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Saturday, February 09, 2008

USS Mariner: DMZ: Running the 2008 season a hundred times

The results of my last couple sim seasons has been bothering me, since it diverged so far general opinion and from what I thought it would be. I decided to look at this in a lot more depth. I used the ZiPS projections for 2008 and SG’s quite useful RunDMB program, cranked up the USSM Labs Comp-u-matik 2000, and went at it.

Then I put together a likely M’s lineup, cheated a little by turning Betancourt’s defensive rating up, and ran a hundred seasons.

...The division favorite was not the Angels but the torn-down Athletics, 47% to 42%, and Texas won the division almost as often as the M’s. The A’s-Angels thing is as much a shock as anything. General analyst-on-TV-or-radio seems to be that it’s all about the M’s-Angels, but Oakland fields the best pitching/defense combination in the AL and their offense is decent too. Back to the M’s, though.

If you must, but the A’s. The A’s?

Repoz Posted: February 09, 2008 at 11:33 PM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mariners

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   1. Dan Szymborski Posted: February 09, 2008 at 11:41 PM (#2687361)
...The division favorite was not the Angels but the torn-down Athletics, 47% to 42%, and Texas won the division almost as often as the M’s. The A’s-Angels thing is as much a shock as anything. General analyst-on-TV-or-radio seems to be that it’s all about the M’s-Angels, but Oakland fields the best pitching/defense combination in the AL and their offense is decent too. Back to the M’s, though.

Beats the #### outta me - they sure as hell don't look it!
   2. jyjjy Posted: February 09, 2008 at 11:59 PM (#2687369)
If you are going to spend a day running all of that why not post the complete results?
   3. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: February 10, 2008 at 12:39 AM (#2687383)
How well does DMB handle things like missed time? I had the A's in a dead heat with the Angels for the division last year, and then the entire team went on the DL and they finished way out. That could be the issue, though I don't really know.

The Mariners finishing well under .500 would be no surprise to me. There are a lot of apopheniac delusions that might allow a fan to convince himself otherwise, but given the quality of the talent on the field, I don't see it. This is a team with two very good starting pitchers, a good CF, and a hell of a lot of ?.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 10, 2008 at 01:04 AM (#2687402)
I could see the A's winning 80-85 games. I'm guessing DMB doesn't have Chavez/Crosby/Harden as injury prone as they really are.

I think Seattle will be bad. Their defense is going to make the 2003-2005 Yankees look good, and they have a desperate lack of impact hitters after Ichiro.
   5. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: February 10, 2008 at 01:12 AM (#2687412)
How well does DMB handle things like missed time?

Badly. Injuries costing players more than a handful of games are rare, and a player missing more than a couple-three weeks is basically unheard of.

If you're using DMB, you're assuming that everyone stays healthy, so teams like the A's look better than they probably really are.
   6. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: February 10, 2008 at 01:13 AM (#2687414)
Woohoo! DMB AL West pennant! Eat my shorts, DMB Angels!
   7. xbhaskarx Posted: February 10, 2008 at 01:33 AM (#2687422)
let's cancel the actual baseball season and just go with this.
   8. Ennder Posted: February 10, 2008 at 01:54 AM (#2687437)
Yeah I mostly gave up on DMB because the playtime modelling is so terrible. It is still a fun game to play occassionally but I don't put much stock into its season projections.
   9. The Ghost of Sox Fans Past Posted: February 10, 2008 at 02:18 AM (#2687444)
How well does DMB handle things like missed time?

Badly. Injuries costing players more than a handful of games are rare, and a player missing more than a couple-three weeks is basically unheard of.

If you're using DMB, you're assuming that everyone stays healthy, so teams like the A's look better than they probably really are.


The Mariners were lucky in that department in 2007, and most statheads say their 88 wins exceeded the mean expectation. So while many fans feel that the additions of Eric Bedard and Carlos Silva could push the M's to the pennant, sabermetricians have some bad news for them.
   10. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: February 10, 2008 at 02:19 AM (#2687445)
Huzzah! OK, that's probably one of the few times we'll get to say that this year.
   11. Jeff K. Posted: February 10, 2008 at 04:29 AM (#2687477)
Does this surprise? I think I remember Szym talking in IRC about SG's first 100 sims, and the shock of how good the A's projected. I focused more on those sims projecting the Yanks for 97 wins and the Sox for 91, but still.
   12. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: February 10, 2008 at 04:50 AM (#2687484)
This is a team with two very good starting pitchers, a good CF, and a hell of a lot of ?.

The Mariners are better than that. In addition to Bedard and Felix, they have three other starting pitchers who posted ERA+ over 100 in 180 innings or more. If those three can do that, they have a chance of having one of the best rotations in baseball. They have an excellent closer and a bullpen that pitcher pretty well last year.

