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Friday, November 22, 2019

You won’t believe this pitcher’s stat projection

Good luck paying for this projection.

Amazingly, these projections show Cole’s level of effectiveness barely budging over the next few seasons and remaining high throughout that period.

Cole’s projected ERA by year
2020: 2.57
2021: 2.56
2022: 2.59
2023: 2.66
2024: 2.75
2025: 2.82
2026: 2.92

Jim Furtado Posted: November 22, 2019 at 11:53 AM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: gerrit cole, projections

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   1. Darren Posted: November 22, 2019 at 01:13 PM (#5903191)
The next step was for MLB.com senior data architect Tom Tango to take the projections for Cole’s rate stats, combine them with his projections for innings pitched, and produce WAR values.


Did I miss something? Tom Tango is MLB's senior data architect? Congrats.


   2. SoSH U at work Posted: November 22, 2019 at 01:26 PM (#5903193)
Wow, it seems we've finally discovered Tango's true identity. He's Scott Boras.
   3. Zach Posted: November 22, 2019 at 01:37 PM (#5903197)
You [st]won't[/st] don't believe this pitcher's stat projection.

Fixed.

The Crazed Fanboy Projection System had a nice run, but I think it's time to recognize the new sheriff in town.
   4. Zach Posted: November 22, 2019 at 01:42 PM (#5903204)
It's funny that they asked Tango to translate the ERA into WAR but didn't ask him what Marcel the Monkey would say.
   5. Rally Posted: November 22, 2019 at 01:47 PM (#5903208)
Wow, it seems we've finally discovered Tango's true identity. He's Scott Boras.


Nah, the Boras projection has similar ERAs but has Cole increasing his innings workload. If you click on the link (and I won't blame you if you don't, there be many auto-playing videos there), you'll see that the decline part of the pitcher projection mostly results from a reduction in innings.

I look at it this way. What are the odds of Gerrit Cole pitching 200 innings next year? Maybe 75%? Injuries could always happen but last we saw him he was healthy. And last time we saw him he was great at getting hitters out, so we can expect he'll be able to pitch deep into games once 2020 starts.

Now what are the odds Cole pitches 200 innings in 2026? It would have to be a lot lower. Even if he remains GERRIT COLE through 2020-25, the chance would be the same that he gets hurt in 2026. So if we have 75% for next year, that's the upper bound. But we also have the chance he gets hurt in the time before that year, or loses a bit of his stuff and can't pitch as deep into games. So the chance of a big inning total 7 years in the future must be lower.
   6. Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: November 22, 2019 at 03:18 PM (#5903243)
2024 will amaze you!
   7. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: November 22, 2019 at 03:32 PM (#5903253)
I'll take the over.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 22, 2019 at 03:43 PM (#5903258)
I'll take the over.

It is far more likely that he doesn't have a single year with an ERA below 3.00, than he has a sub-3.00 ERA for 7 years straight.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: November 22, 2019 at 03:44 PM (#5903259)
He's moving to the bullpen?
   10. Walt Davis Posted: November 22, 2019 at 04:18 PM (#5903281)
Assuming that he pitches as many innings in the first 3 seasons as the last 4, that projection would average out to about a 2.70 ERA over, let's WAG, 1100 innings (which allows for at least a few missed starts). At current park-adjusted ERA, that would be an ERA+ of 171. Possibly Tango is projecting to a more standard environment -- for example, a 4.40 ERA environment would produce an ERA+ around 163.

In the expansion era, the greatest performances for ages 29-35 are:

Maddux 165 1600 IP
Unit 160 1400
Clemens 153 1500
Pedro 151 1100
Scherzer 150 1300
Brown 148 1550
Gibson 142 1900(!!)
Cone 141 1400
Smoltz 141 1000 (incl closer years)
Greinke 141 1400
Carpenter 140 1100
Halladay 140 1600
Schilling 138 1600
Lee 138 1400

(1) Given Scherzer (1300 with one season to go), Greinke, Halladay, Lee as fairly recent itchers who reached 1400+ innings, my 1100 WAG is probably too low, so I'll bump it to 1200.

By ERA, Maddux takes the crown here at 2.63. (Technically Gibson but such a different era it's silly to comp him to Cole.) But there are several FIPs around 2.80 to 2.90 (including Maddux's). So that's seems at least feasible for Cole.

The tougher bit is how to handle innings. For example Maddux was at 1150 innings after just 5 seasons. Over that period his ERA+ was 173 with a 2.73 FIP. Or from 30-34, Brown (had a bad age 29 season) put up 1150 IP of 157 ERA+ with a 2.90 FIP.

Still Scherzer, Greinke and Verlander (128 ERA+, 1450 IP) are the guys who've pitched in the most similar environments in terms of scoring, Ks, HRs, starter usage, etc. Cole obviously has the potential to match these guys or even squeak past them but that can't be his mean/median projection. And his supposed mean projection is even better than that. It's _expecting_ him to be Maddux 29-34 (40 WAR) meaning there's a very good chance he's 45 WAR and a reasonable chance of 50 WAR (later Randy Johnson) and maybe a 5-10% chance he's even better than that.

