community projection results: yadi and izzy

you can check out chris carpenter's changeup-in-progress today on; the cardinals are playing the orioles. here's the gameday link. Update [2007-3-6 13:44:13 by lboros]: i got bad info; the game's not on tv, but you can hear it via mlb audio. [end update]

a few other items:

  • The Hardball Times is putting out its first preseason preview --- a companion to the Hardball Times Annual, with all-new content. ordering information is here. the meat of the book consists of 3-year projections for current players (including top minor leaguers) and team-by-team previews --- quick-hiting capsules formatted along the lines of bill james' old "team in a box" summaries. i wrote the st louis preview; here's a teaser:
    Most Underrated Player: Albert Pujols. You want to talk intangibles and situational intelligence? Pujols ended a close game last year with a cross-diamond peg to nab a baserunner who'd strayed half a step past third base. He ended another by catching a trailing runner napping and signaling his catcher for a pickoff throw. He wins not just with his hitting but also with his fielding, throwing, baserunning, and his tremendous will. How did he not win the MVP? Either he's underappreciated, or his year-in, year-out greatness has gotten dull. No peaks, no valleys; nothing bores people like sameness.
  • two new community projection threads are up: encarnacion and carpenter. we'll look at those thurs or friday.
  • at least one guy thinks anthony reyes could contend for the cy young award.
  • also, i thought you'd all get a kick out of this: who knew how very much george orwell hated the cubs?
before i unveil the community's projection of molina, i want to refer back to VEB's yadi projection for 2006. toward the end of that post, there's a comparison drawn between yadi and mike scioscia, the ex-dodger catcher and current angels manager. i won't rehash all the details of that comp (click the link to see the basis for it), but i can report that one year further into molina's career, he's still tracking scioscia. their age-23 seasons:
molina 2006 417 29 90 26 0 6 49 26 | .216 .274 .321
scioscia 1982 365 31 80 11 1 5 38 44 | .219 .302 .296

what did sciosia do as a 24-year-old? missed the whole year after a collision at the plate. but from age 25 forward he was about a league-average run producer (as measured by OPS+) and a superlative defensive catcher. so if molina continues to follow scioscia's career trajectory, he'll mature ino a pretty valuable player. like yadi, scioscia won his first world champ'ship young (age 22); he won another at age 29, and played on three more division winners.

for whatever that's worth.

as long as we're drawing comparisons, molina's top comps at Baseball Prospectus both evolved into fine hitters, ramon hernandez (23 homers, 91 rbi for the orioles last year) and the royals' mike sweeney, whose peak OPS surpassed .900. . . . i'd be happy enough to see molina nose past .700, but perhaps it won't be a vain hope. another good hitter, the cubs' michael barrett, is molina's #4 comp per BP. barrett's age-23 season (.214 / .277 / .288) was very close to molina's (.216 / .274 / .321); he improved to .250 / .289 / .367 at age 24 and then made major breakthroughs at ages 25 (.263 / .332 / .418) and 27 (.287 / .337 / .489). scioscia is on the BP list at #12, by the way.

with all these cheery comparisons in our heads, let's move now to the numbers. for the 2d consecutive year, every single respondent in our exercise predicts an offensive improvement for molina. it's less noteworthy this season, i suppose, in that molina truly can go nowhere but up after last year. . . . . so here are the numbers, in descending OPS order:

CCH 420 49 112 24 0 10 56 32 | .267 .319 .396
CHONE 403 44 103 23 0  8 44 31 | .256 .318 .372
VEB 431 39 111 20 0 10 57 33 | .258 .311 .374
Marcel 427 42 107 25 0  9 55 31 | .251 .307 .372
Shandler 440 37 110 22 0  9 52 31 | .250 .299 .361
PECOTA 312 31  78 19 0  5 36 23 | .250 .301 .359
Bill James 487 41 119 27 0  8 63 33 | .244 .298 .349
ZIPS 423 34  98 21 0  8 53 24 | .232 .279 .338

the hometown forecasts (VEB and CCH) are super sunny, perhaps unrealistically so. but at least two of the "objective" ones (Marcel and CHONE) are nearly as optimistic as we are, and the nearly identical shandler / PECOTA / james projections aren't all that far off from the VEB line --- we foresee 2 or 3 more homers, but in all other respects our numbers match theirs. here's the aggregate line:

418 38 104 23 0  8 51 29 | .248 .298 .360

with his glove, and at his price, i'd take it.

isringhausen is supposed to throw BP to live hitters today. BP's will carroll had this comment in his preseason health report:

Isringhausen is coming back from hip surgery, but don't think he's another Bo Jackson just yet. It wasn't nearly that serious; Izzy had his hip scraped down rather than replaced. Things have looked good so far in camp, and the moves of Braden Looper and Adam Wainwright to the rotation tell you that the Cards are sure that their closer will be ready.
his top comp at BP is none other than don larsen, author of the postseason's only no-hitter / perfect game. apropos of absolutely nothing: were any of you aware that larsen pitched against the yankees in the world series just six years later? i had no idea until just now. larsen pitched 3 games in relief for the giants in the '62 classic and picked up the win in game 4, knotting the series at 2-2. the yanks won in 7. . . . .

so anyway, back to izzy. as you look at the projections, focus on one number: hr allowed. last year, 6 of his 10 blown saves came on home runs. he allowed one homer per 25 batters faced in 2006; his average coming into the season was one homer per 60 batters faced. and that's the entire story: if he keeps the ball in the park this year, he'll be ok. do we think he can do it? the numbers, ordered by ascending ERA:

CCH 59 45 27 56  5 36 2.92 1.220
VEB 55 44 25 50  5 33 3.03 1.255
Bill James 63 50 28 57  5 32 3.29 1.238
PECOTA 53 45 26 44  5 21 3.49 1.340
ZIPS 61 50 30 56  6 n/a 3.54 1.311
CHONE 62 56 31 52  6 n/a 3.77 1.403
Marcel 60 54 28 49  7 26 3.90 1.367
Shandler 28 n/a n/a 23  3 10 4.16 1.500

again, look at those hr totals --- it's agreed by all the savants that izzy will recover his low hr rates. the aggregate projection puts him at 0.82 hr per 9 innings; his career avg is 0.71 hr/9. here's the full aggregate line, alongside his 2006 numbers:

proj 07 55 47 26 47  5 20 3.57 1.332
actual 06 58 47 38 52 10 20 3.57 1.457

so here's what i don't get --- the aggregate projection has izzy cutting his walks by 12 and his homers by 5 over last season, while holding the line (mostly) on hits/9 and strikeouts/9 . . . . but posting the same era as last year? huh. our projected peripherals are pretty similar to izzy's 2005 line ---- higher h/9, but all the other numbers line up. compare, with an eye toward the era:

proj 07 55 47 26 47  5 20 3.57 1.332
actual 05 59 43 27 51  4 39 2.14 1.186

if izzy does, indeed, post the components we've projected for him, i reckon his era would end up in the low 3s or high 2s. i guess the era isn't really at issue here, anyway; as long as the hrs don't fly out of the park, izzy will convert the saves.

as a group, we project jason to miss the first 18 games of the season, which would place his return on april 22 at wrigley vs the cubs.

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