Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Taking stock at the All-Star Break, Part I of Maybe More Than One Part

Time to take stock, ladies and gentlemen. And I’m sure the #1 question on your mind is, what does Ryan Theriot have to do to make me stop treating him the way the Germans treat the French? (I know this because you all told me so.) And I should get around to answering that question sooner or later. Okay, so… later or later, really. But there’s some other matters to tend to first.

The least popular question on the list is, “Who is the best Cub?” But it’s probably the easiest question for me to answer: that’s Geovany Soto.

Okay, now let me pile on the caveats. Soto has been the most valuable player so far this season; that doesn’t mean he’s the most talented or most valuable player on this team period, but season-to-date he’s been the most productive player the Cubs have had. Hopefully before the end of the break, we’ll take a look at some projections to see who the most talented player on the team is, based upon more than just a half-season’s worth of data. But in the meantime, let’s take a walk through the first half of the season.

First, let’s look at the hitting – all pitchers (except Zambrano, who is an absolute badass) excluded:

Player
PA
AVG
OBP
SLG
SB
CS
wOBA
RAA
SBRuns
RAR
Derrek Lee
427
.306
.372
.508
5
2
.380
15.46
.34
28.94
Aramis Ramirez
377
.285
.386
.515
1
1
.381
14.00
-.16
25.44
Geovany Soto
362
.288
.369
.522
0
0
.381
13.39
0
24.53
Mark DeRosa
356
.283
.377
.453
3
0
.357
6.00
.66
17.62
Kosuke Fukudome
385
.279
.383
.408
8
4
.353
5.06
.24
17.15
Ryan Theriot
390
.320
.394
.369
15
9
.347
2.95
-.12
14.83
Alfonso Soriano
230
.283
.332
.547
7
1
.366
5.70
1.16
13.93
Jim Edmonds
157
.269
.369
.552
0
0
.391
7.26
0
12.09
Mike Fontenot
167
.266
.367
.497
2
0
.364
3.74
.44
9.32
Micah Hoffpauir
36
.400
.432
.571
1
0
.427
2.78
.22
4.10
Daryle Ward
62
.269
.387
.423
0
0
.364
1.39
0
3.29
Carlos Zambrano
56
.352
.352
.481
0
0
.348
.49
0
2.21
Ronny Cedeno
144
.269
.340
.354
3
1
.310
-3.51
.28
1.20
Henry Blanco
67
.286
.328
.333
0
0
.300
-2.19
0
-.13
Eric Patterson
44
.237
.318
.342
2
1
.298
-1.55
.06
-.14
Matt Murton
41
.250
.286
.300
0
0
.254
-3.01
0
-1.75
Reed Johnson
226
.268
.336
.376
4
4
.294
-8.66
-.64
-2.35
Felix Pie
68
.222
.286
.286
2
0
.248
-5.32
.44
-2.78

I’ll presume the first six columns are self-explanatory. I've covered some of this ground before, but here's a quick refresher:

wOBA
Linear weights as a rate stat, designed to look like OBP. .338 is considered average.
RAA
Runs above average. As above, but instead the raw totals are presented.
SBRuns
Stolen base runs created/cost, compared to the average.
RAR
Runs above replacement - players are credited with their RAA and SBRuns, but instead of comparing them to the average, they're compared to a hypothetical "replacement player." Replacement players are generally considered to be waiver pickups, free agents costing the league minimum, minor league journeymen, etc.

Unlike other replacement frameworks you may be used to, no credit is given for a player’s defensive position in the table above. Instead, we have a separate table for defense:

Player
Pos
INN
ZR
Plays +/-
Runs +/-
Adj.
Fukudome, Kosuke
RF
723.1
0.894
6.60
5.48
2.90
Fontenot, Mike
2B
287.2
0.854
3.50
2.64
2.64
Johnson, Reed
LF
108.2
0.964
2.99
2.48
2.08
Pie, Felix
CF
157
0.93
1.88
1.58
2.05
Cedeno, Ronny
SS
105
0.886
1.86
1.40
1.73
Soriano, Alfonso
LF
425.2
0.895
3.58
2.97
1.61
DeRosa, Mark
2B
394.1
0.832
1.97
1.49
1.49
DeRosa, Mark
3B
86.1
0.893
2.85
1.23
1.23
Murton, Matt
LF
62
0.923
0.85
0.71
0.52
Ward, Daryle
LF
17
1
0.71
0.59
0.52
Ward, Daryle
1B
17
1
0.67
0.53
0.35
Soriano, Alfonso
2B
1
1
0.36
0.28
0.28
Murton, Matt
RF
4
1
0.14
0.12
0.10
Cedeno, Ronny
3B
7
1
0.21
0.09
0.09
DeRosa, Mark
1B
2
1
0.13
0.11
0.07
Hoffpauir, Micah
1B
30
0
0.00
0.00
0.00
Blanco, Henry
1B
1.2
0
0.00
0.00
0.00
Patterson, Eric
2B
8
0
0.00
0.00
0.00
Patterson, Eric
CF
2
0
0.00
0.00
0.00
Cedeno, Ronny
CF
1
0
0.00
0.00
0.00
DeRosa, Mark
RF
114
0.872
0.57
0.48
-0.09
Johnson, Reed
CF
342
0.871
-1.42
-1.20
-0.19
Ward, Daryle
RF
16
0.75
-0.43
-0.36
-0.41
Patterson, Eric
LF
68
0.813
-0.71
-0.59
-0.82
Fukudome, Kosuke
CF
32
0.75
-1.09
-0.92
-0.83
Hoffpauir, Micah
LF
20
0.667
-1.14
-0.95
-1.04
Cedeno, Ronny
2B
166.1
0.771
-2.24
-1.69
-1.69
DeRosa, Mark
LF
156
0.8
-2.29
-1.91
-2.48
Ramirez, Aramis
3B
764
0.753
-7.12
-3.06
-3.06
Edmonds, Jim
CF
323.1
0.835
-5.28
-4.45
-3.33
Lee, Derrek
1B
806.2
0.885
3.06
2.44
-3.43
Theriot, Ryan
SS
752.1
0.801
-8.14
-6.13
-3.73

