Reason for Hope

Dave · November 17, 2005 at 9:38 am · Filed Under Mariners 

If you’ve read the comments on the threads where we discuss roster construction for 2006, you’ve almost certainly seen a comment or twenty that read something like this:

“2006 is a lost cause. The M’s should be building for 2007 and 2008, and anyone who doesn’t fit into those teams shouldn’t be bothered with.”

Or, maybe, you’ve seen the cousin of that comment:

“This team has no chance to contend. Build for the future!”

There are a lot of people out there who think that way. The team was terrible in 2004, and was terrible in 2005, so, naturally, they’ll be terrible in 2006. It’s a bad assumption. The list of teams that improve dramatically from one season to the next is extensive:

The 1996 Giants went 68-94. The 1997 Giants went 90-72.

The 1998 Diamondbacks went 65-97. The 1999 Diamondbacks went 100-62.

The 1999 Cardinals went 75-86. The 2000 Cardinals went 95-67.

The 2000 Twins went 69-93. The 2001 Twins went 85-77.

The 2000 Phillies went 65-97. The 2001 Phillies went 86-76.

The 2001 Angels went 75-87. The 2002 Angels went 99-63 and won the World Series.

The 2003 Angels went 77-85. The 2004 Angels went 92-70.

The 2003 Padres went 64-98. The 2004 Padres went 87-75.

The 2003 Rangers went 71-91. The 2004 Rangers went 89-73.

The 2004 White Sox went 83-79. The 2005 White Sox went 99-63 and won the World Series.

Massive leaps forward, adding 15-30 wins, just are not rare. They happen every year. A team is not bound by its previous seasons performance. Say that to yourself again. A team is not bound by its previous seasons performance.

Okay, so, eliminate everything you think about the Mariners from your mind. The last two and a half frustrating seasons, Beltre chasing that slider low-and-away, Putz giving out 9th inning homers like candy, hearing “ladies and gentleman, now pitching, Matt Thornton”, get rid of all of it. Take the preconceived ideas of what this team needs and throw them out the window. Let’s take a look at what the 2006 Mariners should actually be expected to do.

One of the neat little things I’ve discovered recently that I’m shocked I didn’t know earlier is that on a team basis, runs scored are basically equal to team OPS. Seriously, it’s that simple. If you have a .750 OPS, you’ll score somewhere in the neighborhood of 750 runs. It’s not exactly 1:1 (the actual factor for 2005 was 99.2), but it’s darn close. How close? Last year, the M’s had a .703 OPS and scored 699 runs. That’s pinpoint accuracy from what should be a rough tool. And, it’s right for every team in baseball within 10 percent. The other factors besides OPS that go into run scoring (baserunning, clutch hitting, random luck) account for 10 percent variance on either side. So, this hypothetical .750 OPS team would be expected to score 750 runs, with the actual range being 675-825. We think they’ll score around 750, but we know they won’t score less than 675 or more than 825. It might seem like a big range, but dealing with realms of possibility rather than trying to predict what will happen is a much better way to get an actual view of likely outcomes.

So, when building a projection for the 2006 Mariners offense, all we really need to do is come up with team OPS and we’ll get ourselves pretty darn close to what we should expect for runs scored with a built in range of forseeable outcomes. No need for park factors, run-to-win conversions, or replacement level calculations necessary.

Okay, so let’s get to it. We’ll use the line-up I constructed in my offseason plan post. Essentially, the additions I make to the current offensive roster are considered minor moves. I’m adding Kenji Jojima at catcher, Jacque Jones in left field, and Wes Helms to the bench, then leaving everyone else where they are. No Big Bat needed. How does the offense fare?

Pos	Player	PA	06 OPS	05 OPS

C	Jojima	400	0.750	0.000
1B	Sexson	600	0.900	0.910
2B	Lopez	550	0.720	0.661
3B	Beltre	650	0.800	0.716
SS	B'court	550	0.675	0.666
LF	Jones	500	0.800	0.757
CF	Reed	600	0.750	0.675
RF	Suzuki	700	0.850	0.786
DH	Ibanez	650	0.750	0.792

C	Yorvit	150	0.650	0.630
IF	Helms	200	0.800	0.814
IF	Willie	150	0.650	0.619
OF	Morse	150	0.700	0.718
OF	Bohn	150	0.650	0.000

Team		6000	0.770	

Some people may quibble with some of the projections, but honestly, I feel like I took the conservative side overall. Reed and Lopez could easily whoop their projections. Beltre’s career OPS is .780, so asking for an .800 OPS in his age 27 season isn’t exactly going out on a limb. And, after all, this is approximations. We’re not dealing in specifics. If you want to lower Beltre’s OPS back down to .720, assuming no improvement at all from his 2005 season, it drags the team OPS all the way down to .761. Same general range, overall.

