MLB - The So What (6/29/17)

By Frank Brank @realfrankbrank

Carlos Gonzalez and Tyler Anderson head to the DL

CarGo isn't quite what he used to be. He's nearly 32 years old and coming off his worst full season of his career, posting 1.9 wins above replacement. This season hasn't been an improvement, slashing .221/.300/.348 with a 51 wRC+ with an astounding -1.2 fWAR. Gonzalez will go to the DL with a shoulder injury with no timetable for his return. Slated for around 300 plate appearances for the rest of the year before his injury, Gonzalez was going to be worth right around a half of a win to the Rockies. Gerardo Parra seems to be his most likely replacement, but he could be seen as a replacement level player going forward.

Tyler Anderson made his first start since coming back from a knee injury but reinjured himself in the third inning. Anderson will undergo surgery to fix his knee issue and is expected to be out around a month. Anderson is one of the more underrated pitchers in baseball because he's throwing in Coors Field. He's made 31 starts in his young career and has posted a 4.46 ERA, 4.24 FIP. Using ERA- to measure Anderson at a park neutral level, he's 11% better than the average MLB starter. In 19 starts last season, he compiled 2.5 fWAR. Given that he'll be out until the All-Star break, we should expect Anderson to make around 14 starts for the rest of the season, where he'll be worth about one win to the Rockies.

Jon Gray Returns
Though Anderson is a decent-sized loss for the Rockies, Jon Gray returning is a huge upgrade. In Gray's first 41 starts of his career, he's posted an unlucky 4.76 ERA with a 3.66 FIP. We should anticipate his ERA to lower as his career progresses if he continues to pitch in the same fashion. Even at a 4.76 ERA, Gray has been 2% better than the league average starter once we adjust for Coors Field; however, his FIP is 17% better than league average. Assuming that Jon Gray would be healthy for the rest of the season, he should make around 17 starts. Per our simulation, Gray should sit around a 4.05 ERA and be worth nearly two wins above a replacement level pitcher.

What does it mean?
When it's all said and done, the Rockies are slightly better after these three big moves than they were prior. With Anderson due back after the all-star break, the Rockies will get another boost. Per our simulation, the Rockies are projected to finish with 88.8 wins, which would be good enough for one of the two Wild Card positions in the National League.

Holliday, Hicks, Castro Miss Time
Matt Holliday has hit the 10-day disabled list with an illness. Teams are using the new 10-day DL to quickly get players up to fill roster spots in case of emergency. Holliday is still a good hitter and having a great year. He's reached a 132 wRC+ with 15 home runs in 276 plate appearances. His strikeouts are up an enormous 10%, but his walks are up 5% and his power output is climbing. He still lacks on defense, as expected, but well worth his production from the DH role.

Aaron Hicks will also take a blow with an oblique injury. Oblique injuries are terrifying for baseball players as every activity within the game requires a twisting motion. It takes quite some time to fully recover and players can easily get re-injured afterwards. Hicks is having a huge season, thus far, just like many other Yankees. He's always been a plus defender with a huge arm but now he's transitioned into an incredible hitter, supporting a 144 wRC+, 10 home runs, and a 15.3% walk rate. He's already compiled 2.7 wins above replacement this season. Given that he's never hit at this rate, we'd anticipate Hicks to slow down; however, he's still worth 1.3 wins for the rest of the season over his replacements. It is unclear how long Hicks will be out, but it is important that the Yankees allow as much time as possible due to the nature of oblique injuries.

Starlin Castro is another Yankees player having a career year. He's been worth 1.7 wins this season while slashing .313/.348/.486 with a 121 wRC+. Those are all well above average numbers for a middle infielder. His slash line and improvement is mostly aided by a .357 batting average on balls in play, which will almost certainly reduce as the season goes on. Unfortunately, Castro tweaked his hamstring again, causing him to miss some time. Castro's strain shouldn't be too worrisome but hamstring injuries have a tendency to linger over the course of careers. Castro is worth about one win for the rest of the season if he were to miss extended time.

What does it mean?
If all three, Holliday, Hicks, and Castro, were to miss the rest of the season, it could cost the Yankees about 3.5 wins. Each win is critical at this stage with a close division race with the Red Sox. Since we shouldn't anticipate Holliday out much longer, that number will reduce to a 2.5 win total hit. The Yankees will need their young players, Miguel Andujar and Tyler Wade, to contribute to keep their division lead. Our current simulation has the Yankees projected for 90.1 wins, just a half game clear of the Red Sox projection at 89.6 wins. The two are currently tied for the AL East division lead where they only clear the last place Blue Jays by 5.5 wins. This five team race could last deep into the season and being healthy may be the biggest key to victory.