In two words: lotsa upside.
I'm not going to post the entire spreadsheet (that'd go against their very simple and kindly put request, "Please do not distribute"), but a few highlights from the pitching side:
Brian Bannister, SP
I have a big problem with these projections. It may be reasonable to expect a drop-off from a soft-throwing, low-strikeout guy who's average, but the problem is Banny's not average. Far from it. In fact, relative to his colleagues at the position, one might say he's a genius. We've known this for a while at IDWT, but with his recent three-part interview at MLB Trade Rumors, a significantly larger portion of the baseball universe now knows too: the man is a thinker, and thinkers defy conventional wisdom.
- 2007: 12-9, 165.0 IP, 77 K, 44 BB 15 HR, 3.87 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
- 2008 projection: 6-8, 116.2 IP, 59 K, 42 BB, 15 HR, 5.19 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 6.3 VORP, 2.1 WARP (break even probability: 4%; improve: 13%; collapse: 55%; attrition: 22%)
Interview excerpt:One thing that I have have come to accept is that just because I train hard physically, I practice perfectly, I prepare diligently, and execute a pitch exactly as I wanted, it can still result in a home run. In golf, if you analyze all the variables correctly (lie, distance, slope, wind, etc.) and execute your swing perfectly, it will result in a great shot. Not so for a pitcher or a hitter. A hitter can swing the bat perfectly and it will result in an out more than six times out of ten. Therefore, as a pitcher, I study and play to put the percentages in my favor more than anything because I know that I can't control the outcome in a single game or series of games, but over the course of a season or a career I will be better than average.Consider what Pizza Cutter over at MVN had to say about Bannister's theory (in the MLBTR interview) that getting to an 0-2 count may be as important as what actually happens after that point (strikeout or no):So, in a two-step process, there is a certain amount of control that a pitcher has over BABIP. A pitcher has somewhat of an individual ability to control what counts he gets into, especially two-strike counts. Then, based on that, there’s a league-wide benefit/penalty for working into specific types of count. It’s not that certain pitchers have a certain ability to leverage a 1-2 count, comparable to other pitchers. It’s just that some pitchers are better than others at getting to a 1-2 count, and everyone pitches better when the count is in his favor. So, a pitcher who is good at getting ahead in the count is likely to have a BABIP that’s particularly low, and that’s not a mistake.Implicit, I believe, is the idea that Bannister is that type of pitcher who can take hitters to 0-2 and 1-2, and that while he doesn't have a high K rate, the strikeout stat as applied to him is actually beside the point. In other words: he possesses a low BABIP-against not because he gets lucky but because he puts himself in situations to have a low BABIP-against. This means lots of induced double plays, quite a few stranded runners, etc., and little of it attributable to luck.
Gil Meche, SP
Gilgameche will have to prove himself all over again. My projection: 20-4, 265 K, 55 BB, 2.55 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, Cy Young.
- 2007: 9-13, 216.0 IP, 156 K, 62 BB, 22 HR, 3.67 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
- 2008 projection: 10-11, 177.3 IP, 130 K, 67 BB, 19 HR, 4.55 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 21.4 VORP, 4.0 WARP (B: 15%, I: 58%, C: 15%, A: 14%)
Zack Greinke, SP/RP
This looks good when you factor in the high upside. We can keep our fingers crossed that Greinke throws more than 122 innings. If he goes for 180 or so, we may be in for something special.
- 2007: 7-7, 122.0 IP, 106 K, 36 BB, 12 HR, 3.69 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
- 2008 projection: 6-8, 121.0 IP (44 G, 15 GS), 99 K, 38 BB, 14 HR, 4.27 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 18.9 VORP, 3.3 WARP (B: 23%, I: 57%, C: 17%, A: 13%)
Luke Hochevar, SP
5.62 ERA: Let's hope not. Even higher upside than Greinke though.
- 2007: 0-1, 12.7 IP (4 G, 1 GS), 5 K, 4 BB, 1 HR, 2.13 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
- 2008 projection: 5-9, 124.0 IP (33 G, 18 GS), 80 K, 52 BB, 19 HR, 5.62 ERA, 1.57 ERA, 1.2 VORP, 1.6 WARP (B: 39%, I: 67%, C: 17%, A: 12%)
Hideo Nomo, SP/RP
Ouch. I suppose this isn't too surprising for someone who hasn't pitched in a Major League game since 2005. Good upside though (notice the theme?).
- 2007: n/a
- 2008 projection: 2-3, 44.0 IP (21 G, 4 GS), 31 K, 25 BB, 7 HR, 6.63 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, -4.3 VORP, 0.1 WARP (B: 29%, I: 53%, C: 25%, A: 41%)
Yasuhiko Yabuta, RP
Don't believe it. I'm seeing Takashi Saito-like numbers for '08: 78/13 K/BB, 1.40 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, etc.
- 2007: n/a
- 2008 projection: 2-3, 2 SV, 49.2 IP (43 G), 32 K, 20 BB, 6 HR, 4.81 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 4.5 VORP, 1.0 WARP (B: 14%, I: 37%, C: 36%, A: 17%)
Joakim Soria, RP
I actually don't think there's any way Soria will duplicate his rookie season numbers, but I've got a problem with BP's saves projection. Fifteen seems awfully low, especially if he makes 68 appearances. Is that a reflection of the Royals' chances in '08 as a team, or a comment on Soria's ability to be the full-time closer? Either way, I'm not buying it. I say he closes 29 games (+/- 5) if he remains in the 'pen the entire season, and on the off chance he surfaces up in the rotation -- a definite possibility -- then we'll see a perfect game.
- 2007: 2-3, 17 SV, 69.0 IP (62 G), 75 K, 19 BB, 3 HR, 2.48 ERA, 0.94 WHIP
- 2008 projection: 4-4, 15 SV, 76.0 IP (68 G, 0 GS), 82 K, 28 BB, 6 HR, 3.26 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 20.3 VORP, 3.6 WARP (B: 19%, I: 49%, C: 28%, A: 19%)
Pitchers and catchers report in seven days. Seven! That's it!