Saturday, January 23, 2016

How Many Runs Will The Tigers Score In 2016?

How many runs will new left fielder Justin Upton contribute to the Tigers offense in 2016?
(Photo credit: Stephen Dunn, Getty Images)

With the recent acquisition of outfielder Justin Upton, the Tigers seem to be pretty much set with their position players going into the 2016 season.  So, I will now try to predict how many runs they will score.  I was pretty good (lucky?) at projecting the Tigers team run totals in 2013 and 2014:
  • In 2013I 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.
Last year I was not so lucky.  I predicted that they would score 770 and they instead scored 689, a difference of 81 runs.  What went wrong?  Much of it can be accounted for by injuries to first baseman Miguel Cabrera and designated hitter Victor Martinez and the mid-season fire sale which sent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Mets.  Poor baserunning and an inordinate number of double plays also contributed to the discrepancy.  Hopefully, the Tigers will have better fortunes this year and my projections will get back on track.  

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 745 wRC in 2015 which was 56 (or 8%) more than their actual runs scored.  So, while most teams had Runs Created totals within 5% of their runs scored, the wRC statistic was not such a good approximation for the Tigers last year.  

The biggest reason for the mismatch was that runs created does not account for runs lost from double plays or base running.  According to Baseball-Reference, those elements cost the Tigers 30 runs last year.  Additional runs may have been lost due to unfortunate sequencing (e.g. Scattering base runners throughout games rather than bunching them together for runs).

Keeping the above caveats in mind, the wRC measure is generally helpful in projecting future offensive production.  Table 1 below lists the Tigers most likely players in 2016 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 354 wRC in 1,848 plate appearances over 2013-2015 which comes out to .192 Runs Created Per PA.  Multiplying .192 times 625 PA (his projected PA for 2016) yields his three-year average of 120 wRC.

The final column of the table is my forecast for wRC in 2016.  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 24-year old third baseman Nick Castellanos to do better than his 2014-2015 rookie season.  I also expect shortstop Jose Iglesias and center fielder Cameron Maybin to do a little better with improved health and continued progress.   Thus, I give these players a boost in their final projected totals.

On the other hand, I'm guessing that Cabrera , Martinez and second baseman Ian Kinsler will regress a bit due to age.  So, their projected totals get marked down slightly.

Aggregating all the wRC yields 775 for the team. The last parts of the equation are base running and double plays.  I think the Tigers will do better in those areas next year, but they are still likely to lose runs.  So, I am giving therm a -20 for those elements.   

Based on the above, I am predicting 755 runs in 2016 assuming no major changes or injuries before opening day.  That would be 66 runs or an estimated 6-7 wins better than last year.  Improved offense alone won't be enough to get them back to the playoffs, but it's a good start.  They also made a lot of changes to their pitching staff which is a subject for another day.  
    
Table 1: Tigers Projected Runs in 2016
Player
PA
Runs Created
3-Yr Avg*
2016
Proj
McCann
425
42
45
Cabrera
625
120
115
Kinsler
675
83
75
Iglesias
475
56
60
Castellanos
600
64
70
Upton
625
89
90
Maybin
425
40
45
J. Martinez
625
92
95
V. Martinez
550
77
75
Gose
275
27
30
Salatamacchia
250
30
30
Romine
200
14
15
Aviles
200
16
15
Others
250
19
15
Base Running/DP

-20
Totals
6,200

755
Data source: FanGraphs.com

1 comment:

  1. That's great information. I should just read this blog a whole lot more than I have as of late. You tell me almost all of what I actually want to know anyway. -Bert -

    ReplyDelete

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