Prediction Week at PH8: Cardinal Player Stats

by on March 6, 2012 · 0 comments

The Battle Between fWAR & rWAR Can Get Serious

If you are interested in a time-consuming yet meaningless exercise involving baseball and geeky numbers, then you have come to the right place.  If you are interested in silly Photoshop artwork involving baseball players, media members, and sometimes farm animals, you have also come to the right place.  For the latter, you may need to hit the back button on your browser or just do a Google search on “PH8 Not The News“.  For the former, you simply have to have an attention span slightly greater than a leaf of lettuce, and you will probably be fine.

Today’s exercise in both mockery and futility is a look at predictions for various Cardinal players and a rough comparison of the 2012 team to the 2011 team in terms of statistical value.

Looking back, the 2011 version went 90-72 during the regular season.  The team scored 762 runs and allowed only 692 runs.  The team’s hitters (all players) combined for a total of 30.0 rWAR with 0.5 of that total coming from pitchers.  The team’s pitchers combined for a total of 11.1 rWAR, so Skip Schumaker‘s contribution of -0.1 was not too detrimental to the team’s numbers.  So, the team managed to take the wild card with 30.0 rWAR (total player value for all hitters) 11.1 rWAR (total player value for all pitchers.

So, how will the 2012 version stack up?  Well, you can do some complicated comparisons involving 3-year regression modeling, or you can use ZiPS to include everybody from Brandon Dickson to Adam Ottavino in your projection.  That’s just not how I roll, though.  I am using the fan’s predictions from Fangraphs (fWAR), and doing an apples to oranges comparison between the predictions (fWAR) and the 2011 actual values (rWAR).  Why?  Well, I could tell you that the source for the rWAR values (Baseball-Reference) does not have projections I want, or I could tell you that the source for the fWAR values (Fangraphs) does not have the 2011 values formatted the way I want them.  Both explanations are accurate.  However, the real reason is that fWAR provides slightly higher values than rWAR does for players in the middle range (from about 1.0-2.0), and I just like slightly higher values.  I digress.  (Note: I may or may not have actually digressed, but you will probably never really know.)

Check out the fan predictions for the Cardinals in 2012:

Stats Courtesy of Fangraphs

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s a total of 31.6 fWAR.  Since it is not unusual for a team to lose anywhere from 1.5 – 2.0 fWAR (or more) from players who provide less than stellar contributions, it appears that the Cardinals project to somewhere right around the 31.0 – 33.0 fWAR mark.  This is simply a guess based on nothing more than black  magic and some Yahtzee dice, but I challenge you to put reasonable projections out there for how well Adam Wainwright or Adron Chambers might hit this year.  There.  Make an eyeball adjustment to the fWAR prediction, and you end up somewhere just south of the 30.0 rWAR total from 2011.  If the offense can produce a similar result to 2011′s numbers, then that would represent a significant move that is not backwards.

So, what about the pitching?

Stats Courtesy of Fangraphs

Well, that’s a fairly optimistic projection of 18.0 fWAR from the anticipated core of the pitching staff.  Even if the team tacks on -4.0 rWAR from various pitchers like it did last season, the “eyeball adjustment” approach puts the projection around 12.5 rWAR which is a significant improvement over the 11.1 rWAR from the pitching staff last season.

What is this talk of about WAR good for?  Absolutely nothing.  In reality, it’s about as useful as projecting outcomes, but it’s early in spring training, and us baseball addicts need a fix.

TIDBIT:  In terms of rWAR, the team’s least valuable position player was Corey Patterson (-0.4), and the least valuable pitcher was Ryan Franklin (-1.4), but you all probably already knew this.

Follow gr33nazn on Twitter for more information about something that’s good for absolutely nothing!

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Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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