Today, I’ll be starting my 2009 Wins Above Replacement projection for the Giants. I’ve done some WAR-related stuff on this website before, but if you’re new to the idea, check out this link. It’s a good place to get started. Also, FanGraphs just posted a two-part article on Win Values. It’s also a very good read and I suggest that you check it out. You can find part one, here.
In this post, I’ll be doing the projected 2009 WAR calculations for the Giants position players. We should be able to get an idea of how many games the 2009 team should win by figuring out how many ‘wins above replacement’ the Giants have by their position players and pitchers. We know that a team composed of nothing but replacement level players would win about 50 games. So, in order to project the 2009 team we just need to find out how many wins above replacement the Giants have as a team. Then, you just add the total team WAR + 50 — the baseline for a team full of nothing but replacement level players — to find our projected team wins for 2009.
Some assumptions before I get started:
~ I’ve set league wOBA to .332
~ For my defensive projections I used a combination of past bUZR, plus/minus, and PMR data. Also, I’m using the CHONE defensive projections for 2009 as well. I tried to go conservatively with my defensive projections. For example, I called Randy Winn a +8 run RF when in 2008, he was probably closer to a +16 run defender.
~ For my batter projections, I used a combination of the Oliver Projections and CHONE. Both Oliver and CHONE use minor league data to forecast players, so it’s preferable for guys with little major league experience (ie: Sandoval, Ishikawa, Burriss, etc.)
~ I didn’t include baserunning wins, because they usually amount to so little, but if you want, you could probably bump up guys like Fred Lewis, Emmanuel Burriss, Randy Winn and maybe Dave Roberts a couple of runs.
Let’s check out the spreadsheet:
- Overall, I’ve got the Giants position players adding about +15.5 wins above replacement. If you add that to the replacement team baseline wins of 50, you’ll end up with 65-66 wins by offense alone.
- The top five Giants hitters by projected WAR: Aaron Rowand (+2.38), Edgar Renteria (+2.03), Randy Winn (+1.96), Bengie Molina (+1.86), and Pablo Sandoval (1.70). Fred Lewis comes in at +1.49 wins.
- Much of Aaron Rowand’s value is tied up in him becoming an average defender again. In 2008 he was -11 runs in center field, which was a career worst. CHONE has Rowand bouncing back to an average defender with a projected ’0′ runs in CF.
- On the other side, I called Sandoval a -5 defender at third base which seems about right to me. CHONE has him projected as a -3 defender at third base but I think he’ll be closer to -5. He’s a big dude and he might not be able to handle a full season, defensively, at third base. I’ve projected Sandoval to get 70% of his playing time at third with another 30% at first base. I don’t think the Giants will be using him at catcher next season, despite his value playing best at the position.
- Nate Schierholtz has the best projected wOBA of our position players. His wOBA of .345 would be highest on the team. I figure he’ll have to fight for playing time with Dave Roberts. Thus, I only have him getting about 105 PA’s next season. That might be a little low but I think a healthy Roberts will get most of 4th OF playing time.
- Speaking of Dave Roberts, he really doesn’t have a place on this team. In my projection he’s getting way too much time in CF — a projected 20% backup to Aaron Rowand — for my taste. Roberts just can’t defend the position well enough and I’ve got him down as a -5 run defender in CF which, again, might be too conservative. But, with Bochy at the helm, I can see Roberts playing in LF and maybe in CF occasionally to spell the starters. Nate will have to scratch and claw for playing time. Another reason to dislike Roberts? He’s overpaid by about $3-4M. Not a wise allocation of resources.
- I’ve got Burriss and Frandsen splitting second base with Frandsen backing up third base. I like Frandsen as a utility player but I think he’ll be stretched as a full-time starter. He could win the second base job in the spring but Burriss seemed to impress the Giants with his defense at the position last year, so for now, he gets the nod.
- The Oliver projections like Ishikawa a bit more than I do, he’s projected to be an above league average hitter in 2009. Because he’s stuck at first, he’s barely above league average projection isn’t great, but it’s much more optimistic than my personal feel with Travis. I decided to run with Oliver’s projection even though CHONE was more pessimistic. When I think about it, I should probably adjust his line some but I won’t worry about it for now. I might tweak it after I do the pitchers.
- I figure that the West can be won with 86-88 wins next season. As of now, the Giants are at 65-66 wins. That means that they’ll have to make up the remaining 20 wins by their rotation and bullpen. Adding Randy Johnson should help.
So, there you have it. The Giants strength isn’t their positional players, but we already knew that. They’ve got a collection of some nice pieces: Winn, Rowand, Lewis, Schierholtz, Sandoval but nothing resembling a superstar. If the Giants can get some breakout years from Sandoval, Ishikawa, or Lewis, that would go a long way to boosting the offense and taking some of the load off the pitching.
Tomorrow we’ll be projecting the pitching to see how much of that 20-win gap the team can make up.
Comment Stater: Thoughts on the position player projections?