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Projection Systems Part II – The Pitching


Last week, I looked at how the computers liked—or rather, didn’t like—the M’s offense. But how about those pitchers? Again, we look to Marcel to forecast the AL West division. This charts projects total runs per nine innings allowed.

Marcel 2011 M’s 2012 M’s Angels Rangers A’s
Starters (R/9) 4.4 4.03 3.81 4.23 4.22
Relievers 3.85 4.40 4.30 4.06 4.24
Total 4.24 4.17 3.99 4.17 4.23

 

It’s almost impossible to figure out who’s going to start for the A’s. They have the 39-year-old Bartolo Colon, and a couple guys coming back from season ending surgeries. Those concerned about a closer with the name Grant Balfour should be happy to know that Josh Outman is there to back him up. The Angels project the best, and that makes sense. Any manager would be happy with Ervin Santana as a fourth starter. And how are we supposed to project Yu Darvish? I went conservatively—in the spirit of Marcel—with 180 innings and a 3.80 ERA

The M’s staff is full of mystery and intrigue this season, so let’s look at how the projection systems average them out. Again, I use the averages of the six projection systems—Bill James, Marcel, ZiPS, Fans, Rotochamp and Steamer—and then look at how consistent the projections were for each player. (The “Dev Score” is the sum of coefficients of variation in each statistic over the six projection systems, for those interested).

 

“Easy” K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP Dev Score
Felix Hernandez 8.42 2.60 3.04 3.10 0.11
Jason Vargas 5.79 2.66 4.21 4.20 0.12
“Meh” K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP Dev Score
George Sherrill 8.10 3.71 3.65 3.77 0.20
Brandon League 7.05 2.39 3.33 3.46 0.21
Shawn Kelley 8.03 3.16 3.87 4.00 0.22
Charlie Furbush 7.27 3.19 4.56 4.66 0.25
Hector Noesi 6.73 3.19 4.43 4.10 0.25
“Hard” K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP Dev Score
Blake Beavan 4.60 1.76 4.40 4.22 0.34
Chance Ruffin 8.19 4.25 4.09 4.22 0.41
Tom Wilhelmsen 7.07 3.87 4.34 4.20 0.47
Steve Delabar 7.91 5.32 4.55 4.57 0.64

 

 

 

The “easy-to-predict” guys, Felix and Vargas, are familiar faces in Seattle. We know what they’re capable of, the projection systems know what they’re capable of, and I think those are fair predictions. I might have penciled Vargas in to have a slightly lower ERA, being a lefty pitching in Safeco half the time, but in three seasons he has shown no ability to utilize Safeco and outperform his FIP. So 4.21 seems accurate.

On the other end of the spectrum, Wilhelmsen and Delabar were all over the map. ZiPS had Wilhelmsen at 5.3 K/9 while Rotochamp has him at 8.4! As for Delabar, ZiPS pins his walk rate at 7.8 walks per nine while Marcel says 3.1. For some context, I found ZERO players since 1990 (100+ innings requirement) that posted anything close to 7.8 BB/9. Coincidentally, the player that came closest was our very own Randy Johnson in 1991, who recorded 152 walks in 201 innings as a spry 27-year-old. Obviously there is some sampling bias in that most pitchers who are walking that many batters will never be allowed to reach 100 innings, but at the same time, I would never project any major league pitcher for that many walks.

To wrap up the projection system version of the Mariner’s outlook, here are the final AL West Standings, based on my interpretation of the Marcel Projections (both offense and pitching).

Team Runs Scored Against W L GB
Rangers 802 675 94 68 0
Angels 749 647 92 70 2
Athletics 705 686 83 79 11
Mariners 670 675 80 82 14

This looks a little optimistic for the A’s and M’s, but remember that Marcel regresses all players and teams toward the league average, and I think we’re seeing a little of that here. Last season the AL West went 323 – 325, but the league also gained Albert Pujols, Jesus Montero and Yu Darvish, among others. However, this projection ups the West’s record to an unlikely 349 – 299. I think something closer to 75 wins for the M’s and A’s is more appropriate, and a division-wide record of 336 – 312.

In the final episode, I’m going to provide playoff odds for various projections. In the spirit of Bryant’s poll on expectations, you’ll get to choose what time of team you think the M’s are this season—like, say, a .400 team with high-variance versus .500 team with low variance—and I’ll give the playoff odds for each type of team.

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Tags: AL West Felix Hernandez Mariners

  • http://baseballhittingtipsonline.com/baseball-hitting-newsletter/ baseballhitting

    Uh, I think the M’s need to score a lot more runs than the 670 predicted.  But, since this post is about pitching …I think that looks pretty good.  Surely someone else will be able to step up in case Wilhelmsen doesn’t do well.

  • Mariner_Melee

    Gah, what a sobering piece haha. Using that math stuff makes the Mariners upcoming season all the more real. We can only hope that a few players can blow everyone’s projections out of the water and pump a few more wins into the W column.

  • http://sodomojo.com/ MattyK

     @Mariner_Melee Haha, yeah. Projection systems are by no means perfect, but “sobering” is definitely a good word in this case. Though playoff chances are, especially with that 5th playoff spot, in the realm of possibility (it’s a big realm). 

  • Mariner_Melee

    @baseballhitting I don’t think I have welcomed you yet. Welcome to Sodo Mojo. I think the Mariners will have a hard time scoring runs at times, but if the young pieces develop altogether it could be extremely entertaining qwerty times next season.

  • http://sodomojo.com/ MattyK

     @baseballhitting Oh I’m with you. The M’s pitching will be competitive this year, but to make the playoffs, they’ll need to score more than 670 runs for sure. However, last year they scored just 556 runs, and I would somewhat surprised if they even made it to 650 this season. This projection left out some AAAA-type players like Trayvon that will likely suck the M’s total runs down a little further than Marcel thought. 
     
    But there’s always a chance ’cause it’s baseball!
     
     

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