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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

ZiPS Career Projections, Roy Oswalt, Albert Pujols, and David Ortiz

I’ve had some extra time this season and a computer upgrade and I’ve had the chance to do further study of long-term aging/injury risk in projections of players.  So, as an example, here are the ZiPS projections for the careers of Oswalt and Pujols.  Obviously, all the caveats of projection something 10 years in the future apply here, but it’s usually fun to take a look at.

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Dan Szymborski Posted: August 11, 2009 at 04:42 AM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. SuperGrover Posted: August 11, 2009 at 06:21 AM (#3288574)
I will take under on 123 SBs for Pujols's career please.
   2. Jeff K. Posted: August 11, 2009 at 07:47 AM (#3288587)
I think I'll more take the under on his having 6000 ABs *left* in his body. No ####### way, no how.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: August 11, 2009 at 11:22 AM (#3288603)
Wow, Pujols _projects_ to 2699 games through age 41? Not impossible but that's top 25 all-time through age 41. Seems optimistic for a projection (he'll be around #40 all-time through 29). Meanwhile Oswalt's been as durable as can be but that doesn't seem to have bought him all that much in terms of longevity (not that projecting roughly 150 IP per the next 10 seasons makes him a slouch). I do find the Oswalt projection totally believable.

And I'll take the over on everything when it comes to Pujols. Hell, MLB wlll declare 50 doubles to be HRs if they need that for him to be the all-time leader.
   4. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 11, 2009 at 11:30 AM (#3288605)
It would be odd for a pitcher of Roy's abilities to NOT get 3000 strikeouts in this era of high batter strikeout totals. He would be defying gravity in some ways.

As for Albert, he manages to grind out every season even when injured. And excuse me for saying so but given how many times Tony has proclaimed Pujols season at death's door only to have the guy keep playing I cannot help but think this is all part of the package. In five years he will be known as "Old Aches and Pains" Albert.
   5. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: August 11, 2009 at 11:54 AM (#3288609)
I think it's amusing that ZiPs has Pujols hitting 13 more HRs this season, while driving in only 20 more runs. :)

If Pujols' career goes exactly according to ZiPs, at what point is he acknowledged as the greatest living hitter?
   6. TomH Posted: August 11, 2009 at 12:24 PM (#3288622)
After Aaron dies? ZIPS projections show him short of Hank's R and RBI totals, despite the higher-offense environment.
   7. Dolf Lucky Posted: August 11, 2009 at 12:50 PM (#3288635)
As a comparison, here's how Brock2 sees Pujols's career totals (using Dan's projection for 2009 as inputted data):

Plays through age 41 season
3213 G
11269 AB
1965 R
3562 H
786 2B
18 3B
706 HR
2206 RBI
1865 BB
   8. Dan Szymborski Posted: August 11, 2009 at 01:00 PM (#3288640)
ZiPS only has Pujols playing 150 games once for the rest of his career, so it's not exactly predicting him to be Ripken. It's not only endurance, it's ability; most players are durable enough to have 6000 AB after age 29, but most players aren't good enough to get those ABs because of declining skills. Pujols may lose time to a catastrophic injury but he's unlikely to lose much time due to playing poorly.

I've added an updated Ortiz career projection. Obviously, his career has taken a different trajectory since the projection taken before the 2008 season.
   9. Dan Szymborski Posted: August 11, 2009 at 01:09 PM (#3288648)
Oswalt should actually finish 226-142 in the projection - the Astros offense wasn't regressing towards average in ensuing years like it should have.
   10. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: August 11, 2009 at 01:20 PM (#3288662)
After Aaron dies? ZIPS projections show him short of Hank's R and RBI totals, despite the higher-offense environment.


I didn't actually think Aaron was generally considered the greatest living hitter, I thought it was Musial.
   11. JJ1986 Posted: August 11, 2009 at 01:41 PM (#3288680)
Isn't Barry Lamar the greatest living hitter?
   12. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: August 11, 2009 at 01:53 PM (#3288689)
Isn't Barry Lamar the greatest living hitter?


