2012 Bill James Projections

It’s the offseason. That means hot stove rumors. That means prospect rankings. And that means projections. Bill James’ projections, which he publishes in his yearly handbook, were added to Fangraphs player pages about a week ago. As far as I know, they’re not all published in one place (besides, of course, the handbook, which I highly recommend you purchase), so it’s hard to just look at all the Giants’ projections unless you want to dig through all the individual player pages.

Anyway, do note that they are widely considered to be overly optimistic, but I think that’s overstated.

Here are the Giants hitting projections.

A few thoughts:

– The best thing on here is the Brandon Belt projection. A .363 wOBA would do wonders for this offense, and it’s right up there with Buster Posey (.363) and Carlos Beltran (.367). Belt is one of the huge keys to making next year’s offense better than it was this year.

Andres Torres (.327) is projected for a higher wOBA than Melky Cabrera (.325). This is precisely why I wasn’t a big fan of the Cabrera trade. The Giants gave up rotation depth for a worse (arguably, and I’d make that argument) centerfielder.

Nate Schierholtz is projected to hit .328 — roughly as well as he did in 2011 — confirming that there’s good reason to believe he can be a quality everyday right fielder. Fangraphs had him at 1.4 WAR in 362 plate appearances last year (.327 wOBA), and that was with negative fielding value. I’m fairly certain that he’s capable of being a 2-3 WAR player in 2012.

– There’s not much to be hopeful about with Brandon Crawford. I’ve gradually become less enthused about the prospect of him as the Giants’ starting shortstop, and this doesn’t help. He’d have to carry a lot of value with his glove to be a viable everyday option, and I just don’t know that his fielding is good enough to stomach a .282 wOBA.

Brandon Belt, Pablo Sandoval, and Buster Posey form a pretty respectable heart of the order, and if the rest of the lineup carries their weight (granted, a big “if”), this offense could just be good enough.

And here’s the pitching.

Thoughts:

– I’m a little disappointed by the Madison Bumgarner/Sergio Romo projections, but that’s only because I have such high expectations when it comes to those two. I’d bet they beat their projected FIPs.

– These projections only make me dislike the Javier Lopez/Jeremy Affeldt moves even more. It seems like that’s where most of the Giants’ offseason spending will have gone, when all is said and done. That doesn’t look too good.

– At first glance, the Barry Zito projection (sub-4.00 ERA!) looks quite nice, but it’s a) mostly pitching out of relief, and b) a small sample size.

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17 thoughts on “2012 Bill James Projections

  1. Biggest problems I see based on the projections are:
    1) The lack of base stealing
    2) Power is low (shocker, right?)
    3) Zito is still on the roster

    Seriously, though, all of this is calling on the Giants to do one crucial thing they seemed to be completely unable to do last season……..you guessed it! (foghorn sounds…)…….hitting with RISP.

    That one category doomed us last year. I truly believe to this day that even a slightly better performance in this stat might have netted us another fateful showdown on the last series of 2011 with ARI; I’d dare even say we would have won the NL West. That may be taking it too far, but I can dream, right?

    That’s also why I look at predictions and take them somewhat lightly. Especially within the coming year, two of our major players will be back: Posey and Sanchez. Both are good at situational hitting, something we sorely need due to the power numbers and the lack of a true leadoff threat.

  2. The stolen base column is simply laughable, and the BB% is a close second in utter badness. Not that the two are unrelated; they reflect a certain approach to playing baseball. I don’t think it’s a good one.

  3. I dont think u can put to much into these projections cause all they are is opinions, dont forget the has to b played end of story

      • Projections vary depending on how they are constructed. They all are heavily based on regression to the mean. If every Giants player had reached their average projection last year, they probably would have made the playoffs! There is a reason they play the games.

      • You’re arguing something completely different here. I’m just clarifying the difference between prediction and projection, because there’s a huge difference.

      • I predict Pablo Sandoval goes ballistic in the batter’s box to a tune of .340/.380/.570 !

        However, projections put him closer to .300/.350/.500 :-}

  4. I raise my glass to Pauly….right on….The one thing on Jame’s projections that I disagree with is Andres Torres, I feel he should be released and hopefully signed to a minor league contract. Torres was only a bright light for S.F. playing in centerfield on defense. I would truly love to see Andres bright smile once more in a Giants uniform but only from the minors side of things, and while Torres is leaving in that “dump truck” I sure hope he has Eli Whiteside,Emmanuel Burriss, Mike Fontenout and Big Bucks Zito with him

  5. I’m not sure why you are so down in the mouth about Crawford. Yeah, a wOBA of .282 is not great, but there were several starting shortstops last year with worse: Ronny Cedeno, Yuni Betancourt, Jason Bartlett, Alex Gonzalez, Alcides Escobar. As for his fielding, Crawford had a UZR/150 of +8.2. Here’s a list if shortstops who played more innings that Crawford and had better UZR’s: Paul Janish 12.1, JJ Hardy 11.7, Alexei Ramirez 11.4, Clint Barmes 10.8, Jhonny Peralta 10.7, Alcides Escobar 9.9, Brendon Ryan 9.2, Stephen Drew 8.7. So, a total of 9.

