Saturday, January 15, 2005

Thinking About Timo's Season

There is no reason to mince words; I don't think the White Sox should have Timo Perez on the roster, and I certainly do not think they should have given him a 1-year $1 million contract in this offseason. There are simply too many decent outfielders that you can pick up on the waiver wire or from someone else's AAA team for the league minimum to carry Timo Perez on the roster.

During the year, I complained about Perez getting at bats. But there's also no question that Perez had some big hits for the White Sox, especially his two-run ninth-inning home run in Florida in June. So I tried to figure out, did Timo, because of his clutch hits, actually benefit the White Sox?

There are a number of different ways to value Timo's performance. Baseball Prospectus lists Timo Perez as having created -16 runs above average. In other words, an average hitter with the number of plate appearances Timo Perez had in 2004 would have caused the White Sox to score 16 more runs. That's an enormous number of runs for a part time player. He also had a -8.3 VORP, another huge negative number for a part time player.

Another way of scoring a player's performance, however, is to judge each plate appearance by the amount of expected runs the player cost or generated for his team. My buddy Don Money explains ERV scoring over at Nats Blog. Basically, each possible offensive situation (e.g., man on first, two outs) has an expected run value. To lead off an inning, (no one on, no one out), the ERV is 0.5349, meaning that a team would expect to score a little more than 1/2 of a run in that situation. Of course, you can't score half of a run, so the number really indicates that over the course of 9 innings, a team will score, on average, about 4.8 runs.

For some odd reason, I decided to go through each one of Timo Perez's plate appearances in 2004 and use ERV scoring to see how many runs Timo cost the Sox versus an average player. This project took 6 hours or so over several days. And the results were a little surprising at times, but in the end, I don't know what it means. With no further adieu, here are the results:


The -7.19 figure is actually less than half the -16 Batting Runs Above Average calculated by Baseball Prospectus. But at -7.19 runs, Timo Perez was a giant sucking sound in right field, where teams expect better than average performance (by contrast, Magglio Ordonez was able to generate 3 BRAA in his plate appearances.

More interestingly is Timo's effect on a month-by-month basis. Timo's +4.62 ERV in June, if repeated throughout the season, would make Timo worth a total of 27 extra runs over the course of the year - which would have been higher than anyone on the White Sox (as judged by BRAA). But he had an abysmal July and August, and wound up costing the Sox several runs down the stretch - 10 runs over the last 3 months of the season.

Also interesting is how much Timo's bunting affected his overall ERV. Timo had a total of 9 sacrifice hits this year, leading the White Sox. According to my calculation, these sacrifices cost the Sox 1.61 runs (proving the ineffectiveness of the bunt). Because the bunting was Ozzie's decision, not Timo's, those runs should not be held against Timo. So I adjusted his ERV to account for that. By the same token, Timo reached on an error a total of 4 times, generating a total ERV of 1.14. Subtracting that as well (without assuming an out otherwise), I get a total ERV for Timo in 2004 of -6.72.

I don't quite know what to make of this. Overall, it seems as though based on his clutch performance (which Timo is unlikely to repeat, of course), Timo Perez was a better player than the stats otherwise suggested last year. As Hawk often says, it's not what you hit, it's when you hit it. But any way you slice it, Timo Perez was costing the White Sox runs, and he shouldn't have been resigned at any price.

By the way, I think I plan to keep ERV score for the White Sox in 2005. We'll see just how it all works out over the course of the season.

Comments-[ comments.]
Interesting. Note that the Deluxe Version of ERV would give Timo credit for those clutch hits (be aware that I've refined it even further than in my last post -- essentially if Timo hit a game winner in the ninth he would get a 50% increase in the RVs for that hit.)

But you are right about the bunting. The only reason to bunt is if you are almost certain that the batter will otherwise make an out that won't advance the runner, or if you are trying to get a hit. To do otherwise is to give up potential runs.
Just checked the June 15 game. Timo got 13 RV for his Ninth Inning HR under the standard edition of ERV scoring, but because the hit gave an expected lead for the Sox, he would get a 50 percent bonus, so I would give him 20 RV, or 2.0 runs created above average. The new Deluxe system essentially gives a bonus for every at bat that creates or builds on an expected lead, adjusted for what inning it comes in. It also increases the subtraction of runs for failures in such situations.
Interesting post, and it took some real hard work. I wouldn't say all of those bunts were Ozzie Guillen's ideas, necessarily. They may have been, but Perez also would bunt in weird situations for which even Guillen wouldn't usually bunt. I'm thinking of the make-up game against the Phillies on Aug. 30, when he bunted with a man on third base and two outs and was fortunate that Roberto Hernandez couldn't handle the ball on the play. It was scored as a single, according to ESPN.com's play-by-play account.

I can't stand Perez playing for the Sox.

Vince Galloro
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