Take a look at that. With just two mid-level offensive acquisitions and a moderately effective pinch-hitter, while returning the rest of the roster, you’re looking at a team that should score around 770 runs while playing half their games in Safeco Field. That’s an above average offense, folks. The White Sox scored 741 runs. The Indians scored 790. The Angels scored 761 and the A’s scored 772. 770 runs is more than enough to contend.

Even the most pessimistic projections for that line-up brings you in at the .750 OPS range. Ignore the myth of the needed “Big Bat”. It’s just not true. The M’s, with what they have on hand, replacing the historical ineptitude of last season’s hackers with even just adequate hitters, will have an offense that averages around 4.75 runs per game.

Run scoring is only half the battle, though. Unfortunately, the team OPS trick doesn’t work as well with runs allowed. The correlation between OPS and runs allowed is just as high, but the variance is much larger, especially on the negative side. The Royals allowed opponents to have an .825 OPS, but gave up 965 runs, 17 percent away from the “expected” performance level. Tampa and Texas were similar. Very few teams actually came close to their “projected” runs allowed based on their OPS. The good pitching teams beat the projection by a significant margin, and the bad pitching teams underperformed it by even more significant margins. So, we have to be a little more tempered with our predictions here as it relates to runs prevented. But, we can say that teams that allow low OPS numbers often are among the best pitching staffs in the league.

In 2005, The M’s were abysmal at run prevention last year, thanks to a pitching rotation that was just awful. Painfully bad. Can an entire rotation be salvaged in one offseason? Let’s go to the tape, again, using the plan I presented a few weeks ago, which adds A.J. Burnett, Esteban Loaiza, and Kevin Brown to the staff.

Pos	Player	PA	06 OPS	05 OPS

SP1	Felix	900	0.600	0.546
SP2	Burnett	900	0.650	0.643
SP3	Loaiza	900	0.750	0.703
SP4	Pineiro	800	0.800	0.808
SP5	Moyer	700	0.800	0.772
SP6	Brown	300	0.750	0.840

CL	Eddie	250	0.700	0.680
Setup	Soriano	300	0.650	0.563
Setup	Sherill	300	0.650	0.635
Setup	Putz	250	0.700	0.710
Relief	Mateo	200	0.750	0.698
Relief	Atch	200	0.700	0.719

Team		6000	0.709	

Talk about taking the negative side; this is probably the most pessimistic projection for this pitching staff you could come up with that doesn’t include massive injuries. I factor in pretty heavy negative regressions for two of the top three starters, assume little improvement from Pineiro, more decline from Moyer, and more injury issues for Brown. Pitching is so volatile that I’d rather err on the side of caution and be pleasantly surprised. But this staff is almost certainly more talented than I’m giving them credit for here.

Even using mostly conservative projections (the Soriano one is probably the most optimistic), the team’s .709 OPS allowed would have ranked fourth in the American League this year, behind only Oakland, Cleveland, and the White Sox. In fact, the vaunted White Sox, the World Champions, posted a .707 OPS allowed, basically identical to what we’d project the reshaped M’s to give up.

Again, pitching is volatile. If you take Felix out of the rotation and replace him with a Triple-A arm, you lose a ton. If they acquire Morris instead of Burnett, again, you take a big hit. So I’m not as certain that the pitching staff that I assembled would be as good as the projection as I am with the hitters. However, if we went with what the projections, we’d be looking at about an 87-94 win team based on their runs scored and allowed.

87 to 94 wins. A top 5 pitching staff and a league average offense (after adjusting for Safeco, the offense would probably be the true strength of the team). And, with the exception of a few role players, it’s still a young team on its way up.

