## Going to WAR! Some Arithmetic to Measure the Off-Season

Well, the off-season is winding down and soon we'll be hearing about how the pop of Harvey's fastball sounds hitting d'Arnaud's glove. But ‘till then we still have a couple of weeks to debate how best to get better. After all, between the Beard, a Bourn or spring training acquisition(s) the roster could certainly still change. But what if it doesn't? How does the 2013 version of our Metsies square with last year's disappointment?

It's impossible to guess which players will improve or regress, get hurt or heal, lose a skill or develop a new pitch that results in a Cy Young campaign . . . But what we can do is count. For this exercise we'll focus on counting WAR. Start with WAR, apply some basic arithmetic and come up with . . . at best a rough barometer of how we'll do and at worst a little fun and fodder for yet more debate. But what else is there to do these days?

So here we go . . . The tables below look at last seasons WAR for the guys we've kept, the guys we've lost and the guys we've added. Net the WAR gained against the WAR lost and add it to WAR retained and if everyone were to duplicate their 2012 performance (never happen of course) you've got a predictor of how the club could fare in 2013.

Not that it's quite that simple. I found a couple year old link at fangraphs suggesting an all replacement level club should win about 47 games. Last season the Mets posted an offensive WAR of 19.3 and a pitching WAR of 12.7 for a total of 32. Added to the 47 replacement level wins would have projected the club win 79 games in 2012 or 5 more than they actually did. If my numbers are correct - and I always welcome corrections - it might be interesting to explore why there was such a discrepancy. But that's for another post - right now let's see who we've kept.

Returning players

 Returning Players Interesting Stat WAR D Wright 21 HR/ 140 RC+ 7.8 in 670 PAs R Tejada 5.4%/14.6% bb%/k% 2.1 in 501 PAs D Murphy -9.5 fld 5.9%/13.4% bb%/k% 1.8 in 612 PAs I Davis 32 HR, 110 RC+, -1.8 fld 1.6 in 584 PAs M Baxter 11.8% BB%, 114 RC+ 1.2 in 211 PAs K Nieuwenhuis 21.2% k%, 92 RC+, -1.2 fld 0.9 in 314 PAs O Quintanilla 1.9 fld, 102 RC+ 0.7 in 80 PAs J Turner 4.9% bb%, 97 RC+ 0.5 in 185 PAs J Valdespin 4.9bb% 21.4%k%, -4.5 fld, 94RC+ 0.2 in 206 PAs Z Lutz -0.1 in 11PAs L Duda J Bay -21.1 fld, 101 RC+, .150 ISO 48 RC+ -1.1 in 459 PAs -0.8 in 215 appearances Position players 15.5 WAR/ 3833 PAs Starting Pitchers J Niese 3.64xFIP 30 starts 2.4 in 190 ip D Gee 3.54 xFIP 17 starts 1.5 in 109 ip J Hefner 4.21 xFIP 13 starts 1.2 in 93.2ip M Harvey 3.49 xFIP 10 starts 1.1 in 59ip J Santana 4.02 xFIP 21 starts 1.1 in 117ip J Mejia 4.88 xFIP 3 starts -0.1 in 16 ip C McHugh 4.77 xFIP 4 starts -0.3 in 21.1 ip C Schwinden 6.44 xFIP 2 starts -0.4 in 8.2ip Starting Pitchers Combined 100 starts 6.5 net WAR Relief Pitchers B Parnell 3.15 xFIP 1.0 in 68ip T Byrdak 4.12 xFIP 0.2 in 30ip F Francisco 4.10 xFIP 0.1 in 42ip J Familia 4.97 xFIP 0 in 12.1ip J Hampson 4.38 xFIP 0 in 10 ip E Ramriez 5.29 xFIP -0.1 in 21 ip J Edgin 3.82 xFIP -0.2 in 25.2 ip R Carson 5.90 xFIP -0.2 in 13.1 ip Relief pitchers 0.8 net WAR in 222 ip 22.8 WAR retained

A couple of caveats that will apply to all of the tables:

Playing time will vary. We've only got one returning starting pitcher who made more than 21 starts. Will Gee make 25 starts? If he does, will he perform as well as his partial last season or will be regress? Etc.

Small Sample Size - This is directly related to caveat #1. If you simply extrapolated Jeremy Hefner to 30 starts, this table suggests he'd be a 3 WAR player. I doubt many of us expect that to happen. And if Robert Carson gets 65 innings he'd be a -1 reliever - again highly unlikely.

