My Take on ARod and Steroids

…just kidding.

Instead, how about a quick look at the effects of yesterday’s suspensions on the 2013 baseball season?  Seven players who were on major league rosters as of Sunday were suspended for 50 games each.  After the jump, we’ll look at those players, their year-to-date WAR (per baseball-reference), and their teams’ positions in the standings as of this morning.  In ascending order of potential playoff race impact:


Jordany Valdespin, Mets, -0.6 WAR, 11.5 games behind 2nd Wild Card

Jesus Montero, Mariners, -0.4 WAR, 10.5 games out

The Mets and Mariners get a little bit better, for what that’s worth.


Francisco Cervelli, Yankees, 0.8 WAR, 5 games out

Antonio Bastardo, Phillies, 1.2 WAR, 10.5 games out

Everth Cabrera, Padres, 2.8 WAR, 9 games out

These teams each lost something, but their absences won’t affect a pennant race.  The Yankees are on the outskirts of the AL Wild Card race, trailing the Rangers, Indians, Orioles, and Royals for the last spot, but it’s hard to imagine the loss of their backup catcher playing any role in a potential comeback.  Cabrera was enjoying a breakout year, leading the Padres in WAR and making his first All-Star Game.


Jhonny Peralta, Tigers, 3.5 WAR, 4 games ahead in AL Central

Nelson Cruz, Rangers, 2.1 WAR, 2 games behind in AL West, in position for 2nd Wild Card

Setting aside the likelihood that replacement shortstop Jose Iglesias plays above replacement level and mitigates Detroit’s most glaring weakness (infield defense), losing Peralta will, in theory, cost the Tigers a win or two over their last 53 games.  It’s possible that the Indians, or even the Royals, make a run for the division, but it seems far more likely that Detroit sails to the division title on the backs of its stellar rotation, rendering this suspension less relevant than that of Cruz.

If there’s one story worth talking about in connection with all of yesterday’s nonsense, it’s the one about Cruz and the Rangers, who are clawing for position in the wide-open AL playoff race.  Nine teams are within ten games of the league’s best record.  Seven are within a game and a half of a playoff spot right now.  Texas is trying to fend off at least the Indians and Orioles, while chasing Oakland at the same time.

Cruz had been the team’s second-best hitter, wielding a wRC+ of 123 through his first 108 games.  The Rangers have three more better-than-replacement-level outfielders in David Murphy, Leonys Martin, and Craig Gentry, though Martin and Gentry are both defense-first outfielders better suited for center than right.  Rookie Engel Beltre seems like the most likely candidate to gain playing time in Cruz’s absence.  Beltre has hit a miserable .273/.294/.303 in his first 14 games, and his minor league walk and home run rates don’t suggest much room to grow in the latter two numbers.  He is a base-stealing threat and batted .302 in AAA this year, but his presence will weaken an already uninspiring lineup.  Utilityman Jeff Baker should see more playing time as well, but shouldn’t be trusted in right field in key situations.

The Rangers may lose a game as a result of Cruz’s suspension.  That game may be critical to their playoff hopes.  And of course, facing a slightly weaker Rangers offense might affect some of the many teams that will play Texas over the remainder of the season, so a small ripple may be felt.  But all in all, the 2013 baseball season looks a lot like it did this weekend.

Now back to ARod…

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19 Comments on "My Take on ARod and Steroids"

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The A-Rod case is underreported! If he were suspended right now, the Yankees would miss out on ± 1 WAR. They’re 5 games out of the Wild Card, but that is while playing most of the season without Jeter and Granderson, who will contribute another 1 WAR each. Given that the Yanks’ competition for the WC (Cleveland, KC, Baltimore and Texas / TB) are likely playing over their heads (lacking mystique and aura), it is VERY LIKELY that the POSSIBILITY of A-ROD getting suspended will cause the Yankees to miss the postseason in MO’S FINAL SEASON.

OK, I tried.


Cervelli was actually the Yankees’ starting catcher at the beginning of the year. He got hurt in late April and is still on the DL.


Yeah, I’ve seen other talk that the Yankees will non-tender him too. Preposterous. Odds are good he’ll again get a shot at the starting catcher job in 2014. He’s a decent defender, has shown potential with the bat (certainly not consistently) though with little pop, and is an excellent pitch framer.

no statistician but
Is this where WAR moves from a measure of personal performance to a predictor of team success? I am reminded of the euphemistic title of a Marx Brothers movie. On June 5, 1963, Mickey Mantle broke his leg. The Yankees were in second place, a half game behind. Although he pinch hit a few times in August, the Mick was not back in the lineup until Sept. 4. The Yankees were then in 1st place, 12 games up. With Mantle, who had a great September, the team finished 10 up. Yes, I realize that the team might have done even… Read more »
Mike L
Excuse my lack of tact on this, because I recognize that Bryan has made a real effort to quantify but I think a basic point is being ignored. Eliminating both suspended players and their teams from the analysis simply because they aren’t contenders ignores the impact those teams (and more specifically, the performance of the suspended players) might have in games against contending teams. For example, starting on the 13th, the Braun-less Brewers play fifteen games against the Rangers, Reds, Pirates and Cardinals. Those games are not irrelevant. The Pods have late season games against the Pirates, Arizona, and LA.… Read more »
John Autin

Isn’t the Rangers’ season set up for the ultimate irony? Manny’s holding his own at AAA. (I use “holding” in the innocent sense.) They bring him up, and he finds one last late-season burst, a la his 2009 Dodgers run. Then, on the eve of the playoffs, the other shoe drops….


You mentioned that the Tigers had 53 games remaining. So does that mean that Peralta (and others in similar situations) can come back for the last 3 games and the playoffs? Or is the term “50 games” just used loosely to mean “for the rest of the season, however many games that comes to”? Even so, could these players still resume play in the playoffs, or does the actual ruling cover regular season and postseason?