I know its tempting to be pessimistic after watching the M’s run out terrible teams for the past 400 games. But, there’s no reason to let that cloud our judgment. The next M’s team, with some intelligent tweaks, are a contender next year.


98 Responses to “Reason for Hope”

  1. Steve Thornton on November 17th, 2005 1:17 pm

    I’m confused about this “OPS=Runs” thing. I’m always leery of stats that don’t do park adustment.

    I pulled up ESPN’s stats page, and the very first team I saw, Boston 2005, had an OPS of .811 and scored 910 runs. That’s more than 10% off. #2, New York Yankees: .805, 886, more than 10% (barely). And so on down the line. I also notice that high-scoring teams have a much higher RS than OPS, while low-scoring teams have a much lower RS than OPS. It’s a clear line — the top 11 scoring teams had RS>OPS, the bottom 19 all had OPS>RS. In other words, the range of OPS is narrower than the range of RS. In fact, most teams are not particularly close in the two numbers. I just don’t see how this contributes anything to our understanding of offenses. We already have much, much better measures than this.

    As for pitching, I think that any projection that shows our rotation, even with the additions you suggest, will come out with the fourth-best OPS-against in the league, is miles off.

    I’m sticking with about 66-96, myself. Regression towards the mean suggests better, maybe 76-86. Failure to come up with Burnett or similar good starter could make even the pessimistic prediction high. I hope I’m wrong. But that’s the Mariners’ destiny, to win 76 games a year for eternity. We had our shot, and we muffed it.

  2. Dave on November 17th, 2005 1:20 pm

    Except Aaron Miles, you know, sucks.

    Seriously. He turns 29 next month. In 3 years in the majors, he’s accumulated almost 900 at-bats and has hit .289/.320/.366, despite almost half of those at-bats coming in Coors Field. Miles posted a VORP of 1.5 last year, despite playing almost half a season.

    He’s terrible. He’s worse than Willie Bloomquist.

  3. hans on November 17th, 2005 1:22 pm

    It’s nice to see people finally approaching next season sensibly. It certainly seems to me that we can expect significant improvement this year with the players we have currently, and that we can expect significant changes to our pitching staff (and hope that they are improvements).

    But I wonder at this analysis.

    The 10% variance on runs scored relative to OPS seems pretty big. Just look at the range of runs scored that represents for a team with a .750 OPS. It ranges from last year’s Reds (820), Phillies (807), Cardinals (805), and Indians (790), to last years Pirates (680), Padres (684), Dodgers (685), and Twins (688). That is a pretty huge range. Sure, with a .770 OPS we might match last years Rangers, but we might also match last years Mariners.

    Dave suggests (quite rightly in my opinon) that the 10% accounts for such factors as baserunning, clutch hitting, and random luck (redundant?). Mightn’t it also account for park factors? If so, wouldn’t this tend to nudge the Mariners toward the lower end of this range of probailities?

    I’m no statistician, but it seems like this analysis just doesn’t give us a very precise prediction of next years performance. I would find it quite interesting (but don’t have the technical chops to do it) to see what the runs scored and allowed would be for one standard deviation above and below the mean.

    I find this a very interesting discussion.

  4. Jeff Sullivan on November 17th, 2005 1:30 pm

    The park factors are already accounted for in the raw OPS measurement.

  5. david h on November 17th, 2005 1:31 pm

    Re #53

    I don’t see why park factors would affect runs scored in a way substantially different than OPS.

    Perhaps a few more “small ball” runs in a pitchers park would actually lead to greater-than-predicted runs for teams with pitchers parks (though from the post on the suckiness of the Mariners bunting skills, I’d say that does not apply to the M’s).

  6. Russ on November 17th, 2005 1:35 pm


    Did you look only at last year to compare OPS/RS?

    Perhaps we should issue an assignment here. Have some of us take a year to build up a table for the past X number of years and put this into a table. If this theory proves accurate over a longer period of time, I think we can predict RS with some degreee of accuracy.

  7. Brian Rust on November 17th, 2005 1:49 pm

    Yes, there are far more accurate ways to project runs from sums of individual performances. See Prospectus, Baseball.

    But for Dave’s purposes, R=(1,000)OPS works just fine. We are not looking for precision, just hope.

    And, BTW, thanks to Dave for that. That’s what the time leading up to Opening Day is all about. Hope. It springs eternal.

