct. However they also found that that the teams that did the BEST had a combination of good hitting and good pitching (duh) and that just having good pitching is by no means a guarantee to get far in the playoffs.

    Thus the Phillies really need their offense to at least stay where it was, and not take a step back.

    Comment by Steve — December 14, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

  36. I don’t think that is what Law was suggesting the Phils should do, but was suggesting what Ruben Amaro Jr. might do. Considering the past transaction that RAJ has made, nothing is out of the question. But as we all know, trading Lee back fired. I don’t think he will make the same mistakeby trading Hamels. And as you mentioned, Hamels is still under control for another 2 years and is relatively cheap. If anyone is going, its Blanton, which is likely going to happen before spring training (or atleast I hope so).

    Comment by Jon — December 14, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

  37. I’ll bet Halladay’s wont cause problems. If the phillies magically start playing like dung and he wants a ring the phillies should find quite a few suitors at that contract. its practically a bargain at *only* 20 mil.

    Comment by TheUnrepentantGunner — December 14, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

  38. 50 WAR over the course of a season is far from unusual, you’ll always have a few teams that were startlingly lucky with balls in play, etc… but 50 EWAR prior to the season is something spectacular. The team doesn’t need to get any breaks to win the division, and they may win it all despite bad luck and injuries. If things all go right, the ceiling for these guys is insanely high.

    Comment by Chris — December 14, 2010 @ 6:57 pm

  39. Only if you assume that the WS *will* be Philadelphia vs. Boston/NY (and that those teams are roughly even). Then you’d have 50%, 25%, 25%. But even if you assume the Phils make it to the NLCS and play someone they have a 70% chance of beating (i.e. heavy favorites) and Boston and NY play in the ALCS, you get: Phi 35%, NY 25%, BOS 25% (NLCS underdogs 15%). Obviously these odds all decrease when you factor in the (non 100%) chance of getting to the LCSs (each one of those teams would be at best 70%-75% I’d think).

    In short, no, Phildelphia is not even close to twice as likely to win it all as Boston or NY.

    Comment by wchristo — December 14, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

  40. Are you assuming three man rotations?

    Hypothetical:
    *Game 1: Beat Halladay
    *Game 2: Beat Lee
    Game 3: Beat Oswalt
    Game 4: Beat Hamels
    +———————-+
    There, I’ve swept the Phillies and I’ve beaten Halladay and Lee only one time. Am I missing something?

    Comment by Xeifrank — December 14, 2010 @ 7:30 pm

  41. i’m not sure that article really addresses the point the people were making about the phillies situation. i think there’s a definitional question in play here as it relates to “healthy”. i don’t want to put words in their mouths, but i think the point that was that the phillies lost a number of other 3+ WAR/impact players besides utley and rollins throughout the year and that meant that they weren’t “healthy”. now, their bench did remain healthy, which is how that days number you’re pointing to isn’t higher. however, it’s more impactful to lose a 3+WAR for a stretch than lose a 0.5 WAR player. intuitively that makes sense too. i doubt that the phillies would be considered healthy if you consider the WAR values of the players who missed time.

    Comment by erich — December 14, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

  42. Neither would the Phillies

    Comment by bsizzle — December 14, 2010 @ 7:45 pm

  43. Mets fan much?

    Comment by Jimmy the Greek — December 14, 2010 @ 7:48 pm

  44. But what I’m saying is a good chance they’ll lose equally big impact players again.

    I don’t see why you would expect the Phillies to lose fewer days from big impact players next season, is what I’m saying.

    Comment by Andy S — December 14, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

  45. Isn’t it quite possible that the wheels fall off this staff altogether due to injuries? Halladay has been pretty blessed, but Lee and Oswalt have hit the DL in the past. Not that I put a ton of stock in it yet, but Zimmerman’s new toy has this:

    12 Roy Oswalt 49.4%
    28 Roy Halladay 43.5%
    31 Cliff Lee 42.8%

    Now the actual numbers don’t probably mean a whole lot, but if there is anything to this algorithm, then these look like 3 of the more likely injury recipients this year. I’m sure they could overcome the loss of one of these guys, but if 2 or even all of them miss a month, then they’re probably not going to perform up to expectations.

