Thursday, October 15, 2009
2009 ALCS Preview: Angels vs. Yankees
Angels in Four.OK, even though we already know what's going to happen, I'll run through the numbers for the hell of it.
After constantly having to hear and read about how they couldn't beat Boston, the Angels showed that they could in fact do so, sweeping the Red Sox out of the ALDS. John Lackey and Jered Weaver both pitched gems against Boston, which helped make up for the team hitting .228/.318/.351. Then again, when facing not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven, not eight, not nine, not ten, not eleven, BUT TWELVE aces, .228/.318/.351 is actually pretty respectable.
So here are the Angels' position player projections for offense and defense.
|gary matthews jr.||lf||2||.257||.330||.401||.323||.315||-.008||0||1||-1|
PA: Estimated plate appearances for the series, assuming it goes the distance.
pwOBA: projected weighted on-base average, a rate version of linear weights
09wOBA: 2009 actual wOBA
Diff: 09wOBA minus pwOBA. As a rough rule of thumb, a difference of .010 in wOBA is worth about five runs over 600 PAs.
BR: Estimated batting runs for the series using linear weights for estimated PA
Outs: Estimated outs for the series based on revised projection and estimated PA
dRS: Defensive projection over 150 games using an average of zone rating and UZR for non-catchers, and for 120 games using a system similar to the one described here for catchers.
Although the MSM is going to beat us to death about the fact that the Angels have owned the Yankees in the postseason, let's look at some facts.
Here are the batters from the Angels who played against the Yankees in the 2002 postseason.
Here are the pitchers from the Angels who played against the Yankees in the 2002 postseason.
Here are the batters from the Angels who played against the Yankees in the 2005 postseason.
Here are the pitchers from the Angels who played the Yankees in the 2002 postseason.
Players in bold are members of the 2009 Angels that will be facing the Yankees.
Wow. So we have one player who was on the 2002 Angels on the 2009 Angels (John Lackey). And we have four players who were on the the 2005 Angels that are on the 2009 Angels (Figgins, Lackey, Vlad Guerrero, and Juan Rivera).
Here are the batters from the Yankees who played against the Angels in the 2002 postseason.
John Vander Wal
Here are the pitchers from the Yankees who played against the Angels in the 2002 postseason.
Here are the batters from the Yankees who played against the Angels in the 2005 postseason.
Here are the pitchers from the Yankees who played against the Angels in the 2005 postseason.
So we have two hitters (Jeter and Posada) and two pitchers (Mo and Pettitte) who played for the Yanks against the Angels in 2002 who will be playing in this series. We have five hitters (Alex Rodriguez, Posada, Matsui, Jeter and Cano) and ONE pitcher from the 2005 Yankees (Mo) who will be playing in this series.
In what freaking way is what happened in 2002 and 2005 relevant to what will happen in 2009?
Anyway, looking at 2009, we'll keep reading about how the Yankees have to keep Chone Figgins off the bases if they want to win, and that's probably at least partially true.
Even though Bobby Abreu's power is below average for a corner OF, he still does a great job at getting on base and works long counts. Abreu loses about .040 points of OBP and .050 points of SLG versus lefties, so between Sabathia, Pettitte, Coke and Marte (maybe?) they have some potential to match up with him in an important situation
Torii Hunter had a great year in exceeding his projections, but it's an uncertain proposition that he's quite as good as he was in 2009. Hunter is about .050 points of OBP and .040 points of SLG better against lefties, which will be an issue if the Yankees go with Coke or Marte against Abreu in a situation that doesn't end an inning.
In terms of exceeing projections, Vlad Guerrero was the polar opposite of Hunter. He had a down year although it looks like it may have been at least partially health-related. If he's healthy he should probably be better than he was in 2009. Guerrero has a history of underachieving in the postseason but he got the biggest hit of the Angels/Red Sox ALDS.
Former Yankee and glove thief Juan Rivera (yeah, I know it was actually Ruben) will be an important factor in the Angels lineup. With the likelihood of the Yankees starting Sabathia and Pettitte in five of the seven games, Rivera's ability to hit lefties better than righties (career .293/.334/.516 vs. LHP, .281/.330/.448 vs. RHP) will undoubtably come into play at some point.
Kendry Morales had a very good year after what had been a disappointing start to his career. However, until we have more evidence that he's as good as he was in 2009 we have to assume he may have been a little bit over his head. Mike Napoli's a very good hitting catcher, but like the Yankees with Jose Molina and A.J. Burnett, the Angels may use Jeff Mathis as John Lackey's personal catcher, which is a downgrade of almost .100 pts of wOBA. The middle infield will generally consist of some combination of Maicer Izturis, Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick.
Defensively, the Angels were about a win better than average as a team according to Fangraphs' UZR(+11.6). Standard zone rating thinks they were even better than that (+26). Aside from Abreu and Napoli, most of their defense projects as at least average, with Figgins and Rivera standing out as their best defenders.