  8. Dave on November 17th, 2005 1:55 pm

    Yes, I only looked at one year of data. If someone wants to do all kinds of research on the subject, feel free.

    But I think that’s kind of missing the point, as is Steve’s “The Sky Is Falling” post. There are certainly far better ways to evaluate and predict offensive performance than OPS. OPS has flaws, most of which have been covered here. It ignores important things, as the variance shows.

    The point was that it’s probably the easiest tool for getting in the ballpark of an accurate figure that you’ll ever find. If you are staring at a bunch of projected statlines for individual players, and you want to figure out how they would perform as a unit, you have several options:

    1. Use the Runs Created formula, which no one agrees on which one to use and basically requires Excel, and get about 98 percent accuracy.

    2. Use a weighted average, like I did, which you can eyeball and takes 30 seconds, and get about 90 percent accuracy.

    It all depends on your purposes. Both have their value. Considering the M’s roster isn’t even set, I didn’t particularly feel the need to go through an in depth RC/G analysis of the ’06 offense. After all, we have no idea who will be playing left field for the team next year, so that kind of hampers such studies.

    But, for general questions like “does the team have any hope”, Team OPS to team runs is great. You can look at it and say “yea, you know, they just might” or “no, they’re screwed” with little to no work.

    That was the whole point. It’s crude, but it gets you most of the way to the answer with almost no work. That has value. Saying its not precise is missing the point.

  9. JS on November 17th, 2005 2:02 pm

    as we speak, Wille Bloomquist is the color commentator on MLB radio for the Team USA vs Nicaragua

    He may not contribute much OPS, but maybe he has a future helping us all by replacing the big F…

  10. John Hawkins on November 17th, 2005 2:07 pm

    Dave, great post. I do think we should all realize that, mistakes and whatnot aside, the ’05 M’s were incredibly unlucky, and even if the W-L record didn’t confirm it, the ’05 team was a major step forward in the rebuilding process.

    As far as the 10% vs 17% variation in OPS to Runs for offense vs. defense, is it coincidental that the difference between 10% and 17% is 70% while the difference between 3/4 and 4/3 is 75%?

  11. Rusty on November 17th, 2005 2:14 pm

    I’ll be interested to read Derek’s piece on the long-term prospects for the Mariners. I like the overall optimism being shared here, and I definitely think the Mariners should go for it in 2006. However, I see the Angels as the Elephant in the corner that no one is talking about. The team is already good, and when Brandon Wood, Howie Kendrick and Kendry Morales take over for Cabrera, Kennedy and Erstad, the Angels will be better and much younger at those positions. John Lackey is excellent. Ervin Santana looks good. Although I believe Colon is slightly overrated and is now on the wrong side of 30, he’ll still be a solid middle of the rotation guy for a few years. And the Angels will always have deep pockets to snare top free agents or take on salary dump trades.

    Not trying to be negative… I’m just saying the M’s have their work cut out for them in the long term. Of course, nothing wrong with bagging the wildcard every year.

  12. lefty on November 17th, 2005 2:15 pm

    I must say, thanks to Dave.

    The two papers in town seldom have any Mariner content at this time of year, and when they do, it is awful. How many times have I read or heard that the Mariners are going to be pushed into trading Joel Pineiro for XXXXX talented players? Unless Isaiah Thomas gets a job in baseball, or someone else hires Cam Bonifay, we are not getting anything good for Joel Pineiro.

  13. vj on November 17th, 2005 2:16 pm

    Dave, way above (currently post 16) you state that the current roster is a .500 ballclub. Could you enlighten me why it played significantly worse than that for the last two months of the season?

  14. DJ on November 17th, 2005 2:17 pm

    Recently i ran into an article that said the White Sox were the luckiest team to ever win the WS. By that they ran the pythagorean theorem of RS^2/(RS^2 + RA^2) to compute the expected win percentage. The White Sox came in with an estimated 92 wins, but actually won 99 games. That means they were 6.9% “luckier” than they should of been. I ran the numbers on all the teams and found some interesting facts…..Arizona was the luckiest team winning 77 games when they were only supposed to win 64 (16.3% lucky) and the “unlukiest” team was Toronto winning 80 games when they were supposed to win 89 games (-10.8% unlucky).

