Reviewing Pre-Season O’s Player Projections

As mentioned earlier in the week, here’s a mid-season review of both how the individual Orioles players are doing as well as a comparison to my pre-season projections. I don’t really look at the player stats all that often, so some of their performances were a little surprising. As usual, I reserve bragging rights for getting just about any projection even close to correct. Offense: Matt Wieters: Projected: .289/.359/.482, 10 HR, .365 wOBA Actual: .267/.321/.416, 3 HR, .330 wOBA PrOPS: .253/.409/.306 (PrOPS is a formula that gives a better idea of what a player’s batting line should be based on his batted balls, strikeouts, home runs and walks.) I didn’t think Wieters would be called up so early, and in my initial projection before getting feedback I had him at .275/.344/.438 and noted that I gave a lot of weight to his being a catcher (and thus needing more transition time). Still not worried, and I still have high hopes for his future contributions. Others may be disappointed, but he’s already been worth 0.5 Wins Above Replacement. Gregg Zaun: Projected: .241/.340/.374, 5 HR, .320 wOBA Actual: .243/.345/.372, 3 HR, .333 wOBA PrOPS: .274/.370/.405 Hard to get a projection closer than that. He’s definitely bringing his Z-Game (!) this year, and is actually 4th on the team in WAR (0.9) amongst position players (and that’s assuming average defense at catcher). Aubrey Huff: Projected: .280/.344/.472, 22 HR, .357 wOBA Actual: .262/.330/.428, 11 HR, .336 wOBA PrOPS: .279/.346/.450 Nobody thought he’d repeat 2008, but he’s not even repeating 2007. With his -3 run defense, Huff has actually been worse than replacement level so far this year (-0.1 WAR). Brian Roberts: Projected: .285/.365/.425, 9 HR, .358 wOBA Actual: .274/.340/.437, 8 HR, .344 wOBA PrOPS: .274/.341/.419 He’s been in a slump lately, but showing much more power than I expected. His defense has been stayed about the same as last year though (-2.2 UZR/150 games, compared to -0.9 in ’08), which is good – I was worried it would drop more. Cesar Izturis: Projected: .260/.311/.327, 3 HR, .290 wOBA Actual: .260/.293/.327, 1 HR, .290 wOBA PrOPS: .289/.318/.375 Too bad I couldn’t have gotten his defense that close (+0.7 UZR/150 instead of the about +7.5 I had expected). Still likely to make his contract worthwhile though. Melvin Mora: Projected: .271/.333/.418, 16 HR, .334 wOBA Actual: .261/.321/.326, 2 HR, .294 wOBA PrOPS: .285/.342/.382 Melvin’s just not a good hitter anymore. That Cesar Izturis is actually out-slugging him is embarrassing. At least his defense is only slightly below average (-0.7 UZR/150). Felix Pie: Projected: .267/.322/.409, 10 HR, .323 wOBA Actual: .234/.299/.355 , 2 HR, .294 wOBA PrOPS: .258/.319/.386 He’s hitting better lately, though he’s not exactly getting a lot of opportunities. He’s actually walking more often than either Adam Jones or Nick Markakis, and he’s cut down on his K’s a lot. I still believe he can be a contributor, at least on defense (+7.5 UZR/150 in the OF). Adam Jones: Projected: .273/.325/.425, 15 HR, .331 wOBA Actual: .308/.362/.494, 12 HR, .377 wOBA PrOPS: .287/.343/.470 Adam’s come back down to earth recently, but it’s pretty clear that much of that break-out hype was legitimate. He’s still hitting a ton of groundballs though, so it’s going to be hard for him to put up a really impressive HR total (say, 25) unless his already high 17.6% HR/FB goes up even more or he starts getting some lift. I don’t know what happened to his defense (-13 UZR/150), but that’s been the disappointing part of his game. Nick Markakis: Projected: .301/.401/.493, 20 HR, .395 wOBA Actual: .290/.350/.441, 8 HR, .370 wOBA PrOPS: .274/.337/.414 You’re killing me Nick, just killing me. That PrOPS line is brutal. Especially with a -16.1 UZR/150 games. He’s gone back to chasing balls like he did in ’06 and ’07 (though still a little less than the average hitter) but he’s swinging at a good deal fewer strikes. The walks are back down to a below league average rate, and there’s not a lot of power (just 7% HR/FB). Hopefully he’ll heat up in the second half. Luke Scott: Projected: .262/.343/.476, 23 HR, .355 wOBA Actual: .304/.386/.589, 17 HR, .418 wOBA PrOPS: .299/.378/.596 Easily the best hitter on the team so far this season. The 22.4% of flyballs leaving the yard won’t last, but he’s having a great year. Ty Wigginton: Projected: .271/.334/.469, 20 HR, .350 wOBA Actual: .257/.302/.390, 6 HR, .304 wOBA PrOPS: .280/.322/.432 After a preposterously slow start, Wiggy is starting to come around. Maybe I didn’t build as much of the AL/NL difference into my pre-season line as I should have though. He’s cut down on his strike-outs, but is also walking less than at any other point in his