Monday, March 7, 2011

Projecting the 2011 Phillies: The Lineup

On to part III of my little foray into baseball statistical projections, a prediction for the Phillies' 2011 season...

(Well, actually, we're going to split this into two parts: one for the batters, and one for the pitchers.  There's a lot to talk about here, after all)

I just wanted to point out before I go anywhere that I am obviously using a considerable amount of my own intuition in making these predictions about the Phillies' individual stats.

What we're looking at here is a means of predicting the individual stats for the Phillies' lineup and starting staff (I figure that the bullpen is going to be a wash, which you may disagree with, but the addition of Lee should lessen the impact of the bullpen anyway), and predicting the overall output of the team in terms of runs scored, wins, and all that.

In my predictions for 2011, I will assume that players will miss some time but will not miss a significant amount of games (aka at least 600 plate appearances -- as a reference, Placido Polanco missed 30 games and had 600; of course, he benefited from batting second).  To spread my risk, I'm going to conservatively estimate each player's play time, since I'm sure someone will miss games but I don't know who that will be.

Going through the batting order (excluding Jayson Werth, who's no longer in Philly), here we go:

Jimmy Rollins
He missed almost half the year, but his .243 batting average was almost 20 points lower than what he had been averaging since 2008.  However, his walks were up and his strikeouts down, so there is some indication that his plate discipline has improved enough to show a reasonable rebound.  Additionally, his .246 BABIP was more than 20 points below what he had been putting up the last couple years, so the combination with increased play-time continuity should give J-Roll a reasonable improvement in 2011.

2010: 394 PA, .243 BA, .320 OBP, .374 SLG, .246 BABIP, 8 HR, 48 R, 41 RBI
2011: 610 PA, .250 BA, .323 OBP, .375 SLG, .250 BABIP, 10 HR, 72 R, 60 RBI

Placido Polanco
Yes, he missed some time, but not enough to really worry about it; he's old.  It turns out that Polanco had a year that was almost entirely equivalent to what he had done in the last few years.  Therefore, there really isn't a reason to project him for anything different.  One thing to keep an eye on is where he will be in the lineup this year, as his right-handed bat might be used in the middle of the lineup to split up Utley, Howard, and Ibanez now that Jayson Werth is gone.  That might give him a couple more RBI's and a couple fewer runs, I would imagine.

2010: 602 PA, .298 BA, .339 OBP, .386 SLG, .312 BABIP, 6 HR, 76 R, 52 RBI
2011: 610 PA, .296 BA, .337 OBP, .385 SLG, .310 BABIP, 6 HR, 70 R, 55 RBI

Chase Utley
Utley was another one of those guys that missed a bunch of games, and he already has issues with knee tendinitis this year.  The Phillies don't appear to be bothered so much by this, and if Utley can stay on the field at something like 80 percent, that's better than the alternatives (yes, that's you, Wilson Valdez).  He might suffer from reduced output during this season, but it's better than nothing.

2010: 511 PA, .275 BA, .387 OBP, .445 SLG, .288 BABIP, 16 HR, 75 R, 65 RBI
2011: 610 PA, .280 BA, .390 OBP, .465 SLG, .290 BABIP, 20 HR, 87 R, 80 RBI

Ryan Howard
Howard had a bit of a power outage last year, much of which was attributed to never fully recovering from his midseason injury.  He showed a more balanced game last year, increasing his batting average and on-base percentage while his power numbers showed decline.  However, the loss of Jayson Werth behind him in the lineup is going to hurt his stat line.

2010: 620 PA, .276 BA, .353 OBP, .505 SLG, .332 BABIP, 31 HR, 87 R, 108 RBI
2011: 620 PA, .275 BA, .350 OBP, .510 SLG, .330 BABIP, 33 HR, 83 R, 105 RBI

Raul Ibanez
Rauuuuul had a tough start to the season last year, but he did bounce back and put up a respectable stat line.  However, his age is definitely catching up to him (mostly in the power department -- his slugging percentage dropped heavily from the first couple years in Philly), although perhaps the whole contract-year thing could boost his numbers.  Again, with the lack of a proven right-fielder, just having Ibanez around is going to give this team at least some semblance of an offensive threat in the middle of the order.

