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
Johnny Cueto 4.5 1.4/0.6 2.90 2.82
Mat Latos 4.0 3.8/4.4 3.20 3.16
Bronson Arroyo 2.0 2.5/0.8 4.00 3.79
Homer Bailey 2.5 3.2/3.7 4.00 3.49
Mike Leake 2.0 3.0/1.6 4.20 3.37
Bullpen 6.5 6.8/2.2 2.75 3.29
Totals  3.38

Nailed It

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.

Uh… What?

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.

Team Projection

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!

10 Responses

  1. steveschoen

    The staff definitely took a downturn last season, especially in the pen, especially also given how much money was sunk into it with Marshall, Broxton, and Chapman. I could have taken Marshall. I still don’t think Broxton was needed. I do think the pen could have done better with better handling. Just as an example, if I recall correctly, of the first 15 relief appearances last season, 13 were made by Chapman and Hoover, all within the first 7 games (again, if I recall correctly). That isn’t good handling of the pen. And, it took Baker long enough to realize to keep Bronson on a short leash if he makes it to the 6th inning (Not saying to pull him at 6; you may even let him go 8-9 innings; just keep him on a short leash if he gets to 6 innings).

    I think we definitely need to determine what to do with Bronson/Latos/Homer. Those three could determine what we do with the rest. I don’t see Bronson coming back. I can’t help thinking I would extend Latos first, even though Homer probably thinks he deserves that consideration first being in the Reds organization longer and he has two no hitters. I believe they both have a big upside. I believe Latos has more consistency though not very pitch efficient. I would try to extend Homer, also. I lot of it will come down to, I believe, how Cueto comes about. If he comes back fully next season, I believe Homer gets traded before the end of the season. If Cueto gets injured again, I believe will finish the season with Homer and possibly extend him or trade him.

    I’m not sure how long we will have Chapman. Even though we have club control through 2017, will we be able to afford that? If we try to afford it, we have to be serious about starting him, I believe. I still believe Chapman would make a better closer myself. But, I have always said I am interested in seeing the experiment. Just get serious about it, no pressure from a manager wanting a decision.

    • Jason Linden

      @steveschoen: Agreed on the pen, but even with Cueto hurt, the starting staff was at least as good and probably a little better than it was in 2012.

      • steveschoen

        @Jason Linden: I could understand if one was to consider that. After all, Leake came back in a big way, after a season when most everyone wanted him gone. And, after losing Cueto, that position in the rotation was still “competent” with Cingrani coming in and doing what he did. Not up to Cueto standards, but definitely more than anyone could have expected. That’s probably what I am looking at with the starters. Even if looking at the numbers, which they seem to be all similar to last season, with Cueto in there, you would think the starters would have done even better.

  2. Lost and Found


    Thanks for the look back on the year for both pitchers and positions.

    What is the +/- error on the three WAR numbers and proj ERA/OPS? That would provide more context on the comparison of proj vs actuals.

  3. TC

    I think the fWAR/bWAR thing is pretty bad. If the two stats can’t even come close to each other to determining Wins Above Replacement then either one or both of them is worthless.

    At first I thought this was a great stats but now I’ve lost complete confidence in WAR as a stat. I like my stats to NOT be subjective. The subjective part is the formula that calculates it.

  4. LWBlogger

    I’ll say it here too. Nice job on the projections Jason. Very well done and it reflects the hard work you obviously put into it.