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First things first – the relievers’ projections. Yesterday I posted the starters’ projections from Bill James. Friday, Dan posted our hitters’ projections. The Bill James Handbook has been made available to us courtesy of SBN and Acta Sports.

Again, they’re pretty incomplete. For one thing, neither Motte nor Kinney are included, presumably b/c they pitched so few innings this season. Flores isn’t included either. Hmm…Maybe that’s a good omen. I also think that the ERA projections are less valuable w/ relievers than they are for starters b/c so much depends on so many other factors. This time, I’ve included this year’s actual numbers in parentheses. Anyway, here we go:

ERA BB/9 K/9 HR/9
Franklin 4.36 (3.55) 2.7 (3.4) 4.8 (5.8) 1.3 (1.1)
Izzy 3.39 (5.70) 3.9 (4.6) 8.1 (7.6) 0.9 (1.1)
McClellan 3.77 (4.04) 2.9 (3.1) 7.3 (7.0) 0.7 (0.8)
Perez 3.90(3.46) 6.2 (4.8) 10.5 (9.1) 0.9 (1.1)
Springer 3.22 (2.32) 2.9 (3.2) 7.7 (8.1) 1.1 (0.7)
Thompson 4.58 (5.15) 2.7 (2.6) 4.6 (4.5) 1.1 (0.7)
Villone 4.22 (4.68) 4.7 (6.7) 7.7 (9.0) 0.9 (0.7)

There are a couple of things here that should stand out. First, McClellan and Springer should be valuable members of the pen, if Springer, in fact, returns. Villone sucks (he won’t be back anyway) and Thompson, too, is pretty bad. It wouldn’t stun me if the Cards end up cutting bait w/ Brad. He could be an OK Franklin-type out of the pen, but the bullpen isn’t better w/ both of them down there and he’s out of options.

Izzy’s projection is mind-numbing, IMO. Does anyone (including Tony, Dunc, or Izzy) really think he’s got that kind of a season left in him? Finally, there’s Perez, who’s projected to see both his walk and strikeout rates increase precipitously. I could see his walk rate being as high as it was last year – about 1 every 2 innings – but not increasing to 2 every 3 IP. Might his K rate jump like that? I guess if he got better control of his slider (which doesn’t seem to be how Bill James projects it) he might strike out more batters. It’s pretty clear to me that someone w/ the numbers that are projected for Perez wouldn’t make it as a closer for a good team. Either Perez will pitch considerably better than that, or we’re going to have to find someone to pitch in the 9th. Apparently, James likes Izzy!

There were only 8 relievers in baseball last year who threw as many as 40 IP and had BB rates as high or higher than that projected for Perez next year. Interestingly, 2 of them are Ron Villone and Charlie Manning. That gives me a lot of comfort! The best of those 8 was Fernando Rodney who finished w/ an FIP of 4.12 and an ERA of 4.91. BTW, his K rate was also over 10 – as Perez’s is projected. If the best we’re going to get out of Perez is Fernando Rodney, it’s not good enough. I’m going to make the bold prediction that Perez is considerably better, particularly w/ his BB rate than Rodney.

Yesterday kindred asked about any comparisons that have been made between the different projection systems as a way of evaluating how accurate the James projections might be. So far this year, there haven’t been any that I know of. Every year, BP runs comparisons of the projection systems. Here are last year’s hitter projection comparisons and pitcher projection comparisons. (subscription only) Unsurprisingly, they appear to favor their own PECOTA projections so take that for what you will. Here are the ones flimtotheflam found from The Hardball Times for this year. In any case, neither evaluated the James projections as part of their comparison so it doesn’t help us any even looking back a year.

The big Cardinal news coming yesterday was that Albert Pujols was chosen by MLB as its Clemente Award winner. To many, this is a "so what" award. They’re waiting to hear on the MVP. To Albert, however, this is a very big deal. The Clemente Award is given every year to "the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team." Albert received this award largely for the work he’s done w/ his Pujols Family Foundation. He also does work w/ the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Ronald McDonald House.

Pujols has had the reputation of being somewhat snarly at times, particularly w/ the media. There have been questions at times about how well he gets along w/ his teammates, etc. Still, we’ve all known for years what a great player he is and I think we’ve all known how fortunate the Cards have been over those years to have a team whose best player is also its hardest worker. He is a perfectionist and works arduously at his craft. He’s the best hitter in baseball and probably the best fielder at his position in baseball. In fact, he’s one of the best defensive players in the game.

He’s also one of the best human beings in the game – comments about Tom Glavine or Ryan Howard notwithstanding. Yesterday, he was recognized for it. I’m posting late Saturday night b/c this morning I’m on my way to a 5K walk for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I’m walking in support of one of my students whose younger brother has type-1 juvenile diabetes. I tell you this not to tell you what a great human being I am. I mentioned it b/c I’ll never hit like Pujols or field like Pujols. I’ll never play for the Cardinals or earn $16 M a year. I’ll certainly never be a World Champion, an MVP, a Gold Glover, or a Hall of Famer. But I can do things to help others, even if it just means getting my ass out of bed on a Sunday morning and getting a little exercise. If our heroes can’t encourage us to be more like them, then they’re not really heroes, are they?

I’ve left the links to all those organizations in case you’re inclined to visit the websites so you can learn a little more about all the work that Pujols does when he’s not crushing baseballs. And I’m done preaching. Thank you for indulging me.

I’ll have a World Series game thread up for Game 4 later on.