The AL East from ’08 to ’09

Instead of going team by team this off season, I will review the divisions as a group. And whereas last year, I used a version of BaseRuns, with some modifications for strength of schedule and the like thrown in, to determine the ranking of teams’ true talent levels, this year I will use WAR as provided here on FanGraphs.

Part Six: The AL East

Last year the AL East reigned king over everything. The Red Sox were kings of baseball, the best team according to BaseRuns. The Rays, no slouches themselves and eventual AL Pennant winners, were 2nd, at 2nd. The Blue Jays followed in the 4th overall spot just ahead of the Yankees in 5th. The poor Orioles were left out of the love fest however, finishing 23rd overall.

In 2009, little changed. The Yankees climbed up from fifth to take the top spot both in the division and in baseball overall. A fitting rank for the team that took home the World Series crown. The Rays once again were bridesmaids in 2nd, and this time didn’t see a pennant flag out of the deal. The Red Sox completed the AL East trifecta with a 3rd overall ranking.

The Blue Jays were unable to hang so tight with the big boys this season and fell down a few spots to 10th while the Orioles remained the Orioles, slipping from 23rd to 25th.

The overall rating for the Yankees is likely to change significantly a few years from now after we have enough data to build out a better park effect for New Yankee Stadium. For now though we have to go with what we have, and that leaves the 2009 Yankees as a supremely powerful group of hitters. Other than that, not much changed in the AL East last year and given the strengths of Boston, New York and Tampa, not much should change in 2010 either except a further decline for Toronto now that Roy Halladay is gone.

Here’s a summary of the ranks for the AL East teams, with 2008 first.
BOS: 1, 3
TAM: 2, 2
TOR: 4, 10
NYY: 5, 1
BAL: 23, 25

Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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Dirty Water
12 years ago

1st: Youkalis, Teixeira.
Better defensively, and with consistent batting splits, Youkalis takes the cake. And for $11 mil less, no less.

2nd: Pedroia, Cano.
Who ya got, some no defense, lackadaisical excuse for a pro, or the lil giant. Easy: Pedroia.

SS: Jeter, by a hair 🙂

3rd: Arod, easy, although I do wonder if he’ll actually be able to even catch a ball in 2-3 years. What a crappy contract that thing is deemed to be. $30 mil for a DH? only in NY.

LF: Cameron, Damon.
Possible bias here but I’ll take Mike. Both players swings are well suited for their home ballparks, but Mike’s defense trumps Damon’s OBP.

CF: Ellsbury, Granderson
Ellsbury’s resume indicates he’s the supreme defender, and he’ll never get pulled in the 7th because of a LOOGY, but still, there’s his work in CF last year to be considered. Granderson, by a hair.

RF: Drew, Meathead
Gotta take the pro here. JD Drew.

C: Martinez, Posada
Behind the plate, both make people cringe, but age must be considered here seeing that Posada will be playing his 38th year. Martinez.

P: CC, AJ, Vasquez, Pettitte, Hughes/Joba; Beckett, Lester, Lackey, DiceK, Buchholz.
In respective order, Lester and Buchholz blow that staff away. So although I’m willing to concede the top spot to Sabathia, right now, the rest are not even close. Boston, by a lot.

CL: Papelbon, Rivera.
FG says that these two don’t matter; have no bearing on games, so since I’m posting this on their site, I’m just gonna ignore these two.

RP: Incomplete.

12 years ago
Reply to  Dirty Water

Did you just say Jeter’s better than Scutaro by a hair?

Tank the Frank
12 years ago
Reply to  Gary

He also said “Ellsbury’s resume indicates he’s the supreme defender.”
Has he ever heard of what a zone rating is? To post that on FanGraphs of all places is embarrassing.

12 years ago
Reply to  Dirty Water

Dirty Water: Always a relevant, level headed, nonbiased poster.

1st Base: Youkilis (Not Youkalis) vs. Teixeira (Teixeira wins)

Both players are in the upper echelon in terms of 1st basemen, and are near-equals. Youkilis gets on base slightly more, but by virtue of his Fenway-assisted AVG. Teix has more power, way more power. He’s also more durable than Youkilis. They’re both plus defenders (even with UZR not being Teixeira’s friend this year). Any sane person would take Teix over Youk.

