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Phillies Player Projections

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The Good Phight is part of a larger series of excellent blogs at Sports Blog Nation.  Beyond the Box Score is an excellent site covering sabermetric research and discussing exciting baseball issues.  The Good Phight is the blog for the Phillies within SBNation, but each of the other teams has their own blogs as well.  Beyond the Box Score has recently asked those of us who do team blogs to put together our projections for individual players on our teams and to write them into a larger spreadsheet.  These spreadsheets estimate the win totals for each team and will eventually be put together to project standings for 2009.

I have been working throughout the offseason on putting together my projections on the Phillies.  My initial projections came out on this blog back in November, but my recent research has helped me improve those.

I have approximated playing time (PA and IP) for each player, but I would like suggestions from readers about whether I have under- or overestimated those for individual players, as well as stat lines.

Here is a link to the website, but please read after the jump before comments as I explain my logic on a lot of issues below:

Projections

The methodology that Beyond the Box Score consists of approximating win values (above replacement level) for each player and summing them to approximate team win values.  They will later adjust so that all the teams properly add up. 

These are supposed to be AVERAGE projections, not hunches-- so if you think Ryan Howard is going to hit 60 homeruns this year, that's not an AVERAGE projection.  That's just a hunch-- you do not think he has a 50/50 shot of being above 60 homeruns, do you?  The idea is that while Ryan Howard might hit 48 homeruns, he's probably a bit more likely to get hurt or struggle and hit 36 than he is break out and hit 60, so the projected number of homeruns would come out short of 48.  By this logic, above average players will probably be projected below your expectations and below average players will probably be projected above your expectations.   Carlos Ruiz, for instance, may struggle and hit .220 again, but he's probably more likely to find his stroke and hit .260 than he is to plummet further and hit .180.  Obviously, we started getting into messy issues of conditional means based on playing time, but hopefully that won't cloud our analysis too much.

For each position player, I was asked to estimate the park-adjusted OBP and SLG of the player, in addition to the approximate number of runs above/below average they were at baserunning and at fielding.  For the park-adjusted OBP and SLG, I approximated by subtracting 3 points from what I expected their raw OBP to be and 5 points from what I expected their raw SLG to be.  If that seems wrong, I'll change it.  For baserunning and fielding, I am only guessing.  My philosophy is that current measures of these are very raw, so I think the variance within a given estimate is mostly noise...hence, I have regressed everyone back towards the mean.  A lot of ratings have estimated that Utley and Werth were each 2 or 3 wins above average at defense this year.  I hesitate to assume that was true and further hesitate to assume it will continue to be true.  Hence, I approximated them both between 1.3-1.5 wins above average.  I also doubt Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez were 2 wins below average either.   However, I do not have a good sense of valuing these attributes, so please feel free to enlighten me on better estimates of these things.

For pitchers, the "ERA" numbers are NOT actual ERAs.  They are park adjusted, defense neutral ERAs, meaning that they will be underestimated and overestimated respectively for different reasons for our Phigtin' Phils.  I have used my approximation of their QERA (developed over at Baseball Prospectus as (2.79-.66*GB%+3.88*BB%-3.4*K%)^2) for what I expect their ERA will be.  This also ignores the minimal ability pitchers may have to control BABIP, and obviously ignores the ability defenses have to ignore BABIP.  I have used this instead of FIP (3.2+(13*HR+3*BB-2*K)/IP) because I believe that FIP consistently underestimates good pitchers and overestimates bad ones, due to the fact that it does not take into account the interaction between these terms.  For example, homerun prone pitchers are bad and walk prone pitchers are bad, but homerun & walk prone pitchers are even worse than the sum of their parts, because of the tendency to give up multi-run homeruns.

Please feel free to make suggestions to these numbers.  If my estimates are wrong, I'm more than happy to change them.  The Mets' guys over at Amazin' Avenue seem to have done their own and theirs are certainly optimistic to put it lightly.  Since this doesn't affect actual standings, I'll avoid the war of attrition involved in trying to fine tune our projected stats to make us better than them.  I don't believe I'm supposed to change their numbers in the spreadsheet, but they certainly seem optimistic about a few guys if you have a look.  Feel free to look around at how some of the other teams' bloggers are working too.  I'm especially interested in suggestions about baserunning and defense since I have done no research in either of these areas, and don't regularly keep up with projections and research on these topics.

