Nationals Baseball: Odds revisted

Monday, March 21, 2011

Odds revisted

I put up a post on odds the young players would go on to have standout careers the other day that generated some nice comments. Here are a few things I thought warranted a revist.

Mike Morse's odds were overrated. In my imaginary made up oddworld (we'll get to that later) Mike Morse sat only behind Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos in his chances to have a standout career. Pretty much everyone said I was overrating him because his age (29 tomorrow, somebody bake that man a cake!) made it very unlikely he could put together the length of career necessary. If you be a bit generous and count last year, to get a standout career Morse would still have to produce at a good to very good level until he's 34. That doesn't seem like too much but consider that we're talking about a guy yet to play a full season in the bigs, who may not be long for an outfield position, who is seen right now as a platoon player. It's asking a lot for him to string together 6 straight years of good play now. So you're right, I'm wrong. In my made-up odds he should probably be bumped back much closer to the back group. No higher than like 25 to 1, but possible lower.

Jordan Zimmermann's odds were too low. Ok well here I think we'll end up just disagreeing. As I noted, to come back from Tommy John surgery to the place you were before generally requires more than a year. So we have two things two consider - (1) Does last year count as a year? (2) Where was the place he was before?

(1) Personally I don't think so. Jordan pitched only 70 innings last year, more than half in the minors. That's about a third of a season. In it his K's were down (not terribly but still down) and he was giving up WAAY too many home runs. I think he's going to need this year to get back into his groove and it will be 2012 (his age 26 season) when he is back to normal.

(2) I called Jordan's opening season "average" but that was selling it short a little bit. As Commenter Wally pointed out - his WAR was 1.8 in 90 or so innings - extrapolating out to a whole season that's in the 3.5-4.0 range (he gets a bump up if you think he'll throw more than 200 innings). That's not a #1 but it's a solid #2. (We could run through his other stats if you like but the point would be the same) Personally I question assuming that he'll match that run - but I'll concede, it was better than "average".

In theory then he'll be back to being GOOD in 2012. Is his odds too low then considering he'd only need a run from 26-32? I'm going to say no IF ONLY because he's a pitcher with injury history. I just don't see 7 straight post-surgery injury free years. I took a look at pitchers with Tommy John surgery and outside of Tommy John himself, I didn't see anyone who pitched that many injury free years as a starter in a row. Maybe I missed someone but Chris Capuano made it 5 (before needing another one). Granted a lot of these are "In progress" but so far... That's where I make my odds. I'll stand by it.

My odds stink Commenter Brent noted that my odds seem WAY too low to him. Looking at similar players based on Baseball Refs similarity scores (something I did the other week to say Ryan is teh aweseomm!) it seems that a good number of players that compare to Desmond, for example, had standout careers. It would seem that Desmond would have maybe 3 to 1 odds at worst. My argument from the other day could knock him down a peg or two but 40 to 1? Crazy!

My first instinct (other than to agree - I just pulled these numbers out of the air) was to say you can't rely on simularity scores for these guys because there are so few numbers to go on, but having so few numbers is kind of the point of looking at these things in the first place. Since we can't use just a season of data to extrapolate on Desmond's career we have to use something else. There are only a certain number of players who played SS for a season at Desmond's age and hit like Desmond did. How they did at least is another piece of decent information for comparison.

What do these say (roughly - only looking at sort of recent players)

Detwiler: 2 in 4? If he became Al Leiter that would be great.
Desmond: Somewhere around 2 (julio franco, with stephen drew likely) in 7, 3 in 7 if you feel Orlando Cabrera was a standout and not a faker.
ZNN: 1 in 4 or so if you like Jamie Shields
Morse: Really no chance - a bunch of guys with maybe a couple good years.

The other guys had none listed. To really compare these players though we'd have to explore their minor league stats, development, and how they got their major league stats that compare, but that's more work.

Short of it is - my odds probably do stink. They probably are too low for the back end guys. I'd argue against Desmond being anywhere near 5 to 1 (tomorrow or Wed), but 40 to 1 is probably equally ridiculous.

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