Friday, March 14, 2008

Batting Projections for 2008

As many of you know, I've been collecting community projections for the Tigers starting line-up in 2008. The purpose was to see how fan projections compare to some of the popular computer forecasts. In theory, knowledgeable Tigers fans should have an advantage over scientific projections because they know more about who is coming off an injury, who has spent the winter getting into better condition, what the starting line-up will be, etc. On the flip side, fans are emotional and that could potentially bias their projections.

I asked fans here and at Motown Sports to give their best guesses at the 2008 statistics of all the starters including the potential platoon in left field. I then aggregated the results to get a community projection for each player. They can be seen below along side five computer projections for each player. The five systems and their inventors are listed below:
The 2008 projections for all players based on each of these systems can be found at Fan Graphs
You will see all of them right away except BJHB. Those can be found on the individual player pages under season stats. The Baseball Prospectus PECOTA projections (the most sophisticated of the scientific systems) are not shown because they are premium content. However, they should be available after the season when I compare the results.

Note that the sample size (N) of fan voters ranges from 14 to 39. This is because I asked for projections for two players each week and fan participation varied from week to week. Not surprisingly, the Tigers fans tended to be more optimistic than the computers. A lot of that is likely bias but but I also feel as some of it is justified as some of the computer forecasts seem a bit too negative this year. The MINER system, in particular , paints a surprisingly bleak picture for the Tigers line-up. The most generous of the scientific sytems was the Bill James Handbook system. Player by player fan and computer comparisons along with my comments are shown below.

Curtis Granderson

System

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

HR

RBI

Fans (N=23)

600

.300

.364

.546

.910

25

81

ZIPS

608

.278

.345

.475

.820

21

87

Chone

575

.277

.345

.475

.820

20

75

Marcel

542

.284

.349

.494

.843

19

66

BJHB

568

.294

.359

.523

.882

22

72

MINER

593

.268

.329

.467

.796

21

74


The fans are much more optimistic about Granderson than most other systems. The computer pessimism is understandable because Granderson had such a such a big and unexpected improvement last year, struggles mightily against lefties and has trouble making consistent contact. Part of the fan optimism might be his popularity but they also are aware that he has exceeded expectations every step of the way and that he has a propensity to correct his shortcomings. I'm not usually big on intangibles but I'm siding with the fans on this one. The BJHB projection also looks reasonable.

Placido Polanco

System

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

HR

RBI

Fans (N=20)

573

.321

.372

.423

.795

8

66

ZIPS

499

.317

.407

.358

.765

7

61

Chone

530

.309

.360

.415

.775

8

58

Marcel

570

.313

.360

.420

.780

8

60

BJHB

574

.312

.360

.423

.783

10

62

MINER

506

.308

.350

.393

.743

6

50


Even the fan community expects a regression for Polanco who batted a career .341 and had an OBP of .388 in 2007 (both career highs). There is not a lot of difference between the fans and most of the systems. I'll go with Marcel and BJHB which have almost identical identical projections.

Gary Sheffield

System

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

HR

RBI

Fans (N=16)

462

.292

.391

.503

.894

26

90

ZIPS

320

.269

.366

.438

.804

14

65

Chone

406

.268

.369

.456

.825

19

66

Marcel

443

.269

.361

.451

.812

20

72

BJHB

490

.280

.384

.488

.872

26

87

MINER

373

.260

.347

.424

.771

15

52

The fans are quite a bit more optimistic than the computers on Sheffield. This is probably because they know that he was playing through an injury in the second half last year, which is something for which the computers probably did not account. The fan rate stats (BA/OBP/SLG) look about right to me. However, I'm worried about his health at age 39 and I fear he may see a lot of time on the disabled list. ZIPS and MINER could be right about his at bat total.

