The 93-win team (more ZiPS fun)

DMZ · February 10, 2008 at 3:49 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

If you’re already annoyed by the sim post, well first I’m not sure what you’re doing hanging around here, but anyway, this is not going to be your post. Come back later or something. I’m serious, this gets into some serious Diamond Mind geekery.

I mentioned in passing yesterday that I ran a DMB sim where the M’s won 93 games. I went through and ran them game-by-game and was happily surprised, but as you’ll see, it’s got a lot to do with the advantages of running a season myself compared to the computer managers (I started the year 6-1, for instance). I’ve used the team in the straight sims and it generally sucks. Still, I thought it’d be interesting to talk about how I put that together. Essentially, if you imagine a manager who’s memorized Earl Weaver on Strategy, operating without any kind of conscience or restraint, given control of a team with no consequences, that was the season.

SP: Standard rotation. I skipped #5 Batista every chance I could unless there was a chance for some funny business. Then I’d use him in relief, because I was a jerk.
RP: Putz/Morrow/O’Flaherty/Green/RRS/Baek. I was super-aggressive about farming guys out if they were tired: if I had to burn Baek for 60 pitches picking up after a Silva disaster, he went to Tacoma and someone else came up. In real life, of course, there’s no way teams do this just so they can get away with carrying 11. I threw bench players out there in blowouts if they were far enough ahead or behind. I had no conscience at all.

And I entirely disregarded roles. I pitched Putz in the sixth to get out of rallies. Three runs up in the ninth, anyone who hadn’t pitched in a while came in and hucked the ball across the plate until it got close.

Here were the defensive lineups I used:

DH: Sexson
1B: Morse
2B: Lopez
SS: Betancourt
3B: Beltre
LF: Reed
CF: Jimerson
RF: Ichiro

Then sometimes Wlad in left, Reed to center for a slightly less defense-centric lineup.

DH: Ibanez
1B: Wilkerson
2B: Lopez
SS: Betancourt
3B: Beltre
LF: Reed
CF: Jimerson
RF: Ichiro!

vLHP: LF-L Ibanez, WB-R Bloomquist, OF-R Balentein, OF-L Wilkerson, C-R Burke
vRHP: WB-R Bloomquist, OF-R Balentein, IF-R Morse, IF-R Sexson, C-R Burke

14 players, and someone’s missing. Yup. Which is also totally unrealistic. I was extremely aggressive about pinch-hitting early if I thought it might win the game. I ran the suicide squeeze almost every time Lopez was up with a man on third (he’s got a terrible projection but bunts well).

With Bedard/Felix pitching, I’d sneak the crappy defenders back in, and swap them out for defensive subs as opportunity presented itself.

How’d I get to 93, then? Playing the games against the computer opponent’s a huge help. It’s a ridiculous advantage to be able to tailor lineups, defensive alignments, and all that stuff on a day-to-day basis while all the other teams couldn’t.

The other totally unfair thing was that I was playing the season out knowing the ZiPS projections and, by knowing the defensive ratings, essentially having advance knowledge of whether they’d have the yips or not — so I knew to pick the bench and platoons, which is absolutely totally unrealistic. Not as unrealistic as having Ichiro split time across positions and running out a Reed/Jimerson/Ichiro outfield while Ibanez sat, but still pretty bad.

Some random notes from playing this out: the bench is still really weak. Betancourt tweaks his ankle, Bloomquist starts at short, sure, but then you’re entirely uncovered across the middle of the infield unless you want to play Morse.


72 Responses to “The 93-win team (more ZiPS fun)”

  1. bergamot on February 11th, 2008 2:51 pm

    Speaking of funk blast, any word if they will be using that again this year??? I REALLY hope they come up with a new theme for homeruns and rallies. Anybody else have better idea’s?

    Mariner home runs in 2008 will be scarce as hen’s teeth, so perhaps they could play the “Funky Chicken.”

  2. msb on February 11th, 2008 3:08 pm

    a new topic for Dave & Groz to discuss:

    the fallacy of needing “a vocal leader”.

  3. rea on February 11th, 2008 3:14 pm

    the fallacy of needing “a vocal leader”.

    Yeah, the last thing the Mariners need is a choir director . . .

  4. Bender on February 11th, 2008 3:18 pm

    Really I just want to know what ESPN is smoking when they say we had one of the best defenses in the league last year and a ‘powerhouse’ offense. They’re seriously convinced that we’re the best team in the AL west now.

  5. rsrobinson on February 11th, 2008 3:25 pm

    I think everyone will be ready for Big Richie to move on after this season, including Richie himself. It won’t take many bad ABs to bring the boo birds out this year.

    Were there any signs in Tacoma that Jeremy Reed’s bat was improving enough that he’d be worth playing in the outfield for defensive reasons?

  6. gwangung on February 11th, 2008 3:31 pm

    Were there any signs in Tacoma that Jeremy Reed’s bat was improving enough that he’d be worth playing in the outfield for defensive reasons?

    Not for this team.

    The 2008 offense is looking like the 2006/2005 offense…

  7. lailaihei on February 11th, 2008 3:43 pm

    2010 is scary bad, but 2011 and beyond looks decent, assuming Aumont and a couple other internal SPs step up.

  8. Tuomas on February 11th, 2008 4:18 pm


    Anything Steve Phillips says is so insanely idiotic that everyone in this room is dumber for having listened to it. Nowhere in his inane ramblings does he approach anything that would be considered correct. I award him no points and may God have mercy on his soul.

