Monthly Archives: October 2015

The projections: What I got right

As you know, baseball projections, or any projections for that matter, are never a sure thing, especially when they consist of nothing but educated guesses, as mine do. Projection systems like Steamer and ZiPS, which you can find on FanGraphs lovely site, are much more accurate, because they use complicated and in-depth formulas and models to make their decisions on players. As for me, I simply did some research and predicted the results on my own.

But even though my projections were purely guesses, I still had my share of correct calls. Here’s where I went right:

Adam Lind

AVG HR wOBA wRC+ OBP ISO K% BB% WAR
Projection .279 18 .353 122 .340 0.181 18.7% 7.8% 1.5
Season Stats .277 20 .351 119 .360 0.183 17.5% 11.5% 2.2

Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but I was dead on when it came to projecting LInd. Aside from his on-base percentage and walk rate, I was just one or two points off on every offensive statistic. His WAR was higher than I thought it’d be; credit that to his glove. His 5 Defensive Runs Saved at first base was far and away a career high.

Though it’s not saying much, Lind had one of the best offensive seasons on the Brewers in 2015. He got on base more than any Brewer not named Gerardo Parra, and he rediscovered his power swing after hitting just six home runs a year ago.

2016 outlook: Don’t be surprised if Lind is traded this winter. New general manager David Stearns already cleaned house with the coaching staff and has reorganized the front office. It’s only a matter of time before he starts moving player personnel.

Ryan Braun

AVG HR wOBA wRC+ OBP ISO K% BB% WAR
Projection .308 26 .368 140 .378 .220 18.2% 8.9% 4.5
Season Stats .285 25 .366 129 .356 .213 20.2% 9.5% 2.8

Okay, okay, I know there’s a huge discrepancy in Braun’s projected Wins Above Replacement and his actual WAR. I thought he was going to improve at least a little in right field since he had a whole year there under his belt. but he was just as pitiful as he was in 2014.

However, my prediction that he would transform back into one of baseball’s best hitters came true. Braun put up his highest ISO since 2012 and finished 29th in all of baseball in weighted runs created plus.

2016 outlook: With his extension just about to kick in, it’ll be tough to trade Braun, no matter how badly Stearns wants to. Nonetheless, Braun proved he can still hit with the elite, and he should continue that next season.

Scooter Gennett

AVG HR wOBA wRC+ OBP ISO K% BB% WAR
Projection .268 6 .310 95 .314 .125 17.0% 4.1% 1.4
Season Stats .264 6 .289 77 .294 .117 17.4% 3.1% 0.2

As regular readers know, I’ve never been a fan of Scooter Gennett. Every time I see him at the plate, I shed a tear for the departed Rickie Weeks. Sigh.

I knew Gennett was going to have a below-average season, which is why I’m counting this as a win for my projections. Yet, I didn’t expect him to be so abysmal that I was rooting for Hector Gomez to take over his second-base job. He played no better than a replacement player. Offensively, he was useless, and his defense took a big slide as well.

2016 outlook: Honestly, I can’t imagine Gennett having a major-league job next year. Oh wait. The Brewers are rebuilding, which means Gennett will absolutely be on the team’s roster, unfortunately. Unless Milwaukee is ready to give one of their younger prospects a try. I mean, why not?

Jeremy Jeffress

ERA FIP xFIP SIERA HR K% BB% GB% WAR
Projection 2.62 3.11 3.00 2.59 4 21.9% 9.6% 57.4% 1.0
Season Stats 2.65 3.22 3.00 2.85 5 23.5% 7.7% 58.2% 0.8

Before the season started, I wrote that Jeremy Jeffress would be MLB’s next top closer sometime in the near future, and after the stand-out numbers he racked together as the setup man in 2015, I’m even more confident in saying that. I called this one almost perfectly.

Jeffress is a strikeout and ground-ball pitcher, and he proved that over a full season for the first time in his career. He struck out almost nine batters per game and his GB% was the 17th-best among qualified relievers, mostly due to his power sinker.

2016: Jeffress will again be Craig Counsell‘s go-to-guy in high leverage situations next season, and he even could slide into the closer’s role if the Brewers choose to shed money and a veteran by trading Francisco Rodriguez.

 

You can check out my full list of projections here:

Hitters

Pitchers

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We need to talk about Jason Rogers

When Jason Rogers was coming up through the minor leagues, I barely paid any attention to him. As far as I was concerned, he was a non-prospect. At best, I thought, he was a poor defensive third and first baseman who had occasional pop in his bat.

Because I never really cared about how Rogers was performing down on the farm, I didn’t realize his very solid on-base numbers. That is, until last season when he started with the Double-A squad. 2014 was the first time Rogers piqued my interest. Here’s why:

Year Level OBP wRC+
2014 AA .355 121
2014 AAA .379 142

That’s not too shabby at all. His OBP was great in Double-A and even better when he moved up a level. His performance caused me to dig deep — and by dig deep I mean go to his FanGraphs player page — into his minor league statistics. I was very pleased with what I found, and it made me question why Rogers wasn’t talked about more.

Here are is complete minor league stats, combining every level of every season:

OBP wOBA wRC+
.382 .387 136

It’s fair to say Rogers enjoyed much success throughout his career in the minors. For a player with average power at best (just two seasons with 10+ home runs), those numbers are especially brilliant.

And yet, the Milwaukee Brewers organization never gave him a chance until this season, just after he turned 27. The Brewers employed Aramis Ramirez at third base for the last two and a half years, so it makes sense why Rogers wasn’t needed there. But first base is more of a question mark. In lieu of Rogers, Milwaukee chose to go with old veterans like Yuniesky Betancourt, Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds. Rogers saw just 10 plate appearances in 2014, while fellow minor-league first baseman Matt Clark nabbed 31.

For all of Rogers’ career, he’s been the prospect nobody talks about. His performance this year may have changed people’s perceptions of him, though.

In 169 plate appearances, Rogers put up the third-highest wRC+ (121) and wOBA (.354), the second-highest OBP (.367) and sixth-best walk rate (8.9%) among Brewers who hit the century mark at the plate. Surely those numbers are inflated by a .360 batting average on balls in play, but nonetheless, they’re still top-notch for a 27-year-old rookie.

There is some unfortunate news regarding Rogers’ star-like numbers, however. They’re superficial, and he is unlikely to repeat them as a starter or off the bench in 2016.

When Rogers put a ball in play, it was on the ground 54.2% of the time, and for a player with no speed, that’s usually not going to lead to success. Yet somehow, Rogers defied the baseball gods and put up an insane .328 batting average on ground balls. League average was just .236. So yeah, Rogers got more lucky than I did on my high school prom night. This is reason enough alone to believe his performance is not sustainable going forward. Sad, I know.

There’s no doubt Rogers put up an unbelievable season, and it wouldn’t surprise me or probably anyone else to see him make the Brewers’ major-league roster out of spring training. Especially since the team is in the midst of a massive rebuild. There is doubt, however, about the hitter Rogers is. He needs more time and more at-bats for us to get a clearer picture of who he is. But unless he’s the luckiest player since, well, ever, it’s reasonable to think his numbers will decline next year.