Thursday, December 25, 2008

By Johnny Ray - Contributor

It seems like most Angel fans have an aversion towards baseball statistics and its ability to predict performance. I often wonder why this is. Is it because Billy Beane, our rival to the north, uses them to his advantage? Is it because of our history of frenzied offense and Mike Scioscia's love for giving up outs for moving players over? Or is it to the defense of players like Darin Erstad who seemed to take a daily beating from Sabermetricians like Rob Neyer? I really don't know. If you do have a propensity to break into hives when reading articles from Baseball Prospectus, Rob Neyer, or Bill James, then this may not be for you. Please go back to the message board and start another thread about how Garrett Anderson should get a two year, $16million deal because he was awesome in 2002.

I recently purchased the Bill James Handbook 2009 ($23.95 at Amazon) and I thought you would be interested to see what exactly he had in store for our beloved Angels. In no way do I (or others for that matter), consider Bill James the gospel (as people on the board like to throw around) or this book as the Bible, but I think it is, and has proven, to be quite useful. As Bill James put it;

"We are not seers, psychics, prophets or geniuses; we just predict that players will mostly continue to do what they have done in the past. And were pretty much right most of the time."

And so, without further adieu;

First base: Kendry Morales

158 Games, .291/.327/.456/.783 19 hr's 79 RBI's

Opinion: He is also predicted with 30 doubles, 28 walks and 72 k's. If Kendry can get near and .800 OPS, I would be very impressed. It's time for him to show what he can do. And BTW, Casey Kotchman is at .282/.346/.432/.778 and Mark Teixeira is at .299/.397/.559/.956.

Second base: Howie Kendrick

152 Games, .317/.343/.464/.807 11 hr's 82 RBI's

Opinion: Stay healthy. Dude is also in line for 49 doubles. Obviously, if he hits to this level, we should be in pretty good shape.

Shortstop: Eric Aybar

143 Games, .268/.303/.362/.666 4 hr's 45 RBI's

Opinion: Well, looks like the typical 80's shortstop, slick with the glove and a guy who can barely hit for his weight. Bill James did rank him as the best defensive shortstop in the game.

Third base: Chone Figgins

153 Games, .287/.361/.372 5 hr's 56 RBI's

Opinion: Chone was also predicted for 101 runs and 43 SB's. It's going to be interesting to see how much time he will play at third or if he will go back into the super utility role again.

Catcher: Mike Napoli

136 Games, .252/.361/.512/.873 31 hr's 85 RBI's

Opinion: Yep. Big pimping next year for Naps. The guy needs to play, either DH or catcher, but he needs to be in the lineup.

Right Field: Vladimir Guerrero

153 Games, .314/.386/.536/.922 31 hr's 111 RBI's

Opinion: I guess the important thing is the games played. I'm guessing 153 might be a reach. Another interesting note, James has him at 80% reaching 500 hr's and a 53% chance of reaching 3000 hits (Derek Jeter is at 93% and Garrett Anderson is at 20%).

Center Field: Torii Hunter

155 Games, .268/.329/.460/.790 25 hr's 93 RBI's

Opinion: Ugh. Not worth the 17 or so million dollars that he is going to get paid. But hey, he's a good clubhouse guy, right?

Left Field: Juan Rivera

99 Games, .281/.327/.467/.794 13 hr's 52 RBI's

Opinion: Solid sign, big number is games played. Hopefully, he will be fully healthy and will get some AB's.

DH and Utility Players.

The lineup isn't set, so I will just throw in the key reserves.

Brandon Wood

123 Games, .253/.307/.470/.777 23 hr's 67 RBI's

Jeff Mathis

73 Games, .218/.288/.368/.656 5 hr's 21 RBI's

Gary Matthews Jr.

125 Games, .256/.330/.397/.727 11 hr's 49 RBI's

Maicer Izturis

119 Games, .280/.348/.384/.732 5 hr's 49 RBI's

Reggie Willits

81 Games, .282/.383/.330/.713 0 hr's 8 RBI's

Opinion: Play Brandon Wood.

The pitching staff is going to be the Angels strength this year. They are young, throw hard, and shouldn't miss a beat with the loss of KROD and John Garland. The future also looks promising as Bill James says in his young talent inventory,

"The Angels, like the Brewers, have huge issues about possession. They have three players in the top 50, but two of them are free agents already (Teixeira and KROD). But the Angels will be really good even if they lose those two players, because they have young pitching and Arredondo to step into KROD's shoes and Howie Kendrick, who is still capable of MVP performance if he can stay healthy. The Angels rank first in the majors in young pitching."

I still believe that Escobar, not Arredondo or Shields, will be the closer come All Star break, but if not, we should be fine.

Pitching projections are tough, they get hurt a lot, and sometimes there are just off base.

John Lackey

11-9 3.81 era, 175 ip, 141 k's

Ervin Santana

12-11 3.90 era, 210 ip, 177 k's

Joe Saunders

11-10 3.90 era, 186 ip, 121 k's

Jered Weaver

11-8 3.63 era, 166 ip, 143 k's

Scot Shields

3.31 era, 64 ip, 60 k's

Jose Arredondo

3.72 era, 76 ip, 66 k's

Opinion: Wins and losses are always up in the air, so I wouldn't take them too seriously. We have a really good staff, it will be interesting to see who's going to be in the Five slot and hopefully everyone can stay healthy.

A lot of these predictions are based on how they would do if the played. Bill James has proven to be more accurate for younger players then older ones because of injuries, but Mike Scioscia makes it difficult to predict younger players because of at bats. Hopefully this year we will see more of Mike Napoli and Brandon Wood and less of Jeff Mathis and Sarge Jr.

If you would like to see more projections and other saber ramblings, I highly recommend that you go out and purchase The Bill James Handbook. It is quite informative and well worth the read. Now, let's go back to the message board and argue about grit and productive outs.
Love to hear what you think!


Anonymous said...

Howie Kendrick MVP? Haha..nice piece until you went there.

Johnny Ray said...

Bill James quote, not mine...

Listen to "A Fish Like This" Tribute song to Mike Trout's Greatness

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