I’ve been hootin’ and hollerin’ about the FanGraphs 2010 Fan Projections for the last few days because I think it is an amazing additional resource for the good people who read the site. If you haven’t done so already, go vote for some Marlins now!
In total, 66 position players and 18 pitchers have made the cut for ballots. So far, three Marlins received enough ballots to make the Projections page on FanGraphs and the front page on their respective player pages (30 ballots was the minimum). Hanley Ramirez got in because, well, everyone loves Hanley Ramirez. Both Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco got tons of votes because they were featured as player targets by David Appelman of FanGraphs. Let’s take a look at the early returns for each Marlin.
An impressive but unsurprising line indeed. Though there may have been some bias introduced by already having the Bill James projections available for view, I think the Fans did an excellent job of projecting Ramirez’s expected production. These are very agreeable lines, and it is uncanny how close the Fans came to James’ own projection system. Essentially, the two differed in the amount of singles Ramirez would hit, culminating in an almost identical walk rate and ISO. The slash lines differed only in batting average and its subsequent effects on OBP and SLG.
I’m happy with the agreement between the fans and non-fans of the Marlins when it came to Hanley’s defense. The general perception I always hear outside of Marlins fans is that Ramirez is a center fielder/third baseman trying to playing shortstop, and doing so poorly. What they don’t seem to get is that Ramirez has undergone some drastic improvements over the last two seasons since that awful 2007. The Marlins fans were optimistic, but not overly so (though there were only five of them proclaimed as Fish fans), rating him as a +2 defender in the allotted time. Non-fans had him rated at -1, worse but still quite solidly average. Overall, Hanley rated as about as average as you can get, which I think is probably correct at this stage of his career. He may indeed be eventually switched as he gets into his thirties and his body thickens for plate power, but for now that isn’t a concern for the team.
This is an interesting line for Nolasco. Both the fans and non-fans expected a little bit of regression for Nolasco’s strikeouts, but not as much James did. I put numbers up quite similar to these for my own projections, though I think in retrospect that the numbers James put up for K’s seem a bit more likely (8.30 K/9). The year before, Nolasco put up only 7.8 K/9, then this season he jumped up above 9 K/9. Just through sheer regression to the mean, I’d suspect that 8.3 is a better guess than the 8.8 the projection currently shows.
The interesting thing that was shown was the difference in ERA’s. Overall, the projection has an ERA of 3.80, but as mentioned today by Appelman, the voters were quite split between the groups that had him at 3.0-3.5, 3.5-3.9 (me included), and 4.0-4.5. I do think that 3.80 seems to be a good call, given his propensity to pitch a bit worse with runners on (more on that perhaps a little later).
Another solid line produced by the Fans. James is a little less optimistic about the K’s and walks, while his system seems to think that Johnson’s absurdly low home run rate will stick (0.57 HR/9 expected). I think the Fans are more on top of it with the K’s and BB’s staying around last year and the homers regressing a bit more. It will be interesting to see if Johnson can keep up his ground ball rate from last year, which hit 50% for the first time in his career. I think the slow increase in strikeouts is real, as his fastball has improved and his slider is still solid.
If these three projections hold true in 2010, I think the Marlins will have a huge head start towards competing. If the team can fill in the glaring position player holes, they’ll have a shot. Unfortunately, with the team skimping on spending money, the likelihood of that happening is very poor I think.