    Comment by Sandy Kazmir — December 14, 2010 @ 8:00 pm

  46. Seriously, half the guys you named aren’t even signed to long term contracts.

    Comment by Rob — December 14, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

  47. Except Baseball Prospectus renounced that “secret sauce” formula for playoff success this summer:

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=12085

    Here’s the money quote: “what we have is a model based on historical data that has thus far been ineffective at predicting results out-of-sample, which doesn’t give us a lot of reason to be confident in it going forward. So for now, we’re retiring the Secret Sauce.”

    So there’s really no reason to believe that some particular balance of baseball virtues produces wins in the playoffs moreso than in the regular season. Good offense, good defense, good pitching. The more the better. Just like the regular season.

    Comment by Luke in MN — December 14, 2010 @ 8:36 pm

  48. Not really…consider that they can and are obviously willing to keep a high payroll in the $150-170 million range…add in the supposed “Best Single A team” in the minors and their willingness to spend, and you have a team like Boston and NY that will do what it takes to stay on top.

    Howard’s deal won’t cripple them because they still have another $140 million to work with.

    Comment by NEPP — December 14, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

  49. Yeah. I don’t think a team would start their 4th starter down 3-0.

    I think you’re missing off days.

    Why wouldn’t Halladay pitch games 1, 4, & 7? He’s not Cliff Lee?

    Even if he only pitches games 1 and 5, I said you have to beat one of them twice or both once.

    It can happen, but the odds aren’t in your favor. That’s the point I am making. There are all sorts of possibilities. The Cardinals could get WS QS from Anthony Reyes and Jeff Weaver, but I wouldn’t bank on that for a win … Just like I wouldn’t bank on downing Halladay and Lee.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 14, 2010 @ 9:00 pm

  50. >>None of those three won the World Series.<<

    Why is this meaningful given that the playoffs are a crap shoot?

    Comment by Bigmouth — December 14, 2010 @ 9:01 pm

  51. I’d replace those “couldn’ts” with “didn’ts.” Single games aren’t all that meaningful in baseball. The Phillies offense is so-so.

    Comment by JH — December 14, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

  52. I don’t think comparing the Twins’ and Reds’ staffs is valid. Sure, they were solid-good, but the Phil’s potential staff is sick.

    Comment by Dave — December 14, 2010 @ 10:10 pm

  53. What does it do to the other team when you have to face those guys 1-4? Talk about not getting a break. Even if Doc has a bad day then you still see Lee and Oswalt right afterwards.

    Comment by Ed Nelson — December 14, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

  54. Sure, injury problems could happen.

    But injury problems could happen to any pitchers on any team. Who do you think is better equipped to handle an injury to 1 or 2 stud pitchers– the team with 4 studs or the team with those 1 or 2 studs and a bunch of mediocrity afterwards.

    Everyone knows injuries happen, especially to pitchers. Does that mean you shouldn’t get good pitchers?

    Comment by Jimmy the Greek — December 14, 2010 @ 10:43 pm

  55. This analysis is bizzare to me. Is there some suggestion here that the Giants’ ability to beat Cliff Lee in the 2010 postseason is a repeatable skill?

    Comment by NBarnes — December 14, 2010 @ 10:49 pm

  56. http://www.kingkaufman.com/2010/12/11/replacement-level/

    A team with all replacement level players would not have 0 wins, it would be the Royals or the Pirates. KK has 3-4 articles on this topic on his site, which I found very interesting.

    I am a rabid Giant fan, and the Phillies made a fantastic move. There’s no denying that. But other teams (the Braves) are also intimidating. I think Phils and this rotation deserve the attention.

    Comment by DH — December 14, 2010 @ 11:08 pm

  57. Really? Defense is usually more important in the playoffs in every team sport, doubly so in baseball. Find a championship team without A+ pitching. “Pitching Wins Pennants” is one of the oldest aphorisms in baseball.

