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2020 Preseason Predictions

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I'm going to continue with my predictions based on 162 game season, even though they may not play that many games this year. 

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Bobrob’s 2020 Preseason Prediction #10 - Christian Gaylin Harris Stewart

It was mostly a disappointing season for Stewart in his rookie year, mostly because he did not show the power that he had in the minors.  In AAA in 2018, Stewart had a 16.8% HR/FB ratio and it was 15.4% in 22 games in 2019.  However, in his 104 games at the Major League level in 2019, his HR/FB ratio was only 8.9%.  That’s not good enough for the lack of other things he brings to the table.

One bright spot is Christin Stewart's walk rate.  In 624 PA in AAA, it was at 13.6% and in the Majors it’s at 9%.  I’m not much on comparisons, but Adam Dunn seems to be the best case scenario in terms of low batting average, high walk rate and a lot of power with little defense.  Stewart hopefully can improve on his walk rate as he gains experience and would need a big boost in power to match Dunn’s.  Mark Reynolds may be a more realistic comparison.

Christin Stewart has shown hot streaks during 2019.  The months of June and July was probably his best performance when he hit .259/.333/.401 with 4 home runs.  Defensively, he is a train wreck in leftfield with a -8.3 UZR.  Overall, he had a negative WAR value according to FanGraphs with a -1.2 WAR.  If he doesn’t turn it around in 2020, he could go the way of Brennan Boesch.

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 373 AB | .245/.327/.434 | 16 HR | 52 RBI | 1 SB | 42 BB | 102 K

ZiPS – 485 AB | .235/.318/.423 | 21 HR | 67 RBI | 1 SB | 54 BB | 145 K

THE BAT – 365 AB | .232/.317/.413 | 14 HR | 49 RBI | 1 SB | 49 BB | 103 K

RotoChamp – 389 AB | .242/.328/.411 | 14 HR | 51 RBI | 0 SB | 47 BB | 110 K

CBS Sports – 539 AB | .258/.335/.445 | 20 HR | 73 RBI | 2 SB | 55 BB | 148 K

ESPN – 412 AB | .233/.316/.403 | 14 HR | 54 RBI | 1 SB | 47 BB | 121 K

My Prediction:

2019 Prediction – 504 AB | .234/.316/.429 | 20 HR | 72 RBI | 0 SB | 58 BB | 145 K

2019 Actual – 369 AB | .233/.305/.388 | 10 HR | 40 RBI | 0 SB | 34 BB | 103 K

 

2020 Prediction – 477 AB | .224/.302/.413 | 18 HR | 60 RBI | 0 SB | 51 BB | 135 K

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Bobrob’s 2020 Preseason Prediction #11 – Spencer Ketcham Turnbull

Injuries to Michael Fulmer, Matt Moore, and Tyson Ross gave Spencer Turnbull an opportunity to stay in the starting rotation at the Major League level all year long.  He has done well enough to keep that role to start the 2020 season.  Last year in the first half, he was a bright spot before falling off in the second half.  Fatigue probably played a role as he increased his innings. 

1st Half – 89 2/3 IP | 3.31 ERA | 8.4 K/9 | 3.4 BB/9

2nd Half – 58 2/3 IP | 6.60 ERA | 9.5 K/9 | 3.8 BB/9

I think strikeouts are the single most important thing when it comes to pitchers, and Spencer Turnbull’s strikeout rate actually increased in the second half (21.5% to 23.3%).  This is definitely an encouraging sign.  However, his walk rate also increased in the second half (8.7% to 9.4%) as well as his batting average against (.250 to .293).  This explains his struggles in the 2nd half as hitters started to figure him out.

Another area of struggle for Spencer Turnbull is against left-handed batters, who batted .296/.370/.436 last year.  Turbull primarily uses a sinker as his “out pitch” and left-handed batters hit .400 against that pitch last year.  He is going to have to find a better pitch to put away left-handed batters in order to take the next step.

Against right-handed batters, the slider is his go-to pitch and it has worked awesome as right-handed opponents only hit .205 against it last year. Combined with his 4-seam fastball, 67.8% of his strikeouts have come on the fastball/slider combo.

