Monday, February 7, 2011

Projectile Vomiting Numbers

Projection systems aren't without value. Much like advanced defensive metrics they can be useful if you go in with the correct state of mind. Don't pick and choose which numbers suit your preconceived notions but apply heavy dash of skepticism at all times. Sometimes the numbers don't add up or seem to make sense but you can't expect too much from (relatively) simple algorithms.

Below I took the three projection systems available at Fangraphs - including newcomer Rotochamp - and averaged them together with fan projections available on the site. None of the numbers are weighted to allow for Bill James' insanity or the simplicity of the system with a name so dumb I can barely bring myself to type it: Marcels. Take in the results and scroll down for my jaded commentary.

Please note Rotochamp (listed as RotoC) doesn't include a wRC+ projection and no way in Hell am I capable of those types of mathematical gymnastics. The Rotochamp people also exhibit the good sense to completely ignore Juan Rivera who, I am shocked to learn, now plays for the Blue Jays.

Jose Bautista
Bill James61413434713.00%22.30%0.2580.2620.2510.3550.5090.373136
Fans (88)65514536513.40%22.40%0.2580.2670.2560.3610.5130.377134
Travis Snider
Bill James340851668.50%27.00%0.2220.3270.2730.3370.4950.361128
Fans (49)5711412579.10%25.80%0.2140.3200.2720.3400.4860.356119
Adam Lind
Bill James5951552617.40%20.90%0.2160.3150.2810.3380.4970.362128
Fans (49)6381642827.50%21.00%0.2100.3080.2780.3340.4880.352116
Aaron Hill
Bill James5721382237.20%15.10%0.1860.2700.260.3190.4460.332107
Fans (84)6161532557.10%16.80%0.1890.2820.2670.3250.4560.339107
Yunel Escobar
Bill James6231598610.40%12.20%0.0970.3130.2850.3660.3820.333108
Fans (46)6321631169.80%12.30%0.1110.3100.2860.3630.3960.340108
Edwin Encarnacion
Bill James4741112229.30%19.10%0.2190.2730.2580.3350.4770.350121
Fans (27)4541042039.00%19.90%0.1940.2670.2520.3240.4460.335104
Rajai Davis
Bill James4301164396.00%14.40%0.0940.3270.2870.3360.3810.324102
Fans (24)5871594445.50%16.90%0.0850.3360.2860.3310.3710.32295
Juan Rivera
Bill James4091031516.80%13.10%0.1740.2780.2700.3240.4440.334109
Fans (25)4961241717.10%13.70%0.1560.2790.2690.3230.4250.32597

I'm not quite sure what to make of these Rotochamp people. Quite bullish in most instances but very conservative in others. Witchcraft is tricky, y'all. Let's go one at a time.
  • I cannot say I have a good grasp on the expectations for Jose Bautista in 2011. Just about anything halfway decent is good enough, right? Even the most conservative projection noted here is still a fistful of house money, so let's just say 28-30 home runs is plenty and move on quietly.
  • All systems agree: Travis Snider is the Jays second best hitter! I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Decent power numbers across the board but home run fluctuations due to playing time. Now let's all close our eyes and pretend his health record is somewhat awful as we cheer him into a meat coma.
  • In spite of projecting Lind to play 8 days a week in order to amass more than 700 plate appearances, the Rotochamps are very conservative with Lind. 25 home runs? Sure, whatever. Just don't make so many bloody outs.
  • If I told your three years ago that Aaron Hill would emerge as a 20-25 home run threat but no better than league average overall, no way you believe me. No. Way. But that is pretty much all he projects as. Scary. Miss u, line drives.
  • League average offense from Yunel is more than enough. His glove makes the rest okay. I hope new manager John Farrell can get his walk rate out of the Canadian Customs lockup.
  • Edwin Encarnacion is the EEnigma! As Ian the Blue Jay Hunter astutely points out, this is a man in need of a full time job. Ian has a money quote from Alex Anthopoulos regarding The EEnigma's breakout chances. The math nerds all agree: the power is not in doubt.
  • That sure is a lot of stolen bases. No matter how many he swipes, too many Blue Jays fans (like me) are going to have a really hard time adjusting to seeing someone caught stealing over and over. Not that Davis is inefficient, but you can't steal tonnes of bases without going with some regularity. Science!
  • Juan Rivera is a poor fielding Aaron Hill. Vernon Wells, in other words.
I'm interested to hear the opinions you nerds who congregate in this corner of the blogosphere. Does this method give you hope or bum you out? Interested in seeing the results for the pitching staff? Later this week I will make that happen, not before I compare the results above with the vaunted PECOTA system released today. Nerd chills all around!

Thanks to Fangraphs for all the projection goodness.


  1. Nice work. Isn't data entry fun? I believe Aaron Hill is very overrated. He's a decent player, but he'll never be what he was in 2009. His OBP makes me want to throw things and the dude will continue to pop-out at an alarming rate.

    Having said that, as an above-average defensive second baseman I can't get all that mad at him. He's still better than most around the league.

  2. I downloaded the Marcel projections on Friday; couldn't help but think of Ross's goddamn pet monkey while I looked through the numbers.

    All the Marcel numbers are significantly lower than James', which means I'm banking on good old Bill to come through.

    Imagine Edwin could field? Just a little bit? He'd be a valuable player. Right now, his glove murders him. I think keeping him in the lineup, choosing him instead of Ramirez, is the right move. As you point out, instead of everyone taking shots at EE, it's Hill who deserves most of our scorn. He's just not that good at the plate.

  3. I wish I could put faith in Bill James numbers, they just seem so far out to lunch so often.

  4. Surely, Bill James' numbers reconcile at the end of the day to something? He's not pulling them out of his a**?

  5. No, but the weighting seems to favor offense, a lot of the numbers end up a little swollen.

  6. Has anyone ever published a comparison of James' predictions to what actually happened? It'd be cool to compare and see how he stacks up against other predictions.

  7. I'm excited to see what EE can do this year. I said the same thing last year but I'm willing to distort my memory in order to remain optimistic. Remember those series in Minnesota and Arizona? Hot dang!

    Also, is it just me, or is Juan Rivera the most boring possible baseball player ever? Even when he was an Angel I always hated the guy. He's just so absolutely average-at-best in every way. Bleh.

  8. For 2009, Bill James projected Snider for a .351 wOBA and 19 home runs. He finished with a .748 OPS and 9 home runs in limited playing time.

  9. No projection takes into account injury, or the madness of Cito Gaston.

  10. Jose around 30 home runs ... very nice!

    Not very much love for EE in those projections, nor would I expect there to be. As AA indicated, he's a dark horse break out candidate if he can stay healthy. And I love the EEnigma moniker.

  11. Snider is going to be a monster once he 'knows' he can hit at this level. He crushes balls. Once he has the confidence of a manager behind him he'll revive his own belief that he can hit. This guy hit clean-up throughout the minors for great average and power. Then he hits in the '9 hole' perpetually? No wonder he struggled. I believe that if he gets an RBI slot in the batting order this year he'll produce large.

  12. Here are our Juan Rivera projections. I'm not sure why they don't show up on FanGraphs.

  13. Marcel? Call me when you have the Jays BONILLA projections for 2011.


    Thanks for that Mike!


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