2012 Reds

2012 Season Wrap-up: So, How’d I Do?

As you may remember, back before the season started, I did a series previewing the 2012 season for the Reds. I was even so bold as to make statistical predictions that I pretty much made up. Now that the season is (sadly) over, it’s time to take a look at how I did. Note that I’m using FanGraphs for WAR throughout.

Catcher

At Catcher, I nailed the total WAR, missing by just 0.1. However, I thought the Reds would get much more value out of Devin Mesoraco (I think we all did). What the Reds got this year represented a slight drop from 2011, but it was very slight (0.3 WAR). The lesson here: Ryan Hanigan is good.
2012 Best Guess WAR: 3.5
Actual: 3.4

First Base

I fell a little short here, but it was all about the injury. If Joey Votto hadn’t messed up his knee, this would have been much higher and would easily have surpassed my prediction. It’s worth noting that Miguel Cairo was so bad, he pretty well cancels out Todd Frazier‘s contributions as a fill in at first.
2012 Best Guess WAR: 7.0-7.5
Actual: 5.9

Second Base

Like catcher, I pretty well nailed second. I also got very, very close on Brandon Phillips‘ slash line. Note that BP came in at exactly 4.0 WAR, but I had to dock a couple of tenths for the below-replacement fill-ins who played when he was hurt.
2012 Slash-line Prediction: .275/.330/.435
Actual: .281/.321/.429
2012 Best Guess WAR: 4.0
Actual: 3.8

Third Base

Third is difficult to figure. Frazier played roughly 2/3 of his games there. Scott Rolen played when healthy and Cairo saw some time there, too. As best I can figure, the Reds got something like 2.8 WAR from their 3rd basemen. It’s fair to say the wheels fell off Rolen, though he was still good enough after the AS break to not be a total wash. In any case, I over-estimated what the Reds would get here by a fair bit.
2012 Best Guess WAR: 3.5
Actual: 2.8 (approx)

Shortstop

Again, I was very close. Cozart managed 2.7 on his own, but when he was banged up or had a day off, his replacement was most frequently Wilson Valdez. I think the most pleasant surprised is how good Cozart was with the glove. It’s hard not love the idea of a Cozart-BP double play combination for the next several years. Cozart isn’t a great hitter, but he’s fine for a shortstop (especially with his D). It’s not his fault Dusty hit him 1st or 2nd all year.
2012 Best Guess WAR: 2.5
Actual: 2.3

Right Field

Oh, Jay Bruce, you hit this year. Maybe you didn’t get on base as much as we would have likes, but you hit. You didn’t field though, and it cost you. A couple of years ago, you looked like a dynamo in right. Now, not so much. I missed badly on Bruce and it’s mostly fielding (though I thought he’d get on base more than he did). I have no way to explain what’s going on out there in right.
2012 Best Guess WAR: 5.0
Actual: 2.5

Center Field

Center is perhaps my biggest whiff. Drew Stubbs was terrible this year. In fact, the rather pathetic WAR number the Reds managed in center (easily the worst of all eight starting positions) is partially buoyed by the 30-odd games Chris Heisey saw in center. I’m officially part of the sell club where Stubbs is concerned now. He’s never been great, he’s supposed to be in his peak right now, and he just doesn’t seem capable of figuring it out. I feel bad for the guy, but he should not be in the lineup regularly next year.
2012 Best Guess WAR: 3.5
Actual: 1.6 (approx)

Left Fielder

I whiffed in left almost as much as in center but in the other direction. I did not think Ryan Ludwick would be this good, but that puts me in a club with basically everyone else in the world. Solid performances from Heisey and Xavier Paul also contributed to this number.
2012 Best Guess WAR: 2.0
Actual: 3.6 (approx)

Top of the Rotation

I was very close when you combine the WARs of Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos (missing the total by just 0.1 WAR), but they were basically opposites for me. That is, I thought Cueto would be about as good as Latos was and that Latos would be about as good as Cueto was. In either case, I’m cool with having these two at the top of the rotation for a while.
2012 Best Guess Cueto: 3.5
Actual: 4.8
2012 Best Guess Latos: 4.5
Actual: 3.1

Bottom of the Rotation

Holy cow, the bottom of the rotation was excellent. Three pitchers (plus one game of Mark Redmond) were worth an average of 2.2 WAR each. 2.2 WAR would be very nice from you number three starter, so to have your bottom three average that is beyond excellent. I predicted a very big gain of +3.3 WAR here (many, many of you took me to task for this), but Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, and Mike Leake surpassed even that, bringing a gain of 4.4 WAR. The Reds rotation, all together, produced 8.8 WAR more than in 2012. Pitching really is what carried this club.
2012 Best Guess WAR: 5.5
Actual: 6.6

