Baseball Prospectus released its annual projections this week. The Tigers, as you might expect, rate pretty well.
I remember when a Baseball Prospectus subscription was like a must-have for a baseball blogger, a time when you waited impatiently for PECOTA projections to be announced. Now the entire project seems to have lost some of its sunshine, trapped behind the tall shadow cast by Fangraphs and its ability to gather stats and projections for your every sabermetric need. But I digress.
Using the depth charts, with playing time allotted in in pretty accurate shape for the Tigers, PECOTA projects [free link] the Tigers as a 92-win team. Don't get your nose too out of joint at that particular figure: it's actually tied for the best in the American League and just one win worse than the MLB-leading Dodgers. Projections regress to the middle. There will naturally be teams that win more than 92, and there will be teams that lose a few more than projected, too.
Detroit is projected to score about 100 more runs this year than last, but also to allow handful -- or maybe a scoop -- more runs as well.
The Houston Astros, in their first season in the AL, are projected to play baseball, or at least something resembling the game.
PECOTA and the ZiPS projections at Fangraphs are in fairly close agreement on Miguel Cabrera's stats. He'll have a good season, naturally, even a great one by mere mortal standards. But neither system sees him repeating any of his triple crown numbers. I'll quibble with both projections on batting average though: the systems seem to think he'll have one of the lowest BA of his entire career. PECOTA also likes Prince Fielder's power a bit more, and in my judgment they'll be closer to the truth in the end. Finally, if Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter hit their PECOTA projections, I think fans will be a lot happier than they were with the players who the duo are replacing in the lineup.
On the pitching end of things ... PECOTA also does not like Bruce Rondon as closer. The projections systems just do not see good things for the possibility. To be fair, it's going to be pretty hard for them to see good things. He walked too many in the minors and he has no major league track record to go off. Even if he's not closer, I doubt he'll be as bad as systems say. Meanwhile, the ace, Justin Verlander, will continue to be ace-y, but the trio of No. 2 starters that follow him do not have No. 2 starter projections next to their names. Finally, PECOTA, like ZiPS, prefers Drew Smyly to Rick Porcello.
They're projections. Don't take them too serious. Some will miss on the low end, others will miss on the high end. The team forecast is usually pretty indicative of success, but as the BP writers allude to, it's still more of a seasonal forecast than an exact indication of a half inch of rain on July 13.
Lee Panas looked at some player comparables at Tiger Tales.