Dayn Perry is an author of Baseball Prospectus. His new book "Winners: How Good Baseball Teams Become Great Ones (And It's Not the Way You Think)" is now available at Amazon.com and major bookstores.
Dayn Perry: Hello, Everybody! ... Nice day here in Chicago, spring training just around the bend. Life is good.
Matt (Palatine, IL): Dayn
Great book...I completed it a couple of days ago and thoroughly enjoyed it!
I am curious to know what was the most surprising conclusion(s) you reached based on all the research and statistical analysis that you did for your book?
Dayn Perry: Matt, thanks for a question that allows me to shamelessly plug my new book.
Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for the kind words. The most surprising thing I found was that the pitching staffs of winning teams, generally speaking, aren't as groundball-inclined as teams that don't make the playoffs. I have a notable bias toward groundball pitchers, but throughout recent history winning teams generally haven't flashed high GB/FB rates. That shocked me.
Joe (Cleveland): Win guess for the Tribe this year? I'm saying 85-90.
Dayn Perry: I think Cleveland is in for a serious regression in the bullpen, which last season was arguably the best in the game.
Since the 2005 season ended, they've lost Bob Howry and David Riske, who were two of their best last year.
It also wouldn't surprise me to see Peralta take a modest step back with the bat, and if the Tribe thinks HOllandsworth can cut it by corner outfield standards on a semi-daily basis, I think they're deluded.
The sooner they install Andy Marte as the starting 3B, the better. But I'm not confident that'll happen right away. Honestly, I think Cleveland might finish third in what I think is the toughest division in baseball.
Vic (Los Angeles, CA): Hi Dayn. I've noticed BP writers employ the phrase, "one of the [5 or 10] most valuable commodities in baseball" when referencing a player such as, for example, David Wright. Which players would populate your list of baseball's five or ten most valuable commodities?
Dayn Perry: In no particular order and with a bias toward generally younger players ...
Albert Pujols, David Wright, Miguel Cabrera, Felix Hernandez, Alex Rodriguez, Roy Oswalt, Jake Peavy, Roy Halladay, Barry Bonds and Grady Sizemore.
Justin Singer (Miami, FL): What are your thoughts on the rather large discrepancy between some prospects on the BP list versus the Baseball America list? Dustin Pedroia stands out to me (#11 BP vs. #77 BA!!!), but there are others as well: Sowers, Hansen, Weaver, Johjima, and Petit, for example, did not even sniff the BA top 50, but were solidly in your top 50. Is this just a difference of Baseball America using scouting versus BP using PECOTA?
Dayn Perry: Good question, Justin, and I think you've largely hit on it. I think it's mostly that our rankings skew toward quantitative assessments and PECOTA projections, while BA relies mostly on the scouting perspective. Both approaches have their pros and cons, and both have thier biases that remain in the system. If you're an outside observer, it's probably best to stake out the middle ground of both lists.
bravoatoc (Oklahoma City): Can the Braves pull out yet another division title? The streak has got to end sometime or another, but can they hold on one more time?
Dayn Perry: I'm picking the Braves in 2006.
The Joneses will once again be the fulcrums, a full season of Francoeur will help the cause, and McCann will emerge as the best offensive catcher in the NL. Giles is an All-Star-caliber bat, and Renteria will rebound and come close to Furcal's numbers last season (but he won't match his defense).
The front of the rotation, barring injury, is exceptional, and I have confidence that the back end will get sorted out. The bullpen is a weakness, but that was also the case last season, when the Braves finished with the worst relief ERA in the NL. I like the Mets for the Wild Card, but the Braves will win the division.
Jon Daniels (Arlington, Texas): Your take on the 2006 Texas Rangers -- legitimate contender in the A.L. West or a .500 team?
Dayn Perry: Jon, if you sign Clemens, you're a legitimate threat to the A's. If you don't you'll battle the Angels for second place.
Joe (35th & Wallace): As a Chicagoan, given the White Sox' apparent commitment to building and maintaining a winner over the next two or three years and the gentrification/yuppification/"lots of affluent white people moving in"-ification of the south Loop and near South Side, do you think it is a foregone conclusion that we're in for an extended period of time where the Sox are the preemninent team in the city?
Dayn Perry: Interesting question, Joe. I think the days of sparse attendance on the South Side are over (so long as the team remains competitive), but I still don't see their challenging the Cubs for city supremacy. That's because Wrigley, with all the surrounding bars and restuarants and its throwback appeal, is more of a destination than the Cell.