    Looking at the M’s “luck”…..They won 69 games, but according to these numbers they were supposed to win 75 games, making them -9.0% “unlucky” (by the way, the second most “unlucky” team in MLB last year.)

    I know all this “luck” sounds stupid, but the point is: If the M’s were as lucky as the Diamondbacks last year they would of been a .500 team. All these posts declaring 2007, 2008, 2009 all lost causes are a bit too doom and gloom. There are no 100% accurate ways to compute any winning percentage because of the millions of intangible factors that team must face during a 162 game schedule.

    I remain optimistic that with a few key acquisitions the M’s are at a minimum a .500 team……given a little luck!

  15. JRM on November 17th, 2005 2:22 pm

    I’ll take the under on 87 wins. Growing pains from Betancourt and Lopez, along with some pitching disappointments, make the Mariners look like a 78-win team to me. I expect the division to be pretty strong, also.


  16. Evan on November 17th, 2005 2:23 pm

    Keep in mind that we don’t know that deviation from the pythagorean record (or it’s stepchildren) are due to luck. We just know that we haven’t pinpointed the cause, yet.

  17. Chris Miller on November 17th, 2005 2:34 pm

    FYI, I’ve done exactly that using different RC formulas (I like base runs, it’s easy and makes sense and is usually fairly accurate). I found w/ an average offensive left fielder, adjusted for safeco, we’d get ~750-780 runs next year. I’m sure there are much more qualified people than myself, but I found our pitching ‘could’ allow similar number of runs with even two mediocre pitchers. With good pitching and a decent bat it could easily be a 90 win team. I honestly didn’t what Dave was saying, so I did the math myself. That’s only taking into account marginal improvements of Reed, Betancourt, Lopez, and Beltre. We could be a real sleeper with a little luck.

  18. Bruce on November 17th, 2005 2:51 pm

    If someone wants to do all kinds of research on the subject, feel free.

    Not exactly “all kinds of research”, but for the AL from 2002-5 (what ESPN provides), but

    RS = 2000*(OPS-.375)

    is within 5% three times out of four, and off by as much as 7% only twice in the sample.

  19. Jake S. on November 17th, 2005 3:05 pm

    Jojima just canceled his visit with the Mets and headed back to japan. From Looking good for Seattle.

  20. Steve Thornton on November 17th, 2005 3:07 pm

    I’m not saying the sky is falling, I’m saying it fell in 2 1/2 years ago. But all I can say is, I hope you’re right, Dave. If you are, and the M’s are playing even .500 ball by, say, the middle of June, I will happily fess up to being wrong. I’m wrong a lot. But the nice thing about being a pessimist is, I may be wrong but I’m rarely disappointed. I do think that all the Pollyannas are making the usual assumption that EVERYTHING will break the right way, when it’s much more usual for some to and some not to.

  21. Chris Miller on November 17th, 2005 3:09 pm

    #51, OPS is VERY blunt, and OBP and SLG are dissimilar stats to begin with. For one SLG is per AB not per AB. Basic RC (OBP*TB) would probably be more accurate (without going into excel or access to make sure). I think Daves point is that OPS is surprising accurate for the type of stat it is, and is easily accessible. Also, OPS is already dependant on the park, and so are Runs, so it wouldn’t matter, it’s already adjusted.

  22. Chris Miller on November 17th, 2005 3:11 pm

    #70, a team projected to play .500 ball could still lose 70 or 75 games due to injury or bad luck, or get lucky and win 85 or 90. A lot of little things can affect it.

  23. Jeff Nye on November 17th, 2005 3:31 pm


    Very interesting post. Two questions for you:

    1) The bounceback teams that you presented, can you give us a rough breakdown of which of those were more due to significant player acquisitions than improvement from existing players, and vice versa? I’m sure that most of them will be a combination of both, but are there some that you can identify as being significantly because of one or the other?

    2) The OPS to runs scored translation is really interesting as well. Is there a way to turn this into an equation that judges an individual player’s contribution to runs scored via OPS, or would that be asking too much?

  24. msb on November 17th, 2005 3:42 pm

    #69– that, or the Hawks’ updated, improved offer is too good to pass up….

