09 September 2012

Did the Orioles Get knocked out of the Playoffs Last Night?

Last night the Orioles took down the Yankees 5-4 to enter into a first place tie for the AL East.  With Tampa's loss, it leaves both teams two up in the Division, tied with Oakland for the first wild card, and two up on Oakland for the second wild card.  The Orioles are in a great place and, for the most part, control their destiny going forward.  However, the Evil Empire's CC Sabathia threw inside to Nick Markakis, breaking his thumb, and worrying many that such a loss may result in the Orioles missing the playoffs.

It made me wonder that with 23 games remaining, how many runs will his absence cost the Orioles with his backups being Lew Ford and Xavier Avery.  In doing so, I took Ford's and Avery runs above replacement (RAR) for offense and runs above average (RAA) for defense to determine how valuable they will be over the remainder of the season.  You may wonder why one is replacement level and the other is against average.  Both prominent metrics for evaluating a player holistically (b/rWAR and fWAR) compare players to a replacement level player (an abstract someone who should be available at AAA) who is defined as having a lower aptitude for hitting and an average aptitude for fielding.

Additionally, I compared those numbers to what Nick would be projected to do based on his season numbers.  I also compared them to what Nick has done over the past 30 days (27 games).  This should give us an idea how many runs losing Nick will cost the team.

oRAR dRAA Proj. Difference
Markakis Season 23 -9 3
Markakis last 30 6 -2 3
-2 1 -1 -4
1 -2 -1 -4
Another assumption to be made here is that the defensive numbers are transferable from left field to right field for each player.  Avery's arm (his major weakness) is adequate in left, but will be greatly tested in right field.  Ford's arm is average in left field, but his range is below average.  In other words, we should probably expect Ford to perform about the same and Avery worse than what Markakis is currently doing out there.  If you use that qualitative approach, then defensive value should decrease about three runs leaving both players at seven runs in the whole compared to Markakis.

An additional assumption is that these run values over the course of 17 games for Ford and 25 games for Avery are appropriate sample sizes to project performance forward.  We know it takes about two years to get a decent evaluation of defense, so those numbers are probably rather useless.  The offensive sample size is also pretty slight.  It should be noted though that the overall expectation of their performance is replacement level.  They deliver that performance in left field.  The question is whether they can do that in right field.

This year's run environment put a win to every 9.285 runs produced.  With that in mind, the range we have in lost performance (-4 to -7 runs) converts to -0.43 to -0.75 wins.  This is not entirely convenient with the Orioles embroiled in such a tight race.  An option could be for the team to try to improve themselves through a trade, but that player would not be eligible for the playoffs.  In other words, it would be a costly trade, but perhaps a cost that might be needed to be made.  However, there really are no good right fielders playing for teams out of the running on the market who will be free agents after the season.

So much depends on Lew Ford and Xavier Avery, but it probably does not depend as much as it feels.


Anonymous said...

I don't think it's Ford/Avery. I think it's Ford/Davis, with Betemit back as LH DH.

sean h said...

this makes me sick. nick's return has been such a monster lift for us, finally giving the o's a consistent lead-off threat, never mind his outfield abilities. and now this. i believe in our boys, though. we'll do what we've done all season long- fill the gap with someone who is willing to step up and show they're ready to take us back to the postseason. and as for all of those ny fans crying about last night's final out, all i can say is remember '97, a certain fly ball out to left field? karma is a mutha....

kgwill said...

McLouth/Ford RF, Davis LF, Betemit or Thome DH? McLouth leading off, Jones 3rd, Reynolds 4th and so on. According to FanGraphs Davis has been OK in LF although its a small sample. He does seem to catch the ball when he's near it, which is more than you could say for Reimold.

Matt P said...

I third the Ford/Davis platoon. Davis hits righties and Ford hits lefties. That means Betemit will play DH against righties.

With twenty-two games left and with the Yankees, Orioles, Rays, Athletics and Angels within two wins of each other with a good number of games against each other, I would expect a single win to determine who makes it to the playoffs and who doesn't.

Carlos Lee wouldn't be a bad pickup. He'd be cheap and can get on base.

Bmore Birds said...

While I love the look into the numbers, this team has makes no sense when looked at with numbers. This is a special year with a special manager leading the way. Nobody...and I MEAN NOBODY gave us an honest chance at getting into the playoff this year, a .500 record was considered a huge improvement and the majority of the national media predicted us to lose 100+ games. Let's enjoy this run of Oriole's magic - every night it's someone else contributing who 2-3 months ago was never heard of. Go O's!!

Philip Taggart said...

Apparently not...

Today is september 20... the Orioles just swept the Ms, and a couple days ago, they swept the Rays, too...

One day, this magic is gonna wear off, and things will hit the ground with a big big thud....

but it ain't today!