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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

2008-2017 ZiPS Projection - Alex Rodriguez

Since I think the subject will be beaten to death as an interesting conversation opportunity by the time A-Rod actually officially signs whatever contract he ends up getting, I thought I’d take the opportunity to really jump ahead and try to project A-Rod over the next 10 years.

For entertainment purposes only.  Projecting one year into the future is hard enough.  So if I see a comment somewhere, either here or elsewhere, of “ZiPS says A-Rod is officially home run king!” or “Dan Szymborski says A-Rod will suck in 2016!” I’m going to hunt you down and hook you up to a Clockwork Orangeish contraption that holds your eyes open while you peruse the Mike Lupica Lifetime Archives.

2008 ZiPS Projection - Alex Rodriguez
————————————————————————————————————————
          AB   R   H   2B 3B   HR RBI   BB   SO   SB   BA   OBP   SLG
————————————————————————————————————————
Projection   590 127   180   30   1   44 151   93 132   16 .305 .410 .583  
2009?      590 125   175   27   1   41 151   93 131   15 .297 .403 .554          
2010?      564 117   161   26   1   37 146   85 124   14 .285 .390 .532
2011?      556 113   156   25   1   34 145   83 122   11 .281 .386 .513
2012?      547 108   150   25   1   31 144   81 124   8 .274 .380 .494
2013?      528 102   140   24   1   27 128   78 120   6 .265 .372 .468
2014?      479   92   126   21   0   23 113   70 103   4 .263 .371 .451
2015?      432   82   111   18   0   20 102   61 102   3 .257 .365 .437
2016?      393   79   97   17   0   17   87   54   97   2 .247 .355 .420
2017?      350   63   83   15   0   14   67   46   89   1 .237 .346 .400
————————————————————————————————————————
CAREER?  12379 2503 3629 623 32 806 2737 1659 2668 345 .285 .378 .546  
————————————————————————————————————————
Opt. (15%)  604 147   197   33   1   49 169 103 119   21 .326 .436 .627  
Pes. (15%)  489   92   138   19   0   31 101   70 116   9 .282 .378 .511
————————————————————————————————————————
Top Comps:  Eddie Mathews, Al Rosen

Dan Szymborski Posted: November 20, 2007 at 04:57 PM | 49 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Dan The Mediocre Posted: November 20, 2007 at 05:08 PM (#2621212)
Dan Szymborski says A-Rod will be the Home Run King in 2015 and will pass 800 in 2017!
   2. Dan The Mediocre Posted: November 20, 2007 at 05:08 PM (#2621214)
The above post was for entertainment purposes only.
   3. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 20, 2007 at 05:14 PM (#2621224)
Does ZIPS project playing time?

I'm rather surprised at the top of ARod's comps list: Eddie Matthews and Al Rosen.

Matthews lasted to 36 and Rosen and was out of the league after his age 32 season. Obviously, ZIPS used more than two guys in compiling the data but they're the only names Dan give me :)

With that in mind, I think ZIPS may actually be a little bit pessimistic here. Which is scary since Dan states unequivically that ARod will definitely have 800 homers by 2017 or your money back.
   4. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: November 20, 2007 at 05:16 PM (#2621226)
Dan, can you run two other set of projections, the first taking the optimistic for each year and plugging it in, and the second taking the pessimistic for each year and plugging it in?
   5. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: November 20, 2007 at 05:16 PM (#2621228)
So, basically, the contract goes nicely for the first 5 years and then things fall apart.
   6. BDC Posted: November 20, 2007 at 05:17 PM (#2621230)
ZIPS now officially guarantees: no postseason RBIs for AROD for the rest of his career!!!

This post is facetious.
   7. Dan The Mediocre Posted: November 20, 2007 at 05:20 PM (#2621234)
I think the problem with the comps is how few players compare to A-Rod. BB-Ref lists Ken Griffey Jr. as his top comp through age 31 with a similarity score of 793. That's a pretty low top comp, but it's not unusual for that to happen with a player as rare as A-Rod. He is also in the top 5 most unique similarity score list for every year he played. We just can't use similar players to try to give us insight into his career path.
   8. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 20, 2007 at 05:22 PM (#2621237)
BB-Ref lists Ken Griffey Jr. as his top comp through age 31 with a similarity score of 793

BB-Ref uses counting stats. Ignore their comps.

