USA TODAY Sports
By David Manel
Dear Bucs Dugout Community,
I'm writing this open letter to acknowledge that we are all currently united by one shared experience: our friends, family, spouses and significant others are beginning to ask us what they should expect from the Pirates this year.
Whatever our loved ones think about our unnatural interest in this game and this team, it is highly likely that each of us is considered something of a baseball expert by them. And, if you are like me, and I imagine you are, it is also the case that this is only topic that others take your opinion seriously. As such, in the coming days we all bear the uncomfortable burden of directly shaping the expectations of those for whom we care.
To make matters more pressing, don't think for a minute that our opinions on this weighty matter will remain confined to the minds of those in what surely must be the tiny social circles that we each inhabit. No, our predictions will be parroted by our fathers at the golf course. Your kids will tell other kids, who will pass it on to their parents. Your spouse will post it on Facebook; and your girlfriend will giggle as she passes along your wisdom at happy hour to a guy "who-is-just-a-friend".
So what should we say?
As a gesture of fraternity and camaraderie, I'm going to share what I've been going with. I'm not necessarily happy with it, but I think it accurately reflects where I'm at. I say, "I think they are a better team than last year, however, I'm not sure they will necessarily win many more games." If I have more time to explain myself, I add, "I think last year's team played a little above their true talent level. I think this year's team has more talent, but that doesn't mean they'll win a lot more games."
I'm curious, what have you been saying?
As another gesture of fraternity and camaraderie, I am posting a calculator that you may find helpful in coming up with your own projections for the Pirates season. It computes Pirates wins based on both ZiPS and Steamer projection systems. (Link to Fangraphs.com projection page.) All you have to do is enter the number of innings pitched and plate appearances you project for each player. As you enter the data, a running total of projected team wins is calculated using both systems.
The calculator works as follows:
- For each player, I calculated the WAR contribution per PA or IP based on both Steamer and ZiPS projections.
- When you enter a projected number of IPs or Pas, the calculator simply multiples the number of plate appearances/innings pitched entered by the WAR per plate appearance/inning pitched from #1.
Example: Andrew McCutchen's ZiPS projection is 5.3 WAR in 673 Plate appearances. That equals .00787 WAR per PA. If you project McCutchen to only receive 100 plate appearances in 2013, the calculator will credit him with contributing .78 WAR (100 * .00787).
PS. If you find the calculator too cumbersome to work with on the site, you can download it by clicking on the green Excel icon found at the bottom embedded table
Here is a my initial calculation. I primarily relied on the latest update of PECOTA projections for PA and IP. Plate appearances are a bit low, but you can factor in about 400 plate appearances for pitchers, which likely will account for -.5 to -.8 WAR.