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NL Playoff Contenders

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Posted: 02/10/2014 10:04 PM

NL Playoff Contenders 


Moved from the Kendrys Morales thread...

I don't see Atlanta doing much this season.  They lost a lot.  Brian McCann was probably their best player and Hudson was a strong pitcher.  Ryan Doumit and Gavin Floyd are replacing them.  That's a huge step back.  I also think Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson had career years last season that are unlikely to be repeated.

I see them as an 80-85 win team and don't think they will really contend for a playoff spot.

Atlanta is about a 100 million payroll team.  The Upton brothers and Dan Uggla make up about 41.5% of that.  That is bad news when BJ Upton and Uggla were basically bench players.  Toss in the fact they have no farm system and it's bad new all around.

Unless you are putting value in the intangibles of Hudson and McCann, you are making too much of their departure. McCann was a 2 win player for the Braves in 2013, and Hudson was a 1 win pitcher. Those guys had a role in winning, but it was the young guys who were most responsible for the year the Braves had. 

bWAR and 2013 age
Andrelton Simmons 6.8  23
Freddie Freeman 5.4  23
Jason Heyward 3.6  23
Justin Upton 2.6  25

Craig Kimbrel 3.3  25
Kris Medlan 3.3  27
Julio Teheran 3.2  22
Mike Minor 3.1  25

I don't usually hear someone think a 23 year old had a career year. Even if Freddie Freeman has reached his plateau he's still a good bet for a 4 win season no? Hudson was a solid pitcher, but you are really underselling how good Teheran, Minor, and Medlan were in 2013. Is Simmons going to be significantly worse at SS? Are you counting on Heyward being injured again in 2014? Is Kimbrel not the best closer in baseball? Chris Johnson just has to be an average starter to match what he did last year. Where's the decline?

I'm struggling to see why you consider the Braves a 80-85 win team . It's not an aging roster that's on the downswing. The Braves MLB roster is one of the best in baseball even with Dan Uggla and BJ Upton combining for -3.1 bWAR. It's actually remarkable, Atlanta could replace the value they lost in Tim Hudson and Brian McCann by Upton and Uggla just being replacement level(or replacing them with guys who'll be replacement level.) I actually think Upton and Uggla will be better than replacement level, Uggla averaged 3 wins a season from 2010-2012, and Upton was coming off back to back 3 win seasons when he signed with Atlanta. If those two guys are just average starters in 2014 the Braves will be fine. To me the Braves are going to be in contention for a playoff spot, I can't understand you're reasoning.
Blame it on "a certain someone"
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Posted: 02/10/2014 10:05 PM

Re: NL Playoff Contenders 


I don't see Cincinnati as wild card contenders any longer.  It looks like their window has closed and losing Choo is a big step back.  They were a team with a lot of exposable holes and they tied up too much money in long term contracts that is has handcuffed them from improving their team.

I don't see the Reds as any kind of contenders.  Cueto looks finished.  They would love to trade Phillips but his contract is burdensome.  Bailey is in the last year of his contract and chances are will be traded at the deadline.  You're also going to see major regression from their pitching this season.  Losing Ryan Hannigan as the catcher is going to make the pitchers much worse.  I would expect all the ERA's to jump a half run or so.  He was one of the best pitch framers and defensive catchers in baseball.  As you saw the difference that Russell Martin made with all our pitchers last year because of his strong defense you will see the reverse in Atlanta and Cincinnati.

Losing Choo will hurt, but your call on the Reds is premature. The Reds have one of the best starting rotations in the NL. Your assumption about losing Hanigan hurting the pitching staff isn't backed up by data,

2013 Catcher ERA
Hanigan 3.40 66 starts
Mesoraco 3.40 84 starts

You know that Hanigan has a reputation of being an excellent pitch framer, but you make no mention of how good Mesoraco is. I think it's premature to suggest that the Reds pitchers will see their ERA rise by a half run, I think we'll see the same level of excellence out of their pitchers that we saw in 2013. 

I don't buy Cueto being finished, what are you basing that on? The WC game?

The Reds offense will miss Choo, but I think they will benefit from Dusty Baker being gone. I don't think the Reds will have the problem putting a low OBP guy like Cozart in the 2 hole. They'll score less runs, but they will still be a dangerous team in the NL Central. The Reds scored the 3rd most runs in the NL last season. The offense will regress, but by how much? Here's a breakdown of the production the Reds got last year.

