2010 MLB Preview: CHONE's WAR Gives Hope to Cleveland Indians For Winning Season

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2010 MLB Preview: CHONE's WAR Gives Hope to Cleveland Indians For Winning Season
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Cleveland Indians may be rebuilding again, but it's hard not to be optimistic when CHONE predicts the team to win at least 81 games and finish second in the division.

Let's take a closer look at those projections, using WAR—Wins Above Replacement.

For those unfamiliar with the stat, WAR compares a given player to a replacement player—basically, any random guy you'd pull out of AAA. WAR is nice because it takes into account defense and position difficulty—it's harder to play shortstop than left field—in addition to offense.

It's said that a team of nothing but replacement players will win 47 games. So let's start with that as our baseline.

First, we'll look at the position players. FanGraphs includes this year's CHONE projections, and even gives a WAR number. So that makes things easy. Here are the position players on the 40-man roster.

Player WAR
Grady Sizemore 5
Shin-Soo Choo 3.1
Asdrubal Cabrera 2.8
Jhonny Peralta 2.2
Luis Valbuena 1.5
Matt LaPorta 1.3
Louis Marson 1.2
Travis Hafner 1.2
Brian Bixler 1
Michael Brantley 1
Mike Redmond 0.8
Trevor Crowe 0.8
Wyatt Toregas 0.8
Jordan Brown 0.6
Carlos Santana 0.4
Andy Marte 0.3
Nick Weglarz -0.1
Chris Gimenez -0.5
Jason Donald -1
Wes Hodges -1.1
Carlos Rivero -1.3

 

Sizemore and Choo are really good, but you already knew that.

Next, the Non-Roster Invitees.

Player WAR
Shelley Duncan 1.5
Russell Branyan 1.2
Brian Buscher 1
Austin Kearns 0.7
Luis Rodriguez 0
Mark Grudzielanek -0.3
Damaso Espino -0.7
Niuman Romero -1.1
Beau Mills -1.2
Lonnie Chisenhall -1.8

 

Assuming we assemble a 25-man roster with 13 position players and 12 pitchers, here are the best possible position players we could take.

Player WAR
Grady Sizemore 5
Shin-Soo Choo 3.1
Asdrubal Cabrera 2.8
Jhonny Peralta 2.2
Luis Valbuena 1.5
Shelley Duncan 1.5
Matt LaPorta 1.3
Louis Marson 1.2
Travis Hafner 1.2
Russell Branyan 1.2
Brian Bixler 1
Michael Brantley 1
Brian Buscher 1

 

OK, so we're short a catcher—that won't work.

Now, here's my best guess at what the actual opening day lineup will look like.

Player WAR
Louis Marson 1.2
Matt LaPorta 1.3
Luis Valbuena 1.5
Jhonny Peralta 2.2
Asdrubal Cabrera 2.8
Michael Brantley 1
Grady Sizemore 5
Shin-Soo Choo 3.1
Travis Hafner 1.2
Mike Redmond 0.8
Brian Bixler 1
Andy Marte 0.3
Russell Branyan 1.2

 

The realistic lineup gives us 22.6 WAR, and the best-case gives us 24. Add that to our baseline of 47 wins, and we're already on pace to win 69-71 games.

Now, the pitchers.

CHONE's website itself lists Runs Versus Replacement for pitchers, which is nice.

The common standard is that ten runs is equal to one win, so we'll divide the RVR by ten to get each player's WAR. Here are the pitchers on the 40-man.

Player WAR
Justin Masterson 2.7
Fausto Carmona 2
Aaron Laffey 1.9
Jeremy Sowers 1.5
David Huff 1.4
Hector Rondon 1
Jake Westbrook 1
Hector Ambriz 0.8
Carlos Carrasco 0.6
Kerry Wood 0.6
Mitch Talbot 0.6
Rafael Perez 0.6
Chris Perez 0.5
Jensen Lewis 0.5
Jess Todd 0.4
Tony Sipp 0.4
Joe Smith 0.3
Jeanmar Gomez -0.8

 

CHONE didn't have a projection for Kelvin De La Cruz. But boy, it sure is high on Justin Masterson, isn't it? The non-roster invitees.

Player WAR
Anthony Reyes 0.9
Jason Grilli 0.6
Mike Gosling 0.2
Saul Rivera 0.2
Frank Herrmann -0.1
Josh Judy -0.1
Zach Putnam -0.3

 

Alex White and Yohan Pino didn't get CHONE projections.

Here's the best possible group of 12 pitchers.

Player WAR
Fausto Carmona 2
Aaron Laffey 1.9
Jeremy Sowers 1.5
David Huff 1.4
Hector Rondon 1
Jake Westbrook 1
Anthony Reyes 0.9
Hector Ambriz 0.8
Carlos Carrasco 0.6
Kerry Wood 0.6
Mitch Talbot 0.6

 

Rafael Perez is also at 0.6, so feel free to substitute him in for Carrasco, Wood, or Talbot as you see fit.

Here's my best guess at the opening day staff. I wasn't sure quite how it was going to turn out, so I started with the guys under contract (Westrbook, Wood, Carmona, and Perez), added rule five pickup Ambriz, then just went in descending order by WAR after that.

Player WAR
Jake Westbrook 1
Kerry Wood 0.6
Fausto Carmona 2
Rafael Perez 0.6
Hector Ambriz 0.8
Justin Masterson 2.7
Aaron Laffey 1.9
Jeremy Sowers 1.5
David Huff 1.4
Hector Rondon 1
Carlos Carrasco 0.6
Mitch Talbot 0.6

 

The best possible scenario clocks in at 15 total WAR, and the "realistic" one comes in just under that at 14.7. Add that to our 47-win baseline and the 22-24 wins by the hitters, and we're looking at a team that should win at least 80 games and could win as many as 87.

Of course, a word of caution: it was these types of sabermetric projections that predicted the Tribe to win the Central in '06, '08, and '09. But still, it's February, so why not be optimistic?

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