BPro's are much better but I don't have the book handy.
   9. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 20, 2007 at 05:24 PM (#2621243)
Dan, can you run two other set of projections, the first taking the optimistic for each year and plugging it in, and the second taking the pessimistic for each year and plugging it in?

That wouldn't really work - if he performed to his optimistic numbers every year, it becomes part of the base for future projections, and it would get really funny rather quickly, leaving the final totals as his 1 in 200 million chance career of about 2000 home runs. And the opposite for negatives.

The comps are for A-Rod at this part of his career, not overall for the future career. Obviously, the players he's in a group with changes over time. He'll tend to be better than any group of similar type players (ZiPS accounts for this).
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 20, 2007 at 05:37 PM (#2621265)
What is the ZIPS projection on number of teams he will play for between now and his retirement?
   11. HowardMegdal Posted: November 20, 2007 at 05:41 PM (#2621273)
So A-Rod will hit a lot of home runs. Fine. I miss your DMB league projections.
   12. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 20, 2007 at 05:44 PM (#2621280)
So A-Rod will hit a lot of home runs. Fine. I miss your DMB league projections.

I'm on pace for build 1 to be ready before Christmas, which would be a record for me!
   13. Delorians Posted: November 20, 2007 at 05:58 PM (#2621304)
Career rankings if these projections are correct:

HR - 1st
Runs - 1st (by over 200)
RBI - 1st (by 440!!!)
Strikeouts - 1st
At Bats - 2nd
Hits - 5th (one behind Musial)
Walks - 9th
Doubles - 11th
   14. HowardMegdal Posted: November 20, 2007 at 05:58 PM (#2621305)
That's awesome. I'd like to reiterate my thank you for this we're not worthy of the stuff you bestow upon us message I send to you periodically.
   15. CraigK Posted: November 20, 2007 at 06:04 PM (#2621315)
How long does it take to compute these; I'd really like to see one for Albert Pujols.

Not as good as this, I'm sure.
   16. Amit Posted: November 20, 2007 at 06:10 PM (#2621324)
"BB-Ref lists Ken Griffey Jr. as his top comp through age 31 with a similarity score of 793"


But if Griff were a ss/3B, the score would be much higher.
   17. Amit Posted: November 20, 2007 at 06:12 PM (#2621329)
Great post, by the way, Dan. Ever think of a regular "column" like this, something along the lines of John Sickels's Crystal Ball, but with some statistical umph? I think that would be a great spark for discussion, particularly in the offseason.
   18. Loren F. Posted: November 20, 2007 at 06:13 PM (#2621333)
So A-Rod has a reasonable shot at becoming the all-time leader in HR, RBI and Runs, not to mention 2nd to Aaron in total bases, 5th all-time in hits (one behind Musial because, I guess, he'll try to get those last two hits but keep choking), and 11th all-time in doubles. Impressive. Although I've always wondered why someone with his combination of power and speed doesn't hit at least a few more triples -- but Rickey was a surprisingly skimpy on triples too, and I guess you can't have everything.

I agree that this is entertaining, so thank you Dan. I suspect A-Rod's projections may be hard to model because, apart from being a fairly unique player, he's also a fairly emotional one. In terms of physicality and skills, A-Rod has a good chance of a steady, semi-graceful decline along the lines of ZiPs's projection. But he also is vulnerable to entering slumps, pressing at the plate, and having "off" years like 2006 (which would've been a good year for 80% of MLB players). I already expect that tying Bonds in HR will start a massive homerless slump, for instance. That said, he's Inner Circle and I'm glad the Yankees are getting him back despite the projections for 2015-2017.

Oh, and I assume the drop-off in playing time in 2016 is partly a result of the nuclear war with North Korea, started by lame duck President Giuliani -- right? At least the radiation won't hurt A-Rod's patience at he plate!
   19. Greg Maddux School of Reflexive Profanity Posted: November 20, 2007 at 06:20 PM (#2621349)
I've always wondered why someone with his combination of power and speed doesn't hit at least a few more triples -- but Rickey was a surprisingly skimpy on triples too, and I guess you can't have everything.

It's hard to triple on balls hit to left field.
   20. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 20, 2007 at 06:25 PM (#2621361)
Great post, by the way, Dan. Ever think of a regular "column" like this, something along the lines of John Sickels's Crystal Ball, but with some statistical umph? I think that would be a great spark for discussion, particularly in the offseason.

