Baseball Prospectus has a prediction tool they used called PECOTA. PECOTA has a ton of different facets to it, most of which I would be at a loss to explain. However, I always enjoy picking up the yearly preseason book, looking at the projections and reading the comments that go with them.
This year, CCH took a page out of VEB’s book and did some community projections. While we didn’t do all the players, as it ran out of steam after a while, it gave us a good idea on what we thought a few players were going to do in 2007.
In hindsight, it’d appear that neither system stood a chance this year.
With injuries, death and general lack of playing time, the odds of any prediction system getting much correct was pretty much slim and none. The only players that could have been close to their preseason projections would have been Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright, Braden Looper, Yadier Molina, Jason Isringhausen and possibly David Eckstein and Chris Duncan.
Since the season is over for a large number of the Cardinals, I thought I’d get a head start in seeing how far off these projections were. I’m taking the projections from the Baseball Prospectus 2007 annual, which doesn’t list at bats or hits, for some reason.
The projections are pretty good for the fact that Duncan played hurt for a number of weeks with a sports hernia before shutting it down earlier this month. Duncan seemed to prove that he wasn’t a one year fluke and that he could do a little more than hit home runs. That said, with the Cardinals looking for pitching in the offseason, he could be the one to go.
Injured to start the year, then his season was tragically cut short by Aaron Miles’s vicious foul ball. In between, he put up numbers that were in line with what we expected. Whether that was a case of him meeting expectations or the bar being set very low is debatable.
At VEB, lboros wrote ” the hometown forecasts (VEB and CCH) are super sunny, perhaps unrealistically so.” Yet, if you factor out the broken wrist and the slow bat Molina had when he returned, he would have likely thumped all of our predictions. As it is, he still hit for a higher average and reached base at a higher rate than we thought. I think a lot of Cardinal fans, seeing him every day and knowing what he was capable of, were able to be more bullish on Molina than those that just went by the stats. A case of having just a little more information.
VEB didn’t do a Rolen projection, but it’s likely it would have looked similar to the one above. We believed them when they said he was healthy. We thought that October would carry over. Instead, Rolen was hurt most of the year, dealing with shoulder trauma and trying to play through it. If anyone had said at the beginning of the year that Molina would have been the more productive hitter between the two, they’d have been laughed off any Cardinal site.
This is only up here to reinforce the point that the season was over after Opening Night, we just didn’t know it yet. Losing Carpenter in most years would have been bad enough, but when he was the foundation of the staff, the man that allowed experimentation in the back half of the rotation, it made his loss even more crushing. Even if he had just hit his more modest PECOTA line, that’d probably been enough to keep the Cards in the race and possibly on track for another October appearance.
There’s very little middle ground on Mr. Reyes. Either you think he’s an overrated hack who has shown he can’t pitch in the bigs or you think he’s a talented pitcher that Duncan and LaRussa are ruining with their pitch to contact philosophy. Whatever the case, Reyes didn’t live up to the line most everyone had forecasted for him. In fact, he was about as far away from those lines as possible. Bouncing between Memphis and St. Louis, the bullpen and the rotation, from good start to rough outing, Reyes never really let us see the real him. Odds are he’ll be moved in the offseason, even with the team needing pitching, because he’s young and someone will figure he can be worked on. They may even be right.
All in all, things could have looked worse. The hitters were not too far off their projections, when you factor in extenuating circumstances. The pitchers, not so much, and as we know, it’s the pitching that’s done in the Cardinals this season.
We’ll take a look at some of the others, like Pujols and Eckstein, when the season is over and their stats are final.