On the pitching side, here's how they look.
pRA: Projected runs allowed per nine innings
pERA: Projected earned runs allowed per nine innings
pFIP: Projected Fielding independent pitching
sIP: Estimated innings in the series
sR: Estimated runs allowed in the series based on revised projection and sIP
Based on what I've read, it looks like they're slotting their rotation as Lackey -> Saunders -> Weaver -> Kazmir, which sets up the first three to pitch twice in this series. In terms of projected ERA, Lackey is the third best starting pitcher in this series behind his Game 1 mound opponent, CC Sabathia and Angels Game 4 starter Scott Kazmir. Lackey's a good pitcher who pitched very well against Boston in the ALDS, and with free agency looming he's got a shot at making himself even wealthier with more shutdown pitching in the ALCS. Lackey pitched once against the Yankees, allowing two runs over seven innings. Of course that doesn't mean much when trying to predict how he'll do in this series.
Although he's scheduled to start Game 2, Joe Saunders doesn't have a great projection. In fact, he projects worse than any other starter in this series. He's a lefty, which may be beneficial in Yankee Stadium since it will force Teixeira, Posada, Swisher and Cabrera to bat righty. He's a low strikeout pitcher (4.89 K per 9 in 2009, 4.94 projected) with decent control. He gave up 29 HRs in 2009, let's hope he gives up a few more before the year is out. Saunders faced the Yankees twice in 2009 and allowed three HRs in 13.1 IP, with a 4.72 ERA.
Jered Weaver is probably neck and neck with A.J. Burnett as far as being the third best starter in this series if we don't trust Scott Kazmir's projection. The Yankees saw him three times this year and hit him pretty well (5.59 ERA against them) but againt that is not necessarily predictive.
Scott Kazmir pitched very well once acquired by Los Angeles, but blew up against Boston in the ALDS. His projection is based on a long history of being really good, but I think it's probably a little too rosy given where he is right now.
It's a good rotation, even if they don't have someone like Roy Halladay at the top.
The bullpen is where things get interesting. Brian Fuentes has been the nominal closer, but he didn't pitch as well Darren Oliver or Jason Bulger. I'd guess Fuentes will still get the opportunity to close based on platoon matchups, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Scioscia use anyone of his top relievers in the closer role if needed.
Oliver is a lefty who can give the Angels full innings, and he has actually had a reverse platoon split over the last three years (.259/.301/.415 vs. LHB compared to .233/.299/.317 vs. RHB).
Bulger had a very good season and gets into the mid-90s with his fastball which he throws about 55% of the time. He's also got a curve that he throws about 40% of the time and a changeup that he doesn't throw a lot.
Ervin Santana didn't pitch against Boston, but like I said in the ALDS preview, he's got a 97mph fastball and could be the Angels' equivalent of Phil Hughes. The projection above is the relief equivalent of his starter projection, he'd project about .75 runs of ERA worse as a starter. Jepsen throws even harder (average fastball velocity in 2009 was 96.2). His peripherals were very good this year (2.96 FIP) even if his ERA doesn't really impress.
This is a NOT an 85-87 win adjusted standings team. This is a very good team. How good? I'll tell ya.
|162 gm equiv||100-62|
#outs: 27 outs times # of games if the series goes the distance.
offense: Total BR for the series using # of outs
pitching: Total runs allowed by the pitching for the series
defense: Estimated impact of defense over series
wpct: Estimated winning percentage for the team based on these playing time estimates and adjusted for home field advantage using the offense, pitching and defense plugged into Pythagenpat
162 gm equiv: wpct translated to a 162 game season
Will that be good enough? I'll let you know in a bit.
Update: It's been a bit.
I'm still saying Angels in four, but consider this me playing devil's advocate.
Even though the Yankees have an unfair advantage due to market size and basically bought the World Series this year, rumor has it they are actually going to play the games. If they really are, here's what we have to look forward to.
You probably don't need a narrative from me on the Yankees, so I'm just presenting the projections. I will add this though.
|Rodriguez,. Jeter, Posada, Matsui||41||10||15||2||0||5||12||7||7||0||.366||.458||.780||15|
BR are batting runs as calculated using linear weights. Those are the Yankees' stats from the ALDS. Against the Angels, that won't cut it.
As far as the pitching, here are the projections.
I'm assuming the Yankees will throw CC Sabathia on short rest in Game 4. I'm also assuming that Sabathia will not lose effectiveness on a rate basis, but will likely need to have his innings in Games 1 and 4 managed judiciously, so I gave him six innings in Games 1 and 7 and five innings in Game 4. I'll account for the fact that a rain out may require Chad Gaudin to get a start at the end.
So adding that up, here's how the Yankees look.
|162 gm equiv||107-55|
If we replace five innings of Sabathia with five innings of Gaudin, they look like this.
|162 gm equiv||105-57|
So, if we run the ALCS with three Sabathia starts 10,000 times, here's what the Monte Carlo Simulator sees.
Red Sox 0.0%
I think that's probably a little high on the Yankees and low on the Angels, although I guess HFA is a big part of it.
And if we instead run it with two Sabathia starts and one Gaudin start 10,000 times, here's what the Monte Carlo Simulator sees.
Red Sox 0.0%
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