Baseball Prospectus’ take on the 2011 Season
I picked up BP 2011 last week and have had an opportunity to review their outlook on the Tigers (amongst other things). There’s no substitute for picking up the whole thing (it’s only $12.86 on Amazon now), but I wanted to pass along a few thoughts, and get your reaction.
First of all, BP is notoriously pessimistic, and their writers all seem to share the same cynicism and arrogance. It’s funny in small doses, but gets tiresome after a while. So while the information is amazing, and their projection algorithms are second to none, be prepared for elongated jabs at virtually everyone.
Anyway, there is a certain amount of nomenclature that is intrinsic to BP, so I’ll try not to focus too much on their less well known stats. But in case you want/need a primer – here is a link to their glossary.
Also, win totals for superstar pitchers and HR/RBIs for superstar hitters always seem to be low, no? Does anyone know if BP calculates team win totals first, and then lets the individual stats follow that, or is it the other way around? I’m guessing the players are forecast first. They have probably posted an article on this in the past, if someone has seen it, please let me know. I’m really curious to know if they have addressed before.
In analyzing the 2010 season, BP gives high marks to the Granderson/Jackson deal, writing that “it was a bold and controversial move that wound up paying off in spades” citing the payroll flexibility and that “cheap talent is the life-blood of a winning organization.” A-Jax, Scherzer, Coke & Schlereth combined for 8.9 Wins Above Replacement Player (“WARP”), while Granderson and Jackson combined for 5.9. +3 WARP is pretty darn good. Not to mention that Scherzer, Jackson, Coke and Schlereth combined for 26 years of team control when the deal was done (22 now), while Granderson & Jackson were at 7 (5 now) at the time. More WARP + more player control + less price = great deal.
BP goes on to mention that the Tigers have a “core of young players who could form the base of a championship team,” starting with pitching talent. According to BP, this is paramount because pitching talent is the most difficult asset to acquire in the open market.
BP feels that the Tigers have as good as anyone to win the Central. Referencing 2010, the Tigers’ staff could be compared to that of San Fran (could) and BP reminds us that San Fran didn’t have Miguel Cabrera.
I won’t go through them all, but a few highlights. When I list slashlines, it’s Avg/OBP/Slg.
Cabrera projects to have another monster year (36 HRs 110 RBI, .948 OPS), but his projected WARP is only 4.2 (6.4 in 2010 and 4.4 in 2009). Pujols, on the other hand, projects to an 8.1 WARP, and had a WARP of 7.8 last year, even though by most accounts Cabrera had a better offensive year (higher slugging, higher average, higher OBP). I know that Pujols is a significantly better baserunner but was he 1.4 WARP better? And considering that Cabrera is 3 years younger, why the gross discrepancy in this year’s forecast? Anyone at BP reading this?
Like many, BP was blown away by A-Jax’s 2010 .393 BABIP, and projects a still high but more reasonable .346 BABIP for him this year, which results in a pretty pedestrian .268 BA and .704 OPS (actually, pedestrian is generous; an OPS of .704 for a center fielder merits the bench). Jackson is going to have to develop more gap power and cut down on Ks (BP projects 152 of them, down from 170) to be a consistently good player. .268/.325/.381
Incredibly, BP projects 478 PAs for Guillen, but also mentions that the Tigers’ hopes of Guillen making good on the final year of his $48M contract are similar to their “hope to capture and train a unicorn this spring.” Still BP thinks Guillen will slug .771, which is great for a 2B, but not so good for a DH/corner outfielder. .265/.346/.425
Raburn projects to a very healthy .806 OPS over 381 plate appearances. .266/.337/.469
Maggs projects to an. 814 OPS, but his low low fielding leaves him with only a 1.1 WARP. .293/.363/.451
VMart should be everything the club wants him to be; BP sees him batting .287/.357/.458, with 19 HR and a WARP of 2.9.
And because everyone wants to know, Inge projects to a reasonable 1.5 WARP, largely resulting from his fielding prowess. .228/.309/.385. stephen, please let us know how you feel about a corner infielder with a sub .700 OPS.
BP projects another huge year for JV, but only 14 wins, which says a lot about what they see behind him. The interesting parts about their projection is that they think JV’s SO/9 will drop by 5%, yet his BB/9 will increase slightly (3%). Regardless, he projects to a 5.5 WARP. Highest on the team by a long shot.
BP sees Scherzer as striking out more per 9 than JV (8.8), but only projects him to 145 IPs, way less than 2009 and 2010. BP knows quite a bit about injuries as they relate to workload, age & pitching mechanics, but I certainly hope that he gets to to 180 IPs or so. Interestingly, BP refers to Scherzer as a current “ace,” but they really do not get into the low IP projections. Scherzer’s 2011 WARP projection is 3.6.
Porcello projects to a 2.3 WARP (which is great), but a 1.39 WHIP and 4.40 ERA. 4.4 K/9 like BP suggests just won’t do it.
BP thinks Zumaya will get into 40 games this year, but they project his BB/9 to 4.7 with a 1.45 WHIP an 4.12 ERA.
Finally, Benoit…”Because some teams don’t pay attention to the volatile nature of relief performances, the owner of a 4.47 career ERA with two good seasons in the last five years snagged a three-year, $16.5 million deal with Detroit. That’s an expensive recipe for heartbreak.” I still don’t like this deal. BP projects 71 IPs with a 1.19 WHIP, 9.9 SO/9 and 2.95 ERA for 2011. I can live with that.
BP also goes into great detail on manager analysis, I’ll save that for a separate post later this week. Considering the polarizing nature of Ol’ Smokey, I think we’ll have plenty to discuss on that one.
Again, pick up your copy of Baseball Prospectus 2011 here.