  25. Chris Miller on November 17th, 2005 3:54 pm

    #73, Tango at mentions using 1.5 OPS. That’s 1.5*OBP + SLG. It makes sense for Run evaluation because SLG is per AB, and players don’t advance the runners much if they walk. It basically averages out with the walks with the slugging. It’s still very blunt but worth considering.

  26. DMZ on November 17th, 2005 3:59 pm

    There’s a seperate post on the hot Johjima rumors.

  27. mark from Oly. on November 17th, 2005 4:00 pm


    Very well done report.

  28. Chris Molitor on November 17th, 2005 4:15 pm


    Thanks for the great post.

    Could you please do a similar post near the end of the off-season with the actual players that the M’s sign?

  29. Tom on November 17th, 2005 4:15 pm

    Eeeeh, I think .500 next year is the better guess than contention.

    But certainly this team is going in a good direction and Bavasi has done a good job in building the farm system.

    The 2 big things we need to watch for right now are:

    1. Will Jojima sign with Seattle?
    2. Will Moyer stay in Seattle?

    After these two issues are done, we need to heavily pursue a left handed hitter, and 2 starters (at least 1 of them being a top-notch free agent pitcher)

  30. Chris Miller on November 17th, 2005 4:29 pm

    One problem I’m still worried about is Sexsons shoulder. Replacing Sexson with Dobbs is not good. People were screaming about the signing last year, and this year there is still potential for it to flush the season down the toilet. Plus injuries happen, losing anyone could be bad, especially with our bench.

  31. Jeff Nye on November 17th, 2005 4:36 pm

    Well, Safeco could explode in a ball of green flame. GREEN FLAME! (sorry, just had to work in a Big Trouble in Little China reference)

    That doesn’t mean that you should make your projections with that in mind. There’s a ton of things that COULD go wrong with the ’06 Mariners, even as they stand now, but it’s pointless to try to guess at them all.

  32. Chris Miller on November 17th, 2005 4:47 pm

    Yeah but Sexsons arm is a more likely loss of wins than Safeco blowing up into a ball of Green Flame.

  33. Jeff Nye on November 17th, 2005 6:06 pm

    Fair enough, but these (positive) things are also a decent bet:

    -a better year from Beltre
    -catcher not being a black hole
    -a good number more quality starts from King Felix
    -better offense from the second base position


    If you try to guess at all of the things that could go wrong (or right), it gets to be very difficult to make a meaningful projection. You end up with something like “Well, depending on what happens, the Mariners will win between 40 and 120 games.”

  34. Southpaw on November 17th, 2005 6:41 pm

    A full injury free season from Sexson downgrades his future risk for reinjury by quite a margin.

  35. Bela Txadux on November 17th, 2005 8:45 pm

    I didn’t know that team OPS shadowed team Rs that closely, but I’m not surprised though fascinated to hear it. Getting men on base, and moving them along set distances just has to have a very high correlation with how many of those men reach 4th base. I’ve been surprised to hear OPS slagged a bit in the last two years as a ‘fan stat,’ actually.

    I would be far, far more inclined to project Beltre at that lower end myself, but given the conservative cast of most of your hitter’s projections there, Dave, given normal fluctuations from the whole crew you are probably within about ten runs overall for the team for the year, yeah; that’s pretty good right there. Now, read that another way, and I take you to say, “Buying J. Jones and Joe-Jim gets us a slightly better than league average offense.” And with very little margin for error in performance, I might add. You point out a few teams, a very few, who score that level of runs and even _reach_ the post-season, to say nothing of what happens to them there. You want to give a percentage for what that number of teams is relative to all teams that score that number of runs? Pretty small quotient I’ll bet. The principle difference in acquiring a bigger bat also, or instead of Jones is that the team acquires a cushion for performance variation, and moreover a sounder talent base with which the team can move forward.

