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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Bundle O' Angels Stuff From Jay Jaffe

Since Jay Jaffe's written the Angels part of the 2006 Baseball Prospectus annual, it's not surprising that he has a few extra comments to hit his blog. Holding his breath prior to the naming lawsuit verdict, Jaffe inserted an optimistic graf or two about the Halos' prospects overall, with the caveat that once again, PECOTA doesn't like the club especially, though that's mitigated some by Darin Erstad's reappearance in centerfield:
So that note of optimism I sounded in my essay doesn't look so unwarranted. But as for the team's on-field performance, let's just say PECOTA isn't so impressed. When Nate Silver released the 2006 projections to the BP staff, he had the team coming in at 78-84 thanks to an offense worse than any AL team save the Royals. One reason for that is the anticipated presence of Darin Erstad, who comes in at a craptastic .264/.314/.364 weighted mean projection in 545 plate appearances, mainly as a first baseman. Since the Angels have announced that Erstad is moving back to centerfield -- thereby not only lessening the load his bat should be expected to carry but also increasing his chances for injury -- I don't think things are nearly that dire. As I told B., I see Erstad limping his way out of the lineup in 60-70 games. But PECOTA isn't exactly bullish on his first-base replacement either. Casey Kotchman's weighted mean comes in at an Erstadian .270/.328/.398 in 461 PA. The system simply doesn't think the 23-year-old's power is going to develop, but the fact that he clubbed seven dingers in 142 PA over the season's last two months leads me to believe he's turned a corner. Kotchman's been addled by various wrist injuries during his development, but if he's put them behind him, I think he's more likely to find himself on the upper reaches of his projection, somewhere between the 75th percentile (.284/.344/.428) and 90th (.299/.361/.463). That's not world-beating, but it is a difference of a couple of wins if it happens. (For more on Kotchman's projections, see Beyond the Box Score.)
For Maya and the others who are in love with futility outfielders, he notes the signing of Jeff DaVanon by the Snakes, but more than that is the idea that the Yanks should have signed him as a useful bat off the bench. Apparently Steve Goldman of Pinstriped Bible got hold of it, and ran in a couple columns this offseason. Whether he was a bad idea waiting to happen or not, we'll have to wait and see. Reports of his shoulder being irrepairably injured may have been exaggerated, but he sure did take a long while getting signed.

Thanks for the link to Jaffe's blog comments about the Halos, who -- surprise, surprise -- he's picking to win the A.L. West this year, in contrast to his colleagues at BP.

In his blog, he links to one of his chat wraps at BP, in which he has this to say about the Halos' outlook for the coming year:

"I see the Angels as still the favorites in the West thanks to their pitching. Colon and Lackey are an excellent 1-2 punch. Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar should slot in to replace Washburn (whom I wouldn't have resigned for health reasons) and Byrd, and between Carrasco, Saunders, and Weaver, they'll patch through the #5. This team led the AL in Support Neutral Wins (SNLVAR) and Reliever Expected Wins Added (WXRL), and they should be able to handle the turnover. Finley is addition by subtraction, presuming that McPherson is healthy enough to handle third and Alfonzo can quietly continue decomposing. Kotchman ought to see more time. And I'm still guessing that they might sign Piazza to handle some DH and some catching."

Among the sabr-inclined, Jaffe's clearly in the minority in picking the Angels. His colleague at BP Nate Silver projects the Angels to post a dismal 78-84 record this year.
Jaffe's clearly in the minority in picking the Angels.

Which means they're surely doomed. I think I like it better when the SABRpunditry unanimously picks the Angels to flop.
Somebody frame that 78-84 prediction so we can all have a good laugh when the Angels win 95 games this year. I remember in 2002 when BP predicted a horrible year for the Angels. Wrong again.

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