career. Robert Andino: Projected: .235/.281/.342, 1 HR, .292 wOBA Actual: .232/.265/.289, 1 HR, .276 wOBA PrOPS: .246/.281/.331 Clearly the guy can’t hit, but a +12.9 UZR/150 games at short is nice. I cut out some guys that aren’t on the team anymore (Ryan Freel, Chad Moeller, and Luis Montanez). If I had projected Nolan Reimold (who’s hitting .264/.341/.460 this year) it would have been for about a .255/.335/.435 line. He’s cooled off since his hot start, but is still beating that. Total offense: Projected: .272/.342/.429, 160 HR, .338 wOBA Actual: .269/.331/.418, 86 HR, .336 wOBA The team stopped walking the way they had earlier in the season, and that’s hurt them as their batting average has come down. I’ve found that in general I’m high on OBP (as I was last year) so that’s something I’ll keep in mind for next year.  Instead of being a bit above average they’ve been a bit below average so far, but I think there’s more upside in the line-up in the second half (Markakis, Roberts, Wieters, Mora, Wigginton) than downside (Scott, Jones). Pitching: Jeremy Guthrie: Projected ERA: 4.15 Actual ERA: 5.35 FIP: 5.65 tRA ERA (tRA * .92 to get it to earned runs instead of total runs): 5.06 Walks and home runs up, strike-outs down. Didn’t think things would regress this far. Koji Uehara: Projected ERA: 4.70 Actual ERA: 4.05 FIP: 3.52 tRA ERA: 2.80 He’s been the O’s best pitcher so far, but he’s having a hard time staying on the field. Mark Hendrickson: Projected ERA: 5.13 Actual ERA: 4.63 FIP: 4.92 tRA ERA: 5.09 Relegated to the pen much sooner than I would have anticipated. Brad Bergesen: Projected ERA: 5.18 Actual ERA: 3.59 FIP: 4.19 tRA ERA: 4.23 Having a fantastic season, and locking up a rotation spot for the foreseeable future. Rich Hill: Projected ERA: 5.00 Actual ERA: 7.43 FIP: 5.14 tRA ERA: 4.79 Still love the curveball, but a 6.07 BB/9 is pretty unacceptable. If he could get that one thing under control, he’d be an effective starter. George Sherrill: Projected ERA: 3.79 Actual ERA: 2.55 FIP: 3.42 tRA ERA: 2.73 Really turned things around after some early season struggles. He’s making lefties cry like little girls (.367 OPS… OPS!). Jim Johnson: Projected ERA: 3.85 Actual ERA: 2.92 FIP: 3.90 tRA ERA: 3.69 He’s upped his strike-out rate (to a still below average 5.63 K/9) and lowered his walk rate (to an OK 3.15 BB/9) but it’s the 55.4% groundball rate and the related 0.68 HR/9 that have kept him effective. Chris Ray: Projected ERA: 4.10 Actual ERA: 9.28 FIP: 5.30 tRA ERA: 5.10 I still believe in the stuff (and the 9.7 K/9) but his control hasn’t come back (5.48 BB/9) and he’s injured again. Danys Baez: Projected ERA: 4.70 Actual ERA: 4.40 FIP: 4.63 tRA ERA: 4.08 Started out the year great but has settled in around where expected. Pretty similar to JJ actually, with a 5.02 K/9, 3.14 BB/9, and 59.9% GB rate. Matt Albers: Projected ERA: 4.38 Actual ERA: 3.82 FIP: 3.50 tRA ERA: 3.54 Despite his reputation, Albers fastball doesn’t sink that much and he isn’t really a groundball pitcher. He has prevented home runs well (0.25 HR/9) but that’s mostly a function of a very low 2.4% HR/FB rate. He’s a fine bullpen arm, but probably not quite as good as he’s looked so far. Brian Bass: Projected ERA: 4.58 Actual ERA: 4.53 FIP: 5.32 tRA ERA: 5.05 Bullpen filler. I will note that the guy who had this job last year – Lance Cormier – has a 3.35 FIP with the Rays this year. Think they may have kept the wrong guy. (Cormier had a 4.04 FIP last year, while Bass’ was 5.08). Not included here are Alfredo Simon (remember him?), Radhames Liz (who we may not see again), Jamie Walker (good move to release him), Adam Eaton (good move to release him), or Dennis Sarfate (working back from injury). I didn’t project Jason Berken (6.25 ERA but a 4.19 FIP – he seems like a decent #5 starter, and I’d probably have gone with an ERA around 5.50) or David Hernandez (3.94 ERA, 4.33 FIP – the 4.78 K/9 has to come up, I would think. Would have gone with around a 5.30 ERA.) before the season. Total pitching: Projected ERA: 4.73 Actual ERA: 5.09 FIP: 4.78 tRA ERA (starters): 4.74 tRA ERA (relievers): 4.20 The O’s pitching has improved from last year’s 5.15 ERA and 5.14 FIP, so they’re definitely moving in the right direction. And that’s with their “ace” not exactly providing a stellar performance.

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The Orioles are in the neighborhood of where my expectations were when it comes to offense and pitching overall, but the defense (-20.6 UZR) and baserunning (bad, as discussed previously) have really hurt them. If those latter two factors were league average, they could be 41-44 (and on pace to win 78 games) instead of 38-47 (and on pace for 72). We’ll see what happens in the second half.