Archive for 2014 Positional Power Rankings

2014 Positional Power Rankings: Relief Pitchers (#1-#15)

What do we have here? For an explanation of this series, please read this introductory post. As noted in that introduction, the data is a hybrid projection of the ZIPS and Steamer systems with playing time determined through depth charts created by our team of authors. The rankings are based on aggregate projected WAR for each team at a given position. The author writing this post did not move your team down ten spots in order to make you angry. We don’t hate your team. I promise.

Also, keep in mind that these lists are based on rosters as of last week, so weekend transactions are not reflected in the rosters below. In some cases, teams have allocated playing time to different reserves than these depth charts show, but because they’re almost always choosing between near-replacement level players, the differences won’t move the needle much if at all.

And now, for our final act:

PPRRP

Your best bullpens in the league, separated by millimeters and likely to look completely different by the end of the year. In reality, this is the hardest group to project, because bullpens are more fungible than any other position on a roster. Starters who fail to pitch well in the rotation will get moved to the bullpen unexpectedly. Guys who look like fringe prospects will start throwing sidearm, destroy the world, and come up in a few months to dominate. The guys who were great last year will be less great this year, and new great guys will come out of nowhere.

Don’t yell at the projections, they’re doing the best they can with 60-inning samples. And we did the best we could to get the forecasted roles correct, but then Neftali Feliz gets optioned to Triple-A and who knows how long he’ll be there? So, yeah, imperfect exercise. Interpret accordingly.

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2014 Positional Power Rankings: Starting Pitchers (#1-#15)

What do we have here? For an explanation of this series, please read this introductory post. As noted in that introduction, the data is a hybrid projection of the ZIPS and Steamer systems with playing time determined through depth charts created by our team of authors. The rankings are based on aggregate projected WAR for each team at a given position. The author writing this post did not move your team down ten spots in order to make you angry. We don’t hate your team. I promise.

Because of the length of these write-ups, we’ve broken the starting pitchers and relief pitchers down into two posts apiece. The top half of the rotations are listed below, with the second half coming later this afternoon.

sp_ppr2

In this post, we deal with the left. You might notice that #15 is exactly even with #16. That’s an example of why the WAR is more important than the rank. Except for rank #1, where the leader is head and shoulders above the runner-up. The gap between first and second is bigger than the gap between second and tenth. So the #1 team probably has the best rotation in baseball, unless the projections end up wrong, which is possible if not probable. I’ll say this much: last year’s projected #1 rotation ended up as the actual #1 rotation. And this year it’s the same rotation!

One other note: our system admittedly doesn’t deal well with starter/reliever role shifts. In that it doesn’t deal with them at all, just plugging in the same projected numbers regardless. I’ll take care to note instances where that’s relevant and where the numbers might be misleading. An important instance is coming soon!

That all being said, let’s have some more be said, below. I’m comfortable with most of what’s to follow.

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2014 Positional Power Rankings: Right Field

What do we have here? For an explanation of this series, please read this introductory post. As noted in that introduction, the data is a hybrid projection of the ZIPS and Steamer systems with playing time determined through depth charts created by our team of authors. The rankings are based on aggregate projected WAR for each team at a given position. The author writing this post did not move your team down ten spots in order to make you angry. We don’t hate your team. I promise.

Also, keep in mind that these lists are based on rosters as of last week, so weekend transactions are not reflected in the rosters below. In some cases, teams have allocated playing time to different reserves than these depth charts show, but because they’re almost always choosing between near-replacement level players, the differences won’t move the needle much if at all.

Well, we got through six of these things last week and perhaps the most consistent observation was that the Marlins infield is atrocious, but the outfield is here to buck that trend. At least, right field will, as the Marlins are one of five teams that are nearly indistinguishable at the top, followed by seven next-tier groups, and then the rest of the league is probably engaged in some private grumbling.

PPRRF

The graph says there are no superstars here, but I’ll definitely take the over on at least one of the top five posting a six win season.

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2014 Positional Power Rankings: Third Base

What do we have here? For an explanation of this series, please read this introductory post. As noted in that introduction, the data is a hybrid projection of the ZIPS and Steamer systems with playing time determined through depth charts created by our team of authors. The rankings are based on aggregate projected WAR for each team at a given position. The author writing this post did not move your team down ten spots in order to make you angry. We don’t hate your team. I promise.

Evan Longoria is good at baseball. Evidence:

PPR3B

The third base graph looks more like the first base graph than it does the catcher graph. There’s a thin top tier, and then a pretty large middle tier (that you can break up into two and three win players) and then a hide-your-eyes bottom tier. By and large, the teams in the bottom half have a couple different directions in which they could go, so things could look a touch different at the end of the season, with the Braves being the notable exception. Let’s not expend a lot of words in the intro though, as there are many words expended below!

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2014 Positional Power Rankings: Catcher

What do we have here? For an explanation of this series, please read this introductory post. As noted in that introduction, the data is a hybrid projection of the ZIPS and Steamer systems with playing time determined through depth charts created by our team of authors. The rankings are based on aggregate projected WAR for each team at a given position. The author writing this post did not move your team down ten spots in order to make you angry. We don’t hate your team. I promise.

Dave’s hit you with the introduction, so it’s time to begin this series in earnest. And we’ll begin, as we always do, with the catchers, even though catching might be baseball’s most mysterious position. For an idea of the spread of what you’re going to see — which is more important than the rankings themselves — here’s a graph with green in it:

catcherwar2014

You’ll notice there’s a big gap between first and second. It’s a gap of 1.2 WAR. That’s as big as the gap between fifth and 24th. Let there be no question: by our system, there’s a clear first place, looking down upon the rest of the landscape.

But of course, our system isn’t all-encompassing or perfect, and not just because the projections are arguable and the playing time is arguable too. There are just things about catching that aren’t included, one invisible one being game-calling, and one visible one being pitch-receiving or pitch-framing. You’ve seen the pitch-framing research, and you’ve seen some of the numbers it suggests. Including those numbers would shake up these rankings. The market doesn’t seem to believe too heavily in the numbers, and conversations I’ve had suggest people in the game think the numbers are too extreme, but there’s little question there’s some kind of skill there, and so catchers should receive at least partial credit. I’ll take care to talk about pitch-framing below, for catchers where it makes sense. You can mentally shuffle that information into the rankings. Now it’s probably beyond time to proceed, from the top.

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