    Comment by DH — December 14, 2010 @ 11:10 pm

  58. “if only there were a team that did beat Lee twice in order to win a WS…”

    Amen, brother

    Comment by DH — December 14, 2010 @ 11:13 pm

  59. I think circlecurve got a little overexcited what with all the cy young awards getting mixed in with the cheesesteaks, liberty bells, and Rocky statues.

    Comment by DH — December 14, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

  60. It’s not merely a question of injuries or even their severity but WHEN they happen (which is mostly luck and partly age.) A 110 win team that has it’s # 2 starter and a key reliever out in the postseason has lost alot. In the Phillies case though, they’d still have three #1 starters to roll out there.

    Comment by DH — December 14, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

  61. So you’re saying the Pirates and Orioles are better than a team of replacement players?

    Comment by Scout Finch — December 14, 2010 @ 11:34 pm

  62. one thing to remember is that while a run saved is as important as a run scored, a team must be balanced. too much defense would limit the usefulness of adding more defense. too much offense limits the usefulness of even more offense. too much pitching and adding yet another starter makes little difference. the phillies needed a right handed bat more than another starter, although having lee will never hurt. what i am trying to say is that adding a right handed impact bat or two (like the one they lost) would be a better use of 20+mil a year than getting another starter. the phillies could have had a great lineup and great pitching, but now they have a good lineup and great pitching that is a little better than before. its sort of the issue that the mariners had: too much pitching and defense and too little offense. they did what they were supposed to do in saving runs, but they still have to score some. now the phillies are not in the same boat as the Ms, but they are coming dangerously close to following the same path.

    Comment by phoenix2042 — December 14, 2010 @ 11:38 pm

  63. This is right.

    Comment by adam — December 14, 2010 @ 11:47 pm

  64. I’m not sure the “more pitching isn’t better” thing works. You’re talking about starters, four starters, that will probably never pitch on the same day in the regular season barring injury. If they were all relievers, then you might have a point… but I’m not buying it here.

    A run save is NOT a run earned in a “low scoring” sport such as baseball. The difference between allowing 2 runs per game and 4 runs per game is not the same as the difference between scoring 8 runs per game and scoring 6 runs per game.

    Comment by adam — December 14, 2010 @ 11:52 pm

  65. Since when are the playoffs random? I’d like to think the better team wins more than 5 times out of 10.

    Comment by Creek Johnson — December 15, 2010 @ 12:21 am

  66. To preempt the inevitable rebuttal to the “5 times out of ten” part, pretend I just put “50% of the time”. I’m just saying each team doesn’t walk in with a probability of .125 to win it all.

    Comment by Creek Johnson — December 15, 2010 @ 12:25 am

  67. Vicorino, Ruiz, Polanco and Howard are not average players.

    Comment by DavidCEisen — December 15, 2010 @ 12:33 am

  68. The odds offered by bookmakers are not something like scientific predictions about the likelihood of outcomes occurring, they are more predictions about the selecting the odds that will result in certain distributions of betting amounts, likely a fairly even spread among the options. Probably easier to visualize with a single game — if exactly equal amounts are bet on each side in a game with a point spread / proportional amounts with a money line, then the house is guaranteed profit w/o risk (because of the loser’s ‘vig’ / i.e., each side is slightly different rates which favor the house, like a currency exchange). Of course, quality of teams must be taken into account in setting the odds as this will obviously influence the bet-makers. But what the casinos attempt to do when deciding on what odds to offer is not in the same spirit as what a meteorologist would do, an attempt to truly quantify what is going to happen with the weather, though Larry David may disagree with that.

    Comment by Dr. Bingerloo — December 15, 2010 @ 3:25 am

  69. DH, if you were in a 7 game series down 3-0, would you pitch Hamels or Halladay on 3 days rest? Your horse is so high I can barely see you up there….please step down so it’s easier to talk.

    Comment by R M — December 15, 2010 @ 3:43 am

  70. Beating Cliff Lee in the playoffs may or may not be a repeatable skill, but the Giants ability to neutralize the lefty imbalance in the Phils lineup would seem to be. On paper the Phils are the best team in the NL right now, and if they played the Giants 100 times they would probably win 55 of the games…but over a 7 game series the Giants are likely their most problematic match up.

