Monday, February 16, 2009

New York Yankees Baseball Prospectus Team Health Report - looking back, looking forward

Baseball Prospectus' 2009 data is pouring in and it is time to touch on some of it. As you may remember, last year we posted about Will Carroll's Baseball Prospectus Team Health Reports. Without further ado, here is a sneak peak at the SUBSCRIPTION information for the 2009 Yankees:

In the green:

Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, CC Sabathia,

In the yellow:

Derek Jeter, Xavier Nady, Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain, Damaso Marte

In the red:

Jorge Posada, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, A.J Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera

For the newbies out there, Will Carroll has a basic system of deciphering different player's injury risk each season using familiar colors. For example, Will says:
Each of the players in my system gets a rating: red, yellow or green. Unless you're color blind, these are easy to understand and since I live in Indianapolis, the auto-racing analogy is one I tend to fall back on. Underlying these simple colors are actually a band of probabilities, chances that each player sees an injury that lands him on the disabled list. A simple 15-day visit for a strained eyelid or a season-ending shoulder injury both "count" and there's no differentiation. For each player, there's always some level of risk. One never knows when Prince Fielder is going to run someone over at home. Red, the worst rating, is just short of a coinflip. For these players, the best possible rating is a 45% chance of being injured. If you're a glass half-full type, that's a 55% chance at health. You just have to hold your breath all season long that Jonathan Papelbon's shoulder holds up, that Brian Giles' knee responds to microfracture surgery, or maybe that Joba Chamberlain's usage pattern will keep him from following Kerry Wood's path to pain.
Before breaking down the 2009 information for the Yankees, lets take a look back at last year. Will Carroll had Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera in the red for 2008. While Mariano Rivera technically didn't verify since he did not spend any time on the 15 day DL, he did suffer a shoulder injury that required offseason surgery after the season. Phil Hughes suffered a rib cage fracture and spent 136 days on the 60 day DL. Joba Chamberlain had right shoulder tendinitis and spent 27 days on the 15 day DL. Essentially, his system was 3 for 3 in predicting "red" players' DL trips. On the flip side, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were both "green" players and did spend time on the DL - proof that this type of system is not perfect since it is dealing with human beings playing a sport. (specific injury days courtesy of the invaluable Fantasy Pitch FX Injury Tool).

With the 2008 review behind us, we can dive into some of the 2009 information. While Carroll has yet to write his article about the 2009 Yankees team health report, the spreadsheet has been released. At first glance, seeing 6 players in the red is pretty sobering information as a Yankee fan, considering the accuracy of last year's "red" players. After taking a moment to review the players, it becomes obvious that none of this information is groundbreaking or unexpected.

Posada is coming off of major shoulder surgery, Damon had his first ever DL trip last year and is showing signs of breaking down, Matsui is coming off of knee surgery and has spent the past two years breaking down, Burnett has never stayed healthy following a season where he threw 200+ IP, Pettitte complained of shoulder soreness at the end of 2008 and Rivera is coming off of shoulder surgery entering his age 39 season.

It would be naive to discount the above information. Some, if not all of the above players are going to take a trip to the 15 day DL in 2009. While the Yankees do have key players that are young or entering their prime, they also have a core that is aging and susceptible to injury. The key for 2009 is that when the injuries happen, they don't all come at once. Also, Jorge can't spend another 107 days on the DL. As we learned last year, the Yankees can overcome a lot, but not the loss of their catcher. Even a 15 day DL stint for Mariano wouldn't be the end of the season, as the bullpen looks to be an asset in 2009 with even more reinforcements waiting in the wings in the minors.

The good news is that the most valuable Yankees are in the green according to Carroll's spreadsheet. Sabathia (6.4) Rodriguez (5.6), Teixiera (5.5) are all in the top 25 in the MLB as measured by Baseball Prospectus' WARP (wins above replacement player). Questions are sure to arise about how Rodriguez' steroid use will affect his injury forecast going forward. Hopefully Carroll will address that in his forthcoming article about the 2009 Yankees.

Phil Hughes is not listed in the above report since he is not projected to be one of the team's starters. It would be interesting to see where he rates out in Carroll's system. I assume he would be a red based on his past injury history.

A look around the rest of the AL East shows that the Red Sox lead the way in "red" players with 9, including team centerpieces David Ortiz, Josh Beckett, J.D Drew and Mike Lowell. The defending AL East champion Rays feature only 3 players in the red, including the refurbished Troy Percival and the always-fragile Scott Kazmir

For those of you looking for more information about the Baseball Prospectus Team Health Reports, Will Carroll wrote an "under the hood" article at the end of January, addressing some of the questions he has received about the system. I believe it is a subscription article, but if you have read all the way to this point, you should really subscribe to Baseball Prospectus. Also, you can reference his article from last season, outlining the system.

Talk about it in the Stadium Insider Forums!


Greg said...
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Greg Cohen said...

Great stuff, very interesting.

The two Yankees I'm very concerned about are Posada and Burnett. They could afford losing Burnett for a few starts, but they cannot afford to lose Jorge again.

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