Sunday, February 16, 2014

How Many Runs Will the Tigers Pitching Staff Allow in 2014


 The Tigers are counting on left hander Drew Smyly to replace Doug Fister in the rotation in 2014
(Photo credit: Roger Dewitt)

Now that I have projected the Tigers runs scored total for 2014, the next step is to estimate how many runs they will give up.  Run prevention is more difficult to project because pitcher's arms are so fragile and their performance so volatile, but I'll do my best.

The Tigers allowed 624 runs in 2013, the second lowest total in the American League, despite having one of the most porous defensive teams in the league.  Their defense cost them an estimated 64 runs according to the Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) statistic. They were able to overcome their fielding deficiencies thanks to excellent pitching as their 3.27 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) was almost a half of a run better than any team in the league.

The addition of shortstop Jose Iglesias, subtractions of Prince Fielder and Jhonny Peralta and move of Miguel Cabrera to first base should improve their infield defense.  They have a strikeout-heavy staff which relies less on defense than most teams, but sinker baller Rick Porcello is one pitcher who could benefit significantly.  On the negative side, they have lost right hander Doug Fister who was traded to the Nationals.  Southpaw Drew Smyly is ready to step into the rotation, but is unlikely to come close to matching Fister's 208 innings. 

Now for the projection.  First, I estimate the innings pitched in 2014 for their five current starters and key bullpen pieces (Table 1).  In order to forecast runs allowed, I used three-year averages on three measures from 2011-2013 all adjusted for projected innings this year:
  • Runs Allowed.
  • Base Runs - estimate of what runs allowed should have been based on base runners, total bases and home runs.
For example, Anibal Sanchez allowed an average of 78 runs per 190 innings (his projected 2014 total) from 2011-2013.  He also had 80 Base Runs and 73 FIP Runs.  The average of the three numbers above (78, 80, 73) is 77.  Since I expect more of the same from Sanchez, I'm estimating 77 runs allowed in 2013.

I project the rest of the pitchers similarly moving them up or down slightly from their three-year averages if I think they are going to get better or worse this year.  In particular, I'm guessing that Porcello will improve a little with better infield defense.  On the other hand, I think Smyly will be somewhat less effective pitching more innings as a starter this year.  Including 120 runs allowed in 200 innings for the "others" (just under 5.00 ERA), the aggregate is 640 runs allowed. 

My estimates of 760 runs scored and 640 allowed yields a differential of 120 or 12 wins above .500.  Thus, my early call for the season is a 93-69, which would match last year's record.  I'll check back again after things get sorted out more in spring training. 

Table 1: Projected Runs Allowed for Tigers Pitching Staff in 2014



Three-year Average 2011-2013*

Pitcher
Proj IP
RA
BSR
FIP Runs
Comb
Proj RA
Justin Verlander
220
77
77
76
77
77
Max Scherzer
200
86
86
76
83
83
Anibal Sanchez
190
78
80
73
77
77
Rick Porcello
175
95
91
75
87
82
Drew Smyly
140
55
58
50
54
60
Joe Nathan
65
22
21
21
22
24
Bruce Rondon
50
20
24
18
21
21
Joba Chamberlain
50
24
28
26
26
26
Al Alburquerque
40
13
12
13
13
15
Luke Putkonen
40
16
19
17
17
17
Ian Krol
35
15
19
19
18
18
Phil Coke
35
20
19
14
18
20
Other
200
--
--
--

120
Total
1,440




640

*Adjusted for projected innings in 2014

4 comments:

  1. Just out of curiosity how did you project the number of total innings to be 1,440? It strikes me as a tad low and below average. If you picked a higher number such as 1,460 and put that under "other" then that would make a 12 run difference, so maybe to be conservative we should put them down for 92 wins.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I picked 1,440 because that's what I used last year. The average is around 1,150, so I guess I could have used that. I could put the extra ten innings into "other" or I could give them to someone else like Smyly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe tack them on to Scherzer, if the contract talks don't go well then get the most out of him before he moves on! :) I guess it's fair to say those unknowns could neutrally balance out. Ok 92.5 wins, Selig will rule one game a tie when the new replay system malfunctions.... "Well technically the rules say on a challenge we must go through replay protocol before the game can resume so I'm forced to call the game a stalemate, just nothing we can do about that."

      Delete
    2. I just looked at it as thinking it's simpler to just use 9 x 162 for 1458. That way if you pitch the exact innings you are required then any extra innings above that would likely be a good problem to have and more negligible one, and if you had a bunch of innings you didn't need from being ahead well that inning isn't happening to affect the rate. It would be ideal to know what the average rates are of runs given up in extra innings to know if 1458 is the break-even spot for determining at what point to start where the average consensus that hitting the "over" of that starting number is a neutral advantage or disadvantage.

      The best projection with this kind of formula using rates combined with inning counts is going to have maximum integrity as you minimize how far off you are in the innings count, so I think going below or above an average is not a favorable probability to want to take on. The average of all teams last year was 1454, so obviously one would have to decide on how you determine what is the best exact number to call the average and to use that one, but that of course could change over time or depending on refined perspectives.

      Delete

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