Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Statisticals

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Series Preview: Phillies At Cubs

They've asked the numbers guy to do the series preview today, which means that you're like as not to notice more than a few changes in how things is done. Numbers, away!

I'm using a (slightly) more sophisticated version of the Predict-A-Tron. I'm not modeling for the platoon advantage, but I am modelling different lineups. I also made one essential change, adding bullpens to the pitching lines. (I feel kind of stupid for not having done that sooner.)

The Cubs are expected to score 5.37 runs against RHP per game, versus 5.33 against LHP. Phillies use the same lineups against both sides right now, it seems, for 5.25 runs per game. These are both very good offensive teams.

What may surprise you is how good their pitching is. The Phillies have the third-lowest team ERA in the NL. (And it's not like they get a lot of help from their home park.)

I'm using RA instead of ERA - it's just like ERA, but with unearned runs included. It's much easier to compare to team runs scored per game that way. RAs listed are based upon a Fielding Independent Pitching model, and are estimations of future performance, not performance to date.  (I wouldn't call them projections - they're not robust enough for that yet.)

The bullpens are neck-and-neck - 4.36 RA for the Cubs, 4.32 for the Phils. This may change, however, if they give Les Walrond more innings. (No, I'm not kidding. Les Walrond.)

"Cubs win" refers to their percent chance to win the game.

Dempster (3.62 RA) versus Hamels (3.65 RA) - This is a real ace on ace matchup, and should be a very good game. The Cubs have home-field advantage and should be favored to win, albeit only slightly. Cubs win .546

Harden (2.98 RA) versus Blanton (5.10 RA) - Two Oakland A's pitchers reuniting after this summer's fire sale. Rich Harden has been amazing for his new club; Blanton... has not. I guess 11 strikeouts a game fares better outside of the Oakland Colliseum than whatever Blanton's doing. Cubs win .656

Lilly (4.62 RA) versus Myers (4.98 RA) - Both players have had disappointing seasons; Myers even spent some time in AAA this year trying to get straightened out. That doesn't make them bad pitchers, necessarily. But neither was the ace their clubs expected them to be. Cubs win .533

Zambrano (4.27 RA) versus Moyer (4.47 RA) - You'd really like to think that Zambrano was really, really better than Jaimie Moyer, wouldn't you? Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus doesn't think our rotation has a high enough fear factor without a 100% effective Big Z. I think he got a little annoyed when I called him Joe Morgan. Another game where the Cubs are favored, although not heavily. Cubs win .520

Estimated Win % for series: .564

Cubs should win at least two games, possibly three. This would be a nice series to do some damage in - even though it is a home set, the Phillies are the third-toughest opponent the Cubs have left, and after that we have a nice six-game stretch with the Reds and Astros where we can lard our win count a bit. A strong showing the next ten games could salt a lot of things away for the Cubs.

I updated the strength of schedule worksheet using these win probabilities, and we're just shy of 100 wins expected at 99.9182. That's another reason I'd like to see a strong showing against the Phils; taking three games from the Phillies would seriously increase our chances at 100 wins. I expect the Mets and Brewers to be more motivated than the Cubs at the end of the season, so an early push to 100 would be fantastic.

The first test of the Official Goatrider Predict-a-tron!

First off, just a little dedication - Ed in the Burg, this post is for you.

This isn't QUITE ready for prime time yet, so what you're seeing here is a stripped down presentation of my single-game prediction machine, the Predict-a-Tron. (By "machine" I of course mean "spreadsheet.") The internals aren't quite ready to publish, either. (Sure, it all WORKS, but it's ugly as sin and not well documented.) So consider this a trial run. (And at some point, yes, I will stop calling it the Predict-A-Tron. It's almost 1 in the morning and I'm punchdrunk off the spreadsheet fumes.)

First what I did was I modeled each team's expected runs scored per game. I took the Hardball Times Marcels projections, which were just updated today. I guestimated a likely Cubs lineup - Lord only knows what order that Lou will use tomorrow - and used the Pirates lineup from today. Then I took the projections and rated them out to one game's worth.

Essentially, I figured out who was batting where in the lineup - the leadoff hitter is expected to take 12.2% of his team's plate appearances per game, while the number eight hitter takes 10.2% of his team's PAs. Using that, I calculated each team's OBP with a weighted average, and used that to figure out how many PAs each team would consume per game. Then each hitter's stats were prorated out to that number of PAs.

