Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Riddle of the Tatonka

Hey, what do you get when you add a rental slugger who plays poor defense to a last-place team in a better league with Mike Hargrove as manager?

Can't think of the right answer? C'mon, what's in its pocketses?

Not "my preciousssss." (Unless your precious is a last-place finish in the AL Worst.)

The answer is: nothing.

Let's assume that there are NO park effects or league effects that would minimize Alfonso Soriano's skills, and that he will continue producing HR, hits, etc. at his prodigious 2006 rate. The man has a .931 OPS, with both OBA (.354) and SLG (.577) substantially higher than he put up as a Texas Ranger over the last couple of years. In fact, until 2006, Soriano has been a career .320 OBA and .500 SLG player...not too shabby at all, but we can safely say that he's having a career year. (He's never come even CLOSE to his current marks in either stat.)

Alright, so we're assuming that he continues playing at this ridiculous level, plus that he doesn't hurt us on defense (hardly a sound assumption, but whatever). In that scenario, what is he worth to the Mariners over our final 68 games of the 2006 season? How much does adding Soriano to the lineup mean for wins and losses?

Well, there are any number of ways to figure that out; a simple one uses RC/G (Runs Created per 27 outs), a stat that is freely available over at The Hardball Times site. Soriano's 2006 season thus far has him earning 7.6 RC/G (a tick better than Ichiro!) at the plate. If we have to give up Adam Jones to make this deal, than we can safely subtract his minus 1.5 RC/G, plug in Soriano's figure, divide, calculate, and...voila! The Mariners go from a 4.78 R/G offense (well, that's using RC/ fact we've scored only 4.75 R/G, but it's pretty close) to a 5.79 R/G offense! Wow! One little trade and we improve by over a full run per game?

Sadly, Soriano doesn't pitch. And while we're in the midst of our little fantasy here (since there's NO WAY ON EARTH that Mr. Soriano can be expected to keep up the numbers he currently has after a league and park switch), let's assume that the Mariners' pitching staff continues preventing runs at their current rate (also a fantasy, in my mind, but there you go). We've allowed 444 runs, which is...4.72 R/G. OK. 68 games to go, we're 5 games back of Oakland...if they play .500 ball the rest of the way (a likely outcome, if we're projecting using current R/G figures), then they win 83. The Angels' pitching staff projects them to win just over 83 games as well, while the Rangers' hitting prowess also puts them in a dead heat with the Halos at just over 83 wins.

Keeping in mind that these projections are all fantasies based on the best case scenario for our Mariners, let's go ahead and calculate how we do with the mythical Soriano in the lineup: using the RC/G figures calculated earlier, we score 393 runs while the pitchers surrender only 321, which projects to an 84-78 record.

Whoo hoo! IN our DREAMS, Soriano wins us the division!!! (To lose in the first round, but hey, that's not the point here.)

Is that grasping-at-straws rose-tinted-glasses optimistic outcome WORTH trading Adam Jones AND (almost certainly) another player for? (Keep in mind, by the way, that this scenario requires that we continue playing Carl Everett at DH, and both Ibanez and now Soriano as poor defenders in the outfield corners. No chance that could blow up. Then Everett's 2007 option kicks in, so we get his lovely bat and personality for another season. Plus, the deal costs us Adam Jones. Yeah.)

Is it worth it? Even if EVERYTHING breaks our way???

I say no.

Bill Bavasi? He's trying to keep his job. It says here that we make a deal for Alfonso Soriano within a week. Welcome, Tatonka 2006.


Post a Comment

<< Home