Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cubs/Cards/Brewers/Astros NL Central Comparison

The Cubs are considered the frontrunners of the NL Central for 2009. The Cards always seem to be in the mix. The Astros seem better than last year and the Brewers took a hit with their pitching, but still seem formidable. The Reds are left out of this discussion, though they could be a year away from being in this discussion. Let's do a position by position comparison. Stats are from THT and

First Base
Cubs: Derrek Lee - Age 34: .282 Batting Average (career), .864 OPS (career), 9 Range Factor (or there about for an average), 25 Win Shares (average).
Cards: Albert Pujols - Age 28: .334 Batting Average (career), 1.049 OPS (career), 10.5 Range Factor, 36.9 Win Shares (average).
Brewers: Prince Fielder - Age 24: .278 Batting Average (career), .903 OPS (career), 9 Range Factor, 23.3 Win Shares (average).
Astros: Lance Berkman - Age 32: .302 Batting Average (career), .973 OPS (career), 9.5 Range Factor, 29.8 Win Shares (average).

Ratings: 1. Cards (duh), 2. Astros, 3. Cubs, 4. Brewers

Second Base

Cubs: Mike Fontenot (we think) - Age 28: 290 Batting Average (small career sample size), .826 OPS, 4.4 Range Factor, Win Shares (not enough data).
Cards: Adam Kennedy? - Age 32: .276 Batting Average (career), .717 OPS (career), 5.2 Range Factor, 15 Win Shares (when he was a starter previously, last two years not counted).
Brewers: Rickie Weeks - Age 26: .245 Batting Average (career), .758 OPS (career), 4.77 Range Factor (career, but was significantly better last year), 12.75 Win Shares (average, but 15 last two years).
Astros: Kazuo Matsui (we assume) - Age 33: .277 Batting Average (career), .781 OPS, 5 Range Factor, Win Shares (not enough data - never has played more than 114 games in a season).

Rating: Slim pickings here: 1. Cubs, 2. Brewers, 3. Cards, 4. Astros.

Cubs: Ryan Theriot - Age 29: .290 Batting Average (career), .731 OPS (career, high OBP, low SP), 3.95 Range Factor, 13 Win Shares (the last two years as a starter).
Cards: Khalil Greene (we presume) - Age 29: .248 Batting Average (career), .731 OPS (terrible OBP), 4.2 Range Factor, 14.8 Win Shares (career but way down last year).
Brewers: J. J. Hardy - Age 26: .270 Batting Average (career), .775 OPS (all offensive numbers have improved in last four years), 4.2 Range Factor, 19.5 Win Shares (two years as a starter).
Astros: Miguel Tejada - Age 34: .286 Batting Average, .812 OPS (career, .729 last year), 4.2 Range Factor, 21 Win Shares (average, 14 last two years).

Rating: 1. Brewers, 2. Astros, 3. Cubs, 4. Cards.

Third Base
Cubs: Aramis Ramirez - Age 30: .284 Batting Average (career), .843 OPS (career, .920 last five years), 2.4 Range Factor (last five years), 22 Win Shares.
Cards: Troy Glaus - Age 32: .256 Batting Average (career), .858 OPS (career), 2.7 Range Factor, 16.8 Win Shares. Injured, will miss three months.
Brewers: Bill Hall - Age 29: .258 Batting Average (career), .771 OPS (career), 2.6 Range Factor, 13.4 Win Shares.
Astros: Unknown. Either Geoff Blum or Aaron Boone.

Rank: 1. Cubs, 2. Brewers, 3. Cards (because of Glaus injury), 3. Astros.

Left Field
Cubs: Alfonso Soriano - Age 32: .282 Batting Average (career), .847 OPS (.894 last three years), 2 Range Factor, 20.2 Win Shares.
Cards: Brian Barton/Chris Duncan - Hard to evaluate a platoon. Though neither player is much to get excited about.
Brewers: Ryan Braun - Age 25: .301 Batting Average (lifetime), .938 OPS, 1. 95 Range Factor, 23.5 Win Shares.
Astros: Carlos Lee - Age 32: .290 Batting Average (lifetime), .849 OPS, 1.88 Range Factor, 23.8 Win Shares.

Rank: 1. Brewers, 2. Astros, 3. Cubs, 4. Cards.

Center Field
Cubs: Milton Bradley? - Age 30: .280 Batting Average (lifetime), .827 OPS (lifetime), 2.54 Range Factor (though he hasn't played in the field since 2007), 14.6 Win Shares (affected by injuries).
Cards: Rick Ankiel - Age 28: .264 Batting Average (lifetime, but skewed), .853 OPS (last two years), 2.4 Range Factor, 14 Win Shares (last year, only year as starter).
Brewers: Mike Cameron - Age 35: .250 Batting Average (career), .808 OPS, 2.52 Range Factor, 20 Win Shares (average).
Astros: Michael Bourn? - Age 26: .237 Batting Average (career), .612 OPS, 2.68 Range Factor, 7 Win Shares

Rank: Tough one because Bradley is an unknown as to what to expect. Let's go with: 1. Brewers, 2. Cards, 3. Cubs, 4 Astros.