At the Cell, you have, well, the Dan Ryan and not much else. Until there's more surrounding development, the Cell won't have nearly the same appeal. Considering all the trixies and frat boys that infest Wrigley on a daily basis, maybe that's not such a bad thing.
dorkus14 (SD): No Santana in that group?
Dayn Perry: Oversight on my part. Bump Bonds for Johan Santana.
chuck (long beach, ca): Hi Dayn, There seems to be a new wave of good young shortstops. We know which prospects you and Rany like (Brandon Wood, Joel Guzman, Stephen Drew), but would you take any of those guys over B.J. Upton? And how does that group stack up to a more established group of young shortstops like Bobby Crosby, Jhonny Peralta and J.J. Hardy?
Dayn Perry: Hey, Chuck.
The problem with the Wood/Guzman/Drew troika is that none of them may wind up at short. Wood and Guzman almost certainly won't. Considering Upton's record of success, I'd take him, even though his status at the position is also uncertain. If I could have any young pre-arb shortstop in the game, however, it would be Justin Upton.
Benton Quest (Yemen): Thanks for the chat, Mr. Perry! If Chris Carpenter is 80-90% the pitcher of '05, and Scott Rolen is 80-90% of his career norm, can the Cardinals fail to win 95 games & the N.L. Central?
Dayn Perry: I don't see another 90-win team in the Central, so, yeah, that's certainly possible. I expect a mild regression for Carp, but his command and groundball proclivities bode very well for the near future--he'll still be ace-quality.
It's up to La Russa to mix and match the spare lineup parts effectively, and that's something he does well. I expect something in the neighborhood of 92 wins and, say, a four- or five-game cushion.
Jonathan (Jah-nuh-thin) (St. Louis (SAINT Loo-iss)): Dayn,
How in the world do you pronounce your name?
Dayn Perry: A common question ... It's pronounced just like "Dane." I get called everything from "Diane" to "Dwayne" to, no kidding, "Danny" when people see my name spelled, so no worries.
Mustafa (BK): Two part question: Do you think Jose Reyes should lead off in the Mets line up? If not, who should?
Dayn Perry: No way, no how. Reyes needs to learn to hit at the highest level, and the place to do that, I believe, is lower in the order. Stick him in the seven hole, and let him cultivate his skills in a less conspicous spot.
As for who should, Delgado is the Mets' only .400-OBP type, and he's certainly not a fit for leadoff. I suppose I'd go with Beltran.
DerekJetersAura (Houston): Of the prospects 40-50 and the honorable mentions, which 5 do you think have the best chance of cracking the top 10 next year?
Dayn Perry: In no particular order ...
Philip Hughes, Justin Upton, Erick Aybar, Carlos Gonzalez, Cole Hamels.
MikeJordan23 (Brooklyn, NY): What do you think of the Cardinals decision to bring in Ponson as a possible 5th starter? I understand it's low risk-decent reward situation, but I'd much rather it be Anthony Reyes job to lose, then it to be Ponson's to lose, which it seems to be currently.
Dayn Perry: Can't resist another Cards question ...
I like the move. I love Reyes, and I'm glad he's poised to open the season as the fifth man, but he does have a fairly grim injury history (less grim since he left USC, but still a source of concern). So there's no guarantee he'll be able to go wire to wire, even in the fifth hole.
Also, Ponson is exactly the kind of guy Dave Duncan makes hay with (mid-career, vanilla record of performance heretofore). He also seems pretty chastened thus far. There's always the possibility that Ponson becomes disgruntled if he spends all year in the bullpen, but La Russa's more than capable of dealing with that.
Invisible410 (Baltimore): Hey Dayn, can you tell us alittle about your new book?
Dayn Perry: How about a late-chat softball?
I surely can (and, no, I didn't submit this question myself) ... Winners is a comprehensive look at all teams to make the post-season since 1980 (with the exception of '81 and '94, for obvious reasons). What strengths did they have in common? What weaknesses did they share? What elements of the game did they thrive at? What strategies and roles did they tend to ignore?
The book is framed around roles and principles. You'll find chapters like "The Closer," "The Slugger," "The Money Player," "The Deadline Game," "The Youngster and the Veteran," etc. However, it's narrative-driven. If you're looking for reams of numbers, this isn't the book for you. If you're looking for stories of the great teams and players of the recent past garnished and backed up by the numbers, give it a shot.
mhixpgh (Pittsburgh (aka Baseball Hell)): The two shoulders that are hurt in Oakland, Chavez and Crosby, are the A's in dire straits?
