Friday, July 4, 2014

The 2014 mid season batting PECOTA report and some other stupid Reds rambling.

I know. I know. It's not really mid season, because the Reds have played 84 games, so I'm three games late. Bite me. :)

For an explanation of PECOTA and some of the other terminology talked about in this post, please refer to last year's similar posts if you need some education. I haven't made that many posts because I'm a lazy sow, so they shouldn't be that hard to find. I will be referencing Baseball Prospectus' "True Average," or TAv, at times, and you can find the explanation for that RIGHT HERE. TAv is on the batting average scale, which means that, just like the batting average you grew up seeing, .300 is good, .260 is average or so, and .200 is bad. I find that it's a good stat to introduce to "newbies" of sabermetrics because it doesn't require a lot of thought like some other advanced stats. Everybody knows what a .300 hitter or .250 hitter is.

Here goes.

Starting with the catchers...damn, Devin Mesoraco has been frigging awesome so far, hasn't he?

Was projected for:

.242/.305/.394 with 14 HR and a .253 TAv. He's blowing that away. He currently sits:
.314/.380/.645 with 14 HR and a .388 TAv. Holy shit. He's already at his preseason projection for home runs, and let's not forget he was hurt early, twice. He only has 192 plate appearances. (For reference, Frazier leads the team in plate appearances with 354.) Basically, over a full season pace he'd be on pace to hit over 40 bombs, and nobody thought he was capable of that. I don't expect him to repeat this in the second half, and he doesn't have to to still be really good. Among players with at least 100 plate appearances, a .388 TAv leads all of baseball. For comparison, Giancarlo Stanton is at .364 and Mike Trout is at .362 in second and third. So, yeah, I don't think Devin is a better hitter than those two guys, but I'm excited about his future.

Branyan Pena has been pretty much what he's been his whole career, which is a serviceable backup. He's a nice player to have around, but he is what he is.

On to the much maligned Mr. Votto. We know the guy's not healthy. We can see it.  That quad is bothering him, and credit goes to him for managing to be fairly decent. But he's not having a typical awesome sauce Joey Votto year, and I don't expect him to be back to his regular self until next season after an off season of rest and rehab.

Was projected for:

.298/.412/.512 with a .331 TAv and a 5.7 WARP. Currently at:
.259/.398/.415 with a .313 TAv and 1.9 WARP, so on pace for 3.8 WARP, roughly.

That's a good season for most players, but Joey Votto isn't most players. It's a testament to just how much of a bad motherfucker that guy is that he's putting up OK numbers when he's obviously struggling with that leg.

Brandon Phillips....still good on defense. Offensively, meh. Not a huge fan of his production or his approach. Remember that post I made where I talked about how swinging more and making less contact isn't a great idea? Well, he's largely regressed back to his career norms, as I predicted might happen back in April. He still swings at too many bad pitches, but he always has. As he ages and his skill declines he won't be able to get away with that as much, and I'm not sure he's capable of completely changing his approach at the plate at his age. Old dog and new tricks and all that.  Oddly enough, looking at the pitch values on Fangraphs, he's been doing most of his damage on fastballs, and getting hurt on curves and changeups. Last year, is was the other way around. I don't really know what to make of that.

Projection:
.264/.311/.404 with a .261 TAv. Currently at:
.266/.297/.394 with a .259 TAv.

That PECOTA system is pretty good sometimes, right? That's damn close, and it was last year too.

Zack Cozart. I touched on him in a previous post this season. (The 23 games post) and my opinion hasn't changed, although I will give him credit for being really really really good on defense this year. If your shortstop isn't going to hit, at least he needs to field well, and he is. Being that SS is the most important position on D, that's the one position that I don't get that upset about if a guy isn't hitting but he's contributing on D.

Projection:
.254/.289/.393 with 14 HR. Currently at:
.230/.277/.305 with 2 HR.

Where'd the power go? At least before when he was offensively challenged he'd occasionally crack a homer or two, and that's no longer happening. His .214 TAv is tied for 23rd worst in all of baseball among all players with at least 100 plate appearances. His TAv projection was .246. Since his on base projection is close to his real OBP, I'd say that the lack of power is really hurting his TAv.

Todd Frazier is having a pretty damn good year. Man, with all the injuries and Votto's struggles, also injury related, where would this team be without Flava Fraz and Rocco? In the toilet, that's where. I think he should be in the All Star Game, and I hope he makes it. He won't get the fan vote, but hopefully he'll get in as a reserve because he deserves it. I never would have thought Todd Frazier would be in an All Star Game. I've always thought he was good, but not that good. So far this year I've been wrong.

Projection:
.243/.311/.428 with a .270 TAv and 19 HR. Currently at:
.289/.356/.503 with a .321 TAv and 17 HR. (only two more to meet his full season projection!)

Yeah, so PECOTA missed on this one, and I think everyone else did too. If you had asked me before the season started what Frazier's season would look like, I'd probably give you numbers pretty close to what PECOTA spit out. Hey, it's not perfect because these are human beings and a computer program (which is what PECOTA basically is) isn't always going to catch every breakout season.

Ryan Ludwick has been pretty much what you would expect. Projected for a .260 TAv and he's at .275. He's been ok. I have nothing more to add.

Oh, Billy Billy Billy.

This kid's a revelation isn't he? We all knew he could run, but the bat's been a major surprise (and honestly, I think he may be a little bit over his head right now. I thought he would hit fairly well eventually, but not this soon. I guess I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. Let's hope it doesn't.) Even if the bat does slump, his ELITE defense (and I'm not exaggerating, Fangraphs has his defensive metrics as the best centerfielder in the game, and I know that small samples of defensive data is often unreliable, but it passes the eye test too) means he will always be contributing value no matter what.

Projection:
.244/.296/.332 with 71 steals and 15 caught stealing. .235 TAv. Currently at:
.279/.309/.400 with 35 steals and 12 caught stealing. .266 TAv.

Need to not get caught stealing as much. But, with that defensive value and baserunning, if he could bump that TAv up a tick, to say, .280-.285ish, and improve his SB rate, then we are looking at a potential All Star caliber MVP candidate type of a guy. I'm pretty excited to see how his career turns out. If the bat plays he's a superstar, if not he's Willy Taveras. Could go either way but I'm leaning towards "he's not Taveras." Thankfully. That guy blew a dick. (.210 TAv with the Reds in 2009. Yech. Good riddance. Although apparently Willy is still playing in the Mexican League, and doing pretty well for himself, on a team with former Royal Angel Berroa. Good for him.)

Jay Bruce has had a hard year to analyze. That damn injury bug again. He wasn't playing well before the knee surgery, but it was reported that his knee had been a little wonky for some time, so who knows how that effected his performance early on. He had a really good June at .300/.351/.540 so it seems like he's back on track, but his full line isn't going to look that great right now because of the bad start/injury.

Projection:
.250/.325/.468 with a .283 TAv and 29 HR. Currently at:
.234/.321/.402 with a .269 TAv and 7 HR. (only on pace for 14, roughly. I expect him to wind up hitting 20-22 by the end of the year. For the record, I'm using the preseason PECOTA projections, but they revise those projections during the season as well, as guys miss time and guys under or over perform, sometimes those factors go into it, and they are projecting Bruce for 13 HR between now and the end of the season, which would put him at exactly 20, and I promise I just looked that up right when I said 20-22, not before, so me and the computer agree almost exactly here. Spooky.)

That's all for position players. I will do another post in the coming days where I will talk about the pitching side of things.

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