Wednesday, March 16, 2016

By Jason Sinner, Contributor - 

So the offense was quite good in 2014 and quite bad in 2015.  

It stands to reason that 2016 will be somewhere in the middle.  Some even speculate that the offense is going to be pretty bad.  

Well, if you think that, you are wrong.  We are going to have one of the best offenses in baseball for the 2016 season and here is why as predicted by the numbers:  

First, we have to look to the past.  There have been a few lineup changes over the last couple of seasons, but by and large, it's not hugely different.  

I am using a lineup optimizer tool where it's plug and play with obp, and slg.  then it spits out the best lineup, but it also good at giving an estimated performance relative to estimated numbers.  So I estimate that it's extremely accurate and will predict outcomes with in 3%.  If I am off by more than 3%, you can let me know at the end of the season and I will like your post.  

BTW, here is the link for the optimizer

So let's do a little accuracy testing.  

Predicted Runs: 679
Actual Runs: 667
Optimal Runs: 696

Predicted: 789
Actual: 767
Optimal: 795

Predicted: 750
Actual: 733
Optimal: 759

Predicted: 727
Actual: 773
Optimal: 731

Predicted: 663
Actual: 661
Optimal: 675

So from the above data, every season had an actual runs scored that was pretty close to what would be predicted for the numbers the actually put up with the exception of 2014.  A clear outlier.  And from what we saw by watching the games, this certainly seems to ring true.  

So let's predict 2016! 

But we need to make a few concessions first. Your top 9 players give you about 75-80% of your at bats and the other 20-25% go to the rest.  So you can't just plug your top nine starter in and expect to get that production all year.  With some variability, the 25% from the rest is going to be near replacement level.  

As an example, our top 9 players from 2015 gave us 23.9 oWAR and the rest was good for -3.9 oWAR.  In 2013 it was 25.5 oWAR from our top 9 but we got 4.0 oWAR from the rest.  

I used 2013 as the comp for 2015 to show what a difference depth can make.  In this case, it was almost 8 wins on offense.  We scored about 70 more runs in 2013 than we did in 2015 so pretty darn close.

I did some math behind the scenes and a replacement level player probably gets you about a .600 ops. 

So let's make some predictions:

I am assuming career averages in terms of OBP/SLG with some minor adjustments that I will explain as I go.

Escobar - ..350/.385.  Leaving him at his career.  He's had some up and down years, but overall I think it's a fair range

Nava - .350/.383.  His career obp is .358, but I knocked him down a few point because of his age and his horrible first half last year

Trout - .400/.570.  I bumped him up a shade on the SLG pct. side because he's just showing more power these days

Pujols - .320/.460.  Can't use anywhere near his career number.  I used his average numbers with the Halos with a slightly lower OBP and SLG.  

Calhoun - .320/.435.  I think his career numbers are fair.  He's entering his prime and I think he has a better year than last.

Cron - .300/.450. Cron is tough. I was pretty conservative but I think he will do better than I estimated so that would be gravy.

Simmons - .320/.350.  I think Simmons is gonna do a little better than his career numbers overall but mostly on the OBP side.

Perez - .320/.350.  Perez is gonna take a step forward with more at bats this year.  Not a huge one, but he's gonna get on base more.
Giavotella - .320/.380,  I gave him what he did last year even though I think he'll improve.

The remaining 20% includes guys like Gentry, Soto, and Choi as well as whoever else will be filling in.  Since guys get injured or just don't play well, that 20% get's a .600 ops or .275/.325.  You can just decrease everyone across the board as guys like Trout, Simmons, Calhoun, and Pujols will get far more at bats than the rest.  

The most conservative estimate that I ran gave the following for the 2016 campaign. 

Predicted: 723 runs
Optimal: 739 runs

*This is with a .600 ops bench factored into the equation.  

Giving the bench a little more credit:

Predicted Runs: 763
Optimal: 777

I think we will fall between the two and end up around 745 runs which would put us in the top 5 relative to last years numbers.  

I know this seems like kooky talk with the offseason we had in that we didn't see any flash upgrades to the offense, but it makes some sense in that even with conservative estimates for the bench, we still upgraded considerably just by losing joyce and the other that compromised the band of suck rotating through left field.  We have 14 players that included joyce and featherston give us -3.6 oWAR.  

Another thing to mention is that none of the above takes into account our defensive upgrade at SS.  

So there it is.  I am on record that we will score 745 runs.  Enjoy.  
Love to hear what you think!

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