2nd Base: Pedroia vs. Cano (Wash)

Once again, both very good players. Defensively, Pedroia is better than Cano, but Cano is no slouch. Robbie has good range, and a tremendous arm for a second baseman- the opposite of Dustin, who needs to sling it underarm wherever he is. Cano is also a better hitter, and doesn’t need a 37-foot wall 300 feet away from him to hit for a high average, but Robinson also needs to hit .310 to have a decent OBP.

Shortsop: durrr jed lowrie is the next derek jeter hurr durr

3rd Base: A-Rod > The corpse of Mike Lowell (another Fenway hitter)

Left: Seeing as the Yankees don’t have one of these at the minute, I guess Mike Cameron wins.

Center: Curtis “No Lefties Please” Granderson vs. Jacoby “How I Take Routes?” Ellsbury (Granderson Wins)

Curtis is a better defender, has so much more power (even more now that he’s moving into NYS), just don’t ask him to hit lefties, oh and he’s pretty quick too. But as fast as Grandy is, Ells is still faster, and a better thief. But…. He probably shouldn’t be playing center, and is a poor leadoff man. Even with Granderson’s struggles against lefties in his career (something like a .600 OPS), he’s still better offensively than Jacoby, coupled with the superior defense, it’s no contest, Granderson all the way.

Right: Meathead vs. The Glass Man (Drew wins)

They’re pretty much the same player. Swisher will give you 150+ games, with slightly more power, but at the expense of 20-odd points off AVG. When healthy, Drew is the superior player. He’s also not exactly playing in the best LHB environment. Both very good players.

Catcher: Martinez vs. Posada (Wash)

Martinez hits for a higher average, but has less power than Posada. Posada can call a better game (whatever that means), block pitches, and keep it from being a total track meet. V-Mart is going to play more games, but will he catch more games, considering how poor he is defensively? Pick your poison.

DH: Johnson vs. Ortiz (Wash)

Depends what you’re looking for here? You want OBP? Johnson. You want DINGERZ? Ortiz.

Do you want someone who in all likelihood can fall off a cliff next year? Ortiz.
Do you want Mr. Freak accident? Johnson.

Starters: CC>Beckett, Lester> AJ, Vazquez=Lackey, Pettitte>Laptop Thief, Joba/Hughes/Gaudin >Geriatric Knuckleballer

Closer: Rivera >>>>>> Anusmouth McLoademup

The bullpen will be a crapshoot, always is.

12 years ago
Reply to  Stuck

“Posada can call a better game (whatever that means), block pitches, and keep it from being a total track meet.”

calls a better game??
please see:

block pitches??
0.849 block rate.. only worse ML catcher is Miguel Montero (0.840)

12 years ago
Reply to  Dirty Water

wow dirty water definitely cannot tell you are a boston fan or simply a yankee hater. first off tex is simply better then youk. the fact that tex is far more expensive is not a product of theo being a better negotiator/ gm then cash, it is that youk was not on the open market (his current deal was an extension) and thus youk had essentially no leverage in the negotiations. and let us not forget the only reason tex is not your 1b is b/c the yanks wanted him more. jeter by a hair? no comment necessary. boston rotation by far and away better then new york? the combined WAR for each staff is more or less the same. and i LOVE the easy out of not talking about closers b/c FG doesnt, avoiding giving the nod to the yankees. granderson by only a hair? you should checkout beyond the boxscore diamond rankings and how jacoby fairs. ill give you a hint: not pretty at all.

12 years ago
Reply to  Dirty Water

sure, a 33 year old that for the first time in his career reached 600 PA in a season AND hit over .750 OPS is a hair inferior to a guy who’s probably already got his Cooperstown plaque made at age 35, what’s so hard to see about that?

12 years ago
Reply to  Dirty Water

Youk = Tex
Pedroia = Cano
Jeter >
A Rod >
V mart slightly edges out Posada
Granderson slightly edges out Els
Drew slightly edges Swisher
Cameron > Gardner. Cameron = Damon
Ortiz = Johnson.

CC > Lester
Burnett = Beckett
Vazquez Dice K
Joba, Hughes, Buccholz too early to call. I would give laptop the edge though, he pitched well in the ALDS, Hughes fell apart and Joba wasn’t fantastic either.