Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Handicapping the AL East: Bullpens

I'm just going to do this the same way I did the rotations... except it's going to look much uglier because of the pitchers involved. I only listed five per team because the back end of a bullpen goes through so much turnover throughout the season. Again, these are the top five that I think will be in each team's 'pen at the start of the year, not that I think should. Big difference:


Yankees

Blue Jays

Red Sox

Orioles

Devil Rays

M. Rivera (1)B. Ryan (2)J. Pineiro (13)
C. Ray (3)
S. McClung (25)
K. Farnsworth (7)
J. Accardo (9)
M. Timlin (14)
D. Baez (4)
A. Reyes (19)
S. Proctor (6)
J. Frasor (16)B. Donnelly (10)
C. Bradford (16)
D. Miceli (22)
L. Vizcaino (12)
B. League (11)
J. Tavarez (5)
J. Walker (8)
C. Orvella (23)
M. Myers (17)
B. Tallet (20)J. Romero (18)
T. Williams (21)
R. Lugo (24)

So how many of those guys really deserve to have single digits next to their names? 5? Maybe 6? I guess that's the nature of relief pitching, but jeez. Anyway, I wanted to put Ryan ahead of Rivera, partly just to see Ross' reaction, but mostly because he was slightly better last year. However, since he's already out with a stiff back, I thought that would be a stretch. I'm obviously worried about the Red Sox closing situation, but I'm not exaggerating in the least when I say I think Seth McClung is the worst pitcher in that group. How the Devil Rays can still expect that guy to bring something to the table is far, far beyond me.

Averages:

Yankees: 8.6
Orioles: 10.4
Blue Jays: 11.6
Red Sox: 12.0
Devil Rays: 22.6

Yeah, that sounds about right. Toronto clearly has the second best closer, but Baltimore has more depth. Boston has some talent, but it's not top-heavy like the Yankees and Orioles, and the Rays are a mess. Now, BP's projected VORP:

Yankees

Blue Jays

Red Sox

Orioles

Devil Rays

M. Rivera (18.8)B. Ryan (23.4)J. Pineiro (5.1)
C. Ray (11.1)
S. McClung (0.3)
K. Farnsworth (12.0)
J. Accardo (9.6)
M. Timlin (6.5)
D. Baez (6.9)
A. Reyes (5.0*)
S. Proctor (11.1)
J. Frasor (10.5)B. Donnelly (8.3)
C. Bradford (11.7)
D. Miceli (3.9)
L. Vizcaino (10.9)
B. League (12.4)
J. Tavarez (4.4)
J. Walker (7.9)
C. Orvella (7.8)
M. Myers (4.3)
B. Tallet (5.7)J. Romero (5.5)
T. Williams (8.1)
R. Lugo (5.9)

Al Reyes isn't even in BP 2007 because he played in Japan last year, but I've heard his name mentioned as a potential closer for the Rays, so I can't exclude him from the conversation. For the purposes of calculating the totals below, I conservatively assigned him a VORP of 5.0, which I think is fair, even though I ranked him as the best guy they had. Beyond Reyes, I was way off on many of the rankings, especially the Yankees, who have three guys beyond Rivera who could close for the Red Sox or Devil Rays. That just speaks to the volatility of relief pitching, (which is why I don't blame the Red Sox for throwing money at the bullpen this off-season), but I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks McClung shouldn't even be in the majors. Let's see the total VORPs:

Blue Jays: 61.6
Yankees: 57.1
Orioles: 45.7
Red Sox: 29.8
Devil Rays: 22.9

Wow. The Red Sox have a lot of work to do: that's about three wins that they're giving up to Toronto and New York in the bullpen. Ryan's projected edge over Rivera gives the Blue Jays the total edge, but that could honestly go either way. I definitely sold the Blue Jays short, though, probably because their relievers don't have much of a track record compared the Baltimore's. And I overrated Boston, at least in relation to Tampa Bay, which scares the bejeesus out of me.

Is this how each group will actually stack up at the end of the season? Probably not, especially since we're only looking at five guys per team, but I think it's in the ballpark.

3 comments:

Warren said...

I think Brandon League has a good chance of being better than his ranking here - I think he's a top 5 guy (in this pitiful list). The Blue Jays have a nice bullpen.

Sully said...

Well, by my rankings, you're right. By PECOTA's VORP projections, he's actually #3 in the division.

Ross said...

Your predictions went pretty much right along with what I wrote about each of the bullpens in my AL East predictions as well. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of discrepency about AL East bullpens.