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2019 Preseason Predictions

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Bobrob’s 2019 Preseason Prediction #9 – Joshua Isaiah Harrison

Josh Harrison had his worst season since his first couple of seasons last year, although that may be due to the plague of injuries he endured.  His batting average was .250, the lowest since 2013; his OBP was .293, the lowest since 2013; and his SLG was .363, the lowest since 2012. 

Even in his best seasons, Harrison is really nothing to get excited about.  2014 was his best season, looks like a fluke with a 137 wRC+.  That year he had an unsustainable .353 BABIP.  He was only able to repeat the power once (13 HR, .175 ISO), in 2017 (16 HR, .160 ISO). 

Josh Harrison is supposed to be the Tigers’ leadoff hitter this year, but his highest stolen bases total was 19 and 18 (but it’s not like any one else on the Tigers’ roster can steal).  His walk rate is constantly in the 4-5% range.  Odd stat of the day: Harrison had 23 HBP in 2017, but no more than 7 in any other year.  His highest walk total was 28, also in 2017.  Every other year, his walk total was below the 23 HBP he had in 2017.

Josh Harrison had 3 obstacles to overcome in 2019.  First are his injuries.  How healthy is he really?  Second, switching from the National League to the American League.  There is usually some adjustment period.  Lastly, at 31 years old, Harrison is exiting his “prime” years (“prime” being relative).  While his bad 2018 can be attributed to him not being fully healthy, there is some logic that he is just wearing down due to age.

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 388 AB | .264/.315/.402 | 9 HR | 43 RBI | 6 SB | 22 BB | 74 K

ZiPS – 424 AB | .257/.304/.377 | 9 HR | 44 RBI | 7 SB | 21 BB | 81 K

THE BAT – 501 AB | .265/.316/.415 | 13 HR | 58 RBI | 9 SB | 30 BB | 95 K

RotoChamp – 429 AB | .266/.313/.396 | 10 HR | 46 RBI | 9 SB | 22 BB | 80 K

CBS Sports – 499 AB | .263/.316/.419 | 16 HR | 53 RBI | 8 SB | 27 BB | 115 K

ESPN – 488 AB | .268/.313/.406 | 13 HR | 56 RBI | 10 SB | 23 BB | 88 K

FanGraphs’ Fans – N/A

My Prediction:

2018 Prediction – N/A

2018 Actual – 344 AB | .250/.293/.363 | 8 HR | 37 RBI | 3 SB | 18 BB | 68 K

 

2019 Prediction – 485 AB | .260/.296/.361 | 8 HR | 40 RBI | 11 SB | 22 BB | 104 K

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Bobrob’s 2019 Preseason Prediction #10 - Jordy Joe Mercer

In a lot of ways Jordy Mercer has the same struggles as Josh Harrison, coming over from the National League (both from the Pirates), likely past his prime being over the age of 30, and coming off an injury-shortened year.  After appearing in at least 145 games in 2016-17, Mercer only appeared in 117 games in 2018.  Also like Harrison, Mercer has been very consistent.  In 4 of the last 5 seasons, Mercer has had between an 88-94 OPS+ (the other being a 69 OPS+).  So at least we know what to expect from him. 

In 2017, Mercer hit a career high 14 home runs, a career high 9.1% walk rate, his highest ISO (.151) and SLG (.406) since 2013, and yet still pulled in a below average 93 OPS+.  In 2018, he settled back into career norms:

2018 - .251/.315/.381/.696

Career - .256/.316/.383/.699

In 2018, Mercer had a career high 20% strikeout rate.  I’d except that number to go up in the American League while facing unknown pitchers.  Also in 2018, his line drive rate was a career high at 27.4%.  I’d say that’s an anomaly and will go back to around 20% that he normally hits.  Another oddity was his ground ball rate at 38.4% - a career low.  Again, I would expect that to go back to around his career average of 48%.  Even if he continues to hit more fly balls, I wouldn’t expect them to turn into home runs, not at Comerica Park.  Speaking of home runs, despite a career high 34.2% fly ball rate in 2018, his HR/FB rate was at 5.7%, down from the two previous years of 10.9% and 7.9%.

