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Projections and Reality: What Went Wrong, Part 1.

Even the most pessimistic among us didn't see this first half coming and on the whole as a community we were cautiously optimistic about the team's overall chances. What did we miss? In an effort to see if we erred in judgment, I've decided to review the community projections made at the start of the season against the first half performances and see where they diverge. Think of this as sort of an extended first half grades post, rotted from what we expected.

Kenji Johjima:
Projected: .283/.325/.433
Actual: .213/.257/.292

We projected Johjima to up his strikeout and walk totals but overall stay essentially the same player he was in 2006 and 2007. That might have been a mistake given his position, workload and age, but were we actually off? We projected an isoD of .042 and an isoP of .150. What's actually happened is an isoD of .044, back up to 2006 levels, but an isoP that's plummeted to .079.

Johjima has been severely unlucky with his base hits considering a line drive rate of 18.2% (19.0 and 20.1% in previous seasons) and a BABIP of just .219 (.290 and .289 previously) so I'd say our projected average of .283 was pretty spot on and was our patience estimate. But along with the unlucky hits, Johjima has seen, so far, his power just completely disappear. A possible byproduct or culprit of this is Johjima's pull% which has fallen from 71.5% in 2007 to 62.9% this season.

WHAT WE MISSED: Extreme power outage, bad luck.

Richie Sexson:
Projected: .247/.329/.457
Actual: .218/.315/.381

We all hoped for a dead cat bounce from Richie and for a couple weeks at the start of the season and a couple weeks at the end of his, we got that. Unfortunately, everything in between was even more horrible than 2007. Sexson's line drive rate was pretty healthy as was his HR/FB%, but a combination of not making contact nearly enough (he missed 31% of pitches he swung at) and some bad luck with BABIP meant he just could not keep his average high enough to be useful at all.

Sexson's isoD actually exceeded our projection (.097 to .082), but like Johjima, his power fell short with a isoP of .163 to a projected .210. Sexson seemed possible of a mini-turnaround when he was dumped due to body language issues (because that's of utmost importance on a team languishing in last place) and with some regression in the bad luck on BABIP, he might have actually managed his way to around a .750 OPS.

WHAT WE MISSED: Mild power outage, bad luck.

More after the jump.

Jose Lopez:
Projected: .277/.319/.416
Actual: .298/.318/.412

We said Lopez had to take a big step forward with his bat to stick around and for the most part he's delivered. We hoped for a .277/.319/.416 line with an isoD of .042 and an isoP of .139. So far we've seen a .298/.318/.412 line nearly nailing the OBP and SLG on the head though he's achieved them through far more singles than walks and extra base hits that we projected.

Lopez has cut down on his swings and misses (down 25% from 2007) but has also pulled the ball even less than before which seems to have sapped some of his power.


Yuniesky Betancourt:
Projected: .291/.321/.424
Actual: .267/.278/.374

Another right handed hacker that we saw increasing his patience in 2008, it was about the only thing we did project to change with Yuni as we went with a .291/.321/.424 line compared to his 2007 .289/.308/.418 line. What we've seen is a .267/.278/.374 line. The batting average obviously jumps out so let us look at that first.

His line drive rate (20.8%) is at a career high and his BABIP is at a career low (.275) so right off the bat we're going to suspect that he's been getting unlucky. One mitigating factor is that his groundballs are down a bit, but not too significantly. His average should be higher. Moving past average, we expected a .029 isoD and have instead seen an incredible .011 figure instead.

Never one to take pitches, Yuni is now taking less than ever, down to 3.1 per PA, dead last in baseball. Dead last. We foresaw Yuni legging out a few more triples this year and posting a .132 isoP and Yuni may yet reach that expected triples figure, but his ability to hit home runs, always slight, has taken a further dip and his .107 isoP reflects that. Overall we expected Yuni to get slightly better and instead he's been slightly worse. Not a huge miss. If you correct the average for the BABIP you're looking at just a few runs difference between projection and reality.

WHAT WE MISSED: Nothing, bad luck.

Adrian Beltre:
Projected: .288/.340/.506
Actual: .259/.329.440

Pretty easy to sum up our projection; slight improvement across the board. We've covered Beltre's issues with bad luck enough already to not have to re-hash them here so let's just skip ahead to the walks and power. We foresaw a .052 isoD and a .219 isoP and have received a .070 isoD and a .181 isoP instead. The jump in walks is quite an encouraging sign and real.

Beltre is swinging at over 5% fewer pitches this year, making contact more often when he does swing and doing better at taking balls instead of strikes. The power is down from what we hoped but it should be noted that his 2007 isoP was .207 and his HR/FB% is up slightly this year; he's just seen less doubles, which might be included in all those line drives that he's had robbed.

WHAT WE MISSED: Nothing, bad luck.

Jose Vidro:
Projected: .280/.355/.357
Actual: .215/.261/.310

We tried. We tried to be pessimistic about his 2008. We knew 2007 was mostly flukish and yet still we had no idea what we were in store for. Yes, Vidro has been quite unlucky with his BABIP, but someone as slow and weak as he will just not garner many hits off anything else. Amazingly, Vidro is one of the few hitters who has displayed more power than we expected. That is god damned sad.

Still, his walks are down and there's unlikely to come back as pitchers are just piping strikes to him now, secure in the knowledge that Vidro is just unable to punish them for doing so. This. This is what we were saying all along in 2007. They...just...didn't listen. They didn't listen!

WHAT WE MISSED: Total collapse instead of moderate collapse plus bad luck.

Jamie Burke:
Projected: .272/.333/.364
Actual: .214/.279/.304

His small sample insanely high line drive rate has fallen down to the level of a backup catcher, but his BABIP has plummeted far below where it should have regressed to, accouting for Burke's lower batting average. His isoD and isoP are right near expected values.

WHAT WE MISSED: Nothing, bad luck

Miguel Cairo:
Projected: .251/.307/.306
Actual: .217/.291/.261

We hoped he would net "only" 113 at bats this year. He has 92 already and is for all intents and purposes now the starting first baseman.


Jeff Clement:
Projected: .274/.346/.465
Actual: .165/.258/.349

We sought a .072 isoD and a .191 isoP from our dreamboat and so far he's delivered a .093 isoD and a .184 isoP so I'm not going to complain about those figures. No, the issue here, like many others rests almost entirely in the batting average and once again, we look to BABIP. Clement has a line drive rate of 21.1% and a BABIP of .197. I didn't know it was possible to even do that! He's striking out too often, but Clement has always been slow to adjust to a new league and with his walks and power, I'm not worried.

WHAT WE MISSED: All those mirrors he broke after running under ladders to avoid those black cats.

What we missed most was the sheer amount of bad luck we would experience on the hitting side. We have four of our regular hitters among the most unlucky in the league in Vidro, Clement, Johjima and Beltre.

We were too optimistic about Sexson's bounce back, though he might have been on his way to providing it when he was cut so Miguel Cairo could play more often and despite being the most pessimistic group of projectors on Jose Vidro, we weren't within shouting distance of how pessimistic we should have been.

However, besides those two, we were pretty spot on. As far as the infield goes, it goes to show you what happens when you get a combined .220/.310/.352 line from your 1B (67 sOPS+) and a combined .191/.246/.276 from your DH (42 sOPS+).