2010 Orioles Projections

The season is starting in less than a week, so it’s time to put out the 2010 Orioles Projections. I got a few hundred submissions, that I augmented with the various projection systems (CHONE, ZiPS, etc.). First up, the position players (click to see a larger table):

Hit is the offensive runs above average for a full season (700 PA) based off of wOBA^, while wRAA adjusts it for the actual playing time. BR is baserunning in runs above average, and Fld is fielding at the given position in runs above average. Def combines the positional adjustment converted into runs and fielding, and accounts for playing time. The FA$ is the WAR^ times $3.5 M (plus the league minimum), since that’s about the going rate for a win on the free agent market this off-season.

A .276/.338/.435 batting line would be a 6 point improvement in OBP and a 20 point increase in SLG. The total of 21.8 Wins Above Replacement would have ranked 10th in the majors last year using the FanGraphs totals (7th in the AL, 4th in the AL East), and would be about a 6 WAR improvement over 2009. The offense is projected to score around 770 runs, and the defense to be a little above average.

It might be easier to look at the totals for each player:

Wieters isn’t a dominant force yet, but as an above average hitter (in general) at the most valuable position on the field he’d be one of the best players on the team and one of the better catchers in baseball.

Atkins – spending most of his time at first-base – just isn’t that valuable. His bat doesn’t play well at the position, and his fielding doesn’t improve enough there to make up for it. You can see that if he doesn’t greatly exceed his projection then he won’t be worth his contract.

Roberts’ playing time got knocked down a little due to the back problems, but he should be mostly effective when he plays.

Tejada is still a decent player, though he’s mostly about the batting average.

Reimold’s recovery from his Achilles surgery affected his playing time, but Pie is a very good “fourth outfielder” so there isn’t much of a drop-off. I’m excited to see what Felix can do this year.

If Jones can combine his offense from last year and his defense from 2008 (according to UZR), then that would make him a very good player.

Markakis will hopefully bounce back, but his 0 walks for the Spring has me a bit concerned. I might be inclined to bet the under on that .373 OBP, but maybe that’s because I’m wary after 2009.

The bench is pretty mediocre, aside from whichever of Scott, Reimold, and Pie will be on it. It’s not that clear that Aubrey will even appear in an O’s uniform this year, but his replacement level production could be provided by another name just as well so it probably doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

Edit: With Lugo replacing Andino, the bench gets a little bit better. Julio brings more offense but weaker defense to the table – more on him found here.

I’m sure some players not on here will make appearances in Baltimore, but I think this gets most of it.

Then there’s the pitchers:

LI is the leverage index, which you can see is higher for the closer and set-up man, and lower for the long relievers.

A 4.53 FIP for the staff would be about a half-run improvement over 2009, with most of that coming from the starting rotation. 12.4 WAR from the pitchers would still be towards the lower third in the majors, but a 5 win improvement from last season. It’s been four years since the team has had four pitchers post WARs over 1, and though there’s no #1 starter (or even #2), the depth of non-crappy pitchers is a definite step forward. The young starters could certainly get more innings, but there’s no reason to really push it and it’s fairly likely that someone will get hurt and miss some time. Overall, the pitching staff is projected to allow around 790 runs.

Matusz – both on a per inning basis and on a season basis – is projected to be the team’s best starter. Rookie of the Year?

Tillman is starting the year out in the minors, but I think he’ll be up before too long and should get plenty of innings. Hopefully he can work on getting the ball down in the zone before facing major league hitters again.

The bullpen doesn’t “look” that good, but it would be about average overall. If Koji can stay healthy for at least most of the season, then I think he could be very effective out there. Overpaying for closers – especially for a team that’s not in contention – is generally not a great idea.

If you assume 45 wins for a replacement level team, then the O’s would project to about 79 wins for 2010. My opinion is that that’s more of a high-end for them, as the pitching staff will most likely have a couple guys pitching some below replacement level innings. Just looking at the formal projection systems, they have the Orioles at 75-76 wins. That’s where I’d set the line myself, though it wouldn’t take all that many breaks for them to break .500.