Looking Back at Pre-Season Projections

Part of the fun going into every season are the projections. There are quite a few systems out there, including Steamer, Oliver, Marcel, and my personal favorite, ZiPS. ZiPS didn’t paint a very rosy picture of the Phillies’ offense, projecting only Chase Utley Domonic Brown, and Carlos Ruiz to cross the .330 mark in terms of weighted on-base average. For the sake of comparison, the average wOBA across the National League for non-pitchers was .318.

This table compares the pre-season ZiPS projections and the actual results going by wOBA:

Player ZiPS Actual Diff. PA
Humberto Quintero .254 .302 .048 68
Darin Ruf .321 .354 .033 293
Cesar Hernandez .280 .305 .025 131
Domonic Brown .337 .351 .014 540
Michael Young .309 .321 .012 512
Chase Utley .344 .356 .012 531
Ben Revere .300 .307 .007 336
Ryan Howard .327 .334 .007 317
Freddy Galvis .289 .290 .001 222
Kevin Frandsen .290 .286 -.004 278
Delmon Young .317 .308 -.009 291
John Mayberry .309 .298 -.011 384
Erik Kratz .312 .286 -.026 218
Jimmy Rollins .324 .295 -.029 666
Carlos Ruiz .340 .303 -.037 341
Pete Orr .269 .224 -.045 22
Laynce Nix .296 .213 -.083 136
Michael Martinez .262 .155 -.107 40

And a bar graph to illustrate it better (click to enlarge):

(I forgot to include a legend in the graph. Consider it a 3 AM oversight. Blue = ZiPS; Red = actual results.)

Some notes:

  • Darin Ruf was one of the players ZiPS missed most on, as it didn’t see him drawing as many walks and hitting for as much power as he did. It projected a 7.6 percent walk rate and .165 ISO, but Ruf finished at 11.3 percent and .211, respectively. Ruf certainly performed better than a lot of people — yours truly included — expected, though many of us are just as skeptical about him going forward.
  • Cesar Hernandez has performed better than ZiPS expected in a small sample of playing time. A lot of his success has come on a .368 batting average on balls in play, 38 points better than what was projected. Particularly towards the latter half of September, Hernandez started to square balls up well, hitting some line drives as well as using his speed to reach base, so he may be able to maintain a high BABIP as a Major Leaguer.
  • Domonic Brown was, perhaps, the most interesting player on the roster this year. He had a great May, hitting 12 home runs but walking zero times. He cooled off in June as pitchers adapted their approach to him, resulting in 12 walks. All told, he had a season pretty much in line with ZiPS projections but with slightly more power than expected (.222 to .196 ISO).
  • Ryan Howard‘s plate discipline headed in the wrong direction and he hit for even less power than usual — a career-low, in fact. It will be interesting to see how much leash the Phillies give Howard before throwing up their hands and cutting into his playing time by playing Ruf at first against lefties (even though Ruf, for some reason, had a reverse platoon split in 2013).
  • ZiPS was able to correctly identify Kevin Frandsen‘s 2012 performance as a complete fluke. It very nearly pegged his wOBA on the money. Frandsen’s .366 BABIP last year fell to .244 this year.
  • As mentioned here during the year, Jimmy Rollins had his power completely disappear. ZiPS projected a .162 ISO, but he finished at .097.
  • Carlos Ruiz, too, had a power loss. His .100 ISO was 49 below his projection. Additionally, ZiPS expected a nine percent walk rate, but Ruiz finished just above five percent.

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20 comments

  1. Dan K.

    September 30, 2013 08:41 AM

    “… projecting only Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz to cross the .330 mark in terms of weighted on-base average.”

    And Brown, if your list is correct.

  2. Pencilfish

    September 30, 2013 10:51 AM

    Before Brown’s break-out performance in the first-half of 2013, it was often said he needed a full-season’s worth of playing time before a proper evaluation of his value could be made.

    Ruf is in a similar situation. We need to see what he can do over a full season. For a team that has patiently given JMJ 1232 PA’s and Mini-Mart 396 PA’s, due diligence says we should give Ruf more than the 330 PA’s he’s accumulated so far. His power and patience at the plate makes him a rare commodity on a team short on both counts.

  3. Chris S.

    September 30, 2013 11:26 AM

    What I took away from this that Michael Martinez never stops amazing me at how low he can set the bar.

  4. Larry

    September 30, 2013 12:01 PM

    lol @ Chris S.

    Somehow every year they bring up Mini Mart and the results are always awful. It’s the definition of insanity. Is he blackmailing RAJ? I can’t imagine another GM who would ever bring him up to the Majors so many times year after year. He’s taking away ABs from Galvis and other potential replacements.

    @Bill,

    I’m glad to see a nice comment about Ruf…..but why are you still skeptical moving forward? The power and BB rate shouldn’t surprise you. He showed he can do that in the minors. Maybe you are worried about his glove? If so you should be worried about Dom Brown’s glove as well. Or maybe you are worried about the combination of Brown, Ruf, and Revere defensively in the outfield. Yeah, I am worried about that too.

