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Projecting The 2014 Pirates: wRC, Runs Allowed and Pythagorean Wins Calculators

Three calculators are provided that project runs scored, runs allowed and total wins for the 2014 Pirates. Team totals are calculated using Oliver, Steamer and ZiPS projection systems. Users can enter their own plate appearances, innings pitched 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.

Justin K. Aller

Below are three calculators that allow you project runs scored, runs allowed and wins for the 2014 Pirates. Every cell can be edited so that you can simulate multiple scenarios. For example, if you wish to add A.J. Burnett to the pitching staff, all you have to do is add a projection of innings pitched. The calculators include the SteamerOliver and ZiPS projections for players currently on the 2014 roster and those expected to receive significant playing time for the Pirates next season.

Offensive Projections: What are wOBA and wRC?

(Some of what follows is copied from a similar calculator I posted last year.)

The first column next to each player's name is plate appearances. I've entered plate appearances based on projections provided by Fangraphs and my own intuition. Remember, you can edit the plate appearances for each player to your liking. If you edit plate appearances, make sure the total plate appearances for the team is between 6000 and 6200.

The three columns next to plate appearances are the projected wOBA (weighted On Base Average) averages for each player. If you are unfamiliar with wOBA, you can think of it as OPS, but better. wOBA is scaled to OBP, so what looks like a good OBP is a good wOBA.

Here is Fangraphs definition of wOBA: "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."

Remember, if you want to change the wOBA projections for a player you can.

The three columns to the right of wOBA are wRC (weighted Runs Created). wRC is a measure of 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.

Total wRC is calculated at the bottom of the offensive table. It represents a projection of the total runs that the 2014 Pirates will score based on plate appearances and wOBA.

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

Offensive Benchmarks:

In 2013 the Pirates scored 634 runs. Their wRC was 651. When a team outperforms its wRC expectation, it is common say their offense was efficient (i.e. the 2013 Pirates had and offensive efficiency of 103 percent). There was a good discussion about what the difference between wRC and actual runs means here.

The average number of runs scored by National League teams in 2013 was 649.

Pitching Projections:

ERA is simply Earned Run Average.

IP is innings pitched.

Important: team runs allowed is calculated by baking in unearned runs into the total. 7.8 percent of the runs allowed by the 2013 Pirates were unearned. I kept that rate. Individual pitchers' runs allowed do not include unearned runs.

Pitching Benchmarks:

In 2013 the Pirates allowed 577 runs.

The National League average number of runs allowed in 2012 was 655.

If you edit innings pitched, you should aim for between 1440 and 1500 total IP.

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."


Using my estimates of plate appearances and innings pitched, here are the projected number of runs scored, allowed and team wins:


The Calculators:


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Much thanks to the Oliver, Steamer and ZiPS for making their projections publicly available. Also, thanks to the indispensable for publishing the projections and allowing the baseball research community to use them for free.