2010: 636 PA, .275 BA, .349 OBP, .444 SLG, .311 BABIP, 16 HR, 75 R, 83 RBI
2011: 600 PA, .270 BA, .347 OBP, .440 SLG, .310 BABIP, 15 HR, 71 R, 75 RBI

Shane Victorino
He only missed a couple games last year, which was a unique characteristic on the Phillies.  He's improved a little bit each year and has been fairly consistent as a Phillie, and I've read that he's trying to work on bunting more to improve his on-base percentage and situational hitting.  His switch-hitting nature makes his role in the lineup flexible, so he could get moved around a bit to accommodate the issues with the rest of the lineup.  I'm expecting a pretty solid effort, with perhaps a little bit less power than he displayed last year.

2010: 648 PA, .259 BA, .327 OBP, .429 SLG, .273 BABIP, 18 HR, 84 R, 69 RBI
2011: 640 PA,

Carlos Ruiz
Carlos had the biggest year of his career last year, hitting 50 points above his career average and getting it done in clutch situations.  However, he did miss a whole lot of games, which could be said of a lot of guys last year.  Most pundits are expecting a pretty big regression back towards his previous numbers, and I can't say I disagree too much.  Ruiz' BABIP shot up 50 points from his recent averages, which indicates a probable drop-off this year.  If he can keep up his hitting prowess this year, it would be a big boost to the bottom of the order.

2010: 433 PA, .302 BA, .400 OBP, .447 SLG, .335 BABIP, 8 HR, 43 R, 53 RBI
2011: 610 PA, .280 BA, .380 OBP, .420 SLG, .305 BABIP, 10 HR, 50 R, 60 RBI

All right, so with the Jayson Werth absence, let's just look at:
The Right Field Position
Jayson Werth was an early MVP candidate last year, going through two really hot streaks and a couple really cold streaks during the season.  His worth (don't excuse the pun) was increased because he broke up the three lefty bats in Utley, Howard, and Ibanez and provided protection for Howard in the lineup.  His replacement was supposed to be Domonic Brown, but he is out for several weeks with a busted hand, and wasn't doing very well in Spring Training anyway.  Therefore, I think that I'm just going to use, as an estimate, a full season's worth of Ben Francisco as an estimate of what we'll get from our right fielder.  His stats seem to indicate that he's right around league-average, so I think it's fair to use him as a measuring stick.

2010 (Werth): 652 PA, .296 BA, .388 OBP, .532 SLG, .352 BABIP, 27 HR, 106 R, 85 RBI
2011 (Francisco): 610 PA, .263 BA, .329 OBP, .446 SLG, .296 BABIP, 20 HR, 73 R, 70 RBI

So, given these estimates, there should be around 590 runs scored between the 8 position players expected to start.  If we assume that the total number of plate appearances for the whole team over the season is pretty much the same as last year (about 6300), the other 1400 plate appearances have to come from somewhere.  About 400 of them will come from pitchers, so their output will be pretty sad-looking.  My guess would be that many of the rest of them will come from Wilson Valdez (as Rollins and Utley are injury-prone lately), and it's not so far-fetched that the rest of those appearances will be about as good as if Valdez were the one making those appearances.  Although, I would imagine that the various other pinch-hitters and such would have a little more power than Valdez, so I'm going to give these appearances a little more pop.  So, if we assume that the remaining 1400 appearances look something like this:

400 PA, .125 BA, .150 OBP, .150 SLG, .200 BABIP, 0 HR, 25 R, 15 RBI
1000 PA, .240 BA, .289 OBP, .350 SLG, .280 BABIP, 18 HR, 100 R, 90 RBI

That means that we're looking at something along the lines of 715 runs this year, a 60-run loss from last year's squad.  Of course, this is based on there being essentially the same amount of plate appearances made by the starters as last year.  This is clearly a conservative estimate, as there were a lot of injuries last year.  I would think that the number of runs would be more like 740, which would have been middle-of-the road last year.

So, there really isn't much of a problem with this lineup, now is there?  Based on my estimates, the Phils are only likely to lose about a quarter of a run per game in offensive output.  How will the pitching fare? We'll check on that in Part 2 of Part III.

Man, this is a lot of work.

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