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2018 Pitcher Projections Revisited

Featured Image Courtesy of AP Photo/Nah Y. Huh

Last week I posted my results from my 2018 hitter projections. This week, I take a look at the results from the 2018 season in respect to my pitcher projections. I did not include the relief pitchers that I projected and removed any projections for pitchers under 85-90 innings (either actual 2018 IP or projected IP). Of course, injuries are more prevalent with pitchers so I only have 68 SPs in the attached google sheet (link below).


What I’ve learned in my two years of calculating baseball projections is that pitchers are difficult to project. More difficult than hitters (duh). I mentioned in the hitters’ post that I will be projecting more player in 2019. My goal is over 400, but shooting for 450. That makes at least 150 pitchers which should lead to an overall better review at the conclusion of the 2019 season. People have asked what projection model I use, and it’s more of a combination of many different models to make it my own. I use everything from past performance, batting order, team context, injury history, xStats, batted ball profile, plate discipline, trends, etc. Anyways, here’s a couple SPs on both sides of the projection spectrum.

2018 Pitcher Projections vs Actual (IP, Wins, ERA, WHIP, SO) (click-bait)

Carlos Carrasco (SP – CLE)

Proj 186 16 3.43 1.12 204
Actual 192 17 3.38 1.13 231

Two years ago, Carrasco was considered an injury risk with just one season of at least 150 innings between 2011 and 2016. After the 2018 season, he now has two straight 190+ inning seasons both with at least 30 starts. Maybe my innings projection of 186 was risky but half of his injuries over the previous five seasons were fluky. What really catches my eye is Carrasco’s strikeout total with a strikeout rate of 29.5%, almost 5% over his career rate. Even though Carrasco will be age-32 when the 2019 season starts, he’s one of the more steady SPs and will most likely be had at a discount. He’s pitching better now that he ever has before and it’s backed up by a career-low 69% (nice) contact rate. I’m looking to snag CC (not Sabathia) as the 8th or 9th SP off the board.

Rich Hill (SP – LAD)

Proj 141 10 3.57 1.10 156
Actual 132.2 11 3.66 1.12 150

Lance McCullers Jr. (SP – HOU)

Proj 134 9 3.68 1.29 142
Actual 128.1 10 3.86 1.17 142

I’m lumping Hill and McCullers Jr. together because of their similar injury histories. My model was able to accurately project innings based on multiple years of lower but consistent innings totals. It’s interesting that I pegged McCullers strikeouts but was a bit off on ERA and WHIP. The WHIP projection was high because I didn’t anticipate that McCullers would successfully improve his control given his nasty breaking ball, and that was true. His low WHIP was due to his BABIP that went from .330 to .278. It’s safe to say I won’t be projecting more than 140 innings for McCullers in 2019. The Rich Hill story and the journey is an incredible one, I suggest you read up on how he got to this point.  Similar to McCullers, Hill puts up very good numbers but fails to throw a ton of innings. At what point will this all go belly up? Hill will turn 39 just before the 2019 season. I think one more season of around 120 innings with solid ratios is in order before the end for Hill.



Jameson Taillon (SP – PIT)

Proj 185 12 3.50 1.15 164
Actual 191 14 3.20 1.18 179

Back in late November 2017, I wrote a sleeper post about Taillon. I highlighted his above-average fastball, ground ball tendencies, and his insanely high second-half BABIP. I knew there was positive regression coming for Taillon but did not account for the addition of the slider (which he introduced it in late May). While the slider didn’t unlock a bump in K-rate last year, I think it will help increase his strikeouts for 2019. He’s already climbed high on big boards, so, unfortunately, he won’t come at a discount.

Dallas Keuchel (SP – HOU)

Proj 178 14 3.80 1.21 159
Actual 204.2 12 3.74 1.31 153

On the opposite end of the sleeper/bust spectrum, there’s Keuchel. Two main points I made with Keuchel were the health concerns and the razor-thin margins of his control. Without the luxury of missing bats, Keuchel’s success lies in his ability to induce ground balls at a rate almost no one else has achieved. Sure enough, his groundball rate went from 66.8% to 53.7% and his strikeout rate dipped yet again. Now, he did stay healthy, but the rest of my projections were nearly spot on. I cannot recommend Keuchel for 2019, there’s very limited upside.

