Blue Jays 2015: Projected Versus Actual Value
How did the prognosticators fare in predicting the 2015 Blue Jays? Let’s take a look at how closely the Blue Jays matched up with their projections. We’ll use Fangraphs’ Depth Chart 2015 projections compared with Fangraphs’ end-of-2015 actual WAR. (2015 projections are from what Fangraphs had posted in early April).
As a team, the Blue Jays were projected to finish tied for second behind the Red Sox in the division with 82 wins. The Jays exceeded those expectations by 11 wins. However, if the deadline deals hadn’t been made, this prediction could easily have been spot on.
Russell Martin (3.5 actual WAR, 3.8 predicted), Dioner Navarro (0.5 actual WAR, 0.7 predicted) and Josh Thole (-0.3 actual WAR, 0 predicted) all performed close to, but slightly under, their projections.
The expectation was that Justin Smoak would enjoy a rejuvenation in the friendly confines of Rogers Centre and he did. Fangraphs projected an increase from -0.4 WAR in 2014 for Smoak to 0.6 WAR in 2015. Smoak’s actual WAR ended up at 0.7 in 2015. Chris Colabello was expected to get minimal playing time and only contribute 0.1 WAR. He pleasantly surprised by putting up a 0.8 actual WAR. He didn’t just play more, he played far better than anyone anticipated. His totals could have been even higher if not for being forced into a left field role for an extended period. Edwin Encarnacion was pegged at 3.7 WAR prior to the season. He easily surpassed that with a 4.5 WAR performance. Matt Hague, projected at 0 WAR, put up -0.1 in 15 PAs.
Maicer Izturis was projected to have 350 PAs and 0.2 WAR but ended up with none of either as he was again injured for the entire season. Steve Tolleson put up 0.1 WAR (0 predicted) before getting injured and then being banished. Ryan Goins (1.5 actual WAR, -0.1 predicted) and Devon Travis (2.3 actual WAR, 0.5 predicted) both blew the doors off what was expected of them. Travis’ achievement was even greater considering he did it in only 238 PAs.
The prediction for Jose Reyes was 2.7 WAR. He only put up 1 WAR before he was traded to the Rockies where he was a -0.4 WAR player. The piece going the other way in that deal also under-performed on the season. Troy Tulowitzki’s WAR was predicted to be 5.8 and he ended up with 2.3 WAR between both teams. Tulo put up 1.4 WAR with the Jays in just 183 PAs. Munenori Kawasaki (0.1 actual WAR, no prediction made), Jonathan Diaz (0.0 actual WAR, 0.0 predicted) and Darwin Barney (0.1 actual WAR, 0.2 actual WAR with Jays, 0.1 prediction) did roughly what was expected of them.
Josh Donaldson ended up with a MVP worthy 8.7 WAR—shattering a prediction of 5.5 WAR (projections do tend more towards the average). The jettisoned Danny Valencia, who was predicted to have 0.1 WAR this year, also soared to new heights; he finished with a 2.2 WAR between the Blue Jays and A’s.
Michael Saunders’ freak knee injury prevented him from coming anywhere close to his 2.5 WAR projection. The hobbling Saunders finished with -0.1 WAR in only 36 PAs. Kevin Pillar had a breakout season with a 4.3 WAR—miles better than the 0.7 WAR prediction. Dalton Pompey had a setback in his development with a 0.2 WAR. He was projected to be even with Pillar at 0.7. Ben Revere exceeded his projected 1.5 WAR and put together 1.8 WAR between the Phillies and Jays (just 0.3 WAR with the Jays however). Ezequiel Carrera received an unexpected amount of playing time and posted a 0.2 WAR (there was no projection for him). Jose Bautista’s projection was 5.3 WAR and Jose actually put up 4.5.
(For the sake of brevity, I’ll only detail the prominent starters and relievers)
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David Price’s projection was 4.6 WAR and between the Jays and Tigers, he ended up with a Cy Young level 6.4 WAR (2.7 WAR with the Jays). Mark Buehrle’s actual 2.1 WAR was just shy of his 2.3 WAR projection. R.A. Dickey’s second half push nudged him 0.1 north of his 2.0 WAR projection. Marco Estrada was predicted to reach 1.3 and finished the season with 1.8 WAR. Fangraphs’ WAR generously gave Drew Hutchison 1.5 WAR (due to his decent FIP) versus his preseason projection of 2.0 WAR. Marcus Stroman wasn’t projected after his knee injury since no one (except Marcus) thought he’d be back. He posted 0.5 WAR in 4 starts.
Bullpen heroes Liam Hendriks, Brett Cecil and Roberto Osuna put up 1.5, 1.4 and 1.3 WAR respectively and were projected at 0.0 WAR, 1.0 WAR and no projection respectively. Aaron Sanchez had a -0.1 WAR projection but landed at 0.3 WAR (starting and relieving). Aaron Loup dipped from his predicted 0.6 WAR to 0.2 after a tough, perplexing season. Deadline acquisitions LaTroy Hawkins and Mark Lowe posted 0.4 WAR and 1.2 WAR on the season (0.7 projected and no projection respectively). Hawkins was effective for Toronto with a 0.3 WAR down the stretch but Mark Lowe wasn’t the same with only 0.1 WAR as a Jay.
The rest (no projection: not shown):
Daniel Norris: 0.5 actual WAR (0.1 with Jays), 1.1 projected
Bo Schultz: -0.3 actual WAR, 0.0 projected
Ryan Tepera: -0.4 actual WAR, -0.1 projected
Steve Delabar: -0.2 actual WAR, 0.0 projected
Chad Jenkins: -0.1 actual WAR, -0.3 projected
Rob Rasmussen: 0.0 actual WAR, 0.0 projected
Todd Redmond: -0.1 actual WAR, 0.2 projected
Pillar had the greatest increase from his projected WAR to his actual (+3.6 WAR.). Tulo had the greatest decrease from his projection to his actual WAR (-3.5 WAR). The playing of the real games will always confound the projections somewhat (that’s what makes baseball interesting to watch) but it’s fascinating that the projections are, generally, within the margin of error of the reality.
Next: Jose Bautista: Year in Review