C .616 OPS
1B .904 OPS
2B .695 OPS
3B .702 OPS
SS .646 OPS
LF .687 OPS
CF .862 OPS
RF .812 OPS

and here's a breakdown of OBP by batting position

1st .415 
2nd .281
3rd .431
4th .332
5th .307
6th .308
7th .298
8th .226

If we assume that Pryce won't make the mistake of putting Zack Cozart in the 2 hole the Reds should be able to offset the some of the decline of losing Choo in the leadoff spot. Ryan Ludwick is likely to give the Reds better production out of LF than they received in 2013. Mesoraco had a .855 OPS as a 23 year old in AAA, I think he's a better hitter than what he's shown in Cincinnati thus far, I think he'll perform better in 2014 as the full time starter. I don't know how often Billy Hamilton will be on base, but I know when he is he'll be a headache. Here's a projection

1 Billy Hamilton .267/.332/.351(with 96 SB!!!)
2 Brandon Phillips .271/.323/.418
3 Joey Votto .310/.428/.523
Todd Frazier .255/.326/.451
5 Jay Bruce .259/.335/.496
Ryan Ludwick .249/.319/.429
7 Devin Mesoraco .251/.313/.423
8 Zack Cozart .259/.303/.403

Again the offense is likely to take a step back, but some of the loss is potentially offset by increased production out of LF, C, a rebound by Brandon Phillips, and Billy Hamilton's incredible speed. I also believe some of those runs will be made up in replacing Choo with Hamilton in CF.
Blame it on "a certain someone"
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Posted: 02/11/2014 6:00 AM

Re: NL Playoff Contenders 


I see Atlanta as the front runner for the 1st wild card and still in the hunt to win the East. Washington does have the best pitching staff in the NL on paper, but can they win as a TEAM. Then I see San Francisco, Pittsburgh Arizona and Cincinnati battling it out for the second spot. I think the second WC spot will be won with about 83-86 wins.

My wild card this season is the Brewers. I think they could surprise this season and pass the Pirates and the Reds for 2nd in the Division. Again this is all based on normal team injuries and if a major injury to a team (Cutch) then anything could happen.
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Posted: 02/11/2014 10:03 AM

Re: NL Playoff Contenders 


I agree about the Braves, I think they will still be very good and a playoff contender.

But, with the Reds I'm suppose to believe that Billy Hamilton will have a .332 OBP in the Majors after having a .308 OBP in AAA last year, Brandon Phillips will have his highest OBP percentage in 3 years, and Todd Frazier will slug 50 points higher than last year?

Yeah, not buying that.  The Reds are taking a step back this year.  And then the window fully closes after this season.
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Posted: 02/11/2014 1:12 PM

Re: NL Playoff Contenders 


I'm not saying the Pirates won't contend for a playoff spot, but the road will be tougher in 2014 than it was in 2013. I've already talked about the Braves and the Reds, but the Giants, Nationals, and Diamondbacks should be contenders as well.

Arizona could be contenders but the issue is that is a tough division.  Only the Rockies are really bad and the issue is the other four teams will have to play each other a lot.  I can see the Dodgers getting 90+ wins but the reality is with the Diamondbacks, Padres and Giants all being pretty solid teams it would be tough to have three playoff teams.  In fact it might hurt the chances of getting two playoff teams in this division because it will be hard to get 90+ wins when you have so many tough teams in the same division.

The tough division argument holds some water, but didn't the Cardinals, Reds, and Pirates all win 90 games last year. It's not a clean comparison as no team in the NL west is likely to be as bad as the Cubs were in 2013, but I can't write off the teams in the NL west just because the competition is tougher. I can't say that the West will get 3 playoff teams, but I do suspect the Diamonbacks, Giants, and maybe the Padres to be in contention for a wild card spot.
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Posted: 02/11/2014 1:30 PM

Re: NL Playoff Contenders 



vinnybravo wrote:

My wild card this season is the Brewers. I think they could surprise this season and pass the Pirates and the Reds for 2nd in the Division. Again this is all based on normal team injuries and if a major injury to a team (Cutch) then anything could happen.
I think the Brewers and Cubs will both be better in 2014 than 2013.  I don't think they will catch the Reds of Pirates though.  The Cardinals should be favored to win the division by 5+ games.  The Pirates should finish 2nd with a 50/50 shot at one of the Wild Cards.
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Posted: 02/11/2014 1:41 PM

Re: NL Playoff Contenders 



cferrel3 wrote: I agree about the Braves, I think they will still be very good and a playoff contender.