Did not project well

Marcus Stroman (SP – TOR)

Proj 198 13 3.69 1.25 169
Actual 102.1 4 5.54 1.48 77

Carlos Martinez (SP – STL)

Proj 203 15 3.52 1.20 208
Actual 118.2 8 3.11 1.35 117

Ok, so Stroman was lost to injury and Martinez went sent to the bullpen mid-season. That’s tough to project, especially for Martinez who was essentially dubbed the Ace of the Cardinals’ budding staff. Despite Storman’s small stature, he threw over 200 innings in 2016 & 2017, so naturally, I project him for just under 200 innings. We know he isn’t a strikeout artist, but wow, those ratios took a tumble as well. The only thing I learned here is that pitching is so volatile, but we already knew that. Martinez’ projection wasn’t all that bad other than the innings differential thanks to the move to the bullpen. A huge jump in his walk rate is the reason for a bump in WHIP. Martinez is going to be tough to project in 2019, he should be back in the rotation, but his poor control makes for a wild ride.



Blake Snell (SP – TB)

Proj 177 11 3.81 1.28 182
Actual 180.2 21 1.89 0.97 221

I liked Snell coming into the year, I wrote a sleeper post on him in December. So, do I really have to take the L on him if I was higher than most coming into the season? No one expected Snell to win the AL Cy Young prior to the start of the season, and if you did, you should have made a pretty penny. Just look at those numbers! The best stat that proves how much better Snell was in 2018 is the K-BB%. In 2017 his K-BB% was 11.0% (slightly below average) and in 2018 it sored to 22.4% (elite). That and his overall contact rate went down 8.1%. For 2019, there’s regression coming, but how much? Is he a top 10 SP? I’m about to dive into my 2019 pitcher projections, so we will have to find out.

Chris Archer (SP – TB/PIT)

Proj 195 12 3.78 1.23 232
Actual 148.1 6 4.31 1.38 162

Less than one month into the season, I knew that Archer was going to be a bust. I wasn’t high on him in the preseason with my projections above, but there certainly wasn’t enough there to completely steer me away from him either. In June, I put together a blind resume article for FantasyPros comparing Archer to Tyler Skaggs. Believe it or not, Skaggs’ numbers looked a hell of a lot better. Even the move to Pittsburgh couldn’t resurrect his season. Archer saw his K% drop to its lowest since 2014 and while I expect a bit of a bounceback in that department based on the plate discipline, Archer needs to develop a third pitch before I can trust him. I think there will be too many five-inning outings without much of a chance for a win. Expect an ERA between 3.80-4.10 with a solid K rate, but that’s about it.



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2018 FreezeStats Hitter Projections Revisited

(Cover image courtesy of Star Tribune)

This past season was the second time I did my own full projections covering over 300 players. In total, that came out to approximately 225 hitters and 100 pitchers. I wanted to get an idea of the overall accuracy of my projections, which of course is difficult if I don’t compare them to other project systems. The problem is, I didn’t project enough players to accurately compare them to the major projection systems. What I did do, is run my projections against each player’s final statistics and calculate the z-Scores for each statistic. For hitters that’s Runs, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OBP, & Plate Appearances; for pitchers, it’s IP, W, K, ERA, and WHIP. I also eliminated any player that had under 300 PA or pitcher with less than 90 IP.  For this article, I’ll only touch on the hitters. I’ll follow up with pitchers in a day or two.


The link to each projection spreadsheet is below.  I’ve used conditional formatting for the Z-Scores where Dark RED is very poor accuracy (high Z-Score), white is an average projection, and dark green is very accurate. I’ll highlight a few from both ends of the spectrum below, but make sure to take a look at the link to see the results of the rest of the projections. In the meantime, I’ve already started my projections for 2019 and plan on doing well over 400.

2018 Hitter Projections vs Actual

A few players I basically projected to a “T” were:

Andrelton Simmons (SS – LAA)

Actual 68 11 75 10 0.292 0.337 600
Proj 65 12 72 12 0.278 0.332 612

Simmons hit for a higher average than I projected thanks to yet another improvement in contact rate. Simmons rarely swings and misses, but he’s more of a compiler than anything else. If Simmons hit my 612 PA, he may have gone 12-12 as I projected.

Nelson Cruz (DH – SEA)

Actual 70 37 97 1 0.256 0.342 591
Proj 87 35 104 1 0.264 0.345 635

Not surprising that I hit on Nelson Cruz. The elder statesman has been a model of consistency for the better part of the last decade. I projected a decrease in power and batting average due to natural age-progression, and that’s exactly what happened. Going into 2019, Cruz will turn 39 during the season, so it’s difficult to project better than .250-34-90 this coming year as he hits free agency.

