Monday, February 9, 2009

Rox Talk - Pre Pre Season Expectations

With the season fast approaching (Yippee!). See my haiku here, I thought I would throw out my first crack at what we can expect from the fantasy "experts".  I think all pre-season projections (Chone, James, Pecota) are all designed for those fantasy players looking to draft a wining team. I find the numbers useful in trying to get an ideal of whether I should be excited or just ho hum for the upcoming season.

First of all let's start with the negative.  Although nothing has come out directly, it seems as we get closer to Spring Training the likelihood of Francis pitching this year decreases.  A tremendous 2007 season and disappointment last year had led for hope that a return of the Big 3 (Cook, Jimenez, and Francis) would lead to a pretty good top of a rotation.  Francis was slotted in to pitch on average about 166 innings for 2009.  That is about 12% of the total pitching required (on average Rox pitchers throw about 1,438 innings a season).  And finally the biggest question is how an offensive that was anemic last year (with Holliday) expects to find a spark this year and score more runs without Holliday?  Holliday accounted for 14% of the Rox runs last year.  He accounted for 23 win shares (about 8 wins for team that only won 74 games).  He has been a huge influence on our offensive the last 3 years.  But on the brightside....

Tulo should be back, Iannetta is entering his offensive years as is Stewart, OBP challenged Taveras is gone,  preseason stability at 2B with Barmes and Baker, and a revolving door of outfield potential (someone has got to find his stroke?).  On the mound, O'Dowd philosophy of stockpiling arms for the season geared back up this off season with the signing of Fogg, Marquis, Smith, Hirsh, Reynolds, and the always tantalizing return of Morales).  We will assume that Jimenez, Cook, and de la Rosa will mind the top 3 spots.  The bullpen lost Fuentes but hopefully with the duel of Corpas and Street we will have a decent back end of the pen.  Minding the middle will be Embree, Buchholz, Grilli, Speier, and whatever potential 4th and 5th guy doesn't make it.  This team's got some depth but the problem is that we've also got a lot of "ifs" but at this stage who doesn't?  Without the weight of Holliday looming over everything perhaps the team will get a bit scrappy and scrap a few more wins together this year?  

So anyway the numbers say that we will score about 815 runs (range 770 - 851 with runs scored per at bats proportionalized with the last 7 years of at bats, about 5,566).  Pitching is a bit more difficult to estimate especially with Francis.  Over the last 7 years the range of runs given up have been between 758 - 923 with the average at 852.  Again proportionalizing what the pundits say I see about 818 batters crossing the plate.  I'm a big proponent of using the runs scored/runs against ratio in determing winning percentage and if we score 815 runs and allow 818 that means we will win about 81 games.  Not bad and at least puts us in some contention in the NL West where it seems no one ever wins the division with a blow out 90 - 95 wins.  If we can find that swagger like we did in 2007 then maybe we can make it interesting.

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