PECOTA On The Angels


I enjoy the advanced metrics. Quite a bit, actually. I’m also a big fan of the work over at Baseball Prospectus. So, I’ll excuse you if you don’t share my excitement for the day when they release their PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm) projections. You can read more about it, the adjustments they made for 2012 and download the spreadsheet here. High school MJ is ashamed of current MJ for being this excited about spreadsheets.

*WARP is wins above replacement player*

The Good

Albert Pujols: 37 HR, .305/.402/.556, 7.5 WARP
PECOTA is rather fond of the Angels big acquisition. It’s projecting him to be the most valuable player in baseball and tie for the most home runs with Prince Fielder. Could Pujols follow in Vlad Guerrero’s footsteps and win the MVP with the Angels after switching leagues? PECOTA likes his chances.

The Rotation:
Jered Weaver: 231 IP, 7.9 K/9, 3.11 ERA, 5 WARP
Dan Haren: 224 IP, 7.8 K/9, 3.05 ERA, 5 WARP
C.J. Wilson: 207.2 IP, 8.2 K/9, 3.11 ERA, 4.6 WARP
Ervin Santana: 194.1 IP, 7.5 K/9, 3.94 ERA, 2.1 WARP
The Angels boast two of the top seven pitchers by WARP and three of the top 12. The Phillies are the next closest with three in the top 20.

Chris Iannetta: 15 HR, .223/.339/.391, 2.4 WARP
Jerry Dipoto’s trade for Iannetta was overshadowed by the Pujols and Wilson signings but it shouldn’t be overlooked. The jettisoned Jeff Mathis put up a -0.8 WARP in 2011. A three win upgrade last season would have tied the Angels with Wild Card winners Tampa Bay. Hypothetical, sure, but Iannetta is a major upgrade over Mathis even if it leaves Hank Conger’s future with the team a question mark.

The Bad

Peter Bourjos: 12 HR, 26 SB, .257/.303/.399, 1.2 WARP
PECOTA is looking for some regression at the plate from Bourjos’ .271/.327/.438 line in 2011 and over a win from his 2.9 WARP. I wasn’t expecting another big step forward for Bourjos but I don’t think his .327 OBP was a fluke either. His BABiPs and OBPs in the minors were similar if not higher than in 2011 so there’s a chance he can keep that up at the plate.

Mike Trout: 183 PA, 3 HR, 9 SB, .260/.320/.383, 0.4 WARP
The disappointing news here is PECOTA is only penciling Trout in for 183 plate appearances. While Trout has nothing left to prove in the minors as a 20-year-old, he might be destined for Triple-A if the Angels don’t man-up and sit Vernon Wells. Trout would be better off playing everyday in the minors until Wells hits the disabled list for his OBP allergy.

Jordan Walden: 4.28 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, -0.1 WARP
PECOTA has most of Walden’s stats going in the wrong direction in 2012. It has his ERA, walk rate and home runs going up from 2011 and his strikeout rate and wins above replacement going down. He’s still going to throw 99 MPH though, right? I don’t see the K/9 falling drastically from 10.0 to 7.6 in 2012. I think Walden will be just fine.

The Ugly

Vernon Wells: 407 PA, 12 HR, .251/.299/.404, 0.8 WARP
While this would be a nice improvement from his 2011 AVG and OBP, his WARP would actually go down! The near $25 million the Angels will pay Wells in 2012 is over double what they’ll pay Pujols. You so crazy, baseball.

Mark Trumbo: 258 PA, 11 HR, 14 BB, .297 OBP
Coming off an injury and most likely losing his position to a free agent, playing time for Trumbo is an issue. He’ll see time at DH, possibly with Kendrys Morales, but I don’t see him playing more than a handful of brutal games at third base this season. Even with a decrease in plate appearances, I’d bet on him hitting more home runs than drawing walks just like in 2011. And I’ll take the second season of a sub .300 OBP while we’re at it.

Brandon Wood: 256 PA, 10 HR, 66 K, .238/.288/.411, 0.9 WARP
He may be a Rockie in real life but he’ll always be an Angel in my heart. I think I just wrote a country song. The Brandon Wood experiment came to an end for the Angels in 2011 and his time with the Pirates didn’t inspire much confidence. If Coors Field can’t help him, he’ll be playing Independent Ball with Jose Canseco wondering where it all went wrong. The good or sad new depending on how you want to look at it? If Wood is close to his 2012 PECOTA projections, it will be his best season by far.