Clearly it's silly to project a pitcher to be the best pitchers, ages 29-35, of the last 60 years and maybe that 5-10% chance of challenging Pedro's run as the best of the expansion era at any ages. Those things are possible for him but any sensible projection will put them as longer shots than this.

Or in other words, over the last two years, Cole has barely averaged 6 bWAR. Those are pretty easily the best years of his career. This projection has him performing at that level for the next 7 years. (Depending on the IP projection.)
   11. bbmck Posted: November 22, 2019 at 04:32 PM (#5903285)
Most recent runs of 7+ years qualified for ERA title and 3 or lower ERA, Max Scherzer has an active 5 season streak, the only pitcher with an active streak longer than two:

2009-15 Clayton Kershaw
1992-98 Greg Maddux
1971-77 Bert Blyleven (ERA 3.0036 in 1975)
1967-73 Tom Seaver
1963-69 Juan Marichal

1914-20 Hippo Vaughn
1908-19 Walter Johnson (includes 1910-16 streak of 2 or lower ERA, has 10 such seasons, next most is 6)
1911-19 Slim Sallee
1912-19 Claude Hendrix (includes two FL seasons)
   12. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 22, 2019 at 05:38 PM (#5903302)
Given Scherzer (1300 with one season to go), Greinke, Halladay, Lee as fairly recent itchers who reached 1400+ innings...


Itchers of the belly variety, specifically?
   13. Itchy Row Posted: November 22, 2019 at 06:05 PM (#5903312)
Tango's IP projections for Cole fall each year, down to 106 IP in 2026. Kershaw has had 10 sub-3.00 ERA, 100+ IP seasons this century, and he's the only one with more than Cole's projected seven seasons like that. Scherzer, Johan Santana and Roy Halladay have/had six.

   14. Al "Battery" Kaline Posted: November 22, 2019 at 07:18 PM (#5903326)
Is "You won't believe this..." the original title of the article? If so, I won't be clicking on it, so as not to encourage/support clickbait.
   15. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: November 22, 2019 at 07:47 PM (#5903335)
2026: 2.92

Amazing, when you consider a combination of global warming, killer bees and President Ivanka will cause the league ERA to jump to 15.00!
   16. Walt Davis Posted: November 23, 2019 at 05:18 PM (#5903479)
#13: Yeah, in fairness, they do project him to even fewer innings than my initial 1100 guess. That brings the total WAR projection down to 33, granted at a phenomenally high and consistent rate of production. Pedro 27-31 (not his super-peak) had 41 WAR in 933 innings so they haven't gone that crazy. Cliff Lee 30-34 had 1100 innings and 30 WAR. That sort of inning total over these ages is a match for Chris Carpenter, who missed two full seasons (21 IP) and put up 24 WAR. It's the sort of IP pace Kershaw has been on (660 IP of 164 ERA+ in the last 4 seasons) and that would prorate to 26-27 WAR through Cole's projected IP.

At those IP, it's hard to see him beating Kershaw's rate of production -- 164 ERA+ and not a lot of UER -- especially as a projection. Man, Kershaw -- 2009-18, ERA<3, min 149 IP. Streak broke this year with a 3.03 ERA :-)

It is one of those projections that we all know is not likely to reflect the reality. Certainly if he's still this good, they'll trot him out there for 200 innings unless he's hurt. If he is hurt this often, it's likely to have a bigger effect on his quality and rate of production (see Kershaw who is unlikely to maintain that 164 ERA+ over his next 330 innings). And a pattern closer to Carpenter (200 IP or missed season) is probably more likely than steadily declining IP. Nothing wrong with that in a projection, it's just how the models work. But it does suggest that an outcome like Greinke et al (1400ish innings over the next 7 years) is more likely than something that matches this pattern and maybe as or more likely than 1000ish IP -- i.e. the "bet" might well be closer to 1/3 career-derailing injuries, 1/3 1000 IP, 1/3 1400 IP rather than a smooth distribution of outcomes.

Itchers of the belly variety, specifically?

I suspect we don't want to know all the places that Greinke scratches.
   17. PreservedFish Posted: November 23, 2019 at 05:54 PM (#5903483)
Is "You won't believe this..." the original title of the article? If so, I won't be clicking on it, so as not to encourage/support clickbait.


It's MLB.com. At some point in the last 2-3 years they went 100% clickbait with their titles. The front page is absolutely infuriating, there are over a dozen links that use this structure. "Castellanos would make sense as a target for this NL club..." "Donaldson is reportedly on this team's radar..." These are refreshed almost daily, all offseason long.

Imagine writing like 75 breathless clickbait headlines on the Marwin Gonzalez sweepstakes. How could you live with yourself? Or should I say, "This free agent's tepid offseason may lead MLB.com blogger to insanity..."
   18. Bhaakon Posted: November 24, 2019 at 01:18 PM (#5903559)
Don't disrespect the title. It was right.
   19. Bote Man Posted: November 25, 2019 at 12:28 AM (#5903646)
It's like Yellow Journalism never died. Huh.

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