Saturday, May 9, 2009

Update: The Shawn Hill Challenge

Here's the latest:
Shairon Martis: 3.0
Jordan Zimmermann: 0.6
John Lannan: 0.4
Shawn Hill: 0.2
Scott Olsen: -4.9
Daniel Cabrera: -5.1
Background: Shawn Hill finished (?) this season with a Value Over Replacement Player of 0.2. (VORP is a composite counting stat that measure's a pitcher's overall contribution compared to the average AAA call-up.) The Shawn Hill Challenge asks whether the Nationals were correct, beyond any measurable doubt, to choose the five guys they did over Hill, injuries and all.


DeezNats said...

I can't believe you are still wasting your time writing about a guy with an 8-16, 4.95 career record. He will be working with Patterson in a car wash inside of 12 months. On the bright side, the sooner he retires, the sooner the voters can elect him to the HOF.

You should add a part 2 to your
"challenge": Days spent on the DL: "Glass Arm" Hill vs. the total of all 5 guys they picked over him. I predict it will be Glass Arm in a landslide.

JayB said...

This is Steven's way of saying he was completely wrong about Hill and his overreacting indigent ranting about how stupid Rizzo was for cutting him lose...this is as close as it comes to " I was wrong " for Steven.....and much closer than he will ever come to admitting Milledge was indeed a poor attitude, un-coachable, self-absorbed fool.

JayB said...


You have done a great deal to educate me on Sabre Stats stuff but I find it very hard to believe that the Average AAA call up is the same as John Lannan.......maybe in the Red Sox’s system but I do not think the AAA level across all teams is stocked with that level of pitcher just waiting to get called up.....really devalues the VORP stat in my you think it is valid?

James Bjork said...

What JayB said.

Steven is left grasping at the VORP straw with the implicit corrolary that clubs should just ignore the durability issue.

This is ironic, because Steven just castigated the Nats for not leaving D-Cab and his submarine VORP in longer to eat innings!

Rizzo and others in the organization all emphasized that the decision was based on projected durability, DESPITE Hill's talent, those precious moments when his arm held together.

I would not have weighed in here or prior were it not for how strident Steven was in his condemnation of Rizzo.

Hill is a great man with a great attitude and deserved a better fate, but he has shown why the Nats had to move on.

RL said...

I actually can't tell whether Steven's still trying to insist he was right or is admitting he was wrong. Either way, the fact is that if we had stuck with Hill and milked his 0.2 VORP over 13 IP for everything it was worth. we'd be in the same situation now of trying to find a 5th SP who was better than replacement level.

I saw recently that Chico Harlan had predicted 3 more starts for D Cab - that sounds about right to me, although maybe if he can throw out one good effort he sticks for another one or two.

Steven said...

Lannan currently is 0.4 runs better than replacement, not the same as replacement.

Anonymous said...

.4 better than VORP.....oh that makes all the difference in the issues at hand with that stat....thanks for clearing that up.

Steven said...

VORP simply measures runs allowed versus what a basically fungible, cheaply available pitcher could provide. Where you set replacement level is a matter of much rich discussion, but the concept is sound and actually quite important for measuring player value.

For context, a very good pitcher will post a VORP usually of about 50-60 over the course of a full season. Last year Cliff Lee led baseball with a 76 VORP. This early you shouldn't expect to see VORPs much higher than 15-20, even for good pitchers.

VORP is a cumulative counting stat like HRs or RBI. The Shawn Hill comparison is valid *because* it's a counting stat. Getting beat by an injured player in VORP is like getting beat by an injured player in HRs or RBI. It's embarrassing. The fact that the injured player got injured doesn't mitigate the unfavorable comparison for the bad, healthy player, it exacerbates it.

There was a question about Lannan's 0.4 VORP going into last night's game, and whether that's an accurate measure of his value. He at that moment was sitting on a 4.56 ERA, and hitters were hitting .304 / .356 / .533 against him. That's not very good at all, so I'm not sure why it's so surprising that his VORP wasn't that good.

Last year he was a 24 VORP pitcher. After last night, his VORP is up to 4.3

The point of the "Shawn Hill Challenge" is to highlight that the Nationals are carrying a lot of below replacement pitching, especially Cabrera and Olsen.

None of this has anything to do with whether I was "right" or "wrong" about Shawn Hill. If your focus is Ted Lerner's bank account, and saving him another couple hundred K, then the team was clearly right to drop Hill. If your focus is trying to field a better team, then there's a good case to be made that it's worth taking a shot on a pitcher who's better than what you have, even if he is injury prone.

So it just depends on your perspective. It's a good move for money, and it's a mildly bad move from baseball.

Then I just want to reiterate that I find it really ugly how so many Nationals fans seem to blame players for their bad luck with injuries, as if it's somehow Shawn Hill's fault for his arm problems. Calling him "Glass Arm" Hill is just kind of douchbaggy in my book. Would you rip Doug Davis for his cancer? Bad things happen to good people. Only jerks then revel in the bad fortune of others.

JayB said...


The two issues here are VORP and Hill. The problem I have with VORP for pitchers at least is the idea that you could find a replacement AAA type player AND know that he would produce as good as league average. That is hind sight and more really. The way you through VORP around you seem to think you just go down to Wal-Mart and pick up a VORP for 400K and that is all there is too this GM thing. This VORP stat of yours is really just a backward looking stat and as you point out often that is just cherry picking.

On Hill....I don't care if he has a VORP of 54 the issue is IT DOES YOU NO GOOD when he does not pitch and he clearly will never be able to pitch more than a few starts a year. It is not his fault, we should not be happy that this is his draw in life but it is what it is.....Rizzo did what had to be done in order to find pitchers who could help and get to your magical VORP or higher level. I will bet you right now that Olsen will be well above VORP by the end of the year. DCab...your boy as I recall....not a chance.

Steven said...

Cabrera is not my boy.

I will certainly take action from anyone on Scott Olsen finishing this season above replacement. Ain't gonna happen.