    Crawford put up a 0.5 WAR last year in 500 innings with a wOBA of .259. Projected to 150 games you get a WAR of about 1.3. Now, with the same D and a wOBA of .282, I think that gets you up to a WAR of about 2. There were 19 shortstops who put up WARs >2 last year. So yeah, Crawford would be in the lower half by WAR, but not embarrassingly so.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, short of signing Rollins or Reyes, the Giants would be hard pressed to get better production at SS than Crawford at any price, let alone for virtually free.

    I’ll also note that Bill James’ projection comes with a significantly lower walk rate and significantly higher K rate than Crawford put up last year. Also, after making an adjustment in this stance and swing, Crawford put up a wOBA of .331 in the month of September. I’m not saying that he’s going to hit a wOBA of .331 next season, but when you combine Bill James’ K and BB projections with the September numbers, you can see that the wOBA of .282 might actually be on the conservative side.

    Combine all that with Crawford’s youth and potential upside, I really think the best course for the Giants to take is to hand him the job and go with it.

    • You make good points, though I disagree with the notion that the estimate for Crawford is conservative. I think his BB/K ratio is bound to regress, and his stats in Fresno were awful (.618 OPS in 118 PAs). I would not be the least bit surprised if he fails to achieve a .280+ wOBA.

      On a similar note, it’s becoming more evident that he’s probably the best option (considering price). But all of his value is invested in his D, and that’s a risky game. You cite a 500-inning sample of UZR, but FRAA had him at neutral fielding value (and actually as a sub-replacement level player). I’m fine with giving Crawford the starting job at this point (he’s probably capable of 1 WAR), I guess, but I think the Giants need a decent backup plan. If Crawford’s defensive skills don’t actually translate (i.e. he doesn’t save 5 to 10 runs with his glove), he’s pretty value-less.

      • I’m not at all sure where you get a statement like his BB/K are “bound to regress.” He’s a young player. Young players tend to get better as they get more experience.

        There are some UZR’s that don’t pass the “smell test” as you look at those players play and they just don’t seem to be as good as their UZR and vice versa. With Crawford, I think most of us were pretty impressed by what we saw of his defense last year. All his scouting reports have said he was ready to play the position on defense, the only question being his bat. Again, I don’t get all the angst about his defense either.

      • Young players tend to get better with experience, yes. Brandon Crawford had a 0.74 BB/K in ~200 PAs this year. He has a 0.36 BB/K in ~1100 career minor-league PA. I don’t see why the 200 PAs say more about his true-talent level than the much worse BB/K numbers in the minors (mostly A+ and AA). Even if we assume he gets better, it’s a stretch — in my opinion — to think that he’s capable of maintaining such good plate discipline numbers over a full season.

        I can certainly see why you believe that — I understand where you’re coming from; but as much as I’d like to think his plate discipline is actually this good, I just can’t come to believe that. Even assuming that he’s improved significantly, I’d say it’s highly probable that his BB/K numbers regress.

        Let’s see how this all plays out, and man, I hope you’re right.

      • Why should Crawford’s defense be anything above average for an ML SS? He does not possess exceptional range. His arm is strong, but not other worldly. He lacks experience to have finely honed instincts. He does have that video with the array of glove flips though. All in all, his defense should be about league average for a major league shortstop provided he fields balls in his zone and makes accurate throws.

        His offense should be below league average for a SS. If he hit at Ronny Cedeno or Alex Gonzalez levels, he’d be below average and probably max out at 2 WAR with a .282 wOBA.

        Jimmy Rollins is probably worth 2 WAR above Crawford for at least the next 2 years. So Jimmy Rollins for around 11mil per year probably makes sense.

      • Yes, but with many caveats. It’s a decent metric, but is inherently prone to biases (because of the subjective data that it uses), and large samples are needed for one to come to a reasonable conclusion about a player’s true talent level.

        I prefer FRAA, which does not depend on subjective data.

  6. Panda’s gonna have a breakout year. WOW!!!!!!! The guy was barely making it last season, and Bill projects him as a .311/25HR guy. I see Posey raking up more than 19HR than Sandoval posting a .311 BA

  7. Pingback: 2012 Giants ZiPS Projections ยป Giants Nirvana | SF Giants Blog

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