10 April 2008

24-Sided Die Determines Season

Batting performance is often simplified by people new to sabermetrics as OPS. Others take that a step further and define things by OBP and SLG. These numbers are used to describe the worth of a batter generically. They fail to recognize that batting position also plays a part in run production. Certain skills are often put to better use in certain positions. A simple analysis of this was done by Cyril Morong. He used raw data from 1988-2002 and determined the value of OBP and SLG by position in the batting order. It should be noted though that OBP and SLG are also rather generic, but it is the best data I have. Of course, hit-derived OBP is worth more than walk derived OBP except in extreme chances. Anyway, from these numbers we can determine how well the Orioles are likely to do based on their lineup and projections from ZiPS.

1. The starting nine players will play every inning of the entire season.
2. The starting pitchers will remain the starting pitchers over the course of the season and average 6 innings per start, equally.
3. The bullpen will be league average.
These are rather prominent assumptions, but I frankly do not care to go deeper into it.

We will compare two lineups. The most common one employed by Trembley along with the ideal lineup based on Morong's formula. Each lineup will be compared to the runs expected in the pitching performance. The run tallies will be converted into wins and losses by the pythagorean theorem.


ZiPS is not high on the Orioles pitching and assigns ERAs to them as such: Loewen 4.55, Cabrera 4.85, Guthrie 4.84, Traschel 5.20, and Burress 6.12. With each averaging 194.1 IP at an ERA of 5.11 and a bullpen with a 4.35 ERA, the team will give up 4.86 runs per game. That comes to 787 runs. I am ignoring unearned runs, which makes this an optimistic projection.

Trembley's Lineup

Trembley's typical lineup so far has been Roberts, Mora, Markakis, Millar, Huff, Scott, R Hernandez, Jones, and L Hernandez. This lineup should be weak with regard to underutilizing the top of the order by have Luis Hernandez bat last as well as having Millar and his lack of power in the 4 hole. This lineup is predicted to average 4.86 runs per game and a total of 788 runs scored. That results in a record of 81-81.

Ideal Lineup
The ideal lineup as defined by Morong's formula would be Roberts, Markakis, Huff, Jones, Scott, R Hernandez, Mora, L Hernandez, and Millar. Millar bats last to take advantage of his OBP as well as lessening the damage from his projected lack of power. This lineup brings in a predicted 5.07 runs per game and a total of 821 runs. This results in a 84-78 record.

I'm not sure this exercise accomplished much, but it does kind of show what can be expected if many things broke our way offensively. It is likely that any backups to our starters would result in a significant decrease in offensive production (oh, wait, Luis, I didn't mean your projected offense). So, in a way . . . this projection should cover the event that several players outperform their expected production level. In a conservative sense, I would probably decrease offensive production by about 10% to account for days our main offensive players take off. Doing that would result in a Trembley lineup record of 71-91. This looks pretty accurate based on what most projection systems use with playing time considered.

I think the best case scenario would be if the offense improves 10% of what should be expected (787 runs) and the pitching improves 10% of what is expected (720 runs). In this scenario we would have an 88-74 record. I think expecting anything more than that would be tragically optimistic. I think to expect 88 wins is tragically optimistic. Probably expecting 81 wins would be inadvisable. Anyway, that is that. On the flip side, 10% decreased performance on each side would result in a 58-104 record. Expecting anything close to that would also be inadvisable.

Further Reading
Frost King Baseball did a quick study back in mid-March, apparently. It is a slightly more optimistic appraisal of the Orioles offense. The site uses a standard base runs method to determine runs scored.

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