Bullpen

And speaking of pitching… I also predicted big gains from the bullpen (though I thought Aroldis Chapman would be a starter at the time of the prediction), and that certainly happened. But, once again, the Reds blew past what I thought they would do, posting a total gain over 2011 of 6.1 WAR. That, folks, means the Reds saw an improvement of nearly 15 WAR from their pitching core in 2012. Wow.
2012 Best Guess: 5.5
Actual: 7.3

Overall

I think I did pretty well, when all is said and done. I nailed catcher, second, and short. I underestimated the pitching staff, but I would have been laughed off the stage for proposing the gains the Reds actually made, so I have to call my prediction for a huge improvement (I predicted a roughly 12 WAR improvement) a success overall. I missed badly in the outfield and injuries changed the picture at first and third. However, in the end, my predicted record of 92-70 fell well short of the 97 wins we saw from the Reds. Though, notably, the Reds Pythagorean record had them at 91 wins, making me very, very close to guessing the talent level of this team, even if I missed in spots.

I really enjoyed the exercise of trying to predict the performance of an entire team and it’s interesting to look back and see how I did. Assuming you all don’t mutiny, I’ll take another crack next spring and see how it goes.

26 thoughts on “2012 Season Wrap-up: So, How’d I Do?

  1. I would expect some regression in the bullpen next year, but improvement in the bench.

    This still has the makings of a 90+ win team.

  2. @Sultan of Swaff:

    100+ wins if they get two new players for either CF, LF or 3B. Two new players that can produce some good offensive (and defensive) numbers. The pitching, both starting and relief, is solid. Sterling. Only two new solid additions and this team can put forth a run much like the Yankees in the late 90′s and early 2000′s. That is all that is needed.

  3. I simply do not trust defensive metrics. To the extent they say Jay Bruce is a sub-replacement level fielder – two years after ranking him at 2 WINS above replacement, just with the glove – I think you have to ignore them.

  4. Jay Bruce doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of confidence. He made some excellent plays and showed good range this year, but he also made some completely boneheaded blunders.

    Joey Votto did that for a couple years at first. Hopefully Bruce can turn it around, too.

  5. I too am skeptical of some of the advanced metrics when it comes to defense. As someone who watched nearly every Reds game this year I find it hard to believe that Jay Bruce was that bad of an outfielder. I know he made some obvious and crucial errors, but could they possibly have that much influence on his overall numbers? And for what it’s worth, Andrew McCutchen also seems to get downgraded significantly by his defense in center, which again seems very odd to me.

  6. For those commenting on defense, I mostly agree. However, Bruce did look superhuman in 2010 and the numbers reflected that. He’s looked more human the last few years and the numbers reflect that, too. My prediction was counting on a little bit of a defensive bounce back, which didn’t happen.

    This years stats don’t have him as sub-replacement, they have him as a bit below average. As I understand them, fangraphs scales their fielding numbers to league average not to replacement level because, basically, there are a lot of minor leaguers who field as well as major leaguers, but can’t hit enough to make it up to the show.

    Overall, I think defensive numbers are useful, but imperfect. I think they definitely provide useful information over a long period of time. But that field is totally still developing.

  7. Here’s my question.. people who want to credit Dusty for the Reds for winning 97 games. Wouldn’t that be Price? If their record was 79-83 last year.. and they got a 15 WAR improvement from the pitching group from last year. That’d put them at 94-68, which is 3 games off where they finished off at 97-65.

    Seems to me that’s Brian Price who got this team so many wins, not Dusty Baker. Right?

    • …..
      Seems to me that’s Brian Price who got this team so many wins, not Dusty Baker. Right?

      And isn’t Dusty Baker Bryan Price’s boss and manager? A good manager empowers their supervisors then gets out of their way and let’s them do their job, offering support and guidance only as needed.

      By all published accounts, a major reason Price likes working in Cincy and has stayed is because of Dusty’s management style of letting him run his shop.

  8. @ToddAlmighty: I’m not going to put down Dusty right now but you’re right that Price did a very very good job. And yes pitching got this team 97 wins.

  9. Jason, I want to take my time and read your whole writeup before commenting on how you did.

    But on a related issue, there was a preseason poll to predict how many games the Reds would win. Has RLN announced who won that ?

  10. @ToddAlmighty: Pythag record had Reds as an 83 win teams last year. So, between offensive declines and pitching increase, they added about 8 “true” wins. And yes, a lot of that credit goes to the pitching staff, though I don’t think you can really credit Price for the big upgrades they made on the staff.

