1998 New York Yankees wRAA


1998 Yankees wRAA(click graph for a larger view)

The 1998 Yankees were just a beast. They scored 965 runs and allowed just 656, a ridiculous run differential of +309. +309! Their pythag record was 108-54, but they still managed to outperform that by six wins. Insane.

If you’re not familiar with wRAA, read this. Essentially it’s a weighted measure of how many runs above average a player is offensively. Some thoughts on the graph:

  • Bernie Williams was (and still is) so underappreciated, it’s not even funny.
  • Four up the middle players: +90.0 wRAA. Four corner players plus DH: +78.5 wRAA. That’s what you call a “recipe for winning.”
  • If you discount 1998, Scott Brosius’ career wRAA is -45.7. Yikes.
  • Derek Jeter (+31 wRAA) outperformed the DH, left fielder and first baseman combined (+30.5 wRAA).
  • Tim Raines also received significant playing time in left and at DH, chipping in another +7.7 wRAA.
  • Seriously, Bernie was great.

(inspired by this)

Categories : Analysis
  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    That is the most feared graph I have ever seen.

    • 27 this year

      i agree. I would like to see what last year’s team was like compared to that.

      Something that is related to this, everyone says we need role players and such to replicate what we did in the 90′s. I think the game has changed with the emergence of all the big power hitters. If the Yankees had players like the 1998 team, I don’t think they would nearly as good because the pitching and everything is so different now. Granted, they were great, but the game changed so trying to go back to the 90′s winning formula will not work. Actually, thinking about it, the game is sort of going back to those ways but I hate how people are like we need Brosius instead of Arod and stuff like that.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        If the Yankees had players like the 1998 team, I don’t think they would nearly as good because the pitching and everything is so different now.

        I disagree. I think the 1998 Yankees would run roughshod over this league.

        Bernie, Jeter, O’Neill, Tino, Knoblauch, Cone, Pettitte, Wells, El Duque, Mo, Mendoza, Stanton, Nelson all in the primes of their careers; Posada on the upswing of his; Chili Davis, Tim Raines, Joe Girardi on the bench… we were ridiculously stacked.

        The players on the 1998 Yankees team are vastly underrated.

        • 27 this year

          I see what you’re saying and rethinking it, they would be great. However, many of them just happened to have their best years that year. I don’t think that team would foster long term succes but somehow it won three years in a row. I don’t know.

          I think the rest of the league was not nearly as good as they are now. It was mostly the Yankees, very few teams looked hard at the draft or free agency. I think that is really how the game changed. More teams are drafting better and more is being poured in. Regardless of how much the Yankees spend, they can never outdistance themselve from the pack in terms of actually playing the games. The thing is, baseball changes everyday based on the pitcher and conditions more so than anything else. There is almost no such thing as an “upset”.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            However, many of them just happened to have their best years that year. I don’t think that team would foster long term succes but somehow it won three years in a row. I don’t know.

            Only Brosius was outperfoming his career averages.

            The rest of that core (Jeter, Posada, Knoblauch, O’Neill, Tino) put up great numbers like that on the regular, those are basically their typical wRAA seasons.

            And Bernie was just absolutely ba-freaking-nanas good for a solid 5 year stretch there, 1998 was just in the middle of it.

            The 1998 Yankees are not a fluke. Scotty Bro is a fluke, but the rest of that team is just ridiculously talented.

            • Moshe Mandel

              The 98 Yankees, and all of those Yankee teams for that matter, were great offensively due to their strength up the middle. Having huge offense from typically defense- oriented positions (CF, SS, C, 2B) is an immense advantage, as it is much easier to obtain offense on the corners. This is why Bernie is incredibly underrated- people compare him to corner guys with 500 HR’s, when much of his value is tied into him being a CF.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside


                Bernie’s offensive production was on par with the elite bats of the league who played RF/LF/1B/DH. But he played up the middle… it’s like having Mark Teixeira at SS so that we can go promote Jesus Monteroplay to 1B.

            • andrew

              It also didn’t hurt that there were basically no injuries to any of their starting lineup.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    “If you discount 1998, Scott Brosius’ career wRAA is -45.7. Yikes.”

    However, Brosius’s career wCAA (weighted Chemistry Above Average) is a phenomenal +308.2, which is better than Kevin Millar, Ed Sprague, and even the legendary Buddy Biancalana.

    ARod’s career wCAA is -983.6… chew on that for a while.

