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Evaluating Predictions At the Quarter Mark

The team is obviously not performing up to anyone's expectations, least of all mine. In the spirit of transparency I decided to take a look at the last AL West prediction post that I did and see where I've been off as we hit the first post. All numbers presented below are valid at the start of play yesterday. 

If I just went with the actual hitting and fielding totals for the year, this would be a pretty boring exercise. Everyone aside from Ichiro and Franklin is hitting too poorly (though Friday certainly helped) to be living up to their projections. As I have mentioned a few times though, a good chunk of that poor performance may be attributable to awful luck. 

I decided then, first for my own visual aid and now reproduced for yours, to table out each position as in the prediction post linked above. I used FanGraphs to gauge the actual value to date from each position, grouping where needed (left field, DH, SS). I then took the runs above replacement for each player/grouping and added back the runs lost due to "luck" or what have you as outlined in the regressing wOBA posts.

Pos Pred. Starter Actual Starter Predicted Actual Luck-adj Diff from Pred
C Rob Johnson Rob Johnson 1.0 0.9 2.4 +1.4
1B Casey Kotchman Casey Kotchman 1.5 -0.9 2.0 +0.5
2B Chone Figgins* Chone Figgins 3.0 -1.2 0.9 -2.1
3B Jose Lopez* Jose Lopez 2.0 0.8 2.7 +0.7
SS Jack Wilson Jack Wilson 2.0 1.2 0.1 -1.9
LF Ryan Langerhans Milton Bradley 1.5 0.5 1.4 -0.1
CF Franklin Gutierrez Franklin Gutierrez 4.0 5.9 4.5 +0.5
RF Ichiro Suzuki Ichiro Suzuki 4.0 4.6 4.8 +0.8
DH Milton Bradley Ken Griffey Jr. 2.0 -1.2 0.7 -1.3
Bch N/A N/A 1.0 -2.0 -1.4 -2.4











*I had Lopez at 2B and Figgins at 3B originally in the predictions, but for sake of readability have simply switched them here. It would not have affected any predictions back in February.

Commentary below the fold.

  • Rob Johnson is obviously overrated here a touch because his abysmal defense doesn't show up as much on FanGraphs as it almost certainly deserves but there's no doubting that he has improved at the plate this season. If he holds onto these offensive gains, it would be enough to be satisfied with him. As a backup.
  • Casey Kotchman has a 21.7% line drive rate according to MLBAM trackers and his BABIP stands at .205. Like with many of our players, he's irritating to watch struggle (though at least not as irritating as the infield fly twins were), but there's nothing sustainable in that BABIP.
  • Chone Figgins has been both quite unlucky and a massive disappointment. I wouldn't be averse to switching Figgins with Bradley in the batting order just to see if switching things up helped them both out mentally. 
  • Thanks to his defense, Jose Lopez is not a black hole on this team overall. The hope is that at some point his bat regresses quicker and by more than his fielding. I don't know how much of that hope I share because Lopez just looks ineffectual at the plate. He seems to have lost any idea how he hit 25 home runs last year. Also, hey people out there who crowed that we couldn't trade Jose Lopez this past winter because he was our only reliable RBI and power threat? Shut up.
  • Josh Wilson has been surprisingly able as a fill in, but Jack Wilson was pretty poor at the plate in April and UZR wasn't a fan of his defense though DRS was. For depth's sake, I hope Jack gets back soon. God, Tui is awful. 
  • I didn't expect much out of left field, but I also didn't expect Milton Bradley to be employed there. Langerhans and Michael Saunders have been pleasant surprises. I would enjoy seeing them more and not at the expense of Bradley's playing time.
  • Franklin is already at 1.6 wins for the 2010 season and DRS is absolutely crazy about his defense while UZR is more of the regressed number that people expected. Nobody expected the hitting though. Even though the hits have slowed a bit of late, Guti is still drawing walks at almost twice the rate he did last season.
  • Ichiro... yawn. Of the many slightly varied versions of Ichiro, 2010 is most resembling 2007 Ichiro. If only the 2010 Mariners' results resembled the 2007 Mariners.
  • The DH slot looked oh so much worse a few days ago before Mike Sweeney's hot streak. 
  • The bench comprises the contributions from Matt Tuiasosopo, Eric Byrnes, Adam Moore, Josh Bard and Ryan Langerhans. The total value may be getting dinged a bit on playing time value, and it's almost surprising how bad it ranks even with the inclusion of Josh Bard and Langerhans, but that just goes to show how awful the other three have performed.

The total is just about 4 wins below my predicted values with the main culprits being Chone Figgins at second base, Jack Wilson at short and the bench. Keep in mind that Jack Wilson's entire deficit is erased if you substitute in DRS (6 runs saved) for UZR (-1.7 runs). Figgins is also three runs (or a full win over 162 games) lower in UZR than DRS. I'm not saying DRS is better, but am pointing it out to illustrate how small some of these margins are.

Four wins is a lot, but I also pegged the Mariners, rather optimistically it seems, at 88.5 wins at the time of the predictions used. Granted, that was before the Cliff Lee injury, the Mike Sweeney decision and so forth. All of those would have had me downgrading those totals if I had bothered to run another prediction before the start of the season. Still, though this is only one half of the story (I will do pitchers at some point), I find it yet another example that while the 2010 Mariners have played nowhere near how we dreamed, they have not played as poorly as their record suggests.