Opening a 199-lb. can of WAR


Q.  What is SSI's sabermetric calculation on Franklin Gutierrez' gastrointestinal tract?

A.  Most of us realize that when we hear that Justin Smoak has lost 9 lbs, that's just noise.  "Justin spoke to me in Arizona this March and he personally assured me that he is going to have a great year," a friend tells us.  Noise.  90% of us pay zero attention to it.

Dr. D is more dogmatic about these "Noise" classifications than anybody.  He wouldn't give you six cents for the fact that Figgins and Seager and Ryan and Smoak went to a mini-camp and had dinner with Eric Wedge.  He has been hearing this kind of thing for 30 years, and it never turns out to be anything.  (In the NBA, it's different - if you heard that Kobe's and Pau's wife made up, that would matter.)

With Franklin Gutierrez, it's different.  


  1. Was a 6-win player, not in theory, but in fact
  2. Got sick
  3. Now the doctors say he's not sick any more

That's not "noise" any more than it is when you hear that Richie Sexson's, or Erik Bedard's, shoulder is repaired and that the gun is reading 92 again or the ball is going over the fence again.  When a good player gets injured and then he's reported to be healthy again, that's not noise.


Q.  How confident does that make you, that Guti has gained 15-20 lbs. and the trainer says he has had "zero issues for 10 months"?

A.  Calling Dr. Grumpy?

Supposing you knew exactly this about a patient:  that he had some kind of IBS situation, that he lost 15-20 lbs, that he'd been to Mayo, and here he is in your office with the weight back, and says he feels great?

I'd blink twice, and say, well, okay.  Let's see where you are in six months -- and I'd give him like a 30% chance, or something, to have gotten pretty much on top of it.

I'd want to see what happened once the season started, and the stress started piling on, and I'd figure a 60%, 70% chance of the tummy acting up again.

But I'm not the doctor here.  Let's see what Grumpy has to say about that.


Q.  Assuming that Gutierrez is healthy, what's the gain to the Mariners?

A.  As you know, I'm not a Gutierrez fan the way that all of you guys are, but here's a chart:

M's CF Position, Year Runs Created
2009 +79
2010 +62
2011 +38
(Gutierrez '11 prorated) +35

In 2009, Gutierrez had a 105 offensive index - and he gave the Mariners a staggering +41 more offensive runs than they had last year.  We're just talking about hitting the league average -- .280/.340/.425 -- and you're talking about 4.0 WAR.  From the bat alone.

In 2010, Guti had a lousy offensive year -- .250/.300/.360 with an 87 offensive index -- and even that was 2.5 WAR at the plate over the M's pathetic CF production in 2011.

It's one thing to talk about runs over average, or runs over "replacement," or Moons Over My Hammy.  Runs over "replacement" don't help you if your center field combo is hitting .200/.260/.270, as the M's combo did last year.  The online sites tell you that you can get a .250/.310/.375 hitter in CF for free.  No such player showed up in Safeco last season.


Q.  So what came back from the infamous Prognosis Dept. ?

A.  The 2011 Mariners got a collective -1.0 WAR from center field last year.  Guti's "big" year, 2009, was +7.4 WAR better than that, just because he hit the league average.   Even his crummy year, 2010, was +3.0 WAR better.

I'm not a Gutierrez fan, but you don't have to be, in order to ask him to hit .260 with 15 homers.  The real Gutierrez, if healthy, is at least halfway between his 6-WAR and 2-WAR seasons in 2009 and 2010, respectively.  If Gutierrez hits anywhere near the league average, then the M's get 3-4 WAR, which is a 4-5 WAR gain, in center field this year.  

What was Prince Fielder going to add, again?



Taro's picture

It comes down to whether or not the Ms figured out his stomach issues.
If they did, hes an impact player. If not, he could be great early and completely fade out again like '10.
Guti might be the most important question mark this season (either than Montero). They really need to get him healthy.


OK -- pooh-pooh that.
But the conditioning program -- after seeing Carp go from a guy they viewed as AAAA 1b/DH to a guy they are now perfectly willing to bat 4th and trot out to LF on a regular basis?
Why wouldn't Smoak want to emulate that after witnessing it?  And it sounds like he has.  I don't pooh-pooh that.
Z said on the radio getting Smoak and Guti "back to what they are" (or something like that) would be the real offseason upgrade.


Based on that (minimal) information, I'm optimistic. Ten percent weight gain? Muscle? Feeling good? That's about as good as you could hope for, really.


He has gotten fit, gotten into the outfield, and gotten 40 homers per season for two years now, AAA and AL.  IN RETROSPECT it's clear that his fitness was connected to his breakout.
And don't get me wrong amigo - pointing Smoak in Carp's direction, getting his weight down, holding the rah-rah minicamps, etc., that is the Mariners' job.  You never know, for which player this is going to make a difference.
On Smoak personally, not because of the "rah rah he had a great workout routine," but because he's a special talent, I'm primed for the .300 / .380 / .550 season at any time, such as 2014, 2013, or 2012 :- ) 


If they'd solved it, this is what it would look like.  Gotcha.
How much concern about the pressure-cooker stress of the season?  Or you're looking more at the nutritional aspect as driving the syndrome?