I've adjusted many of my projections since my November post, and most of the hitting ones have gone downward unfortunately.  I'll jot down a few things about my logic with respect to each of these players, in addition to the slash lines unadjusted for park. (B=Baserunning wins above average per 700 PA, F=Fielding wins above average per 700 PA.)

Note that the baserunning and fielding numbers are assuming that the player got 700 PA at their position, something certainly not true for most players.

 

Ruiz: .266/.348/.370, 0.00 B, 0.40 F

Ruiz's BABIP was very low this year.  My eyes tell me he just does not hit the ball hard but every regression I run on BABIP gives him a high BABIP so I've pulled this number a bit up from my November estimate.  I am guessing he's pretty good at blocking balls in the dirt, but catcher defense is tough to estimate.

 

Howard: .265/.358/.547, -0.20 B, -0.30 F

Howard's BABIP was very low this year compared to his 2005-2007 BABIPs as well as his minor league BABIPs.  Most projection systems are actually much rosier on him than this, but my recent research in to BABIP seems to indicate that he's more likely to be hit for a lower average than I previously thought and than many of the other projection systems currently think.  I hope I am wrong.  I am not sure if his fielding is as close to average as I am estimating but due to my doubt about fielding metrics, the fact that he's been working on it, and the fact that some of the more advance fielding metrics indicate Howard is actually an average fielder, I am not putting him too far below average.

 

Utley: .291/.375/.505, 0.25 B, 1.30 F

Utley's high BABIP disappeared this past year.  Some of this is probably due to his hip problems, but it really does seem like a lot of it is just regression to the mean.  I think the shift may have hurt him too.  I remain reasonably optimistic about his fielding, but not as optimistic as Dewans' +/- system that seems to indicate he's about 100 wins above replacement level at fielding.

 

Feliz: .264/.309/.429, -0.30 B, 1.00 F

Feliz's power seemingly fell off this year, and I was initially pessimistic about him in my earlier projections, but I ultimately discovered that the numbers kept projecting him to be higher so I bumped it a bit.  His BABIP also didn't seem like it should be as low it was.  Most fielding metrics indicate he was way above average up until 2008 and barely average this past year.  I tend to think he'll end up somewhere in the middle about 10 runs (or 1 win) above average.

 

Rollins: .285/.346/.457, 0.65 B, 0.80 F

His batting average really seems like it should be higher than it's been for most of the last few years.  In fact, I was not all that surprised by a lot of his numbers even in his MVP year of 2007.  I'm being somewhat cautious about projecting him too high, and while I do think his power has a very good chance of returning to his 25-30 HR years of '06-'07, I need to withhold my optimism in case we're seeing actually power regression of a 30 year old, which is certainly a possibility.

 

Ibanez: .280/.340/.468, -0.05 B, -1.10 F

It is tough to tell whether Ibanez's power will significantly improve in CBP or not.  I'm not too optimistic because of his age.  I'm also not quite sure I believe any LF is really as below average at fielding as some of the metrics indicate so I regressed him closer to average especially because poor range has little effect in CBP where deep flies are homeruns anyway.

 

Victorino: .281/.339/.434, 0.45 B, 0.60 F

I remain pretty optimistic about Victorino.  He seems to have good contact and power skills and nothing about his numbers has surprised me much at all.  I've been pretty good at projecting him for a few years.  I'd love insight as to his baserunning and fielding, which I do find difficult to estimate due to conflicting data on his fielding especially.

 

Werth: .266/.360/.478, 0.25 B, 1.50 F

I think some of Werth's rate stats will go down from facing more righties, but I still think he will continue to put up similar numbers and will be quite valuable with a full time starting role.  His fielding seemed to get such high ratings by various estimates that I decided that 15 runs (1.5 wins) might not be such a high projection after all.

 

You can see some of my thoughts on the backups in my old projections, but some of those numbers have changed.  Their baserunning and fielding estimates are also listed on the Beyond the Box Score spreadsheet, but keep in mind those numbers are per 700 PAs.

 

For pitcher's, I estimated the following:

Hamels: 3.48 QERA, 206 IP. 