    Scotty Bro >>>>>>>>>>>>> ARod

    • http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_postseason.jsp?c_id=nyy&playerID=121250&statType=2 Slugger27


  • Steve H

    They wouldn’t have won with A-Rod at 3rd though.

    • anonymous

      Arod does 45 wRAA in his sleep

    • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      They wouldn’t have won fewer than 120 games with A-Rod at 3rd though.


      • Steve H

        But chemistry!!!

  • Rich

    In some ways, the suboptimal decisions that led to the WS drought began after the ’98 season when the decided to re-sign Brosius rather than keep Mike Lowell, proving that it’s usually better to resist sentimentality and take the long view with players who are younger and have more upside.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside


      (although, we did think we were getting an absolute steal in Ed Yarnall, though. Yarnall was a superprospect in the Joba/Hughes stratosphere at the time. A big power lefty with sick stuff and durability.)

    • GG

      so what would your gameplan be on the DJ front if you were GM??

      • Rich

        Jeter is a special case for obvious reasons. In fairness to him, he was still tied for 6th in value wins at SS last season, according to FanGraphs, at 3.7 with Orlando Cabrera in what was his worst offensive season since 1996 (which was probably attributable to being hit by Daniel Cabrera in May) and his best defense season since 2004 (according to UZR).

        So while in purely baseball terms, I would have considered signing O. Cabrera and moving Jeter to LF or CF, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ease him into the transition a year or two in advance by telling him that the day is coming for him to move, but that since he did have something of a recovery on defense, they are willing to go year to year on making the move.

        Cabrera’s contract with Oakland is only for one season, so that issue can be re-visited, if necessary.

        Apart from that, and drawing a strict analogy to the Brosius situation in terms of the player’s contact being up, Jeter still has two years remaining on his contract.

        I would condition any extension on his willingness to change positions (he would also have to prove that he is closer to the 120 OPS+ hitter that he has been than the 102 OPS+ hitter he was last season, which I think he will), and I would put a plan in place to ensure that there is a viable option at SS to replace him by 2011, if not by 2010.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Orlando Cabrera, career:
          wRAA: -71.3
          wOBA: .318
          UZR: +47.6

          For a guy who will be 35 in November, I want no part of Orlando Cabrera. Whatever value he adds with his defense (which will continue to decline, since, again, he’ll be 35 in November) he negates with his offense.

          He’s like the bizarro Bobby Abreu. (That’s not a compliment.)

          • Rich

            For a team that is now built around pitching and defense, the best defensive SS in MLB last season may have had value, especially if the Yankees had no better option in CF than Jeter coming into this season (since Gardner and Melky are question marks). Plus, Cabrera only requires a one year deal.

            Obviously, it’s all hypothetical because there was no way Jeter was getting moved out of SS this season.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              No, he wouldn’t have.

              wRAA: -71.3
              UZR: +47.6

              For every run Cabrera prevents with his good defense, he costs you offensively by preventing the team from scoring runs.

              He wouldn’t have had value. There is no DF.

              • Rich

                But that assumes that the Yankees’ CFer won’t offer less value. I don’t think we know that.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  The Yanks centerfielder does not enter into the equation.

                  Acquiring Orlando Cabrera would be a mistake because he’s not a good player. There’s no need to look any further than that. He’s great defensively but craptastic offensively, and the suckitude of his offense is big enough that it undermines and negates his defense. He will probably HURT the team, not help it, irrespective of whatever happens in CF.

                • Rich

                  But the point of departure of this discussion has been the hypothetical question of when and if Jeter should change positions.

                  While I agree that Jeter almost certainly has more value than Cabrera (offense/defense), if the Yankee had been looking to move Jeter this season, CF would probably be the only available spot. If you then look at what SSs were available going into the season, Cabrera would be one of the few options.

                  As a result, in terms of configuring a lineup, it’s completely logical to construct a roster that had Cabrera at SS and Jeter in CF if the guiding rationale behind the move was that the Yankees had a gaping hole in CF that can’t be filled with a player who offers as much value (and can’t be acquired at a cheaper cost) than Cabrera at SS, given the value that Jeter could probably provide in CF, especially if one thought that Jeter’s defense at SS would be as bad as it was in 2007.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  Ah, okay. Now I see what you’re saying.

                  Still disagree with you, though. Gardner or Melky in CF >>>>>> Cabrera at SS.

                • Rich

                  I’d certainly like believe that the light has gone on for one or both.

        • GG

          O-Cab is a scrub at this point. I think the fact that Pena made the team, says they see a future in him. Nunez is supposed to be better I hear? I dont claim to know a lot about either. I think the captain bats leadoff and plays LF in 2010.