  5. Matt

    September 30, 2013 12:25 PM

    Neat little retrospective. Excited to see how the offseason goes. Very happy we got the 7th pick.

  6. Phillie697

    September 30, 2013 01:04 PM

    Now that the season is officially over…

    Darin Ruf overall line: .247/.348/.458 and .354 wOBA

    Take out the BABIP-fueled numbers in the 1st half, his 2nd half line: .238/.336/.435 and .341 wOBA

    His Sept/Oct line: .232/.354/.378 and .331 wOBA

    Anyway you slice it, it’s no question Darin Ruf was productive enough to warrant a roster spot, and certainly has done enough to earn a roster spot for next season. But to put everything into perspective for the Darin Ruf homers, that 2nd half line is awfully close to what Dom Brown was doing before we traded for Hunter Pence in 2011, and everyone back then was calling Dom Brown a bust. Of course, now I have to address the inevitable “well look at Dom Brown now!!!” argument… Except anyone who makes the argument that Darin Ruf will “bounce back” is just talking out of his ass, as there is nothing to “bounce back” from.

    My assessment of Ruf a few months ago while he was going on a jihad against ML pitchers: He’ll walk plenty, that’s not really a question. He’ll strike out even more, and that has basically been true (finished the season with a Adam Dunn esque 31.1 K%). His hot streak was fueled entirely by BAPIP luck (2nd-half OPS was “only” .771, when his BABIP fell to a normal-looking .301). Finally, I worried about his power. Guess what his ISO in the month of Sept was? Right… .146.

    I said all along Darin Ruf is a walk machine that strikes out a lot, has above average hitting skills (BABIP greater than .300 is not unrealistic, something around .320 would certainly be plausible), but what will make or break him is his power. His Sept. line, .146 ISO with .320 BABIP fits that description almost to a tee. And I don’t think anyone here thinks that his Sept. .732 OPS is going to cut as an everyday corner OF who’s only a tad better defensively than Douchbag Young (-26.9 UZR/150 in the OF).

    I welcome comments from the peanut gallery, particularly the Darin Ruf supporters. Let’s have it!

  7. joecatz

    September 30, 2013 01:31 PM

    Amaro doesn’t think he’s a starter either.

    from Zolecki:

    Amaro said Darin Ruf cannot be considered their everyday right fielder.

    “I think he can fill in for us,” he said, “but I can’t sit here and tell you that he’s an everyday player for us. He’s going to have to fight for a job in some way, shape or form. Can he add some depth to our bench, to our club overall? Call he play a little left, can he play a little right, can he play a little first and give Howard a blow? He can become valuable in that regard. But I don’t know he’s an everyday player yet. It’s hard to say that he’s an everyday player in the outfield. I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice, because we just need to be better in the outfield defensively.”

    So goodbye Mayberry, hello Ruf, open up the wallet cause Rubes going shopping for a corner OF.

  8. Larry

    September 30, 2013 01:51 PM

    697,

    So you are sold on Brown since his big hot streak in the month of May, but are a non believer in Ruf.

    1st since you like looking at UZR in small sample sizes, I’ll play along.

    Outfield UZR Darin Ruf 2013 = -7.6
    Outfield UZR Dom Brown 2013 = -10.0

    “His Sept. line, .146 ISO with .320 BABIP fits that description almost to a tee.”

    Dom Brown Sep. line .059 ISO with a .310 BABIP.

    “And I don’t think anyone here thinks that his Sept. .732 OPS is going to cut as an everyday corner OF”

    Dom Brown OPS for September .670

    August OPS- Dom Brown – .772
    Darin Ruf – .810

    July OPS- Dom Brown – .765
    Darin Ruf – .892

    This is all apples to apples comparison since Ruf was brought up to the Majors, per 1 of your favorite sites, (Fangraphs)The 1st link is Ruf, 2nd is Brown:

    www.fangraphs.com/statsplits.aspx?playerid=9929&position=1B/OF&season=2013

    www.fangraphs.com/statsplits.aspx?playerid=3154&position=OF&season=2013

    Considering Brown’s UZR is worse and Ruf’s wOBA was better, you should either be worried about both players or be happy with both players. You can’t have it both ways, so pick a side.

  9. joecatz

    September 30, 2013 01:56 PM

    LArry,

    Uh… no.

    Brown has 1000 major league at bats, and had a true breakout season, with a career BABIP under .300 hes also 25 years old.

    Ruf has 330 major league plate appearances, with a career .333 BABIP and is 28 next year.

    one can absolutely have questions about one (RUF) and not the other (Brown) based on the data.

    I personally still have questions on both, but to say what your saying is silly.

