At the beginning of the season I did a fanpost on predictions on how some contenders would fair this season. Obviously, things are not quite as one would think at this point, since the Padres are doing very well, and of course the season still has a long ways to go. But I thought I would check on how things are going so far.
First off, the Phillies are not the best team in the NL, nor are the Cardinals the 2nd best team. The Padres and the Mets are easily the best teams record wise right now. The Braves are doing well though, as the projections predicted. I didn't even consider the Giants as much of a threat, but they are also doing well, as are the Reds, who seemed to be more of a upper middle of the pack team, but they are doing better than Philadelphia. The Diamondbacks (especially), Brewers, and Cubs aren't doing as well as expected, but there's plenty of time left for the latter two teams. Although I really don't expect much out of them.
What's more interesting to look at though, are the median projections I calculated on for the individual players:
(current FIP/preseason median projection)
- Carpenter 3.72/3.29
- Wainwright 2.90/3.4
- Penny 3.46/4.29
- Lohse 3.77/4.37
- Garcia 3.25/4.66
As you can see, Garcia is the biggest surprise. He has surpassed all expectations, which has been made all the more important due to the one two punch of losing both Penny and Lohse (who didn't look quite right in many starts, but for good reason. yet he still was overachieving). Wainwright has looked like a legitimate Cy Young candidate, rather than the more "modest" Wainwright of season's past (his FIP here however does not include his terrible start tonight).
Also, losing two starters who are in the mid 3's in FIP was a pretty harsh pill to swallow. Luckily it was alleviated somewhat by starting a piecemeal crew including Jeff Suppan, Adam Ottavino, PJ Walters, and Blake Hawksworth (it could have been much worse!)..... and by recent off days allowing Tony to lessen the brunt of the blow on the pitching staff.
How about the Phil's starters:
I am being a little lazy and not really taking injuries into account for the starting rotation, but just looking at FIP it looks like Halladay is doing even better than the preseason median projection (in the original post I was averaging together all the projection systems). Blanton on the other hand, not so much. The other guys are right around the prediction at this time.
Another good team in the NL, the Braves, are playing better than the Phillies are. While they probably will just be a wild card team, here's how their rotation is faring so far as we near the halfpoint in the season :
Their rotation could get a lot better in the second half of the season. Hudson is not really doing that well so far. Hanson on the other hand, is clearly their ace.
Finally, a quick blurb about the Reds pitching. Arroyo is performing about exactly as expected, as is Cueto. Bailey is not doing that well. Harang is about as average as you can get, and Volquez has been a non factor. Instead, Mike Leake has stepped up and pitched 89 innings @ 4.10 FIP.
Anyways, I'd like to take a look at hitting a little more in depth. First off, the Cardinals. These are average predictions for wOBA and WAR (only Fans and CHONE for WAR), and the following is the performance thus far:
So obviously Luddy is generating a lot of value from his fielding, and Colby isn't. While this may be partially due to Ludwick's increased defensive capabilities this year, it appears that Colby is not benefiting from it. Whether that's because Ludwick (and Holliday) is "stealing" some of Colby's prospective catches or UZR is just biased against Mr. Rasmus somehow, is anyone's guess. Yadi looks to have a better second half at the plate, but I'm not really sure how much better it can get if he's only at .291 wOBA so far. Yes, he could/should go on a tear, but I am not betting on it. I am however expecting a lot more offense from Albert, and Freese is really great with the glove so far (as well as surprising the projection systems a bit hitting-wise). Despite much consternation, Holliday is pretty much doing what he usually does. Boog and Skip are pretty dismal at this point so I will "skip" them.
Since I'm not sure what happened with the formatting there, I'll move on to the Phils.
They've been underperforming and have had some injuries, except Mr. All Star Polanco. Interesting that Victorino is right at the projections. They will probably put a run together at some point and contend with the Braves and the Mets if they can keep it up, but I don't really know much about the Mets' team. I'd guess they probably won't even make the playoffs, but who knows.
The Braves projections are presented a little differently since they are an underdog (best case instead of median):
Martin Prado has already exceeded his best case projections for the season. It has been a great idea to have Jason Heyward start in the big leagues for this team, since McLouth and Diaz are horrendous. Hall of Fame Heyward is hitting at .369 wOBA (he's going to be an All Star starter, really??) and is already worth 2 WAR as a rookie. Glaus has been a pleasant surprise for this group, since Chipper and to a lesser extent McCann are underperforming a bit. I could easily see this team start hitting better in the second half if Glaus and Heyward continue what they are doing.
Lastly, let's take a look at the Reds:
- Joey Votto: .407 wOBA by Bill James; 4.3 median WAR actually at .415/3
- Brandon Phillips: .342 wOBA by ZiPs; 3.1 median WAR actually at .369/2.5
- Orlando Cabrera: .330 by ZiPs; 1.15 median WAR actually at .276/0 (replacement level!)
- Scott Rolen: .353 by Fans; 3.3 median WAR actually at .395/2.4
- Jay Bruce: .379 by CHONE; 3.05 median WAR actually at .360/1.5
- Drew Stubbs: .341 by Marcel; 2.9 median WAR actually at .314/0.2
- Chris Dickerson: .358 by Bill James; 2.45 median WAR actually at .236/0
- Ramon Hernandez: .325 by CHONE; 1.7 median WAR actually at .347/1.4
Gomes was not in the projections, but has been better than Dickerson, Stubbs, etc. Votto is just a beast at first base, but the real story is Scotty Ro-Ro. Rolen is back with the bat, far exceeding any expectations of the projection systems. Good news is, I would expect him to regress somewhat and not be this type of hitter all season, making them a team relying on Joey Votto to carry them on offense. I'm still really not all that impressed by their starting rotation, but their bullpen is quite good so that alleviates that problem for them (but for how long).
While the season is not even half way over yet (somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2), I thought it was pretty interesting to see how players are comparing. There are examples of every possible deviation from whatever the systems were predicting, but that's why they play the game. After seeing players with negative performance by WAR (like Schu), I thought I'd list some of the worst players in the NL in 2010 at this point.
Pedro Feliz and Carlos Lee combine for a huge pile of suck for the Astros. They are costing the team -2.6 WAR just this far into the season. Nyjer Morgan and Matt Kemp (due to bad fielding for Kemp) have been pretty awful as well. Skip has been even worse than Ryan Theriot. But then again, Matt Holliday is 2nd in the NL in WAR, and Pujols is tied with Ludwick and not in the top 10, so take it with a grain of salt.