I wouldn’t expect much at all from Mercer on the field.  Just like Harrison, he is here to fill the gap until someone in the minors is ready (everyone seems to love Willi Castro).  Just like Harrison, Mercer’s main asset will be mentoring the young hitters, not his hitting ability.

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 306 AB | .252/.320/.390 | 7 HR | 35 RBI | 2 SB | 28 BB | 60 K

ZiPS – 432 AB | .243/.307/.356 | 8 HR | 45 RBI | 2 SB | 37 BB | 87 K

THE BAT – 433 AB | .253/.315/.389 | 10 HR | 50 RBI | 2 SB | 37 BB | 86 K

RotoChamp – 430 AB | .253/.320/.388 | 9 HR | 47 RBI | 1 SB | 39 BB | 83 K

CBS Sports – 487 AB | .253/.319/.402 |11 HR | 51 RBI | 2 SB | 44 BB | 117 K

ESPN – 429 AB | .259/.321/.403 | 10 HR | 49 RBI | 1 SB | 36 BB | 81 K

FanGraphs’ Fans – N/A

My Prediction:

2018 Prediction – N/A

2018 Actual – 394 AB | .251/.315/.381 | 6 HR | 39 RBI | 2 SB | 32 BB | 87 K

 

2019 Prediction – 505 AB | .230/.285/.331 | 6 HR | 44 RBI | 2 SB | 35 BB | 121 K

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I was not exactly certain where to put this, but watching some of the Tiger ST games this year has me thinking they are going to be better than I anticipated. I thought that 65 wins was about correct going into spring training. My current thinking is that this looks more like a 73 win team. The bullpen will probably be better than I thought, and the defense looks improved. The offense is too big of a question mark to antcipate much more than 73 wins.

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On 3/15/2019 at 12:45 PM, bobrob2004 said:

Bobrob’s 2019 Preseason Prediction #9 – Joshua Isaiah Harrison

Josh Harrison had his worst season since his first couple of seasons last year, although that may be due to the plague of injuries he endured.  His batting average was .250, the lowest since 2013; his OBP was .293, the lowest since 2013; and his SLG was .363, the lowest since 2012. 

Even in his best seasons, Harrison is really nothing to get excited about.  2014 was his best season, looks like a fluke with a 137 wRC+.  That year he had an unsustainable .353 BABIP.  He was only able to repeat the power once (13 HR, .175 ISO), in 2017 (16 HR, .160 ISO). 

Josh Harrison is supposed to be the Tigers’ leadoff hitter this year, but his highest stolen bases total was 19 and 18 (but it’s not like any one else on the Tigers’ roster can steal).  His walk rate is constantly in the 4-5% range.  Odd stat of the day: Harrison had 23 HBP in 2017, but no more than 7 in any other year.  His highest walk total was 28, also in 2017.  Every other year, his walk total was below the 23 HBP he had in 2017.

Josh Harrison had 3 obstacles to overcome in 2019.  First are his injuries.  How healthy is he really?  Second, switching from the National League to the American League.  There is usually some adjustment period.  Lastly, at 31 years old, Harrison is exiting his “prime” years (“prime” being relative).  While his bad 2018 can be attributed to him not being fully healthy, there is some logic that he is just wearing down due to age.

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 388 AB | .264/.315/.402 | 9 HR | 43 RBI | 6 SB | 22 BB | 74 K

ZiPS – 424 AB | .257/.304/.377 | 9 HR | 44 RBI | 7 SB | 21 BB | 81 K

THE BAT – 501 AB | .265/.316/.415 | 13 HR | 58 RBI | 9 SB | 30 BB | 95 K

RotoChamp – 429 AB | .266/.313/.396 | 10 HR | 46 RBI | 9 SB | 22 BB | 80 K

CBS Sports – 499 AB | .263/.316/.419 | 16 HR | 53 RBI | 8 SB | 27 BB | 115 K

ESPN – 488 AB | .268/.313/.406 | 13 HR | 56 RBI | 10 SB | 23 BB | 88 K

FanGraphs’ Fans – N/A

My Prediction:

