With the release of every other major projection system's standings finally completed, it's high time that we finally unveiled our joint attempt at projecting the 2010 Astros. HLP revealed his first go around with projecting the 2010 Astros recently, but we took it upon ourselves to haggle with each other's corrections/additions/allocations etc., in order to form a more perfect projection. We also corrected what we perceived as a flaw in the tool we were using, as it didn't include hitting for pitchers. The result is a decrease in total projected wins. As you'll come to find, our drop in projected wins doesn't necessarily mean the previous win total of 84 is impossible. It's just less likely than it was. Conversely, we also don't mean to imply that 79 wins (our projected total) is what we believe the Astros will finish with.
Below, you'll find our projections for the hitters. Our input to the graph included the player, PA, wOBA, BR (base running), and Fld (fielding). Both BR and Fld are on a scale of wins. Thus, because ten runs constitute a win, you can read .25 as 2.5 runs. BR, Fld, and the first WAR columns are the scale of 700PA, or a full season of player. The last column, the second WAR column, is the player's scaled WAR.
A total projection of 11.9 WAR from the bats is not bad-for this crop of players. Compared to the Astros 2009 batting WAR of 12.5, the drop of in hitting doesn't appear to be as extreme as we've considered it (although this is a measure of both hitting an fielding, and the fielding is projected to be better than 2009). The caveat we should apply here is that the Pitchers line may be generous. The line was arrived at by looking at our pitchers wOBA's from recent years and roughly averaging them with approximations of Felipe Paulino and Bud Norris' wOBA included. There is probably room for a drop there, too, but nothing earth-shattering.
The two inputs that were most debated were Pedro Feliz and Tommy Manzella's defense. Feliz was a +18 to +25 defender in his recent years in San Francisco, but his defensive production declined abruptly to +5 to +7, when he moved to Philadelphia. Is this an age-related drop or does this reflect a change related to joining a new team? Possible explanations include the change in ballpark, team decisions with respect to positioning and handling bunts, and the difference between playing beside Jimmy Rollins instead of Omar Vizquel. The defensive plunge, which coincided with the move to Philly, seemed too abrupt to be solely age-related decline, and we assumed that Feliz's defensive performance will fall somewhere between his defensive production with the Giants and Phillies, pegging him at +15.
Manzella is more enigmatic, so how do we account for that? We could assume a replacement level year, or we could be somewhere on his assumed scale of ability for -5 to +5. Given the above points about the interactions between the left side of the infield, the fact that Kaz Matsui can turn a double play, and Lance Berkman's ability to scoop, it doesn't seem unreasonable to assume a plus year for Manzella with his glove.
Onward to the projections for the men of the mound. Below is the table for the Astros starting rotation and bullpen. In all honesty, this is tough. DQ stared blankly at the pitcher's table for an hour and left more uncertain than he started. These projections relied on what the projections systems have spat out, coupled with what we know about each pitcher through their peripheral stats. Allocating IP for this staff isn't easy as the injury bug could strike a majority of our starters, which is why Brian Moehler gets so much love. As far as relief pitchers go, there are number of inputs we have that someone could look at and scratch their head. The inputs we had control over were IP, ERA, and LEV (leverage).
With batters, it's a little easier to project a WAR because the only things we're actually projecting are directly involved in their ability to create outs. For pitchers, and especially relievers, the process is obscured somewhat by assigning an unpredictable, unreliable stat that doesn't necessarily portend to the creation of outs and then attempting to scale that stat to the situation in which they are creating outs. Describing that feels like reading the Allegory of the Cave. We think everything we have here helps everything come out in the wash. However, you are free to disagree vehemently if wish you and free us from our shackles and turn our vantage point to reality.
As we've stated, this is just our attempt at providing our reasonable approximation of the performance level of each individual player and then determining a projection for the team based on the sum of its parts. It is by no means definitive. When we say that we've projected the Astros to win 79 games in 2010, we're really saying that we believe the true talent level of the Astros, as a team, is 79 wins. As such, what this next table tells you is the relative probability of a 79-win true-talent team winning various numbers of games over the course of a 162 game season.
As you can tell, there is no guarantee that a true-talent 79-win team would win 79 games; there's really only a 71% chance. Having all of our inputs tells us this fact is useful, but not the most useful aspect of this entire exercise. What we have is a very well informed foundation from which sensitivity analysis can be performed. Some of you probably read this and thought, "for goodness' sakes, Bud Norris is 3.97 SIERA pitcher, he's going to post better than a 4.40 ERA." Or conversely, "Bud Norris is a ticking time bomb; his arm falls off after 70 innings." The examples could go on and on. The point is that you can figure out just what each of those scenarios might mean for the 2010 Astros.
DQ has uploaded our final version of the spreadsheet to Google Docs in a folder entitled Astros WAR 2010. What we'd like to do is have you play around with the numbers. Correct where you think we went wrong, both in playing time in production, and then upload the results. We'll give it a week or two and pull the various true talents that are produced, average them, and see what we end up with. Heck, we could even do the same for every player's input, and go the same route. The ultimate in community projections, eh?
If you fill a spreadsheet out, and already have a Google account, upload it and place the link in the comment section. If you don't, state as much in the comments with the relevant WAR for hitters, pitchers, and the total WAR, along with your email address formatted as such: whatever at whatever dot com. DQ will send you an email that you can reply to and send him your spreadsheet (you can also be proactive an look at his SBN profile and send it to him that way).