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2024 Projection Series: The Primer (With A Major System Upgrade)

If you are new to my projections, this is where I lay out how the projections system works - in what I have typically called "The Primer." My projection system behind the scenes has been a bit stagnant for seasons now and I am quite excited to share that this offseason I had multiple epiphanies and plenty of both theoretical and technical help that allowed me to improve my system greatly. On the viewer end, not much will change for you all. Most of my projections are still fairly similar to what they would have been if I had taken the easy way out and left my system the same. But I didn't.

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 over time.

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, foreign league, and college statistics. I manually input their prior three seasons’ worth of statistics and how many plate appearances (hitters) or batters faced (pitchers) at each level during each season - and for their careers.

  • I then use a special formula to convert each level of the minors, foreign leagues, and college to a Major League Equivalency (MLE) output to compile their MLE stats for the 3 most recent seasons (minors, foreign, college, and/or majors combined) and for their careers. This year will be the first time I'm introducing collegiate data into the inputs as well - which of course, I'm seeing, is leading to different outputs!

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

What had been eluding me for the last 5-10 years that I was unable to mathematically formulate into my system was an age factor. While I don't believe I have perfected exactly what I want it to eventually look like and encapsulate, I have now incorporated an age factor to the league factor that I had previously introduced a few years back. I also talked to Birds On The Black's own Kyle Reis and several other prominent prospect people both for the Cardinals and more general MLB about the state of the minor leagues since the pandemic and made adjustments to that previously used league factor to better compensate for changes teams have made in how they move players up through the system. In the process of doing this, it has made my projection of minor leaguers slightly more conservative on their growth. As I mentioned in my write up of last year's 2023 projections compared to how the year ended, I believe this conservative nature will be beneficial to the projections as a whole. Maybe I feel that way because we're coming off of a down year. Who knows? While I feel like this is less likely to have me call out a breakout season, it should really allow me to properly gauge my expectations for reality as it is so dang hard for players to make it to the majors. Keep in mind, only about 10.5% of all baseball players who make it into professional baseball (getting paid to play) even take an at bat, take the field, or throw a pitch at the major league level.

Behind the scenes additions have also included ways for me to make small changes here and there that do not require me to double back on previously done work, making future projections go much more quickly. It will also allow me to do my depth chart projections quite a bit more quickly, allowing for easier transitions and for seeing how many Pythagorean wins I believe the Cardinals are destined for nearly as soon as changes to the roster are announced or when the team breaks spring training with a slightly different bullpen or bench than I am currently imagining.

As always, here are screenshot examples for what a player's sheet looks like:

This is a fictional hitter.

This is a fictional pitcher.

On these two above sheets, you can see the 2024 FINAL line which will become THE CERUTTI once they are all completed to the best of my ability in the time we have - I'm always looking to improve as much as possible. Below that you can see THE GOOD and THE BAD right there for me to put into print right along with THE CERUTTI.

Compiled Hitters Page

Compiled Pitchers Page

You can see on the top right of that Compiled Pitchers Page that I do have a Team W-L record for each pitcher's games started (so not necessarily their W-L record, but the team's record in those games). I then have (in bold) the totals for the team and the win percentage. Here's how it looks below when filled in with my current depth chart inserted.

This screen grab was from a previous version of the projections, not the final 2024 version.

So there you have it. A peek behind the curtain. Please ask questions as they arise. I appreciate any and all feedback - whether I incorporate it partially, fully, or not at all. Hit me up on twitter or on Facebook.


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