I'm not sure a regular column, but I can do these occasionally if there's something of regular interest (I did a similar one some time ago projecting Ted Williams's war years). I figure after all the team projections and builds of the DMB disks and transaction write-ups that contain ZiPS at the end, doing too much more would get people all ZiPSed out (not to mention typecast me).

Oh, and I assume the drop-off in playing time in 2016 is partly a result of the nuclear war with North Korea, started by lame duck President Giuliani -- right? At least the radiation won't hurt A-Rod's patience at he plate!

I know it's a joke, but 10 years ahead, you'll always see dropoffs in playing time like this for players of any age, simply because of the real chance of a career-ending or serious performance-curtailing injury. If we think that A-Rod has a 1% chance of suffering an injury of that type in any given year, that's still a 9.6% chance over a 10 year span. That's a higher probability than an average Mark McGwire AB ending with a home run (9.4% over his career).
   21. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 20, 2007 at 06:29 PM (#2621370)
not to mention typecast me

Your politics already do that?

I know it's a joke, but 10 years ahead, you'll always see dropoffs in playing time like this for players of any age, simply because of the real chance of a career-ending or serious performance-curtailing injury. If we think that A-Rod has a 1% chance of suffering an injury of that type in any given year, that's still a 9.6% chance over a 10 year span.


Since you disclaim the ability of ZIPS to project playing time, do you think you should pre-set the playing time (for hitters) so that none of this is reflected in the projection? Or is that an inextricable part of performance?
   22. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: November 20, 2007 at 06:36 PM (#2621386)
That wouldn't really work - if he performed to his optimistic numbers every year, it becomes part of the base for future projections, and it would get really funny rather quickly, leaving the final totals as his 1 in 200 million chance career of about 2000 home runs. And the opposite for negatives.

How 'bout this: use his normal 2008 projection to create an optimistic 2009. Then use the normal 2009 for an optimisic 2010 and so on through 2017. And then go back with the negative projections. Dunno how much work it would be, but it might be fun.
   23. Loren F. Posted: November 20, 2007 at 06:41 PM (#2621398)
Thanks, Dan. Yes, I was attempting a "joke" on how far in advance you're projecting here, and I was in no way criticizing you or ZiPs. Of course you should project A-Rod to have less paying time at ages 39, 40, 41, etc. A-Rod is pretty fit, but he's also put a lot of mileage on his body already, and he's not immune to aging.

Off the top of my head, I think it's more likely that the declines in A-Rod's playing time in 2015-2017 will be less evenly distributed (for instance, a drop in AB in 2016 because of an injury but then a rebound in AB in 2017). But I wouldn't expect ZiPs to project like that, and for all I know he'll wind up with the same career numbers in the end anyway.
   24. Cris E Posted: November 20, 2007 at 06:47 PM (#2621407)
So what you're saying is, New Yankee Stadium is going to play exactly like Old Yankee Stadium? On what do you base this assumption? Harumph!

On the other hand, the Yankees can finally look forward to a decent firstbaseman at some point in the next ten years.
   25. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 20, 2007 at 07:19 PM (#2621442)
Thanks, Dan. Yes, I was attempting a "joke" on how far in advance you're projecting here, and I was in no way criticizing you or ZiPs.

I didn't think you were. Just because I react so negatively towards RETARDO doesn't mean that I also react negatively towards humans.
   26. Walt Davis Posted: November 20, 2007 at 07:35 PM (#2621451)
That's a higher probability than an average Mark McGwire AB ending with a home run (9.4% over his career).

So now ZIPS is telling us AROD will be named in the Mitchell report!
   27. Lassus Posted: November 20, 2007 at 07:56 PM (#2621486)
Dan, could you do one of these for Schubert? Because I'm sure he'd be off the charts.

I'm also sure this can't be the first time you've heard that oh-so-clever extension of your work.
   28. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 20, 2007 at 08:09 PM (#2621506)
As good as those career numbers would be, I think the Yanks hope A-Rod's extraordinary ability carries over to the aging process and he does a little better than that. Moving him to 1st base and eventually DH might help with the wear & tear aspect of the process.

