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.

News and Notes: Gold Glove Awards, Elias Rankings

2011 Season in Review: Pablo Sandoval

Year   Age  Tm Lg   G  PA  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
2011    24 SFG NL 117 466 426 55 134 26  3 23 32 63 .315 .357 .552 .909  153

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/20/2011.

I’ll be brief, because I already somewhat reviewed Pablo Sandoval’s season; but for the purpose of completeness (as I attempt to tackle roughly 40 player reviews), and because I really enjoyed watching Pablo this season, I’ll dedicate a few more words to him.

The gist of the aforementioned post:

  • Sandoval was stellar on offense, perhaps the only Giants player for whom that can be said.
  • Sandoval was stellar on defense as well, which came as a very pleasant surprise.
  • For these reasons, Sandoval was (pretty much undoubtedly) the Giants’ most valuable player this season.

There’s something I’d like to add though, something that I don’t think I’ve emphasized enough. Pablo Sandoval is 25 years old, and he just turned 25 in August. This means, technically, that 2011 qualifies as his “age-24 season.” And this is what really makes Sandoval special: before turning 25, he’s already notched a couple fantastic seasons under his belt.

To illustrate this…

Giants players with at least two seasons of 4+ rWAR before turning 25:

Rk Yrs From To Age
1 Mel Ott 5 1929 1933 20-24 Ind. Seasons
2 Travis Jackson 3 1926 1928 22-24 Ind. Seasons
3 Frankie Frisch 3 1921 1923 22-24 Ind. Seasons
4 Ross Youngs 3 1919 1921 22-24 Ind. Seasons
5 Pablo Sandoval 2 2009 2011 22-24 Ind. Seasons
6 Will Clark 2 1987 1988 23-24 Ind. Seasons
7 Jack Clark 2 1978 1980 22-24 Ind. Seasons
8 Bobby Bonds 2 1969 1970 23-24 Ind. Seasons
9 Jim Ray Hart 2 1964 1966 22-24 Ind. Seasons
10 Orlando Cepeda 2 1960 1961 22-23 Ind. Seasons
11 Willie Mays 2 1954 1955 23-24 Ind. Seasons
12 Freddie Lindstrom 2 1928 1930 22-24 Ind. Seasons
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/20/2011.

 

And third basemen with at least two seasons of 4+ rWAR before turning 25:

Rk Yrs From To Age
1 Eddie Mathews 4 1953 1956 21-24 Ind. Seasons
2 David Wright 3 2005 2007 22-24 Ind. Seasons
3 Scott Rolen 3 1997 1999 22-24 Ind. Seasons
4 George Brett 3 1975 1977 22-24 Ind. Seasons
5 Dick Allen 3 1964 1966 22-24 Ind. Seasons
6 Pablo Sandoval 2 2009 2011 22-24 Ind. Seasons
7 Evan Longoria 2 2009 2010 23-24 Ind. Seasons
8 Troy Glaus 2 2000 2001 23-24 Ind. Seasons
9 Robin Ventura 2 1991 1992 23-24 Ind. Seasons
10 Jim Ray Hart 2 1964 1966 22-24 Ind. Seasons
11 Ron Santo 2 1963 1964 23-24 Ind. Seasons
12 George Kell 2 1946 1947 23-24 Ind. Seasons
13 Harlond Clift 2 1936 1937 23-24 Ind. Seasons
14 Freddie Lindstrom 2 1928 1930 22-24 Ind. Seasons
15 Rogers Hornsby 2 1916 1919 20-23 Ind. Seasons
16 Home Run Baker 2 1909 1910 23-24 Ind. Seasons
17 Bill Bradley 2 1901 1902 23-24 Ind. Seasons
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/20/2011.

 

It’s pretty rare, and it’s something that should be recognized in Sandoval. He’s in company with quite a few remarkable players.

