Projecting The Staff
We did this with the position players in the aftermath of the Putz deal, but now that we have a pretty decent idea of what the pitching staff is going to look like, I figured I’d follow up with some back-of-the-envelope projections for the staff as a whole.
Based on the current make-up of the roster, I’ve projected out a full season’s worth of innings and various roles from guys in the organization. These projections aren’t based on any intense data crunching, but are more to serve as an instructive overview of what you could expect from the pitching staff as a whole.
Felix is good, Bedard is good when healthy, and then there’s a lot of average or below guys. Maybe you think I’m shorting Brandon Morrow, but I think there’s good reason to expect him to have both struggles and successes as he converts back to a starter full time. Besides, I’m probably more optimistic about Silva than most of you, so that likely cancels out.
Overall, you’re looking at a pitching staff that would project to allow something like 780 runs if given average defensive support. In total, that’s worth about +11 wins above a replacement level pitching staff, with about 40% of that total belonging to Felix. He’s pretty good.
It’s certainly not a great pitching staff. Most contending teams will get between +15-25 wins from their pitchers, so the M’s lag behind a bit. However, remember, these are defense independent metrics. With Zduriencik stating that as it currently stands, he’s looking at Chavez-Gutierrez-Ichiro in the outfield on opening day, the M’s have a chance to get some of these runs back with defense. Even if you think that Betancourt and Lopez will continue to be problems and Branyan/Shelton is unlikely to provide great defense at first, you have to expect the defense to be at least a bit above average. Knocking 10-20 runs off the RA total is reasonable.
So, if we take a few runs away for defense, we’re looking at a team that projects to allow about 765 runs or so. Depending on how many runs you expect this team to score, here’s the projected records you’d be looking:
700 RS/765 RA – 76-86
725 RS/765 RA – 78-84
750 RS/765 RA – 80-82
775 RS/765 RA – 82-80
800 RS/765 RA – 84-78
I currently have the offense projected around a 725 run level, though it seems likely that the team is going to acquire one more position player, and where he fits will affect that total. That’s why I keep saying that this looks like a ~78 win team to me right now.
A contender? No, probably not, unless they get a ton of unexpected breakthrough performances. But this also isn’t a bottomless pit of a roster that’s going to slog through a 90 loss season and has no chance for decency. A true talent 78 win team will win 88+ games about 5% of the time, so even if the team doesn’t improve the current roster at all, there’s a non-zero chance that the M’s could make it interesting next year.