Another factor is whether A-Rod continues to be a #3 or #4 hitter for the entire contract. If he isn't, and it's more due to his decline than the arrival of the Next Great Yankee™, would he continue to play or would he retire? I'm not so sure we see 5 seasons of a sub-.270 batting average.
   29. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 20, 2007 at 08:12 PM (#2621512)
Dan, could you do one of these for Schubert? Because I'm sure he'd be off the charts.

I'm also sure this can't be the first time you've heard that oh-so-clever extension of your work.


He'd just misplace a third of it anyway.
   30. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: November 20, 2007 at 08:48 PM (#2621585)
Schubert's best comp is Pergolesi, and that's a bad comp, so it's tough.
   31. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 20, 2007 at 09:09 PM (#2621620)
Schubert's best comp is Pergolesi, and that's a bad comp, so it's tough.

I think people tend to overrate composer growth curves - the ones that don't die or go crazy tend to be less experimental than Franz Liszt was.
   32. TDF, situational idiot Posted: November 20, 2007 at 09:20 PM (#2621645)
Career rankings if these projections are correct:

HR - 1st
Runs - 1st (by over 200)
RBI - 1st (by 440!!!)
Strikeouts - 1st
At Bats - 2nd
Hits - 5th (one behind Musial)
Walks - 9th
Doubles - 11th


You, and many others here, are forgetting the Golden Rule of ZiPS:

Disclaimer: ZiPS projections are computer-based projections of performance.
Performances have not been allocated to predicted playing time in the majors -
many of the players listed above are unlikely to play in the majors at all in 2008.
ZiPS is projecting equivalent production - a .240 ZiPS projection may end up
being .280 in AAA or .300 in AA, for example.


I'm thinking after that dropoff in '12 he'll be toiling away in Charleston trying to recover his swing, and never quite get back to the show.
   33. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 20, 2007 at 09:29 PM (#2621667)
Heh, I was just talking with someone about what Alex Rodriguez would likely hit in the minors.
   34. Taverna Posted: November 20, 2007 at 09:29 PM (#2621669)
I love this whimsy and thanks for the work.

The RBI numbers for the next 5 - 6 years are wildly inflated. In 2012 you have him driving in 144 with only a .874 OPS, .494 SLG., and 57 extra base hits. These numbers also assume having an extremely productive top of the batting order in front of year after year. Just doesn't look right.

Also, interesting that this projection has him with 0 more 1000 OPS seasons.

The other thing, and maybe this is a result of the methodology, but what's with the perfectly linear decline in every category? Real life almost never works that way.
   35. rico vanian Posted: November 20, 2007 at 10:34 PM (#2621767)
can you extrapolate this for his World Series stats?
Oh yeah, never mind, you sorta did.
   36. Exploring Leftist Conservatism since 2008 (ark..) Posted: November 20, 2007 at 11:31 PM (#2621815)
So, basically, the contract goes nicely for the first 5 years and then things fall apart.


Optimist! I'd phrase it, the contract wildly overpays for the first two years, becomes grotesque for the second two, and for the last six becomes an abomination.

Thank god the Steinbrenners' stupidity is its own luxury tax.
   37. Scoriano Flitcraft Posted: November 21, 2007 at 02:19 AM (#2622016)
If A-rod does this he may be the HR king. Of course, we don't know what it will take to be the leader. Bonds has not retired, yet. Pujols might hit 60 HR's a year for the next decade and pass him. You never know.
   38. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: November 21, 2007 at 02:26 AM (#2622027)
I like how this shows the predictable results of extending a projection system past one year in the future.

The "Hardball Times" season preview book for 2007 kind of annoyed me because for every single player there was a projection for 2007, 2008 and 2009. And guess what, for literally every player except some really, really old guys and some really, really young guys, the projections were almost identical for all three years, with 2009 generally expected to be a bit worse than 2007. Basically every single "2008" and "2009" line in the book was a waste of space that could have been used to go into more detail in the sections written by the bloggers who are experts on individial teams. I say this in the hopes that THT people will read it and consider it tough love, and that next year's season preview will take a different approach.
   39. Amit Posted: November 21, 2007 at 02:45 AM (#2622056)
If A-rod does this he may be the HR king. Of course, we don't know what it will take to be the leader. Bonds has not retired, yet.


Gonna be tough to homer from prison. PWN3D!
   40.   Posted: November 21, 2007 at 02:53 AM (#2622070)
Yes, the problem with using a good projection system beyond one year is that while it may be accurate in the aggregate, it is, well, boring.

