Now in its 30th year, the Baseball Forecaster from the highly-respected team at BaseballHQ is now available. It is the bible to the upcoming season for thousands of fans, whether fantasy players or just baseball watchers interested in the numbers behind the game.
What could be better to help pass the hours until baseball is played again in the spring than analysis, discussion and debate over performances in 2015 and what the players may accomplish in 2016?
Front office personnel across the game of baseball also are regular users of the Forecaster. It wasn’t a coincidence that HQ founder Ron 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 277-page Forecaster, edited by my friends Ray Murphy and Brent Hershey, 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.
As I do each year, my focus here is to 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 2016 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 40-man 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 need 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 $26.95 well spent, and for that price you also get a downloadable version. Buy the Forecaster here.
2016 Projections vs. 2015 Actuals* and 2015 Projections - St. Louis Cardinals Offense
|* incl MiLB|
* Major league equivalent Triple-A stats are included, so 2015 numbers for these players are not true actuals.
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. Yadier Molina falls to the middle tier of catchers and though he has been among the most consistent at his position, his average continues to slip. While his home runs are projected to increase to eight, his RBI remain in the 60s. Due to high contact rate, Brayan Pena is expected to continue to hit in the .260-.270 range.
Infielders. Matt Adams is expected to mount a partial rebound, though the Forecaster sees 25 home run upside. Brandon Moss is expected to roughly match his 2015 numbers, including his success in Cleveland with a 30 homer upside label.
Kolten Wong is expected to remain essentially flat year to year, though the author wonders out loud if Wong’s July concussion had a greater impact on his second half than reported. An upside of 20 home runs, 25 steals is mentioned.
There is no other Cardinal hitter with a more consistent year-to-year outlook than Jhonny Peralta. Yet at the same time, his age and increasing risk is noted. A regression from Matt Carpenter’s team-leading home run and RBI totals in 2015 is forecasted.
Interestingly, with full-time at-bats, newcomer Jedd Gyorko is expected to deliver home run and RBI counts in the same range as Carpenter and Peralta, though his batting average may be 30 points lower. Greg Garcia’s impact is forecasted to be minimal.
Outfielders. The Forecaster notes Matt Holliday’s continued slide, though more gradual than severe. His 81 RBI would lead the Cards. With more at-bats, an uptick in power to a team-high 25 home runs from Randal Grichuk is suggested, along with a 23-point drop in batting average.
Stephen Piscotty receives a strong review as a player able to adjust. Still, his power and RBI totals would be third among the outfielders. Before you move on, note that the 2016 home run and RBI projections for Piscotty and the man he will be replacing, Jason Heyward, are almost identical.
Among outfield reserves, Tommy Pham receives a nod for his improved batting eye, though it was noted his speed was not evident in the majors. The Forecaster author wants to see more before jumping onto the bandwagon.
Newcomers. A year after both Cardinals among the Forecaster’s list of MLB’s top 75 impact prospects for the coming year were outfielders in Grichuk and Piscotty, there are no offensive players listed for 2016. The system’s forte, pitching, is the expected impact source for 2016. More on this in Part 2.
The departed. Not surprisingly, HQ does not see a big bounce back coming from former Cardinals Peter Bourjos and Jon Jay, and suggests more of the same from Heyward and Mark Reynolds. Tony Cruz and Pete Kozma were dropped from the 2016 Forecaster, likely not by mistake.
There can be some optimism based on the 2016 Cardinals offensive projections. Grichuk, Piscotty and Moss are expected to deliver additional pop with some rebound forecasted from Adams and Holliday. Molina, Peralta and Wong may hold steady, but Carpenter may trend in the wrong direction.
Overall, with this data as a baseline, it may be possible to see how the team could score more runs than in 2015.
For graciously sharing their data as they do each year at this time, thank you again to the great folks at BaseballHQ.com. Subscribers should check back for the second installment covering the Cardinals pitchers to be posted soon.
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