Thursday, May 18, 2006

Overachieving Tigers

Before the season started, I took forecasts from three popular projection systems listed below:

I entered projections from these three systems into a spreadsheet and calculated the averages for Tiger hitters and pitchers. With the season a quarter of the way done and the Tigers roaring along with a 27-13 record, I thought it would be a good time to compare the current performances of Tiger players to the pre-season projections. To keep it simple, I used OPS for hitters and ERA for pitchers. The results are tabulated in the tables below. Here are the highlights:


  • Magglio Ordonez (+.067), Carlos Guillen (+.150), Chris Shelton (+.121) , Brandon Inge (+.119) and Marcus Thames (+.157) are all performing well above their projected OPS.
  • Placido Polanco (-.165), Craig Monroe (-.057) and Dmitri Young (-.327) are significantly below the projected OPS.
  • Curtis Granderson and Ivan Rodriguez are both pretty close to their projections.
  • Kenny Rogers (-1.62), Nate Robertson (-1.00), Mike Maroth (-2.50), Justin Verlander (-0.80), Fernando Rodney (-2.10), Joel Zumaya (-2.33) and Jamie Walker (-3.09) are all performing substantially better than their projected ERA.
  • Jeremy Bonderman (-0.34) and Todd Jones (-0.07) are both close to their projected ERAs.

There are more players (especially pitchers) overachieving than underachieving which explains why they are 27-13. This, of course, is a great result in retrospect. Looking ahead, it can be viewed as a good thing or a bad thing. The positive difference between projected and actual stats could mean that players are actually better than their statistical expectations and will continue to perform at the same level. Conversely, it could mean that they are off to flukey starts and will regress back towards their projection as the season moves along.


My guess is that the statistical expectations of Guillen and Ordonez were tempered by their injury history and that they will continue to perform at a high level if they stay healthy. On the other hand, I expect Shelton and Inge to drop back a bit but maybe not all the way back to their projections. Polanco and Monroe will likely improve.



Pitchers are always more difficult to figure out than hitters but so many pitchers are so wildly overachieving that I have to believe that a few of them will regress towards their projections. I believe the Tiger success this year will depend upon just how far the pitchers slip back.


Table 1: Projected OPS Versus 40 Game OPS


Player

Proj. OPS

40 Game OPS

Actual-Proj

Granderson

0.808

0.802

-0.006

Polanco

0.798

0.633

-0.165

Rodriguez

0.784

0.759

-0.025

Ordonez

0.841

0.908

+0.067

Guillen

0.812

0.962

+0.150

Shelton

0.873

0.994

+0.121

Monroe

0.792

0.735

-0.057

Inge

0.731

0.85

+0.119

Thames

0.795

0.952

+0.157

Young

0.813

0.486

-0.327


Table 2: Projected ERA Versus 40 Game ERA


Player

Proj. ERA

40 Game ERA

Actual-Proj

Rogers

4.53

2.91

-1.62

Bonderman

4.08

3.74

-0.34

Robertson

4.50

3.50

-1.00

Maroth

4.68

2.18

-2.50

Verlander

3.98

3.18

-0.80

Jones

4.12

4.05

-0.07

Rodney

3.60

1.50

-2.10

Zumaya

4.78

2.45

-2.33

Walker

4.13

1.04

-3.09

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