Friday, February 27, 2009

Dreams and Nightmares: Jeff Mathis

For the second string catcher, Jeff Mathis a nightmare season would include a sub .200 batting average, much like Napoli's nightmare. The difference is Mike has enough power and walks to have some value even at that level. Mathis does not. It is highly unlikely that Mathis will get the playing time that any of his CHONE percentiles list him at.

For playing time, the question the system is trying to answer is "how much playing time has this guy demonstrated he could handle". This is an easy question to handle through a program. Another question would be "how much major league playing time will player X get". This cannot be answered as easily, as it not only requires knowledge about the player, but knowledge of how 30 team management structures will make their decisions.

As for the Mathis dream - In his 90th percentile, Mathis would essentially be a league average hitter, excellent for a catcher. A .257 average, 17 homers if regular playing time, and a .334 OBP/.441 SLG. It would be a nightmare for Angel fans if Mathis got that much time, as it would mean Napoli must have suffered a serious injury.

Dreams and Nightmares: Mike Napoli

As I get ready for my trip to Arizona for some Angel spring training games, I've decided to take a look at the range of possibilities for Angel players using the brand new percentile projections of the CHONE system.

I'll start with the man behind the plate. Mike Napoli had an excellent 2008 when he was able to get into the lineup, and followed it up with a pair of homers off Josh Beckett in the only Angel postseason win.

A Napoli dream season looks like 276/401/568. That actually isn't much different than Mike's actual rate stats from last year. The dream is that he does it while staying healthy. In 456 at-bats, he'd hit 33 homers while taking 85 walks.

The nightmare is a .195 average as his swing for the fences approach results in little contact, and injuries prevent him from ever finding a groove.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Full list of Projections

The projection .csv files are updated through 2/23/2009. I've left the December 2008 files on in case anyone wants to compare them.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Power Rankings and More

I've posted a page with the projected standings, and these differ slightly from the standings I have shown in the blog posts of the last week. I've updated the recent signings, and run the pitchers again to account for new defensive configurations, and a few I have overlooked. Texas is the big beneficiary, going from 69 wins to 72, as I had added Omar to the lineup but had not added his glove (and Young's move to third) to the pitching projections.

In addition, I've ranked the teams from 1 to 30, if they were all playing the same schedule. The American League has better teams, so an 81 win team in the AL will rank higher than an 81 win team in the NL.

The link

Also, Garret Anderson signs with the Braves. Good luck GA, you had a great career for the Angels. From the Angels point of view, they had to add better offensive production and did so with Abreu, but there are plenty of outfields Anderson can help, and I'm glad he found one in Atlanta. I'll be rooting for him and Kotchman this year.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Projected Standings: NL West

I've saved this one for last since the Dodgers are the favorites to eventually sign Manny Ramirez, and the Giants are the only other team mentioned as a possible fit. Ramirez once again could easily be the difference maker in a mediocre division where the spread in talent from top to bottom is not that great. As of today, after the Dodgers sign Orlando Hudson:

Dodgers 82-80
Padres 80-82
Arizona 79-83
Rockies 78-84
Giants 77-85

All 5 teams have a shot in 2009, but if the Dodgers reach an agreement with Ramirez it will transform them from slight favorites to clear favorites. If Manny is a Dodger, add 4 wins to their total, taking one off every other team in the division.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Projected Standings: NL Central

My bad on the Griffey situation. It doesn't change the Braves team projection, as without him they'll score less but also allow less. The Mariners should pick up a win in the AL West.

As to the NL Central:
Cubs 88-74
Cards 83-79
Reds 82-80
Brewers 81-81
Pirates 73-89
Astros 72-90

The big surprise to me is the Reds. I wouldn't have guessed they'd be over .500 but they do have a very talented starting rotation. Arroyo and Harang had off years in 2008, and Cueto has a lot of promise. A strong defense is just what these pitchers need to make improvement more likely. The Brewers have some bats but will miss CC and Sheets. Cubs are still the best in the division.

I Jumped the Gun

On Ken Griffey Jr. He's headed to either the Mariners or the Braves. Right now my site lists him with the Braves, but I'll change that if necessary.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Projected Standings: NL East

Phillies 87-75
NY Mets 86-76
Braves 86-76
Nationals 76-86
Marlins 75-87

The Phillies and Mets battling for the top spot is no surprise, but the Braves coming back from three seasons of non-contention is. It has little to do with the signing of Griffey, who will probably platoon in left with Matt Diaz. Griffey will give back on defense whatever he contributes on offense. That is, unless Griffey can post a .900 OPS season batting primarily against right-handed pitching. The projection doesn't know anything about platoon splits, and projects only a .764. If it did know about platoon splits, it could go a bit higher, maybe the .800 range, but I think .900 is dreaming at this stage.

