Thursday, 14 February 2008

Ridiculously Realistic Projections

Every year, Ii see bloggers and commentators drool over the latest projections from some computerized pessimist who almost inevitably gives out obviously incorrect figures for all baseball players. Whether it's ZIPS, or PECOTA, or ALAKAZAM (I made that last one up!), if you look closely you find that most players are assumed to be hitting with one foot in a bucket and a blindfold.

Me, I'm no computer but I figure past performance is some indication of future results if you apply the basic economic principle "all other things being equal" - which is a sophisticated way of saying "assuming health".

Why do i assume health? Well, unless there is a current, ongoing injury issue (like, oh, I dunno, curt Schilling's arm falling off) you don't really KNOW who is gonna miss time to injury. So I make projections that are based on what a hitter has done recently, when he's healthy, and hope that you are smart enough to know that if he's hurt I'll be wrong.

See? I have faith in my reader!

So, here are my projections for the Jays regulars and an explanation for how the figures were arrived at:

Rios      .313  .371   .530   .901 
Rolen .280 .370 .524 .894
Thomas .269 .373 .518 .891
Overbay .297 .376 .485 .861
Wells .292 .344 .508 .852
Stairs .273 .357 .484 .841*
Johnson .305 .375 .450 .831*
Hill .296 .348 .459 .807
Zaun .259 .357 .402 .759
Eckstien .306 .361 .382 .743

For Rios, I simply assumed he continues to hit HR in the second half next season as he has hit them in the first half each of the last two seasons, and assumed a normal growth curve on OBP.

For Rolen, I looked at his last healthy season, then I averaged his entire career apart from 2007 and 2005. The numbers I got were essentially the same. Then I looked at his last three healthy season and found that on average, he was even better than that. so I felt confident in closely approximating his 2006 line. And I didn't even factor in the fact that Toronto has an easier park to hit in that the one Rolen played in during the 2006 season.

Thomas' line is essentially an average of his last three healthy seasons. Admittedly the decline of age is very difficult to precisely predict.

Overbay is an average, in essence, of 2003-2006.

Wells is also a close reflection of his average performance over his last 4 seasons before 2007.

Stairs' line reflects his line vs. RHP over the last three seasons - it seems a safe bet his AB vs LHP will be very minimal.

Johnson, likewise, reflects his performance vs. LHP.

Hill was the most difficult to be logical about because it's rational to expect continued growth - but how much? I did the best I could to temper my enthusiasm.

Zaun and Eckstien both reflect their last three year averages, with Eck getting a slight upward tweek for going to an easier hitters' league.

Now, IMO, all that is perfectly logical - yet it is a far more impressive lineup than even what Bill James suggests we will have.

I am no sabermatician, but I'll put my projections against theirs.

One note: I have no basis that I am comfortable with to project Lind, so I didn't. My hunch is that he could be in the same ballpark as the veteran platoon that is anticipated...but I can't back that up.

Next post: A look at how to optimize the Jays line-up with one controversial move.


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