Monday, May 22, 2006

Okay, let's take Vlad out of the equation.

That leaves us with Jose Molina, Casey Kotchman, Adam Kennedy, Chone Figgins, Orlando Cabrera, Garret Anderson, Darin Erstad, Juan Rivera, Tim Salmon, Maicer Izturis, Robb Quinlan, and Edgardo Alfonzo as the remaining Halo position players with any kind of major league track record. (I'm, obviously, assuming Dallas doesn't make the cut here.)

Over their careers, that group of players has posted an Equivalent Average -- the offensive measure used at BPro -- of .266, and over the last four seasons it has been .261. The league average, by definition, is .260.

--Me, March 30, 2006
Yeah, so how's that one working out?

If you want the simple reason we're so unwatchable right now, it's that the above collection of hitters -- a group with an established talent level in the EqA range of .261-.266, has posted a collective -- you're not going to believe this -- .213. Take Alfonzo out of the equation, and the remaining guys are at .232. Take out Erstad and Rivera, each of whom lost (or are losing) significant time to injury, and you get to a whopping .234.

Taken as a whole, these players are roughly 28 runs (close to three wins) below average, which for all intents and purposes means that they're three wins below expectations. Add in Vlad, who despite hitting well is still below his usual excellence (a .299 EqA where he's usually closer to .320, which at this point in the season is only a difference of a few runs), as well as rookies such as Jeff Mathis underperforming drastically, and there you have it: an offense that is probably four to five wins below where they were projected to be.

Even if we say we "should" be five wins better, that just gets us to 22-22. We've also had problems in the starting rotation. Regression here was expected after the superb performances put up by most of our starting five last year, but we currently have three rotation spots underperforming to varying degrees:

1. Ervin Santana, as befits a young pitcher, has been inconsistent. I don't think him having an average ERA this year would have been an out-of-line expectation (and of course he has plenty of time to right the ship), maybe just a bit worse. The AL ERA right now is 4.71, and with Angel Stadium historically helping pitchers a bit, we can guesstimate 4.50 as the park-adjusted average. Ervin's 5.02 ERA is a bit worse than this, to the tune of around three earned runs so far. (If I'm right about the park-adjusted ERA being 4.50, his ERA+ is 90, identical to last season's mark. And remember, he came on strong in the second half last year.)

2. The dropoff from Bartolo Colon's injury has been huge. I think he could have been expected to have had an ERA around 15% better than average (roughly 3.90 given our assumptions above). Instead, Bartolo, Kevin Gregg, and Hector Carrasco have combined for an ERA of 6.60 in nearly 44 innings, a loss of roughly 13 runs, at the very least (probably more as a healthy Bartolo would have more than 44 innings at this point).

3. I'm pretty sure you know about the struggles of Jeff Weaver. He was expected to be a league-average innings-eater; his unsightly 7.30 ERA is an outrageous 15 runs below average.

Add it all up, and there's another three wins the rotation has cost us, simply by vastly underperforming against their reasonable expectations.

Give us back all the wins I've discussed here, and suddenly we're 25-19, which would be a fine place to be. And I haven't even (and won't be here) addressed the bullpen or defense.

Will these guys start playing like they're capable? I, of course, don't know. They sure don't look like they will. Five-and-a-half games is not an insurmountable deficit, but the way we're playing now, it might as well be 55 games.

What needs to happen over the next few weeks to get us back to being a reasonable excuse for a ballteam:

1. Bartolo Colon has to either has to come back at full strength or his rotation spot needs to be adequately filled by Jered Weaver or one of the other spot starters.

2. Jeff Weaver needs to get his act together, and stat.

3. Someone who plays first base needs to start hitting.

4. Juan Rivera needs to start hitting.

5. Garret heating up would be nice.

That's pretty much it. Sure sounds easy when you type it; we just have to hope that our guys can get it done.

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