Dayn Perry: The early returns on Crosby's shoulder seem promising, so I don't think it'll be too much of a problem. I'd be a little more worried about Chavez. Such an injury could seriously dampen his numbers in 2006 and perhaps sideline him for quite a while. I like the A's to win the West, but the injury potential (these guys plus Frank Thomas and Rich Harden) is meaningful.
On the lineup front, it's why I think Oakland should've been the team to sign Russ Branyan. They sorely need a lefty bat on the bench, and he's an ideal hedge against Chavez's maladies.
mike (DC): Are there any players out there that you are so personally averse to that it makes it tough to do an objective evaluation of their talents? Any guys you like so much that it gets tough to criticize them?
Dayn Perry: Not so much the latter, but the former is a problem. My adoration of Hank Aaron has me pulling against Bonds. It took me a long time to admit Willie McGee wasn't that great, and I'll not abide any besmirchment of Ozzie Smith.
Joe Torre (The Bronx): Who should I slot 3-5 in the rotation after RJ and Moose? Other than the pipe dream that is Roger Clemens, is there any chance that my GM can get me a top of the rotation starter before the playoffs?
Dayn Perry: Lightning round forthwith ...
Joe, the injury to Pavano means you might just have to--shudder--open the season with Jaret Wright as the fifth man. Here's how I'd go if Pavano is on the DL to start the year ...
1 - Johnson
2 - Mussina
3 - Chacon
4 - Wang
5 - Wright
The real crime would be bumping Wang instead of Wright once Pavano is ready to go. Don't do that, Joe.
Marty (NYC): Given all the research you did for the book, do you think w/o Rivera the Yankees past decade would look a lot more like the Braves past decade?
Dayn Perry: Short answer - Yes. Rivera has been so otherworldly in the post-season that, yeah, the Yankees would be probably be the AL's answer to the Braves without him. Rivera's a first-ballot guy right now.
mike (DC): Can you project the AL East (standings and approximate wins)?
Dayn Perry: Boston - 94
New York - 92
Toronto - 89
Baltimore - 80
Tampa Bay - 74
toolbox (Chicago): Dayn, when you attend baseball games, do you drink alcohol, or do you try to pay close attention to the game? Do you score games? Do you sit in the stands, or in the press box? And where, other than St Louis, do enjoy seeing games?
Dayn Perry: I prefer the casual experience. I don't enjoy the press-box vibe at all. Baseball is about sun, $7 domestics and good friends. Besides, I like to cheer, which is verboten in the press box (you can even lose your credentials for cheering).
I'm the furthest thing from a Cubs fan you'll ever find, but I do enjoy a game at Wrigley. I also love going to see last-place teams in September when there's like 4,000 people in the stands. Seriously, it's one of the charming outgrowths of playing 81 home games.
Will (Watertown, MA): When do the Devil Rays become a good team?
Dayn Perry: 2008. Great collection of pre-arb talent and a front office that finally knows what its doing.
Albert (Chicago): From a fantasy perspective, which do you like as keepers -- Dunn, Berkman, Utley, King Felix, or Willis?
Dayn Perry: King Felix, King Felix, King Felix.
Brad Motl (Crystal Lake): Hi Dayn, great work.
In the world of Strat-o-matic simulated baseball leagues, who is the smartest person you know? Who is the presean favorite to win the Fake World Series?
Thanks so much.
Dayn Perry: A question from one of my strat league compatriots ...
I know the computer sim doesn't like that St. Louis team, but last I checked you can't measure heart and viscera with your I-Pod scroll wheel (channeling Plaschke).
steve (ny): I know J. Wright stinks, but are you that high on Wang? Oh boy, that K rate.....
Dayn Perry: Good control and strong GB tendencies, plus when you're talking about the back of the Yankee rotation ...
tcfatone (NYC): How about giving us your picks for best breakout possibilities for 2006. Sounds like MCCann is one...
Dayn Perry: Yep ... McCann, Daniel Cabrera, Bonderman, Kazmir, J.J. Hardy.
Steve (Chicago): Why do you hate Scott Podsednik so much?
Dayn Perry: No hate involved, but a corner outfielder who slugs .315 away from his hitter-friendly home digs isn't doing his job. No matter how dirty his uniform pants are.
Sam (Seattle): Your pick for the 2006 world series?
Dayn Perry: Good last question ... Yankees over Braves in six.
Dayn Perry: Okay, that's all for me this time around. Thanks for all the great questions, and very sorry I wasn't able to get to all of them.
Oh, and I hear this book is a scorching read.