CHONE projections are out, which allows us to begin the fun task of seeing how our respective teams match up, given their various improvements. Unlike the Bill James/Baseball Info Solutions projections, CHONE has proven in years past to be pretty accurate, and it also provides enough data to allow Fangraphs to do a WAR projection, so there's obviously some more value there for our purposes — particularly given that both teams have made defensive upgrades that may or may not be captured in the pitchers' projections.
Here's a comparison of the Red Sox starters' 2009 vs. their projected 2010. If I get the time, I'll revisit these posts as additional systems release enough data for Fangraphs to figure WAR projections and see what the differences are. And I'll try to do the Yankees' projections later today or tomorrow.
These aren't strictly accurate because, for example, Kevin Youkilis' 2009 WAR includes time at third base, but Fangraphs doesn't split that out, nor does it provide a WAR total by position for teams as a whole, which is what I'd prefer to use:
- C: Jason Varitek (2009): 1.3 WAR // Victor Martinez (2010): 4.4 WAR
- 1B: Kevin Youkilis (2009): 5.6 WAR // Kevin Youkilis (2010): 3.8 WAR
- 2B: Dustin Pedroia (2009): 5.2 WAR // Dustin Pedroia (2010): 4.7 WAR
- SS: Alex Gonzalez/Nick Green/Julio Lugo (2009): 1.3 WAR // Marco Scutaro (2010): 3.1 WAR
- 3B: Mike Lowell (2009): 1.2 WAR // Adrian Beltre (2010): 2.7 WAR
- LF: Jason Bay (2009): 3.5 WAR // Jacoby Ellsbury (2010): 3.9 WAR*
- CF: Jacoby Ellsbury (2009): 1.9 WAR // Mike Cameron (2010): 1.4 WAR
- RF: J.D. Drew (2009): 4.7 WAR // J.D. Drew (2010): 2.6 WAR
- DH: David Ortiz (2009): 0.7 WAR // David Ortiz (2010): 2.3 WAR
*Projection is for Ellsbury in center field, but the gain in projected defensive numbers by switching from center to left more than offsets the negative positional adjustment required on offense.
These are certainly not optimistic projections. They project regression, as expected, from Youkilis, Pedroia and Drew, but they see that regression to be significant in the case of Youkilis, and they see Cameron collapsing offensively in 2010. The system is bullish on Ellsbury and likes Scutaro quite a bit, but takes a pretty safe middle road in projecting wild cards like Beltre and Ortiz. Altogether, you get:
2009: 25.4 WAR // 2010: 28.9 WAR
CHONE projects the 2010 Red Sox to be 4.5 wins better on offense and defense. That's pretty significant.
As for starting pitching? Well, Fangraphs doesn't provide value projections for CHONE's numbers, but it does allow its readers to project the players and compiles the results as sort of a "wisdom of crowds" experiment. Meh. Better than nothing, maybe.
- Jon Lester (2009): 6.2 WAR // Jon Lester (2010): 5.6 WAR
- Josh Beckett (2009): 5.3 WAR // Josh Beckett (2010): 4.7 WAR
- Brad Penny (2009): 2.0 WAR // John Lackey (2010): 3.8 WAR
- Tim Wakefield (2009): 1.9 WAR // Daisuke Matsuzaka (2010): 2.1 WAR
- Clay Buchholz (2009): 1.2 WAR // Clay Buchholz (2010): 2.6 WAR
These also strike me as pretty conservative, with slight steps back for both Lester and Beckett. Even so — and counting the eight starters the Sox used the most last year, the 2009 Red Sox received another 1.4 WAR from Smoltz, Matsuzaka and Tazawa, for a 2009 eight-starter total of 18.0 WAR.
2009: 16.6 WAR // 2010: 18.8 WAR (top five starters only)
TOTAL: 2009: 42.0 WAR // 2010: 47.7 WAR
Without looking at the bench, which could knock some off the 2010 total (although one hopes that they at least are above zero wins over replacement level there), or the bullpen, which would likely add to it, the Sox have improved in their starting lineup and starting rotation by 5.7 wins. Yes, thats 100-101 wins.
And, believe it or not, there's more than just me (or CHONE's projections) seeing that kind of improvement.
I'll check on the Yankees next.