For fun, I do a dumb little projection system where I take a basic Marcel-type projection, and throw in some randomness to get more interesting results. Yes, I'm a huge dork.

Anyway, here's what it sees for A-Rod in 2008-2017 (er...this time.):

Year  AB  R  H  2B 3B HR RBI SB BB K   BA   OBP  SLG 
----------------------------------------------------
2008 566 111 171 30 0 50 124 7 94 142 .303 .412 .624
2009 445  83 129 26 1 35  99 4 64 112 .290 .388 .587
2010 426  77 117 15 0 37  87 4 64 109 .273 .380 .568
2011 492  80 139 14 1 37  97 1 67 131 .282 .380 .536
2012 488  66 127 16 0 38  83 1 69 141 .261 .365 .530
2013 335  44  81 14 0 22  55 0 42 100 .242 .338 .485
2014 229  26  58  6 0 11  29 0 32  72 .253 .356 .423
2015 441  57 108 12 0 23  60 0 51 126 .245 .335 .429
2016 444  51 110 21 0 30  55 0 60 138 .247 .348 .498
2017 362  51  93 12 0 25  38 0 41 108 .258 .344 .499
 
11578 2147 3384 561 28 826 2230 281 65 1500 2703 .292 .381 .560 


Meh, I thought I'd share.
   41. MSI Posted: November 21, 2007 at 05:02 AM (#2622261)
I find the same problem with Bill James projections. You could basically take the 162 game average for each player and type that in. Basically, I use that as a heuristic anyway, and consider context (like age, park, etc.). BP can be off as well...Zips is one of my favourite projection systems.
   42. MSI Posted: November 21, 2007 at 05:04 AM (#2622264)
As for Arod breaking the career homerun mark, it seems fairly easily within reach. He's only entering his age 32 season, and needs only 245. With a probable few 35-45 plus homerun seasons in him, and his great durability so far, it seems like a pretty safe bet.
   43. Darren Posted: November 21, 2007 at 05:20 AM (#2622282)
The RBIs jump out to me. 140+ for the next 5 years in a row, then still excellent totals after that (102 in his 432 ABs with an 802 OPS?). If he stays in a lineup this good for the remainder of his career, it may go that way, I guess, but it seems unlikely.
   44. J. Cross Posted: November 21, 2007 at 05:33 AM (#2622290)
I'm not sure a regular column, but I can do these occasionally if there's something of regular interest (I did a similar one some time ago projecting Ted Williams's war years). I figure after all the team projections and builds of the DMB disks and transaction write-ups that contain ZiPS at the end, doing too much more would get people all ZiPSed out (not to mention typecast me).

How about a projection that looks at Barry Bonds' career through 1998 and projects his '99-present based on that? People can attach any meaning they like.
   45. shoewizard Posted: November 21, 2007 at 05:43 AM (#2622295)
The RBIs jump out to me. 140+ for the next 5 years in a row, then still excellent totals after that (102 in his 432 ABs with an 802 OPS?). If he stays in a lineup this good for the remainder of his career, it may go that way, I guess, but it seems unlikely.


The RBI's stuck out to me too...but for another reason. His hit drop from 175-180 to about 150 and his xbh drop from about 75 to 55, so how do RBI only drop 10? That doesn't make any sense.
   46. Howie B. Posted: November 21, 2007 at 01:50 PM (#2622382)

The RBI's stuck out to me too...but for another reason. His hit drop from 175-180 to about 150 and his xbh drop from about 75 to 55, so how do RBI only drop 10? That doesn't make any sense.


That's because ARod becomes the clutchiest hitter since, well, ever!
   47. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: November 22, 2007 at 02:27 PM (#2623296)
Dan Szymborski says we will go to war with North Korea in 2016! And A-Rod will suck!
   48. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: November 25, 2007 at 01:14 AM (#2624393)
but Rickey was a surprisingly skimpy on triples too, and I guess you can't have everything.


Rickey just pulled up at second so Rickey could steal third!
   49. kwarren Posted: November 26, 2007 at 01:35 AM (#2624874)

The RBI's stuck out to me too...but for another reason. His hit drop from 175-180 to about 150 and his xbh drop from about 75 to 55, so how do RBI only drop 10? That doesn't make any sense.


His RBI's drop by 16, then 15 in the following season.

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