Going into 2020, I’m cautiously optimistic.  I think he can take what worked in the first half and work on what didn’t work in the second half and have a decent year.  

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 131 IP | 7-9 W/L | 4.63 ERA | 1.39 WHIP | 120 K | 49 BB

ZiPS – 143 2/3 IP | 9-10 W/L | 4.64 ERA | 1.41 WHIP | 142 K | 57 BB

THE BAT – 141 IP | 8-9 W/L | 4.37 ERA | 1.37 WHIP | 127 K | 53 BB

RotoChamp – 157 IP | 11-7 W/L | 3.67 ERA | 1.39 WHIP | 153 K | 61 BB

CBS Sports – N/A

ESPN – 150 IP | 7 W | 4.20 ERA | 1.37 WHIP | 145 K | 62 BB

My Prediction:

2019 Prediction – N/A

2019 Actual – 148 1/3 IP | 3-17 W/L | 4.67 ERA | 1.385 WHIP | 135 K | 51 BB

 

2020 Prediction – 152 1/3 IP | 8-8 W/L | 4.37 ERA | 1.392 WHIP | 151 K | 62 BB

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Bobrob’s 2020 Preseason Prediction #12 – Cameron Keith Maybin

This is Cameron Maybin’s 3rd stint with the team that originally drafted him.  And yet, only 10.5% of the games he has played in the Majors has been in a Tiger uniform.  He’ll likely be the primary starting right-fielder, although Victor Reyes may steal some playing time away from him.  Most experts are also projecting Maybin will be the primary lead-off hitter (at least that’s what all the computer simulations have done). 

Cameron Maybin had the best season of his career in 2019, possibly because he only played in half of the games.  He hit a career high in home runs (11) as well as wRC+ (127).  His WAR was only 1.6 due to the lack of games and declining defense.  He is one the wrong side of 30, so it’s likely that he hit his peak in 2019 and will begin his decline.  However, he got the majority of his at bats from left-handed pitchers (where he hit .311/.387/.528) so the Yankees put him in a position to succeed.  Ron Gardenhire is more likely to use him as an everyday player, so we can expect to see lower averages overall.

When Cameron Maybin last played in Detroit in 2016, he hit career highs in batting average (.315), OBP (.383) and until last year, OPS (.418).  When watching him play in that season, especially early in the year, he had a sparkplug mentality that was rarely seen in players.  Personally, he was just very fun to watch and it looked like he was having a lot of fun.  I believe he enjoys playing for the team that originally drafted him and a player playing in an environment that he enjoys can definitely impact performance.  Hopefully we can see that kind of play style again in yet another boring rebuilding year.  2016 was the last time the Tigers had a winning record.

I’m being conservative in my prediction, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he surpasses it.  Too many factors to consider including playing time, lineup position (leading off could put too much pressure on him), age (entering his age-33 season), and playing environment.

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 384 AB | .256/.338/.394 | 10 HR | 45 RBI | 14 SB | 46 BB | 100 K

ZiPS – 326 AB | .258/.340/.390 | 8 HR | 33 RBI | 12 SB | 39 BB | 85 K

THE BAT – 405 AB | .247/.326/.376 | 9 HR | 39 RBI | 14 SB | 46 BB | 104 K

RotoChamp – 325 AB | .262/.345/.406 | 9 HR | 34 RBI | 14 SB | 41 BB | 87 K

CBS Sports – N/A

ESPN – 217 AB | .253/.335/.410 | 6 HR | 23 RBI | 6 SB | 26 BB | 57 K

My Prediction:

2019 Prediction – N/A

2019 Actual – 239 AB | .285/.364/.494 | 11 HR | 32 RBI | 9 SB | 30 BB | 72 K

 

2020 Prediction – 345 AB | .246/.329/.432 | 10 HR | 31 RBI | 14 SB | 41 BB | 88 K

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Bobrob’s 2020 Preseason Prediction – Maxwell M. Scherzer

Since the Tigers acquired Max Scherzer, he has won 3 Cy Young Awards, pitched two no-hitters, and even managed to win a World Series.  Over the last seven years, Scherzer has accumulated a 2.82 ERA; only one year (2014) his ERA finished north of 3.00.  In those last seven years, Scherzer has never finished below 5th in Cy Young voting.  Unfortunately, Scherzer suffered some injuries in 2019.  It was the first year that he didn’t record at least 200 innings since 2012 and the first time he didn’t get at least 250 strikeouts since 2013. 

