Monday, January 10, 2011

Giants 2011 ZIPS Projections

A number of my brethren Giants bloggers have announced Dan Szymborski release of ZiPS Projections for the 2011 Giants already, but I wanted to follow up on that with the implications of that projection. 

Paapfly.com did one of the steps and took those projections and calculated that the Giants would create 800 runs based on those projections and his estimation of how the 2011 AB's will turn out.  As Paap quoted Szymborski: "ZiPS is more bullish on the Giants offense than it has been in years ..." I myself had been unhappy with projections I had seen in the mid-2000's, as I felt that they were low-balling the Giants players, but I have been happy with recent projections. Szymborski also noted, "Oh yeah, ZiPS loves Brandon Belt and at least in the short term has him as the best 1B prospect in baseball." Comforting as a Giants fan to know.

Giants Projected Wins

Now, what is the implications of that projection - and Paap noted that this was wildly optimistic - when combined with pitching?  If the Giants pitching repeats their 2010 performance, the 2011 Giants would win 102 games based on Pythagorean.  Even if they repeated their 2009 performance, which was a bit worse, the Giants would win 99 games. 

Taking the ZiPS for the pitchers most probaby pitching in staff for 2011 - Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner, Zito, Romo, Wilson, Affeldt, Ramirez, Lopez, Mota (could be Runzler but took higher ERA) - I got a composite 525 ER in 1350 IP.  Prorating to 2010's 1458 IP, I get 568 ER.  Looking at 2009 and 2010, the Giants defense gave up 40 and 37 unearned runs.  Using 40, I get 608 runs allowed as the projection, and that works out to roughly 100 wins, based on 800 runs scored.  That is roughly where the Giants defense was in 2009 (611 runs allowed).

Thus, ZiPS appears to view 2010 as an outlier and 2009 as their true talent level, based on prior performances.  Knowing how these projections work helps an analyst figure out where the projections might be shooting too high or too low.

I can understand why Sanchez is thus set to 3.66; I think he'll be better in 2011.  He had a 3.35 ERA the rest of the 2009 season after being briefly taken out of the rotation to figure out his mechanics, then 3.07 ERA in 2010 season.  I think 3.35 is a better expectation, and that would add one win to the Giants season.

I can understand why Bumgarner is projected at 3.93 ERA; I also think he'll be better in 2011.  Any projection system will plug in the numbers from his 2009 season and say that his talent level is much lower, particularly one that values AA and higher performance higher than below AA performance.  As long as he has his fastball (clocked at mid-90's goodness even in the depths of the playoffs, in the pentultimate game of the season for the Giants, game 4 of the World Series), he is going to pitch more like he did in 2008 and 2010, and less like he did in 2009.  He was just a wild bronco that needed a little breaking in, so the Giants let him go, he struggled but didn't hurt himself, then Tidrow rode in like the calvary early in the 2010 season and tweaked him good.  That should add another win to the Giants season, perhaps two or even three if he's as good as he was in 2010 (3.00 ERA)

A More Realistic Projected Wins

Of course, as Paap noted, 800 runs scored is wildly optimistic.  I tried another tactic and plugged the expected opening day lineup - Torres, Franchez, Huff, Posey, Ross, Burrell, Tejada, Sandoval (I expect him to move up once he starts hitting, but then who bats 8th then, so he might stay) - and it came out to roughly 4.5 runs scored per game or roughly 730 runs in the season.  That still works out to what should be a pennant winning 93 wins in the season.

So the floor looks to be in the low 90's but the ceiling, particularly if Torres, Sandoval, Belt, and to a lesser degree, Huff and Burrell, hit as well as could be expected, and/or Sanchez/Bumgarner pitching as well as can be expected, we will be looking at somewhere in the 100 win range for the Giants.  Given these win totals, the Giants look pretty good for making the playoffs, if not winning the NL West Division Title outright.

NL West Pretenders

I thought I would go over the NL West contenders since some are still pretty worried about them. 
  • LA is one particular one that some are afraid of.  LA averaged 4.12 runs scored last season (near the worse in the NL) and replaced Manny and Russell Martin with a bunch of guys who wouldn't be starting in LF for other teams (Reed Johnson, Jay Gibbons) and Rod Barajas.  Meanwhile, they hope that Matt Kemp will return to his prior goodness, ignoring that his stats (much like Russell Martin) has been more on the downside than the upside.  They will be lucky to keep their runs scored over 4.00 in 2011.  Meanwhile, they did improve their pitching, which was already good, with a 4.01 ERA, which resulted in a low 4.27 runs allowed per game, but, as comparison, the Giants pitching had a 3.36 ERA and 3.60 runs allowed, a full 0.65 runs less and 0.67 runs less.  Adding Lilly for a full season and improvements for Kershaw and Billingsly is not going to make up that huge difference.  Thus, that LA probably won't score as much and definitely won't prevent as many runs equals "Don't really need to worry about them, but close enough that they will be contenders with some good performances and threatening if hit their peaks, particularly Kemp."  They will probably be around .500 the way they are constituted right now.
  • COL is the one I think we should be worried.  At 4.75 runs scored per game, they are essentially tied for the second best offense team in the National League (they were 3rd behind Philly's 4.77) but their pitching was pretty good, with a 4.01 ERA and 4.43 runs allowed average.  With that RS and RA, they should have won 86 games, not the 83 that they did win.  With a healthy year from Tulowitski and Car-Gon proving that 2010 was not a fluke (high BABIP, etc), plus additions to their pitching staff, they could easily move into the 90 expected win range. 
  • SD, even with A-Gon, only averaged 4.10 runs per game.  They are kidding if they think that they will be over 4.00 runs scored per game.  They will need Kyle Blanks to hit close to what A-Gon did at 1B, plus play decent defense (A-Gon was great defensively too), to have any chance of the offense repeating.  Meanwhile, they don't really have any players ready to join the lineup and kick butt.  Their pitching was second best in the NL, 3.41 ERA, but their defense was better and they had the lowest runs allowed at 3.59 runs (squeaked past Giants 3.60 runs allowed average).  They lost Garland however and replaced him with Aaron Harang, who hopes to resurrect his career at SD's extreme pitchers park.  He has had two bad seasons in the past three, so he appears to be on his downside at age 33.  And it don't look good, his road numbers were horrible the past three seasons, each getting worse than the last.  So they are hoping that their young pitchers who pitched over their head in the first half of 2010 can do it over a full season in 2011 and that the second half wasn't just the natural regression to the mean talent that most prospect evaluation services had them pegged to be.
  • ARI had the worse runs allowed except for Pittsburgh at 5.16 runs allowed per game.  Meanwhile, they could only manage 4.40 runs scored in a hitter's park.  While their pitching looked much better at season's end with Hudson, Enright, and Saunders joining Kennedy in the rotation, plus added a lot of pitching talent, their offense does not look to get any better, particularly after trading away Mark Reynolds.  They will need to first get to .500 then I'll start putting them on my radar.
Thus, the Giants look pretty good compared to our competitors in terms of how they looked in 2010 and what needs to happen to put them in our company, win-wise.  That, while not guaranteeing the Giants the division title (and that rarely happens in baseball), makes it look pretty good that they will repeat as NL West division winners.

1 comment:

  1. Lot of work, but it would be interesting to do these calculations for some of the other top teams in baseball like the Red Sox, Phillies and Yankees. 102 W's is pretty tough to top. I'm not so sure the Giants shouldn't have the top power ranking in the majors going into 2011.

    ReplyDelete

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