When you subtract 156 RBI and 143 runs from a lineup obviously the knee-jerk reaction is going to be "We have to find that offense somewhere else." Today, I'm going to use a particular newfangled stat favored by the new-age, nerdy baseball scholar crowd to illustrate why this line of thinking isn't necessarily sound in the Yankees' case.
The stat we're going to use is VORP (value over replacement player). By the way, all the stats I'm using here were taken from Baseball Prospectus
, so check them out when you get a chance.
Here's a pretty good explanation
of VORP. In a nutshell, the number you're going to see is the number of runs created over what a replacement player would produce. We aren't going to worry about pitchers, statistically, today. Only batters, or lineups to more accurate.
Now, let's forget about the National League, because it's very easy to forget about the "baseball" they play over there, and let's forget about all the teams who didn't make the playoffs last year because we absolutely don't want to model our team after them. That leaves us with the Yankees, Indians, Red Sox and Angels to look at.
Here is the VORP numbers for the starting lineups of each of these teams, the total is at the bottom. Remember, the higher the number, the better.
|Player|| VORP|| Player|| VORP|
|Victor Martinez|| 55|| Alex Rodriguez|| 96.6|
|Grady Sizemore|| 53.8|| Jorge Posada|| 73.4|
|Travis Hafner|| 30.7|| Derek Jeter|| 53.3|
|Ryan Garko|| 27.8|| Robinson Cano|| 40.5|
|Jhonny Peralta|| 26.3|| Hideki Matsui|| 32.4|
|Casey Blake|| 17.6|| Bobby Abreu|| 27.9|
|Franklin Gutierrez|| 8.3|| Johnny Damon|| 17.8|
|Asdrubal Cabrera|| 7.6|| Melky Cabrera|| 9.8|
|Kenny Lofton|| 0.3|| Doug Mientkiewicz|| 5.8|
|Total|| 227.4|| Total|| 357.5|
|Player||VORP|| Player|| VORP|
|Vladimir Guerrero|| 62.6|| David Ortiz|| 86.2|
|Chone Figgins|| 36.2|| Mike Lowell|| 46.5|
|Orlando Cabrera|| 31.7|| Dustin Pedroia|| 35.9|
|Casey Kotchman|| 26.2 || Manny Ramirez|| 34.6|
|Garret Anderson|| 22.1|| Kevin Youkilis|| 31.1|
|Howie Kendrick|| 19.3 || Jason Varitek|| 23.4|
|Gary Matthews Jr.|| 15.8 || J.D. Drew|| 15.1|
|Reggie Willits|| 15.2 ||Coco Crisp|| 11.9|
|Mike Napoli|| 13.8 ||Julio Lugo|| -1.3|
|Total|| 242.9 ||Total|| 283.4|
And now here's the Yankee lineup going into this season (assuming Posada signs, which is looking likely
|Jorge Posada|| 73.4|
|Derek Jeter|| 53.3|
|Robinson Cano|| 40.5|
|Hideki Matsui|| 32.4|
|Bobby Abreu|| 27.9|
|Johnny Damon|| 17.8|
|Melky Cabrera|| 9.8|
|Doug Mientkiewicz|| 5.8|
According to these numbers, even without A-Rod, the Yankee offense in 2007 would've been the second-best among the playoff teams in the American League. Doug is probably gone as well, but his 5.8 VORP can be replaced by just about anyone. If they use a 1B platoon of Shelley/Giambi I'd expect the number to be higher than that. The point here is that the Yankees shouldn't need an All-Star caliber bat to get back to the playoffs. They should score enough runs with an average player at third. They need to spend their money shoring up their pitching.
In real-world stats, the Yanks scored 101 more runs than the Sox, 157 more runs than the Indians and 146 more runs than the Angels. They still didn't make it out of the first round of the playoffs. Bludgeoning teams to death hasn't worked for the past 4 years, and it's debatable whether it ever will. For the Yankees to trade away pitching prospects for an impact bat at this point seems illogical. Trading away pitching prospects who are going to be in the rotation this season, and contributing seems downright stupid.
I'm really hoping the Yanks will take a look at these numbers before they go out and trade for Miguel Cabrera. In fact, if they're looking for a short-term solution, how about a DH with a 55.2 VORP for about $12M on a one-year deal? If you truly believe that you have to score an obscene amount of runs to compete, I'd much prefer making a deal with the Devil for one year's service of Barry Bonds at DH than signing your soul over to him by trading away top-shelf pitching prospects for an impact bat. No matter how productive that bat is.
Granted, these are last year's numbers. It's highly unlikely that Posada will reproduce his 73.4 VORP, but I think Cano and Melky are going to progress, so the numbers as a whole will probably even out.
If you're thinking about making a splash in the trade market, at least make the splash in the pitching market. Bolstering the offense is going to lead to more of the same.