    Holding down the number of bases a runner or runners take is a skill, and moreover a team skill. Defensing the SB is a skill. Getting the DP is a skill. Getting the lead runner is a skill. Good OF arms which inhibit the extra base advance are a skill. This is part of how defense is a multiplier. Getting the GB with men on base is a skill, and moreover one which a catcher contributes to significantly, both by the pitch called and by the pitching sequences used. Dan Wilson was very skilled with this; Olivo was not. In general, pitching to a different part of the strikezone to get a different result with men on base is a skill; exhibiting that skill is part of ‘knowing how to pitch.’ Hanging nothing sliders or throwing belt-high four seamers with men on base is, frankly, unskilled pitching, and much of why too many Ms pitchers this past year seemed, well, untalented. This also accounts for some of the wider variance in pitchers’ OPS relative to hitters’ OPS: _when_ a result occurs matters greatly in the number of baserunners who reach 4th base. All these things are multipliers of the raw numbers, in this case positive ones for run prevention and negative ones for runs scored.

    Regarding your projections for those pitchers, Dave, yeah I’ll agree that you’re being conservative, so the number is probably pretty good. —Of course all this assumes that the Ms sign Burnett. _HE_ is the difference maker in that talent set; without his numbers, things get ugly. But assuming that the team gets him, the pitching staff and Ms defense could cumulate some fairly good aggregates relative to the league. I’ll add that your projections for pitcher acquistions are maximally optimistic as far as the possibilities—Burnett _and_ Loaiza _and_ Brown. I think that this is unlikely, but even if it happened, it would be very difficult for the Ms to acquire more and better pitching than that, so this is the most optimistic possible outcome.

    Supposing those three came here, would the pitching staff then be good enough to drag the offense along to 87 wins? Well, the team has underperformed projections for several years, now, and you’re roster has most of those folks coming back, so I would anticipate some of that underperformace sticking around with ’em. Worth another loss or two, maybe.

    I was with you, give or take, right until the phrase, “. . . Are a contender next year.” Let’s grant for the moment that everything breaks right and the team wins 87 games next year. How many teams win their division with 87 wins? Oh, sure, a few. Very few. I would say that your projections fit a third place finish in their division much, much better. In other words, your model achieves ‘dogged adequacy’ instead of ‘slack mediocrity’ but likely does not arrive in the tale of the curve where ‘consistent good performance’ is to be found. Building a team designed to win 87 games is . . . wrongheaded, for an FO at least, I’m not pointing this at you, Dave. An FO should plan on exceeding 90 wins EVERY SINGLE YEAR, ’cause if they don’t they’re planning on losing out, so their plan is for losers. Getting from 65 wins to 90 in a year is tough, so this expectation for Bavasi and Co. for the ’05 season was not realistically achievable. Last offseason, then, the call,”Let’s get to 87 and all lean to the right with fingers crossed for luck” would have been reasonable. This offseason, on the other hand, I can’t get to enthused about planning on losing out again, if eveything goes as well as possible. This offseaon, on the other hand, if the FO adds an impact bat to the talent aggregate, or otherwise swaps out somebody here for somebody better to the point where 90 wins seems like a more reasonable ‘best case’ projection, the contention of contention is more sustainable. To me.

    This team can ‘improve’ without an impact bat, absolutely. But they are rather unlikely to win anything significant without one. If I follow your projection closely, that is.

  36. Southpaw on November 17th, 2005 9:42 pm

    Well, Dave actually said 87-94.

    Last 5 years, number of playoff spots won with

  37. Southpaw on November 17th, 2005 9:43 pm

    ugh, damn editing, to reiterate, 87-94 wins gives you between a 5 and 40% liklihood of making the playoffs based off the past 5 seasons.

  38. Steve Nelson on November 17th, 2005 10:20 pm

    A key point is that Dave is not assuming that the Mariners score 750 runs if everything goes right. Dave is making reasonable, even conservative assumptions. “Everything goes right” is 850 or more runs scored.

  39. hans on November 18th, 2005 12:31 am

    #83 Jeff Nye,

    This is the point I was trying to make earlier (though to a lesser extent than your exaggeration). The OPS comparison doesn’t really tell us anything. It gives us a range of possibilities that covers most of the spread between the worst scoring teams and the best scoring teams.

    Dave has done a good job explaining that with a few conservative assumptions, next years M’s project to score anywhere from 700 to 850 runs, but likely will be somewhere around 770. My point is that 700 runs is near last place, and 850 runs is near first place. Doesn’t it seem that the majority of teams project to score somewhere in that range as well?

  40. Logan on November 18th, 2005 1:57 am

    “This ignores, of course, that Lou Piniella’s fire did nothing for a hapless Tampa franchise. Ozzie Guillen is the new Tony Pena, the hispanic versions of Larry Bowa.”

