It has been a long week since I posted part 1 of my explanation of the 2011 win total predictions, but don’t think it was just me being lazy. I’ve been working on a big feature for the blog, but I can’t tell you what it is just yet. It’s still a secret.
One question I’ve gotten a lot of since the predictions came out was “what do you think the win total will be?” I’ve intentionally left that unanswered. It was part of my evil plot to get a few of you to examine the data yourself and not just take my opinion as if it were fact. See how sneaky I am?
I can tell you that in my opinion the predictions aren’t bad. While the names might be different the results aren’t likely to be. Does it really matter is David Pauley and not Luke French is the team’s 5th starter? Not really. Both are replacement level players and should produce close to a zero WAR. Same goes for Jody Gerut and Ryan Langerhans. See what I mean?
What I do have a problem with is some of the 2011 predictions. Ichiro’s value dropping off is within bounds of possibility, as is the increase in production of Gutierrez and Figgins. What strikes me as odd is the increased WAR for Felix. He was the best in the AL last year. Pitchers are notoriously up and down, even if it’s just a little bit. I actually expect Felix to produce a lower WAR in 2011 than in 2010, though I still think he’ll be one of the AL’s best pitchers.
Similarly, Aardsma, League and Cortez all around 1 WAR? That’s a lot for a reliever. I just don’t buy that the M’s will have three 1 WAR relievers in 2011. I also expect Fister and Vargas to regress a little. Both had breakthrough years in 2010, but lets face it, neither has overpowering stuff.
On the flip side of things is Justin Smoak. Smoak was a 2.2 WAR player in 2010, though most of that did come when he was with Texas. For the prediction to say that he wont make any improvement in his 2nd year in the majors is a bit odd. Smoak is a very talented young player, and I expect him to play better in 2011 than he did in 2010.
So, what’s the verdict? Well, I’m going to lean on the low end of the prediction spectrum. I look at that list of players and to me it looks like a 75-78 win team. I hope I’m wrong and they win 85 games, but I don’t expect that to happen. I just really hope that I’m not wrong and that we’re looking at another season with a win total in the 60′s. I’m not sure fragile psyche could take that kind of punishment.