Sunday, March 27, 2016

So, Now How Many Games Will The Tigers Win in 2016?

During the winter, I crunched the numbers and arrived at 90 wins for the Tigers.  When I saw that other sites such as FanGraphs (81 wins) and Baseball Prospectus (79) were must less optimistic about the Tigers, I was thinking maybe I was being biased.  So, I looked at my projections again, but came to the conclusion that the Tigers were a better team than the more sophisticated systems were saying.

The biggest discrepancy between Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projection and my rudimentary formula was for outfielder JD Martinez.  PECOTA is pegging him for a .781 OPS in 2016 after hitting .912 in 2014 and .879 in 2016.  I am guessing without reservation that he'll be closer to .900 than .781.  Other individual differences are smaller, but Baseball Prospectus has the Tigers scoring 692 runs in aggregate whereas as I have them scoring 755.

On the pitching side. PECOTA projects Justin Verlander to have a 3.92 ERA whereas I am guessing he will be closer to last year's 3.38 ERA.  Overall, Baseball Prospectus guesses the Tigers will allow 713 runs.  By my calculations (before spring training), they would allow 663.

Now, a week before the season starts, I am not budging on my 755 runs scored prediction.  Their offense is sound and I will be surprised if they do not hit.  The wildcard of course is designated hitter Victor Martinez.  If he is awful again this year, then that changes the outlook a bit, but my projections  already assume some fragility.  I don't think he will be anywhere close to what he was in 2014 when he slugged his way to a .974 OPS.  A better guess is 2013 (when he OPSed .785), but with fewer plate appearances.

The pitching, on the other hand, looks different than it did in February.  Injuries to Daniel Norris (fractured vertabrae), Alex Wilson (sore shoulder) and Blaine Hardy (shoulder impingement) have dampened my enthusiasm soewhat.  On the positive side, it looks as if Anibal Sanchez has recovered from his early spring ailment.  History tells us he will not get through a full season , but I only have him programmed for a 160 innings anyway.

I am guessing we will see about 100 additional innings (compared to my earlier prediction) that will be pitched by pitchers not named Daniel Norris, Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy.  This will hurt because although they have better depth than last year, it is still not good. So, my pitching projection needs to be adjusted.

For the projection, I first estimate the innings pitched in 2016 for their projected starters and key bullpen pieces (Table 1 below).  In order to forecast runs allowed, I used three-year averages on three measures from 2013-2015 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, Justin Verlander allowed an average of 99 runs per 210 innings (his projected 2016 total) from 2013-2015.  He also had 95 Base Runs and 80 FIP Runs.  The average of the three numbers above (99, 95, 80) is 91.  Given his return to form at the end of last year, I expect Verlander to be a little better than his three-year average next year, I'm estimating 85 runs allowed.  
I project the rest of the pitchers similarly moving them up or down from their three-year averages if I think they are going to get better or worse this year. 

My new runs allowed estimate is 691 which combined with 755 runs scored yields a differential of 64.  Since ten runs is worth roughly one win, the Tigers should win six more games than a.500 team. So, I now have them winning 87 games.   Hopefully, I will not have to make any more adjustments before opening day unless it involves the acquisition of a healthy pitcher!

Table 1: Projected Runs Allowed By Tigers Pitchers in 2016


Average for 2013-2015*


Pitcher
Proj IP
RA
BSR
FIPRuns
Comb
Proj R
Proj ERA
Justin Verlander
210
99
95
80
91
85
3.35
Jordan Zimmermann
200
77
76
73
75
85
3.52
Anibal Sanchez
160
69
64
57
63
75
3.88
Mike Pelfrey
150
89
85
70
81
80
4.42
Daniel Norris
90
48
44
47
46
45
4.14
Shane Greene
80
52
47
39
46
45
4.66
Francisco Rodriguez
65
20
24
26
25
25
3.18
Mark Lowe
60
28
28
24
27
27
3.73
Justin Wilson
55
19
18
20
19
19
2.86
Alex Wilson
35
12
14
13
13
15
3.55
Blaine Hardy
35
12
14
12
13
13
3.08
Drew VerHagen
35
10
10
16
12
15
3.55
Bruce Rondon
30
17
16
12
15
15
4.14
Other
240



147
147
5.07
Totals
1,445
673
691
3.95

*Average adjusted for projected innings in 2016.

Data Source: Baseball-Reference.com

4 comments:

  1. OK, now the big question: How likely is it that 87 wins will put them in the playoffs?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't think 87 wins the division, but it would give them a good shot at the wild card.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't think 87 wins the division, but it would give them a good shot at the wild card.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Vegas had them at 82 wins a few weeks before preseason began. I put $1K on the over...

    ReplyDelete

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