I was making allowances for something that is more of a proclamation from the masses or sportswriters, who I assume would not consider Bonds.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: August 11, 2009 at 08:23 PM (#3289288)
ZiPS only has Pujols playing 150 games once for the rest of his career, so it's not exactly predicting him to be Ripken. It's not only endurance, it's ability; most players are durable enough to have 6000 AB after age 29, but most players aren't good enough to get those ABs because of declining skills. Pujols may lose time to a catastrophic injury but he's unlikely to lose much time due to playing poorly.

well, duh. :-)

Looking at games through age 29, assuming he gets another 50ish games this year, Pujols would be around 40th. Sluggers ahead of or near him on that list that ZiPS projects him to have more games than, through age 41, include Foxx, Mantle, Griffey, Mathews, Boog, and Cepeda. The sluggers on that list who aged extremely well through 41 are Ott, Aaron and Robinson. ZiPS projects him to make up most of the 340 games deficit on Ott, stay even with Robinson but play 400 games fewer 30-41 than Aaronn (wow!). There are at least two notable names behind him at 29 who'd be ahead of that ZiPS projection -- Musial and Jackson. On the other hand, Pujols is projected to play a few more games 30-41 than Ted Williams, but we've got Korea in there.

I can certainly see arguments to be made (I haven't adjusted for age at first season, better health care, the DH) but near as I can tell, ZiPS is projecting Pujols to age about as well or better than any slugger in history except Aaron. That's not unreasonable but it does seem optimistic to me.
   14. Russ Posted: August 11, 2009 at 08:42 PM (#3289321)


I can certainly see arguments to be made (I haven't adjusted for age at first season, better health care, the DH) but near as I can tell, ZiPS is projecting Pujols to age about as well or better than any slugger in history except Aaron


If Dan is making mean projections (ie projections based on averages, rather than projections based on ire), then they'll be skewed by Pujol's outofthisworldliness. My guess is that a median prediction would yank that estimate back to something more what you're looking for. Part of the problem is that no one has been as historically good as Pujols, so like Dan says, this isn't about aging and more about the otherworldly high level of production that Pujols is starting from.
   15. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: August 11, 2009 at 08:54 PM (#3289334)
I'd imagine that for games played, mean projection will always be lower than median. There's a very reachable upper limit of 162, but the lower limit of 0 is much worse, so the distribution will have a long lower tail and a short upper tail. If a player's average is 144, that's most likely composed of something like 90 sims of 154 or so games counterbalanced by 10 sims of 100 or lower, all the way down to 0.
   16. Dan Szymborski Posted: August 11, 2009 at 08:59 PM (#3289344)
As Russ notes, we're dealing with production that is exceedingly rare in Pujols. You can count the post-WWII players with an established level of performance in the 170s of OPS+ and have fingers left over. If Pujols can physically limp onto the field, he'll hit, like Frank Thomas and Barry Bonds.

Pujols already has an unusual career in and of itself, so that he can accomplish other unusual things shouldn't be a surprise. A jumbo jet at 30,000 feet can handle turbulence a lot better than a puddle-jumper.
   17. shock Posted: August 11, 2009 at 09:03 PM (#3289349)
I would hope that if Albert hits .279.387/.467 at 41 and is at 729 car homers that he comes back another year : )
   18. Srul Itza Posted: August 11, 2009 at 10:15 PM (#3289433)
I've added an updated Ortiz career projection. Obviously, his career has taken a different trajectory since the projection taken before the 2008 season.


I think it is still a bit optimistic.
   19. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 12, 2009 at 12:15 AM (#3289585)
So has Ortiz met the cliff? Is he done?
   20. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 12, 2009 at 12:27 AM (#3289625)
I would hope that if Albert hits .279/.387/.467 at 41 and is at 729 car homers that he comes back another year : )


Nah, he'll probably retire. After all, Barry hit .276/.480/.565 at age 42 and was at 762 car homers, and he showed no interest in coming back.
   21. Srul Itza Posted: August 12, 2009 at 02:34 AM (#3289799)
I don't know if Ortiz is done, but he sure has had a weird year --

April/March - 100 PA - .230/.290/.333/.623 - Bad
May - 108 PA - .143/.278/.242/.520 - Execrable
June - 88 PA - .320/.409/.653/1.062 - Excellent
July - 98 PA - .247/.306/.539/.845 - Good, but see below
August 36 PA .094/.194/.125/.319 - Small Sample Size, but see below

While July looks okay, in that an .845 OPS, even if it is SLG heavy, is quite useful, the better days appear to have been in the early part of the month, because the last 28 days, which includes the 36 PA in August, looks like this:

.210/.270/.370/.640

So was June a mirage? A fluke? A last hurrah? His last cycle?