2018 Prediction – N/A

2018 Actual – 344 AB | .250/.293/.363 | 8 HR | 37 RBI | 3 SB | 18 BB | 68 K

 

2019 Prediction – 485 AB | .260/.296/.361 | 8 HR | 40 RBI | 11 SB | 22 BB | 104 K

I read a piece a while back in which the writer examined the tendency of many old-school (a euphemism for senile or clueless) managers to decide certain spots in the batting order -- especially leadoff -- by the player's defensive position, regardless of whether the guy's offensive characteristics fit the spot in the order.  If I remember correctly, those managers had a strong tendency to bat their second-basemen leadoff, with center fielders being the next most likely position players to bat first.

If Illadvisedhire uses Harrison to lead off, despite the fact that he doesn't get on base much and is no dynamo on the basepaths on the rare occasions when he does get there, that would seem to put our manager very much in the "old-school" category.

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21 hours ago, bobrob2004 said:

Bobrob’s 2019 Preseason Prediction #10 - Jordy Joe Mercer

In a lot of ways Jordy Mercer has the same struggles as Josh Harrison, coming over from the National League (both from the Pirates), likely past his prime being over the age of 30, and coming off an injury-shortened year.  After appearing in at least 145 games in 2016-17, Mercer only appeared in 117 games in 2018.  Also like Harrison, Mercer has been very consistent.  In 4 of the last 5 seasons, Mercer has had between an 88-94 OPS+ (the other being a 69 OPS+).  So at least we know what to expect from him. 

In 2017, Mercer hit a career high 14 home runs, a career high 9.1% walk rate, his highest ISO (.151) and SLG (.406) since 2013, and yet still pulled in a below average 93 OPS+.  In 2018, he settled back into career norms:

2018 - .251/.315/.381/.696

Career - .256/.316/.383/.699

In 2018, Mercer had a career high 20% strikeout rate.  I’d except that number to go up in the American League while facing unknown pitchers.  Also in 2018, his line drive rate was a career high at 27.4%.  I’d say that’s an anomaly and will go back to around 20% that he normally hits.  Another oddity was his ground ball rate at 38.4% - a career low.  Again, I would expect that to go back to around his career average of 48%.  Even if he continues to hit more fly balls, I wouldn’t expect them to turn into home runs, not at Comerica Park.  Speaking of home runs, despite a career high 34.2% fly ball rate in 2018, his HR/FB rate was at 5.7%, down from the two previous years of 10.9% and 7.9%.

I wouldn’t expect much at all from Mercer on the field.  Just like Harrison, he is here to fill the gap until someone in the minors is ready (everyone seems to love Willi Castro).  Just like Harrison, Mercer’s main asset will be mentoring the young hitters, not his hitting ability.

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 306 AB | .252/.320/.390 | 7 HR | 35 RBI | 2 SB | 28 BB | 60 K

ZiPS – 432 AB | .243/.307/.356 | 8 HR | 45 RBI | 2 SB | 37 BB | 87 K

THE BAT – 433 AB | .253/.315/.389 | 10 HR | 50 RBI | 2 SB | 37 BB | 86 K

RotoChamp – 430 AB | .253/.320/.388 | 9 HR | 47 RBI | 1 SB | 39 BB | 83 K

CBS Sports – 487 AB | .253/.319/.402 |11 HR | 51 RBI | 2 SB | 44 BB | 117 K

ESPN – 429 AB | .259/.321/.403 | 10 HR | 49 RBI | 1 SB | 36 BB | 81 K

FanGraphs’ Fans – N/A

My Prediction:

2018 Prediction – N/A

2018 Actual – 394 AB | .251/.315/.381 | 6 HR | 39 RBI | 2 SB | 32 BB | 87 K

 

2019 Prediction – 505 AB | .230/.285/.331 | 6 HR | 44 RBI | 2 SB | 35 BB | 121 K

Three experts have him hitting .253. A fourth is .252. That is mighty consistent.