Plays and runs are compared to the average at the position. “Adj.” gives a bonus to players at more difficult defensive positions, and a debit to players at less demanding defensive positions. (This is why Lee’s adjusted defense is a negative number – he’s an above-average defensive first baseman, but that’s really not as valuable as a below-average defensive second baseman in the grand scheme of things. Please, please do not scream at me about this. I’m begging you here.) Catchers are a special case defensively, and so they get their own table:

Player
Inn
PB
WP
SB
CS
SB%
WPPB/G
SBRuns
WPPB
Total
Geovany Soto
713
4
21
43
15
74.14%
0.3
-1.57
1.49
5.01
Henry Blanco
143
2
3
9
3
75.00%
0.3
-0.39
0.30
0.93

Here we’re crediting catchers based upon their ability to throw out baserunners and keep the ball in front of them. (Chone Smith, as always, has a few ideas good enough to steal.) Soto and Blanco appear to be exceedingly similar in their defensive abilities; you can run a little on either of them, but they’ve good at blocking pitches in the dirt. Again, totals reflect the increased difficultly of playing a premium defensive position.

So, yeah – Soto has been our most valuable defensive player to date, and yet is still one of our top hitters. But don’t take my word for it, listen to the table:

Player
Offense
Defense
WAR
Soto,Geovany
24.53
5.01
2.81
Lee, Derrek
28.94
-3.43
2.43
Ramirez, Aramis
25.44
-3.06
2.13
Fukudome, Kosuke
17.15
2.07
1.83
DeRosa, Mark
17.62
0.22
1.70
Soriano, Alfonso
13.93
1.88
1.51
Fontenot, Mike
9.32
2.64
1.14
Theriot, Ryan
14.83
-3.73
1.06
Edmonds, Jim
12.09
-3.33
0.83
Ward, Daryle
3.29
0.46
0.36
Hoffpauir, Micah
4.10
-1.04
0.29
Cedeno, Ronny
1.20
0.13
0.13
Blanco, Henry
-0.13
0.93
0.08
Johnson, Reed
-2.35
1.89
-0.04
Pie, Felix
-2.78
2.05
-0.07
Patterson, Eric
-0.14
-0.82
-0.09
Murton, Matt
-1.75
0.63
-0.11

WAR is Wins Above Replacement – essentially figured here as Offense plus Defense divided by 10. Keep in mind that so long as you keep your performance above replacement level, the quickest path to a higher WAR is more playing time. Soriano, in spite of missed playing time, rebounded nicely from his slow start to the season. Soto’s an absolute stud. Dome has been a solid player, although what makes him more of an All-Star than Mark DeRosa is something I’ll never know.

And I have to admit something – there’s absolutely nothing to dislike about Fontenot’s contributions so far. Solid hitting, and very capable defense at a premium position.

I want to note that all of this is simply a recording of what has happened – over as short a span of time as a half-season, you can get a distorted view of a player’s performance. This is simply a statement of value to date, not of expected performance or true talent level. We’ll table that topic until tomorrow. (And, as demonstrated above, I really do mean “table.”)

If, incidently, you want to see more tables filled with numbers, here's the original spreadsheet. Of note is the inclusion of baseball players who aren't Cubs, by which I mean all baseball players. RAR for AL players is wrong wrong wrong, because it's after two in the morning and I needed this for a Cubs blog so I decided what the hell. If you want to use these values for AL players, you need to adjust the replacement level bonus from 20 to 25.

stats

nice work. anyway you slice it we have a more complete team than ever. theriot, fontenot and derosa give us alot of flexibility/depth we never had beyond our stars. everyone remember macias, neifi, rey ordonez, ramon martinez, ojeda? we are strong down in the ranks. if any one of the following; hill, lilly or marshall can step up we really are going to have an awesome second half. here's hoping marmol gets turned around too.

aren't we all glad we did not trade for arod? what a distraction. madonna is the town donut. what a tool.

If you check the spreadsheet out right now...

...you can get a sneak peak at tonight's pitcher WAR. I've got everything calculated, now I just need to make the pretty tables and actually explain what I'm doing.

Added everything up, and came up with (roughly) 27 WAR. A replacement level team is right around a .300 win percentage, so add it up and you get 56 wins. Cubs have won (wait for it) 57 games. I can live with that level of accuracy, I really can.

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