Thursday, June 21, 2007

Overachieving Tigers

After scoring 32 runs in a three game sweep of the Nationals, the Tigers now lead the league in runs with 439 in 71 games (6.18 runs per game) which puts them on a pace to score about 1,000 runs for the season. This would be an all-time Tigers record and would be one of the highest run totals in Major League history. Before the season started, I predicted that they would score about 820 runs and I was being more optimistic than some of the most popular projection systems. So, today I'm going to re-vist the projections for individual players and see just how much players are overperforming their projections.

The Table below compares the pre-season projections for OPS with the actual OPS after 71 games. I have two projection columns. The first column (Science) is the average projection from 5 popular projection systems:
If you want to see the projections for other stats (BA,OBP,SLG), they can be found in an earlier article.

Column 2 (Tiger Tales) is the projection from my season preview. Column 3 (Reality) is the real OPS figure after 71 games. Finally, column 4 (Diff) is the difference between my projection and reality.

Table: Pre-season Projected OPS Versus Real OPS (after 71 games)



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The following players are overperforming their projections by at least 50 points: Curtis Granderson (+101), Placido Polanco (+50), Gary Sheffield (+73), Magglio Ordonez (+299!) and Carlos Guillen (.073). It's not too often you see the top five players in a line-up blowing away reasonable pre-season projections like that. If I had used the scientific projections, the differences would have been even bigger.

Not everyone is overperforming though. Craig Monroe (-.066), Marcus Thames (-.060) and Sean Casey (-.036) are not hitting as well as expected. Still, there are more players exceeding expectations and by larger amounts than players failing to meet expectations. This would suggest that there will be somewhat of a drop off in production as the season goes along.

Now, I don't expect Ordonez to finish with an OPS of .823 but maintaining his 1.122 pace also seems unrealistic. Similarly, I think we can expect Granderson, Polanco and Guillen to fall back a bit closer to their projections. I'm going to say that Sheffield will defeat his increasing age and keep it up. He has shown in the past that a mid .900s OPS is something he can do routinely when healthy. Some players such as Monroe and Thames are likely to improve but I'm expecting more drops than gains the rest of the way.

So what does this mean as a team? Well, I'm pretty sure my pre-season prediction of 820 runs is going to be way off but I don't think they'll score 1,000 runs either. 900+ runs looks like a good bet and that would either lead the majors or be very close.

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