I tried to resist doing this, but given the availability of the various projection models and their centralized location at FanGraphs, I simply couldn’t. What follows is a very early table of WAR projections for the Marlins in 2010. First, let’s set up the rules/explanations:
1) For the projection, I went with my own playing time determinations and the average of various rates from projections. For offense, I averaged the wOBA projections from the Marcel, CHONE, and Fan projections available at FanGraphs. For defense, I averaged projections from CHONE, the Fans, and BtB’s Steve Sommer’s own UZR projections. Catchers will only include data from CHONE and the Fans. For offensive projections, I weighted CHONE at 0.5, with the Fans and Marcel at 0.25 each. For defense, I weighted each component evenly.
2) The replacement and positional adjustments will all be determined using FanGraphs’ rates according to my playing time guesses. WAR will be given at 10 runs/win, but I’ll also point out the result of determining an individual Pythagenpat WAR rate.
3) For pitchers, I averaged the FIP of CHONE, Marcels, and the Fans, divided this average by 0.92 (to get to the RA scale) and determined WAR using Pythagenpat.
4) If there are roster holes to fill, I’ll be filling them in my head and approximating WAR from the resulting players. There shouldn’t be major holes in any case.
Let’s get right to it shall we? I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
The table shows WAR totals with my estimations for playing time. The CI column represents a “confidence index,” a total gut feeling for each projection. Let’s get into the nuts and bolts.
- It seems crazy to fully expect another 7 WAR season from Hanley Ramirez, but I would not be surprised. Ramirez has posted 7 WAR campaigns each of the last two seasons, and he would have done so in 2007 as well were it not for the horrific defensive year he had. The average defensive projection for Ramirez at short was -2.5 runs for the given playing time, a decent projection given his disastrous 2007 season.
- Speaking of defense, Dan Uggla’s defense does not project as poorly as expected. CHONE has him at something like -7 runs in almost 150 games, but doing a Marcel-type projection with some regression gets a result close to -5 runs. Using this “wisdom of the crowds” methodology, Uggla comes out at close to -6 runs in his playing time, which apparently was still good enough to get him a 3.4 WAR season.
- The biggest question on this side of the roster is the play of Cameron Maybin. The projection systems seem to be fairly confident in his ability to play. Using the three systems, I got a projected wOBA of .346, pretty impressive given last season’s .311. The Fans and Marcel were far more tempered at .339 and .337 respectively. Still, what interests me further was the defensive projection for Maybin. While Sommer’s UZR-based projection leads to a perfectly average season in 150 games, CHONE has him at a very strong +6 runs in 125 games, leading to around +7 runs per 150 games. Overall, the projection at 135 games came out to around four runs, which I believe is a bit optimistic. All in all, I would be very surprised (happily surprised, but surprised) if Maybin came close to the projected 3.4 WAR listed here.
- Chris Coghlan looks to have a pretty good projection. While Marcel had an unusually high .370 wOBA projected for Coghlan’s offense, both the Fans and CHONE probably correctly put him at around .355 wOBA. Overall, the projection gave him a .361 wOBA, good for 17 runs above average, the second highest total on the team. Combine that with a more optimistic defensive projection of -1.5 runs in the outfield and you have a 3.1 WAR player. I think his offense looks correct, but the defense in my opinion could be close to -5 runs.
- One thing to note: the Marlins’ pitching staff, with the exception of perhaps Josh Johnson, is one of the worst staffs with the bat in the game. I would not be surprised if the staff as a whole was worth about a win less than the average pitcher with the bat. Knock off around 0.5 to 1 WAR to the total projection at your convenience.
This is where the list gets tricky. Aside from Johnson and Ricky Nolasco, it’s hard to believe any of the other pitchers will be consistent enough throughout the season to post the numbers I put up. I believe the three other starters listed, Andrew Miller, Anibal Sanchez, and Chris Volstad, will be the ones who receive the most starts outside of the top two. Still, I tried to guess at the frequency of their starts with the help of some of the playing time projections from the projection systems and the Fans. I feel OK about Volstad getting 30 starts, provided he does not melt down like last season. For Miller and Sanchez to pick up 25 starts each, however, would take a combination of health (Sanchez’ problem) and effectiveness (Miller’s primary concern).
- You’ll note that past Nolasco and Johnson, Miller had the next highest projected value based on FIP. This may seem odd for Marlins fans who view Miller as a failure so far in his career. One thing that Miller has done well is control the number of home runs he allows, and he doesn’t figure to change in that department; CHONE projects Miller to give up 0.8 homers per nine innings. On the other hand, Miller has not been able to keep baserunners off of the bases, via eithe the hit or the walk; CHONE also projects a walk rate of 4.83 per nine innings. With some better luck, Miller could post an ERA more similar to his CHONE projected FIP of 4.31, but one can never guess at when this will happen.
- Volstad’s projections are also of some importance to the Marlins. CHONE has him projected at giving up 1.2 HR/9, which is still a high value, though not as high as his 2009 totals. With the low strikeout count for Volstad, he is going to have to rely on keeping the ball on the ground. Like Miller, Volstad allows something like 48% of his balls in play to be grounders. Unlike Miller, the fly balls Volstad allows seem to go for home runs far more often. However, we only really have a season and a half of major league data to try and build a projection, and Volstad is young enough to show improvement. That projection of 1.2 WAR is based off of a projected FIP of 4.63, a fair projection given what we’ve seen. The Marlins will give him every chance to maintain a starting job, and regression should set in and yield at least a mediocre campaign for the team.
- The bullpen as currently built is incomplete at best. The Marlins are apparently scouring the area for names to fill the holes in the pen. I went ahead and cautiously projected a replacement level performance for the pen as a whole. Last season, the Marlins got a decent performance from their pen, primarily from players like Kiko Calero, Burke Badenhop, and Dan Meyer. Meyer and Badenhop return, and Calero has gotten surprisingly little interest in the market, which may entice the Marlins to resign him. An improvement on the pen would certainly help the team’s production, but bullpen production is so hit-or-miss that I dare not venture any further than to project what I did.
Here’s where I find the projection interesting. According to these incomplete projections, the Marlins should post some 39 wins above replacement. Assuming a 48-win team is a replacement level ballclub, you’re looking at a potential 87-win Marlins team. That may not seem awesome given that the team did win 87 games last year, but those 87 games came with some luck as well. Last year, both team WAR and Pythagenpat had the 2009 Marlins as an 83-win team. A projection of 87 wins would be an improvement over last year’s squad. You can see where the improvement comes from:
- Regression of pitchers like Volstad back up to acceptable production levels
- Replacing the replacement-level Jeremy Hermida of 2009 with Cameron Maybin.
- Replacing the replacement-level Emilio Bonifacio with anyone worth anything (in this case, Gaby Sanchez).
If Maybin is even an average player and Sanchez plays as well as his 1.1 WAR projection has him, the team would have easily improved right there. The other major key will be to get the right contributions and some regression from the remaining three starters. An 87-win team isn’t likely to win a division, but the team would not be too far out of Wild Card contention. Even at this stage, the Marlins may be in the hunt, so any moves to improve the club’s situation either at third base or starting pitcher could push us over the top. Keep an eye out.