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Cardinals WAR

January 8, 2009

88 wins. Not shabby.

Here’s how I did it, but first I should explain.  I love sabermetrics.  The downside is I suck at math. Pretty ironic, eh? I look at various advanced stats and refer to them all the time, but I myself am not a great number cruncher. That’s why I gotta give a big shout out to Sky at Beyond the Boxscore for making this user friendly WAR spreadsheet. Why, it’s so easy, even a…nah. I’ll resist referring to car insurance website slogans. Let’s just say even I can do it.

For the offense and pitchers, I used Marcels mostly, which are available at Fangraphs. There was a little gut involved, mostly for plate appearances and innings pitched. As for baserunning, I didn’t delve in too deep. Baseball Prospectus has some numbers I referred to, but when I was in doubt, I went back to gut. For fielding I used Chone Smith’s defensive projections and again, more gut, but not too much.

A couple of quick thoughts before my head hits the pillow very early Thursday morn-

  • Honestly I was thinking something more like 84-85 wins given that Ludwick, Glaus and Lohse were due to regress some, so this was a pleasant surprise. I’m being optimistic w/Wainwright’s IP, which gave things a boost.
  • The youth movement bullpen will be better. Not that the bar was set real high from last season.
  • One solid starter could equal a wild card. I haven’t ran the numbers on the Cubs yet, but I’m not expecting them to fall off. I’d like to also run the Phillies and Mets, because whoever places 2nd in the NL East will most likely be the top contender for the wild card.
  • As is the case with most teams, a lot is riding on the starting rotation. If Carpenter can somehow magically throw 160 innings, then the NL Central could get very interesting.  I don’t think Wellemeyer hits that rather optimistic projection, but I’ll let it lie for now.
  • Mo and DeWitt right now are getting hammered by the loud, ignorant segment of Cardinal fans who think the answer lies in simply spending, but having some “dry powder” around for spring training or at the trade deadline could prove to work out just fine. If the right signing comes along between now and then, then obviously they should jump all over it, but I don’t have the trouble with the wait and see approach that some of the more impatient fans do.

As player and playing time expectations change, I’ll modify the sheet, but I’ll keep it at the same link so feel free to bookmark it. I’ll refer to it often here at the site throughout the season as things change. If a trade/signing/important injury happens, I’ll try and modify accordingly as quickly as possible and discuss the impact.

If you feel I goofed in any way, please tell me. It’s a work in progress.

  1. poorcollegeguy permalink
    January 8, 2009 5:22 AM

    Thank you for calling out that ignorant segment of our fan population. The answer to every problem is not spend spend spend. People that don’t understand the financial abilities of our ball club annoy me.

    I have to say that 88 doesn’t surprise me at all. That win total will put us right in the thick of the division title hunt and that’s where i expect us to be with the players we have at this moment. Any player adds that are made before the season begins will be great however if the club decides to take an extra reserve of cash into the season for moves at the deadline, I’m ok with that too.

  2. poorcollegeguy permalink
    January 8, 2009 5:30 AM

    “You know what I grow weary of? Ungrateful, impatient fans.”

    Great quote Eric, I love it.

  3. January 8, 2009 8:25 AM

    I should have added ignorant.

  4. nmstar permalink
    January 8, 2009 8:13 PM

    I’m glad the projected WAR looks so good now. I’d like to see what adding Sheets or Kawakami would do to that total.

    The whining about management is getting ridiculous. Having said that, they’ve kind of brought it upon themselves a little bit with comments about being “aggressive” and then “low-hanging fruit” and “dry powder” references. I’d feel a lot better with another top-line starting pitcher or trading an outfielder or two for pitching. Even without that, this team doesn’t appear to be that far away.

  5. easy permalink
    January 9, 2009 5:06 PM

    I for one am surprised and hope that the projection proves true. I saw last year’s team as essentially a .500 outfit that played over their heads early and I sure don’t see much improvement so far for this year. I do think that Ank and Ludwick are essentially for real and Greene gives them a slight offensive boost so they should score as many runs. The pitching needs too many things to go right for me to be very optimistic though.
    From the VEB discussion, though, it does appear that other projections are coming up pretty similar so here’s hoping.

