Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Projections

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Projecting the first round pitchers, part I

We're running the coal burners on the Magical Stats Machine at full steam right now to try and bring you as much information as humanly possible about the upcoming playoff extravaganza. So, in that spirit, updated pitching projections, hot off the press, expressed in convenient ERA form:

  • Ryan Dempster: 3.74 ERA
  • Derrek Lowe: 3.59 ERA

I may end up punting on the questions of bullpens and just use the team splits out of the pens for the time being. One note: none of these figures are park adjusted so far, so the Cubs' advantage in hitting and the Dodgers' advantage in pitching could shrink (or even go away entirely) once I've worked out the park adjustments.

More later.

Uncle Lou has already hinted at using 11 pitchers

Even though he only really needs three starters in a best-of-five, as demonstrated in the 1984 NLCS (in which we pissed game 4 away by letting Scott Sanderson start instead of going for the jugular with Sut), Lou conceded that he doesn't need 12 but he will probably use 11 pitchers in the NLDS.

Of COURSE I would opt for 10 and the extra versatility it offers, especially when you consider that Z could be used for a PH if needed, as could Marquis, but I'm getting ahead of myself here...MARQUIS on a 10-MAN pitching staff, let alone 11?

If it were MY team, yes.  Outside of Marshall, nobody else currently toiling in the middle relief roles is really standing out here.  Marquis is as always de Suck, but Gaudin has not yet re-appeared, Howry is still on double-secret probation with me, and I would only include Cotts on a 11-man squad because he becomes, by default, the LOOGY even though he is no more qualified to be the LOOGY than the guy who I share my cubicle suite with, because when he picks up his pen to sign stuff, he does it with his left hand.  He's from Ecuador, and maybe he could bring some Latino Heat, no?

Anyway, here's my shot at it: Z, Lilly, Dempster, Hard-on, Marquis, Marshall, Cotts, Wood, Marmol, and, eeeh...Howry and Gaudin if he can return, otherwise Wuertz.  I could leave Howry off in order to be provocative, but you know and I know that Lou is gonna bring him along, unless Bobby does something drastic like gets food poisoning in a rat-infested Manhattan Wendy's, or something like that.  If it were me, I'd leave off Cotts and Howry, and go with a 10 man, but it ain't me, as we determined before.

Position players?  Soto, Hank White, A-Ram, The Riot, PonDeRosa, DPLee, Fontenot, Alf, Soulpatch, Lassie, Dome, Cedeno, Pee-Yay and, I guess, The Fat Kangaroo himself, Mr. Daryle Ward.  He's hitting better than Minor League Player of the Year Micah HofPower...

Stay calm, Cub fans

A few weeks ago, after a Cubs loss I wrote something along the lines of "to the shock of everybody, the Cubs will not win every game between now and October."

As the Cubs surge ahead toward 100 wins, after having won their 5th straight, after getting to 33 games over .500 in August, after going more than a month now without losing in back-to-back games, let us not forget that they will lose again, and sometimes they'll even lose badly.

In fact, the Cubs will almost certainly go through one more phase in which they lose 3 straight, and 5 of 7, and maybe even 7 of 10, and there will be Cub fans out there who will act as though they've just had the air deflated from their party baloons.  However, what will remain true is this:

The Chicago Cubs are the best team in the National League.

The funny thing about baseball is that there's a whole lot to consider even beyond the most detailed, complicated statistic, and I think that momentum can play a huge part in winning throughout the playoffs.  Last year's Cubs entered October having slid toward the end of September.  This year's Cubs will work to reverse that trend. 

In other words, the Cubs will play another run of bad baseball before the year ends.  It's bound to happen.  The question is, will it happen before or after they've left Milwaukee in the dust?  Will it happen near the beginning or end of September?  The answers to both of those questions interest me greatly, because if the Cubs enter the playoffs as strong as they've played so far in August, then it will be hard for any team or any curse to stop them.   So stay calm, Cub fans.  Don't panic if things look scary again, if only for a few days.  I've said it before and I will repeat myself now: this team is too damned good to fall apart.  Consider this a happy reminder of that fact.

 

How will Soriano’s injury impact the Cubs?

Soriano is going to to the DL for six weeks with a broken hand.

The return of Micah Hoffpauir a day early won’t be the end of the roster moves:

Infielder-outfielder Micah Hoffpauir will come up today from Class AAA Iowa to take Soriano's place on the roster. The Cubs need another hitter for the American League parks coming up.

It's possible they could recall either outfielder Matt Murton or infielder-outfielder Eric Patterson from Iowa by Friday. Currently, the Cubs are carrying 13 pitchers.