After that, I summed everything up and calculated team Runs Scored using BaseRuns. Given those lineups, the Cubs are expected to score 5.37 runs per game against an average pitcher, and the Pirates 4.74 runs per game

Of course, we're not dealing with average pitchers, are we? I took each pitcher's stats from this year and fed them into a custom version of BaseRuns I developed to predict future RA. (I have a deep and abiding hatred for distinguishing between earned and unearned runs. )

Jason Marquis sports a mediocre projected 4.95 RA. (Average RA in the NL this year is 4.50.) He's still better than Zach Duke, of the wonderous projected 5.09 RA.

From there, I calculated each team's expected win percentage against the average team, using Pythagorean win expectation - .536 for the Cubs, .468 for the Pirates. I added in home field advantage for the Pirates and used the log5 method, and came up with a 52.8% chance of a Cubs victory

Future refinements are possible - I hope to have a version that incorporates platoon splits at some point. If I have the time and energy, I'll try to start feeding this info to Kurt for the series preview.This really works better for a short series than a single game - after all, a 52.8% chance of winning isn't worth betting on once you figure in the vig unless you're getting absurd odds. Consider this a toy - a sophisticated one, but a toy nonetheless.

On the march to 100 wins

I'm just updating an older post; go read it for an explanation of what I'm doing.

Last I wrote about the Cubs' strength of schedule, I anticipated them having a .702 win percentage over the past six games. That didn't come to pass, mostly because a team can't go 4.21200 and 1.78. They did go 4 and 2, which I think is close enough. (5 and 1 would have been better, but I'm not greedy.)

The Cubs have fewer home games left on the schedule, and tougher opposition to face than they did a week ago, but their win expectation has actually gone up. Why? The Cubs have been doing a lot of winning big, which has increased their win expection - remember, I'm using a variation of Pythagorean win percentage, which is based on a team's runs scored and runs allowed. The rather embarassing loss to the Nationals wasn't enough to offset this.

So the current expectation, based on the log5 method, is 99.4 wins, just a tick above the 98.9 wins from the last report. Same as last time, right now it looks like the Cubs' big test is going to be the four-game set against the Mets. Everyone is talking about the final series against the Brewers, but the Mets are (just slightly) a tougher opponent than the Brewers, and its a four game set.

It may not matter, though. Based on the model, the Cubs are expected to be at 96 wins by the time that series rolls around. The Cubs' magic number to clinch a playoff spot right now is 23 games, so the Brewers would have to go 24 and 7 to keep the Cubs from at least clinching a playoff spot by then, or a .774 win percentage. That's not impossible, strictly speaking, but I have to say it's not likely.

So long as we're on that note, the Cubs are expected to have between 97-98 wins to start the series in Milwaukee, again based on the model. That's 16-17 wins; their magic number to win the division is 27. The Brewers would have to go 19 and 9, or a .679 win percentage, to keep the Cubs from clinching the division by the start of that series.

Now, this is simply a model, anda pretty simplistic one at that. (I'm not modelling individual pitcher matchups, which is the one thing I really wish I was doing - I'm working on it, but it's very difficult to figure out probably starters a month in advance.) And there's a reason they play the games, after all.

Apparently the widget is giving people fits, but here's a link. Check the second tab.

More fun with figures, this time pertaining to the Cubs record

It is August 25th, and the Cubs have the best record in baseball.  I can't tell you how long it's been since the Cubs had the best record this late in a season, although even money says 1945 at the latest. 

The Cubs are currently 30 games over .500.  They've only finished 30 games over .500 once in the last 60+ years, and that was in 1984.  On August 25th of that season, the Cubs were 75-53, or 22 games over .500.  In other words, they remain at the best pace we have ever seen in our lifetimes.

In fact, with 32 games remaining, if the Cubs go .500 the rest of the way out, they will finish the year with 96 wins - equalizing their win total from 1984.  Anybody here think the Cubs will only go .500 the rest of the way out?