If the real David Ortiz is the one we have seen outside of June, the projections obviously don't hold. If he can rip off a month or two like that every year, though, some teams may still want him, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, even if it is only fireflies.
   22. sunnyday2 Posted: August 12, 2009 at 03:00 AM (#3289835)
When I was a kid the greatest living hitter was Teddy Ballgame. When he died, I guess it became Barry Bonds. When his accomplishments came to be discounted it became who? Well, Aaron and Musial are probably the other choices. I'd have to take Aaron between those two. Except that for me I guess it's still Bonds.
   23. musial6 Posted: August 14, 2009 at 01:18 AM (#3292117)
#5

in 2015, if Albert hits .300/30/100 for the 15th consecutive season he'll have a solid case as the greatest living hitter

Bonds may not even live to see the day (he'd be 51).
   24. RJ in TO Posted: August 14, 2009 at 01:28 AM (#3292121)
Bonds may not even live to see the day (he'd be 51).


Why not? Do you think Joey is going to finally get past Bonds' security team?
   25. Poster Nutbag Posted: August 14, 2009 at 05:34 PM (#3292474)
Bonds may not even live to see the day (he'd be 51).


At the end of the day, you think anybody really (cares) whether Barry Bonds' kidney's fail and he dies at 50?
   26. RJ in TO Posted: August 14, 2009 at 05:41 PM (#3292480)
At the end of the day, you think anybody really (cares) whether Barry Bonds' kidney's fail and he dies at 50?


Well, Bonds almost certainly cares, and there are still a bunch of people in San Fran (as well as more scattered supporters around the rest of the US) who remember him fondly and would like him to stick around.
   27. Poster Nutbag Posted: August 14, 2009 at 06:45 PM (#3292576)
#26 - You must've missed the Arroyo quote on Ramirez.....
   28. alilisd Posted: August 15, 2009 at 07:36 AM (#3293252)
Aaron, Musial, but not the Say Hey Kid?
   29. AuntBea Posted: August 15, 2009 at 10:04 AM (#3293258)
At the end of the day, you think anybody really (cares) whether Barry Bonds' kidney's fail and he dies at 50?


I cannot speak for "anybody", but I can say that, as a long time San Franciscan and a hearty Bonds fan, i would happily trade 50 more homers for 10 years of post-retirement life. It is my opinion, as a fan of Major League Baseball, that athletes do not, in general, do as much as they can to be the best they can be for me, the fan. How many fans would gladly die at 30 years of age, to only enjoy the life of a major league star for 5 years? OK, not everyone, but enough to fill the majors with better, faster, stronger athletes due to the miracle of modern pharmacology. The fame, the money, the women! Kill me at 30. I'm ready.
   30. Shalimar Posted: August 16, 2009 at 12:42 PM (#3293935)
Kill me at 30. I'm ready.


I'm already 40 and there are thousands of good books I haven't read, not to mention the thousands that will be published in the next 30-40 years. I know that isn't much to most people, but it means more to me than trading places with Andy Stankiewicz would. Pass.
   31. Iwakuma Chameleon (jonathan) Posted: August 17, 2009 at 12:49 AM (#3294414)
Nah, he'll probably retire. After all, Barry hit .276/.480/.565 at age 42 and was at 762 car homers, and he showed no interest in coming back.



This is one of the strangest things I've ever read on this site. He showed every interest in coming back, but no team would sign him.
   32. RJ in TO Posted: August 17, 2009 at 01:08 AM (#3294426)
Ray posted that comment. Given that he (as far as I can remember) was a believer in some form of collusion among teams to force Bonds out of MLB, you can probably take that comment of his to be a somewhat sarcastic one.
   33. AndrewJ Posted: August 25, 2009 at 11:24 AM (#3304289)
If Pujols' career goes exactly according to ZiPs, at what point is he acknowledged as the greatest living hitter?

And at what point would he surpass Gehrig as the greatest first baseman?
   34. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 25, 2009 at 12:37 PM (#3304313)
Ryan, I'm appointing you my official spokesperson.
   35. Mike Green Posted: August 28, 2009 at 05:59 PM (#3307813)
Pujols' career post-season slash line is quite close to his regular season slash line. Just like Wally Schang.

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