Every year, CHONE, Bill James, PECOTA, ZiPS, and Marcels projections are released to mixed reactions. Those people inclined toward statistical analysis or who compulsively play fantasy baseball (I am both) eagerly await these numbers, while others loathe them. The common
argument complaint is that the season hasn't been played and these numbers will invariably be somewhat wrong. This complaint misses the point: projections are not the end-all of predicting a player's season. Instead, they form more of a baseline, a general idea of where a player will end up. Here are some players whose projections might not tell the story.
Daniel Murphy: Projection systems seem to split squarely down the middle on Murphy. Bill James and Marcels both project an OPS in the .830 range, while CHONE et al. predict him in the .720-.770 range. Marcels is the simplest system, however, and Bill James thinks every hitter will win MVP, so we'll default to the others as Murphy's projection. Needless to say, a .730 OPS would be a massive disappointment. His call-up numbers from last year were pretty flukey with a .386 BABIP fueled by a 33.3% linedrive rate. Still, to even hit like he did demonstrated the significant progress as a hitter he had already made at AA. At his age, Murphy could take more major steps forward and no on is questioning his work ethic. If you haven't already read what Buster Olney recently wrote about him, it's good:
Everybody who sees his at-bats walks away thinking they've just seen one of the most savvy young hitters in the sport.
Mike Pelfrey: Think of him as the pitcher version of Murphy. Sort of. Similar to Daniel, Pelfrey made serious in-season progress. Most projections call for a small step back for Pelfrey in 2009, but there's reason to believe a full-season of his sinker could lead to more success. Many projections believe his superb homerun suppression (0.54 HR/FB) and improved walk rate (2.87) will digress, but neither are necessarily true. His sinker, in spacious Citi, should suppress homers well and his improved command appears to be real. And if the K/9 breaks 6, it's beast mode.
Ryan Church: Most Mets fans are optimistic about Church, because they believe the pre-concussion player will show up in 2009. To the extent that's true remains to be seen, but he's probably better than the .254/.336/.422 line PECOTA put down for him.
Lastings Milledge: Nevermind.
J.J. Putz: Similar to Church, Putz's projections assume his injury-filled 2008. Assuming he's healthy, J.J. will likely bring his walk rate down and beat his projections easily.
Jeremy Reed: Most systems predict Reed to really suck with the bat next year, which is fair since he hasn't done anything but, since he joined the majors. He's a former top prospect though and he raked in limited AAA time last year. His 90th percentile forecast from PECOTA is a .857 OPS. Just sayin'.