I imagine that his ERA will probably be lower since he tends to succeed on balls in play, but since some of the defensive metrics are probably picking that effect up, I thought it was best to leave this number as is to better estimate team performance rather than double count his BABIP effect on the team win projection only for the sake of properly estimating his own personal value.  Also, despite Hamels' 3.09 ERA this year, he's probably more likely to regress to 4.09 than improve to 2.09 so that needs to be factored into an average projection as well.

Myers: 3.84 QERA, 190.2 IP

I've documented my thoughts on Myers many times on this blog.  I still remain pretty optimistic, certainly on his peripherals which is what QERA is based on.

Blanton: 4.64 QERA, 197.1 IP

Not much to say.  I think this is about right and most variance in his performance will come from BABIP and HR/FB based luck.

Moyer: 4.91 QERA, 200.1 IP

I'm willing to assume he's healthy but I still think he's likely to regress.

Happ: 4.84 QERA, 140 IP

I put Happ down for 140 IP, because I think if he does get the 5th starter job, he'd get about 170-175 IP and if he doesn't, he'd be installed pretty early in the season and get about 100 IP anyway.  I didn't include him as a reliever though perhaps I should have.

Kendrick: 5.36 QERA , 31.1 IP

I really doubt he gets many major league innings this year but I put him down for 31.1 figuring that he may.  I also didn't include him as a reliever though perhaps I should have included him as well.


Lidge: 2.97 QERA, 67.2 IP

Lidge's QERA seems to better reflect his abilities than FIP, due to the fact that his strikeout tendencies make his walks and homeruns less of an issue as balls in play are rare enough that so are hits, and baserunners rarely will advance on strikeouts.  I imagine he will blow some saves this year but should remain solid.

Madson: 3.85 QERA, 80.1 IP

Madson's numbers came out much better than during my November projection.  I think that his peripherals have always indicated that he is a sub-4 ERA kind of reliever but perhaps that is difficult to tell without looking more clearly.

Eyre: 3.60 QERA, 58 IP

Eyre seems to be the LOOGY for the first couple months of the season so I let his innings total reflect this.  Due to his use against almost entirely left-handed hitters, his peripherals appear to be excellent and so will his QERA in that case.

Romero: 4.72 QERA, 41.1 IP

I sincerely doubt Romero will actually put up an ERA that high.  His ERAs are low in large part due to the tendency for him to enter innings with 1 or 2 outs already recorded and primarily surrender baserunners via groundball singles or walks.  For this reason, his own earned runners are unlikely to score, but his effect on run-scoring might be less impressive when we consider inherited runners and groundball errors.  He does seem to be a particularly strong match for the Phillies due to his skill set, and seems to be a particularly strong case against simple methods of win value summation like the ones we're using here.

Durbin 4.80 QERA, 71.2 IP

Durbin's fluke was probably over already by the end of the season.  Had Durbin's luck come at the end of the season instead of the beginning, he probably would never have had a low enough ERA at any point in the year to be given a high leverage role.  I am not assuming a very high leverage role here.

Condrey: 4.62 QERA, 70 IP

Condrey seems destined to be slightly valuable, but not incredibly so.  I think he's finally stuck to a major league roster so I gave him 70 IP.

Park: 4.62 QERA, 90.1 IP

I gave Park 90.1 IP of relief, though I imagine he has a good chance of starting a little this year.  since I put Kendrick's and Happ's innings as starting, I felt that including Park as a reliever would be okay.  I do not necessarily think Park's ERA would be this low as a starter, since he is not strong at retiring lefties, so maybe this approximation evens out.

 

I ended up totaling the 1445 IP suggested by using just these 13 pitchers.  I am not sure that is really the right number to expect, but I cannot really think of anybody who I think is destined to hurt themselves this year.  Most of the Phillies pitchers have been durable for a few years, and I'm not positive who I really over-projected with respect to innings.  If anybody has any guesses, I'd love the advice.  However,  I doubt that it will affect the team win projection much since so much of the back of the rotation and back of the bullpen will probably be approximately replacement level anyway though.


Please post comments, particularly about projected playing time, baserunning, and fielding, since I am least confident about those, but any other suggestions are more than welcome.