Dan Szymborski has posted his 2012 Reds projections over on the Baseball Think Factory site. I really like these projections since they have the projected numbers for just about every player on the roster.

I’ve taken this years Reds projections for all of the players expected to see playing time this coming season and prorated their projections based on their expected role. I then totaled up a full seasons worth of AB (5500) and IP (1450). I calculated Runs Created for hitters and Runs Allowed for pitchers then used the Pythagorean theorem to predict the Reds record for the upcoming season. The following are the results.

2012 Zips Projections

Pyth. WP   W  L
   52%    84 78

Player             AB    BA    OBP    SLG    OPS OPS+   RC
Devin Mesoraco    315 0.248  0.322  0.432  0.754  100   44
Ryan Hanigan      273 0.267  0.358  0.355  0.713   92   35
Joey Votto        544 0.294  0.402  0.529  0.931  148  116
Brandon Phillips  603 0.279  0.331  0.436  0.767  104   87
Zack Cozart       414 0.253  0.304  0.398  0.702   86   50
Wilson Valdez     201 0.253  0.298  0.336  0.634   70   20
Scott Rolen       311 0.260  0.315  0.441  0.756  100   43
Juan Francisco    265 0.267  0.297  0.480  0.777  104   38
Chris Heisey      395 0.258  0.317  0.446  0.763  102   56
Ryan Ludwick      412 0.250  0.322  0.413  0.735  104   55
Drew Stubbs       434 0.240  0.317  0.388  0.705   88   53
Jay Bruce         546 0.260  0.340  0.474  0.814  116   88
Miguel Cairo      211 0.265  0.328  0.403  0.731   95   28
Todd Frazier      181 0.242  0.307  0.423  0.730   94   24
Willie Harris     104 0.228  0.336  0.354  0.690   89   12
Pitchers          299 0.142  0.176  0.183  0.359        10
Total            5507 0.255  0.319  0.419  0.738       736
Player           ERA     IP   R WHIP ERA+		
Mat Latos       3.38  191.7  79 1.17  119		
Johnny Cueto    3.63  173.3  77 1.29  110		
Homer Bailey    4.28  157.7  82 1.33   94		
Mike Leake      4.42  159.0  86 1.31   91		
Bronson Arroyo  4.84  169.3 100 1.33   83		
Jeff Francis    4.72  118.3  68 1.39   88		
Ryan Madson     3.00   60.0  22 1.15  132		
Sean Marshall   2.74   72.3  24 1.12  147		
Nick Masset     3.60   70.0  31 1.31  111		
Bill Bray       3.46   52.0  22 1.23  116		
Jose Arredondo  4.13   55.3  28 1.46   97		
Aroldis Chapman 3.87   47.7  22 1.48  104		
Logan Ondrusek  4.13   55.3  28 1.38   97		
Sam LeCure      4.37   69.7  37 1.31   92		
Total           3.99 1451.6 707 1.30

The 736 R and .738 OPS are eerily close to the 735 R and .734 OPS the Reds put up last season. These numbers would have placed them as the 2nd best offense in the NL, same as they were last season.

The 3.99 ERA and 707 RA are only a slight improvement over last seasons 4.16 ERA and 720 RA. These numbers would have bumped the Reds from the 12th to 11th in the NL last season.

The Pythagorean projected record of 84-78 is five games better that last seasons 79-83 mark, but only one game better than last seasons Pythagorean W-L of 83-79.

Note that there was no ZiPS projection for Ludwick yet, so the projection above is a guesstimate from his 2011 ZiPS projection and his Bill James 2012 projection. The only player projection above that really stood out to me above was Drew Stubbs. ZiPS does not project any kind of breakout for him and I can see Heisey getting more time in CF if Stubbs does bat at this level.

When looking at the starting pitchers, I’m a little perplexed at Mike Leake’s projection. I thought it might be more around a 3.90 ERA. Bronson Arroyo is projected to bounce back a little, but not as much as we might have hoped.

I included Chapman in with the relief pitchers since I really don’t see him cracking the rotation. Even if he does, he is not going to be able to pitch there all season; it would be too big of an innings jump from one season to the next.

Overall, I was a little surprised at the results. Going into this, with all the improvements made over the winter, I expected the pitching staff numbers were going to improve dramatically and that the W-L projection would be approaching the 90 win mark. That’s the beauty of this game though, the numbers don’t tell all, they just help point us in the right direction. I look forward to seeing how it plays out this season.

Join the conversation! 32 Comments

  1. First, great work using the ZiPS projections, but…

    Wow, I don’t know about those pitching numbers. Very bearish on Leake and Bailey. I haven’t seen any other projections for Leake that have him being anywhere near that bad. Everything else I’ve seen shows him as average to above average, which is where I expect him to be.