Magglio Ordonez

System

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

HR

RBI

Fans (N=33)

566

.318

.393

.549

.942

27

124

ZIPS

476

.309

.366

.481

.847

17

91

Chone

568

.308

.378

.495

.873

23

99

Marcel

541

.316

.379

.505

.884

21

101

BJHB

580

.314

.383

.517

.900

25

111

MINER

530

.292

.355

.447

.802

18

85

Just as with Polanco, all systems show a regression for Ordonez from his amazing 2007 season. There is a lot of variation between systems - OPS ranges from .942 (fans) to .802 (MINER). I think reality will lie somewhere in between. Marcel or BJHB looks about right to me except that, given the line-up, the fans might be be right about the RBI.

Miguel Cabrera

System

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

HR

RBI

Fans (N=20)

583

.325

.409

.573

.982

34

129

ZIPS

601

.318

.407

.589

.996

33

122

Chone

567

.317

.395

.545

.940

29

109

Marcel

608

.328

.409

.558

.967

26

103

BJHB

606

.327

.411

.579

.990

35

128

MINER

606

.320

.404

.551

.955

31

118


There is not a great deal of disagreement between the systems on Cabrera as the OPS ranges from .996 (ZIPS) to .940 (Chone). I see no reason not to go with the most optimistic projection here.


Carlos Guillen

System

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

HR

RBI

Fans (N=14)

526

.301

.368

.495

.863

21

94

ZIPS

476

.296

.359

.471

.830

15

78

Chone

538

.294

.365

.472

.837

18

89

Marcel

516

.298

.364

.472

.836

18

89

BJHB

562

.297

.368

.466

.834

17

85

MINER

510

.284

.350

.433

.783

14

66


The fans again paint the rosiest picture for Guillen but most of the systems (except MINER) are reasonably close. Again, I'll go with the high end projection of the fans.

Edgar Renteria

System

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

HR

RBI

Fans (N=16)

551

.291

.349

.420

.769

11

68

ZIPS

547

.287

.349

.395

.744

10

62

Chone

517

.282

.342

.400

.742

10

64

Marcel

485

.295

.357

.425

.782

10

57

BJHB

589

.294

.357

.421

.778

12

74

MINER

510

.286

.349

.406

.755

10

52


There is very little variation between the systems on Renteria with OPS ranging from .742 (Chone) to to .782 (Marcel). It doesn't surprise me that the fans are not giving him the most favorable numbers here as the trade (somewhat surprisingly) has not been met especially warmly around the net. I will go with BJHB forecast.


Pudge Rodriguez

System

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

HR

RBI

Fans (N=39)

462

.284

.308

.430

.738

11

63

ZIPS

445

.276

.296

.400

.696

8

60

Chone

505

.267

.295

.402

.697

12

63

Marcel

490

.278

.305

.420

.725

12

58

BJHB

489

.284

.316

.431

.747

13

62

MINER

294

.248

.271

.350

.621

5

28


There is quite a bit of disagreement on Rodriguez as OPS ranges from .621 (MINER) to .747 (BJHB). I'll take the fans prediction here.

Jacque Jones

System

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

HR

RBI

Fans (N=19)

396

.276

.326

.441

.767

12

55

ZIPS

415

.267

.322

.390

.712

10

54

Chone

473

.260

.318

.402

.720

13

59

Marcel

459

.272

.330

.438

.768

15

66

BJHB

443

.278

.332

.433

.765

14

61

MINER

460

.265

.323

.411

.734

13

59


The community is giving fewer at bats to Jones than any other system. This is probably because they they think (hope?) that he will be platooned. Jim Leyland doesn't seem to be big on platooning but he was a lot of right-handed options so I think we'll see a platoon eventually take shape. The fan projection looks ok to me.


Marcus Thames

System

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

HR

RBI

Fans (N=14)

315

.259

.312

.503

.815

18

60

ZIPS

283

.261

.329

.534

.863

20

62

Chone

323

.257

.322

.498

.820

20

52

Marcel

346

.249

.311

.480

.791

20

59

BJHB

345

.267

.329

.545

.874

25

66

MINER

302

.245

.304

.474

.778

18

51


There seems to be a pattern here where the fans are more optimistic about the star players and less optimistic about the lesser players. Thames is no exception as some of the systems like him quite a bit more than the fans do. I think the fans have it about right here though.

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