Friday, 14 March 2008

The Cyberdyne Nine?

First off, I should give all of us at The Southpaw a big slap on the back for getting mentioned by Cathal Kelly in the Star's baseball blog. Now that I know he's actually reading our work, I'm glad that I haven't made any disparaging remarks toward him over the past six weeks we've been doing this thing.

(Note to self: expunge all disparaging remarks towards Cathal Kelly from the archives.)

For the record, Kelly's new to baseball and he's been doing a pretty good job with his features to date. I remember the first time I saw his work last off season; he did a nice piece on Frank Thomas where he extracted the "buckle your seat belts" quote that got everybody really pumped up about the Jays this time last year. Solid.

Ok, fine, I admit that part of me is trying to flatter the guy for dropping us a link in his higher traffic blog, and also, there's got to be some ethnic solidarity between fellow members of the Fenian Brotherhood. But still, if I were managing a team made of Blue Jays beat writers I'd have him batting no lower than fifth. Honest!

And now on to other business.

Supposing that the Cyberdyne Systems Corporation sent a bunch of baseball playing/John Connor hunting cyborgs back from the future to fill out the Jays 2008 roster, what sort of results could we expect?

I only mention this because I've recently stumbled across the most jaw-droppingly awesome stats site in the history of mankind, FanGraphs. is constantly getting better (though it too has always been awesome), but now there's some competition for my affections.

The range of Fangraph's stat categories is so vast that Richard Griffin's head would surely explode Scanners-style if he ever had the misfortunate of clicking on the above link. If you read the series previews over at Batter's Box last season you'll be familiar with most of them; these are the sorts of numbers the eggheads cite when they want to look wicked smart. BABiP, Runs Created/9 Innings, groundball/flyball/line drive percentages, and so on. With pretty, colourful graphs, too. Neat!

The other cool thing are the 2008 player projections from Bill James, CHONE, Marcel, MINER and ZiPS, which I'm finding quite handy as I plot my fantasy baseball strategy. (Will absolutely hates this shit! Sorry, pal!)

Since I was already pounding names in, I though it'd be interesting to see what the computers are projecting for our regulars this year. Take it for what it's worth. Some projections are conservative, some are more generous, and probably none will appeal to a Super Fan. Nevertheless...

There's no way I'm going to bang this stuff into a calculator and average out all five models, but a very rough composite of the computer generated estimates for your 2008 Cyberdyne Nine is as follows:

The Lineup

David Eckstein: .285/.345/.365 with 4 HR and 40 RBI

Matt Stairs: .260/.340/.440 with 13 HR and 45 RBI

Alex Rios:
.292/.350/.475 with 19 HR and 76 RBI.

Vernon Wells: .273/.330/.460 with 22 HR and 87 RBI.

Frank Thomas: .260/.360/.465 with 26 HR and 82 RBI.

Lyle Overbay: .275/.350/.440 with 15 HR and 60 RBI.

Scott Rolen:
.270/.345/.435 with 11 HR and 65 RBI.

Gregg Zaun:
.245/.340/.385 with 10 HR and 45 RBI.

Aaron Hill:
.287/.340/.425, 13 HR and 68 RBI.

The Rotation:

Roy Halladay: 15-8 with 3.55 ERA in 210 IP.

AJ Burnett: 11-9 with a 3.80 ERA in 173 IP.

Dustin McGowan: 10-9 with a 4.10 ERA in 165 IP.

Shaun Marcum: 9-8 with a 4.45 ERA in 155 IP

Jesse Litsch: 9-9 with a 4.40 ERA in 150 IP

The computers don't like relievers because they're tough to predict year to year. I won't go through those numbers individually because there's too much dispartity and some categories are left blank. The only guy all the models seem to crunch favourably is Jason Frasor. Go figure. Or send an email to John Gibbons.

Your first reaction to those numbers for our position players is either: a) hrm, all these guys are pretty much the same: decent, but not great, average and slugging %, ok OBPs, with nobody really excelling at anything; or b) the Overbay and Rolen lines are so totally fucked that I'm not reading any further. I really don't blame you for either response.

The pitching projections are, in my mind, less objectionable. Doc's numbers look Doc-like, AJ's AJ-like, with gentle regression from Marcum and Litsch. It's popular around here to think that McGowan is about to drop on the MLB like an atomic bomb this year and end up as a strong Cy Young contender. That's what the Twizzler-loving computer in my gut is telling me, too, so I don't really like the McG projections here.

As swell as it was looking at those numbers, it would be even better if young Cathal took FanGraphs to heart. It would be even cooler still if he mentioned to Uncle Griff the next they meet at the water cooler that a team of speedy 1980 Ron LeFlore clones would score 4.98 runs per game against 5.36 from a squadron of nine Jerry Whites, a less fleet of foot backup outfielder on the same Expos club...

-- Johnny Was


The Southpaw said...

I love fangraphs, such a terrific site. Everything you need and then some. Once the season starts going, check out the game analysis. It actually points out the exact moment when the game was won or lost, and momentum swings in graph forms.


The Southpaw said...

To be fair, the reason i dislike those various projection sets (and I like Bill James pretty well, the others less so) is because I don't take the time to look at all players. If I did I would discover - I'm sure - that the figures are too conservative across the board so, when compared to the competition, the Jays still look pretty good. but seeing only the figures for the Jays in isolation, it looks as if it's a very pessimistic read.

The Southpaw said...

I had too totally different impressions for pitching and hitting. For the latter, I thought the Overbay/Rolen numbers were just plain wrong and the Hill/Rios ones way too conservative. The rest were just John McCain conservative and I could live with them. The pitching numbers, however, looked pretty much what we'd expect, though we're all certainly hoping to have someone other than Doc reach 200 IP. (If you did get curious and look at BP numbers, they have pretty much everyone good at an ERA between 3-4).

This is something I'll definitely revisit at the end of the season.


Anonymous said...

Some of the projection systems are making me angry this year--PECOTA and ZIPS in particular. PECOTA has Hill and Rios at something like .710 and .805 OPS. If either of them matches last year's performance, they exceed their 90th percentile projection--just for staying the same, as they enter their prime years. Ridiculous.

ZIPS has Hill at .324/.391/.715 and 4.50 RC/27. Okay. So at 26 after showing a steady progression for 3 years, he's going to put up career lows across the board. I understand they're just playing with the components and player comps, but some of these predictions are too foolish to publish.

CHONE says the Ray are going to win 89 games and finish 3rd in the AL East. Okay.

I should probably put some thought into what all this means, but it's a blog, so I'm just going to rant a little and leave it at that.