The Saber's Edge: The 2014 Report Card

The Saber's Edge: The 2014 Report Card

This article is part of our The Saber's Edge series.

With just a few days left in the season, I am not going to have any advice that can turn around your fantasy fate. What I can do is go back and look at how my recommendations panned out over the course of the year. Looking back, I'll find the hits and misses, and focus on why the latter happened. I will start with my earliest articles and move forward.

Predicting Batting Average - 4/16/14

Hits
• I really did not go out on a limb by looking at extreme early-season BABIP and its effect on AVG. I stated Everth Cabrera and Khris Davis would see their AVG drop and Pedro Alvarez and Jhonny Peralta would see theirs improve.

Name: AVG at time, AVG for season.
Everth Cabrera: .340, .232
Khris Davis: .279, .245
Pedro Alvarez: .167, .231
Johnny Peralta: .150, .259

Misses
• While finding the regression values was not hard, I did miss on this quote: "If [Alvarez] is able to get the BABIP into the .250 range, he could be looking at a near .300 AVG with the drop in strikeouts." I just assumed he would keep up his home runs to help with his AVG, which he did not. It is not very often a hitter sees an improvement in BABIP and K% and his AVG drops.

Predicting ERA - 4/23/14

Hits
• I predicted Stephen Strasburg to have a 2.80 ERA for the rest of the season. His actual mark was 2.92.

With just a few days left in the season, I am not going to have any advice that can turn around your fantasy fate. What I can do is go back and look at how my recommendations panned out over the course of the year. Looking back, I'll find the hits and misses, and focus on why the latter happened. I will start with my earliest articles and move forward.

Predicting Batting Average - 4/16/14

Hits
• I really did not go out on a limb by looking at extreme early-season BABIP and its effect on AVG. I stated Everth Cabrera and Khris Davis would see their AVG drop and Pedro Alvarez and Jhonny Peralta would see theirs improve.

Name: AVG at time, AVG for season.
Everth Cabrera: .340, .232
Khris Davis: .279, .245
Pedro Alvarez: .167, .231
Johnny Peralta: .150, .259

Misses
• While finding the regression values was not hard, I did miss on this quote: "If [Alvarez] is able to get the BABIP into the .250 range, he could be looking at a near .300 AVG with the drop in strikeouts." I just assumed he would keep up his home runs to help with his AVG, which he did not. It is not very often a hitter sees an improvement in BABIP and K% and his AVG drops.

Predicting ERA - 4/23/14

Hits
• I predicted Stephen Strasburg to have a 2.80 ERA for the rest of the season. His actual mark was 2.92. Not bad.
Jesse Chavez's strikeout rate was due for some regression because it "projects out to a 17% K%, rather than his current 27%. "

Month: K%
Apr: 27%
May: 17%
Season: 22%

Misses
• I told people to buy into Ervin Santana's early-season success because it was sustainable. Even though I regressed his walk rate, it nearly doubled after the article ran (5.1% to 8.0%). With the change, his ERA and WHIP went higher.

Red Light, Green Light (Stolen base changers) – 5/1/14

Hits
• Predicted Starlin Castro would not see a bump in stolen bases because of a low success rate in 2013 (4 SB in 8 attempts in 2014). In addition, I predicted Norichika Aoki (barely), Michael Bourn and Shin-Soo Choo would see a drop in their stolen bases for the same reason and they did.
• The Reds were showing a jump in stolen-base attempts and nearly doubled their 2013 team total (67 to 122). Some players saw huge jumps. Todd Frazier went from six steals to 20 (2013 to 2014). Jay Bruce went from seven to 12. Chris Heisey from three to nine.

Misses
Andrelton Simmons did not see a bump in stolen bases after getting out of the No. 8 spot in the lineup. The Braves gave him the red light all season and he just went four for nine in stolen-base attempts.

A Closer Look at Home Runs - 5/8/14

Hits
• I didn't have much faith in Brian Dozier's early-season HR totals

"I could see Dozier pull about 25 total home runs during this season with the higher flyball rate, but I don't think the near 20% HR/FB ratio will continue."

He hit 21 total home runs this season with an 11% HR/FB%. He hit more home runs in March, April and May (11) than over the rest of the season (10).

• I noted Jonathan Villar's five home runs at the time could have been 0. He hit one over the rest of the season.
• I was also not high on an Evan Longoria rebound from his early-season struggles.