But, with the Reds I'm suppose to believe that Billy Hamilton will have a .332 OBP in the Majors after having a .308 OBP in AAA last year, Brandon Phillips will have his highest OBP percentage in 3 years, and Todd Frazier will slug 50 points higher than last year?

Yeah, not buying that.  The Reds are taking a step back this year.  And then the window fully closes after this season.
I didn't make those projections up, if you're skeptical take it up with Bill James...

It seems the whole basis of the Reds struggling is based on the offense declining. I'll agree that without Choo the offense isn't going to score as many runs, but you aren't talking about the real possibility that they allow less runs. Replacing Shin Soo Choo with Billy Hamilton is a defensive upgrade, and the Reds pitching staff is as good as it gets.

Latos, Bailey, and Cueto are the best 1-2-3 in the NL Central. Mike Leake is a good 4/5. Tony Cingrani looked as impressive as Gerrit Cole in 2013. I don't think they have to trade Homer Bailey unless they get a significant return. They'll get a draft pick if he gets to free agency. The Reds in 2014 will be right there with the Cardinals and the Pirates, because their pitching is that good.
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Posted: 02/11/2014 1:50 PM

Re: NL Playoff Contenders 



Sangue wrote:
vinnybravo wrote:

My wild card this season is the Brewers. I think they could surprise this season and pass the Pirates and the Reds for 2nd in the Division. Again this is all based on normal team injuries and if a major injury to a team (Cutch) then anything could happen.
I think the Brewers and Cubs will both be better in 2014 than 2013.  I don't think they will catch the Reds of Pirates though.  The Cardinals should be favored to win the division by 5+ games.  The Pirates should finish 2nd with a 50/50 shot at one of the Wild Cards.
The Brewers should be better in 2014, but I'm not seeing where the Cubs improvement will come from. The Cubs are going to continue to build for 2015, none of there impact prospects are ready to contribute this year.
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Posted: 02/11/2014 1:50 PM

RE: NL Playoff Contenders 


It's simple math. The Pirates, Reds and Cardinals were able to beat up on the Brewers and the Cubs. Those two teams had 74 and 76 wins.

The problem with the West is that all those teams have to play each other more than other teams. So while all 4 of them will beat up on the Rockies the other 3 teams that play each other (I'm excluding the Dodgers) play each other 19 times each. So the Padres will play the Giants and Diamonbacks 38 times total. Chances are those teams will all end up with comparable records against those teams because they are fairly evenly matched. One might go 20-18, one might go 18-20 and one might go 19-19. That is going to effect the teams ability to win 90 plus games which you need for the playoffs. Those teams would all likely have to go around 70-54 against all the other teams which is a tough record and that isn't counting games against the Dodgers. To make the playoffs all those teams would have to split every 4 game series and win 2 out of 3 in a 3 game series and you won't see that happen.

A lot has also been made out of the Braves but their success has a lot more to do with a hot start. 84-65 was their record after the first 13 games of the year. They started the season off at 12-1 and that allowed them to make the playoffs pretty easily especially since Washington really underperformed. Washington is likely to bounce back some and Atlanta is not as strong as they were last year. They are definitely worse. They are more of a 85 win team now in my book.

Washington should win the division fairly easily. The Braves will be in the 80's and the rest of the teams will likely be in the 70's.