Mark DeRosa moved from second base to left field Wednesday. Expect DeRosa to see significant time in left during Soriano's absence, which will be about six weeks or even longer.

So, I’m operating under the assumption that two of Patterson, Hoffpauir and Murton will be called up. Hoffpauir has the least baseball talent of the group, so of course he’s the only one that’s guaranteed a callup.

What I’ve done is taken a player’s minor league numbers and figured out their Major League Equivalency – essentially an estimate of how they would have performed in the majors. Then, I combined those numbers with their MLB numbers. All of those numbers were then fed into the ZiPS projection tool, which uses those figures (in combination with their career numbers) to come up with a projection. (I also did a projection on Soriano for the rest of the season, based upon his numbers to date. Here’s an explanation of how projection systems work.) Here’s the table:

Eric Patterson
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
AAA
181
27
59
13
3
5
26
10
41
10
0
.326
.361
.514
.875
Translated
184
20
50
9
2
4
19
7
44
8
0
.273
.301
.408
.709
MLB
6
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
3
1
0
.000
.000
.000
.000
Total
190
20
50
9
2
4
20
7
47
9
0
.263
.289
.395
.684
Projected
325
40
85
15
3
8
37
22
64
13
6
.262
.308
.400
.708
Micah Hoffpauir
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
AAA
62
12
19
4
0
3
15
1
12
0
0
.306
.308
.516
.824
Translated
62
9
16
3
0
2
11
0
13
0
0
.259
.268
.417
.685
MLB
14
4
8
3
0
0
1
1
6
0
0
.421
.450
.579
1.029
Total
76
13
24
6
0
2
12
1
19
0
0
.316
.325
.474
.798
Projected
191
21
52
12
0
8
33
13
36
1
0
.272
.319
.461
.779
Matt Murton
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
AAA
177
25
55
10
1
1
14
28
16
3
2
.311
.411
.395
.807
Translated
184
18
47
8
0
0
10
21
17
2
2
.254
.330
.316
.646
MLB
14
2
3
0
0
0
4
1
2
0
0
.214
.267
.214
.481
Total
198
20
50
8
0
0
14
22
19
2
2
.253
.327
.293
.620
Projected
286
39
79
15
0
8
35
31
37
2
1
.276
.347
.413
.760
Alfonso Soriano
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
MLB
211
36
60
11
0
15
40
15
46
7
1
.284
.330
.550
.880
Projected
341
57
97
21
1
21
63
23
76
13
5
.284
.330
.537
.866

All three of them represent a sizable falloff. Hoffpauir is the one most capable of replacing Soriano’s power in the lineup, but that’s really damning with faint praise here. Murton is probably the best hitter of the group, given his superior on-base percentage. (Although his projected advantage over Hoffpauir is mighty slim.)

Of course they still have to play defense. So let’s look at some defensive projections, measured in runs saved/allowed versus the positional average. Murton projects as a +3 corner outfielder over the course of a season, Patterson as a +8. (Soriano projects as a +6; the projections don’t know about his leg injuries this year.)

Hoffpauir’s defense is an absolute cypher. We can look at minor league defensive numbers – Hoffpauir played 13 games in the outfield last season at AAA and was just off the charts bad. But he only played in 13 equivalent games in the outfield, hardly enough to pass judgement on.

What we do know is this. Hoffpauir has been a first baseman pretty much since his days in college. That tells me that, up until Lou Piniella saw him hitting this spring, nobody involved in talent evaluation saw much of a future for him in the outfield. Based on a charitable set of assumptions – that he’s an average defensive first baseman, and that he has the tools necessary to play the outfield – you’re looking at a –5 fielder. Again, that’s the charitable view.

Let’s assume that Soriano misses 36 games, and let’s assume that whoever fills in for him will average 3.1 plate appearances per game. That’s 112 plate appearances. We can figure out runs above average on offense and defense over that period in time. So, put it together and what have you got?

wOBA
Defense
Offense/112
Defense/112
Runs/112
Soriano
.367
6
2.82
1.03
3.86
Murton
.337
3
-0.10
0.52
0.42
Hoffpauir
.336
-5
-0.19
-.086
-1.06
Patterson
.311
8
-2.63
1.38
-1.25

Again: I'm making some charitable assumptions on defense for Hoffpauir. Even still, he lags significantly behind Murton, even while they're basically tied as hitters. The problem is that a lot of Murton’s value is wrapped up in his walks, while Hoffpauir’s value comes more from his low-wattage power.

That’s assuming that any of them were to be filling in for him in left field. There are two other players on the Cubs who could be filling in in left: Reed Johnson and Mark DeRosa. That requires a bit more chaining to figure out, because then you have to also look at who’s playing center or second while those two are playing fill-in. I’ll take a look at that later.

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