  10. Larry

    September 30, 2013 02:01 PM

    Oh BTW, Darin Rufs August OPS .810 were with only a .254 BABIP

  11. Larry

    September 30, 2013 02:19 PM

    Joe,

    Go over the splits for Dom Brown’s “Breakout season”

    You’ll find just 2 good months, May and June.

    Go look at his April, July, August, and September, not one of those months does he have an OPS over .800. wOBA under .340 in every month but May and June. Was this really a breakout year? or a breakout 2 months?

    Only 2 months in his whole career have been good. Is that a silly statement too? Analyze the data Joe, show me that’s not a true statement.

  12. joecatz

    September 30, 2013 02:21 PM

    and in july it was .892 with a .436 BABIP and in Sept it was .834 with a .333 BABIP. theres not enough sample Larry to figure out the noise.

  13. Larry

    September 30, 2013 02:29 PM

    “one can absolutely have questions about one (RUF) and not the other (Brown) based on the data.”

    This was your next line:

    “I personally still have questions on both”

    What are the questions you have that are not about Brown’s defensive and offensive data? His marital status? favorite movies? favorite songs?

  14. LTG

    September 30, 2013 02:49 PM

    Larry,

    You can’t compare counting stats and draw conclusions about relative talent unless the sample sizes are similar enough. Those UZRs are counting stats. Ruf is according to UZR a much worse OF than Brown (to the extent that the small samples are reliable). Ruf’s UZR/150 is -26.9. Brown’s is -12.6.

    Whereas Brown has shown this year that he can be a league average OF despite being a bad defensive OF, Ruf has shown that even when he is hitting very well he gives most of that back in the field and on the bases.

  15. Phillie697

    September 30, 2013 04:25 PM

    Well, the responses so far has been more agreement than disagreement. This is… strange, LOL.

    The jury is still out on Darin Ruf, that’s for sure, and we don’t have to be definitive about him one way or the other, because the man is GOING to play a significant part on this team, as we ain’t got anybody else better; 300-400 PAs next year is not only not out of the question, but fairly likely. That said, my caution before is to temper the enthusiasm, and that’s STILL my caution now, although I think the enthusiasm has waned since July, and that’s a good thing.

    This is not a Ruf vs. Brown discussion; each of them should be evaluated in their own right. Just because we let some shitty player like Bill Mazeroski (relatively speaking anyway) into the HoF is not a reason to support the HoF credentials of another shitty player. Same applies here. Not saying Brown is shitty by any stretch, or even that Ruf is, but by that logic, since Michael Young was on this team, basically anyone with a pulse should deserve a spot on this team then.

    Like joecatz said, Brown is 3 years younger, has had a far better minor league record, and didn’t come out of nowhere, his “story,” if you will, is far more believable than Ruf’s. And yeah, Brown is also a better defender. Way better. And that’s saying something, because Brown’s defense kinda sucks already.

  16. Larry

    September 30, 2013 07:54 PM

    697,

    “Like joecatz said, Brown is 3 years younger, has had a far better minor league record, and didn’t come out of nowhere, his “story,” if you will, is far more believable than Ruf’s.”

    Joecatz also likes Ruiz over McCann despite the age difference, but that’s another story. Besides, what are we talking about here?…. 1 year and 5 weeks difference in age??

    Dom Brown had a minor league triple slash line of .297/374/463 with an OPS of .836 in 2279 PAs

    Ruf’s minor league stats .299/.380/.502 with an OPS of .882 in 2235 PAs

    697, I just need you to explain to me your statement of Brown having better minor league #s and Ruf coming out of nowhere. Ruf hit 38 HRs last year. Am I looking at different minor league stats than you?

    I am in with you that Brown and Ruf are not good defenders. I almost think Brown needs glasses or contacts.

    You can be skeptical of Ruf, I have no issue with that as long as you are also skeptical of Brown. He had 2 good months! He made it to the Allstar game, we were all proud…..but then the HRs stopped. I’m sure scouting reports had something to do with that.

    LTG, yeah I was playing along with 697′s small sample size of UZR.

  17. Larry

    September 30, 2013 08:10 PM

    697,

    One of us is wrong about the age difference.

    “”Like joecatz said, Brown is 3 years younger”

    I have Brown born September 3rd, 1987 and Ruf born July 28th, 1986. I checked a few different sites, where are you coming up with a 3 year difference? Also check your minor league stats again, I think you are looking at the wrong person. Maybe that’s why you said Brown had better minor league stats.

    So those 2 reasons you gave are void. I’m curious to know who you were looking up? Was it Asche?

  18. Mark66

    October 01, 2013 08:39 AM

    With the resources that the Phillies have 2013 was a major disappointment. The fans were let down big time. And yet as fans we are asked to be patient but still have to pay more to come and watch a so so high school team compete.

  19. LTG

    October 02, 2013 03:03 PM

    Right, Larry, but you played along incorrectly, which undermines your point.

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