Thanks for posting these.

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Bobrob’s 2019 Preseason Prediction #11 - Jordan M. Zimmermann

What do you think that M. stands for?  Michael?  Matthew?  Mabel?  Did you ever notice that there are two ns at the end of his last name?  Do you think his close friends call him “Dan” for short?  How about “Danny?”

Danny Mabel has been awful since putting on a Tigers uniform.  In over 396 innings, he has a 5.24 ERA, 4.88 FIP, 10.5 H/9, 2.2 BB/9, and 6.4 K/9.  Since 2016, Zimmermann has the 4th highest ERA, 10th highest FIP, and 11th lowest K/9 among starting pitchers.  Not great, Bob.

To be fair, Zimmermann’s 2018 season is the best one with the Tigers.  He had his lowest ERA (4.52), highest strikeout rate (7.6 K/9) and the highest home run rate (1.9 HR/9).  Ok, the last one is not so good.  His season was mostly fueled by a good first half.

1st Half – 63 IP | 3.71 ERA | 1.127 WHIP | 8.7 K/9

2nd Half – 68 1/3 IP | 5.27 ERA | 1.390 WHIP | 6.6 K/9

Ah, those second half numbers is the Zimmermann we all grew to hate.  Since joining the Tigers, Zimmermann has been dealing with neck injuries and the inability to make adjustments.  What was different between these two splits?  Well, Zimmermann had a sinker in the month of April, but then mostly abandoned it the rest of the year.  Now, pitches are tracked not by grip, but by movement and velocity, so it’s possible that this “sinker” was really a 4-seamer with better movement (Verlander Is adamant that he doesn’t throw a cutter despite what the tracking says).  Also, it doesn’t seem like the sinker played a major role in his performance anyway. 

So, what did change?  Honestly, not much according to the deeper stats.  His curveball was much more effective (.139 BAA in the first half and .364 BAA in the second half) and his pitches resulted in more fly balls (47.3% in the first half, 39.6% in the second half).  Other than that, it looks like one was just a major fluke (or competitive advantage.  The Tigers did have an easier schedule the first half of the year).  Given his recent history, I’d say the first half was more of a fluke than the second half.

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 155 IP | 8-11 W/L | 5.08 ERA | 1.37 WHIP | 112 K | 38 BB

ZiPS – 126 2/3 IP | 7-8 W/L | 4.83 ERA | 1.35 WHIP | 92 K | 29 BB

THE BAT – 157 IP | 8-11 W/L | 4.47 ERA | 1.27 WHIP | 127 K | 38 BB

RotoChamp – 140 IP | 5-10 W/L | 4.89 ERA | 1.39 WHIP | 105 K | 32 BB

CBS Sports – 160 2/3 IP | 9-11 W/L | 4.82 ERA | 1.36 WHIP | 134 K | 39 BB

ESPN – 140 IP | 6 W | 5.34 ERA | 1.38 WHIP | 104 K | 32 BB

FanGraphs’ Fans – N/A

My Prediction:

2018 Prediction – 163 IP | 6-14 W/L | 5.69 ERA | 1.503 WHIP | 105 K | 43 BB

2018 Actual – 131 1/3 IP | 7-8 W/L | 4.52 ERA | 1.264 WHIP | 111 K | 26 BB

 

2019 Prediction – 157 1/3 IP | 6-13 W/L | 5.49 ERA | 1.468 WHIP | 112 K | 38 BB

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On 3/19/2019 at 7:09 AM, Shelton said:

So, you’re saying they are going to be better than you think?

I thought 63 to 65 wins was about right. I think 73 wins is about correct now. I am expecting much better defense, slightly better hitting, and the bullpen will be a little better. Starting pitching will be at least as good as last year.

 

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On 3/19/2019 at 10:18 AM, bobrob2004 said:

New prediction for Micheal Fulmer: 0 IP | 0-0 W/L | 0.00 ERA | 0.000 WHIP | 0 K | 0 BB

We want the Funk. Got to have that Funk!

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