A healthy Guti adds a TON of value to the roster.  The kids doing what we think the kids can do makes us a threat in this or any division.
Where's Matt with his projections to say we're a 94 win team?  With THIS club I'd believe that upside.  We could be freakish.  Dustin Ackley was a 5 WAR player over a full season.  Healthy Guti could top that.  If they're ready?  Look out.
Or yeah, maybe the soup isn't done simmering yet and we can't serve it in 2012.
But I'll want to see some evidence of that before I ratchet back on my enthusiasm.


How many teams have multiple 5 WAR players hanging out in the tall grass (or corn fields, if you prefer Field of Dreams) aiming to make a stealth impact?


Really interesting that Smoak and Carp went to P3 Institute to work with Dr Elliott in the off season. There is no telling what the impact on Smoak will be but Carp certainly looked more athletic last season. If Smoak takes a similar step forward athletically, it can only help.


I'm thinking he had something more serious than run of the mill IBS (which actually can be pretty incapacitating in some cases) because of the weight loss.
In a ridiculously long season like MLB, physiologic reserves are important.  With that weight loss, Guti just had no reserves the last 1.5-2 years.  I'm sure his starting strength and energy were massively down as well.  A 10% or greater weight loss (especially lean body mass) is pretty significant for a normal human, and must be even more so for a world class athlete. 
I am thinking also that if he were still sick, he would not be regaining weight.  Psychological stress?  Probably plays some role.  Makes things feel worse, certainly.  As to whether you can ascribe an illness that severe to stress alone, I have my doubts.
We'll see this spring.  He's was always pretty strong before he got sick (he hit some pretty impresive HRs) but he's probably going to be rusty at the plate, though.


I wonder how much of it is simply getting "fit" and how much of it is "Dr. Elliott fit" with the emphasis on rotational/torque/explosiveness training.  I'd like to think that is playing a role.

Anonymous's picture

So the trainer says Guti has had zero issues for the last 10 months.  Hooey!   He was still struggling in June and July of last year.
I hope he's healthy, and he did show an improving trend as the season progressed in '11, but I'm beginning to believe that his '09 season with the bat was his outlier season.  He's a 90-95-ish OPS CF with a nice glove.  But even his 2.9 WAR with the glove that year looks to be an outlier.
He's likely a 3 WAR guy, bat and glove.    
I'm bearish on Guti.      moe                                                                                               


Matt can correct me on my math there.  :- )
I see Guti as a 3-WAR kinda guy, too, but you're aware that the 2011 M's accumulated -1 WAR in center field, right Moe?


Sabermetricians haven't even begun to touch the question of, "what makes a particular player have a good year?," much less what makes a group of them have a good year together.
Staffs of pitchers, at certain times in certain places, have had good years together -- pitching under Sain, or Mazzone, or what have you.
If Dr. Elliot's training system *did* cause the Mariners' kids to have a good year together, it would be invisible to sabermetrics both before and after the fact.  That wouldn't mean it hadn't been real, and causative.

Nick's picture

G, as someone bullish on Erasmo Ramirez, what do you see his odds being of beating out Beavan/Millwood/whoever for the 5th spot? (I'm assuming a Felix/Vargas/Iwakuma/Noesi/? rotation)
Every time Jack or Eric talk about pitching in the system, Erasmo is ALWAYS mentioned behind the big three, so they must be seeing what you're seeing...

Anonymous's picture

I know that is a real improvement above last year.  I should have said that he's a 3WAR guy at his upside.  I don't think he gets there next yearm btw.  I'm much more bullish on Wells in CF.    moe


.261/.317/.403 over 1999 plate appearances, call him a +10 Center Fielder.  If he can get back to that, he's better than a 3 WAR Player.
Cameron Maybin had almost the same line last year (.264/.323/.393) with a +9.5 in Center.  He was worth 4.7 WAR.  If Gutierrez can just be the player he was in 2007/2008 (.255/.311/.419) that would be about a 100 OPS+.

bladestunner316's picture

I guess I missed this part but if true then we may see excellent years from these guys!!
If Guti is healthy now with his glove holy mother this will be a great year of fun!!
I had terrible ibs, acid reflux etc... It's debilitating for sure. Mine went away after I stopped drinking soda and energy drinks. So I really feel for Guti. His might be related to gluten though.

OBF's picture

Did have that effect or even an inkling of that effect (which I am hopeful for), then he (and his system) is worth millions and millions of dollars, and he needs to be signed up exclusively for many years and his system patented!  :)
Seriously if Carp and Smoak and Guti (if he has been on the system too) come out blazing and have great years I would have a multi million dollar long term contract waiting for Dr.E!

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