The Amalgam League: What Happens When We Mix and Match Teams

Theo GeromeCorrespondent IIIJune 12, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 13:  Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals dives for a ball hit by Edgar Renteria #16 of the San Francisco Giants in the first inning of their game at AT&T Park on May 13, 2009 in San Francisco, California. Zimmerman dropped the ball on the play.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

So, in Joe Posnanski’s blog post Tuesday, he mentioned that the Royals have a solid, young pitching core but horrible offense, while the Nationals have several good hitters and no pitching.

Which gave me an idea for today’s article:  How much better would the Nationals be if they let a position player pitch two games every week?

They have to many good corner infield/outfield players to use them, it’d give them another bat, they couldn’t do much worse.

I’m kidding, of course (but, should the National front office see this and decide to implement it, credit would be nice).

Posnanski wondered whether the Nationals’ offense with the Royals’ pitching staff would compete.

This intrigued me. So, I present, The Amalgam League.

I took two teams—one’s offense and the other’s defense. To calculate how they’d do, I used the Pythagorean Expectation Formula (for those curious, one way the formula can be written is Runs Scored^2/(Runs Scored^2+Runs Allowed^2).

My line-ups and rotations are rough sketches. I do not know the current line-up or rotation for every team, but I can guess and have a good idea to begin with.

So, onward: The Washington Royals. 

From Posnanski’s original query, the Washington Royals line-up would roughly be (Batting stats, from left to right, and for this season, are batting average, home runs, on-base plus slugging, and OPS+.):

SS-Cristian Guzman .330 / 3 / .816 / 112

CF-Elijah Dukes .262 / 6 / .801 / 108

 3B-Ryan Zimmerman .321 / 11 / .923 / 140

LF-Adam Dunn .256 / 17 / .936 / 144

1B-Nick Johnson .313 / 5 / .860 / 127

RF-Josh Willingham .243 / 9 / .905 / 135

C-Jesus Flores .311 / 4 / .905 / 135

2B-Anderson Hernandez .255 / 0 / .633 / 68 (okay, this line is painful)

Pitcher (since the Nats don’t have a DH, neither do the Washington Royals)

That line-up isn’t too terrible, with the exception of the black-hole that is Anderson Hernandez. According to MLB.com, they have scored 267 runs. 

And, the pitching (from left to right, ERA, WHIP, K/9, and ERA+, for this season):

SP-Zack Greinke 1.55 / .966 / 9.4 / 283

SP-Gil Meche 3.70 / 1.434 / 7.3 / 119

SP-Brian Bannister 4.69 / 1.509 / 5.8 / 94

SP-Kyle Davies 5.12 / 1.444 / 6.4 / 86

SP-Luke Hochevar (he probably has a brighter future than Ponson) 7.85 / 1.636 / 2.9 / 56

CL-Joakim Soria 1.74 / 1.258 / 9.6 / 252

MLB.com says the Royals’ staff has allowed 276 runs.

Realistically, it doesn’t look like the Washington Royals would compete. According to the Pythagorean Expectation, they would have a winning percentage of .483. This doesn’t seem like much, but I guess it’s better than either team is doing thus far. (It’s even a full 1.75 times the Washington Nationals’ current winning percentage) \ 

And now, for some quicker mixes:

My next idea was to mix the Orioles (one of my two personal favorites. For those wondering, I have one AL favorite (the Orioles) and one NL favorite (the Cardinals). It works, as the two seldom meet.) with a strong pitching team.

I knew the Orioles’ strength was their lineup, but I did not realize their pitching was THAT atrocious (28th in runs allowed, with 331).

The first strong pitching team I thought of was the Giants. I decided to mix them, if for no other reason than both of their colors are orange and black.

The Orioles offense may be their strong point, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily incredible, with only 267 runs scored (identical to the Nats’, although the Orioles do play in the considerably tougher AL East).

Nevertheless, it tops the Giants' pitiful 233 runs scored. The Giants’ staff, however, has allowed only 230 runs, which is one of the best in the league, as well as a 101-run improvement over the Orioles’ staff.

These so called Baltimore Giants would have a .574 winning percentage, good for fifth in the majors.

This is good news to me. It means that all the Orioles need to compete is an insanely good pitching staff. No problem.

My next mix was to see the best possible team that could be made. The Giant’s could carry over, but I decided to use the other best staff in the league: the Dodgers. Yes, the Dodgers and Giants have allowed the same number of runs this season, as of June 12.

Can you feel the rivalry at work?

In any case, they would be matched with the Tampa Bay Rays’ offense (no joke), which kind of surprised me, considering pitching was more their forte last year.

This hypothetical Tampa Bay Dodgers team would have an incredible .698 winning percentage. That’s .042 better than the best winning percentage in the league this year (that would be the regular Dodgers, of course).

Next, I tried to make the best team possible out of losing teams (for this article, “losing” is sub-.500).

Losing teams thus far include: Baltimore, Minnesota, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland, Kansas City,* Oakland, Atlanta, Florida, Washington, Pittsburgh, Houston, San Diego, Colorado, and Arizona. Of these fourteen teams, Cleveland leads in runs scored, with 320 (which, by the way, is only behind the Yankees and Rays).** The leader, or, rather, leaders, among these cellar-dwellers in runs allowed are Pittsburgh and Atlanta, both of which have allowed 261 (I’ll use Pittsburgh, as they have the lower winning percentage).

*(Yes, 4/5 of the AL Central is below .500. I expected to be bad preseason, but I thought at least two of them would be winning)

**Their pitching is 29th in runs allowed, however, which explains why they are in fourth place.

This super-loser team, the Cleveland Pirates, would actually have a .601 winning percentage, putting them ahead of every team but two (the Phillies and Dodgers).

I decided to do three more experiments, the first being, what if Joe Posnanski’s original idea was flipped? That is, we use the Royals’ runs scored (an abysmal 238) with the National’s runs allowed (the worst in the league, at 343).

The resulting team, the Kansas City Nationals, would only win at a .325 clip. (Amazingly, this would STILL top the Nationals.)

My last two ideas are similarly inverses. What is the worst team that can be made from winners? The Seattle Mariners would provide 226 runs scored, while the Yankees would donate their pitching staff and its 310 runs allowed.

These Seattle Yankees* would rank near the bottom of the Majors with a .347 winning percentage, which, as you may note, still tops the Nationals.** 

*New York Mariners, maybe? Seattle Yankees sounds geographically wrong, although that may just be me.

**Not to offend any Nationals fans. I have a bit of a soft spot for the Nats, although they don't come close to the Orioles or Cardinals.

And, as it had to be asked, what is the worst team possible? The Seattle offense and Washington pitching would combine to form the Washington Mariners, proud owner of a pitiful .303 winning percentage. Attentive readers may note that the Nationals’ winning percentage is actually worse. Of course, the Nats are seven games back from their expected win-loss record.

Now, I know I said that would be the end, but one more question came to me: would it be better to have an outstanding hitting team of an outstanding pitching team?

The league average in runs scored and runs allowed is 278 (277.6, to be exact). So, the Rays’ hyper-offense, mixed with a league average staff, would yield a winning percentage of .613. This tops their current winning percentage by .113, and their expected winning percentage by .020.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers and Giants lead in runs allowed, but the Dodgers have an above-average offense; therefore, I’ll just use the Giants. The Giants, with a league average offense, would both have a winning percentage of .594. For the Giants, this is an actual improvement of .069, and an expected improvement of .088. 


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