In the Central I see the Cardinals winning and the Pirates winning 90 plus games to take one wild card. The Reds, Brewers and Cubs will likely all be in the 70's. I see the Reds going 79-83, Brewers 77-85 and the Cubs 70-92

In the West the Dodgers will win the division and one of the Padres, Giants or Diamondbacks will likely get the playoff spot. That team will likely have the most luck over the other two teams which will give them the wild card but will knock the other two teams chances down significantly. The Dodgers will win 95 games, one of the Padres, Giants or Diamondbacks will also win 90 and the other two will win 85 games. The Rockies will likely be the worst team in the National League as they continue to not rebuild the organization as they should and instead chose to waste the cheap and productive years of Gonzalez and Tulowitzki. This year though instead of winning 74 games they will likely slip into the 60's. Both those guys are going to get traded within the next few years however it's a giant waste to have them on such a poor team. They will get prospects in a few years but those prospects won't overlap with the prospects they have now. You want to do what the Pirates are doing. Marte in 2012, Cole in 2013, Taillon and Polanco in 2014 making it to the majors and helping out an in his prime superstar in McCutchen who is in the middle of his prime. The issue with Colorado is that Tulowitzki is now 30 and is likely to decline going forward especially with his injury history. By the time the Rockies pitching is ready the primes of Tulo and Gonzalez will be behind them. They will be very good players still but not elite MVP players any longer. The Rockies are just bad management.
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Posted: 02/11/2014 2:02 PM

Re: NL Playoff Contenders 



fishmong wrote:
Sangue wrote:
vinnybravo wrote:

My wild card this season is the Brewers. I think they could surprise this season and pass the Pirates and the Reds for 2nd in the Division. Again this is all based on normal team injuries and if a major injury to a team (Cutch) then anything could happen.
I think the Brewers and Cubs will both be better in 2014 than 2013.  I don't think they will catch the Reds of Pirates though.  The Cardinals should be favored to win the division by 5+ games.  The Pirates should finish 2nd with a 50/50 shot at one of the Wild Cards.
The Brewers should be better in 2014, but I'm not seeing where the Cubs improvement will come from. The Cubs are going to continue to build for 2015, none of there impact prospects are ready to contribute this year.

Um their top prospect and the best offensive shortstop prospect in baseball will likely be playing in the majors in June.  He will either play third base or push Castro to second.  Baez has a pretty special bat so he should make a pretty big impact.  He hit 37 homers as a 20 year old last season.  If he were to start the season in the majors he would likely be the ROY.  He's a legitimate franchise player who will start the season in AAA.
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Posted: 02/11/2014 3:00 PM

Re: NL Playoff Contenders 


Baez is good, but I think he's a year away from making a serious impact. Big difference between A+ and AA arms and the pitching he'd see in MLB.
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Posted: 02/11/2014 3:13 PM

RE: NL Playoff Contenders 


So why will Lindor be playing in the majors this season then?

Considering Baez is a top 10 prospect in baseball and the top prospect on a team with one of the top farm systems in baseball I would say he qualifies as an impact prospect. The Cubs will likely call him up in June so the idea that the Cubs won't have an impact prospect to help them this year isn't correct. He obviously won't be at his peak level next year but he has the talent to hit 15 homers by accident in half a season so he certainly will be a contributor.
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Posted: 02/11/2014 3:18 PM

RE: NL Playoff Contenders 



katoy2j wrote: .

A lot has also been made out of the Braves but their success has a lot more to do with a hot start. 84-65 was their record after the first 13 games of the year. They started the season off at 12-1 and that allowed them to make the playoffs pretty easily especially since Washington really underperformed. Washington is likely to bounce back some and Atlanta is not as strong as they were last year. They are definitely worse. They are more of a 85 win team now in my book.

Washington should win the division fairly easily. The Braves will be in the 80's and the rest of the teams will likely be in the 70's.
Washington should have won that divisions pretty easily last year as well. What's this nonsense about the Braves hot start? The Braves success over a 162 game season was because of 13 games in April??????? C'mon man, the Braves 12-1 start had as much to do with their finish as the Pirates 1-5 start.

You claim Atlanta is worse than last year, but I don't know what you are basing that on. Where's the decline going to come from? I can make a good case that the Braves will see improvement out of Jason Heyward and Justin Upton in 2014. I also can't imagine BJ Upton and Dan Uggla will combine to be worth -3 wins. Either those guys will improve or they will be replaced. Losing McCann and Hudson will matter, but not as much as getting replacement level production out of BJ Upton and Dan Uggla will.
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Posted: 02/11/2014 3:26 PM

RE: NL Playoff Contenders 



katoy2j wrote: So why will Lindor be playing in the majors this season then?