    Dave just my two cents, but Lou Piniella and Ozzie Guillen (Latino Managers) have World Series rings, Bob Melvin, Tony Pena, and Mike Hargrove don’t.

  41. Joey on November 18th, 2005 2:01 am

    Please stop spelling Jojima as Johjima…seriously lol

  42. Bruce on November 18th, 2005 7:26 am

    #89: Dave’s projection is simply a back-of-the-envelope number, and he presented it as such.

    You can narrow the projection of course, by making it more complicated, and a .770 OPS looks more like 800 runs. Roughly, the distribution looks like:

    10%: 770
    25%: 785
    50%: 805
    75%: 820
    90%: 850

    If you want to use an even bigger envelope with room for more scribbling, feel free.

  43. Southpaw on November 18th, 2005 8:40 am

    If Kenji chooses to spell it Johjima, then I’m going to abide by that.

  44. John Brooks on November 18th, 2005 2:23 pm

    “There are a lot of people out there who think that way. The team was terrible in 2004, and was terrible in 2005, so, naturally, they’ll be terrible in 2006. It’s a bad assumption. The list of teams that improve dramatically from one season to the next is extensive:”

    Why you offered many examples of teams that have proved that statement, my Orioles have proved that false for 7 years in a row now(1998-2005)with many thanks to owner Peter Angelos and his unwillingness to sign key FA’s and make key moves.

    The Tigers haven’t a winning season since 1991, and have been losing ever since. Tampa Bay has a losing season every year now of their existence. The Reds have been losing since 2000, and show no chances of competing for a division crown or even a Wild Card. The Pirates haven’t competed since 1992, and are by no means showing any chances of competing in the FA market or in the NL Central. Also, the Rockies haven’t competed since winning the Wild Card in 1995, for we all know why(due to the Coors Field factor). Also, the Royals minus 2003 didn’t have a winning season before that since 1994, and Royals owner David Glass shows no attempt to sign major FA’s either.

    #90- To be techinical, Melvin does have a World Series ring, as a Bench Coach for Bob Brenly in Arizona(01).

  45. Sir Topham Hatt on November 18th, 2005 2:42 pm

    Nov. 18 Sources have told the Toronto Sun that the Blue Jays have made a five-year offer to A.J. Burnett (P) Fla worth $50 million. Burnett’s agent would neither confirm nor deny the offer. Other teams believed to be interested in Burnett are Baltimore, Texas, Seattle, Washington, Boston and St. Louis.

  46. John Brooks on November 18th, 2005 2:56 pm

    #95- In typical Angelos fashion he’ll offer Burnett a less than market value offer, then say he tried. Pathetic Angelos. Sometimes I wonder how I keep myself sane as a Orioles fan. If Angelos does otherwise or proves to me otherwise I be’ll amazed and shocked.

    Though the list goes on of Angelos’ mishaps, Vladmir Guerrero, Derrek Lee, Hideki Matsui, Tim Hudson, Mark Mudler, A.J. Burnett, Ivan Rodriguez, and many more. Were going to lose B.J. Ryan for sure, because Angelos doesn’t want to make a offer. Angelos is a money-grubbing cheapskate. When Angelos’ spends money is when I’ll believe it as a O’s fan.

    So, don’t take the O’s interest too seriously until Burnett is actually wearing an O’s uniform.

  47. Bruce on November 18th, 2005 4:26 pm

    #94/96: No credit for Tejada?

  48. John Brooks on November 18th, 2005 5:57 pm

    #97- Why I give credit for Tejada, we have not won and missed numerous other chances at key players. We have failed at competing against the Yankees and Red Sox since 1997. The credit for Tejada goes more for Flanagan/Beattie than to Angelos.

    We came hours away from a Derrek Lee trade, only to have Angelos veto it, when Anaheim entered the Vladmir Guerrero contract talks basically gave up, offered the same offer the Yankees did on Matsui knowing that he was going to go to NY with the same deal, when Hudson and Mulder were on the market refused to go after them, we came close to get Burnett only to have Angelos veto the deal, we could of had Rodriguez numerous times(1997 though Angelos vetoed the trade and Angelos vetoed signing him as a FA twice this decade), and now Ryan wants out too.