I’ll preface this by noting that all players age differently, but it’s pretty nice to see that Sandoval’s career path is starting to look like that of some of the very good third basemen in recent MLB history…

Source: FanGraphsTroy Glaus, Robin Ventura, Edgardo Alfonzo

He’s oft-scrutinized (whether it be for his weight, his plate discipline, etc.), but he’s done mighty fine things thus far, and he was the only consistent performer at the plate for the Giants in 2011. I’d love to see him take home a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove award for his efforts, and furthermore, I can’t wait to watch him continue to blossom as a ballplayer. He’s extremely talented.

Thank you, Pablo Sandoval

Earlier today, I posted the October roundtable. The first question was pretty straight-forward: Who’s your 2011 Giants MVP?

…and the answer was unanimous: Pablo Sandoval. He was the obvious choice.

Entering the 2010 season, he was just 23 years old, and a career .333/.381/.543 hitter. Expectations were understandably high. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he fell off a cliff (figuratively speaking, of course). He had noticeably gained weight, and his performance had dropped off considerably.

It wasn’t entirely sudden — Sandoval had gotten off to a hot start in April, posting an OPS north of 1.000…but over the next five months, a heftier Sandoval proceeded to hit .250/.303/.378 while looking completely inept with the glove at third. Countless theories were posited: Sandoval was too fat to play well; his poor plate discipline had finally caught up to him; his divorce and other off-the-field issues were affecting him….the list goes on.

By the end of the season, Sandoval had sort of been tossed aside. It was as though the Giants had won the 2010 World Series in spite of Sandoval.

I tried to maintain hope though. I figured that: a) he was due for some inevitable positive regression; and b) the threat of being sent to Triple-A would be all the motivation needed to get him in condition. After hearing of his successful offseason conditioning, I was quite pleased, and pretty much assumed that he would be the same player going forward as he was in 2009.

He was even better though.

On offense, he was more-or-less a replica of that ’09 Sandoval. A little more power, slightly fewer walks, a lower batting average on balls in play — though all in a decreased run environment. Overall, he posted a 142 wRC+, just a few points off the mark (145 wRC+) he had posted a couple years prior. Among third-basemen in the majors with at least 450 plate appearances, not one hit better than the Panda.

On defense, though, the improvement was astounding. By Ultimate Zone Rating, he saved +12.3 runs with the glove this year, roughly a 12-run improvement from the previous year. By Defensive Runs Saved, he was worth +22 runs at third, roughly a 20-run improvement from the previous year. And Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA) had him at +8.0 runs, a 14-run improvement on defense. He certainly passed the eye test too, displaying noticeable progress at third base — especially with regards to his range. He played Gold Glove caliber defense all season long.

In total, he racked up 5.5 wins above replacement. Despite missing 45 games due to injury, he was the Giants’ best position player by far. Aubrey Huff and Andres Torres took nosedives, Buster Posey was injured in that awful collision, and Carlos Beltran, of course, didn’t arrive until July. Amid the trainwreck that was the Giants’ daily lineup card, Sandoval was the only bright spot.

So here’s my appreciation. Thank you, Pablo Sandoval. On a team that displayed historical incompetence when it came to scoring runs, you were the only constant driving force. I can’t even begin to imagine how awful this offense would have been without you.

Splash Hits: Brandon Belt, Aubrey Huff, Prospects

Giants

Brandon Belt and Summer School – McCovey Chronicles
On Brandon Belt playing winter ball.

Shopping list (and predictions) for next year’s team « Bay City Ball | Giants Baseball with a Side of STATS!
BCB’s offseason shopping list.

Mike Krukow Says Giants Clubhouse Turned On Aubrey Huff – Frisco Fastball – A San Francisco Giants Blog
On the Murph & Mac Show (KNBR), Mike Krukow recently said that Aubrey Huff lost a lot of credibility in the clubhouse this season for his offseason conditioning.

The Five Longest Giants Home Runs of the Season – McCovey Chronicles
Along with video, a list of the five longest Giants home runs of 2011. Spoiler alert: Pablo Sandoval is good.

Four Giants Among Cal League Top Prospects | San Jose Giants News
Four San Jose Giants were recognized among the top 20 prospects in the California League by Baseball America last week. Gary Brown was rated the third-best prospect in the league by the publication while Zack Wheeler (#4), Tommy Joseph (#11) and Chris Dominguez (#17) also received mention on the list.