Considering Baez is a top 10 prospect in baseball and the top prospect on a team with one of the top farm systems in baseball I would say he qualifies as an impact prospect. The Cubs will likely call him up in June so the idea that the Cubs won't have an impact prospect to help them this year isn't correct. He obviously won't be at his peak level next year but he has the talent to hit 15 homers by accident in half a season so he certainly will be a contributor.
I'm not sure that Lindor will be playing in the Majors. Asdrubal Cabrera will probably be the SS all year on a contending Indians team. If the Indians falter they can turn to Jose Ramirez and Mike Aviles if Cabrera is traded. If Lindor is putting up a .380 OBP in AAA maybe the equation changes, but I don't expect Lindor to see time in Cleveland this year.

Your opinion on Baez is fine, I just think he's a year away. He's an impressive prospect, but he's not going to improve the 2014 Cubs in a meaningful way. They'll still struggle to be the 4th place club in the division.
Blame it on "a certain someone"

Last edited 02/11/2014 3:29 PM by fishmong

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Posted: 02/11/2014 4:47 PM

RE: NL Playoff Contenders 



fishmong wrote:
 
Washington should have won that divisions pretty easily last year as well. What's this nonsense about the Braves hot start? The Braves success over a 162 game season was because of 13 games in April??????? C'mon man, the Braves 12-1 start had as much to do with their finish as the Pirates 1-5 start.

You claim Atlanta is worse than last year, but I don't know what you are basing that on. Where's the decline going to come from? I can make a good case that the Braves will see improvement out of Jason Heyward and Justin Upton in 2014. I also can't imagine BJ Upton and Dan Uggla will combine to be worth -3 wins. Either those guys will improve or they will be replaced. Losing McCann and Hudson will matter, but not as much as getting replacement level production out of BJ Upton and Dan Uggla will.

Ryan Doumit, the worst defensive catcher in the history of baseball will be catching games for them.  Doumit has played 9 years in the majors and has yet to be on a team with a winning record.  He's a big part of that.  Brian McCann was an elite two way catcher and the replacements are Gerald Laird and Doumit.  That's going to be a massive loss.

You can't just replace Upton and Uggla if they are struggling.  You're stuck with them because of how much money is owed to them.  Some guys will be better than last year and other guys will be worse.  Freddie Freeman is unlikely to have a .372 BABIP next season.  In 2012 it was .295.  Chris Johnson will not finish second for the batting title again.  I don't see Uggla getting better.  He's been on a three year decline and is on the wrong side of 30.  He isn't an athletic player by any means so it isn't a shock he's struggled.

I think you grossly underestimate the decline older players go through.  You are way to bullish on Shin Soo Choo and his aging curve and I think in a few years you're going to see how ugly that deal will get.  As you get older you are much more susceptible to injury and in all but a small few of players there is pretty easily noticeable decline in skills.

Lets just take a small sample of names.  Using age 30 or 31 as a starting point for evaluation.

Jimmy Rollins

27 - .811 OPS
28 - .875 OPS
29 - .786 OPS
30 - .719 OPS
31 - .694 OPS
32 - .736 OPS
33 - .743 OPS
34 - .667 OPS

27-29 he was an .825 OPS player.  30 and on he has been a .710 OPS player


Dan Uggla

28 - .874 OPS
29 - .813 OPS
30 - .877 OPS
31 - .764 OPS
32 - .732 OPS
33 - .674 OPS

28-30 he was a .855 OPS player.  31 and on he has been a .725 OPS player


Albert Pujols

28 - .1.102 OPS
29 - .1.101 OPS
30 - .1.011 OPS
31 - .906 OPS
32 - .859 OPS
33 - .767 OPS

28-30 he was a 1.070 OPS player.  31 and on he has been a .845 OPS player.

Mark Texieira

27 - 1.020 OPS
28 - .962 OPS
29 - .948 OPS
30 - .846 OPS
31 - .835 OPS
32 - .807 OPS

27-29 he was a .975 OPS player.  30-32 he was a .830 player.

Adrian Gonzalez

27 - .958 OPS
28 - .904 OPS
29 - .957 OPS
30 - .806 OPS
31 - .803 OPS

27-29 he was a .940 OPS player.  30 and on he has been a .805 OPS player.
There is a reason why the peak of players is generally in the 27-30 years.  Sure some guys last a little longer than others before they decline but trying to figure those guys out is very difficult.  You might as well bet 0 or 00 on roulette.  These are not just random names.  These guys were MVP's and elite players at their respective positions.  All of them had a 100 point or more drop in OPS.

