Well, we have beat up, analyzed and railed against PECOTA’s 76 win projection for the Royals this season for several days now. A Kevin over at Royals Review provided a really nice compilation of all the projections on a player by player basis, complete with charts mind you, that provides us with a summary of who is projected where. Bookmark it, sigh – print it if you must, and we can all look back in October as we wait for the World Series to start in Kansas City and see what the systems got right.
As I scrawled on Tuesday, I put some stock in individual player projections, but not much in the overall team wins. That’s me and it is not an analytical conclusion, just that ever reliable gut feeling that too many variables get lost in translation between individual projections moving into team wins. So, as we are in ‘gut mode’, that is different from ‘grit mode’ as I am not currently close enough to the dirt to engage that mode of action, let’s take a look at the individual projections.
For this exercise, I am going to revert to the old man stats: the triple slash. I am a big fan of WAR, even if I cannot figure it out on my Casio hand-held calculator, but let’s not get bogged down in which defensive metric is being used, how they are weighting baserunning, pitch framing and the like. Quite honestly, a lot of us look at WAR when these projections come out, but let’s eliminate the noise and focus on the numbers that you will see quoted (i.e. contested) out there above ground in the light of day.
Lorenzo Cain – .269/.321/.398
Listen a big first step towards winning 76 games is have Lorenzo Cain post that triple-slash. I don’t think he will, as I (and this is not a unique conclusion) believe that PECOTA and really all projections cannot get past the 2012/2013 seasons. You know, the ones before Cain announced himself as one of the better all-around players in baseball. Could he regress off his 307/361/477 mark of 2015? You bet. His BABIP was .347 last year and .380 the year before, but for what it’s worth, his BABIP even in the minors has always run high. Still, projections are not tailor-made for players and late to baseball, late to the majors but very skilled athletes such as Cain are kind of outside the curve. I’m taking the over on Cain….by a lot.
Mike Moustakas – .245/.301/.397
Yes, Kevin, I am following your chart in exact order. Now, you can shout to the high heavens about that line and tout Mike’s new approach at the plate in 2015. That is THE valid argument against projections: a fundamental change in how the player approaches and plays the game. Really all this projection says is that four years of the old Moose still outweighs one good year of the new Moose. Truthfully, if you are looking for a guy who might really regress, Mike Moustakas is your guy. Of course, he might not. Like Alex Gordon before him, a big change like last year might just stick as it did with Gordon in 2011. A few opposite field liners the first week of the season will go a long ways towards alleviating my fears of major Moose regression.
Eric Hosmer – .276/.335/.423
As pointed out by others, it is an even numbered year and Hosmer was ungood for the bulk of 2012 and 2014. His last two odd numbered years were freakishly similar numerically, so I’m pretty sure the WTF circuit in PECOTA came on when Hosmer’s data passed through. Hosmer’s walk rate took a big jump from 2014 to 2015, which is generally a good sign. Yes, my gut says Eric Hosmer is the real deal and will not regress to the triple slash projected, but then my gut has been saying that since 2010. Hey, it’s been right half the time…sort of.
Alex Gordon – .266/.344/.420
PECOTA projects Gordon to basically hit his career triple slash in 2016. Alex has been better than that in four of the last five seasons, but it is hell getting old. The Royals can live with Gordon hitting that line, especially if his defense stays the course. I would be surprised if he hit worse than that and not very surprised if the on-base percentage was higher, maybe even a lot higher.
Kendrys Morales – .263/.322/.425
Let’s not kid ourselves, Big Ken is coming off his best season since 2009 and there is a load of injury riddled crap in between then and now. The eye test certainly says that last year was legit and it is hard to see his slugging dropping all the way down to .425. The concern would be that some day that bat will slow down – it happens to everyone at some point.
Jarrod Dyson – .243/.301/.319
If the Royals use Dyson properly – as in NEVER against lefties – I think this slash line is low. Does PECOTA know Ned and his distaste for straight platoons?
Salvador Perez – .273/.303/.422
Not to get into the intangibles, but much of Perez’ value to this team is in what he does when not hitting. That said, the system that hates the Royals projects Salvador to hit better than he has the past two years. Give me the above right now, I’ll take it.
Alcides Escobar – .256/.288/.338
What PECOTA is saying is ‘this is who Escobar is’. His career triple slash is .262/.298/.344. Last year he hit .257/.293/.320. He is now four seasons removed from hitting .293/.331/.390. Are you hung up on odd/even numbered years, Mr. Voodoo Magic? If so, Escobar is due for a good – well decent – year at the plate. Hey, you have all seen him play 800 games for the Royals. You know who he is…and so does PECOTA.
Omar Infante – .256/.284/.357
Yes, I skipped Orlando and will skip Colon. Whether you choose to remember or not, the above numbers are not far off what Infante did for Kansas City two years ago. You know, back when we were all being told he was ‘just fine’ and ‘look at all those RBI!’. What does it say about Omar’s 2015 when the above line is a dramatic improvement? What does it say about Infante when the above line is quite similar to what he did in 2014 and 2012? Yes, he was definitely playing hurt last year and he has finally, FINALLY, had surgery to hopefully get healthy. Still, you have a 34 year old ball-player with basically pretty bad hitting numbers in three of his last four seasons.
Of course, all of the above is ‘old fashioned’ statistical review. We have not factored in baserunning or even the very basic advanced offensive metrics. Without question, the defense of the likes of Cain, Escobar, Perez, Gordon…well, everyone on this team adds value to the above. Quite frankly, with this group, it adds a lot of value as this might be one of the very best defensive lineups (all 8 positions considered) to play the game. Oh yeah, and there is the whole ‘pitching thing’ we haven’t discussed. (I’m waiting for Kevin’s chart to come out at RR. Charts are time consuming. I have coffee to drink and women to look at.)
All that said, the Royals will not win the World Series if everyone above hits to the PECOTA projections. I am not certain those above numbers necessarily point towards 76 wins (maybe more like 83), either. Can the Royals carry an Escobar and Infante PECOTA performance? If Cain, Hosmer and Moustakas can replicate last year, you betcha.
Craig said don’t sweat the projections. He’s right. Besides, when we discuss stating pitching, you will have plenty of opportunity to sweat.