Eddie Rosario (OF – MIN)

Actual 87 24 77 8 0.288 0.323 592
Proj 74 24 84 8 0.273 0.316 592

Rosario had a nice breakout in 2017 at age-26, so naturally, he should continue to improve, right? Instead, he basically finished with the same results he had in 2017. My projection for plate appearances (592), home runs (24), and steals (8) all were a direct hit! I liked Rosario’s value coming into 2018 but didn’t expect a skills bump. For 2019, I see regression for Rosario due to a decrease in plate discipline and I’m staying away.

Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF – PHI)

Actual 89 34 96 5 0.246 0.354 660
Proj 81 37 95 3 0.256 0.345 609

Talk about projections that were all over the map for Hoskins. After bashing 18 homers in 50 games at the conclusion of 2017, I saw anything from mid/upper 20 homers to 40+ homers from Hoskins. There was also talk of a higher batting average given his elite plate skills. The problem was, he hits far too many fly balls and doesn’t run well, limiting his BA upside. I had Hoskins at .256 which turned out to be HIGH and almost nailed his HR projection with 37 but he had 50 more PA than my projection. I’ll be cautious with Rhys for 2019 and don’t think he’s a lock to be a top 50 player.


Jean Segura (SS – SEA)

Actual 91 10 63 20 0.304 0.341 632
Proj 86 11 64 20 0.282 0.328 622

Jean proved me wrong with a .300+ batting average, but everything else worked out pretty nice. Whether it seems like it or not, Jean is becoming more consistent but his upside is relatively limited at this point. Still, a solid player giving you speed which continues to decrease league-wide without complete lack of power. Segura should hold some value for 2019 as flashier players begin to move ahead of him.


Justin Upton (LAA – OF)

Actual 80 30 85 8 0.257 0.344 613
Proj 83 30 95 11 0.254 0.336 625

After blasting a career high in home runs and RBI in 2017, I figured Upton was due for some regression. Well, duh. Even getting to play a full season hitting behind Mike Trout, Upton’s rate stars were a bit out over their skis in 2017. In addition to the HR/RBI regression, I knew that Upton could maintain another .270+ batting average given his high-20s K rate. Going forward, Upton’s speed s dwindling and he is looking more like a .250-28-90-7 guy which is useful but could be overvalued in drafts for 2019.

Now for the projections that were so far off, it’s hard to fathom how I got there. I’ll give it a shot to figure this out as I recap.

Carlos Correa (SS – HOU)

Actual 60 15 65 3 0.239 0.323 468
Proj 94 29 103 10 0.295 0.378 637

Injuries. It’s not just that he missed time due to his injured back, he also recently had offseason surgery to repair a deviated septum. In other words, he couldn’t breathe. OK, he could breathe, but not well. So, Correa went from hitting .315 in 2017 to a meager .239 in 2018. I think one thing I’m going to do with Correa’s 2019 projection is to limit his plate appearances to around 550-575. I see a big bounce-back in average and power but the speed isn’t coming back friends.


Javier Baez (2B/SS – CHC)

Actual 101 34 111 21 0.29 0.326 645
Proj 62 21 67 9 0.251 0.299 465

On the other end of the poor projection spectrum, we have Javy Baez. One of my bust picks finished second in NL MVP voting. Yikes. Well, I discussed Baez’ awful plate discipline which he has embraced. I also factored in Manager Joe Maddon‘s decisions to move players around the field, in the lineup, etc. I figured Baez would see the bench during slumps and that Ian Happ would see more time at 2B. Whoops. The lesson for 2019, never bet heavily against power/speed talent.

Lewis Brinson (OF – MIA)

Actual 31 11 42 2 0.199 0.24 406
Proj 73 18 65 12 0.256 0.315 565

Speaking of players with the talent of power and speed… Well, I figured the move to Miami would allow Brinson to play every day without an OF roster crunch like there was in Milwaukee. As it turns out, if you hit .199 with an OBP that’s below Giancarlo’s weight, you don’t get to play every day. Oh well. My projections weren’t even that optimistic, Brinson was just straight BAD.

Logan Morrison (1B – MIN)

41 15 39 1 0.186 0.276 359
68 26 77 2 0.243 0.328 548

After a late breakout in 201, Logan Morrison was in the spotlight for less time than his great-uncle Jim. (That’s a Doors reference for those of you who aren’t 60 years old). Not much to say here. I knew that the 36 bombs he hit in 2017 wasn’t for real but come on Lo-Mo! 15 homers and a .186 batting average?!? Who are you, Chris Davis? It’s safe to keep Morrison out of my projections for 2019 and for everyone’s sake, hopefully, he retires. Thanks for reading! I’ll continue my projections for 2019 riiiiiiiiight now!

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