Best course of action is when a player hits 30 just wash your hands from him and move onto the next guy.  That's why it's in the Pirates best interest not to extend Neil Walker and after the 2017 season which represent age 30 for McCutchen he should be traded no matter how good the team is.  Get a bunch of prospects for him and let some other team give him a 250 million dollar extension.  The Pirates can replace him with Austin Meadows in 2018.  Pitchers don't have the same extremes in decline usually.  The worry with them is breaking down
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Posted: 02/12/2014 8:09 AM

RE: NL Playoff Contenders 


As cynical as katoy's post is, he has some hard data to back it up.  And particularly now that PED's are (supposedly) being purged from the game---or at least, mostly purged from the game---it would seem that age-related decline for most players, especially position players, is back to pre-PED era levels. 


Of course, baseball is not, or at least was not, an unsentimental enterprise.  Part of the joy of being a fan was being able to wax eloquent about the legendary deeds of this or that player when they were young, and then introducing younger fans (or offspring) to that player in the later years of their career.  Even if the player was no longer able to do what they once did as often as they once did it, there was still a realistic chance that you might be watching on a day when they recaptured what they once were---even if only for a moment. 


The players' union, of course, has basically priced sentimentality out of the game.  So I guess there's no legitimate reason, for example, for McCutchen to cry about being unceremoniously shipped out of town once he hits 30 years of age, since it is now prohibitively expensive---and also damaging to the entire salary structure of the team---to pay for sentiment and nostalgia.  That had its limits even back in the day, of course; I am speaking of players who are still productive even if less than what they were.  But what the gigantic salaries of current players have done is to remove the option, in most cases, of a hometown team keeping a diminshed but still decent player around for the other, intangible benefits that would otherwise accrue to the team.  Oh, well.  confused
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Posted: 02/12/2014 9:09 AM

RE: NL Playoff Contenders 



williamjpellas wrote: As cynical as katoy's post is, he has some hard data to back it up.  And particularly now that PED's are (supposedly) being purged from the game---or at least, mostly purged from the game---it would seem that age-related decline for most players, especially position players, is back to pre-PED era levels. 


Of course, baseball is not, or at least was not, an unsentimental enterprise.  Part of the joy of being a fan was being able to wax eloquent about the legendary deeds of this or that player when they were young, and then introducing younger fans (or offspring) to that player in the later years of their career.  Even if the player was no longer able to do what they once did as often as they once did it, there was still a realistic chance that you might be watching on a day when they recaptured what they once were---even if only for a moment. 


The players' union, of course, has basically priced sentimentality out of the game.  So I guess there's no legitimate reason, for example, for McCutchen to cry about being unceremoniously shipped out of town once he hits 30 years of age, since it is now prohibitively expensive---and also damaging to the entire salary structure of the team---to pay for sentiment and nostalgia.  That had its limits even back in the day, of course; I am speaking of players who are still productive even if less than what they were.  But what the gigantic salaries of current players have done is to remove the option, in most cases, of a hometown team keeping a diminshed but still decent player around for the other, intangible benefits that would otherwise accrue to the team.  Oh, well.  confused

William, your first paragraph hits on the biggest thing most of us have noticed these last few year.  I think we are finding out, maybe even more than inflating single season numbers, that performance enhancing drugs greatly elongated players careers.  Players are resorting back to actually declining in their 30's, when a lot of times players were getting better into their 30's in the 90's and 2000's.  There are obviously exceptions to every rule.  Since this is a Pirates board, Roberto Clemente actually maintained his greatness well into his 30's, although his body did begin to break down some in his mid 30's.  He was in incredible shape and had the body type to maintain performance (I actually think Cutch will maintain his ability into his 30's).  However, most players will go back to declining according to historical data.  Call me a cynic, but this is why I believe Craig Biggio was on steroids, he got better into his 30's.

And I 100% agree with you about the nostalgia point.  That is the business of the game today, however, as a fan (not thinking with a business mindset) I'm really bitter that players are almost guaranteed to play for multiple teams in small and mid markets.  The idea of Cutch playing for the Pirates for almost all of his career (assuming he maintains his play) would be awesome to see, but it will never be that way again.  Only in rare cases like Joe Mauer will this happen, and he even might be traded before the end of the deal.

