Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dodger's Trade: Season-Ender for Giants?

After the Dodgers completed their blockbuster trade with the Red Sox yesterday, acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto, many have immediately stated the Dodgers would win the West. I'm here to say, hold your horses folks.

Yes, the Dodgers got three star players and Nick Punto, and yes, Adrian Gonzalez did make an immediate impact with his 3-run homer in his first Dodger at-bat, but the Dodgers are by no means suddenly guaranteed to win the West. Things don't happen like that in baseball, where a single player is not that much better than those around him.

Remember that, according to the statistic WAR, Wins Above Replacement, even star players are likely only worth about 4 wins per season above a replacement player. And since the Dodgers have acquired Gonzalez, Beckett, and Crawford well after the halfway point of the season, they can't be worth much more than 1 extra win each. In fact, based on my calculations, since Gonzalez has averaged a WAR of 4.7 over the last two seasons and Crawford has averaged a WAR of 0.3 according to FanGraphs, and since the Dodgers have 34 games left to play this season, which constitutes about 20% of their season remaining, these two players combined will provide a boost of....wait for it...wait for it...1.05 wins. Hooray!

The reality is that, although these are great players, the way baseball works makes it so that, staistically speaking, they won't really be able to collectively gain the Dodgers more than 1 or 2 wins in what is left of this season. And since the Dodgers are currently nestled behind the Giants in the standings after that three-game sweep, 1 or 2 wins may not be enough to surpass the Giants.

Of course, the Dodgers could certainly win the West on the backs of Gonzalez, Crawford, and Beckett. I'm simply saying that we shouldn't be so quick to hand it to them. With a small sample size such as 34 games, anything could happen. The Giants could keep their lead or the Dodgers could surge to the top.

We'll just have to wait and see.

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