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, Jeff Luhnow wanted to pick the brains of some of baseball's best analytic minds.
This year's 288-page work 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. The primary purpose of these articles isn't to sell books for Shandler though, as he does quite nicely in that area without my help.
Our focus here is to again cobble together a small subset of his work to assemble what could be called an overly-simplistic glimpse of what we might expect from the 2010 Cardinals. My premise here is very basic. That is, to look at the delta between key player stats from year to year.
First, we need 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 I do here, nor do they focus on trying to project playing time. Therefore, some of the comments made below could become invalid, especially as roles shake out later on.
I also did 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 $24.95 well spent, and for that price you also get a downloadable version and a free update in March. Buy the Forecaster here.
2010 Projections vs. 2009 Actuals* - St. Louis Cardinals Offense
* Major league equivalent Triple-A and Double-A stats are included, so 2009 numbers for these players are not true actuals.
What conclusions might one try to draw from this? (The following are my comments, gleaned from the Forecaster and augmented by my own thought processes.)
At-bats. Julio Lugo and Colby Rasmus are projected to see more action in 2010 while the starting keystone pair of Skip Schumaker and Brendan Ryan may see fewer at-bats. HQ thinks Ryan will be exposed with more action. Schumaker's left-handed problems are noted and he is considered to have more downside than up.
Home runs and RBI. Everyone seems close to their 2009 totals, though Albert Pujols is projected to decline by six home runs, the same increase expected from Matt Holliday. Still, HQ sees 50 home run potential in Albert and is not worried about Holliday outside of Coors. Both Pujols and Holliday are projected to have fewer RBI.
Batting average. Rasmus and Ryan Ludwick are the only position players viewed to increase their average over 2009. In fact, Ludwick is projected to have a season very similar to last. Same for Yadier Molina. Most fans would probably take that.
On-base percentage. Ryan's projected decline is balanced out by Rasmus' improvement. Schumaker's 22 point drop would be the largest decline on the team.
Slugging percentage. Holliday leads the way in expected improvement, a good outcome. He would be joined by Ludwick. All the other regulars are down slightly.
Not much here to get excited about, though there has to be concern about who would pick up the projected slack in the middle infield. Otherwise, these projections for position players on the current roster taken at face value might signal little to no improvement is ahead for the St. Louis Cardinals individually and in aggregate in 2010 compared to their 91-win regular season of 2009.
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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