Last edited 02/12/2014 9:12 AM by cferrel3

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Posted: 02/12/2014 9:13 AM

RE: NL Playoff Contenders 


Yeah, it's a sad thing.  Baseball is still entertaining and is to my mind still the best professional sport in the world.  Far and away.  But it has lost some important parts of its appeal, I think.
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Posted: 02/12/2014 8:59 PM

RE: NL Playoff Contenders 



katoy2j wrote:

I think you grossly underestimate the decline older players go through.  You are way to bullish on Shin Soo Choo and his aging curve and I think in a few years you're going to see how ugly that deal will get.  As you get older you are much more susceptible to injury and in all but a small few of players there is pretty easily noticeable decline in skills.

Lets just take a small sample of names.  Using age 30 or 31 as a starting point for evaluation.

Jimmy Rollins

27 - .811 OPS
28 - .875 OPS
29 - .786 OPS
30 - .719 OPS
31 - .694 OPS
32 - .736 OPS
33 - .743 OPS
34 - .667 OPS

27-29 he was an .825 OPS player.  30 and on he has been a .710 OPS player


Dan Uggla

28 - .874 OPS
29 - .813 OPS
30 - .877 OPS
31 - .764 OPS
32 - .732 OPS
33 - .674 OPS

28-30 he was a .855 OPS player.  31 and on he has been a .725 OPS player


Albert Pujols

28 - .1.102 OPS
29 - .1.101 OPS
30 - .1.011 OPS
31 - .906 OPS
32 - .859 OPS
33 - .767 OPS

28-30 he was a 1.070 OPS player.  31 and on he has been a .845 OPS player.

Mark Texieira

27 - 1.020 OPS
28 - .962 OPS
29 - .948 OPS
30 - .846 OPS
31 - .835 OPS
32 - .807 OPS

27-29 he was a .975 OPS player.  30-32 he was a .830 player.

Adrian Gonzalez

27 - .958 OPS
28 - .904 OPS
29 - .957 OPS
30 - .806 OPS
31 - .803 OPS

27-29 he was a .940 OPS player.  30 and on he has been a .805 OPS player.
There is a reason why the peak of players is generally in the 27-30 years.  Sure some guys last a little longer than others before they decline but trying to figure those guys out is very difficult.  You might as well bet 0 or 00 on roulette.  These are not just random names.  These guys were MVP's and elite players at their respective positions.  All of them had a 100 point or more drop in OPS.

Best course of action is when a player hits 30 just wash your hands from him and move onto the next guy.  That's why it's in the Pirates best interest not to extend Neil Walker and after the 2017 season which represent age 30 for McCutchen he should be traded no matter how good the team is.  Get a bunch of prospects for him and let some other team give him a 250 million dollar extension.  The Pirates can replace him with Austin Meadows in 2018.  Pitchers don't have the same extremes in decline usually.  The worry with them is breaking down
I agree that players decline in their 30's, but I don't think your analysis is taking into account the lower run scoring environment these players have lived through. If you look at these guys stats with wRC+ or OPS+ you'll see the decline, while still significant, isn't as dramatic as it seems by just looking at OPS. 

Jimmy Rollins
Age 27 101
Age 28 119
Age 29 104
Age 30 87
Age 31 85
Age 32 101
Age 33 98
Age 34 85

Age 27-29 108 OPS+
Age 30-34 92 OPS+

Dan Uggla
Age 27 108
Age 28 126
Age 29 111
Age 30 131
Age 31 107
Age 32 98
Age 33 83

Age 27-29 115 OPS+
Age 30-33 106 OPS+

Albert Pujols
Age 27 157
Age 28 192
Age 29 189
Age 30 173
Age 31 148
Age 32 138
Age 33 116

Age 27-29 179 OPS+
Age 30-33 147 OPS+

Mark Teixeira
Age 27 149
Age 28 152
Age 29 141
Age 30 124
Age 31 121
Age 32 115

Age 27-29 147 OPS+
Age 30-32 120 OPS+

Adrian Gonzalez 
Age 27 162
Age 28 152
Age 29 155
Age 30 117
Age 31 126

Age 27-29 156 OPS+
Age 30-31 121 OPS+

Again there is significant decline to be expected in a player's 30's as a players peak years are winding down, but it's not like these guys fall off the face of the earth. I like Choo because he has tremendous on base skills. Physical skills decline with age, but strike zone judgement is a skill that tends to stick around. Here's some players who like Choo derive their value from high OBP skills.