    I also expect more Stubbs, and again, most of the other projections I’ve seen agree with me.

    I do think the Reds will win more than 84 games this year.

  2. I hope their wrong, that makes our starting pitching look like it goes down the tube after Cueto and Latos. There is no reason Leake and Arroyo won’t have better years. Bailey stays healthy, he is good to go too.

    Plus with the Reds you have Chapman. You can’t factor in his numbers because we don’t know his role as of now.

    I do enjoy these prediction websites though.

  3. @Jason Linden: Leake’s FIP was 4.22 last year. I suppose if one assumes no improvement plus hitting taking an uptick, and that Leake won’t outperform his FIP, you might get 4.42.

    On FanGraphs, interestingly, all three predictions (James, RotoChamp, and whatever Fans(21) is) have him outperforming his FIP. They have his ERA more in the 3.8 to 4.0 range.

    Who knows?

    Look—this is why the Reds needed so badly to get Latos. Many people here, including me, had been saying for years that they had too many Mike Leakes, who if luck doesn’t fall their way, are going to end up with an ERA+ between 90 and 100. The good news is they are very likely to have two significantly above average pitchers this year (even with Cueto’s expected fall back to earth, he ought to be well above 100 on ERA+). That’s a lot more than we could say last offseason. And, there’s a reasonable chance either Leake or Bailey will crack 100. As for Arroyo, I don’t think a prediction of 83 for ERA+ is way out of line. I’d be happy with 95, so a prediction between 85 and 90 is certainly reasonable, and 83 isn’t that far from that.

  4. I’m not that surprised. Last year’s team needed quite a few pieces. The offense isn’t going to get better if you swap catchers from a very productive catcher to a rookie even if the rookie is a great prospect… and Rolen is another year older… and Stubbs had a serious major regression last year.

    I think Bronson is a fine candidate for an 80 ERA+ this year… all the arrows point down. I would be surprised if Bailey exceeds 95 because we’ve been waiting an eternity for him to magically get good. I’m done waiting. I would have been fine dealing him.

    I think if anything the wild card for 2012 would be if there’s any effect on the pitching staff from changing catchers. Ramon was a good hitter, but there was the theory sometimes tossed out around here that the pitchers didn’t do as well with him behind the plate. We’ll see if that theory holds water, or was just a load of mule fritters.

  5. Ok, I take some exception with these stats. Yeah, “bearish” would be a very polite way to put it. The Reds have a lot of young players who (theoretically) should be coming into their primes….Yet almost all players are projected to put up numbers that are below their career norms?

    Joey Votto will only hit .294? He’s a career .313 hitter, and last year’s .309 represented his lowest average for the last 3 years. Jay Bruce is going to put up the identical .474 slugging he had last year instead of the .493 he had the year before? Hanigan, a career .275 hitter, is going to hit nearly 10 points below that this year? Stubbs is going to continue to decline all the way down to .240 this year? Also, my personal guess is that Phillips is going to hit closer to .290 than .279.

    I will say it takes some stabs in the dark at unknowns. What is Cozart going to do? Mesoraco? Will Rolen stay healthy? These are unknowns and remain to be seen.

    And of course, all the things about pitching have already been said. Leake and Bailey are going to take steps back? Arroyo is going to continue to be Bad Bronson more than good Bronson? I do agree Latos and Cueto are probably going to have higher ERAs than last year, so that’s probably right. Where’s Francis in this projection? And the front office has said they are going to make Chapman a starter…Why is he still listed as a reliever?

    Basically, I think these projections come closer to “worst case scenario” than what will actually happen. Of course, I could be wrong as well, but I tend to look at last year as a “down year” and 2010 as more an indication of what this club is capable of on a consistent basis. I guess this year will go a long way to determining the truth of that statement.

  6. @Myles: There are way too many variables to find out if the catcher-swapping theory holds water. For example, what if Leake just matures? What if Arroyo just had mono? What if Cueto just had his career year last year?

  7. One thing I see is that it makes me wish there was one more strong OBP guy out there. You’ve got Votto, and then Hannigan, who only plays a few days a week. After that you drop down to Bruce at .340. Paging Drew Stubbs…. he has to outperform that .317 mark.

    As far as the ERA’s go… I agree that Leake outperforms his projection this year, and Bailey’s is par for the course until proven otherwise.

  8. Thoughts:
    –Leake and Arroyo will log way more IP than that. Madsen and Bray seem low as well.
    –Rolen, Stubbs, Bruce, and Mez will have a tad more OBP.
    I’d bet if you simply adjusted for those two issues the projected win total would align more closely with what we believe–that this team is a 90 win team barring injury.

