Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 11/15/14
Gordon rates as one of our best projections for the 2013 season. Each year we sit down and spend an absurd amount of time projecting stats for about 1,500 players. By applying our projections algorithm to each player and reviewing and tweaking each output for context (playing time, mechanics/repertoire adjustments, changes of scenery, etc.), we feel we have some of the most accurate projections you’ll find anywhere. Some of these projections are scary-good. And some of them are flat-out terrible. Over the next few days you’ll see a mix of both. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to mock us for some pretty awful projections, but why don’t we start things off on the right foot? However, before we get to the individual stat lines, why don’t we take a look at our best projection for the entire season… Our Single Best Projection from 2013 Before we get to the individual player projections, I’d like to point out the one team projection we made, which we absolutely nailed. Back on January 11, 2013, we went on record projecting the Red Sox to make the playoffs in 2013. By estimating the 2013 WAR of every player on their projected 25-man roster, we said the Red Sox would win 95 games in 2013, +/- 3 or 4 wins due to health and/or error. As it turns out, team WAR and team Win% actually correlate with an r-squared value of 0.896. That’s very high. While projecting the WAR of any one player is subject to variation (injury or just better/worse performance than expected), projecting the WAR of a whole group is subject to much less variation. Here are our WAR projections for Boston’s batters, rotation, and bullpen versus how they actually performed: Batters — Projected WAR: 32.7 | Actual WAR: 36.6 Rotation — Projected WAR: 13.3 | Actual WAR: 15.9 Bullpen — Projected WAR: 6.3 | Actual WAR: 5.8 Cumulative Team — Projected WAR: 52.3 | Actual WAR: 58.3 With a preseason over/under for wins of ~82, it’s clear that it would have taken some significant under-performance by Boston’s roster not to exceed the country’s expectations, but this might not have been as apparent without this team WAR analysis. Be sure to look out for this same thing come next spring as I’ll definitely do it for all teams in 2014. 10 Best Batter Projections from 2013 Back to the matter at hand. Here are our 10 best projections for batters from the 2013 season: Batter PA R HR RBI SB BA Alex Gordon Projected 695 90 19 87 11 .297 Actual 700 90 20 81 11 .265 After slumping from 23 HR in 2011 to 14 HR in 2012, we thought the real Gordon was right in the middle. I’m still convinced he’s more of a .285 hitter as I expect both his 20.3 LD% and .310 BABIP to improve next season. Batter PA R HR RBI SB BA Adrian Beltre Projected 602 86 29 101 1 .301 Actual 690 88 30 92 1 .315 Beltre posted a career-high 690 PA in 2013 by staying on the field for 161 games. That makes it a little surprising he wasn’t able to top 100 RBI for the 4th straight year, but all-in-all it was business as usual for the Texas third baseman. Batter PA R HR RBI SB BA Justin Smoak Projected 565 52 21 56 1 .245 Actual 521 53 20 50 0 .238 We expected a little bit more out of Smoak than he delivered, but in the end it was a pretty boring line that proved useful in spurts. Batter PA R HR RBI SB BA Chris Denorfia Projected 504 56 10 49 10 .264 Actual 520 67 10 47 11 .279 Projecting platoon players is never easy as their PA can vary greatly from year to year. That’s what makes this one pretty nice — entering 2013 Denorfia’s career high in PA was just 382, but our projected total of 504 was only off by 16. Batter PA R HR RBI SB BA Ryan Doumit Projected 518 52 16 62 1 .275 Actual 538 49 14 55 1 .247 Doumit’s numbers have varied rather drastically over his 9 MLB seasons. We liked him to see similar playing time as in his first year with the Twins. We didn’t believe in his 75 RBI from 2012, and as it turns out we were a little too optimistic across the board. Batter PA R HR RBI SB BA Michael Cuddyer Projected 585 75 20 77 11 .279 Actual 540 74 20 84 10 .331 Tons of luck factored into Cuddyer’s 2013 line — a .382 BABIP? — but we were pretty close just about everywhere else. Batter PA R HR RBI SB BA Anthony Rizzo Projected 633 68 24 80 5 .271 Actual 690 71 23 80 6 .233 Rizzo was a hard player to project because of how terrible he was in 2011 and how great he was in 2012. A lot of people had him at at 30 HR and pushing 100 RBI due to his 2012 rates and Wrigley’s cozy confines, but we settled right at where he actually landed. Batter PA R HR RBI SB BA Shin-Soo Choo Projected 630 94 21 66 20 .285 Actual 712 107 21 54 20 .284 We projected Choo to get back to his 20/20 levels for the 1st time since 2010, and we were right. We also projected a career-best 94 R, which turned out to be 13 too few. Batter PA R HR RBI SB BA Ian Desmond Projected 602 73 18 75 22 .274 Actual 655 77 20 80 21 .280 Prior to 2013, we looked hard at Desmond’s 2012 breakout and came to the conclusion that “18 [HR] should be very easily doable.” A slight drop in homers would bring his average down a little. In the end we were off by 2 HR and 6 points in BA. Batter PA R HR RBI SB BA Michael Brantley Projected 595 60 11 64 18 .278 Actual 611 66 10 73 17 .284 After hitting just 13 HR in over 1,100 PA over 2011 and 2012, we thought Brantley have a minor power spike in 2013. In fact, we projected a mini breakout. Brantley combined for 27 HR/SB in 2013. His previous best was 20.
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