The Impending Stanton Arrival Guide: Projections


The first part of the Impending Stanton Arrival Guide will be perhaps the most important of them all. The question of “How well will Mike Stanton play?” is probably first and foremost among the minds of Marlins fans, all of who are interested in seeing the Marlins succeed. Most fans are not yet ready to give up on the 2010 season and play for the future of the organization, so a move of Stanton to the majors will have to be beneficial not only to his development but to the team’s success.

So how will Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton perform in the majors? We enlist the help of projection systems and minor league translations to find out.

Preseason Projections

Proj. System PA BA OBP SLG wOBA
CHONE 453 .212 .287 .383 .295
ZiPS 568 .217 .294 .389 .301
PECOTA (Weighted Means) 516 .238 .307 .482 .338

Clearly, one of these does not fit with the others. None of the three systems were high on Stanton’s batting average, each pegging him well below the league average. Similarly, each of the three big systems had Stanton at unacceptable, Emilio Bonifacio-level OBP due in large part to the shrunken BA. Where the systems differ is clearly in the slugging average. While both CHONE and ZiPS have Stanton at an ISO of about .170, PECOTA has his ISO skyrocket close to .250! Since 1901, only 25 players between the age of 20 and 24 in the history of the league have had an ISO of greater than .250 in their first season in the majors (limit 150 PA). Projecting that kind of power, even from a player as ridiculously strong as Stanton, seems very optimistic. Still, that .338 wOBA looks strangely similar to the projected wOBA I found using players with similar strikeout and home-run hitting capabilities.

If we took the straight average of each of those three projections, we get a projected wOBA of .312, with a not-unreasonable slash line of .222/.297/.417. That kind of wOBA over 350 PA would be worth five runs below average. Not impressive, right?

What about this season?

Stanton’s 2010 season in Double-A so far has been transcendent, and leaving it out of a projection for the future would be ridiculous to do. However, taking it as face value and accepting that as his talent level would also be wrong. Let’s find a middle ground.

I took Stanton’s current Davenport Translation statistics found at Baseball Prospectus and applied that to his first 228 PA of the 2010 preseason projection. I weighted those translated numbers as 0.29 out of a total weight of one, with the remaining weight going to the preseason projection. The end result was a .231/.308/.452 slash line, a .221 ISO, and a .330 wOBA. As a sanity check for the DT used, I did the same thing using the MLE provided by Jeff Sackmann of Minor League Splits, which would give me a .226/.301/.436 slash line and a .321 wOBA. In either case, this is a significant improvement over the previous projection, and would fall very closely in line with the crude comp projection linked in the previous section.

Such a performance would be worth from -3 to 0 runs above average, essentially an average major league hitter as a 20-year old. It’s no Jason Heyward, but going into this season I would have been surprised by such a projection.

The Rest

Stanton has always been a good defender in the outfield. In John Herold’s breakdown prior to the start of the season, he had him at +7 runs per 150 games. Let’s make it an even +5 runs so that we remain conservative. In about 80 defensive games in right field and 350 PA, the total Stanton package for the rest of the season could be worth 0.8 WAR. In a full season’s time (600 PA, 150 games), that would be equal to 1.5 WAR. That means that, as of right now, Stanton is likely some five runs worse than average as a player based on the projection of his performance. Note that this did not contain an aging curve, so his offense may have been a bit better. Still, for a 20-year old, would you take a performance on scale with what was projected for Jorge Cantu this season? I think that would be acceptable.

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Tags: Miami Marlins Mike Stanton

  • http://marlinsdiehards.com Dave

    Nice piece. I wonder if you could backtest your projection method with other players who have entered the league as 20- or 21-year olds in midseason. If you can get a hold of past preseason projections, it could be interesting.

    • Michael Jong

      Dave,

      Thanks for the complement. I wish I could, but I don’t know where I can find previous season projections. I’d love to test it. The projection, however, doesn’t seem completely far-fetched and it works like other in-season projection systems. We’ll see if Stanton can buck the general trend.

  • JoeA.

    Thanks for the analysis Michael. I hope most Marlin fans are prepared for, and are happy with the progress shown in your projections. What troubles me most about promoting him so soon is I fear that most fans are expecting an immediate savior. That he will somehow duplicate his AA numbers in the majors this year. I am not saying it’s impossible, but as your numbers show it is unlikely.

    • Michael Jong

      JoeA,

      I’m surveying the readers at FishStripes for the purpose of finding what the fan expectations are. FishStripes readers are a little less stat-inclined, and I also mentioned that they should go with their gut as to how they think he’ll do. It’s not the most scientific of methods, but we’ll see how it turns out.

  • Ralph Macchio

    Im not sure how Mark Reynolds name has not been mentioned in the same sentence as Mike Stanton yet. Reynolds also had a huge AA season and when from AA to MLB and did quite well.

    Further, if you study HOF players, many of them, maybe most, did BETTER at the MLB level than in MILB. Special talents figure out how to be successful.

    I am predicting Mike Stanton is a special talent.

    • Michael Jong

      Ralph,

      First off, thanks for dropping by and commenting on Marlin Maniac! Welcome!

      The difference between Stanton and Reynolds is age. Reynolds started his professional career at age 20 and was promoted at age 23. Mike Stanton is three years ahead of that curve. Young players may still have development ahead of them, and who knows what the effect of moving them to the majors can have?

      Also, of course HoFers did better in the majors. The problem is that we can’t tell ahead of time who the HoFers are and who aren’t. Take Matt Wieters, for example. He looked ridiculous in 2008 in the minors, but has been below average so far in his career, and he came from college as a more polished hitter. Everyone projected that he was special, but he hasn’t been yet. Doesn’t mean he won’t be later, but you can never tell. Stanton has the same question ahead of him. He could be great, he could bust, we don’t know outside of knowing his MiLB numbers.

  • JoeA.

    Ralph, I agree that Mike Stanton is a special talent. But so far in his career he’s needed time at each level to adjust. I just hope the fans give him that time and don’t crush him with expectations and boos if he’s not Jason Heyward this year.

  • Chris L

    Great article, very interesting take on the stat line. I personally think calling him up is going to be a good thing. There is no doubt in my mind that Stanton is a special talent with elite quality capabilities. I think the Fish no what they are doing when it comes to young talent. Miggy and Hanley have both done very well, and i think there is a chance Stanton could outdo them both if he can adapt his game once he reaches the bigs. Hopefully Dominguez will get his act together and bring another weapon to the bigs next season. I haven’t given up on this season at all. In fact the way the race is right now, if they can just get there offense to click a bit and the bullpen can start holding leads, then I think they can contend for the division.

    • Michael Jong

      Chris,

      First off, thanks for dropping by Marlin Maniac! Welcome!

      I agree that I think Stanton is a special talent, but let’s make sure we temper expectations. He won’t save the season. Based on this line, he’d be worth almost one win for the remainder of the year. I’m hoping that fans see that. He may be a boost, but he won’t be great at the start, or at least I don’t think he will be.

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