The Stanton Arrival Guide: Fan Expectations
By Michael Jong
Marlin Maniac’s Impending Stanton Arrival Guide continues today on the news that Mike Stanton has been brought up to the majors and will be in Philadelphia on Tuesday for the Marlins’ three-game series versus the Philadelphia Phillies.
Whenever a move like this is made, excitement is always in the air. This is no more apparent than in the way fans react to a high-profile prospect being brought up to the majors. Stanton has been causing buzz since Spring Training, and a lot of fans have wanted to see him start the season like Jason Heyward did for the Atlanta Braves. The fact that Stanton went berserk in his first full-season stint in Double-A has made that buzz into an uproar. But because of the monster season in Double-A, are the fans expecting too much of Stanton this year? I polled Marlins fans to find out.
For my population, I went to the good fans and readers of FishStripes. Craig and Kelly do a great job of running that ship, and the fans are as passionate as they can be about the Marlins. The other thing that I thought was good about FishStripes fans is that the majority of them are not saber-inclined and, as a result, do not keep up with things like projections. As a result, they are fans with their own opinions and expectations of Stanton that may not be influenced by the work of others. This is what I think “fan expectation” really means: gut feelings unbridled by the numbers, and exactly the sort of thing some of us here at MM (commenters and authors) have been warning Marlins fans about.
A lot of us are hoping that expectations of Stanton are tempered. Heck, even Fredi Gonzalez mentioned just as much.
"“I’m happy for him. He did what we asked him to do, which was go down there to Double-A and dominate, and he did that,” Gonzalez said. “Now I’m happy for the young man to come out and be part of this team and help us. Not to carry us. Not to be the Roy Hobbs, but to help us as a Major Leaguer.”"
Fredi could not have said it better. Stanton is 20 years old, and expecting him to succeed right away and carry this team is, at this point, an idea two years too early. One day, Stanton may become a great player, but it will not be this season.
Here were the polls I gave to Marlins fans over at FishStripes. I asked them to vote for a range for each of batting average, OBP, and slugging that they believed Stanton would hit in 2010. We had 33 votes for average, 26 for OBP, and 44 for slugging. I don’t know that the differences mean anything, other than perhaps that fans are more assured of Stanton’s slugging than his OBP or average.
The ranges provided in the polls can be seen in the links. Admittedly, this limited what fans could vote for, and the way the ranges were given also could lead to a little bias. For example, voters may be inclined to vote for the median option most often, whether or not that option is correct. Nevertheless, while the system is not awfully scientific, I think it can provide a rough understanding of what fans are expecting to see.
I took a weighted average of each of the poll results, using the median of each choice range as the average for that choice. For choices with either “below” or “above” ranges, I used a value that was 0.10 above the stated value. This means that the absolute lowest batting line one could vote for was .220/.270/.370, and the highest was .300/.350/.450. For a comparison point, PECOTA’s 90th percentile projection for Stanton this season is .262/.341/.548, while it’s 10th percentile projection is .218/.289/.407.
Taking the weighted average of the total voting results yielded a slash line of .265/.325/.422. However, given the propensity of SLG votes of “above .440” my guess is that fans were not thinking .450 when they voted for that. Recalculating with half of those votes at .480 and the other half at .450 gives a .265/.325/.428. Using every vote at .480 yields a .435 SLG.
Let’s analyze the all-.480 SLG line of .265/.325/.435, as that is the line I think fans are likeliest to see given the given batting average. I recreated a hypothetical batting line based on those slash stats in order to compute a wOBA calculation for the line. Here is that theoretical batting line:
Surprisingly, fan expectations of Stanton as a whole do not fall all that far away from the projected expectations, though the ways at which they came about those similar wOBA were completely different. The combined projection system approach boasted more power (ISO of .221 for the .330 wOBA), while the fans were expecting less (ISO of .173).
However, the fans thought Stanton would make better contact, boasting a.264 average that was similar to PECOTA’s 90th percentile projection. Somehow I feel the fans were highly optimistic in this regard; our projection had Stanton hitting .231 in the .330 wOBA projection, which is about where PECOTA had him as well. At a 27% K% (the rate at which Stanton has struck out for his career in the minors), Stanton would need a BABIP of .334 to bat .265. At a rate of 30% (the projected rate from our projection), he would need a BABIP of .352 to hit .265.
The offensive difference between these two projections is ultimately minimal. At 380 PA, the difference is a meager 1.6 runs, which means that the fans would expect a Mike Stanton worth 0.9 WAR rather than the 0.8 WAR Stanton I quoted on Friday. Of the two projections, I am more willing to accept the projection system over the fans, simply because that batting average seems impossible given Stanton’s current strikeout rates. Having said that, both the system and the fans are optimistic about his power, and this makes me more willing to believe that Stanton could indeed slug a .220+ ISO. Luckily for us, we won’t have too wait too much longer to find out.