Is this guy for real?by Sal Baxamusa
July 14, 2008
The All-Star break is upon us, and if they haven't already, teams will be re-evaluating their position relative to the league. Are they buyers? Are they sellers?
That decision depends partially on where you are in the standings, but also on what you think your players will do in the coming months. Dumb teams will assume that their players will put up similar numbers in the second half as they did in the first half. But smart teams, of course, won't do that.
Why not? Because what a player has done this year is not his true talent level. He could be significantly better or worse, or he may be playing up to his true talent level. But performance data are just a sampling from a player's true talent, and half a season really isn't enough information to say Barry Zito is cooked or that Xavier Nady has become a star.
As usual, a player's true talent level, or what we expect his performance to be going forward, can be determined by creating a projection utilizing all of his performance data—this year's, last year's, and even the year before that. And as I've focused on recently, the easiest way to do that is to run a simple Marcel projection.
|Is this man the worst hitter in baseball? (Icon/SMI)|
Today, I'm going to give you the tools to do that for yourself—with a major assist from Dave Studeman who helped me test and improve the initial versions. You might use it for your fantasy team or just to see if your favorite club should stick with a struggling player.
You can download a spreadsheet for pitchers here and for hitters here. Using them is simple. Download and open the spreadsheet and find the "Paste" tab. Enter your favorite player's name and his date of birth. Then, use our handy search feature to find his THT player page. Copy the first block of stats (this works best if you use Internet Explorer), all the way back to 2004 (which is as far as we go) and paste them in the appropriate place in the "Paste" tab. The next tab, called "Quick-n-dirty Marcel hitting" (or "Quick-n-dirty Marcel pitching") automatically computes that player's current projection for the rest of the year and his projected 2008 totals.
Marcel has a lot of caveats. Basically, Marcel only knows three things: a player's stats, the stats of the rest of the league, and the player's age. Marcel doesn't know anything about injuries, parks, minor leagues or platoon splits. But by and large, this simple system isn't a whole lot worse than the heavy hitters like CHONE or PECOTA or ZiPS. And there's a reason why I call them "quick-n-dirty." The spreadsheet I made is a pretty simplistic tool. It doesn't forecast RBI or runs—sorry fantasy gurus—and the estimated playing time is based purely on extrapolation. But it does do a pretty good job at most of the other stuff.
How good is this guy?
For example, Chipper Jones is currently hitting .373/.473/.613. That's pretty darn good, but we all know that, good as Chipper is, he can't keep that up. Pretty much nobody can. That's not a reflection on Jones; it's just the truth. His projection for the rest of the year is a still-awesome .316/.409/.553, which would put him at .346/.441/.585 at year's end. Impressive.
What about Jose Vidro? There's a blogospheric debate over how bad he is right now. Yes, Vidro has hit terribly this year (.214/.261/.311—yeesh!), but we can't look only at this year's stats. That would be dishonest. His current projection for the rest of the year is .269/.333/.374. Yeah, that's bad, especially for a DH. No, he probably couldn't help any team in the league, unless he could still play second base acceptably. But he's not the stinky pile of poo that M's fans make him out to be. He's more like a, well, let's say an odorless pile of poo. Still offensive, though.
And pitchers? Bay Area whipping boy Zito is sporting a 4.77 FIP. That's not what you expect from a $120 million ace. Is he really that bad? Kind of, yeah. His projected FIP for the balance of the year is a slightly-better-but-still-not-good 4.49.
Cliff Lee has been awesome this year, posting a 2.31 ERA—and that's a legit mark, given that his FIP is 2.37. But this is coming after years of mediocre-to-poor performance, including a brutal 5.59 FIP last year. It's not fair to brush off this year's hot half, but it's not fair to ignore all of last year either. Marcel sees him posting a 3.64 FIP for the balance of the year. That's remarkable, considering that his Marcel projection entering the year had him tabbed for a below-average 4.37 FIP going into the year.
Before I leave you, I'll share with you what Marcel thinks the end-of-the-year leaderboards will look like (on pace for a minimum 500 PA):
Player AVG OBP SLG OPS Pujols, Albert .337 .451 .596 1.047 Berkman, Lance .322 .424 .604 1.028 Jones, Chipper .346 .443 .584 1.027 Holliday, Matt T .331 .408 .558 .966 Rodriguez, Alex .303 .394 .567 .962 Bradley, Milton .300 .414 .546 .961 Burrell, Pat .270 .399 .538 .938 Ramirez, Hanley .311 .387 .550 .938 Utley, Chase .293 .376 .558 .934 Uggla, Dan C .274 .359 .553 .913
Those stats are a combination of performance already in the bank plus the Marcel projection for the balance of the year. Here's who Marcel thinks are, at this very moment, the best hitters in the league.
Player AVG OBP SLG OPS Pujols, Albert .324 .427 .586 1.014 Jones, Chipper .316 .409 .554 .964 Ortiz, David .289 .397 .565 .963 Rodriguez, Alex .297 .396 .560 .956 Holliday, Matt T .322 .391 .556 .948 Berkman, Lance .295 .400 .546 .946 Cabrera, Miguel .317 .397 .543 .941 Howard, Ryan J .272 .376 .560 .936 Braun, Ryan J .304 .355 .571 .927 Wright, David A .307 .396 .523 .919
...and the worst (among guys who'll see significant playing time).
Player AVG OBP SLG OPS Izturis, Cesar .254 .311 .337 .649 Everett, Adam .236 .288 .353 .642 Berroa, Angel .244 .286 .350 .637 Molina, Jose .236 .281 .349 .631 Bako, Paul .224 .296 .328 .625 Vizquel, Omar .239 .304 .319 .624 Cairo, Miguel .238 .295 .329 .624 Ausmus, Brad .229 .307 .312 .619 McDonald, John .237 .286 .329 .615 Pena, Tony F .239 .273 .336 .610
So go ahead, download, and enjoy!
References and Resources
PS. Xavier Nady is projected at .282/.342/.467 for the rest of the year.
The spreadsheets are located at the following URLs:
Sal Baxamusa is a graduate student in chemical engineering. He can be reached here.