Last week I read a post from DRaysBay, which attempted to predict the win totals for the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox this season using WAR to estimate how many wins the various eastern powers would accumulate in 2010.
I decided to do this for our Astros, but I didn't think enough of my rough calculations to post them. On Sunday though, in the comments section of another one of my posts, a handful of us got into a fairly spirited discussion about what fate would meet the team in the upcoming season.
I used the same method as the Rays' writer did and came out with anywhere from 77-80 wins, depending much like OremLK noted yesterday, on how well Myers/Norris/Paulino/Manzella/Feliz do. Injury concerns, young players on the rise and an older player on the decline all weigh heavily into how this quintet fare in the world of WAR.
Essentially, I counted up the WAR values for our starting rotation/closer/relief pitcher du jour and starting offensive lineup, added them together and got somewhere around 37.5 WAR. I realize that the AL has a DH and the Astros do not, so I subbed in a 1 WAR player for pinch hitters/rare DH opportunities, etc. This isn't the most scientific way to do things, I realize, but I figure that while the AL clubs get an extra win from offense, their pitchers lose a win by having to face that extra hitter rather than a pitcher. After that, I added 48 to this total to get 85.5 eW.
So, if the season goes according to CHONE/my own appoximation of WAR, Astro-life could optimistically look something like this:
Starting Offensive Lineup:
Total: 20.2 WAR
These WAR values are either directly from CHONE or are an average of my own estimate and CHONE. The least reliable projection is that of Manzella. That 1 WAR reflect my belief that he will approach a .310 wOBA and play above average defense at shortstop. Of course, it remains to be seen whether he can do either.
Brandon Lyon's WAR value came from my looking at his past three seasons worth of work with Arizona and Detroit, toning down his walks a tad but also bringing up his peripheral stats that can be influenced by BABIP. Other relievers' is reflected by me looking at the values of the AL East clubs and knocking our guys down by 1/10.
Roy and Wandy, if healthy, should be able to produce those WAR values, as they are in my estimation extremely reasonable. Brett Myers' 2008 season with Philadelphia may be similar to what the Astros are getting in 2010. I gave him the benefit of a little better control, and fewer home runs allowed to get him to 2.4 WAR. Then again, betting that he hits 190 IP may be foolish.
As for Bud and Felipe, my hope is that they pitch injury free, beat out Brian Moehler and both pitch over 150 innings. My guess is that if they're able to pitch that many innings, their natural talents will shine through and boost them to those WAR values.
This is 9 more wins than PECTOA has projected for the Astros. Of course, their data probably has Oswalt and Myers as regressing with age, ditto for Berkman, Matsui, Feliz, and Carlos Lee. Michael Bourn's game is so influenced by "placing" the ball in certain areas of the field, that his BABIP may decline, and along with it his WAR.
The other side of the coin has players like Manzella, Norris, and Paulino are younger players ho haven't had a tremendous amount of success in the minors. Their methodology almost certainly will mean rather low projections for all three. However, with Paulino and Norris, their peripheral statistics are solid. Combine this fact with the relative youth of the duo, and they may see favorable numbers from PECOTA when it is all said and done.
Hunter Pence may be the one offensive player I listed above (maybe J.R. Towles as well) who PECOTA projects as seeing improvements from 2009. Both are entering their age 27 seasons which for many players means peak seasons are approaching.
To sum this all up, do I think the Astros will win 85 games in 2010? No. This is a glass half full, rose colored glasses, homer, grey skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face, projection. It's optimistic (overly so perhaps) and not precise in it's calculations. However, I hope that this post helps continue the discussions we've had going the past few days.
I can't emphasize enough that this is the just the first attempt by the Crawfish Boxes' "staff", to do project the team's win total for 2010. DQ is in his lab tinkering with an Excel spreadsheet which will yield a much more scientific result to this question. Until he's ready to roll, I thought I would throw this out there as an appetizer of sorts.