Yesterday I mentioned that the Cubs would have to go 20-12 to win 100.  It's very doable, but not quite as important as winning 11 games after September 28th.  What I failed to mention is that, at this point, the Brewers would have to go 21-10 just to finish a game better than the theoretical 96-win Cubs, and the Cardinals would have to go 26-5.

In the rest of baseball, it breaks down like this:

The Cubs are 9 games ahead of the first and second place Mets and Phillies in the loss column. 

The Cubs are 12 games in front of the first place Diamondbacks.

The Cubs are .5 games ahead of the first place Rays and first place Angels.

The Cubs are 5 games in front of the White Sox.   

No matter how you cut it, the Cubs have dominated this season.  It's more impressive, though, when you consider that they play in a division in which the third place team, the Cardinals, has a better record than any other divisional leader in the National League.  

In other words, unlike the Angels who play against nobodies, the Cubs have achieved their record by regularly defeating good teams.  No other team will be quite as battle tested as the Cubs come October, and I remain ever-confident that, for once in our lives, we follow the team to beat.

Could the Cubs win 100?

So, inspired by Kurt’s very similar post, I decided to look at our schedule for the remainder of the season.

I took win percentages from Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA odds report, which is a more complex and accurate version of this. (It regresses a team’s record based on their PECOTA projections, and it uses the Pythagorean win expectation using a strength of schedule adjustment.) Home field advantage was .040, which is probably a little low for this year but it’s applied consistently. (If you have your own notions of home field advantage, fell free to play around with the spreadsheet.) Then I used Bill James’ log5 method to figure out each team’s odds of winning each game.

This doesn’t take into account the change in win expectation based upon the cycling of the starting rotation; obviously the Brewers are more formidable when C.C. Sabathia is on the mound and… less formidable when Jeff Suppan is pitching.

Widget powers, activate! (Fully editable, if you wish!)

So, what's the takeaway?

  1. The Cubs still have 50% of their games left at home. Sweet.
  2. We don’t have a particularly tough schedule left.  Average adjusted win percentage of our opponents? .476! Add in home field advantage, and our opponents are still on average sub-.500 teams.
  3. I would love nothing more for the Cubs to go on a hot streak here and push that “99” over on the far right up to a “100.” The Cubs have real 100 win potential, which would be super sweet.
  4. Our toughest series is probably the four-game set against the Mets; and I’d expect them to be more highly motivated than us at that point, because their lead in their division is slimmer than ours and they don’t have the cushion of the wild card awaiting them.

Fun With Numbers

In light of Rob's most recent post, I thought I'd share a few stats with you good folks.

Obviously, the season is not over yet, and we've learned from hard experience that no lead is safe.  But, at the moment, the Chicago Cubs are 76-48 with 38 games remaining.  They hold a 5.5 game lead on the Brewers.   More impressive than that, the next closest team to the Cubs in the NL are actually the Cardinals, who are 7.5 games out.  In the loss column, the first place Mets trail the Cubs by 8, and the first place D-Backs/Dodgers trail them by 12.

If the Cubs play .500 ball in the remaining 38 games of the season, then they will finish with a 95-67 record.

To overtake the Cubs, Milwaukee, who plays 37 more games this year, will need to go 25-12, or play at a .676 clip just to overtake the Cubs if they finish .500!

To keep the Cubs out of the playoffs entirely, the Cardinals, who play 35 more games, would need to go 26-9, or play at a .743 clip.

If the Cubs play .500 ball, to overtake them for the best record in the NL, the Mets would need to go 28-10, or .737 ball.

The D-Backs/Dodgers would have to go 32-6 to finish with a better record than the Cubs.

Now, for a few other fun facts.  

In their 38 remaining games, the Cubs play the following teams:

3 vs. the Nationals (44-81) at Wrigley, the Cubs are 1-2 vs. the Nationals
6 vs. the Reds (55-70), 3 home, 3 away, Cubs are 5-4 so far vs. Cincy
3 vs. Pittsburgh (55-69), at Pittsburgh, the Cubs are 11-4 vs. the Pirates this season
6 vs. Houston (63-61) 3 home, 3 away, the Cubs are 6-6 so far vs. the Astros
4 vs. Philly (66-58), at Wrigley, the Cubs are 1-2 vs. the Phillies this season
4 vs. NY Mets (68-56) at Shea Stadium, the Cubs are 2-0 vs. the Mets this season
6 vs. St. Louis (70-57) 3 home, 3 away, the Cubs are 5-4 vs. the Cards this season
6 vs. Milwaukee (71-54) 3 home, 3 away, the Cubs are 6-4 vs. Milwaukee this season

In other words, they play 12 games against teams currently under .500, and 26 games against winning squads.  They are currently 17-10 against the losing teams on their schedule, but they are also 20-16 against the winning teams.