Jayson Werth
Age 27 DNP
Age 28 120
Age 29 122
Age 30 129
Age 31 144
Age 32 97
Age 33 124 
Age 34 154

Age 28-30 125 OPS+
Age 31-34 129 OPS+

Kevin Youkilis
Age 27 106
Age 28 117
Age 29 144
Age 30 146
Age 31 157
Age 32 123
Age 33 101

Age 27-29 122 OPS+
Age 30-33 131 OPS+

Nick Swisher
Age 27 93 
Age 28 122
Age 29 129
Age 30 129
Age 31 125
Age 32 117

Age 27-29 115 OPS+
Age 30-32 121 OPS+

Carlos Beltran
Age 27 133
Age 28 97
Age 29 150
Age 30 125
Age 31 130
Age 32 144
Age 33 109
Age 34 154
Age 35 128
Age 36 128

Age 27-29 126 OPS+
Age 30-35 133 OPS+

Bobby Abreu
Age 27 142
Age 28 151
Age 29 136
Age 30 145
Age 31 126
Age 32 126
Age 33 113
Age 34 120
Age 35 118

Age 27-29 143
Age 30-35 125

So you listed 5 players and I listed 5 players. Choo is a lot closer to Youkilis, Swisher, and Werth than Pujols, Gonzalez, and Teixeira. I think he'll hold up at the plate.

Of course their will be guys who's decline comes faster than expected, but there are also guys who got better in their 30's like

Paul Konerko 27-29 118 OPS+ 30-35 129 OPS+
Michael Cuddyer 27-29 113 OPS+, 30-34 119 OPS+ 
Josh Willingham 27-29 118 OPS+ 30-34 125 OPS+
Torii Hunter 27-29 103 OPS+ 30-35 119 OPS+
Adrian Beltre 27-29 109 OPS+ 30-34 129 OPS+
Coco Crisp 27-29 88 OPS+ 30-33 107 OPS+
Raul Ibanez 27-29 94 OPS+ 30-35 117 OPS+


Not to mention guys like Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman, and Aramis Ramirez, who maintained high levels of production in their 30's. We can cherry pick players all day, but my point will remain the same -- while players usually decline in their peak years, it's not as dramatic as you think. Players in their 30's still provide value. I wouldn't want to go past age 35 that often, but I don't think it's necessary to avoid a players age 30-35 seasons like the plague... especially a guy with tremendous OBP skills like Shin Soo Choo.
Blame it on "a certain someone"
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Posted: 02/12/2014 9:27 PM

RE: NL Playoff Contenders 


Like I said. Gambling on a player in their 30's to maintain peak production is like betting on 00 in roulette. Sure every once in awhile you will win but the percentages say you're going to end up on the losing end. When you pay a free agent you're paying for the guys prime years and paying prime prices. The problem is you aren't getting that. Usual best case scenario he only slightly declines. But he won't be the player he was when you signed him.

I disagree that Choo will age well. His on base skills have a lot to do with him drawing walks and getting hit with the ball. As he ages he will lose bat speed and pitchers will be less afraid to throw him strikes. Carlos Beltran drew a lot of walks before as well but they declined as he aged. The difference is he has a lot of power still. Choo does not have that type of power. He generally barely gets over the 20 homer range and it's unlikely to improve as he gets older. Also he has massive platoon splits that will be exposed as he gets older. Players with massive splits are far more susceptible to decline earlier. I'm sure the first few years of th Choo contract will be fine. Those aren't the issue. Look at Youklis if you want a comparable. At age 33 he was average. At age 34 he was below average and at age 35 he's playing in Japan. Choo will be 38 by the time his contract is up. Better yet another guy who has a similar skill set to Choo is Lyle Overbay. At 33 he was basically an average player and he has been below average since.

What you likely saw from Choo is the guy having a great year in his contract season.  He wasn't the first guy to do this and he certainly won't be the last.  There will likely be some regression this year. He will still be an above average player but I only see him hanging on for a couple of seasons before he slips.

Last edited 02/12/2014 9:27 PM by katoy2j

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