Ask pretty much anyone, and they will tell you that projecting hitters is easier than projecting pitchers. Hitters are more predictable. They get hurt less. Yet, somehow, I did much better with pitchers than hitters this year. Let’s look.
|Player||2013 Proj. WAR||Actual (bWAR/fWAR)||2013 Proj. ERA||Actual|
Mat Latos and Bronson Arroyo. You’ll notice some wide variations between the FanGraphs and Baseball-Refernce version of WAR here. This illustrates that we have a ways to go with pitcher WAR. FanGraphs’ system has never “gotten” Arroyo and it still doesn’t. For his career, which is now considerable, Arroyo’s ERA is 0.35 runs better than his FIP. That’s a lot folks. Baseball-Reference is much closer to his true value. I also want to note that I made a big deal about the averageness of Bronson at the beginning of the season. The average NL starter’s ERA was 3.86. Bronson checked in at 3.79. Yup. Got that one.
I was similarly good with Latos. The ERA is
a touch off almost dead on, and both systems see him as being worth about 4 wins, which is what I predicted in March.
Would Have Nailed It
I projected all the pitchers assuming full health because I don’t know a better way to do it. Cueto was not healthy, but when he pitched, he was exactly what I expected him to be. Cueto, by the way, is another guy FanGraphs has a hard time with. Much of this has to do with his ability to control the running game. He’s so good at it that Dave Cameron wrote an article about how it affects his value in a significant and positive manner and makes his FIP less reliable. For his career, Cueto is half a run better than his FIP.
I was in the neighborhood on Mike Leake. He’s an Arroyo-type pitcher and we’ve already seen that FanGraphs doesn’t understand Arroyo, so I think they are probably undervaluing Leake a little (we need a few more seasons of data before we can really know). Leake definitely took a step forward this year. I think his ERA is probably a little deceptive, but he’s a good pitcher.
The One Miss
Homer Bailey, I bow at your alter. You are better than I thought you would be. He started it at the end of 2012 and really made the leap this year. I still wouldn’t quite put him in Cueto/Latos territory, but he’s not far off and as we saw very often this year, he can absolutely dominate. The only thing holding him back is that he is still prone to starts where he doesn’t have it at all.
So, there is a 4.6 WAR difference between BBRef and FanGraphs assessment of the Reds bullpen. If you take BBRef’s, I nailed it. If you take FanGraphs’, I wasn’t even in the zip code. FanGraphs’ feels more right to me, but we’ll split the difference and call this a solid silver medal.
Before the season, I pegged the Reds for 95 wins. They won 90. Pythagoras had them as a 93 win team. The Luck Dragon got us a little this year. Everyone enjoy the offseason, I’m sure I’ll be around with all manner of posts, and I’ll give you the best analysis I can manage of trades and signings. In the spring, we’ll do this all again.
Edit: It was pointed out via email that I incorrectly used Latos’ 2012 ERA. Whoops. His 2013 ERA is now listed. It makes me even more right. Awesome!
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.