Hardball Retrospective – What Might Have Been – The “Original” 2002 Blue Jays

In “Hardball Retrospective: Evaluating Scouting and Development Outcomes for the Modern-Era Franchises”, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present) on their original team. I calculated revised standings for every season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition.  Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills.

Expanding on my research for the book, the following series of articles will reveal the teams with the biggest single-season difference in the WAR and Win Shares for the “Original” vs. “Actual” rosters for every Major League organization. “Hardball Retrospective” is available in digital format on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, GooglePlay, iTunes and KoboBooks. The paperback edition is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and CreateSpace. Supplemental Statistics, Charts and Graphs along with a discussion forum are offered at TuataraSoftware.com.

Don Daglow (Intellivision World Series Major League Baseball, Earl Weaver Baseball, Tony LaRussa Baseball) contributed the foreword for Hardball Retrospective. The foreword and preview of my book are accessible here.

Terminology

OWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “original” teams

OWS – Win Shares for players on “original” teams

OPW% – Pythagorean Won-Loss record for the “original” teams

AWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “actual” teams

AWS – Win Shares for players on “actual” teams

APW% – Pythagorean Won-Loss record for the “actual” teams

Assessment

The 2002 Toronto Blue Jays 

OWAR: 51.4     OWS: 312     OPW%: .572     (93-69)

AWAR: 34.2      AWS: 234     APW%: .481     (78-84)

WARdiff: 17.2                        WSdiff: 78  

The 2002 “Original” Blue Jays breezed to the American League East title, vanquishing the Yankees by a nine-game margin. Toronto topped the American League in OWAR and OWS. Shawn Green (.285/42/114) registered 110 tallies, achieved his second All-Star appearance and finished fifth in the MVP balloting. Jeff Kent (.313/37/108) drilled 42 doubles and attained a career-high in home runs. Carlos Delgado belted 33 round-trippers and coaxed 102 bases on balls. John Olerud (.300/22/102) laced 39 two-base hits and collected the Gold Glove Award. In the midst of five straight seasons with a batting average above .300, Shannon Stewart sliced 38 doubles and scored 103 runs. Vernon Wells reached the century mark in RBI and added 34 two-base knocks in his first full season. The “Actual” squad featured 2002 AL Rookie of the Year Eric Hinske (.279/24/84) at the hot corner.

Jeff Kent placed forty-eighth among second-sackers in the “The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract” top 100 player rankings while John Olerud secured the 53rd slot at first base.

Original 2002 Blue Jays                            Actual 2002 Blue Jays

STARTING LINEUP POS OWAR OWS STARTING LINEUP POS AWAR AWS
Shannon Stewart LF 2.37 18.47 Shannon Stewart LF 2.37 18.47
Vernon Wells CF 0.83 16.7 Vernon Wells CF 0.83 16.7
Shawn Green RF 6.18 32.07 Jose L. Cruz RF/LF 1.73 12.62
John Olerud DH/1B 4.64 25.92 Josh Phelps DH 1.46 9.8
Carlos Delgado 1B 4.76 25.97 Carlos Delgado 1B 4.76 25.97
Jeff Kent 2B 6.04 29.93 Dave Berg 2B 0.18 8.61
Alex S. Gonzalez SS 2.78 14.36 Chris Woodward SS 2.17 11.74
Chris Stynes 3B -0.02 3.46 Eric Hinske 3B 3.8 21.81
Greg Myers C 0.57 5.57 Tom Wilson C 0.43 5.88
BENCH POS OWAR OWS BENCH POS AWAR AWS
Jay Gibbons RF 0.59 11.97 Raul Mondesi RF 0.08 6.33
Chris Woodward SS 2.17 11.74 Orlando Hudson 2B 1.17 5.89
Craig A. Wilson RF 0.95 10.78 Felipe Lopez SS 0.08 5.8
Michael Young 2B -0.63 10.72 Ken Huckaby C -1.24 1.78
Josh Phelps DH 1.46 9.8 Joe Lawrence 2B -0.83 1.48
Orlando Hudson 2B 1.17 5.89 Dewayne Wise RF -0.42 1.39
Felipe Lopez SS 0.08 5.8 Jayson Werth RF 0.04 0.77
Brent Abernathy 2B -0.44 4.99 Homer Bush 2B -0.27 0.75
Abraham Nunez 2B 0.04 4.88 Darrin Fletcher C -0.44 0.64
Cesar Izturis SS -0.68 3.77 Brian Lesher 1B -0.5 0.23
Ryan Thompson LF 0.14 2.84 Kevin Cash C -0.14 0.08
Joe Lawrence 2B -0.83 1.48 Pedro Swann DH -0.18 0
Pat Borders DH 0.06 0.36
Mike Coolbaugh 3B -0.17 0.16
Casey Blake 3B -0.11 0.11
Kevin Cash C -0.14 0.08

Roy “Doc” Halladay (19-7, 2.93) warranted his first All-Star invitation and led the American League with 239.1 innings pitched. David “Boomer” Wells compiled 19 victories with a 3.75 ERA. Toronto’s superb bullpen staff was anchored by Billy Koch (3.27, 44 SV) and Jose Mesa (2.97, 45 SV). The setup corps consisted of Steve Karsay (3.26, 12 SV), Ben Weber (7-2, 2.54) and Kelvim Escobar (4.27, 38 SV).

