Sunday, January 25, 2015

How Many Runs Will The Tigers Score in 2015?

How many runs will newcomer Yoenis Cespedes add to the Tigers offense in 2015?
(Photo credit: blog.sfgate.com)

Every year at about this time, I try to predict how many runs the Tigers will score in the upcoming season.  I'm not an expert in projections, and I have been off on some of the individual estimates, but I've been pretty good at projecting the Tigers team run totals the last two years:
  • In 2013, I guessed that they would score 800 runs and they ended up scoring 796, so I was off by just four runs.  
  • In 2014, I surmised that they would score 760 runs and they actually scored 757, so I was off by three runs!
Let's see if I can be so lucky again 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 768 wRC in 2014 which was just 11 more (or within 2%) of their actual runs scored.  So, runs created was a good approximation for them. 

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, first baseman Miguel Cabrera had 393 wRC in 2,034 PA over 2012-2014 which comes out to .193 Runs Created Per PA.  Multiplying .193 times 660 PA (his projected PA for 2015) yields his three-year average of 128 wRC.

The final column of the table is my forecast for wRC in 2015.  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. 

On the positive side, I expect 23-year old third baseman Nick Castellanos to do significantly better than his 2014 rookie season.  While I don't expect out fielder JD Martinez to do quite as well as his 2014 season, I do think some of his improvement last year was real and that he'll do better than his three-year average.  Thus, I give both players a boost in their final projected totals.

On the other hand, I'm guessing that three others will regress due to age and/or health.  While Cabrera may perform better than he did last year, I do not think that at age 32 coming off major surgery he will reach his fantastic three-year average.  I also believe that second baseman Ian Kinsler and designated hitter Victor Martinez will naturally drop off a bit due to age.  Martinez, in particular, can't be expected to match his 2014 career year.   

For players with limited track records such as catcher James McCann, infielder Hernan Perez and outfielder Tyler Collins, I am relying on projection systems such as ZIPS.

Aggregating all the wRC yields 770 for the team. The last parts of the equation are base running and double plays.  The Tigers were were a neutral base running team last year, but also finished third in the American League hitting into 137 double plays.  So, that's a net negative.  The additions of outfielders Anthony Gose and Yoenis Cespedes should help them make up some ground, but not a lot when you consider that they have lost Austin Jackson and Ezequiel Carrera and also Andrew Romine won't play as much.  Thus, I'll say that they will be neutral in baserunning/double plays.    

So, based on the above, I'll predict 770 runs in 2015 assuming no major changes or injuries before opening day.  That wouldn't be much different than the 657 runs they scored last year, but this should not be surprising since they didn't make a lot of moves to upgrade offensively.  Most of the improvement from position players should come defensively.  The bigger questions surround their pitching staff, but that is a subect for another day.  
    
Table 1: Tigers Projected Runs in 2015
Player
PA
Runs Created
3-Yr Avg*
2015
Proj
Avila
425
48
50
Cabrera
660
128
120
Kinsler
700
85
80
Iglesias
500
51
50
Castellanos
550
58
65
Cespedes
625
80
80
Gose
375
33
35
J. Martinez
600
76
85
V. Martinez
625
98
90
Davis
375
40
40
McCann
200
          --
20
Perez
175
          --
15
Collins
175
          --
20
Others
240
          --
20
Base Running/DP

0
Totals
6,200

770
*Adjusted for Expected PA in 2015

4 comments:

  1. How did you calculate improvement/regression?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I did not calculate the improvement/regression. It's part ZIPS/Steamer and part subjective.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Obviously, the Tigers will score exactly 768 runs this season. You were four runs too optimistic in '13 and three runs too optimistic last year. Clearly the long term trends are well established. You will be two runs too optimistic this year; I hope 768 is enough with our pitching! BTW, do you have any stock tips, Lee?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I await your estimation of how many runs the pitching staff/defense will give up this coming season.

    ReplyDelete

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