Projecting The 2013 Pirates: wRC, Runs Allowed and Pythagorean Wins Calculators

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Three calculators are provided that project runs scored, runs allowed and total wins for the 2013 Pirates. Team totals can be calculated using actual 2012 statistics, ZiPS or Bill James’ projections. Alternatively users can enter their own PA/IP and wOBA/ERA projections. Finally, players can be added or subtracted to the Pirates' roster, thus providing projections that reflect possible trades or free agent signings.

Below are three calculators that allow you project runs scored, runs allowed and wins for the 2013 Pirates. Every cell in each calculator can be edited so that you can simulate multiple scenarios. For example, if you wish to add Francisco Liriano to the pitching staff, all you have to do is add his name, a projection of innings pitched and his ERA. I've provided the actual 2012 statistics, ZiPS and Bill James projections for players currently on the roster and expected to receive significant playing time for the Pirates next season. If you want to add players and base your projections on ZiPS, all you have to do is visit fangraphs.com and type in the relevant statistics.

Offensive Projections: What are wOBA and wRC?

The three columns next to plate appearances are the wOBA (weighted On Base Average) averages for each player. In order the wOBAs are: actual 2012 wOBA / ZiPS projected wOBA / Bill James projected wOBA.

If you are unfamiliar with wOBA, here's an explanation from FanGraphs: "It was created by Tom Tango (and notably used in "The Book") to measure a hitter's overall offensive value, based on the relative values of each distinct offensive event... Weighted On-Base Average combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value."

wOBA is scaled to OBP, so what looks like a good OBP is a good wOBA.

Simply put, wOBA is like OPS but better. REMEMBER, if you want to change the wOBA projections for a player you can.

The three columns next to wOBA (yellow) are wRC (weighted Runs Created). wRC is total runs created and it is based off of wOBA. As you change the plate appearances or wOBA for each player, you will change the number of runs he creates.

At the bottom of the offensive table, total wRC is calculated. It represents a projection of the total runs that the 2013 Pirates will score based on plate appearances and wOBA.

The "Replacement" row is a catchall for players that are not listed. If there is a player you want to add, say Justin Upton, just type his name in and add a wOBA projection.

Offensive Benchmarks:

In 2012 the Pirates scored 651 runs. Their wRC was 627. When a team outperforms its wRC expectation, it is common say their offense was efficient (Pirates 2012 had 103% efficiency). Whether that is a correct explanation or reflects some issue with how wRC is calculated is an open question. There was some discussion of this issue here.

The National League average number of runs scored in 2012 was 683.

You should aim for between 6000 and 6100 total plate appearances.

Pitching Projections:

ERA is simply Earned Run Average.

IP is innings pitched. Important: if you want to calculate your projections down to the third of inning, please put .333 in for .1; .667 for .2.

Also important: total team runs is calculated by baking in unearned runs. 8.1% of the runs the Pirates allowed in 2012 were unearned. I kept that rate. Individual pitchers' runs allowed do not include unearned runs.

Bill James does not have projections for all of the Pirates' pitchers.

Pitching Benchmarks:

In 2012 the Pirates allowed 674 runs.

The National League average number of runs allowed in 2012 was 690

You should aim for between 1400 and 1450 innings pitched.

Pythagorean Record Calculator:

After wRC and runs allowed are calculated, you can type those numbers into the Pythagorean Record Calculator and get a Pythagorean Wins Expectation. Here is the an explanation of Pythagorean Win Percentage from Baseball Reference: "Pythagorean winning percentage is an estimate of a team's winning percentage given their runs scored and runs allowed. Developed by Bill James, it can tell you when teams were a bit lucky or unlucky. It is calculated by (RA^1.83)/(RA^1.83)+(RS^1.83). The traditional formula uses an exponent of two, but this has proven to be a little more accurate."

Projection

Using ZiPS projections and my estimates of PAs/IP, the Pirates are a 73ish win team.

EDIT 1/21/13 - I added Francisco Liriano to the pitchers' projections. I gave him a ZiPS ERA of 4.20. I'll adjust that when his actual ZiPS are published. Also, I adjusted many of the IPs for the pitchers to what I think are more realistic expectations. The edits I made, unfortunately, leave the Pirates with two fewer wins, 71.

It is interesting to note that based on the number of plate appearances per player that I am projecting, ZiPS has the Pirates offense scoring 614 runs. Using the same number of PAs with James' projections, the offense scores 689 runs and is much closer to a .500 Pythagorean record. Finally, if every player repeated his wOBA average from last year, the Pirates wRC is 647.

Remember you can add and subtract plate appearances and innings pitched if you don't like my projections for each category. All of the cells are editable.

Lastly:

All the statistics I used come from FanGraphs.

I used Tim Williams excellent projection of Pirates wins using ZiPS as a guide for innings pitched. Piratesprospects.com

Consider following me on Twitter @davidmanel and Bucsdugout.com at @Bucsdugout

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