  11. There is zero way to know what the Reds will do next year. They could just as easily finish in last with like 65 wins as they could match this last season’s win total. That is what makes sports great, you don’t know what will happen till they actually play.

  12. @OhioJim: I agree. I simply said that “I’m not going to put down Dusty” and Price did a really good job. Tired of speaking for or against Dusty.

  13. @OhioJim: Jim, whoops, you weren’t even replying to me. Anyway I clarified my Dusty position, which is: “No comment at this time.”

  14. Don’t know where else to put this. Thought that Zito might come thru last nite, but wow, better than I’d imagined. He was like the young Zito. Just may have turned the tide. Having won 3 straight elimination games from the Reds, I’d like to see the Giants win 3 straight elimination games from the Cardinals.

  15. You obviously did a great job, Jason. Except for major surprises and injuries, you nailed it.

    And like others I don’t believe you were really so far off on Bruce, as I don’t buy that he was below average on defense. For whatever reason, he did have an off-year on defense. But he has better than average RF range and a great arm. He did seem to barely miss a lot of catches, and I heard the criticism that he would just miss with a feet first sliding catch at times when a head first slide or just a shoestring catch would have worked.

    Watching him in the postseason, I twice saw him shy away from the wall on long foul balls. I’d think it was just as well for his health, but then Pence would make such a play with a feet first slide.
    Maybe Pence is an interesting comparison. Pence looks terrible out there and Bruce looks great. But does Pence make plays that Bruce doesn’t make ?

  16. Maybe Pythag is a better measure of talent than the actual record, but at the end of the season, the actual record is the best indicator of how well the team has performed. Well duh, I guess. Teams with good bullpens outperform Pythag.

  17. This has been said a thousand times, but can’t Cozart just shorten his swing ? He strikes out way too much for a guy who could/should be a contact hitter. And of course he’s over-aggressive, flailing away at pitches outside of the strike zone.

    In Stubbs’ case it seems like he just can’t recognize pitches. I believe Cozart sees the ball better, and just needs a more disciplined approach. Which has also been said a thousand times.

  18. @dn4192: What a foolish statement. There is not way to predict with certainty, of course. And good teams do sometimes collapse. But in general, it is possible to reasonably predict which teams are likely to be good and which are likely to be bad. Nothing is 100%, but it’s not hard to be right a lot more often than you’re wrong.

  19. Kudos to Price and all, but isn’t the real explanation for our overperformance the uncanny health of our starting 5? I’m worried what happens next year when injuries come as they usually do. Who’s our #6/7? Cingrani? Redmund? Hopefully, Chapman is moved to the rotation to add that depth. But that’s where we could easily lose a bunch of wins.

  20. To “Dusty Proof” the Reds they need to: resign Broxton, not exercise the oprion on Ludwick (or try to resign him), trade Stubbs, let RolEEn retire (or go elsewhere), release or trade Valdez, let Cairo go. Make Chapman a starter and Broxton the closer. Go out and get a lead-off CF and a clean-up LF. The fans are going to want to see some changes, this isn’t a team good enough to stand pat regardless of the 2012 win/loss record. The Astros are gone and with them a number of very easy Ws.

  21. @groujo: Agreed. Health was a huge factor and can’t be counted on again. Fortunately, the Reds should be much deeper in ’13 than they were in ’12. Corcino and Cigrani should both be ready (or close enough) if needed. And there is Chapman, of course. Redmond for emergency duties. They should be reasonably okay.

  22. @pinson343: One thing I often wonder about outfielders with great arms (and I’m sure there’s a study on this somewhere) is if the effect of their arms becomes harder to measure as their reputation grows.

    That is, early on, do more runners try to take an extra base and, finding they get throw out too often, do they then dial it back? In that case, the outfielder is still having an effect (runners aren’t taking an extra base), but it’s hard to measure.

    • @pinson343: One thing I often wonder about outfielders with great arms (and I’m sure there’s a study on this somewhere) is if the effect of their arms becomes harder to measure as their reputation grows.

      That is, early on, do more runners try to take an extra base and, finding they get throw out too often, do they then dial it back? In that case, the outfielder is still having an effect (runners aren’t taking an extra base), but it’s hard to measure.

      Good point. I am really curious about that now myself. I know there were times where people would have gotten a double or gone 1st to 3rd on a lesser arm, but Bruce being known for having a cannon, they held back…. same thing towards the end of the year where people just outright stopped trying to steal on the Cueto/Hanigan combo.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s