Monday, May 25, 2009

Probability Versus Possibility

While watching the Royals manhandle the Cardinals (considering the results of the last two games, I'd consider a 2-0 lead to be manhandling for the current intents and purposes--wait, wait, what was CRISP THINKING? You can't throw out big league hitters with noodles, Coco!), I came across an interesting post that I thought I'd comment further on. I'm interested in taking a look at what a few players are on pace for and what I think they're capable of achieving.

Zack Greinke: 15 CG, 7 SHO, 243 IP, 269 Ks, 26-4, .91 WHIP, .203 BAA, .82 ERA, 0 HR/9, 10 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 6.08 K/BB
Career Norms: 2 CG, 1 SHO, 186 IP, 149 Ks, 11-12, 1.30 WHIP, .268 BAA, 3.96 ERA, 1.0 HR/9, 7.2 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 3.12 K/BB
My Guesses: 15 CG, 7 SHO, 243 IP, 269 Ks, 22-5, 1.10 WHIP, .225 BAA, 2.35 ERA, .60 HR/9, 10 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 4.72 K/BB

Greinke should be considered nothing less than impossible to really project and guess. What he's done thus far is completely unrealistic--and though I said in the offseason plenty of times that last year wasn't the ceiling--and unpredictable. On the all-time ERA list, Tim Keefe is the career single season leader, with a .86--in 1880. Doc Gooden's '85 is the first "recent" season listed on the all time leaders and he's 42nd with a 1.53. I was going to adjust the CG and SHO and IP until I saw that he's being so efficient with an average of 106 pitches per game. When I started typing this, a quote came to mind where someone was questioning Koufax's loss total more so than his gaudy win totals. The amazing thing about Greinke, however, HAS to be his BABIP, Batting Average on Balls In Play. Throughout his career, his BABIP has been .315, which is a bit high. This year it's .298, which suggests that he hasn't succeeded because he's been lucky but because he's been good. Actually, that word should be good. Looks more appropriate.

Mike Jacobs: 36 HR
Career Norms: 31 (162-game average)
My guess: 34 HR

It was Jacobs that gave me the idea--or I should say, sticking up for him statistically is what gave me the idea. I pointed out that Jacobs' pace was 37 (as it was coming into today's game) and someone countered that Coco is on pace for 100 BB and Callaspo is on pace for 60-some doubles. He said that it's fun, but pace equates fantasy. Of course, he's right--when you're discussing that George Bell is on pace for 486 as of April 4th, 1988(sorry, all). But with a fourth of the season down, I think projections can give guidance. Jacobs too is hard to project as thus far he's been pretty streaky (hitting 4 HR from April 13th-19th and then another four between May 12th-19th--best time of the month or something). But again, enough of the season has passed to get an idea. The streakiness that he's thus far shown is why I'm hesitant to have him breaking Balboni's record. He doesn't really have to beat the record to have a better season than Balboni had. Their counting stats, as Jeff has pointed out are ODDLY similiar, and Jacobs' pace is even more eery considering that he's set to walk 3 more times than Balboni, strike out the exact same amount of times and hit as many HRs. Jacobs has a slight lead in RBIs, set to have 99 to Balboni's 88. But Jacobs' season is set to be much better considering that he's doing it in many fewer at bats. Working against Jacobs, however, is his BABIP being 20 points above his career norm and his norm is perfectly average. So you can say there's a luck factor he's benefitting from.

Coco Crisp: 19 3B, 42:8 SB:CS, 103 BB
Career norms: 6 3B, 27:9 SB:CS, 51 BB
My guesses: 12 3B, 32:8 SB:CS, 84 BB

Coco is an interesting case. Individually, I really thought Mike Jacobs and Coco Crisp would hurt us as they fail to get on base. But collectively, I had a hard time disliking the players (maybe not the way they were acquired and the result being Mr. Farnsworth pitching for KC instead of quarterbacking the Rams) because there was something huge they represented: two players that were considerably different than the Royals prototype of can't get on, doesn't have power, doesn't run well. And my biggest concern thus far has not been a problem as Coco is walking enough and Mike Jacobs BA/OBP split is much higher than ever. Again, turning to BABIP, I expect Coco's walk rate to go down because I expect him to start hitting more singles. His BABIP is currently .248, which is well below average and should go up, which drives up his batting average. In his career, his BABIP is .309, which is ever so slightly above average.

Alberto Callaspo: 62 2B, 8 HR
Career norms*: 28 2B, 2 HR
My guesses: 47 2B, 5 HR

*Taking his collective at bats over 4 seasons, Callaspo is currently around 545 at bats, which would make up about one full season. So his numbers would basically be like a rookie season. He's 12 away from matching that doubles mark of career "norms", and considering his BA/OBP split are near--but still above--their normal marks, I do expect him to continue to hit well, though not quite as well as he's shown. He's right around the age where people start to peak physically, so that could explain the power (slugging 100 points higher than career numbers). His BABIP is above his normal standard, which is an average score. He's almost on a record-breaking pace, which is why I expect him to go down but still be a very productive player.

Kansas City Royals: 22-22
xW-L and Projected: 22-22 (81-81)
My guess: 83-79

The Royals have clearly fallen off the pace that they were on but the question to be asked remains is it just a bad streak or are things just evening out? There are a few things to look at. While the Tigers are winning by a good margin today (internet issues kept me from finishing this post when I started) and they're up by 3 games, I think it's key to focus on the standings in a different light.

ALE (collectively): 119-106, .529 (6-5)
ALC: 104-115, .475 (11-9)
ALW: 86-86, .500 (4-6)

The numbers in the parenthesis represents the Royals' record against those divisions. Considering that we're two games up in division play (likely to be one game considering today's game) and that we're in the worst division in the AL, the way things have gone thus far this season, I think we can maintain well enough to remain in the hunt. I don't see us falling back and I doubt the Tigers really pull away.

1 comment:

  1. Even though I've been posting about Jacobs/Balboni all year I really don't think he will do it. I like your guess but have a feeling he's gonna end up around 28.