What could be better to help pass the hours until baseball is played again in the spring than analysis, discussion and debate over the performers from past season and the one upcoming?
Front office personnel across the game of baseball also are regular users of the Forecaster. It wasn't a coincidence that Shandler and his analysts were hired as consultants by the Cardinals back in 2004. As he was getting started, then-VP Jeff Luhnow wanted to pick the brains of some of baseball's best analytic minds.
This year's 276-page Forecaster includes a wealth of historical as well as predictive information for major leaguers and minor leaguers, along with sections on gaming (fantasy) and sabermetric tools.
My focus here is to again extract a small subset of BaseballHQ's work to assemble what could be called an overly-simplistic glimpse of what we might expect from the 2013 Cardinals. The premise is very basic. That is, to look at the delta between key player stats from year to year. Also, last year's predictions are included as other relevant comparison points.
First, some disclaimers. This data was generated to analyze individual players, not a team. Nowhere in the Forecaster does BaseballHQ aggregate stats for even partial team views as is done here. Therefore, some of the comments made below could become invalid, especially as roles shake out later on.
The Forecaster does not include the entire Cardinals roster, which would be required for a thorough analysis of the team. Finally, these projections were completed prior to the completion of this off-season's free agent signings and trades.
All disclaimers aside, for individual players, these projections are well-founded, based on years of experience in analysis of individual skill sets, rates of growth and decline, resistance and recovery from injury, opportunity and other factors.
You still have to buy the Forecaster to get the full story, as these stats only scratch the surface of the in-depth analysis provided for every player. It is $25.95 well spent, and for that price you also get a downloadable version. Buy the Forecaster here.
2013 Projections vs. 2012 Actuals* and 2012 Projections - St. Louis Cardinals Offense
|* incls MiLB|
What suggestions might one try to draw from this? (The following are my comments, gleaned from the Forecaster and augmented by my own thought processes.)
Catchers. Good news here at the start. Yadier Molina is noted as having ascended to the top-tier of catchers. He is also complimented for his consistency - not having first half-second half or left handed-right handed splits. Tony Cruz barely merits a mention in the Forecaster because he plays so little.
Infielders. The usual health warnings about David Freese have the third baseman's at-bats down to about 400 along with a one-third drop in home runs. A concern is that Freese is on the other side of 30 now. Daniel Descalso is forecasted to have a slight uptick in average and OBP, but with Matt Carpenter dipping.
More expected health risks are noted with Rafael Furcal, but his projected at-bats are close to Freese's. Allen Craig is expected to make a further jump in counting stats, but a decline in averages. Newcomer Ty Wigginton's home runs and RBI may remain flat, with his average, OBP and SLG moving up toward career norms.
Outfielders. Despite his back issues, Matt Holliday is forecasted to have a typical Holliday season on five percent fewer at-bats than 2012. Jon Jay is expected to slide about 20 points of batting average and OBP. Carlos Beltran is projected to keep up his slash stats, but lose a quarter of his home runs and drop his RBI by about 15 percent.
Newcomers. Matt Adams is expected to receive 300 at-bats while approaching double-digit home runs. Oscar Taveras is down for comparable power numbers as Adams on 75 fewer at-bats. Kolten Wong is not projected in the Forecaster.
The departed. If Lance Berkman plays and if he is somewhat healthy, we all know he can hit. Skip Schumaker will continue to perform like he has in the recent past – not a surprise.
From the home run and RBI counts of these players alone, one might look for lower run scoring in 2013 over 2012. Craig is really the only starting position player seen to have considerable upside. With Freese, Carpenter and Beltran trending down, the potential incremental contributions of Adams and Taveras could be the difference-makers.
For graciously sharing their data as they do each year at this time, thank you again to Ron Shandler and BaseballHQ.com. Subscribers should check back for the second installment covering the Cardinals pitchers to be posted soon.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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