For each player, I used a cut of their stats that I thought made sense for their situation:
- Roberts: used his road stats. That is below what he has done with his past three teams, but I think he will take a hit hitting in AT&T. (OBP .346, SLG .383)
- Vizquel: used his road stats too. He has a pattern that stretches back to 2000 - he hits poorly in odd years. His road stats for his career is approximately what he has done every other year on his down years, but with an uptick since perhaps he finally learned how to hit in AT&T in 2006. This is still slightly lower than his stats as a Giant. (OBP .341, SLG .362) As I stated previously when we acquired Vizquel, he has actually done better as a leadoff hitter plus has less power, so it would make sense to bat him leadoff and Roberts second, Bochy could be so bold.
- Winn: used his road stats. It is down very slightly from his career stats, could have just used that, but since I used road stats elsewhere, just kept it up. I think he's a better choice than Aurilia for batting third, he has a higher OBP, plus Aurilia has always had a run-producer mentality and I would like that in the #6 spot. (OBP .341, SLG .421)
- Bonds: used his 2nd half 2006 stats. I think that is closer to his abilities than any of his other numbers. (OBP .430, SLG .596)
- Durham: used his Giants stats. He has been up and down as a Giant and is due for a down year, but still, 2006 was either a breakout year or a peak year. The fairest thing I thought would be to use his numbers as a Giants hitter. (OBP .358, SLG .474)
- Aurilia: used his road stats. Hard to pick out exactly what his stats will be in 2007 with the Giants. Clearly his numbers the past two years have been boosted by playing in Cincinnati. Looking at his AT&T numbers, it is good overall and still not too bad looking at his two post peak years of 2002 and 2003, and close to his career road numbers, so that made his road numbers appear to be the best representation of his abilities for 2007 (OBP .322, SLG .433)
- Molina: I looked at both his road numbers and his last 4 years. I thought his 4 year numbers looked better as a representative stat because he has hit better in the past 4 seasons than in the 3 prior seasons, indicating some improvement in his hitting. And the main improvement is in SLG, which makes sense as his SLG went up once he turned 28, entering into his prime physical years. (OBP .318, SLG .442)
- Feliz: used his 3 years as a starter for the Giants. Hard to tell what is really his performance level. Obviously some might point to two consecutive years of low .700 OPS and say that is his true level, but he hit .274/.306/.486/.792 in the first half of the 2006 season, which is in line with his results in 2003 and 2004, so that lends credence to the theory some hold that Feliz just tired out and couldn't hit anymore during the second half. So I decided to just use his stats while essentially a starter for the Giants, which covers his past three seasons. (OBP .295, SLG .443)
- Linden/Sweeney: they are the main replacements for Roberts and Bonds when they are out of the lineup. For Linden I used his two year stats, since that's the most he has played and is his most recent: OBP .288, SLG .371. For Sweeney, I just used his stats as a Giant, which was greatly reduced in 2006 because of his inability to hit at home: home, .228/.282/.283/.565 vs. away, .281/.385/.509/.894. Most players hit better in AT&T with time, Durham, Grissom, and Alfonzo have noted the learning curve before, and Vizquel had a boost last season over 2005, but I wasn't sure how to model that. Since his SF numbers are approximately Linden, I just assumed that they are interchangeable offensively.
For the lineup with Bonds and Roberts in there: 4.87 runs per game
For the lineup with Linden for Bonds in there: 4.34 runs per game
For the lineup with Sweeney for Bonds in there: 4.40 runs per game (see, pretty close)
For the lineup with Linden for Roberts in there: 4.76 runs per game
Calculated based on 125 games started by Bonds, with the various combos noted above, I get the Giants scoring 755 runs or 4.66 runs per game, which would have been good for 9th in 2006 - they were tied for 10th in 2006 with 746 runs.
Not too surprising, since the lineup is virtually the same as it was last season. Basically we traded out Alou/Finley, Niekro/Hillenbrand, and Matheny/Alfonzo for Roberts, Aurilia, and Molina/Alfonzo (which I did not account for so that would reduce runs scored even more). I think the combo of Alou/Finley did not do that well, despite Alou hitting so well, and the upgrade from Matheny to Molina will more than make up any difference between Alou/Finley and Roberts.
- Roberts: he has hit much better playing under Bochy than previously, that would boost his stats up 3-6%. That adds about 10 runs or 1 win. However, he has been accident prone so that could knock down the stats by giving Linden more ABs, assuming Linden does not improve. Obviously, if Linden has a breakout year, the offense stays about the same, maybe improve.
- Vizquel: Pretty much all the downside is covered except if he gets injured and Aurilia or Frandsen has to play SS. If he did learn how to hit in AT&T and/or break the up/down cycle for his OPS, there is a 7% upside or about 10 runs there.
