For the most part, pitching staffs in the AL East have remained stagnant amongst the division’s clubs. While the Rays did trade away James Shields and Wade Davis and the Blue Jays replaced everyone bad with everyone great, the remaining teams added relatively fewer pieces in comparison to offensive sides of the division’s rosters. Will this edge allow the Blue Jays to rise from their annual 4th place finish and win the AL East? Let’s see what the fans have to say about that.
Over at FanGraphs they have asked their fans to make projections for players and their 2013 seasons. This includes the AL East’s Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Some things they ask fans to project include games played, K and BB%, HR/150 and other offensive and defensive stats, as well as similar pitching stats for pitchers. Once 8 fans have made their projections, they will appear on the player’s Fangraph page to show their prediction, right underneath the great Saber Magician Bill James’ projection. While it’s likely that the fans will make favourable projections rather than objective predictions, it’s nice to see how the fans think the Blue Jays will fare in the AL East.
Today we will be finishing off by looking at the starting rotations as well as closers and setup men of the AL East, leading up to Blue Jays Pitchers and Catchers reporting to Spring Training on February 12. Waiting and guessing time is almost over. Baseball season approaches!
a) Each team’s starting positions are based on position on MLB.com depth charts, as well as estimations by mlbdepthcharts.com.
b) “# Fans” declares the amount of fan projections made for that player.
c) Pitching data was exported on February 8th, 2013.
Toronto Blue Jays Pitching
-Both R.A. Dickey and Price are the only starters projected by fans to win 17 games by their AL East fans. They are also last year’s Cy Young award winners.
-Oddly enough, despite injuries to almost every Blue Jays starter last year, the team is projected to lead the AL East in innings pitched with 1111.
-Although W-L records for pitchers individually don’t tell a full story, the Blue Jays are projected to have the most amount of wins and have the best winning percentage at .604
-Weirdly enough, Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero are projected to make a spot appearance out of the bullpen. Emergency usage or rehab appearance? Your guess is as good as mine.
-The Blue Jays fans project that Casey Janssen will close out more games than Sergio Santos, roughly by a 2:1 margin.
-As with both the infield and the outfield+DH projections, the Blue Jays lead the AL East in fan projections.
Baltimore Orioles Pitching
-Just as Baltimore tinkered with their starting rotation last year, this team’s starting 5 are projected to have both the least amount of games started and innings pitched in the AL East.
-Despite favourable projections by fans, the Orioles are the only team in the division with some of its starters not projected to win at least 10 games.
-Fans may think that the Orioles Magic may have ran its course (or remains with the rest of the Baltimore bullpen), as this team is projected to provide the lowest WAR among AL East teams.
-Jim Johnson, despite being one of the more solid closers last year in the AL East, is projected to have by far the lowest K/9 out of the bunch with 5.74, with 2nd worst in Rivera with 8.18 K/9.
Tampa Bay Rays Pitching
-David Price is the only projected AL East starter to have a projected ERA of less than 3, although just barely at 2.99.
-Fernando Rodney is probably projected to have the worst ERA regression in the entire league, mainly because 0.60 is really difficult to maintain.
-The Rays fans believe their pitching unit will be the best out of all AL East teams, as they are projected to lead the division in ERA, WHIP, K/9, HR/9 and WAR.
-Jake McGee, under team control until 2018, has some impressive stuff that may serve the Rays well in the long run. He was 9th among qualified relievers in K%, 16th in BB/9 and 7th in WAR last year and with Rodney set to start the season at 36 he may not be the team’s closer after this season.
Boston Red Sox Pitching
-Oddly enough, despite the Red Sox being one of the biggest markets in MLB, they have the fewest amount of AL East fan projections.
-John Lackey returning from injury is probably too much of a blight for Sox fans, seeing as he did not meet the projection threshold of 8 projections. Once again, his data is an estimation using 2010 and 2011 data (his 2 most previous seasons) and using Bill James, Oliver and Steamer projections. As such, he’s the only pitcher projected to lose more games than win, a projection more than likely to be proven wrong by season’s end among AL East pitchers.
-The team’s ERA projects to be about league average, probably the most modest of fan projections throughout the AL East.
-The combination of Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey is projected to be the worst among AL East relievers in ERA, FIP, WAR, HR/9 and BB/9. The fans seem more skeptical of that combination than Red Sox ownership, who traded quite a deal to bring them over to the division.
New York Yankees Pitching
-Mariano Rivera, at age 43 and coming off of an injury that saw him sit for most of last season, is projected to be business as usual, with only occasional closing opportunities available to David Robertson.
-The Yankees pitching unit is projected to have the lowest BB/9 out of all AL East teams, with only Robertson projected to have a BB/9 not lower than 3.
-Phil Hughes will be looking to maintain his pitching velocity, which has been modestly declining since 2009. If it gets much worse, his stuff alone might not be able to stave off the opposing AL East offense.
-Andy Pettitte is projected by fans to make 24 starts for the team. Hopefully for Yankees fans he’ll be able to make it that long, but after coming back from retirement and sustaining an injury last year, it may not be in the cards.
Total Projected Pitching WAR
1. Tampa Bay Rays: 18.8 WAR
T-2. Toronto Blue Jays: 17.3 WAR
T-2. New York Yankees: 17.3 WAR
4. Boston Red Sox: 11.8 WAR
5. Baltimore Orioles: 11.3 WAR
Total Projected WAR (Non-Pitching + Pitching WAR Totals)
Tampa Bay Rays: 46.3 WAR (27.5 + 18.8 WAR)
Toronto Blue Jays: 45.3 WAR (28 + 17.3 WAR)
New York Yankees: 44.9 WAR (27.6 + 17.3 WAR)
Boston Red Sox: 42.7 WAR (30.9 + 11.8 WAR)
Baltimore Orioles: 35.3 WAR (23.9 + 11.4 WAR)
What Can We Gather From This Exercise?
-These WAR projections are based on 16 of each team’s 25 man roster. There definitely is wiggle room between each team’s remaining 9 players that could possibly change the total WAR standings.
-The Blue Jays fans provided the most fan projections out of any AL East team. That alone should tell you how excited our fanbase is for the new season and new-look team.
-Fan projections are exactly that; projections made by fans. It will be interesting to revisit after the season is over to see how each team did in comparison to their fan projections. No way will each team have near-impeccable health, nor will all of their 16 best players remain the same 16 players by season’s end.