Monday, September 7, 2009

TPC in Retrospect: Tommy Hanson 2009 Projection

Back in January I put together a post projecting Tommy Hanson's stats for 2009. At the time, it was hard to say how much the Braves would use Hanson, but ZiPS had him pegged for a total of 19 innings, a 5.21 ERA, and a 1-1 record. My projection wasn't perfect, but I think it was a bit better than the ZiPS projection.

To come up with my projection, I didn't simply grab some figures out of a hat. I compiled a list of comparables for Hanson and averaged out their performances during their major league season at the age of 23. At first glance, the compilation technique might not seem extremely accurate, but I think if we look a bit beyond the surface, we'll see that it is actually a very viable and mostly accurate approach.

Here's my projected line for Hanson coming into 2009:
7.9 K/9
4.1 BB/9
1.42 WHIP
4.56 ERA
.500 Win Percentage

Actual 2009 stats to date:
7.49 K/9
3.51 BB/9
1.25 WHIP
3.07 ERA
9-3 record, or .750 Win Percentage

The K/9 projection was relatively spot on, and the BB/9 projection wasn't too far off, but it would seem that my WHIP, ERA, and win percentage projections were completely obliterated. However, I would like to throw out another stat that Hanson has posted this year that will help make sense of the chaos:

Tommy Hanson 2009 tRA: 4.37

For those of you not familiar with tRA, here's the explanation given by

tRA involves assigning run and out values to all events under a pitcher’s control and coming up with an expected number of runs allowed and outs generated in a defense and park neutral environment. tRA is on a R/9 scale and does not involve any regression of the rates.

In essence, tRA gives us an idea of what a pitcher's true ERA should be given their overall performance throughout the season minus good luck and timely fielding.

Apparently, Hanson has had quite a bit of luck this season, and for whatever reason, his ERA is substantially lower than his tRA. This also helps explain why his WHIP and winning percentages seem to be so much better than my projections. Somewhere among all of his starts, there were a certain number of events that kept men off base and runners from crossing the plate while Hanson was on the mound, and his surface level stats depict a pitcher that is much different from his true production.

With that in mind, I feel like my projection of a 4.56 ERA is not far from Hanson's tRA of 4.37, and I think if we repeated the 2009 season 100 times in a vacuum, my projection would be remarkably accurate. Unfortunately, we don't live in a vacuum, and each season is only played once, and half of my projection has taken a sharp beating. I guess Tommy Hanson's good luck is by default my bad luck in this situation.

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

TPC in Retrospect: 2009 Top 10 Hitters: #6-10

Prior to the 2009 season, I put together my list of the top 10 prospect hitters, and I think it's about time I reviewed the list to see how I did. I'll start with the last 5 hitters, and then cover the top 5 hitters later this week.

6. Chris Carter (Oakland) -- I couldn't remember how highly Carter was ranked before this season, so I checked Baseball America, and they had him as the 76th best prospect in baseball, behind players like Jose Tabata, Taylor Teagarden, and Wilson Ramos. I understand why some folks don't like Carter, but hopefully his numbers at AA this year have opened some eyes. At 22 years old, he improved his plate discipline by posting career bests in K% (20.1%) and BB% (13.9%), while also posting career highs in batting average, OBP, SLG, and OPS (.337/.436/.576/1.012). To put that in context, Carter's numbers this year are almost identical to the AA stats of 22 year old Pedro Alvarez, who signed with the Pirates last year for a guaranteed $6.355 million. Not too shabby.

7. Max Ramirez -- This pick looks like my worst pick among the whole list. At 24 years old, I really thought Ramirez would force the Rangers to settle their future catching situation by trading at least one of their top catching prospects. However, no one has really stepped up to nail down the position, especially Ramirez. He has posted career lows in just about every category, and has been a complete disappointment in '09. There have been some injury issues, and maybe Ramirez just had a really bad year, but his future is looking a lot less promising than it was just 12 months ago.

8. Jesus Montero -- If I were to put this list together today, I'd definitely put Montero ahead of both Ramirez and Carter. His numbers this year were absolutely stellar, and I think he has a chance to be just as good as Miguel Cabrera or at least Pablo Sandoval. I think he's easily a top 10 prospect at this point, and maybe a top 5. It's amazing that Baseball America had him as the 38th best prospect heading into 2009.

9. Josh Reddick/Freddie Freeman/Lars Anderson -- During the preseason, I couldn't decide which one of these guys I liked more. At this point, I'd definitely go with Reddick. Anderson was much more hyped a few months ago, but he's struggled a ton, and has only gotten worse as the season has progressed. Freeman hasn't done too bad, but his power has dropped, and he probably won't be a major league contributor for another 3 years. Meanwhile, Reddick (who was completely left off Baseball America's top 100 list) was able to improve his plate discipline at AA while maintaining his power production, and has even been given a few spot starts with the Red Sox this season, hitting 4 doubles and a home run in 35 plate appearances.

10. Colby Rasmus -- I think putting Rasmus in at #10 was a good pick (Baseball America had him as the 3rd best prospect in baseball in front of Jason Heyward and Brett Anderson). He is obviously very talented, but will take a while to develop.

Summary: Looking back, I'd probably leave Ramirez off this list, include just Reddick at #9, and probably put Andrew McCutchen somewhere in my top 10 (probably around #8). I'm glad I left Travis Snider off the list (ranked #6 by Baseball America), who continues to struggle with Toronto, and I'm also glad I passed on Mike Moustakas (Baseball America's number 13 prospect, and Cameron Maybin (#8 by Baseball America).

Overall, I'd give my #6-10 list here a 'B'. I whiffed on Ramirez, but my other 4 picks were pretty good, so I'll take 80%. Could have been better, but could have been much, much worse.
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