I'd be happy if Griffey did have one last great season in him, but at his age it is highly unlikely. The big reason behind a contending Braves team will be a rebuilt rotation featuring Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, and Kenshin Kawakami. Vazquez always disappoints the projections, which always love his K/W ratio. In his favor, he'll be pitching in a reasonable park with a decent defense for the first time in his career. He and Lowe are as good bets for 200 innings as you can find, and it will be appreciated.

The Nationals could have a very impressive offense this season. With Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman, Josh Willingham, and Elijah Dukes they have the makings of an excellent middle of the order. Their defense should be really bad (what do you expect when you add Dunn and Willingham and don't have a DH spot to hide them?). Don't expect much from an unimpressive pitching staff in DC, but there should be plenty of souvenirs for fans in the bleacher seats.

The Phillies have not improved the team from last year, as they kept most of the team the same while going for less power, more age, and equally crappy defense in left field. Sure, they won the world series so they don't need to improve, right? Wrong. The history of World champions who do not take steps to continually improve the team is not filled with repeaters.

Mets didn't really act like a big market team heading into a new stadium this offseason. While they have a talented core, they have done little to surround it with the kind of players to make a postseason appearance likely. I guess they could still make a surprise big for Manny Ramirez, otherwise Mets fans just have one more reason to hate Bernie Madoff. Marlins? I just don't see it this year.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Team Projection: AL East

Yankees 97-65
Red Sox 96-66
Rays 89-73
Blue Jays 76-86
Orioles 74-88

The Yankees just absolutely dominated the offseason and it might just be enough to get them back into the position of being favorites. Of course to do this they will probably spend more money next year than the Rays and Red Sox combined. The Red Sox still have an excellent team, second in this division equals second best in baseball. Last year a prediction of 89 wins was a bold one for the Rays. This year, 89 wins and third place will be a bit of a disappointment. The Blue Jays, and even the Orioles, are not terrible teams.

The AL East is so tough that just playing half your games in this unbalanced schedule will knock a few games off your win total. And the AL is 5-10 games better than the NL. The Orioles and Jays are probably as good as projected 2nd and 3rd place teams Oakland and Minnesota, and any of those teams would be contenders in the National league.

If I ranked the teams in this division among all MLB teams, and everyone played the same schedule, here is the overall rank of the AL East teams:

1. Yankees
2. Red Sox
3. Rays
12. Blue Jays
15. Orioles

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Team Projections: AL Central

Cleveland 90-72
Detroit 85-77
Minnesota 78-84
White Sox 73-89
KC Royals 73-89

This is pretty much how I picked these teams last year, and aside from the Royals they finished in close to the opposite order. I'm going out on a limb here and say they do as expected this time. If the Royals and White Sox are fighting it out for the division lead, then it will be another opposite year, and my suggestion is to approach the first beautiful woman you see and introduce yourself as "Hello, my name is George. I'm unemployed and I live with my mother".

Cleveland has a lot of talent, but they need the bats of Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez to be healthy this time, to go along with superstar Grady Sizemore, the emerging Shin Soo Choo, a solid Jhonny Peralta, and the addition of very steady vet Mark DeRosa. If Matt LaPorta emerges as the first baseman, the Indians should have a powerhouse lineup. They'll need it, as the rotation behind Cliff Lee is not impressive, and Lee is not really as good as he looked last year.

Team Projected Standings: AL West

I finally have them ready. The projected standings come from the same source that told you, one year ago, that Tampa Bay would win 89 games and be a contender. That projection was wrong. They weren't just contenders, but American League Champions. At the time I think the Vegas over/under was in the mid 70 win range. I should have put some money on them, but I'm not that into gambling and missed that opportunity.

My method is slightly improved from last year. Last season I assigned playing time to all the hitters and pitchers based on what I thought was most likely, added up the runs scored and allowed, and generated Pythagorean W-L records. Then I looked at how far over I was on the league as a whole (did I project the league to play at a .515 percentage?) and removed the same number of wins per team to make sure the leagues add up to .500. I call this removing the Lake Wobegon effect.

For this year I've gotten a bit more advanced. I've compiled a team schedule spreadsheet, telling me how many games each team has against each opponent. Then I match up each team's initial W-L% and see how they will play each other head to head using the odds ratio. For example, Boston and New York are both behemoths, but in the 19 games they play they will of course combine to go 19-19.

I have the American League going 137-115 in interleague play, a .544 percentage. This is how they played in 2007 and 2005, but the AL was even more dominant than that last year and 2006 (a .611 percentage that season). I consider my .544 prediction realistic but on the conservative side. I wouldn't trust any prediction made that puts the two leagues as equal. They may have reasoning that shows why the NL will catch up this year, but more likely they are just being lazy and are not recognizing the disparity between leagues.