    Comment by Jason — December 15, 2010 @ 3:47 am

  71. I’d say the playoffs are more of a crap chute than a crap shoot. It’s inevitable that crap will be at the bottom of a crap chute, and it’s inevitable that they playoffs are going to be crappy. Yet, it would be exciting to ride down a crap chute just for the sake of going for a ride–just like the playoffs.

    Comment by R M — December 15, 2010 @ 3:48 am

  72. If you flipped a coin an infinite number of times it would come up heads 50% and tails 50%. But if you only flipped a coin 5 times, or 7 times, either heads or tails would prevail, despite their equitable probability. That would be random.

    In baseball terms, the better team might win 60 games out of 100, but there are a lot of combinations of 7 games within that set that would result in a 4-3 advantage to the “inferior” team.

    Comment by Jason — December 15, 2010 @ 3:59 am

  73. Why would you project Jimmy Rollins for a 3.5 WAR season? 2.7 and 2.3 in the last two season, and coming off of injuries on the wrong side of 30? Not a good decision to project him that highly. Also Utley is really the only person on their team that can hit lefties.

    Comment by Matt — December 15, 2010 @ 6:29 am

  74. Mets fan, no.

    And I wouldn’t say “half the guys”, Rollins isn’t and his contract is affordable as well, somehow I imagined that.

    But Halladay to a contract for his age 34, 35, and 36 seasons. Utley for the same. Howard up until his age 37 season. Now Lee.

    That’s what, nearly $90M wrapped up in 4 players that are going to be WELL out of their prime at the same time.

    Comment by Brandon Heikoop — December 15, 2010 @ 7:54 am

  75. Not sure how many “best single A teams” have translated to major league success, there are a lot of stops along the way. They have some high ceiling players, but it’s a lot of projection right now – or so it seems.

    I’m saying that in a year or two, it’s not unreasonable to expect age to catch up to this team and all at once. With the amount of cash they have tied up in mid 30 year old players for the next three seasons we’re looking at a team that has to hope and pray things stay together.

    Comment by Brandon Heikoop — December 15, 2010 @ 7:59 am

  76. They are also LITERALLY sick given their average age. Whereas the Twins and Reds have rotations that can develop into something special – the way the Giants have.

    Comment by Brandon Heikoop — December 15, 2010 @ 8:01 am

  77. Give me 5 starters under 30 that don’t have a history of injury and I’ll run them up against a team of free agent acquisitions any day of the week.

    Comment by Sandy Kazmir — December 15, 2010 @ 8:35 am

  78. And they’ll likely be able to plug most of the gaps and at least stay competitive at worst. They have the financial resources to do it.

    Comment by NEPP — December 15, 2010 @ 9:06 am

  79. Iwhy use the coin flip analogy?

    That only works if the teams have equal probability.

    It’s more like weighted dice in favor of the better team.

    The way people use the term random as if it were significant is confusing. EVERYTHING in life is random. Getting in an accident or not, spilling a drink or not, seeing a friend, etc.

    A 10-sided die could have 9 faces that are red and 1 blue face. Whether it comes up blue or red is RANDOM or LUCK, as we’d call it. So, when people are saying this do they even realize what they are saying?

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 15, 2010 @ 10:12 am

  80. 2010 Pirates wereessentially a replacement level team + Andrew McCutchon. Orioles were most certainly better than replacment level – Their roster includes fine players like Jones, Markakis, Luke Scott, Brian Roberts, Jeremy Guthrie and Matt Wieters. Along with a lot of replacement level dreck.

    Comment by Rally — December 15, 2010 @ 10:52 am

  81. the Orioles? :-)

    Comment by David — December 15, 2010 @ 11:15 am

  82. Sandy – I’m pretty sure the more injury-free years you have under your belt, the less likely you are to suffer an injury going forward (from a Bayesian standpoint). so what you’re saying is that you’d rather have, say, Justin Verlander over Roy Halladay, because Verlander is younger, and therefore (in your view) less of an injury risk. well, actually, Halladay is less of an injury risk because he has pitched 8 of his last 9 seasons without any type of arm injury (he missed time in 2005 because of a broken leg caused by a line drive), and the shoulder injury in 2004 wasn’t that serious – just needed a couple months of rest.

