Tigers 2009 WAR Projections – Pitchers

Earlier in the week I posted my wins above replacement projections for the Tigers 2009 lineup. Today I turn my attention to the men on the mound.

For the projections I used the Marcel 2009 FIP projection for pitcher ERA (available at Fangraphs). In terms of innings pitched, I used some judgment. I penciled in Justin Verlander for 200 innings, and every other slot in the rotation for 180. Feel free to disagree with this, I won’t mind. But I think we can agree that the success of the team will largely hinge on the staff’s ability to stay healthy.

2009 Detroit Tigers WAR Pitcher Projections

2009 Detroit Tigers WAR Pitcher Projections

You’ll notice that the 5th spot in the rotation doesn’t have a name assigned to it. I anticipate it will be some combination of Dontrelle Willis, Nate Robertson, and Zach Miner. As for the 4.77 FIP I chose, that belongs to Willis and it was the worst of the 3 which is why I chose it – to be a little conservative.

At least in terms of the projections for the rotation, it is fairly encouraging. While the Tigers lack a dominant top of the rotation, the projections show a balanced rotation that is fairly strong at the bottom. (I know, it felt strange to type that as well and I don’t entirely believe it myself)

With the bullpen situation not the least bit settled, things could change here substantially. At this point Fernando Rodney and Bobby Seay are the only knowns. Given the uncertainty everywhere else I considered the rest of the pen to be replacement level.

With the 24.9 WAR projected from the lineup, and the 16.1 WAR from the pitching staff, the Tigers on paper look to be about and 84 win team. That actually sounds a little too good and a little too optimistic to me. But if it holds that may be enough to keep the Tigers in the divisional hunt.

I’ll continue to update the spreadsheet as more become known about the roster make-up throughout spring training and the offseason.

For more on WAR the following resources may be helpful to you:


  1. Barry

    December 31, 2008 at 10:42 am

    I would take 84 wins, trading deadline will be exciting for the Tigers this year. Hopefully they will be buyers.

  2. Vince in MN

    December 31, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    WPA= 84 wins is about what I expected.

    I have a hard time getting my brain around the idea that if they are not buying now, why would they overpay at the end of July. It looks to me that if what we have now is the basic team the Tigers take out of ST, they are going to need a very fortuitous combination of good luck (e.g., MN, CHI and CLE having a load of bad luck), good health and key players taking the next step up or even having career years, to finish first.

    Chances seem greater that they will be sellers, but if that is the case it may not be such a bad thing. A good house cleaning (along with some of those bloated salaries) would allow some of those “replacemant players” to show their stuff, re-stock the farm system and bring the Leyland era to its merciful end. The extra cash would allow them to deal on next year’s free agent market at a higher level than Everett/Laird level that they have been restricted to this year. 2010 could actually be pretty exciting.

    Hopefully they can get it done and we will be looking at some meaningful games in August and beyond, but I would hate to see them buy into the false hope business at the end of July and end up gutting the farm system some more just to add a couple of short term rentals. As much as I would like to believe that these guys can take it all the way, I really don’t see a championship caliber team there. I would be ecstatic if they would prove me wrong.

  3. Rick G

    December 31, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    The Angels have signed Fuentes here’s the link

    By the way, to me 84 wins looks like absolute best case scenario. We’ll be sellers at the trade deadline if we have any takers for Magglio and (shudder) Carlos.

  4. billfer

    December 31, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Rick –

    What about the method makes it seem like a best case scenario? Aside from health, which is a biggie, I didn’t fudge any projections to make things seem better or optimistic.

  5. Slashpyne

    December 31, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    84 feels about right with the current roster…

  6. Mr X

    December 31, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    If guys like Nate, Willis, and Verlander bounce back to their career norms, this staff will actually look much better than last season. I don’t think any of the 3 were significantly injured, they just had very extreme brutal years in the very least. Also getting rid of Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones makes the staff younger and better. Edwin Jackson could be a decent filler pitcher too. It will be interesting what a healthy Tigers pitching staff can do.

    My new years wish is that Rodney, Zumaya, and Bonderman stay healthy and that Robertson, Willis, and Verlander bounce back.

  7. Chris in Dallas

    December 31, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    84 is a good starting point. With a little luck, you can get to 90.

  8. Rick G

    December 31, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Billfer, here are my concerns and why I’m so pessimistic:

    1) The WAR projection for our pitching staff assigns 760 innings to the combination of “everyone else,” “starter number 5,” and “Jeremy Bonderman” That’s over half the total innings for the season.
    2) I expect Galarraga to have a severe dropoff in 2009. Love the kid, but I’m afraid 2008 was a fluke.
    3) I think we’re overcompensating for last year’s defensive weaknesses at the C/SS/3B positions. The bottom third of the batting order scares me more than last year’s bad defense.
    4) I’m afraid that age has caught up with Sheffield, and is quickly gaining on Magglio and Carlos. Corner outfielders and DH’s need to have more power than they’ve shown lately.

    I’m not saying you’ve done anything outlandish with the numbers, but I still don’t believe them. As a point of curiosity, I wonder what our WAR projection would have been for 2008? A lot closer to 95 wins than 70 I’d guess.

    I hope I’m wrong and our pitching staff is solid again, Battlestar has another good year, we get average offense from the bottom three, and our aging stars are currently swimming in the fountain of youth. But it’s hard to have watched the 2008 team and the moves so far this offseason and come up with good reasons why the team will be any better in 2009.

  9. billfer

    January 1, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Rick –

    Bonderman I’ll give you. But if you look at what I penciled in for everyone else, it ain’t that good. In fact for the 400 bullpen innings I’m essentially expecting AAAA performance at this point. I think they’d be hard pressed to underperform my projections. For the 5th starter spot it’s not a whole lot better. And if you look at what I have for Galarraga, I have him with a fairly high ERA because he likely will regress.

    As for the aging of Guillen and Ordonez, that is certainly possible. Ordonez wouldn’t have that represented yet in projections because he has still been quite productive. Guillen’s power numbers did fall last year and so that would be somewhat reflected. Sheffield’s projection isn’t that good to begin with.

  10. Rick G

    January 1, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Billfer, good points. I guess I’m reading “replacement” player and thinking “average” player, which I know is wrong. Replacement guys should be considered the hypothetical AAAA guy you refer to.

    I love all these projections, but there aren’t any numbers to quantify whether the guys in the dugout believe they can win every day, or pack it in at the first sign of trouble.

    It sure seems like it’s been a long time since the Tigers have played anywhere near their projected level, so it’s hard for me to see it happening this year. You never know, though, they could get on a roll early on and challenge for the division like they did in 2006 or the first half of 2007.

  11. Chris in Dallas

    January 2, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    A bit off topic, but since I read Gary Sheffield’s name it brought it to mind. I was fooling around on retrosheet and looking at “lost” home runs (i.e. HR that didn’t count for whatever reason – rain outs, missing bases, Bengie Molina), and Sheffield actually has 2 lost HR. He should be at 501. Anyhoo, that’s it.

  12. jud

    January 6, 2009 at 3:17 am

    if he he has 501 can we retire him NOW