The time I was Brian Wilson’s stand-in » Bay Area Sports Guy
Another interesting story from BASG.

15,000 days since a rare Marichal feat | The Hardball Times
A look back at Marichal’s 200th win.

MLB

When You Should Ignore the Data | FanGraphs Baseball
The meaninglessness of batter v. pitcher splits.

Introducing Weighted Pythagorean Winning Percentage | Getting Blanked | Blogs | theScore.com
The Giants had a weighted Pythagorean record of 73-89 in 2011. Yikes.

Joe Blogs: Verlander and Narratives
Another fantastic Joe Posnanski post.

Baseball Prospectus | Manufactured Runs: The O-Swing of Things
Rolling out new PITCHf/x stats as a taste of things to come

How to Scout First-baseman – Beyond the Box Score
Dave Gershman continues his excellent series on scouting players.

Jon Heyman’s Airline Tweets | NotGraphs Baseball
Jon Heyman’s airline complaints.

Game Recap: Matt Kemp should be the 2011 NL MVP

Dodgers 8, Giants 2.

Last year, Pablo Sandoval and Matt Kemp combined for 2.0 fWAR. The duo, the two of them, had the combined output of an average major-league player. Needless to say, they were disappointing last year.

This year, it’s been a different case. Both have had fantastic resurgences, highlighted by tonight’s performances: the two combined for seven hits, five of them going for extra bases.

Last night, I wrote that I’m pretty adamant about Matt Kemp for NL MVP. Tonight came confirmation: three doubles and a home run from the guy who’s leading the National League in fWAR. He becomes the tenth player of all time to collect 4+ extra-base hits in a game against the Giants.

And then there’s Pablo Sandoval. What a season he’s had. Excellent defense at third base, paired with excellent hitting. Tonight, he collected three hits, accounting for half of the Giants’ total in this game (one of ‘em was a solo shot). He’s been the best player on the team by far, and should win the 3B gold glove and silver slugger. He’s the youngest Giants hitter to rack up 5+ rWAR in a single season since Will Clark, more than 20 years ago. I still hear talk about how he needs to lose some more weight, swing at fewer pitches out of the strike zone, blah blah blah. Whatever. His approach works. He’s played all-star caliber baseball all season long, and he’s actually maintained an above-average BB/K (0.52). It’s time people appreciated his resurgence, for he’s had quite the magnificent season.

Game Recap: Clayton Kershaw does Clayton Kershaw things

Dodgers 2, Giants 1.

Same old story. This time, Kershaw kept the Giants to one run over 7.1 innings — his lone mistake a home run to Chris Stewart (you really can’t predict baseball). It was the first homer he’d allowed to a Giant this season (in five starts).

The Giants also got a taste of Kenley Jansenwho’s been doing pretty amazing things this season — in the top of the eighth; he struck out the two hitters he faced — Pablo Sandoval and Carlos Beltran — on seven pitches.

Javy Guerra is a right-handed pitcher. He threw the entire ninth inning for the Giants, and faced two right-handed hitters — Mark DeRosa and Brett Pill — followed by Aubrey Huff. Brandon Belt, who’s homered in three straight games, sat on the bench the whole time. I mean, I can understand not putting him in the lineup against Kershaw. That’s defensible. But to have Pill and DeRosa face a righty, over Belt, and then to have Huff pinch hit for Orlando Cabrera — over Belt……enough is enough.

Well, the season’s almost over. The Giants have eight games left. If they win every single one of those games, they’ll finish the season at 91 wins. The DBacks, currently at 89 wins, have seven games left. It’s simple math — barring some kind of miraculous come back, Arizona will win the NL West. With the wild card, it’s closer…yet pretty much the same story. The Braves are at 88 wins, with seven games left.

Splash Hits: Cody Ross, Pablo Sandoval, Larry Baer

Giants

An argument for Cody Ross – McCovey Chronicles
Why the San Francisco Giants should sign Cody Ross.