    Comment by David — December 15, 2010 @ 11:30 am

  83. it’s the same principle though. if you had a weighted coin that was 55% likely to be heads and 45% likely to be tails, and you flipped it 7 times, the probability of getting 4 tails before 4 heads is still pretty significant (I’m going to guess like 35%). and a lot of the time, the difference in skill is a lot closer, like 51 – 49%, when it comes to playoff series.

    Comment by David — December 15, 2010 @ 11:33 am

  84. While they clearly got Lee at a great price considering what the Yankees and Rangers were offering, the phillies seem like the team out of last years contenders that might have the least to gain from Lee’s services. He’s clearly a huge help for any team in the regular season, but in the playoffs where all but 2 games will be pitched by your top 3 pitchers, Lee will mostly be taking starts that would have gone to Cole Hamels. This just doesn’t seem like as much of an upgrade come playoff time as it would be for the other teams competing for Lee’s services. I still think it’s a good signing. You can’t count on all your pitchers to stay healthy all year long and the back half of philly’s rotation is pretty ugly, making them much more of a force in the regular season, but with the strength of their returning top 3 I just don’t think the Phillies stand as much to gain from adding Lee as either the Rangers or Yankees might have.

    Comment by Doug — December 15, 2010 @ 12:03 pm

  85. i’m not predicting anything. i’m describing what happened last year and why they could easily be considered “unhealthy”.

    Comment by erich — December 15, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

  86. I think the Giants’ pitching is in line for a higher WAR total than the Phillies. The Phils are better 1-4, but not by all that much, and Zito’s a pretty damned good 5th starter, probably the best in baseball. Plus, the Giants’ bullpen is among the best in baseball (possibly the best with the Pads selling off half of theirs), so I’d look for a better win total from there. The Giants could put up nearly 30 WAR from their staff if things go well.

    Comment by quincy0191 — December 16, 2010 @ 4:40 am

  87. Except the Phillies have to climb over some pretty good teams in the Giants, Braves, Rockies, Reds, and Cardinals to make it as well. The Phillies aren’t automatic NL champions (saw how well that prediction turned out a month ago) with this addition; they’re not even locks to make the playoffs. I could see a Giants/Rockies/Braves/Cardinals or Reds postseason personally. I don’t think it’s likely (Philly will probably be playing October baseball), but let’s not pencil them into the World Series just yet.

    Comment by quincy0191 — December 16, 2010 @ 4:49 am

  88. If I told you how easy it is to get a job in this recession, you wouldn’t believe me. But the truth is more employers are going online to find people just like you and me who are ready to work at a good job (one that pays good!). The only thing that makes sense is to stop wasting time driving around all day filling out a dozen applications and going from one boring low paying job to another. I found this site that pretty much matches you up with your dream job that is available in your city right now. I have found it very helpful. Go to YouFindWork.com

    Comment by CarlosM7 — December 17, 2010 @ 9:40 am

  89. On paper the Phils look like the class of the NL, but the season isn’t played on paper. With the possible exception of Brown who may not start the season in right, all of the other Phils players are on the wrong side of 30. As the article points out, it is reasonable to expect continued regression from Ibanez and Polanco and Ruiz clearly had a career year offensively. Perhaps Utley and Rollins will rebound from injury filled years and play up to their prior standards, but then again maybe they are regressing as well.

    There are several NL teams that have rotations that rival (I didn’t say were as good as) the Phils such as SF, Milwaukee and even Atlanta in their own division if Jurrjens returns to form. None of those team should concede anything to Philly this year.

    Comment by bvillebaron — December 27, 2010 @ 11:45 am

  90. Rediculous article. he rest of he team arent good enough??? Clearly a bonehead. Lets asssume Howard Utley Rollins Polanco Ruiz etc have avg years. They had the 2nd highest runs scored AND HEY WERE ALL HURT AND THEY GOT RID OF THEIR WORST RUN PRODUCER WITH RISP!! Who goes by WAR anyway, if your gonna make an article use all facts dont pick 1 stat

    Comment by jnolan33177 — January 1, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

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