  6. somaticmarker permalink
    January 10, 2009 12:57 PM


    I’m having some problems with the sheet. First, the version I downloaded has the replacement value of wins set at 45, not 52 like yours. Also, I get different values even when entering the same numbers as yours (I only entered stuff in the green boxes). Despite that I still come out with the same win value as you. Did I download an old version, or did you make some modifications?

    You might be reaching in Wainwright’s IP, but I thinks that’s offset but your more pessimistic projection of Wellemeyer, the other projections have him in the lower 4’s.

    Having some fun with it. I made one change. Essentially adding in Looper and dropping Boggs to the “replacement pitcher” with 65 IP and 4.9 ERA. Adds just over a win and a half. So tempting. I would really like to see Mo get Looper for a 1 year deal.

    Overall, I think Mo has done a good job so far. I’m with most of you in that I think our fans and certain writers of the media are being highly inpatient and ungrateful. Our owner is willing to spend big money. Our farm system is ranked in the top 10. This team is going to be good for the next few years.

    I think one reason why DeWhitt is seen as “cheap” Is that the money has been spent on extensions rather than free agent signings. Also, is it just me or does the fan community seem to be under a massive delusion that the city of Saint Louis paid for Busch III. According to me recollection (and wikipedia for what its’ worth) the stadium was pretty much completely financed through loans and owners’ money. Yet all I hear from and a certain sportswriter is how “we” payed for the stadium.

  7. January 10, 2009 1:54 PM

    @ Somatic- It changes to 52 wins when you switch it from AL to NL. I didn’t make any modifications. I did a version 2 with only Chone projections for the hitters and using FIP instead of ERA, and I still get 88 wins.

    I’ve flipped Wolf, Garland and Oliver Perez in there around and they only improve the team by a win, win and a half. I’m starting to think maybe signing Orlando Hudson wouldn’t be a horrible idea, considering he’s finding the market for his services to be pretty tepid.

  8. somaticmarker permalink
    January 10, 2009 5:37 PM

    @ eric – Thanks, I did not see that up there. I’ve been playing around with this for a couple of hours and it really highlights how important it is to get that average to slightly above average SP. Pinero really is holding us down. The only problem with O-Dog is that once you factor in his D, you only gain one win. I’m not sure if that is worth a multi-year contract and a draft pick.

    I think Ben Sheets may make the most sense. The money is reasonable and close to what Mo has left to spend. It seems that 2 years @ 15 million per might get him (it maybe a little less), so you don’t have a 4-5 commitment like with Lowe. Yes, you do lose a draft pick and he is injury risk, but you have the potential to gain 2.5-3 wins.

    Looking at some others (aka., Perez, Wolf, Looper, Hudson) only really stand to give you 1-1.5 wins, which is very good, but may not be enough to get the wild card.

    Thanks for introducing us to this toy Eric. I’m like a little kid at Christmas. I’m slowly making my way through and making them for some other teams and really loving it.

  9. January 10, 2009 8:37 PM

    I forgot Hudson was a type A. I also was going from Chone’s defensive projection that has him at a +3, versus the defensive liability he’s been since joining AZ. I enjoy dinking around with the spreadsheet a lot too. Came to the same conclusions about those type B pitchers, none are real huge difference makers and there’s that injury risk factor w/Sheets. Probably why they seem content to stand pat.

  10. chris permalink
    January 11, 2009 9:09 AM

    I have thought, and continue to think, that Mo is still looking for a team to move some of our outfielding prospects to. I think he is holding out for a #4 or 5 starter, though it is perfectly possible that he is waiting to resign Looper in a month or so. I still believe that Tyler Greene is going to get a long look at 2nd this spring. Then, of course, there certainly appears to be a glut at 3rd as well, I wouldn’t be surprised if Wallace looks ready, to see a package of Glaus and a couple of outfielders for a #2 or #3 starter. That would probably put us over the hump, though it is contingent on seeing that Wallace is ready, and that Freese is going to be adequate at a backup. If that happens, we definitely see a vet at 2nd (free agent, or Kennedy) as LaRussa is not going to start two rookies in the infield. I don’t think he likes to start rookies at all.

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