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Community Projections Revisited: Part II, Outfielders

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Okay, the calm seems to have descended a little bit, after the storm which came down last Friday. Since the weekend, not much has happened, save perhaps the extension of Melvin's contract - hardly unexpected given his award as Manage of the Year. So, I think we can now resume our normal, scheduled off-season work, with a look back at the pre-season projections for the outfield.

This was always going to be a "finger in the air" kind of exercise, with Carlos Quentin and Chris Young having less than 250 at-bats in the majors between them. What the 2007 season proved, perhaps, is that it's very hard to extrapolate from results in the minor-leagues, to the majors, with any degree of consistency. I've changed the format for the results here from last time: I've skipped the ranges for our predictions and have instead included the figures from three other projection systems, so we can compare our expectations to the 'pros'.

Carlos Quentin:
CHONE .274/.370/.465 = OPS .836. 18 HR, 73 RBI + 23 HBP
Marcel: .273/.350/.492 = OPS .843. 11 HR, 43 RBI + 7 HBP
ZIPS: .262/.361/.472 = OPS .833. 19 HR, 64 RBI + 21 HBP
SnakePit: .273/.365/.466 = OPS .831, 19 HR, 70 RBI
Reality: .214/.298/.349 = OPS .647, 5 HR, 31 RBI

"Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?" That's probably the way Carlos Quentin feels about the 2007, which started with him being touted for stardom [the #4 prospect in all baseball] and ended with him being dumped, ignominiously, for a bit-part rookie, who ended up being with the club for less than two weeks. I know young players don't always live up to expectation but, I mean... We were off on OPS by one hundred and eighty-four points...and were the closest of the four projections. How the hell did we - and everyone else - get it so wrong?

It's a salutary reminder that this game is not predictable, much as we might wish it to be - and that's probably a good thing. I think a lot of Quentin's issues were as much mental as anything; if so, that's also an interesting example for those who deride aspects such as 'clubhouse chemistry' and other psychological factors, as unimportant. 90% of the game is half mental, as Yogi Berra once said [or, at least, wrote on a baseball]. I'm inclined to go for 'No Award' as to who came closest on this one, but johngordonma's OPS of .815 was perhaps marginally less-woefully optimistic than the rest of us.

Chris Young:
CHONE .268/.349/.488 = OPS .837. 21 HR, 67 RBI + 18 SB
Marcel: .274/.345/.439 = OPS .783. 7 HR, 30 RBI + 4 SB
ZIPS: .255/.336/.525 = OPS .861. 29 HR, 69 RBI + 15 SB
SnakePit: .265/.336/.493 = OPS .829. 26 HR, 78 RBI
Reality: .237/.295/.467 = OPS .762. 32 HR, 68 RBI

Well, at least we were in the right ballpark with these. Though we still were looking at our youngster through Sedona Red-colored glasses: over on Young's BA, OBP and SLG by 28, 41 and 26 points, to be precise. No-one doubted that the guy could hit for power, though he did surpass all expectations for homers. The speed was a nice bonus, too - Young stole 27 bases. On the other hand, no-one expected him to have an OBP below .300, a combination of fewer hits and walks than anticipated.

One wonders whether Young's role in the leadoff spot had any effect on his figures. There, he had a line of .251/.309/.500 for an OPS of .809, a definite bump to his overall stats. Marcel came closest in OPS, but that was mostly by being wildly wrong in OBP and OPS in opposite directions: we were closer to reality in both categories. johngordonma was the closest of our individual predictors, but I'm giving this one to Ben, who nailed the number of home-run hit by Young, right on the mark. In an area where our predictions largely proved to be inadequate, this was a rare moment of clarity!

Eric Byrnes:
CHONE .265/.325/.456 = OPS .782. 20 HR, 69 RBI + 15 SB
Marcel: .262/.320/.446 = OPS .766. 18 HR, 64 RBI + 16 SB
ZIPS: .265/.323/.462 = OPS .785. 20 HR, 69 RBI + 15 SB
SnakePit: .261/.324/.441 = OPS .765. 15 HR, 57 RBI
Reality: .286/.353/.460 = OPS .813. 21 HR, 83 RBI

It does appear that there are some apologies in order: as a contrast to our fanboy expectation for the young players, everyone under-estimated Byrnes' production, in just about every way. We were almost 50 points away in OPS, with Byrnes also homering more often than anyone thought: we did not request predictions, but I think it's probably safe to say that nobody expected Eric to reach fifty stolen bases either. As our comments at the time said, "No-one is really expecting much from Byrnes at all, so it looks like Eric will need to rise to the challenge and over-perform. Which is probably how he'd want it."

Though we were low-balling him, Byrnes was the closest to the projections generally. That's probably unsurprising, and is no doubt because we had much more history on which to draw. One thing we did call, however, was the now-traditional second-half slump by Byrnes. His second half saw an OPS over 100 points lower than the first, with a particularly bad August [.225/.319/.353]. There was an even bigger split in 2006 [156 points of OPS lost post-break] - perhaps that late slump colored expectations during the off-season, when it came to calling it for 2007? DiamondbacksWIn was least taken in by that; the line of .268/.365/.452 ended only four points off in overall OPS, and was the best guess of anyone, for any of our outfielders.