"Until Longoria is able to square up and drive some fastballs, his production will continue to suffer."

He never did hit with much power until September when he posted an ISO over .200 (.240 in Sep). His career ISO coming into this season was .238.

Misses
• I put Adam Dunn and Jose Abreau in the same comparison.

"Even with the change, [Abreu] still knocks the tar out of the ball when he makes contact. I could see him turn into an Adam Dunn type hitter."

I just did not think Abreu could dominate as he did.

Elite [pitchers] once more - 6/4/14

Hits
• On Phil Hughes, I said:

"With Hughes, his improvement can stick. His home run numbers are now in sync with his previous non-Yankee Stadium values. Additionally, he is throwing a ton of strikes which has all but eliminated walks from his line."

Hughes kept up the production over the season. In addition, he may end up with all-time best K/BB ratio for starters.

• On Cueto:

I don't see any reason Cueto can't keep up his currently production level. The key will be if he can stay off the DL.

…and he did. Congrats to Cueto and what will likely be a second place finish in the Cy Young voting.

Misses
• On Mark Buehrle I stated:

"Overall, I expect a decent amount of wins, but a significantly higher ERA."

If by a decent amount of wins over four months, I meant only two then I guess I was right. Predicting wins is such a crap shoot and this is just another example.

• Finally, on Drew Pomeranz I wrote:

"Overall, he will likely see some regression, but not to his Colorado levels where he had a 5.00+ ERA. I expect his ERA to end up in the 3.50 to 4.00 range."

So 2.35 is not between 3.50 and 4.00? Some time on the DL and in the minors kept him from pitching much more after I wrote those words. Additionally his second half .167 BABIP just brought his ERA even lower.

Targeting BB% Improvements - 6/11/14

Hits
• I did not make many predictions in the article, and missed on all of them.

Misses
• I stated that Wei-Yin Chen is "probably only playable in AL-only leagues." He was better than the prediction. He is probably a top 40-60 starting pitcher, which would put him in play in all but the shallowest of leagues.
• I challenged Madison Bumgarner to improve:

"He is getting more swings at the same time his walk rate is at a career low (5.2%). It will be tough for him to improve much on his current production."

He accepted the challenge and hit me with a fatal blow.

Half: K%, BB%
1st: 24%, 6%
2nd: 27%, 3%

What is he going to do next season, not walk anyone?

Good Bet to Succeed (prospect success rate) - 6/25/15

Hits
• I liked the chances for success with Mookie Betts (.284/.360/.438 this season) and did not like Oscar Taveras' chances (.243/.280/.319 in 2014).
• Also, I thought Baez's K% over 30% in the minors would kill his MLB production and it has so far (.164/.227/.333).

Misses
• None yet, but many players I examined have not reached the majors.

A look at [Pitcher] Batted Ball Profiles – 7/2/14

Hits
• I did not think Chris Young could maintain his magically low 3.15 ERA. Over the rest of the season, it was 4.28.

Misses
• I thought Max Scherzer would have a better second half to his season. He was the same in both halves.

ERA Estimators - 7/9/14

Hits
• I estimated Brandon McCarthy's ERA to be around 3.23 for the rest of the season. It ended up at 2.89.

Misses
• For Jacob Turner I stated:

"He is one pitcher to keep an eye if the Marlins improve their infield defense, or if he is traded to another team which can more capably take advantage of his high groundball rate."

Half: ERA, K%-BB%, GB%
1st: 6.22, 9%, 53%
2nd: 6.29, 5%, 44%

The Cubs claimed Turner after I wrote this article. I figured he would see an improvement and...uh nope.

• In addition, I thought Matt Shoemaker would see an ERA near 3.46. Instead, it dropped to 1.87. Oops.

***

Overall, there was definitely some bad advice, but the results were generally better than I remembered. I hope I was able to help a few of you with your fantasy teams this season. Feel free to ask me a question any time.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Zimmerman
Zimmerman writes analytics-focused baseball and football articles for RotoWire. He is a three-time FSWA award winner, including the Football Writer of the Year and Best Football Print Article awards in 2016. The 2017 Tout Wars Mixed Auction champion and 2016 Tout Wars Head-to-Head champ, Zimmerman also contributes to FanGraphs.com, BaseballHQ and Baseball America.
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