After all the various projections, for the individual sections and players, we come to the only number that really matters for the 2010 team - how many wins? Personally, it feels almost impossible to project with any confidence, not least because of the huge question-mark over if/when Brandon Webb will return. Vegas has set the over-under for the team at 82.5 wins, so I've used 82 as the mid-point for the poll. However, I think this team has a larger margin of variation than almost any other in the league. I wouldn't be surprised by almost any number from 70-90, by the time we complete the regular season.
After the jump, I'll put my money where my mouth is and see what I can come up with as a number. Doing this as a promoted Fanpost, because I think this discussion will run longer than it would otherwise last on the front page.
I'll start by throwing out some other numbers, and it quickly becomes clear that the projections reflect the uncertainty over Arizona.
- Baseball Prospectus has us at 83 wins,
- CAIRO gives Arizona 81.5 victories this season,
- Marcel agrees: 81.5 wins for the D-backs
- CHONE projects 81 victories,
- Fangraphs.com's Fan Projections expects 87 wins
- Xei's Dodger Sims site calls it at 82.7 in the desert
The Marcel numbers are perhaps the most interesting, since they also give a chart that shows the probability of various numbers of wins for Arizona and the other teams in the NL West. Here's the numbers on that.
My, almost entirely unscientific projection starts from the Pythag number of last season, based on the number of runs scored and allowed. That had us at 75-87 for the year. From there, I apply various adjustments to the wins total, based on the changes made by the team over the winter. For instance, the team's first-basemen last year combined to be -1.3 WAR over the season. But Adam LaRoche is projected to have a value of +1.9 WAR in 2010, so we will be 3.2 games better off with him. There is some fudging of numbers necessary, because of uncertainties like playing-time, but I tend to assume a consistent line-up: injuries are largely discounted here.
The net result is +5 wins from the offense (the additions from first and left-field outweighing an expected drop-off at second), +1 from the starting pitching, and +1 from the bullpen, giving a total of 82 wins as my projection for the Diamondbacks. The rotation is, of course, the big uncertainty. Last year, after Haren, we had Doug Davis, Jon Garland, Max Scherzer and a variety of sub-replacement level fill-ins, now we've got Edwin Jackson, Ian Kennedy, an uncertain amount of Brandon Webb and...who knows? It's possible they could gel into a meaningful whole; it's equally possible (probably, more so) they could implode. The improvement is mostly off 20 or so solid starts by Webb, and the back of the rotation being poor, rather than abysmal as in 2009.
The bullpen is similarly re-bored, but I think should be primed for a bit more stability. Aaron Heilman and Bob Howry have not exactly shone this spring, but they are veterans, and spring training for them is a little different from the likes of Jordan Norberto, who have to impress. Between them and Juan Gutierrez, we should be able to avoid the volume of eighth-inning meltdowns, which cost the team heavily in 2009. I do have more confidence in the depth of the pen, with decent back-end guys like Leo Rosales and Blaine Boyer, who can eat innings if needed.
The team has significant upside, but it's probably going to take a number of things to break Arizona's way for us to compete for the title. Webb to get back to full health would be top of the list, but returns to form for Conor Jackson and Kelly Johnson are also important: Chris Young ceasing the suck would also be really helpful. In the rotation, Kennedy needs to show he is a decent #4, and if one of the back-end guys like Lopez or Kris Benson can show even mediocrity, that would be helpful. Significantly-improved offense, credible starting pitching and a flame-retardant bullpen are not impossible to imagine on their own from this roster, but odds are against all of them dropping into place.