During the timespan of 2013-2019, Max Scherzer has been one of, if not the best, starting pitcher in all of baseball.  In that timeframe, Scherzer has the most wins (118), third in ERA (min. 1000 innings, behind Clayton Kershaw’s 2.19 and Jacob deGrom’s 2.62), the most strikeouts (1863), and first in fWAR (44.1).  And talk about durability.  He has started 223 starts, just one less than Jon Lester and Jose Quintana, 10 complete games and 5 shutouts, both in the top 10.  All with the Detroit Tigers.  Unbelievable!

Max Scherzer is entering his age 35 season and did have some injury problems last year.  He could be starting his decline, if he wasn’t the superman pitcher that he is.  I may be over optimistic, but I don’t think Scherzer has had his best year yet.  That year is going to come in 2020.  Look out Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Pedro Martinez, Max Scherzer is about to break all the records!

Can you imagine Max Scherzer pitching for any other team but the Detroit Tigers?  Always a Tiger.    

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 195 IP | 14-8 W/L | 3.27 ERA | 1.04 WHIP | 258 K | 48 BB

ZiPS – 174 IP | 13-6 W/L | 3.00 ERA | 0.98 WHIP | 236 K | 39 BB

THE BAT – 196 IP | 14-9 W/L | 3.39 ERA | 1.04 WHIP | 254 K | 51 BB

RotoChamp – 198 IP | 16-6 W/L | 2.73 ERA | 1.03 WHIP | 262 K | 48 BB

CBS Sports – 163 1/3 IP | 11-6 W/L | 3.03 ERA | 1.09 WHIP | 198 K | 43 BB

ESPN – 188 IP | 15 W | 2.92 ERA | 0.96 WHIP | 257 K | 38 BB

My Prediction:

2019 Prediction – 172 1/3 IP | 11-7 | 2.92 ERA | 1.027 WHIP | 243 K | 33 BB

2019 Actual – 172 1/3 IP | 11-7 | 2.92 ERA | 1.027 WHIP | 243 K | 33 BB

 

2020 Prediction – 377 IP | 32-0 W/L | 0.95 ERA | 0.736 WHIP | 384 K | 8 BB

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Bobrob’s 2020 Preseason Prediction #13 – Jordan M. Zimmermann

What the **** does that M. stand for?

Under normal circumstances, Jordan Zimmermann would have been released after his performance last year. He only had one win, a 6.91 ERA, and only struck out 16.3% of batters.  He had a negative WAR according to Baseball-reference and has had a history of injuries since joining the Tigers.  Instead of standing 6 feet away from people in the unemployment line, Ron Gardenhire will most likely have him start opening day yet again when baseball resumes sometime between the middle of May and Thanksgiving.

The thing with Jordan Zimmermann is that this is a recurring pattern.  He starts off well with a few games, has a few horrible starts, then goes on the disabled list.  Rinse, repeat.  Since putting on a Tiger uniform, he has had the 4th worst ERA (5.61), a 6.4 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, and a 1.6 HR/9.  Aside from the walk rate, those are horrible numbers that only someone making $25 million will be able to keep a spot on a Major League roster, yet still be in a starting rotation.

Let’s take a look at those other pitchers that had bad ERAs over the last 4 years:

Yovani Gallardo – 5.80 ERA, now playing in the Mexican League.

Edwin Jackson – 5.77 ERA, only good enough to play on the Tigers team at the end of last year, signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks in 2020.

Matt Harvey – 5.65 ERA, signed a minor league deal with the Athletics for the 2020 season.

TLDR, Jordan Zimmermann was a terrible pitcher and will continue to be a terrible pitcher until he retires, most likely after this season as no one will want to pay him to be on a Major League team ever again.

