Originally posted on Buzz On Broad  |  Last updated 5/31/12

Bill James, who is considered the father of modern baseball statistics and coined the term “sabermetrics” once said, “Do we need to have 280 brands of breakfast cereal? No, probably not. But we have them for a reason - because some people like them. It's the same with baseball statistics.” I have recently taken a keen interest in Bill James and the art of statistical reporting in baseball. There are literally hundreds of baseball statistics you have never heard about. From, WPA/LI, RE24 and waaWL% to the classics like Avg, OBP, and OPS, there is a stat for everyone.

In this piece I will examine a few statistics to predict the answer to one main question. Where would the Phillies be today, on the 31st of May, if Chase Utley was playing 2nd base and Freddy Galvis was playing shortstop for AAA Lehigh Valley?

First, let’s look at a few of the stats I will be examining these players on. I will look at Runs Created (RC) and RC/G. Runs Created is a formula created by Bill James  that estimates approximately how many runs this player is credited with giving his team. Runs Created per Game expands that out and assumes this would be the teams score if you had 9 of that hitter in your lineup for the entire game.

I will also look at WAR, a recently popular statistic that indicates approximately how many wins above a replacement AAA player this person would have given his team. This stat has been increasing in popularity and is extremely hard to compute. www.baseball-reference.com to the rescue.

Finally, I will look at Win Probability Added This is a sum of the positive and negative events for the player that leads to a team win or loss. For example, in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, David Freese posted at .969 WPA. That basically means that he was 96.9% responsible for the win. It is the highest known WPA in the history of MLB.

Let’s start with Runs Created. For this entire piece I will compare Chase Utley’s 2011 season with Freddy Galvis’ 2012 campaign. Last year, Chase Utley was credited with creating 64 runs in 103 games. If there were 9 Chase Utley’s in Philadelphia’s lineup, they would have scored an average of 7.4 runs per game. So far this year, through 51 games, Freddy Galvis has created 14 runs in 51 games. That is good enough for 2.7 runs per game in a lineup that features 9 Freddy Galvis’.

Now while this looks completely lopsided, let’s remember that Freddy Galvis is hitting mostly from the 8th spot in the order while Chase Utley has hit from the 3rd spot in the lineup. It’s safe to say that Chase Utley probably has more oppurtunities to create runs because he probably gets more at bats and most likely has runners on base when he comes up more of the time. However, even if you look at both of those situations, it’s hard to discount the fact that there is nearly a 5 run difference between the two players.

So with that, let’s look at Wins Above Replacement. Since this is an additive statistic and not an average (each game can increase or decrease the overall WAR of a player) lets convert it to a 162 game average for each player. Through 52 games this year, Freddy Galvis has an overall WAR of 0.5, for a 162 Game Average of 1.56. Basically, what that means is that Freddy Galvis would give the Phillies 1.56 more wins than a player of AAA-caliber player.

As for Utley, in 2011, he compiled a WAR of 3.7 in 103 games. This is good enough for a 162 game average of 5.82. If we look at the difference between the two players, it computes to be 4.36 more wins with Chase Utley in the lineup over Freddy Galvis. If we look at that based on the 52 games we have played, it is safe to say that Utley would give us approximately 1.4 more wins. But is that a true measure of how many more wins Utley would give us?

That is where Win Probability Added comes in and confirms that number. WPA can give us the closest estimate as to how probable it is the Phillies win every time Galvis is in the lineup. Through 52 games, Freddy Galvis has had a Win Probability of -0.7. That means he is responsible for more losses than he is wins. When you take all of the situational statistics (positive and negative) and add them up you get a win probability per game. Then, we add all of those probabilities together to figure out how many of the 52 games Freddy Galvis is responsible for winning (or losing in his case).

Through 103 games last year, Chase Utley was given a WPA of 1.3, meaning he was responsible for approximately 1.3 more wins than losses. If we look at that in terms of this season, we can see that 0.656. When we look at Freddy Galvis compared to Chase Utley, we see that Chase Utley would probably give this team 1.36 more wins than Freddy Galvis, which is eerily similar to the projected WAR for the players.

So compiling all this data, it is possible to say that Chase Utley would have given the Phillies approximately 1.4 more wins than Freddy Galvis, which means 1.4 less losses. Seeing as the Phillies record is 27-25, I can estimate that their record would be 28.4 - 23.6 but since this doesn’t make sense, let’s convert that to a winning percentage of 0.546, which would be 4th in the division by a slim margin (Their current winning percentage is 0.519).

Using those averages, compounded to a full 162 game season,  the Phillies record should be 84-78 at the end of the year if Chase Utley doesn't come back and Galvis is here all year. If the Phillies had been playing Chase Utley instead of Galvis for the entire year, their record should stand at 88-74.

From 2003-2011 (“The Chase Utley Era”), had a 2nd Wild Card team been able to make the postseason (a rule put in place this year), that team would have finished the season with 87, 91, 88, 85, 88, 89, 88, 90 and 89 wins respectively, which is very close to the projected Phillies win total with a full season of Chase over Freddy. Note that 84 wins would most likely not get them into the playoffs as a wildcard. The last time an 84-win team actually made the playoffs was the 2008 Los Angeles Dodgers, and they won their division.

“Many people think…that the game on the field is simply what they think it is through their set of images and beliefs. Actual data (in baseball) means more than individual perception/belief” once said John W. Henry, Red Sox Owner. With simple analysis of a few individual statistics, WAR and WPA, we have arrived at the point that Chase Utley would give the Phillies more wins than Freddy Galvis. We know from our perception to this to be true, but to think that the Phillies may only be 4 wins better over an entire season with Chase over Freddy is somewhat troubling. Chase Utley has been on the decline recently and when he eventually comes back, we could see a year where another few Runs Created get knocked off the board and win probability goes down.

However, I am not completely naive. I know this lineup is also without Ryan Howard, and their pitching staff is without Roy Halladay as well. Both of those players contribute a ton of wins. However, the Chase Utley of last year (who still had knee issues) could potentially help this team surmount a playoff run and claim a stake in the postseason, even if it is a wildcard spot. Freddy Galvis has been servicable and the job he has done is admirable. Chase however does give us slightly more wins, and those wins he would give us over Freddy Galvis could be the difference between making the playoffs and missing out on them completely.

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