  9. Those all seem bearish, really. (Except for maybe Latos and Cueto.) Even Votto’s projection seems slightly bearish. I think all those projections are basically baselines of what could reasonably be expected and I think as a team, the Reds will out perform them.

  10. @Dave Lowenthal: Fans (21) is Fangraphs’ readers’ projections of a player. The number in parens is the number of people who have weighed in on a player. The projections are actually pretty good for a player from year to year.

  11. @Matt WI: I thought the same thing about OBP. Only two guys above 800 OPS? There are a lot of question marks for me on the offense. People just assume Cozart will be better offensively than what the Reds had at SS last season. While that’s probably true, Cozart has all of three weeks of MLB experience. Ditto for Mesoraco, except Hernandez was very good last year, and I’m not at all certain Mesoraco can match those numbers. Rolen, is always a question mark because of his health. I think Stubbs is going to be the exact same guy, no better, no worse. He’s 27. He’s in his prime. He is what he is. LF is another hodge podge. That leaves Bruce, Phillips and of course Votto as the only sure bets in the lineup. To me, you need five guys to really contend.

    I’m glad the Reds addressed pitching. I think they stopped one starter short though. I would have liked to see them make a play at a rental like Gavin Floyd or Scott Baker. Both guys have No. 2-3 type tRA+ numbers and would have been around $5 million over current payroll. I think what was said above is right. After Latos and Cueto, the Reds DOES go down the tubes. I think Leake is good. I just see him as more of a No. 4 on a World Series contending team.

    I think 84-88 is a pretty solid projection. This is a good, not great, team. It is a bad division though so 84-88 should win it.

  12. 84 to 88 wins that is…

  13. I think I’m more or less on board with the offensive projections, but I think that the pitching projections are pretty conservative. First on innings, second on effectiveness.

    The projections for Leake, Bray, Arredondo, Lecure, and Chapman all seem significantly worse than I would have thought, and none of the pitchers seem significantly better than expected. Net result, less of an improvement in pitching and overall record than I think we’ll get.

    Leake pitched more innings with a lower ERA last year, his second year, and I see no reason to think that he will regress, unless they are projecting injury, which is just guess work. 180IP, 4.00 ERA seems more believable.

    Bray is going to be facing almost exclusively lefties, so I would be surprised to see his ERA jump half a run. 50 IP, 3.00 ERA seems more believable.

    Sam Lecure also pitched more innings with a lower ERA last year, and underperformed his peripherals like FIP. So I don’t see the regression in both. I could see his ERA going up if he starts again, but that would mean his IP should be well higher too. 70IP and 4.00 ERA.

    Chapman is a difficult one to project, because we don’t know his role for sure yet. But again, I just can’t see why both his IP and ERA would get worse. He had 50 IP with a lower ERA last year, and that was with his meltdown in the middle of the season and time on the DL and in the minors.

    If he goes into the pen, he’ll get 60+ innings and have an ERA around 3.30. If he starts, he’ll probably get 100IP with and ERA around 4.

    Those changes would result in another 1-2 wins in the pythag.

  14. Here’s one point the projects don’e capture. Stubbs better shouldn’t have 500+ PA with the numbers he generated last year. I don’t know where he’ll be, but it won’t be in the Reds everyday lineup.

    I also think it will help that they begin the year with the Heisey/Ludwick LF tandem instead of the Gomes/Lewis LF tandem.

  15. Ugh. Hope you understand what I was saying.

  16. @David: The problem with all of that is Bronson Arroyo. The upgrade given by Scott Baker just isn’t worth it considering that it’s not at all unlikely that Bailey will put up say an ERA+ of 100.

    If the Reds would bite the bullet on Arroyo, then it’s clearly worth it. But their worst pitcher is unmovable.

  17. @TC: Stubbs is going to get a long rope regardless of how he starts. The guy has generated 10 WAR in 2.25 seasons. The ONLY way he doesn’t get a pass is that he is absolutely terrible and the offense as a whole struggles and he becomes the fall guy for everybody else. By the way, I think the fall guy becomes Chris Heisey unless he hits a ton.

    In my opinion, the position that is 1) most likely to struggle and 2) there should be significant turnover is third base. Unfortunately, Scott Rolen pretty much gets a free pass from the media (and for the most part, on the blogs). If the Reds don’t get at least .700 OPS from the guy, it could be a long season. Injury or not, both Heisey and Stubbs outperformed him last year.

  18. @CP: A .700 OPS isn’t bad actually, it’s kind of average (which says something about the position). The Reds had a .692 OPS and were ranked 9th in the NL, right in the middle of the pack.

