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Quantifying the Roster Decisions

July 6, 2010

There has been a lot of angst in the Cardinal blogosphere and twitter-verse over the peculiar roster decisions (most notably the veteran heavy bench) made by the Cardinals so far. I thought it would be a good idea to put some numbers behind that angst and see what the theoretical impact actually is. To do that I used the updated CHONE projections and calculated the edge in both offensive and defensive runs/game. Combining the two and taking the difference between the current situation and the public’s ideal situation yields the following table

Roster Move Runs / Game
Stav over Craig 0.09
Winn over Jay 0.05
Miles over Greene 0.09

The way to read the chart is that for every time the noted player starts over the other it costs the Cards X theoretical runs/start. Add that up over the number of times it is likely to happen over the course of the year and you’ll get a theoretical “runs lost” for the duration.  As an example, every game that Miles starts over Greene costs the Cards 0.09 runs; over 10 starts that would be about a run total.

My reaction is it’s not as big as everyone thinks it is, but it’s still enough to warrant making the appropriate changes. Just as an example if you give each of these 30 games for the rest of the year (which I’d consider high) it comes out to about 0.7 wins.

  1. spock permalink
    July 6, 2010 3:48 PM

    Nice analysis, Steve. There’s other organizational costs, however, to NOT playing the rookies:

    1) Gaining MLB game experience needed for them to start/bench support next year when we will need the cost controlled talent in the starting lineup to help defray the cost of AP & Holliday’s contracts from consuming 60% of the payroll.

    2) While Miles & Winn are on our roster, two players within our farm system don’t get the opportunity to move up to tougher minor league competition (e.g., AA – AAA)

    3) Miles, Winn, & Suppan on the roster sends a very bad signal the Cardinals aren’t really serious about playing the best talent (from within) available; contradicts what management told the fans this year that player development was key to Redbirds being good beyond a single year model.

    • stevesommer05 permalink
      July 6, 2010 7:02 PM

      Agreed on the developmental costs. Good points!

  2. July 6, 2010 5:31 PM

    This has been on my mind a lot… as you’ve probably surmised from recent tweets… I am surprised that the cost (in terms of runs generated) is so little…

    Remaining concerns/thoughts:

    – Each time that Stavinoha/Miles are utilized as pinch-hitters, those are ABs that could be given to (presumably) more productive players (Jay, Greene, or Craig). Generally speaking, late-game pinch hit opportunities are likely to be higher leverage situations… meaning that the outcome of those ABs would have more positive/negative value than the average plate appearance.

    – I’m a TLR supporter but have been aggravated by some of his recent decisions. Admittedly, this is more of an issue of lineup decisions than roster construction, but how many runs are being lost by playing Winn in CF against a lefty instead of Rasmus? Or what about the days when Allen Craig could be slotted in at 3B (has the organization completely abandoned this possibility?) against lefties w/ Boog at SS & Greene at 2B; this would essentially replace Miles with Craig (assuming this would be a larger disparity).

    • stevesommer05 permalink
      July 6, 2010 7:05 PM

      Agree on both points. Was meaning to have the Rasmus/Winn v LHB situation in the original post, but didn’t have the spreadsheet I use to do the “true talent” splits handy. I think I’ll do something separate on that.

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