Original 2002 Blue Jays                          Actual 2002 Blue Jays

ROTATION POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS AWAR AWS
Roy Halladay SP 6.74 21.67 Roy Halladay SP 6.74 21.67
David Wells SP 3.99 14.79 Pete Walker SP 1.85 8.74
Woody Williams SP 3.2 9.65 Mark Hendrickson SP 1.23 4.01
Gary Glover SP 0.03 4.54 Esteban Loaiza SP -0.15 3.86
Mark Hendrickson SP 1.23 4.01 Justin Miller SP -0.23 3.4
BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS BULLPEN POS AWAR AWS
Billy Koch RP 1.44 18.37 Kelvim Escobar RP 0.53 9.14
Jose Mesa RP 1.28 12.4 Cliff Politte RP 1.05 6.49
Steve Karsay RP 2.01 11 Corey Thurman RP 0.54 3.66
Ben Weber RP 1.33 10.48 Felix Heredia RP 0.09 3.12
Kelvim Escobar RP 0.53 9.14 Scott Eyre RP 0.11 2.83
Mike Timlin RP 1 8.04 Chris Carpenter SP 0.41 2.73
Giovanni Carrara RP 0.62 6.77 Steve Parris SP 0 1.88
David Weathers RP 1.02 6.68 Scott Cassidy RP -0.43 1.67
Chris Carpenter SP 0.41 2.73 Dan Plesac RP 0.33 1.39
Graeme Lloyd RP -0.53 1.89 Brian Bowles RP 0.04 1.37
Scott Cassidy RP -0.43 1.67 Jason Kershner RP 0.12 0.65
Jose Silva RP 0.11 1.38 Pedro Borbon RP -0.07 0.48
Brian Bowles RP 0.04 1.37 Scott Wiggins RP 0.05 0.2
Mark Lukasiewicz RP 0 1.17 Pasqual Coco RP -0.13 0
Jim Mann RP 0.18 1.02 Brian Cooper SP -0.59 0
Carlos Almanzar SW 0.24 0.94 Bob File RP -0.47 0
Tom Davey RP -0.36 0.17 Brandon Lyon SP -0.56 0
Pasqual Coco RP -0.13 0 Luke Prokopec SP -0.91 0
Bob File RP -0.47 0 Mike Smith SP -0.45 0
Pat Hentgen SP -0.54 0
Brandon Lyon SP -0.56 0
Aaron Small RP -0.08 0
Mike Smith SP -0.45 0
Todd Stottlemyre SP -0.38 0

Notable Transactions

Shawn Green 

November 8, 1999: Traded by the Toronto Blue Jays with Jorge Nunez (minors) to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Pedro Borbon and Raul Mondesi. 

Jeff Kent 

August 27, 1992: Traded by the Toronto Blue Jays with a player to be named later to the New York Mets for David Cone. The Toronto Blue Jays sent Ryan Thompson (September 1, 1992) to the New York Mets to complete the trade.

July 29, 1996: Traded by the New York Mets with Jose Vizcaino to the Cleveland Indians for Carlos Baerga and Alvaro Espinoza.

November 13, 1996: Traded by the Cleveland Indians with a player to be named later, Julian Tavarez and Jose Vizcaino to the San Francisco Giants for a player to be named later and Matt Williams. The Cleveland Indians sent Joe Roa (December 16, 1996) to the San Francisco Giants to complete the trade. The San Francisco Giants sent Trent Hubbard (December 16, 1996) to the Cleveland Indians to complete the trade. 

John Olerud 

December 20, 1996: Traded by the Toronto Blue Jays with cash to the New York Mets for Robert Person.

October 27, 1997: Granted Free Agency.

November 24, 1997: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Mets.

October 29, 1999: Granted Free Agency.

December 15, 1999: Signed as a Free Agent with the Seattle Mariners. 

Billy Koch

December 7, 2001: Traded by the Toronto Blue Jays to the Oakland Athletics for Eric Hinske and Justin Miller.

Honorable Mention

The 1995 Toronto Blue Jays 

OWAR: 27.1     OWS: 208     OPW%: .469     (76-86)

AWAR: 25.4       AWS: 168      APW%: .389    (56-88)

WARdiff: 1.7                        WSdiff: 40

The “Original” ’95 Jays plodded to a fourth-place finish in the AL East, eleven games behind the Orioles while the horrific “Actuals” placed 30 games behind the Red Sox. David Wells delivered a 16-8 record with a 3.24 ERA and made his first appearance at the Mid-Summer Classic. Jose Mesa (1.13, 46 SV) blossomed in the closer’s role, meriting second place in the Cy Young Award balloting along with a fourth-place finish in the MVP race. Derek Bell pilfered 27 bases and established personal-bests in BA (.334) and OBP (.385). Fellow outfielder Glenallen Hill clubbed 24 long balls and set career-highs with 86 RBI and 25 stolen bases. Geronimo Berroa clubbed 22 taters and knocked in 88 runs. Jeff Kent contributed 20 dingers and John Olerud socked 32 doubles.

On Deck

What Might Have Been – The “Original” 1902 Cubs

References and Resources

Baseball America – Executive Database

Baseball-Reference

James, Bill. The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York, NY.: The Free Press, 2001. Print.

James, Bill, with Jim Henzler. Win Shares. Morton Grove, Ill.: STATS, 2002. Print.

Retrosheet – Transactions Database

The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at “www.retrosheet.org”.

Seamheads – Baseball Gauge

Sean Lahman Baseball Archive

 



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Derek Bain is a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games. He has written a number of articles for Fangraphs and Seamheads, and enjoys spending quality time with his family.

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