Right Field
Cubs: Kosuke Fukodome - Age 32: .257 Batting Average (only one year to go by), .738 OPS, 2 Range Factor, Not enough data.
Cards: Ryan Ludwick - Age 30: .273 Batting Average (career, .299 last year), .857 OPS (career, .966 last year), 2.3 Range Factor, 26 Win Shares (last year is all that can be counted).
Brewers: Corey Hart - Age 25: .277 Batting Average (career), .808 OPS (career), 2.2 Range Factor, 20.5 Win Shares (two years as a starter).
Astros: Hunter Pence - Age 25: .292 Batting Average (career), .834 OPS (career), 2.5 Range Factor, 20 Win Shares (two years as a starter).

Rank: 1. Cards, 2. Astros, 3, Brewers, 4. Cubs.

Cubs: Geovany Soto - Age 25: .291 Batting Average (career), .872 OPS (career), 8.5 Range Factor, 24 Win Shares (only one year counted as starter).
Cards: Yadier Molina - Age 26: . 262 Batting Average (career, .300 last year), .676 OPS (career, .741 last year), 6.9 Range Factor, 13 Win Shares.
Brewers: Jason Kendall - Age 35: .292 Batting Average (career, significantly lower last three years), .759 OPS (career, much lower last three years), 7.8 Range Factor, 19 Win Shares.
Astros: Up for grabs. Who knows.

Rank: 1. Cubs, 2. Cards (because of age and Kendall slipping), 3. Brewers, 4. Astros.

Starting Pitching:
Cubs: Rotation: Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Harden, Ryan Dempster, ? Heilman?
Cards: Rotation: Kyle Lohse, Todd Wellemeyer, Adam Wainwright, Joel Pineiro, ? Mitchell Boggs?
Brewers: Jeff Suppon, Dave Bush, Manny Parra, Yovani Gallardo, ? Capuano?
Astros: Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Brandon Backe, Mike Hampton, Brian Moehler.

Rank: (subjective): 1. Astros, 2. Cards, 3. Cubs, 4. Brewers.

Cubs: Kevin Gregg - Age 30: 62 Save in 74 opportunities last two years. 10 Win Shares. Or Carlos Marmol - Age 26: 8 saves in 11 career opportunities. 10 Win Shares. 269 strikeouts in 232+ career innings.
Cards: Will try out five different pitchers in Spring Training including Ryan Franklin who had 16 saves last year and 7 Win Shares.
Brewers: Trevor Hoffman - Age 41: All time Save Leader, 30 saves last year in 34 opportunities, ERA rose to 3.77 last year.
Astros: Jose Valverde - Age 29: 91 saves in 105 opportunities last two years, 414 career strikeouts in 332 innings. 11.5 Win Shares.

Rank: 1. Astros, 2. Cubs, 3. Brewers, 4. Cards.

Total bullpen
Cubs: 38 Win Shares last year.
Cards: 29 Win Shares last year.
Brewers: 35 Win Shares last year.
Astros: 42 Win Shares last year.

Rank: 1. Astros, 2. Cubs, 3. Brewers, 4. Cards.

If you assign four points for each first place ranking, three for second, two for third and one for fourth, the final tally is:

  • 1. Cubs - 29 points
  • 2. Brewers - 27 points
  • 3. Astros - 26 points
  • 4. Cards - 25 points

All of which seems to conclude that the Cubs are indeed the favorite in the division, but perhaps by not as much as is suspected. All these teams are close in overall talent and are only a few injuries and a few career years away from changing the standings.


Josh Borenstein said...

Excellent breakdown, as before. But a couple areas of contention.

Derrek Lee is a good first baseman, but at this point in his career he's not as good as Fielder. Fielder has a much higher ceiling and hits better in the clutch.

As yet, the Cubs' 5th starter is up in the air, but they have guys who are capable. Gaudin can give them spot starts. Angel Guzman, if he ever gets it together. It'll probably be Marshall. The Cubs' rotation may not be the deepest, but I think from 1-4 it's the strongest in the NL Central. Dempster will never have another year like '08 again, but he should still be decent. The Cubs handled Harden well. They should continue to give him lots of rest in between starts. Zambrano is starting to decline, but he should still have another 2-3 good years left in him. Even though the Brewers lost Sabathia and Sheets, I think they'll still be better than the Astros and could be about as good as the Cardinals. Parra, Bush, and Gallardo could all be studs. And it's too early to give up on Capuano.

William said...

Nothing wrong with contention. After all, that's what makes this game of ours so much fun.

I think the Cubs rotation is a huge question mark. It all has to work out for them to be successful. I still think the Astros have the best 1-4 starters.

William said...

But then again, I was getting pretty sleepy by the time it came to the pitching section, so it's probably the least scientific analysis. Let's take another crack at it tonight.