  19. @Dave Lowenthal: Surrendering wins because a player is “paid too much” is exactly what non-contending teams do. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just saying a rotation of Latos, Cueto, (Floyd, Baker, etc.), Leake, Bailey is a lot better than Latos, Cueto, Leake, Bailey, Arroyo. I would hope a team “all in” would see Arroyo as a problem.

  20. @CP: Good point about Stubbs being a fall guy. I’ve thought something similar in that the Reds outfield of 3 has really been an outfield of two given that nobody has had real expectations for LF. So when one of two guys struggles and the other guy is Jay Bruce, Stubbs look particularly bad. Still, Stubbs must put up better than .321. League avg was .319 for all players, and all CF’s together went to .333 He could be a very important cog as Cozart and Meso get their feet wet.

  21. Just wondering how did the numbers going into last season show…did it project out correctly and did it show the Cards being the WS champs?

  22. My biggest concern for Drew Stubbs is the dynamic between his trying to avoid striking out and his power.

    Last year in the second half, he had 4 HR (12 RBI). My sense was that he was shortening his swing to sort of chop at the ball to avoid striking out, and this robbed him of his power.

  23. @CP: Uh, er… good point.

  24. @David: I’m the choir, and you’re preaching. I can’t stand the fact that Arroyo is not simply seen as a sunk cost.

  25. @Dave Lowenthal: I know if he gets traded, all the deferrals become immediately due. I wonder what happens if he gets waived? It’s like $13 million (which is absolutely unbelievable). I just don’t think the Reds would ever eat that contract. Maybe sending him to the bullpen but never cutting him.

    Now Scott Rolen on the other hand…he only makes $6.5 million. I have no idea how bad he would have to play to be benched or waived. I really don’t want to find out.

  26. Thanks for this Tom, it’s good and much needed off season material for discussion and entertainment.

    But the bottom line projected number of wins doesn’t mean much if anything. Just too many built-in assumptions that are based on unknowns.

    It’s not a statistical analysis where you can say something like 84 wins with a margin of error of 5. The margin of error can’t be quantified.

  27. @dn4192: It would never show who the WS Champs would be, pythag is just a formula of expected wins for teams. When Tom did this for 2011 it looked like this: (Team, Predicted Wins)
    St. Louis 95
    Milwaukee 91
    Cincinnati 89

    Baseball Prospectus, which uses PECOTA had it:
    St. Louis 86 (Actual 2011 Total Wins: 90)
    Milwaukee 85 (Actual 2011 total Wins: 96)
    Cincy 82 (Actual 2011 total Wins: 79, sigh).

    So Tom saw Milwaukee and St. Louis a little closer than BP, but BP had the Reds pegged pretty good.
    Of course Baseball Prospectus predicted AZ to win 76 games and they won 94.

    Baseball reference says the margin of error for a pythag. record is usually about 3 games.

  28. @CP:

    Where are you seeing 10 career WAR for Stubbs?

  29. Looking back through this more closely, I’m struck by several things:

    1) They still seem, on the whole, low. There isn’t one player I look at and say, “No, he won’t do that.” Instead, I say to almost all of them, “He’ll certainly do that!”

    2) I am reminded, though, how down offense is. We’re used to thinking that an 800 OPS is a basic requirement for an outfielder or corner infielder, but that’s no longer the case. Last year there were 32 NLers with that (minimum of 400 PAs); basically two per team.

    3) Rolen’s are off. If his SLG is that high, then his OBP has to be higher than that. It’s hard for me to imagine him having a .180 ISO.

    4) I like the catchers’ projections. Those seem most realistic to me.

    5) Bruce’s are hopefully low. He is (and we’ve said this for years) probably the key to the season.

    6) As others have remarked, the innings pitched seem low for the starters as a group. Hard to believe someone won’t get to 200 IPs..

  30. @per14: Baseball-reference has him at 9.9 WAR (1.8, 5.2, 2.9).

  31. @per14: ZIPS is well known for being conservative. The Cards’ projections are equally low.

    I’m sure a bunch of Cards’ fans were pretty miffed at seeing Beltran projected at 126 OPS+, Craig with OPS+ at 112, and Holliday at OPS+ of 132. Beltran and Holliday were both at 150+ last year and the fans view Craig similar to how we view Jay Bruce.

  32. @CP:

    Ah, I see it. Thanks. Wow, BBRef really liked his ’10 season. If the Reds get that season again, I’d be delighted.

    And I suppose that’s the point of projections. To be conservative. Nobody can reasonably project career years, after all, and some Red will probably have one.

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