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.
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
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
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
2012 Best Guess WAR: 4.0
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)
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
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
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)
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
2012 Best Guess Latos: 4.5
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
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
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.
Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.