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 105 IP | 5-8 W/L | 5.43 ERA | 1.41 WHIP | 74 K | 26 BB

ZiPS – 111 IP | 6-8 W/L | 5.68 ERA | 1.41 WHIP | 81 K | 26 BB

THE BAT – 113 IP | 5-8 W/L | 5.44 ERA | 1.40 WHIP | 80 K | 29 BB

RotoChamp – 139 IP | 6-9 W/L | 4.60 ERA | 1.42 WHIP | 106 K | 36 BB

CBS Sports – N/A

ESPN – 122 IP | 5 W | 4.87 ERA | 1.40 WHIP | 89 K | 32 BB

My Prediction:

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

2019 Actual – 112 IP | 1-13 W/L | 6.91 ERA | 1.518 WHIP | 82 K | 25 BB

 

2020 Prediction – 115 IP | 3-10 W/L | 6.57 ERA | 1.452 WHIP | 74 K | 28 BB

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Bobrob’s 2020 Preseason Prediction #14 – Jeimer “Baby Ruth” Candelario

As the old veteran, Jeimer Candelario, nears the end of his career, he has shown typical signs of slowing down and declining at his old age.

2017: .283/.359/.425

2018: .224/.317/.393

2019: .203/.306/.337

After hitting his peak in 2017 with a 112 wRC+, it was only at 94 in 2018 and all the way down to 72 in 2019.  Candelario is entering his age 36 season, so it’s only natural that his numbers decline as he gets older.

*Rechecks Baseball-reference for verification

My mistake.  Candelario is actually entering his age 26 season, an age where he should be entering his prime years as he shows signs of improvement.  Instead, he is showing signs of a declining veteran.  Oops.

When the Tigers acquired Jeimer Candelario from the Cubs in exchange for Alex Avila and Justin Wilson, many fans believed that Al Avila made out like a bandit and that Candelario would be a fixture at 3B for the Tigers for years to come.  And it sure looked like it in 2017.  Since then though, Candelario has been a major disappointment, getting worse each year until eventually getting replaced by Dawell Lugo in the by the end of the 2019 season.  Going into 2020, the Tigers didn’t announce who would be the primary 3B; instead it was going to be a competition between Candelario and Lugo, although many people believed Candelario still had an advanced despite the numbers (Lugo did finish with a slightly worse 65 wRC+).

As the year went on, Candelario kept getting worse and worse.

First half - .213/.308/.360

Second half - .188/.302/.304

Looking deep into the stats, there is little evidence to suggest that Jeimer Candelario is going to be the player everyone hoped the Tigers got in 2017 (the only redeeming quality is an above average 11.1% walk rate), which may speak volumes in the Tigers development department under Al Avila as they try to rebuild back to a contender.  It sure looks like Candelario may just be destined to be a terrible player and will be forced to retire or go to Japan before he is 30, unless a miracle happens.  

 

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 430 AB | .243/.331/.425 | 16 HR | 56 RBI | 3 SB | 52 BB | 121 K

ZiPS – 514 AB | .237/.322/.412 | 18 HR | 61 RBI | 3 SB | 59 BB | 142 K

THE BAT – 420 AB | .232/.316/.404 | 15 HR | 52 RBI | 2 SB | 47 BB | 115 K

RotoChamp – 415 AB | /.231/.324/.400 | 14 HR | 48 RBI | 2 SB | 52 BB | 118 K

CBS Sports – 487 AB | .238/.337/.427 | 20 HR | 58 RBI | 4 SB | 63 BB | 149 K

ESPN – 227 AB | .225/.317/.405 | 8 HR | 27 RBI | 1 SB | 27 BB | 66 K

My Prediction:

2019 Prediction – 544 AB | .241/.337/.410 | 19 HR | 49 RBI | 2 SB | 71 BB | 158 K

2019 Actual – 335 AB | .203/.306/.337 | 8 HR | 32 RBI | 3 SB | 43 BB | 99 K

 

2020 Prediction – 343 AB | .210/.300/.344 | 8 HR | 31 RBI | 2 SB | 37 BB | 101 K

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