2020 Projection Series: Primer


Hello Birds on the Black and Flyover Country Baseball friends! Welcome to February! This year's projection series debuts on my mother's birthday! Happy birthday, Mom!


It’s getting to be that time of year again. I am going to be publishing my individual St. Louis Cardinal pitcher and position player projections for the 2020 season in the upcoming days and weeks. (Stay here at Birds on the Black this spring for Kyle's Dirty Thirty Five, as well! They've already started!)


Back in the mid-to-late-2000s or so, I began attempting to create a projection system similar to Steamer, Marcel, ZIPS, etc. in order to see what I thought the Cardinals had going for them for the next season. I have attempted to improve upon it each and every year. In the past three calendar years, I have revamped the way minor league and foreign league numbers play into my projections. That has been one of the hardest parts of doing this exercise year in and out.


Basically, the gist of what I do is this:

  • I start on Google Sheets (formerly Microsoft Excel at the beginning of all of this).

  • I have a sheet for each individual player. I manually input their career major league, minor league, and foreign league statistics. I manually input their prior three seasons’ worth of statistics. I manually input how many plate appearances or batters faced at each level each season.

  • I then use a special formula to convert each level of the minors to a Major League Equivalency (MLE) output to compile their MLE stats for the 3 most recent seasons (minors/foreign+majors combined) and for their careers.

  • I then use a formula to attempt to weight each of those factors (the three most recent seasons AND the career statistics) and have it spit out what I use as my projected stat line for the upcoming year.

*The only thing that I sometimes fudge around with is plate appearances or innings pitched that I am allotting them for the upcoming season - since that is still an unknown.*


The finished product for each individual player looks something like this for position players:

Yadi 2019 Projections

And this for individual pitchers:

Waino 2019 Projections

After I get everyone finished (such as above), I go through and input them into another sheet for the entire team. Below you will find the sheet for the position players in 2018:

Cardinals Hitters 2019 Projections

And the sheet for pitchers in 2018:

Cardinals Pitchers 2019 Projections

As you can see, I make sure that the team is only allotted (at most) 6,300 plate appearances (and ~1,450 innings on the pitcher side). I have to take guesses as to playing time, basically I create my own depth chart - which is why these projections don’t come out until the spring; and I have to use a formula to get the totals because not everyone’s plate appearances / innings are guaranteed. That helps me to see about how many runs I believe the team will score vs. how many I believe they will allow on the season. In turn, those numbers help guide me on how many projected wins I believe the team can have in the following season.


An addition to this year's projection series will be the record I believe the Cardinals will have in each of the starting pitcher's games started, adding where I think we see wins vs. losses in the upcoming season. That's the biggest addition to this year's version.


The other new piece is that for position players I plan to incorporate a couple of (I hope) interesting items to go along with the mean (average) projection. This will be called THE CERUTTI. I am going to be adding in two sections, one if everything is going right for that player (THE GOOD) and one if everything is going wrong with that player (THE BAD).


Any questions? Any suggestions for the future? I hope you're looking as forward to these as I am to putting them out there for everyone to...most likely critique. :)


SCHEDULE

February 9th - Primer (today)

February 9th - Yadier Molina

February 10th - 23rd - the other 14 position players I currently have written up already.


We'll go from there and see who is next. We'll see if there are any other moves that alter anything from the 10th through 23rd. Today is set, though. The primer is out and Yadier Molina will be up shortly. I'm 99.9999999% sure that Yadier Molina will be a Cardinal in 2020, so that is an easy one to start with.


I hope you have as much fun with this as I do!