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community projection results: wells

before we look at the projection results, some day-after-presidents-day readings and musings:

on to the day's main business. projecting pitcher performance is about as foolish an errand as any on earth; it's also a huge part of what distinguishes winning organizations from losing ones. the cards have made the nlcs 5 times in the last 7 years largely because they made accurate forecasts on darryl kile, woody williams, and chris carpenter. i'm oversimplifying, of course --- pujols and edmonds have had a little bit to do with their success --- and the cards were wrong on some guys too. but you get what i'm driving it: when you're throwing darts at the board of player performance, it's best for the darts with the pitchers' names on them to land closest to the bull's-eye. . . . and with that tortured metaphor, let's look at some numbers. my thanks and appreciation to Jonathan23 for compiling all the data and sending it over to me.

we had 51 entries in the wells projection. here's how our line stacks up against various others; they're listed in ascending era order:

CHONE 114 115 53 74 12 n/a 4.26 1.474
VEB 171 173 68 121 19 12-10 4.45 1.411
CCH 165 162 72 115 18 12-10 4.47 1.418
PECOTA 82 83 36 53 9 4-5 4.47 1.451
Shandler 145 n/a n/a 99 15 7-10 4.59 1.500
Bill James 138 144 63 99 16 7-9 4.70 1.500
ZIPS 121 121 67 91 15 6-9 4.98 1.554
Marcel 100 113 46 69 12 5-8 5.31 1.590

the "CCH" line refers to Cardinals Clubhouse, which is taking VEB's cue and running its own set of community projections. fascinating, isn't it, that the two separate communities of cardinal fans arrived at nearly identical projections for kip wells? exact same won-loss record, near-exact matches in era and whip; even the walk and k rates and the hr/9 are an almost perfect fit. that's creepy. and it's a trend: compare our edmonds projection to CCH's:

VEB 425 79 116 21 1 25 86 69 | .272 .373 .503
CCH 427 73 117 25 1 24 82 64 | .274 .369 .506

i went over and checked out the CCH threads, wondering if perhaps the same guys posting numbers here are also posting over there; that would explain the similar outcomes. but it doesn't appear to be the case; it looks as if we have two discrete groups of forecasters, arriving at the same conclusions independently. this can mean only one thing --- and when i figure out what that is, i'll let you know. . . .

anyway, back to wells: if we lump all the projections together (i counted the twin cardinal projections as one, to avoid skewing the average), we come up with the following composite projection for wells:

composite 124 128 58 87 14 7-9 4.66 1.491

that's not quite what we VEBbers have in mind for the guy. the innings are probably too low; before last season, wells threw 133 innings or more 5 consecutive years, with a yearly average of 170 ip. but let's take the composite projection on its face: would that suffice? let's view it alongside the line compiled by the two departed pitchers he's being asked to replace:

wells 124 128 58 87 14 7-9 4.66 1.491
ponson/weaver 151 177 55 78 23 9-8 4.88 1.536

the second line elides ponson's 1-inning stint as a relief pitcher; those stats cover 28 starts (13 ponson, 15 weaver). so if wells --- this year's reclamation project --- can hit his rather modest composite projection, he'll more or less replace last year's reclamation jobs; fewer innings, but better results. that's not a particularly high bar to clear, but the comparison places things into some context. if wells simply approximates the ponson/weaver line, and carp approximates his line from last season, then the rotation improves if the remaining 3 starters include

  1. one guy who approximates suppan's production (ie, an era in the low 4s), and
  2. two guys who post ERAs below 6.00
those are not difficult requirements to meet; nobody has to pitch way beyond his abilities for it to happen. so i continue to think the rotation is going to get significantly better; the question is, by how much? it was so bad last season that the starters could improve by 5 games and the cardinals could still finish with 80something wins and miss the playoffs. in other words, the staff will probably be better than last year's but worse than those of'04-'05. . . . . gee, i've got a firm grasp on the obvious this morning.

a final note: both cardinal communities mirrored PECOTA's projection for wells, with one rather massive caveat: we hometowners expect wells to throw twice as many innings as PECOTA does. here's PECOTA times 2, alongside our projections --- the CCH guys were spot-on this one:

VEB 171 173 68 121 19 12-10 4.45 1.411
CCH 165 162 72 115 18 12-10 4.47 1.418
PECOTAx2 164 166 72 106 18 8-10 4.47 1.451

so if we just clone the guy, we've got ourselves a decent #3 starter.