MLBdirt is proud to present our first of many guest posts by great bloggers from all over the internet. Get to know William J. Tasker, a/k/a The Flagrant Fan, a knowledgeable and passionate baseball fan that can be followed on twitter and found writing daily at his blog. Enjoy!
When was the last time you’ve seen a 91-win team, and a team that won its division by five games, get so little love for the following season as the Reds this year? Baseball Prospectus gives the team 82 wins for 2011. 82! CAIRO’s early projections gave the NL Central champions 85 wins and a third place finish. Betfirms.com projects them for fourth place. Covers.com predicts 85 wins. Are you getting the picture? Just as nobody thought the Reds would ever win the division in 2010, nobody is predicting a repeat. What is going on here?
In fairness to the prognosticators, let’s look at some of the reasoning. Perhaps the easiest way is to look at the projected starting position players and rotation and compare the projected results with the results from last year. To look at every projection system’s charts would be a bit much for all of us, so let’s just stick to Baseball Prospectus for now. You can see the projections here for yourself: Comments will be saved after we go through the players.
Brandon Phillips: 2010 WARP: 3.8. Projected 2011 WARP: 1.9 (-1.9)
Edgar Renteria: Orlando Cabrera’s 2010 WARP: 0.6. Renteria’s projected WARP: 0.3 (-0.3)
Joey Votto: 2010 WARP: 7.7. Projected 2011 WARP: 4.4 (-3.3)
Scott Rolen: 2010 WARP: 6.0. Projected 2011 WARP: 2.7 (-3.3)
Jay Bruce: 2010 WARP: 6.7. Projected 2011 WARP: 3.5 (-3.2)
Jonny Gomes: 2010 WARP: 2.1. Projected 2011 WARP: 0.6 (-1.5)
Drew Stubbs: 2010 WARP: 5.3. Projected 2011 WARP: 1.1 (-4.2)
Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan: 2010 WARP: 6.8 (combined). Projected (combined) 2011 WAR: 2.6 (-4.2)
Comments: The first problem with the projection is that it assumes Fred Lewis will start in left. Dusty Baker has said the position belongs to Gomes. Secondly, what are the odds that every single position around the diamond will have less value than the year before? Surely, at least half should be able to repeat their success. Renteria (with backup from Janish) should at least duplicate the relative non-worth of Cabrera. At his age, it is possible for Rolen to fall off some. But Votto, Bruce, Phillips, and Stubbs are all young and developing major league players with huge upsides. It’s hard to imagine them losing a combined 12.7 wins between them from 2010 to 2011.
Edison Volquez: 2010 WARP: 1.1. Projected 2011 WARP: 1.7 (+0.6)
Bronson Arroyo: 2010 WARP: 4.2. Projected 2011 WARP: 1.5 (-2.7)
Johnny Cueto: 2010 WARP: 3.4. Projected 2011 WARP: 1.4 (-2.0)
Homer Bailey: 2010 WARP: 0.8. Projected 2011 WARP: 0.9 (+0.1)
Travis Wood: 2010 WARP: 1.7. Projected 2011 WARP: 1.9 (+0.2)
Mike Leake: 2010 WARP: 1.6. Projected 2011 WARP: -0.1 (-1.7)
Comments: Arroyo has put together four seasons in a row with a WARP of over 2.5. Last year was his best year of the bunch. So why should he fall so precipitously in 2011? Cueto seemed to finally find some consistency last year after never being able to put it all together before. Barring injury, it’s hard to believe he would regress that far. Volquez needs to prove he can stay healthy. He has all kinds of talent, but has yet to put a full and consistent season together. That projection makes sense. Bailey had some good moments in 2010, but he also needs to show he can be consistently good. So again, his projection makes sense. Travis Wood put together all that value last year in just a few starts. To think he couldn’t double those results over a full season seems unthinkable. Leake is an open story and could be anywhere or do anything this year.
The bullpen is pretty stable and compares with last year’s version. Aroldis Chapman will pitch the full season and should be able to replace the value left behind by the Amazing Arthur Rhodes (the Fan’s favorite personal nickname). The projections predict Francisco Cordero and Nick Masset will be less valuable than last year. Cordero is a pretty known quantity and should be able to come close to last year’s numbers. Masset is just too good to regress that much.
The Reds’ bench seems pretty similar to last year’s version. Miguel Cairo should regress because he’s never done what he did last year. But Paul Janish is competent enough to be the fourth infielder. It’s not a strong bench though Fred Lewis is a solid back up in the outfield. Suffice it to say that the bench is competent but not deep. If any of the regulars would get hurt, it would be hard to replace any of them.
From this observation deck, the lack of love for the Reds is puzzling. The NL Central is wide open. All the teams have improved from a year ago, but no one is dominant, especially with the Cardinals losing Adam Wainwright for the season. There is no reason the Reds can’t repeat though the Fan doesn’t think it will be as easy or the margin will be as great for whoever wins the division. But under few circumstances can this writer see the Reds winning less than 88 games. The projections are based on regression in every single position player on the field and three of this six potential starters. This Fan doesn’t buy it and thinks the Reds should get more love than they are getting.
Are the projections a reflection of the opinion most have about Dusty Baker? Many have not forgiven the man for Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. Whether that reputation is deserved or not, you cannot take away the team’s 91 wins last year. And perhaps the perception is based on the way the Reds were buzz sawed by the Phillies in the playoffs. Either way, the projections are unique among division winners except for the similar lack of love being shown the Tampa Bay Rays. But that’s another story for another time.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis Tagged: | Adam Wainwright, Aroldis Chapman, Arthur Rhodes, Brandon Phillips, Bronson Arroyo, Drew Stubbs, Dusty Baker, Edgar Renteria, Edison Volquez, Francisco Cordero, Fred Lewis, Homer Bailey, Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto, Jonny Gomes, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Miguel Cairo, Mike Leake, Nick Masset, Orlando Cabrera, Paul Janish, Ramon Hernandez, Reds, Ryan Hanigan, Scott Rolen, Travis Wood