        • GG

          Jeetz is going to have to take a GIGANTIC pay cut, whether he likes it or not, he wouldnt make nearly the ad money he does now if he went to a different team, with that in mind, he needs the Yanks as much as they need him.

          • Chris

            What difference does his salary make? The Yankees could pay him $30M per year and still turn a profit on it because of his popularity. The only decisions are1 whether to resign his or not, and whether to ask him to move off SS or not.

            • Lawrence

              Even the Yankees can’t sign a below league average player to a contract paying 20m or more a year, he is going to have to take a paycut. In the future he is going to be a part time center fielder/infielder sub/ pinch hitter, he is going to have way fewer ABs. As he gets older his defense is going to become more of a disaster, except now he doesn’t have the monstrous bat to make up for it, because he is old.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Step 1. Go to Hank and get him to convice his brother to overpay DJ
        Step 2.
        Step 3. PROFIT!

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Heh, I just started following Bill Plaschke on Twitter.

    This is going to end badly.

    • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Good grief, you’re a masochist.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        I saw his name and I’m like “I HAVE TO see where this is going.” I’m sure I’ll regret it and unfollow him at some point.

  • John

    Speaking of A-rod:

    Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long told the New York Post that Rodriguez has begun to hit and “feels 70 percent.” Long speaks with the third baseman daily, the Post reported.

    Citing an unnamed team official, the Post also said it’s possible Rodriguez could be back on the field by late April if the Yankees were to support an earlier return.

    • GG

      I feel like A-Rods gonna want to join the team as soon as he’s off the DL, and Cash and Co. are going to make him chillout and stay out till last week of april-first week of may

    • andrew

      I’ve gotten reprimanded once or twice for off-topic postings, so I understand it’s hard for Mike, Joe and Ben always be here to control it. I just thought i’d say that RAB is going to have something up about that article shortly and I think we can all wait a little while before getting into it.

      • John

        off-topic? why do you think I waited until A-rod’s name was brought up in the comments…

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

          Saying “Speaking of A-rod” and then bringing up something not at all related to the topic at hand is still an off-topic comment.

          • andrew

            I think he was referring to Steve H’s comment at 3:41 about the ’98 being worse if they had ARod, but yea, you said what i was trying to say.

        • andrew

          Sorry, you didn’t reply to their comments so I guess i took it out of context.

  • http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_postseason.jsp?c_id=nyy&playerID=121250&statType=2 Slugger27

    Oh my Mo that is an awesome graph

    mike u should have included some of the pitching stuff… the highest ERA in their starting 5 was pettitte at 4.24, and thats still 216 innings of above average pitching

    and the relievers, if u take out mike stanton, just about every reliever they had was better than jose veras was last year, and he had a damn fine year

    • GG

      Andy’s 97 season dwarfed his 98 campaign

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      The 1998 Yankees had 6 men make at least 10 starts (Pettitte, Cone, Wells, Irabu, Hernandez, Mendoza). Of the 6, Pettitte and Irabu had the worst ERA+. Pettitte had a 104 and Irabu had a 109.

      Of the 6 starters and the bullpen of Mo, Stanton, Nelson, Graeme Lloyd, Darren Holmes, and Mike Buddie, only 2 of the Yankees top 12 pitchers had below-average ERA’s. Stanton had an ERA+ of 81 and Buddie’s was 79.

      The pitching staff’s ERA+, sorted by innings pitched:
      104 (Pettite)
      127 (Wells)
      124 (Cone)
      109 (Irabu)
      141 (El Duque)
      136 (Mendoza)
      81 (Stanton)
      232 (take a wild guess)
      133 (Holmes)
      79 (Buddie)
      117 (Nelson)
      264 (Lloyd)

      Those 12 pitchers pitched 95% of the innings that year.

      • Steve H

        They would have won 150 had they been smart enough to move Cone to the 8th, El Duque to the 7th, and Wells to the 6th.

        • andrew

          Torre never knew how to manage his bullpen…

  • http://www.youtube.com/kevyyankees Kevin G.

    Just for fun, A-Rod’s wRAA for 1998 was 42.6, more than double Brosius’ wRAA for 1998 and only less than Williams. Long story short, thje 1998 team would be better with A-Rod instead of Brosius.

  • http://dylankidd@earthlink.net dkidd

    also, how underrated was/is tim raines? the man got on base more times in his career than tony gwynn.

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