Panda’s (Historically?) Big Boned Cycle | FanGraphs Baseball
Less than a year ago, Sandoval was getting benched in the playoffs for the likes of Juan Uribe and Zombie Edgar Renteria less than a year ago. Today, he is the most voluptuous guy to hit for the cycle in at least 37 years.

Larry Baer: Giants’ mission won’t change much
This week’s KNBR Conversation was conducted between Brian Murphy, Paul McCaffrey and the Giants’ Larry Baer. It has been edited for length.

Lefty Malo – The Perhaps-Not-So-Difficult Andres Torres Decision
If Torres has indeed reverted back to pumpkinhood — a backup outfielder used almost exclusively for late-game D and pinch-running — he can still earn his keep.

A Suggestion For Dumping Chone Figgins | U.S.S. Mariner
My guess is that’s exactly what the M’s will try to do with Figgins this winter, and in that vein, I’d like to offer up a suggestion on one particular team to call – the San Francisco Giants.

MLB

MLB Looks at Europe as Newest Source of Baseball Talent – MLB Daily Dish
Europe certainly produces premier athletes as we can see on the basketball court and the soccer pitch, but when will we see their athletes make an impact on the baseball diamond?

Explaining OFP in scouting – SweetSpot Blog – ESPN
A scout compiles OFP by adding up all five future tool grades (hitting, power, speed, throwing and fielding), and then dividing that total by five. Scouts can then adjust the OFP by ten or so points if they please.

The Platoon Advantage: Naive PLAYOFFS+ MVP awards since 1995
A look at how PLAYOFFS+ correlates with actual MVP voting.

A Quick Look at the Toughest Batters Using Pitch Values – Beyond the Box Score
To that end I took a look at the accrued pitch value numbers for all batters with 1,000 plate appearances or more from 2008 – 11. I decided to focus on how they fared against fastballs, sliders, curve balls, and change ups since these are the major repertoire’s of most big league pitchers.

All-time NL Hispanic greats – SweetSpot Blog – ESPN
Yesterday, in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, we talked about one person’s list — mine alone — for the AL team’s all-time greats of Hispanic heritage, so naturally enough, let’s turn to the senior circuit and look at the best of the National League’s teams.

The Week That Was: Bill Neukom retires

They do something similar to this over at MLB Daily Dish, and since it was a busy week at the blog (and with the Giants, for that matter), I figured I’d take a brief look back at what happened this week (well, a little more than a week, to be exact):

Thanks for reading!

Game Recap: Pablo Sandoval hits for the cycle

Giants 8, Rockies 5.

The story tonight was Pablo Sandoval, who became the first Giant to hit for the cycle since Fred Lewis. Via Baggs, it’s the tenth in San Francisco Giants history (25th in franchise history), and he’s just the second player to do it this season (joining George Kottaras of the Milwaukee Brewers). Sandoval’s been very hot lately — he was riding an eight-game hitting streak until yesterday, and he picked things right back up again tonight. Overall, he’s got 17 hits in his last 38 at-bats with nine of them going for extra bases. To re-affirm what I said the other day about his supposed weight gain: I’m not too concerned.

While we’re on the subject of unlikely occurrences, the Giants scored eight runs. Again. This is the third time in the last five games. According to STATS LLC, they had reached the eight-run mark three times in their previous 89 games.

Unsurprsingly, this new-found (and hopefully not short-lived) ability to score runs has yielded success for the Giants of late: they’ve got a five-game win streak going, and have worked their way up to six games back in the wild card race, and seven games back in the NL West. They have just 12 games left, so all they can do at this point is keep winning games and hope Atlanta or Arizona has some kind of massive collapse. In any event, it’s awesome to see this team playing well.

Lastly — while we’re on the topic of awesome things, here are my obligatory short daily musings on Brandon Belt: it’s very nice to see him knock one out — even if it took him five at-bats (including two strikeouts). This is why I want to see him in the lineup every day. The Giants really have nothing to lose putting him out there, and these are valuable at-bats. If he’s getting playing time on a daily basis, hopefully he’ll get a chance to work through his struggles…because when he does overcome them, he’s going to be doing special things with the bat. We’ve seen glimpses of that, and tonight’s home run off Matt Reynolds was just an example.