They need some hitting but are above average in Center, Third base, and Catcher. They need more production out of Sexson but with some luck, the Mariners could win 90 games next season.
   13. Bourbon Samurai stays in the fight Posted: February 10, 2008 at 05:00 AM (#2687491)
Yes! I guess Keith Foulke was a better addition than I thought!
   14. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 10, 2008 at 05:17 AM (#2687497)
Of course a large amount of "pitching" is actually defense, but the pitchers still have to be decent. What do the A's have besides Blanton and Gaudin? And it's not like Gaudin is actually good, either.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: February 10, 2008 at 07:12 AM (#2687524)
DMB doesn't do injuries well, but if you tell it to limit playing time to what you project, it does limit playing time. He used ZiPS and Dan "projected" Chavez to 131 games, Crosby to 94, and Harden to 92 IP. The Chavez projection is fine, Crosby's is perfectly in line with his last 3 years (plus ZiPS projects him to not hit anyway), and Harden is wildly optimistic. And while you might think those optimistic, you also have to recognize that, like any projection system, ZiPS shoots for the middle ... i.e. there's not a single player on the A's projected to more than 137 games. Travis Buck is projected to just 92.

Now, could be the guy doing this forgot to turn on the DMB option to limit playing time and, indeed, all these guys played something close to 162.

If you've ever played a season game-by-game against DMB's auto-manager, you'll see it do all sorts of strange things like let relievers bat in the 9th inning with the tying run on base while, I dunno, Barry Bonds is available on the bench. This is because Bonds is ahead of his playing time.

Granted, I can't believe a DMB simulation run using ZiPS playing time projections (which you have to tweak some regarding bench players) puts the A's in first either. But the injury issue shouldn't be playing much of a part.
   16. Halofan Posted: February 10, 2008 at 08:35 AM (#2687538)
Like they say to the astrologer: Put your money where your mouth is mister prediction or shaddup.
   17. rfloh Posted: February 10, 2008 at 09:47 AM (#2687550)
Something DMZ added:

since this seems to be causing a lot of hostility, I’ll explain part of what’s going on here. The projection set doesn’t include known, current injuries — so when you look at a depth chart and you see that a bunch of their starters are likely to be guys like Saarloos or even Greg Smith because so many will be down for the start of the season, that’s the rub — these weren’t run with them starting off injured for x days and then coming back


Also, in the comments section, from DMZ:

Updated to talk about the issue with the A’s not starting out with adequate injury information.


Oh, sweet, I just figured out how to deliberately injure players.


Ah, shoot, it resets injuries every season. I’d have to manually beat up their team before the start of every year, and I don’t know how I’d automate that.


Yup, both Escobar and Harden start the year in their respective rotations, and will until someone offers a reasonable solution to limiting their playing time.
   18. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: February 10, 2008 at 12:06 PM (#2687555)
You know, that still projects the A's to be better than I'd have thought. If a full season of Harden, Chavez, etc. projects them to win 90-92, that would mean it projects them to win 80-82 or so even without that, rough, I think. I have a hard time seeing them winning more than 75, but then, that's partly because I expect the Rangers to bounce back some and the Mariners to be, while not actually really contending, at least respectable.
   19. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 10, 2008 at 09:41 PM (#2687727)
I ran about a dozen sims on DMB this weekend and the A's won the West all but twice. I was pretty surprised by that as well.
   20. Rally Posted: February 10, 2008 at 09:51 PM (#2687734)
I wonder where the big differences are between ZIPs and CHONE.

SG ran a bunch of sims using my projections:

Angels 90-72
Oakland 78-84
Rangers 76-86
Mariners 75-87

And I did it, not by using a simulation, but by estimating how many runs a team should score and allow based on their projected stats:

Angels 90-72
Mariner 78-84 (assuming Jones in RF and no Bedard)
Oakland 73-89
Rangers 71-91

Not worried. But it would be best to beat the living crap out of the A's the first time we see them, really run up the score, and whn they cry for mercy just say "this is payback for those ZIP simulation seasons"
   21. SG Posted: February 10, 2008 at 09:57 PM (#2687735)
Yeah, the A's and ZiPS is a real head scratcher. My CAIRO projections and DMB gave me these results:

LAA08 89-73
Sea08 78-84 (pre Bedard trade)
Tex08 75-87
Oak08 73-89

I used the same basic depth charts for ZiPS and got Oakland as the best team in the AL West too. I'm going to look at what the biggest differences are this week.
   22. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 10, 2008 at 10:17 PM (#2687744)
There are some gaps in projecting the hitters between Cairo and Zips...

