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Community Projections Revisited: Part III, Starting Pitchers

Brandon Webb
Bill James: 14-10, 3.49 ERA
Chone: 3.60 ERA
Marcel: 12-10, 3.65 ERA
ZIPS: 14-10, 3.85 ERA
AZ SnakePit: 18-7, 3.21 ERA
Reality: 18-10, 3.01 ERA

Brandon Webb outperformed just about all expectations, outperformed his 2006 Cy Young season and gave us a streak of 42 scoreless innings. About the only criticism that could be levelled at his season was he didn't have any multi-homer games, like certain members of our rotation. :-) He had a particularly-good second half of the year, going 10-4 with a 2.56 ERA, holding all hitters to a .228 average - of course, that included the streak. Those pesky Rockies were the only ones to get to him: including the playoffs, they had a 5.80 ERA against Webb in 45 innings, while everyone else had a 2.42 ERA. That's the only blip on a very, very impressive season.

We were closer than any of the other systems, in both W-L and ERA, so credit to us all for that. VIII and William K both called Brandon at 2.97, off by only four points, with azdb7 just behind, giving an estimate of 3.06. On the W-L tiebreaker, VIII just gets it, predicting 16-8, slightly closer than William's 21-7. However, if we want Nostradamus-like qualities, here's johngordonma's comment on VIII's predictions: "If our staff produces those numbers, we could be looking at 90 wins. Hope you're right numero ocho!" Well, even if the numbers were a little off, the victories ended up as expected...

Randy Johnson
Bill James: 15-8, 3.98 ERA
Chone: 3.77 ERA
Marcel: 13-9, 4.33 ERA
ZIPS: 17-10, 3.63 ERA
AZ SnakePit: 14-8, 3.95
Reality: 4-3, 3.81 ERA

Ugh. When Johnson was in the rotation, he was by no means terrible, and we have some good memories of his twentieth major-league season, such as his May 9th game, where he struck out the first six Phillies hitters he faced [though that was also the one where Brandon Medders allowed a first-pitch grand-slam]. Can't argue with a 72-13 K:BB ratio either; but only 56.2 innings pitched was not a good return for the nine million-plus dollars sent his way, as his back flared up and his season was done before June was. diamondhacks was the only one to predict that, though went for a broken-bone rather than a relapse; VIII was closest in ERA again, at 3.83.

Doug Davis Projections
Bill James: 10-13, 4.21 ERA
Chone: 4.28 ERA
Marcel: 10-10, 4.35 ERA
ZIPS: 11-11, 4.54 ERA
AZ SnakePit: 13-11, 4.26 ERA
Reality: 13-12, 4.25 ERA

Almost a perfect communal result for us: dead on for the wins, one off on the losses, and just one point away in ERA. However, the manner in which Davis reached those figures was almost calculated to cause heart-attacks, due to a WHIP of 1.588. Just three qualifying pitchers since the 19th century have been that high, and still had an ERA+ of 110 or more - the last such was Bump Hadley in 1934 [1.592 WHIP, ERA+ 115]. Only one man with such a WHIP has even been better than league-average since 1950; Andy Pettitte [1.591 WHIP, 101 ERA+] in 1999. But who better for Davis to play for, than the Pythagorean-defying D-backs? AZSeaFan came through big here, nailing the win total and ERA exactly.

Livan Hernandez Projections
Bill James: 12-14, 4.25 ERA
Chone: 4.78 ERA
Marcel: 11-10, 4.62 ERA
ZIPS: 9-16, 5.14 ERA
AZ SnakePit: 12-12, 4.55 ERA
Reality: 11-11, 4.93 ERA

Hernandez 2.0 did some bullet-dodging of his own: most starters with an ERA that high last season, ended up with more wins as losses. Opposing hitters batted a scary .308 off Livan; add that he was #7 in the National League for walks, and you'll see why his starts should have been sponsored by Tums. But his OPS against dropped by 155 points with men on base, and we grew to love his stubborness, preferring to walk a batter than throw them something hittable. And who can forget his conjuration of a miraculous double-play in the clinching game of the NLDS? Livan: we probably won't miss you, but I still like you. npineda was the champion here, calling Hernandez 2.0 at 11-12, with a 4.89 ERA.

Edgar Gonzalez
Bill James: 3-4, 4.74 ERA
Chone: 4.61 ERA
Marcel: 4-5, 4.91 ERA
ZIPS: 6-11, 5.08 ERA
AZ SnakePit: 8-12, 5.00 ERA
Reality: 8-4, 5.03 ERA

This one was a lob in the dark, as at the time of the predictions, we did not know who was going to be the #5 starter. A poll gave that to Micah Owings over EdGon, by a margin of 38%-30%, and that turned out to be a good call. Still, Edgar did give us more than a hundred innings, starting, relieving and becoming the Paramedic late on in the year. The figure above includes all appearances, though he was better as a starter, with an ERA in 12 games of 4.67 - that is also bloated by his final outing, the three inning, five earned run start which closed the season at Chase against LA. shoewizard had the best prediction, one tick off on ERA at 5.02, and getting the wins right too, predicting an 8-9 record.

All told, I think the majority of our pitching projections were credible, and in at least one case (Doug Davis), scarily accurate. Elsewhere, even if they didn't include W-L estimates, I was generally impressed with the Chone predictions, done by Sean Smith of the Anaheim Angels all the way blog. He compared the results of his projections to other systems, and they did come out best, though he modestly says, "For all I know, it just got luckier." That said, here's a sneak peek at his 2008 projections for our starters, though obviously, I'll get more into these when we do the next Community Projections between now and Opening Day.

  • Webb: 3.45 ERA
  • Haren: 3.67 ERA [pre-trade estimate]
  • Johnson: 3.69 ERA [in 144 IP]
  • Davis: 4.59 ERA
  • Owings: 4.50 ERA
  • Petit: 4.70 ERA