So, finally the AL West:

LA Angels 86-76
Athletics 81-81
Mariners_ 78-84
Rangers__ 69-93

Bobby Abreu is a two win upgrade over playing Matthews or Willits in the outfield, or playing Wood or Rodriguez at third with Figgins in the outfield. A's have improved the offense but the pitching is unproven and questionable (check out the 2nd half ERA of last year). In addition, they will have at least one defensive hole, you can't hide both Cust and Giambi at DH. Mariners have greatly upgraded the defense, and have intelligent management for a change. They don't have the bats to contend, but could be a challenge in the future because they have money to spend and will likely spend it on better players than Richie Sexson, Jose Vidro, and Carlos Silva. Rangers have, through position changes, effectively replaced Milton Bradley with Omar Vizquel in the lineup. They won't score runs like last year, and still have no pitching.

Here's my track record on the AL West:

2008: Angels, 91 wins, first by 8 games (In my Feb 2008 archives)

2007: Cannot find, I know I picked the Angels but not by how much. I was writing for MVN but I think the archives have been lost, or at least are hard to find)

2006: A's 90 wins, 6 ahead of the Angels. This shows I'm not biased in my predictions, if another team appears to be stronger, I will report that, however distasteful I find it.

So far I'm 3 for 3, if I made predictions before that it was before the blog started, and I have no idea where to find them.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Could Bobby Abreu Get his Wings?

I've been reading that they had interest, and things could be getting close. Then I check Halos Heaven for the latest news and I see a link to a report from Jonah Keri that he has been signed. I hope it's true.

Abreu is not a good outfielder, but he should see plenty of time as a DH for the Angels. He no longer has the big time power, but we should expect him to replace the good things Garret Anderson did for us (15 homers, 35 doubles, 85 RBI) and throw in an additional 60 walks above Garret's average. He's a perfect fit for the middle of our order. OK, Mark Teixiera was perfect, but Bobby's not too bad himself. In a lineup full of free swingers, it's nice to have somebody who can work a pitcher.

Amazingly, despite his age (35), stocky build, and decline defensively, Bobby reamins a very good basestealer. Last year he stole 22 bags, the 10th year in a row he's been over 20. This will make him an especially good fit with the Angels.

I've still seen nothing official, but it's looking good.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Shame on MLB channel

Today they let us know that A-Roid used steroids, testing positive back in 2003. Big news, to be sure, but damn did they have to hammer that bit of news in. They were scheduled to show a game from the 90's when Randy Johnson struck out 19, and later a special on Roberto Clemente, or at last that's what the info on my TV menu said.

Instead, they gave us constant coverage of the news that A-Roid did steroids, even rerunning the same commentary and Bob Costas interview at least 3 times, instead of showing the scheduled programming.

Note to MLB: This type of news is what your bottom of the screen ticker is for. Tell us once. We do not need to hear it 30,000 times in a day. I had been very happy with the MLB channel. They have great ideas, and have brought in outstanding on-air talent. But today's programming decision simply sucked a whole ton of ass. Whoever is responsible for that decision, I hope you are reminded that it sucked ass at least as many times as you informed us that A-Roid used steroids.

On the bright side, I don't think anyone will bother calling him A-fraud again.

Pitcher projection update

I've rerun all the pitcher projections after adding in minor league data for batted ball types, and updating the team defensive projections based on player changes of the offseason. About half the pitchers had some change in ERA, for the most part they were not huge changes.

Friday, February 06, 2009

I hear Howie

Howie Kendrick and Mike Butcher are on Angels tonight, on AM 830 KLAA. Looks like the time is 7 PM on the west coast, so 10 PM for me.

Angel fans who are too far from Angel Stadium can tune in to the website.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Player of the Day: Orlando Cabrera

The OC has the misfortune of costing his signing team a draft pick. Last time he was a free agent, this didn't matter. Didn't matter to the Angels, who gave the Red Sox Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie to sign him. The Red Sox turned right around and gave their first rounder to the Cardinals, and while those two Red Sox have turned out pretty well, the player the Cards got, Colby Rasmus, has much more upside. Things like this have been going on as long as there has been free agent compensation.

The year I started following baseball, and became an Angels fan, the Angels failed to resign their DH, Don Baylor. He went to the Yankees. The compensation pick? Wally Joyner. The fact is it just doesn't make sense to give up a first rounder for a type A free agent unless that free agent is a great player- the Teixiera/Sabathia types. The second tier of free agency just simply isn't worth it. You should excuse Orlando if, after 30+ years of the same old same old, if he though nobody would care about draft picks this year.

But this is the year all the teams woke up, and Orlando is f***ed. He'll have to give his team a steep discount to compensate them for the lost pick, or wait until after the draft to sign. What teams could he improve?

Orlando projects as a -13 hitter, with a pretty good glove, so he should normally be worth 7-10 million. Here are some teams where he would be an upgrade, among those that might be close enough to contention and want to sign a 30+ shortstop:

Oakland: 6 run offensive upgrade on Bobby Crosby

Detroit: He'd be a 17 run offensive improvement on Everett, but the Tigers appear to be focusing on defense. Considering defense, OC probably has just a slight edge, less than 5 runs.

Baltimore: 13 runs on Cesar Izturis

That's pretty much it. Looks like slim pickins, and the OC should jump on the first halfway decent offer he can get.