That out the way, if all the returning guys get the same number of appearances and perform the same way they did last season . . . we start with a base of 22.8 WAR retained which gets us to just about 70 wins for the year. That's well below the 79 wins WAR suggested we should have achieved last season. Let's take a closer look at where that 9 WAR went by reviewing the players who have been subtracted from the roster:

Players not returning

 Position Players Scott Hairston 20 HRs, .504 slg. 118 RC+ 2.0 in 398 PAs Andres Torres .297 wOBA, 87 RC+, 3.0 fld 1.7 in 434 PAs Ronnie Cedeno -2.5 fld, 107 RC+ 0.6 in 186 PAs Vinny Rotino Jason Bay 48 RC+ 0.2 in 39 PAs -0.8 in 215 PAs Josh Thole 60RC+, .257 wOBA 0.1 in 354 PAs Kelly Shoppach 31% k%,66 RC+ 0.1 in 87 PAs Position players 3.9 net WAR in 1613 PAs Starting pitching RA Dickey Some award named for Sy Symms or something 4.6 in 233.6 ip Mike Pelfrey 3.35 xFIP 3 starts 0.6 in 19ip Chris Young 5.36 xFIP 20 starts 0.5 in 115ip Miguel Batista 5.11 xFIP 5 starts -0.3 in 46.2 ip Starting Pitchers 61 starts 5.4 net WAR in 414 ip Relievers gone Jack Egbert 5.3 xFIP 0 in 1ip Jon Rauch 4.33 xFIP 0.1 in 57 ip Ramon Ramirez 4.77 xFIP 0.1 in 63ip Pedro Beato 3.87 xFIP -0.1 in 4.1ip DJ Carrasco 4.68 xFIP -0.1 3.2 ip Manny Acosta 4.41 xFIP -0.4 in 47.1 ip Relievers gone -0.4 WAR in 176 ip All players 8.9 WAR not retained

It's no shock that over half the lost WAR comes from trading RA Dickey, only 2 other players lost (Hairston & Torres) posted more than 0.6 WAR so aside from those 3 it's a lot of replacement level churn. What surprises me the most is that we've subtracted an additional 28 starts and 180 starter's innings pitched beyond Dickey's 233 innings! Now they weren't particularly quality innings but when you see Hefner/Mejia/Schwinden/ McHugh combined for 22 additional starts it becomes apparent just how important it is for the young hurlers to perform at well above replacement level because there's an awful lot of replacement level innings to fill.

So that brings us to everyone's favorite - shiny, new toys. How much of the lost 8.9 WAR would they have soaked up if they'd been with the club last season? I fear I'm missing a guy or two here - I'll gladly update anyone I missed.

 Pitchers Greg Burke Shaun Marcum 4.21 xFIP 1.4 in 120 ip Scott Atchison 3.42 xFIP 1.0 in 51 ip Position players John Buck .284 wOBA, 75 wRC+ .155 ISO 1.2 in 398 PAs Colin Cowgill .295 wOBA, 87wRC+ .048 ISO 0.2 in 116 PAs Andrew Brown .315 wOBA 83 wRC+ .211 ISO 0.3 in 126 PAs Brandon Hicks .275 wOBA, 73 RC .219 ISO 0.0 in 70 PAs Anthony Recker .240 wOBA, 46 wRC+ .120 ISO 0.0 in 58 PAs Cumulative WAR added 4.1 WAR

Well - that doesn't look very good now does it? It's not good but it's also not as bad as it looks. First we need to note that our added position players only total 798 PA's less than half the 1613 PAs that departed. Someone is going to make up those 800 missing PA's be it players staying healthier (Tejada), promoted (d'Arnaud, Flores etc). or playing well enough to avoid demotion (Kirk, Duda). As long as those guys aren't posting negative WAR, that gap should be smaller. The same circumstances apply to pitchers. We appear to have only added 171 of the nearly 600 innings shed. Health permiting, Harvey, Gee and Santana could make up a large portion of those "lost" innings.

So what's it mean? Not a ton. But despite the justifiable angst over the shortage of OFers, there's likely going to be a ton of churn on next years pitching stats chart. Nearly 600 of the 1400-ish innings a big league club pitches in a regular season won't be back. The split between starters and relievers soaking those up could be a leading indicator of success in 2013 - for sure no starter will approach the bullpen saving 233 innings RA hurled last season.

So while the outfield has gotten most of the attention this season, position players have seen 23% of last year's WAR move on while the pitching staff has lost 40%. That's an awful lot of performance for Saun Marcum and the kids to replace. But if they do, 2014 and the future could indeed be very bright. Hopefully, it'll be fun to watch.

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions, reasoning skills, or attention to grammar and usage rules held by the editors of this site.

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