Saturday, February 28, 2009

Websoulsurfers Padres Projections for 2009

Saturday February 28, 2009

Websoulsurfer's San Diego Padres projections for 2009

I know there are going to be questions about methodology and I am not going to go into detail on that. I will say that I base my projections not only on the individual players past statistics but also on statistical models of the historical improvement and decline of players based on age and ML level playing time as well as adjusted for the parks they will be playing in. (Not just Petco, all the parks).

These are a few of the Padres players in which I see the biggest changes over 2008 for the positions they play.


Young 30 starts/172 IP – 13 -11 3.38 era 1.12 whip .211 baa
Young is reaching both the age and the number of years of ML playing time at which the number of starts peaks. He is coming off 3 straights seasons in which he pitched 30-31 starts and one season in which he made 17 starts but missed an additional 17 because of a non-functional injury (line drive to face, not a shoulder or elbow injury). He should rebound well in 2009 and nearly double his win production from 2008.

Eckstein 140 starts/550 pa - .278/.350/.354/.704 7 SB
Eckstein moves from SS to his natural position of 2B so his defense should see an improvement, or at least not additional decline. His batting average and OBP should not decline as he is a line drive, not a power hitter, in a park with huge alleys. The only question mark is his age. He turns 34 in January. That kind of production is a huge improvement for the Padres and should add 3+ wins over replacement at 2B (SS would actually be less).

Kevin Kouzmanoff 152 starts/652 PA - .284/.334/.487/.821 24 HR/92 RBI/36 BB/112 SO
Of any season, the third FULL year at the ML level sees the greatest increase in production. Kouzmanoff is 27, and turns 28 in July. That is the prime age for seeing a career year as well. After a season of playing daily and seeing a dramatic improvement in defense, 2009 is the season I see a great upturn at the plate.

Chase Headley 142 starts/558 PA - .281/.371/.485/.856 16 HR/71 RBI/56 BB/139 SO
Headley is a player that has shown a consistent ability to adjust to higher levels of talent with the bat. 2008 was the first season as an amateur or professional that Headley had been asked to play LF. The simultaneous adjustments he had to make both in the field and to a higher level of play showed in his overall production. I see an improvement coming in every aspect of his game with the biggest being in his obp and slugging.

With both Eckstein (127 in 8 seasons) and Kouzmanoff (25 in 2 seasons) on the squad, the Padres should easily lead the league in HBP.


Closer –
1st year closers average a 70.2% save percentage. Bell’s overall statistics at the ML level are very close to those of the average first year closer. If Bell turns out to be an average first year closer that will mean 6 fewer saves and 5 fewer wins for the Padres in his relief appearances if the Padres repeat the 34 save situations they presented the closer in 2008. I believe that we will see a 25% increase in save opportunities to 42 – 43 in 2009. While that means about 29-30 saves, it also means 11-12 BS and 7+ more losses than in 2008.

Shortstop –
While we can look for a huge increase in batting average over Greene’s 2008 and career #’s, especially in RISP, 2 strike, and 2 out situations, we will also see a marked decline in defense and a decline in power over Greene’s career numbers regardless of who is manning the position.

Yes I know that Greene's UZR in 2008 was 4 runs lower than Rodriguez's(-2.4 to -6.3), but I do believe that Greene was the better defensive player overall. I don’t believe that Luis Rodriguez will be an everyday starter all season. In fact I only project him to get 320 PA. If Cabrera makes the team as the backup SS, I believe that he will hit near .200 with little if any power.

Injuries -
The Padres had an MLB record of 1244 Player days on the DL in 2008, breaking their own record of 1100+ in 2002. The ML average was 458 last season.

The Padres also tied a team and MLB record for number of players used in a season.

2008 – 1244 DL days - 32 pitchers, 27 position players = 59 players used
2003 – 1057 DL days - 27 pitchers, 25 position players = 52 players used
2002 – 1108 DL days - 37 pitchers, 22 position players = 59 players used

Do you notice any correlation between the years in which the Padres had MLB records for injuries and the win-loss records?

There are some that say the number of DL days should not include players that were on the DL for the entire season, (TJ/Shoulder Surgery, injury in ST. etc…) but if they were on the 40 man roster and expected to contribute I included them in these numbers.

Team Projections

As the lineup and rotation begin to take shape I am seeing a definite trend towards an overall improvement in both offensive production and pitching.

Young players like Kouzmanoff and Headley improving, consistent gamers like Eckstein being added and a team that is getting younger overall and less injury prone.

With the addition of Cliff Floyd off the Bench and Henry Blanco to the catching corp, the Padres have a stronger bench than the one they started the 2008 season with.

In fact Edgar Gonzalez may not even make the team if Cabrera has a good showing in spring training. It is interesting to note that Travis Denker, a career 2B in the minor leagues, has only played at 3B in spring training so far and that Headley has not played 3B at all.

As of today, I project the Padres will see a 13 game improvement in wins to a 76-86 record.