>How Would a Team of All David Wright’s Do?

>Did you ever wonder how a team of nine David Wright’s would perform? How about nine clones of Jose Reyes running all over the place? For you sadists out there, did you ever wonder how many games a team of all Alex Cora’s would win?

Well, there’s sort of an answer. Baseball-reference.com has a fun little junk stat called “Offensive Winning Percentage” on each player’s batting page. “Offensive Winning Percentage” (OW%), created by Bill James, gives an estimation of the winning percentage of an imaginary team where all the batters are the player you’re looking at, and the defense and pitching were league average – e.g. the winning percentage of a team where all nine batters were Barry Bonds, or David Wright, or Mario Mendoza, or nine whoever-you’re-looking-at’s. The player’s defense is not taken into account, just his batting. It’s not a particularly useful statistic, but it is a fun one. See, statistics can be both misleading and fun.

To create an offensive winning percentage, Baseball-Reference takes the number of runs player X would create over 27 outs, and then creates a winning percentage for a team scoring that many runs per game based on Bill James’ pythag win-loss formula. For example, an average defensive/pitching team with nine Barry Bonds’s in the lineup would score 10.6 runs per game and win .815% of the time – a 132-30 record over 162 games. A team of all Babe Ruth’s in the line up would score 12.6 runs per game and win .858% of their games – that’s the highest in history. A team of Mario Mendoza’s would win .179% of their games (29-133), and a team of nine Bill Bergen’s – maybe the worst hitter of all time* – would go 20-142. You can go on for hours and hours (at work!) seeing how well a team that has just player X batting would do. It’s a flawed system, and it’s nowhere near as accurate as wOBA, or even OPS, but it’s way more fun. 

*Bill Bergen career OPS+: 21. Yeah, seriously. Bill Bergen put up an OPS 79% worse than the rest of the league over his career.
Cy Young career OPS+: 44

Here is a table of the 13 batters the Mets are most likely to use this season, Carlos Beltran included, with their career runs created per game, offensive winning percentage, and the win-loss record over 162 games formulated from that percentage. Remember, defense is not included. In real life, Beltran and Jose Reyes are more valuable than a better hitter like Jason Bay because they play elite defensive positions well. A team of nine Carlos Beltrans would perform better than a team of nine Jason Bays. Here are the Mets’ players OW%:

Okay, some explanations for some of the weird things that are going on here:

– Team Daniel Murphy and team Luis Castillo score the same number of runs per game, but Daniel Murphy’s team wins more games with those runs. That happens because Murphy hustles more.

Just kidding. That’s not why.

The reason, as always, is context, context, context. Offense has been on a downswing in baseball since 2006, though it’s still a historically favorable environment for batters. The fourteen seasons Luis Castillo has played in have been more favorable to hitters than the two seasons Daniel Murphy has played in. Putting it another way, it has been easier for Luis Castillo to produce runs than it has been for Daniel Murphy to produce runs, so the runs Daniel Murphy has created have been more valuable than the runs Luis Castillo has created. Team Daniel Murphy’s winning percentage is higher than team Luis Castillo, despite scoring the same number of runs because runs created in 2008-09 have been more valuable than runs created over 1996-2009. Murphy has been a useful offensive player over his entire Mets career thus far. And cue the irrational Murphy love/hate.

– Jose Reyes’ offensive winning percentage is lower than one would expect because of his struggles during his first three seasons:

Jose Reyes offensive winning percentage age 20-22:        .454
Jose Reyes offensive winning percentage age 23-present: .590

– Henry Blanco, Rod Barajas, and Alex Cora. Oh boy. Sub-.400 offensive winning percentages abound. Cora isn’t even a plus-defender anymore, unlike Barajas and Blanco, so Cora’s leadership skills are going to need to compensate for his inability to do any particularly useful things as a player. Basically, for the amount of money he’s making and the negative contributions he’ll make on the field, Alex Cora’s leadership abilities needs to be on par with King Leonidas (the actual one, not Gerard Butler) singing Bruce Springsteen’s “No Surrender”, then making the speech Bill Pullman makes as the president in “Independence Day”, followed by a dramatic slow clap.

– On the other side of the bench, Pagan and Tatis are both winning bats. In fact, 7 of the 13 players the Mets figure to use most this year are winning bats. The Mets are still top heavy with the big five of Wright’s left arm, Wright’s right arm, Bay, Beltran, and Reyes.

– Gary Matthews Jr.: -22.8 outfield UZR over the past three seasons. -26 plus/minus runs saved as an outfielder over the same timespan. He has an offensive winning percentage of .433% and an OPS+ of 85 over the same time period. And he’s signed for two seasons. But hey, he’s been a good base runner over that time span. That counts for something too, right?

Basically, Gary Matthews Jr. and Alex Cora take up two bench spots without adding any on-field benefits, short of the possibility of using Sarge Jr. as a intelligent pinch runner and Cora as Matt Foley: Motivational Speaker. This is probably not the best way to use two bench spots. It’s even scarier when Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya are having a contest of “let’s see who can say the most ridiculous thing with a microphone in their face”, and both suggest that Gary Matthews Jr. and his .333 OBP could not only start, but even lead off for a team with Reyes, Pagan, and Castillo.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got on this. Offensive Winning Percentage is nowhere near as accurate as something like wOBA or OPS, but it is a fun way to turn offensive numbers into a more palpable win-loss record. Plus, you get to see how many runs a team of Mark McGwire circa 1998 would score per game (14), and how well they’d do (142-20).


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