Staturday: What will be, What w/could have been, and What the heck happened? PT was right!

STOP READING – SPOILER ALERT!

This column will project the upcoming season with such frightening precision that playing the games will be little more than a novelty. The only reason to attend a game will be to drink over priced beer, eat garlic fries and enjoy the beats pounded out of the left field bleachers. Fair enough, those are some good reasons.

Read on, if you must, but do not say that I did not warn you.

Warnings aside, these projections, as with all projections, are inexact. They are based on weighted averages of a range of possible outcomes for each player. Many players will exceed these projections. Many others will fail to live up to them. I do my best to account for health, but, again, these are based on what I consider to be the most likely outcome and serious injuries or unexpected health could change playing time projections dramatically.

Offensive projections are based on this formula, drawn exclusively from OPS (as projected by PECOTA) and playing time:

RC = (.3 x OPS - .1) x PA

Pitching projections are based on this formula, drawn exclusively from RA/9 (as projected by PECOTA) and IP:

RA = RA/9 x IP/9

These are both very simple translations. They do not include important considerations, such as defense, leverage, base running, OPS distribution and a number of other factors.

Lineups were taken from MLB.com’s depth charts. Playing time was based on my own estimates.

The A’s – What will be: 

 Wwb_as_bat_medium

The offense is pretty much ok across the board. No one is that good, no one is that bad. When you apply positional adjustments, Mark Ellis and Jack Cust would tie for the honor of being the best offensive player on the squad. It is a sub-par lineup, but it is not terrible … just wait until we get to Seattle. (whoops … another spoiler)  

Wwb_as_pit_medium

 You will notice that in this projection I am anticipating no playing time from Rich Harden.

As is always a problem, pitchers switching roles (Duke) tend to have unrealistically high projections when entering the rotation and unrealistically low, when joining the ‘pen.

The top of the rotation is pretty average. So is the bullpen. The back end of the rotation grades poorly, though – and with all of the health issues, I felt the need to assign a number of innings to an anonymous crappy pitcher who will allow 2 runs for every 3 innings of work. The Rangers also needed some help from a pitcher to be named later to finish their season. In the interests of avoiding yet another spoiler, lets promptly move on to our friends from Texas.

The Rangers – What will be:

  Wwb_rang_bat_medium

 Do not let the acceptable run total fool you. This is another poor offense. It is that girl at the club who you have spent all night dancing with … she is hinting that she wants to go somewhere quiet, but, quite wisely, you do not want to commit until they turn the lights on to kick everyone out. It is the heat and jet streams of Arlington that powers this offense – not actual talent.

Wwb_rang_pit_medium

   The Rangers’ pitching staff, on the other hand, is not nearly as bad as it looks – well, sort of. The 13 players involved in the projection, should post fairly close to average run totals, given their home park. The problem is, given their recent performances, I simply could not figure out where the innings were going to come from. If the “Others” involved in this projection were inflated for park effects, that run total would head north with it. This is not a terrible rotation – but if questions are not answered and players do not step up their innings, it could go south, very quickly.

The Angels – What will be:

Wwb_angel_bat_medium

Here we have a pretty much average offense. PECOTA does not much care for Erick Aybar – but this team has good depth which will get plenty of playing time, given health question marks and inexperience. Surprisingly, this is slightly worse than the expected number of runs for the Angels last year, despite the notable upgrade of banishing Shea Hillenbrand. 

Wwb_angel_pit_medium

 The rotation looks like it will be a bit disappointing to Halo fans. It is a good group – but may fail to put up the kind of numbers that will carry a team. The top of the bullpen should be very good, the lack of depth could hurt – but if Bulger lives up to his billing, Scioscia should be able to avoid using the back of his ‘pen in any leveraged situations.

This is a decent team – but not that good. PaulThomas was right in his repeated assertion. They are very beatable. So can the Mariners beat them?

The Mariners – What will be: 

Wwb_marin_bat_medium

 I should note that PECOTA did not have projections for Bloomquist or Morse – so I used their career OPS instead. I think Morse is a tad overrated, but it should not affect the overall numbers much.

PECOTA hates Ichiro Suzuki (unfairly, I think -- he should be a couple of wins better) and the Mariners offense as a whole. It thinks this is a lineup that will compete for the honor of being the worst in the league. There are no real bright spots here. It is just bad.

They made waves in the off-season bulking up their rotation and the ‘pen is thought to be a good one. Will it be enough?

Wwb_marin_pit_medium

  Was it enough? That is a resounding no. The rotation behind Bedard and King Felix is terrible and the bullpen behind Putz is average at best. I cannot help but wonder, what were the Mariners thinking?  Acquiring Bedard will give them a reasonable chance of avoiding 90 losses – but a .500 season would be a huge accomplishment for this porous roster.

The Division – What will be:

Wwb_stand_wwb_medium

 The Angels will limp across the finish line thanks to a lack of any real competition. Summer in Oakland will be more exciting than most expect, given the division, BB may not even be in a position to entertain offers for Blanton, Street, et al come July.

The Mariners, despite high expectations will trail the pack. Bedard was worth about 4 wins to them. So, seriously, what were they thinking?

The Division – What would have been: 

Coming that close to competing, many A’s fans will be left wondering, what would have been if Swisher and Haren had still been around? What about if BB had brought in Barry Bonds? Could that team have competed?

Wwb_stand_wwhb_medium

That team would have done more than compete.

 Adding those three guys to the projection would have added 8 wins to the total, allowing the team to edge the Angels and squeak into the playoffs. Bonds and Swisher are worth 4.5 wins, Haren 3.5 wins.

The Division – What could have been:

ou’ll recall that all projections for the A’s to this point are mildly conservative in one respect – they project zero playing time for Rich Harden. What could have been if he was added in?  What if Rich Harden could manage 140 innings? All of a sudden the AL West is transformed from a poor division that seemingly no one wants to win into a legitimate major league.

Wwb_stand_wchb_medium  

 Of course, I know what you are thinking and you are right. That projection is a pipe dream. Rich Harden pitching? Bitch, please!

In case you want to explore other possible amounts of playing time, every 35 innings Harden pitches should add one win to the team’s total, meaning a completely healthy Rich Harden would be worth about 6 wins. You’ll recall that without Harden, the A’s project to be 7 games behind the Angels.

But I suppose the ultimate point of these two thousand words is this:
Should Billy Beane have turned to rebuilding if the team, as this projection suggests, had a 50-50 chance of winning the honor of getting the crap kicked out of it in the first round by either the Yankees or the Red Sox?

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