  9. pensive on February 11th, 2008 4:25 pm

    With the moves that have now been made, it would be an informative and great read, Dave’s, DMZ or moderators to post what moves the Front Office could make to improve.

    Along the same line of previous posts. What You would do and what the Front Office may do?

  10. joser on February 11th, 2008 5:07 pm

    What’s left to do? The holes have all been filled, for better or worse. Anybody they might pick up now is strictly bench fodder, and there’s plenty of that already in Tacoma. There might be an NRI or two for spring training, but that’s hardly worth a post.

  11. Jeff Nye on February 11th, 2008 5:19 pm

    While I’d like to see some sort of move to address the gaping offensive holes at 1B and DH, I’m terrified of what those moves would be, so I’m okay with them standing pat at this point.

  12. Breadbaker on February 11th, 2008 5:48 pm

    44: Is Johjima really a free agent after this year? I thought that players who came over from Japan were just like rookies (viz., Kaz and Ichiro as Rookies of the Year), and thus couldn’t become free agents until year six (unless they went back to Japan). Am I wrong about the rule, or does Joh’s contract contain something special?

  13. thefin190 on February 11th, 2008 5:50 pm

    58 – That quote about Steve Phillips made me crack up. I always watch baseball tonight during the season, and love his expert advice (sarcasm). I remember last season during midseason he predicted the Mariners as the dark horse of the AL wild card. As much as I liked to national exposure for the Mariners, he couldn’t be more wrong.

    Yea I would have to agree from a glance from an outside baseball fan, our team doesn’t look bad. Once you look in, its a huge mess. Our rotation isn’t terrible for the first time, but (correct me if I am wrong) it costs about $50 million dollars for the rotation. I don’t know if the Yankmes can even boast a $50 million dollar rotation. I think they should try to have a rotation with more than one homegrown starter in their rotation, as well as develop hitters that can play defense.

  14. JMHawkins on February 11th, 2008 6:05 pm

    But the rest, yea – the M’s have never comprehended how good Jones is.

    See, I never understood why. If the M’s were like Minnesota, a ‘tools’ inclined scouting department they shoulda loved him. If they were more stats analysis, like Oakland, there’s A LOT to love too. Baseball America likes him, BPro likes him… I just have a hard time grasping why they undervalued him so.


    Hmmm. I can think of a few possibilities that fit with the way the team has been run.

    1) He’s not a veteran. Jones hadn’t yet “proven” that he could make the jump from AAA, and in the miserly amount of playing time he got last year, he didn’t shine. I think the M’s expect a rather high attrition rate among prospects trying to break into the Show, and I don’t think they value minor league stats as much of an indicator.

    2) TWO ACES!!! The M’s have a pitching fetish, or more specifically a Starting Pitching Fetish. Look at how much money they have thrown at FA starters over the last few years. Every year, they are chucking multi-year big money contracts at pitchers. When they run out of money, they start throwing prospects or talented role players at other teams in exchange for starters. Whatever value they placed on Jones wasn’t enough to pull their vision away from a very shiny pitcher. At least this time they got a top-shelf guy.

    3) No understanding of Defense. In some ways, I wonder if the M’s have partially, but only partially, incorporated statistical analysis. I mentioned before that the early days of stats were pretty bad at evaluating defense and tended to underrate its importance. I get the sense the M’s have made the move into an early-80’s version of SABRmetrics, and both discount and mismeasure defense.

    4) They hate batters who strike out (though, what explains Sesxon?). They want guys to “put the ball in play” in order to “make things happen.” Jones isn’t the best fit for that philosophy.

    Basically, I think they undervalue things he is good at and overvalue things that he struggles with.

  15. gwangung on February 11th, 2008 6:06 pm


    If they’re posted, they’re under more years of control.

    If they came over as free agents, as Joh did, at the end of the contratct, they’re…free agents.

  16. lakelucerne on February 11th, 2008 6:45 pm

    We have been MATHEMATICALLY eliminated…
    This news will save me a lot of beer money at the Safe.

  17. JMHawkins on February 11th, 2008 7:13 pm

    Doh!. I am a blockhead about blockqutoes.

  18. Evan on February 12th, 2008 10:15 am

    Players who come from Japan are just like other new players in MLB – they’re under club control for 6 years.

    However, as free agents, players like Johjima have the leverage to wrest concession from their signing team, and thus eliminate teh 6 years of control. We can safely assume that Johjima and other Japanese free agents have done exactly that.

  19. Robobobot on February 12th, 2008 11:46 am

    If 93 wins is the most for this year, what was the most for last year?

  20. Graham on February 12th, 2008 11:53 am

    We have been MATHEMATICALLY eliminated…
    This news will save me a lot of beer money at the Safe.

    You are bad at wit. Stop trying.

  21. fermorules on February 12th, 2008 5:22 pm

    I enjoy your site, but I must say you lost me with your Oakland projection as AL West champions.

    Brand me a hopeless simpleton incapable of intelligent analysis, but when I look at the Oakland club and then look at the Seattle club, I happen to like the Seattle club better.

    Go ahead, laugh your heads off at my expense, but I don’t care. The Seattle Mariners 2008 are better than the Oakland A’s 2008.

    And when you get done with your snickering, I have a proposition to make. If anybody cares to wager which team has the better record in 2008 I’m willing to give you all the action you can afford.

  22. DMZ on February 12th, 2008 6:36 pm

    1. It’s not a projection
    2. It’s not a projection that Oakland will be the AL West champions
    3. It’s not even a projection that Oakland *is* better than the Mariners

    Go back up there are re-read the original post, where I talk about how the A’s, in not having their actual injuries reflected, operated at a huge advantage.

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