Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How Many Runs Will The Tigers Score in 2014?

 How many runs will Nick Castellanos add to the Tigers in 2014?
(Photo Credit: HardballTalk)

Earlier today, I decided it was time to predict the Tigers runs scored total for 2014.  So, I looked back at what I did last year and was surprised at how close I came to their actual run total.  I guessed that they would score 800 runs and they ended up scoring 796, so I was off by just four runs!  I'm not always that lucky, but it convinced me that I should use the same method this year.

The Weighted Runs Created (wRC) statistic at FanGraphs is useful for this kind of exercise because a team's wRC total usually falls fairly close to its run scored total.  The Tigers combined for 838 wRC in 2013 which was 5% more than their actual runs scored, which is a little more than most teams.  What does that tell us about the Tigers?  It suggests that they did not make the most out of their hits and walks and failed to scored as many runs as they should have.

One reason the Tigers undershot their wRC total was that they cost themselves an estimated 20 runs with base running compared to an average team.  Subtracting those 20 runs from 838 yields 818 which is within 3% of their actual run total.   Another factor was unusually poor production with the bases loaded as they batted just .267 (ninth in the AL) in those situations versus a league average of .271. 

Because wRC correlates closely with runs scored, it is also helpful in projecting future offensive production.   Table 1 below lists the Tigers most likely players in 2014 and their estimated plate appearances (PA).  In the next column  is the three-year average of wRC adjusted for expected PA.  For example, Cabrera had 424 wRC in 2,037 PA over 2011-2013 which comes out to .203 Runs Created Per PA.  Multiplying .208 times 675 PA (his projected PA for 2014) yields his three-year average of 140.

The final column of the table is my forecast for wRC in 2014.  In all cases, it is fairly close to the three-year average, but I make adjustments if I think a player will improve or regress this year.  I don't expect any players to get significantly better this year, but some probably won't do as well for various reasons.

I'm guessing that new second baseman Ian Kinsler will drop off some due to advancing age and a less friendly hitting environment in Comerica versus Arlington.  The lower totals for right fielder Torii Hunter and designated hitter Victor Martinez are also age related.

The biggest wildcard is rookie third baseman Nick Castellanos who has no track record in the majors.  I'm pegging him for 60 runs created which is close to what some projection systems such as Steamer are estimating.

Aggregating all the wRC yields 760 for the team. Remember though that they scored 42 fewer runs last year than they "created".  Will that happen again in 2014?  The subtraction of Prince Fielder and Jhonny Peralta and additions of Kinsler and outfielder Rajai Davis should be enough to erase the 20-run base running deficit.  Additionally, the problem hitting with the bases loaded is probably a fluke that will straighten itself out. Based on that, I'll predict 760 runs in 2014 assuming no major changes or injuries before opening day,.

The 760 total would be 36 runs less than the 796 they a scored in 2013, but you have to expect that with the losses of Fielder and Peralta.  Base running will make up for some of the loss in power, but not all of it. They should still have a better than average offensive team though to go along with a fantastic starting rotation and improved defense. 
   
Table 1: Tigers Projected Runs in 2014

Player
PA
Runs Created
3-Yr Avg*
2014
Proj
Avila
425
58
55
Cabrera
675
141
140
Kinsler
650
87
75
Iglesias
500
52
50
Castellanos
450
--
60
Dirks
425
51
50
Jackson
625
80
80
Hunter
600
82
70
Martinez
575
81
75
Davis
325
31
30
Lombardozzi
275
24
25
Holaday
225
--
20
Kelly
200
17
15
Others
250
19
15
Base Running/DP


0
Totals
6,200

760
 
*Adjusted for Expected PA in 2014
 

11 comments:

  1. I'd like to see a few hundred more. I think a modern baseball team built the right way can blow everybody else's number out of the water. This is going to be a very boring offensive season for me and not at all what I'm interested in. I'm tuning in for the pitching and hopefully to see some better baserunning and fielding, but I already know for a fact the offense is going to be supremely disappointing for me, although that shouldn't matter to most fans because I'm going to be the single most disappointed fan that there is.

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  2. Berdj Joseph RassamFebruary 12, 2014

    The Tigers have scored 700+ runs in each of the last 5 seasons, so seems like it'd be about right in total.

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  3. I'd like to hope that you're a bit short on Dirks, Avila, and especially Martinez, who you're looking at to drop off about 7 1/2 % from the 3 yr., which seems like a lot considering there is a good chance that he'll be hitting in a premium run-producing position in the order. I like your optimism regarding Castellanos, though.

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    Replies
    1. Tom, Avila's three-year average includes his amazing 2011 season which I don't think he will ever come close to matching. I think he'll be similar to what he was in 2012 which would be better than 2013. Martinez's three-year average includes his big 2011 season as well. So, the 7 1/2 % drop is not a 7 1/2% drop from what he did last year. I actually think he'll be pretty close to what he was last year. As for Dirks, I think he's a good role player, but I don't think he's going to get any better than what he is now. I think he and Davis will be a decent platoon.

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    2. I'm with Tiger Tom on VMart. He was coming off an injury last year and was wretched until the All Star break. That depressed in three year average to a point that I would expect him to at least match it this season.

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    3. Martinez got off to a very slow start last year, but his second half .913 OPS was higher than he's ever hit for a full season. I think he'll fall between those two extremes. I'm actually predicting that he'll exceed his 2013 rates by a little, but notice that the projected PA total is lower than last year. He played 159 games in 2013 which is going to be difficult to repeat at age 35 with his knees. Thus, the lower Runs Created.

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  4. The Tigers played a lot of 2-out innings on offense last year, not only because of all the guys tossed out on the base paths (and general inefficiency of moving runners along), but the high number of GDP as well. Big rallies get nipped in the bud with that kind of stuff going on. I may be overly optimistic, but it seems that if they can reduce the number of rally-killers they may do better than your predictions of 760, although hitting the 800 mark is probably too much to expect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are correct about the double plays. Those have hurt them the past couple of years and I tried to factor that in as part of the base running. The Tigers will be helped by better base running this year, but they still have some slow guys in their line-up. I think the only way they will approach 800 runs again is if someone has an unexpectedly big year offensively.

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    2. Lee, do you think Dirks's metrics might skew a bit more since he will probably be matched up almost always versus righties, and his line looks a lot better there than versus lefties? I think (hope) that the two-headed monster (once again, hope) of Dirks/Davis will put up a lot more runs than the Dirks/EveryoneElse one did last year.

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    3. yes, I think his rate stats will be better hitting in a platoon. They used to do a lot more platooning in the old days before they had 12-man pitching staffs and were able to carry more bench players. I miss that.

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    4. I wouldn't mind seeing a Designated Fielder role. Could be neat that young kids who can't hit could potentially try and develop a professional baseball fielding career, or other types of specialty roles. Just to broaden the horizons and scope of the impact of the sport and add one more wrinkle or dimension to how it can absorb more talent and interest.

      Delete

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