It's all a crap shoot, and while we clearly can't predict with accuracy how the Cubs will actually finish the year, even if we only play the averages - which fail to take into account things like the absences of star players, strange slumps, etc. - then the Cubs could be expected to go 22-16 the rest of the way.  That would put them at 98-64.

Me, I still think they're going to win 100, but I don't care if they squeak into the playoffs with 90 wins, so long as they win 11 after September 28th.

What's up with Fukudome, Part I

Sooooo... Fukudome. I'll let the widget do the talking:

I hate looking at monthly splits, because there's so much noise and you can back yourself into a corner with selective endpoints real quickly, but since everyone's talking about how he's "hit a wall" or somesuch I figured I should address it.

A few things stand out:

  • His line drive rate seems fine, but his batting average on balls in play seems to have dropped in August. That's something I expect to correct itself. You keep hitting line drives and eventually the ball will drop into play.
  • He's not swinging at more pitches, which is contrary to what I hear everybody saying about him. He's still taking pitches. But his contact on pitches he is swinging at is down.

Remember - these are small samples of performance grouped by essentially arbitrary endpoints. I suppose the next question is, are pitchers pitching him differently? That's next time.

Rest of season projections, part I

I'm pressed for time, and TinyMCE just ate the first draft of this post, so you'll get some links, a table, and I'll leave you to your own devices from there.

Widget, take them home:

I'll be back later.

Taking stock, part II

If you haven't already, go back and check out part I.

You back? Good. Now we're going to do Wins Above Replacement, but for pitchers. The basics of it is this. You figure out a pitcher's win percentage, and compare that to a hypothetical "replacement level" pitcher, a guy like Les Walrond or Ryan O'Malley.

A pitcher's win-loss record isn't very useful for this purposes, for two reasons: it includes a lot of factors beyond a pitcher's control, and because no decisions don't tell us anything about whether or not the pitcher gave the team a chance to win.

So, first we estimate a pitcher's defense (and luck) neutral Earned Run Average, through FIP. Remember: we've already credited the team's defensive performance to the fielders via Zone Rating, and so we need to avoid crediting pitchers for a fielder's performance or the numbers will be off. FIP considers home runs, strikeouts and walks and estimates a player's ERA, given an average defense and average luck.

From there, we calculate a player's win percentage versus an average pitcher. (Or, looked at another way, given a league-average offense behind him. Remember: we calculate wins generated by the offense seperately.) Then we compare that with our replacement level pitcher to find out how many additional wins that pitcher contributed.

For relievers, they are also given a "bonus" for their leverage, or the importance of the game situation they are used in. Kerry Wood has the team's highest leverage - he pitches in the most tight spots - and recieves credit for it.

Remember: what we are measuring is the value of a player's performance, not his true talent level. Over a half-season of baseball, a player can perform above or below his underlying talent level. FIP is a better indicator of a pitcher's true talent level than ERA, but that's not why we're using it here. Hopefull tonight I'll get projections for the rest of the season, which will be an estimate of true talent.

Now for the tables. I may come back and replace the EditGrid tables with prettier HTML tables, depending on how industrious I feel. I may not.

Starters:

Relievers:

I have a feeling I'll be saying a lot more about Ryan Dempster tonight. He, along with Z and Wood, are the real standouts of this pitching staff so far. The rest of the bullpen seems astonishingly mediocre following Marmol's blowup, and the rest of the rotation was solid but unspectacular.

You may be wondering - how meaningful are these numbers, anyway? I added everything up, and came up with (roughly) 27 WAR - 16 wins for hitting, 7.5 for starting pitching, 3.5 for relief pitching. A replacement level team is right around a .300 win percentage, which would be 29 wins. Add it all up and you get 56 wins. The Cubs have won (wait for it) 57 games going into the All Star Break. I can live with that level of accuracy, I really can.

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.

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