community projection results: anthony reyes

the cardinals have a game today ---- halle-bleepin'-lujah. applying liam's syntax lessons, i believe you ought to be able to call up the mlb gameday tracker via this link. if that's wrong, i'll correct it once the game gets going. it's also being broadcast live via gameday audio; i don't know if we'll be getting the cardinals' radio feed or the mets' feed.

before i post the results of the reyes projection, let me share an e-mail i got from the cardinal front office:

Dear Viva El Birdos Readers,

The St. Louis Cardinals would like your help in this year's Amateur Draft. Many people affiliated with the Cardinals read VEB on a regular basis and appreciate the passion for the team as well as the thoughtfulness of the postings. This is an opportunity for us to work together to find talent for the organization.

Here's how it works. The organization is looking for your help in identifying college baseball talent that might be under the radar. By that we mean college players who do not play for a D1 school. Our scouts spend many hours doing research and going to games, but every year there are young men from college programs that are off the beaten path that would make good professional baseball players but are not selected because they are overlooked.

There is also an incentive. Besides helping your favorite team and possibly making some players' dreams come true, you can win the grand prize the Cardinals are offering. For details of the contest, click on the link below. Thanks in advance for those who choose to help and please keep up the good work.

http://stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com/stl/fan_forum/oneforthebirds_index.jsp

Sig Mejdal
Senior Quantitative Analyst
here's a little additional information, taken from the official contest page:
"Under the Radar" players are defined as NCAA Division 2, Division 3, NAIA or Junior College players. High School and Division 1 players are not eligible for selection in this contest. [LB's emphasis] Please identify a player's tools and his actual performance. If his performance to date is not reflective of his tools, explain why.
more info in the official contest rules. i'm not aware of any other mlb organization that's experimenting with this kind of an initiative. i like the thinking here --- if i can put my own spin on this, i think the cards are trying to gain a small edge over the other 29 clubs by exploiting a potential inefficiency in the market, ie the lack of overall scouting knowledge about players in the lower echelons of college baseball. we've seen football and basketball players come out of D2 and even NAIA and go on to pro careers --- very good pro careers in some cases (dennis rodman played at an NAIA school, to name one example off the top o me head). and of course albert pujols got drafted out of a junior-college program. arnoldi cruz, the 2007 draftee who moved up 4 levels after last year's draft, was taken out of junior college. so this isn't such an off-the-wall idea; far from it.

the cards aren't the only organization attempting to tap their fans' knowledge --- various organizations are doing that in one way shape or form. but i know of no other team that's doing it in this fashion. it should be a very interesting exercise. if any of you happen to submit an entry in this contest, send me a copy of your scouting report and i'll post it here --- sans the player's name, of course; we don't want the cubs' scouts benefiting from our hard work.

* * * * * * *

now, on to our own exercise in fan-knowledge tapping. we got 70 individual projections for anthony reyes; here's the aggregate line, alongside the projected lines from the brand-name computer-driven forecasting systems. these are in ascending era order:
GS  IP  H BB SO W  L ERA WHIP
b james 20 109 102 35  93  6  6 3.88 1.257
CHONE -- 147 141 52 114 -- -- 4.22 1.313
VEB 24 147 141 52 114 10  9 4.43 1.313
PECOTA 18 116 114 43  83  6  7 4.49 1.357
ZIPS 26 149 153 45 106  8  9 4.65 1.329
marcels -- 119 118 46  90  5 11 4.84 1.378

the near-identical match between our projection and CHONE's is not a typo; we truly came up with the same numbers (in all categories but era) that CHONE did. that has never happened before. can any of you math experts out there estimate the odds of such a thing happening?

pretty optimistic projections, all in all. just checking the numbers at reyes' fangraphs page (where all the projections are very helpfully gathered), the brand-name systems project reyes' strand rate (60 percent last year, among the lowest in baseball) to regress to the mean, ie up to about 70 percent --- that alone accounts for most of the expected improvement in his era. they expect minor improvements to his walk rate and k rate, with all the other rate stats staying about the same. in essence, the projection systems simply think reyes will have better luck this season. or, if you prefer, they think he will have gained a new skill, ie the ability to pitch out of jams with minimal damage.

VEB's projection follows the same pattern: we don't anticipate significant improvements in reyes' foundational skill-set --- ie, we don't see him suddenly getting more strikeouts or fewer walks. here are our projected rate stats, compared to anthony's career marks:

IP/GS H/9 W/9 K/9
career   5.1 8.7 3.5 6.9
VEB proj   6.0 8.6 3.2 7.0

we think he'll go deeper into games and shave a few walks off his total, but otherwise we don't see him as dramatically altered --- except in his era, where we think he'll shave off 1.50. that's not necessarily a reflection of irrational hopes on our part; it's more a reflection, i think, of the fact that reyes has more core ability than his era suggests. i'll say again, i'm so glad mo didn't toss this guy away for some veteran stiff; it might turn out to be his best decision of the winter. reyes is a no-risk option who --- in this community's opinion --- should be about as good in 2008 as a pitcher the cards committed $13m in guaranteed money to:

GS  IP  H BB SO W  L ERA WHIP
VEB reyes projection 24 147 141 52 114 10  9 4.43 1.313
VEB pineiro projection 27 169 181 51 110 11 10 4.44 1.373

i neglected to ask everyone to include a home-run total in their projection, which was dumb --- it means i can't derive a projected FIP from our numbers and check it against the projected ERA (we were very consistent in this regard in our clement and pineiro projections). however, i can run the exercise in reverse --- that is, i can calculate how many homers to add to reyes' line to create internal FIP-ERA consistency. that number is 20 --- 20 homers, or 1.2 homers per 9 innings. reyes gave up 1.3 hr/9 last season, so we're not forecasting any great leap forward there either.

the quintessential projector was brnrpp:

GS  IP  H BB SO W  L ERA WHIP
VEB 24 147 141 52 114 10  9 4.43 1.313
brnrpp 24 145 142 44 141 11  9 4.55 1.283

a final note: i agree with bryan burwell's column about spiezio. i hope the guy accepts responsibility for what he did, accepts the legal consequences, and pays the penalty, and then gets his life together. i don't judge him for the mistake --- we're all sinners, we all screw up. the test for speezer will be how he responds now. ideally, we take responsibility for our mistakes, learn from them, and become better people for having made them. i hope that's how this little saga will turn out.

and i'm really glad nobody died this time.

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