Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2011 Pirates and the NL Central by WAR

So last year around this time, I did a series of predictions for the 2010 season as it related to the Pirates. I got some right and some wrong. And then I got 1 really, really wrong. I predicted, using WAR, that the Pirates would win 76 games. I was only off by 19.

But like a true masochist, I'm back for more. Here's my position-by-position estimates for your 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates. Keep in mind that 2 WAR is considered to be a league average player and that these estimates account for both offense and defense for hitters.

C - Snyder/Jaramillo -- 1 WAR
1B - Overbay -- 1 WAR
2B - Walker -- 2 WAR
SS - Cedeno -- 1 WAR
3B - Alvarez -- 2.5 WAR
LF - Tabata -- 2.5 WAR
CF - McCutchen -- 4 WAR
RF - Jones/Diaz -- 1.5 WAR
Bench -- 0 WAR

Hitters total -- 15.5 WAR

SP1 - Maholm -- 2 WAR
SP2 - McDonald -- 1.5 WAR
SP3 - Ohlendorf -- 1.5 WAR
SP4 - Correia -- 1 WAR
SP5 - Morton/Lincoln -- 0.5 WAR
Bullpen -- 3 WAR

Pitchers total -- 9.5 WAR

Grand total -- Baseline (48) + Hitters (15.5) + Pitchers (9.5) = 73 wins
As you can see from all the 1 WAR's, the Pirates still have a lot of room for improvement on this team. Their pitching, especially, is in need of an above-average arm or three. Alvarez and Walker's WARs were held back by their projected sub-par defense. I would love to say that I sold them short at the end of the season.

I won't show the position-by-position for each team, but I did it in an Excel Spreadsheet. Here's how I predict the NL Central to look:
MIL -- 90.5 (91 wins)
CIN -- 89.5 (90 wins)
STL -- 86 wins
CHC -- 83 wins
HOU -- 77 wins
PGH -- 73 wins

This shows how devastating the Wainwright injury was for the Cards. It's probably a net swing of 4 wins from Wainwright to his replacement, which is the difference between challenging for the NL Central title and finishing in 3rd.

The Cubs will most likely disappoint and finish under .500 again this year, but they have the makings of a very nice pitching staff this year.

Cincinnati had the best projected group of hitters (28.5 WAR), which was even better than St. Louis's 26 WAR. Milwaukee was the only team projected to get 20+ WAR from both their hitters and pitchers (22.5, 20 respectively). Their front end rotation of Gallardo, Greinke, Marcum could be excellent.

I had hoped that 2010 would be the year that the Pirates would flirt with .500 and 2011 would be the year they break this cursed losing streak. At best, it seems like that prediction is delayed a year. Maybe 2012 will be the year that the streak is broken. Just in time for the end of the world, as per the Mayans. Kind of fitting.

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