Saturday, February 04, 2017

How Many Runs Will The Tigers Score in 2017?




Tigers are hoping that a healthy Nick Castellanos will boost the team's run production in 2017
(Photo credit: Zimbio.com)  

The Tigers seem to be pretty well set with their position players going into 2017, so I am going to make my annual runs scored projection. The one spot which is still up in the air is center field, but they are not likely to do anything prior to the season which is going to significantly alter the outlook. 

Table 1 below shows that I have been really good (lucky?) at projecting the Tigers team run totals the last few years.  

Table 1: Tigers Projected and Actual Runs Scored, 2013-2016
Year
Proj. Runs
Runs
Diff
2013
800
796
+4
2014
760
757
+3
2015
689
770
-81
2016
755
750
+5

In 2013, I projected that they would score 800 runs and they actually scored 796, so I was off by just four runs.  Moreover, I missed by just three and five runs respectively in 2014 and 2016. 

My magic formula did not work so well in 2015 when I predicted they would score 770 and they instead scored 689, a difference of 81 runs.  Much of the discrepancy was 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.  

The Weighted Runs Created (wRC) statistic at FanGraphs is useful for this kind of exercise because a team's Runs Created total usually falls fairly close to its run scored total.  Most teams have Runs Created within 5% of their runs scored.  The Tigers combined for 782 Runs Created in 2016 which was 32 (or 4%) more than their actual runs scored.  

The main reason why the Tigers scored fewer runs than they created last year is that Runs Created does not account for runs lost from double plays or base running.  The Tigers lost 19 runs due to base running (According to FanGraphs.com) and 5 runs due to doubleplays (Baseball-Reference.com).

Keeping the above caveats in mind, the Runs Created measure is generally helpful in projecting future offensive production.  Table 2 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 Runs Created adjusted for expected PA.  For example, Cabrera had 335 Runs Created in 1,875 plate appearances over 2014-2016 which comes out to .179 Runs Created Per PA.  Multiplying .179 times 650 PA (his projected PA for 2017) yields his three-year average of 116 Runs Created.

The final column of the table is my forecast for Runs Created in 2017.  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 third baseman Nick Castellanos to  improve over his average of 2014-2016.  I also expect left fielder Justin Upton to do a little better this year compared to his Petco Park season in 2015 and his slump ravaged 2016 campaign.  Thus, I give these players a boost in their final projected totals.

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

Aggregating all the Runs Created yields 765 for the team. The last parts of the equation are base running and double plays.  I am optimistic they will be a little smarter on the bases this year, but I still expect them to lose about 15 runs.   

Based on the above, I am predicting 750 runs in 2017 assuming no major changes or injuries before opening day.  That would be exactly the same as last year which makes sense given that they have almost the same team.  
    
Table 1: Tigers Projected Runs in 2017
Player
PA
Runs Created
3-Yr Avg*
2017
Proj
McCann
375
34
35
Cabrera
650
116
110
Kinsler
675
88
80
Iglesias
500
51
55
Castellanos
575
68
75
Upton
625
85
90
J. Martinez
625
104
100
V. Martinez
550
80
70
Mahtook
300
30
30
Collins
175
19
20
Jones
150
5
15
Avila
300
33
30
Romine
250
19
20
Machado
150
13
15
Others
300
23
20
Base Running/DP

-15
Totals
6,200

750

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