- Winn: The downside is pretty much last season, so that would mean a lingering injury that lasts through the season or at least affected his hitting all season. Big upside if he could ever duplicate his 2005 season with us, but I wouldn't hold your breath. He's a pretty consistent hitter since becoming a starter, and, for Saber-heads, his BABIP last season was only .279, much lower than the mean of .300 that the theory said a hitter should regress to, and way below his .326 BABIP for his career.
- Bonds: multitude of downsides, but if he's healthy and in the lineup, who knows what he can do, he has amazed us Giants fans over and over again.
- Durham: obviously injury is his downside, but he is healthy, he is a good low to mid-800 OPS hitter normally, over the past 9 seasons, with a peak in two of the past three seasons. Should be right in that range again, even if injured.
- Aurilia: I think his downside is pretty much equal to his upside, he is going to be in the 700 OPS range, year in, year out, with the mean about .750.
- Molina: The downside is how quickly he adjusts to AT&T, some hitters take a couple of months, some take a year, some never adjusts. He is actually a good hitter, with a contact rate of about 90% (i.e. strikes out about 10% of the ABs), which is pretty good, though his low walks is also a sign that he is more a hitter capable of getting the bat on the ball, than a good hitter. But you can't scoff at a lifetime .275/.310/.407/.717 hitter at the catcher position.
- Feliz: Much more of an upside if Bochy can play him so that he gets rested enough to be optimum as a hitter. He's a .790 OPS hitter with enough rest but when he gets worn down, he's down in the low 700's. He is supposedly working out this off-season so that he could play a full season without tiring, but that's what he said last off-season. Plus he says that he is taking hitting lessons to improve his hitting, to which I have to say: what took so freaking long? My numbers are to the low end, so there is more upside than down, I think, but with him, who knows?
- Linden/Sweeney: Linden has been a better hitter in AAA than Feliz ever was and Feliz is about a 700 OPS hitter, so I think Linden with consistent ABs can do like Feliz and hit in the .700 OPS range, if not higher, because Linden knows how to take a walk and he hit for more power. My deepest wish is that he gets enough ABs to show his abilities and earn the starting job in 2008. He will be 27/28 that year, so he will be entering his peak physical years, and while he won't be any great hitter, I think he could be a wonderful complementary player for the price of under $1M. Sweeney has been a professional hitter in the best sense of the word, so I expect him to figure out AT&T soon, and have a good hitting season, both starting at 1B and PHing. Lots of upside, and basically should be no downside, he hasn't hit this poorly for a long time and he hit great outside of SF, he just sucked at home.
Thoughts on Lineup
Overall, I think I was pretty conservative with what to expect from the hitters and basically came up with a lineup a little better than last year's 10th place runs scored finish, perhaps a 9th place finish. That's actually OK to me because initial impressions I got from others is that the lineup is going to be much worse and because I feel that the pitching rotation had a lot of down performances that an up year in 2007 would mitigate and result in more wins in 2007 than 2006.
I have shown what I think the 2007 pitching rotation is capable of doing in other posts, and noted how I think the rotation could be a big improvement over last year's rotation, even with the lost of Schmidt, solely because of how poorly our pitchers #3 to #5 did. Improvements in those areas, particularly with Lowry and Morris would greatly improve our chances to win. Adding a reliable #4 starter (in 2007 performance, not history, seeing as how pitchers with history is getting $10-11M per season) by taking a risk on a down and out starter, like we did with Jamey Wright in 2006, would be a good thing to do, as we could allow him 2-3 months to wow the team, and if not, then bring up Lincecum or start Hennessey again. It is nice to have options.
But that's basically the team in a nutshell: to do well in 2007, we need to catch some breaks with developing players and have a healthy team overall, meaning Roberts, Durham, and Bonds can stay healthy. That's not a recipe for success but at least there is hope with our starting rotation plus the sideshow that is Barry Bonds chase of Aaron's record.
Bonds Will Do It in 2007: Unless...
If I had to predict, I would think Bonds would pass Hank sometime in late August or early September. That is, if some crazed baseball fanatacist don't do something crazy to protect Aaron's and baseball's record. Unfortunately, we have the ugly examples of the stabbing of Monica Seles by a crazed Steffi Graf fan, to keep Graf at the top of the tennis world, the knee whacking of Nancy Kerrigan by her top opponent's boyfriend's friend while competing for figure ice skating gold, and John Lennon's assasination by a crazed "fan", as sad examples of man's cruelty to man, in regards to the entertainment industry. Just as Aaron had to endure death threats from racists on his journey to pass Ruth, I am sure there will be those baseball purists out there who will feel compelled to threaten Bonds. It is times like that, as Julian Lennon wrote, "salt water wells in my eyes".