ZiPS, Cairo, Name

369/462, 345/415, Dan Johnson
360/458, 346/435, Travis Buck
369/440, 342/375, Daric Barton
350/438, 347/413, Chris Denorfia

I have long been of the opinion that ZiPS overrates AAA stars and AAA repeaters, though I have never done anything about it and Dan says that the macro numbers don't suggest anything weird. Nonetheless, I claim partial, anecdotal vindication.
   23. Danny Posted: February 10, 2008 at 11:28 PM (#2687777)
Player       ZIPS   CHONE
Cust
,Jack    .864   .814
Johnson
,Dan  .831   .781
Buck
,Travis  .818   .787
Barton
,Daric .809   .765
Chavez
,Eric  .794   .781
Denorfia
,Chr .788   .760
Ellis
,Mark   .753   .763
Bowen
,Rob    .746   .678
Hannahan
,Ja  .737   .730
Murphy
,Don   .718   .701
Sweeney
,Ryan .700   .692
Brown
,Emil   .698   .731
Suzuki
,Kurt  .694   .689
Crosby
,Bobby .658   .690 


It looks like Chone has a lower projection for everyone except Crosby, Ellis, and Brown. The Cust, Barton, Buck, Denorfia, and Johnson differences are rather large (and Bowen).
   24. DSG Posted: February 10, 2008 at 11:39 PM (#2687786)
For what it's worth, the THT Season Preview projected 77 wins for the A's.
   25. Danny Posted: February 10, 2008 at 11:45 PM (#2687790)
The Rotation
Player   ZIPS  CHONE
Harden   2.74  3.83
Blanton  4.22  3.98
Eveland  4.50  4.45
Gaudin   4.55  4.31
DiNardo  4.62  4.88 
   26. Honkie Kong Posted: February 10, 2008 at 11:45 PM (#2687793)
In the sim runs with ZiPS, wouldn't it be more instructive to find which pitchers are getting the most starts? Are pitchers allowed to go over the "projected" number of innings in the ZiPS list?
   27. Danny Posted: February 11, 2008 at 12:01 AM (#2687804)
Zumsteg said this in the comments:

The ZiPS has it as Blanton/Harden/Gaudin/Dinardo/Eveland, and then the injury starts variously to Saarloos/Gonzalez/Meyer/Smith/Braden/whoever.

I should talk about the injury issue more up above, since that clearly affects this.
   28. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: February 11, 2008 at 12:08 AM (#2687811)
They need some hitting but are above average in Center, Third base, and Catcher. They need more production out of Sexson but with some luck, the Mariners could win 90 games next season.

I think it will take a hell of a lot more than "some" luck for the Mariners to win anything like 90 games in 2008. The situation with the pitchers -- three guys who posted 180 innings of 100 ERA+ -- is nice, but it also strikes me as very, very unlikely to repeat. That's Jarrod Washburn performing at essentially the high end of his abilities these days -- more innings than he'd thrown in years, and only the second time his ERA+ cracked 100 since before he was in Seattle. He's a low-strikeout, high-FB pitcher in front of a bad outfield defense. Basically, behind Hernandez, they've got a starting staff that is geared to heavily rely on defense that they only really consistently provide at 3B and CF. Yuniesky Betancourt certainly looks good -- in fact, I think he's probably better than his numbers -- but beyond perhaps those three guys, there's not not a lot of defense to lean on.

The bullpen could be good, and Putz is an excellent closer, but on a team with the kind of offensive and defensive holes the Mariners have -- and where the Mariners are above average, it's not by much -- that's sort of like putting a turbo engine in a SMART car. This is a team that starts Jose Vidro at DH. It's a team that was outscored last year. It's a team that's not particularly young. It's a team that's coming off a year in which basically no one got hurt. The Mariners, even plus Erik Bedard, are not a particularly good baseball team.

And I'd say that there are many, many question marks. Is Yuni Betancourt as good as he looks? Can Raul Ibanez continue to hit at age 36? Is Richie Sexon done? Is Brad Wilkerson done? When will they realize that Jose Vidro is done? Who is the real Jose Lopez, and does he field well enough to support his bat? Is this one of those years where Ichiro bats .300 and is merely very good instead of a star? Can the back end of their rotation perform well despite their lack of strikeouts? Is the bullpen really any good beyond Putz? Will Brandon Morrow ever find the plate? Is it wise to lean on a 32-year-old catcher? There are more, but I'll not belabor the point anymore.

There are scenarios under which the Mariners win 90 games this year, but I don't see them as particularly likely. This is very precisely a team with three good pitchers, a good CF, two more average-to-good players, and a lot of ?.
   29. SG Posted: February 11, 2008 at 12:10 AM (#2687812)
Here's how my various simulations with Oakland look right now, using the same depth charts with each system and 100 iterations.

cairo: 73-89, 739 RF , 813 RA , 0 Div , 1 WC
chone: 77-85, 806 RF , 845 RA , 9 Div , 0 WC
hbt: 77-85, 748 RF , 803 RA , 7 Div , 1 WC
zips: 88-74, 797 RF , 713 RA , 65 Div , 3 WC

That's a pretty big disagreement on offense and defense across four systems.
   30. philly Posted: February 11, 2008 at 12:41 AM (#2687832)
I don't know that's 3 systems with pretty good agreement in terms of wins and one outlier. The team RS and RA bounce around, but I'm not sure you can compare team totals across projection systems without know that each has a comparable league average. If those league average baselines vary it's hard to know how meaningfully different those team totals really are.

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