Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Revisiting the FJB 2009 Predictions

As everyone knows by now, I missed the mark on John Lannan over the last month of the season, but that's not the only thing I got wrong this year. Let's look back at my pre-season predictions and see how many other predictions I got wrong.

Nick Johnson, Ryan Zimmerman, Lastings Milledge, Jason Bergmann, and Austin Kearns will be better in 2009 than they were in 2008.
Johnson and Zimmerman, check. I clearly missed on Milledge and Kearns. Bergmann's the hardest one to say. His ERA went down by half a run, but he threw fewer innings and was mainly used as a reliever. All things equal, a pitcher's ERA should improve by about a run moving from the rotation to the bullpen, so while he was in DC, he really he wasn't better. Then again, he had a 1.16 ERA in AAA, so maybe he just got unlucky on when he was pitching his best? Call that one a wash, and 50-50 overall on these guesses.

Cristian Guzman, John Lannan, Joe Beimel, Joel Hanrahan, Anderson Hernandez, Ronnie Belliard, and Scott Olsen will be worse.
I nailed all these other than Lannan, who had a bit better season.

Ryan Zimmerman will finally take the next step forward, finishing the season with a slash line over .280 / .350 / .480. But he will not make the all-star team.
He finished the year at .292 / .364 / .525. Good on me. But he made the All-Star Game, so another split.

Josh Bard will get more than one-third of the starts at catcher.

Nationals Park will emerge as a very slight hitters park as measured by park factor.

The Nationals will draw fewer than two million fans.

Jason Bergmann will have a better ERA than any of the Nationals' top five starters by games started.
At 4.50, he beat everyone but Lannan, though J.D. Martin tied both Shairon Martis and Garrett Mock for fifth in games started and finished at 4.44. It's wrong, but it's close, and most people thought this was crazy talk at the time.

Mike Rizzo will find room for Alberto Gonzalez on the 25-man roster by the end of May at the latest.

Cristian Guzman, Wily Mo Pena, Dmitri Young, and Ron Belliard will be former Nationals by the end of the season.
Three out of four ain't bad.

Austin Kearns will have a solid bounce-back season and find himself a starting job with another team by opening day 2010.
My wrongest prediction.

Adam Dunn's streak of 40-HR seasons will end.
Correct. Park factor does exist.

Jordan Zimmermann's ERA will be below the 2008 starting pitcher NL average of 4.40.
He finished at 4.63, but he had a 3.77 ERA in his last five starts. I think he would have made it.

Despite recent additions, the bullpen will be in the bottom third in the NL by ERA.

Nationals starting pitchers will throw the fewest innings of any team in the NL.
At 5.6, the Nationals were bad, but Milwaukee, San Diego, and Houston were all worse.

Scott Olsen will not finish the year in the Nationals rotation.

The Nationals' top five starting pitchers by IP as a starter will include at least one pitcher not currently with the organization.
For all the turnover, this didn't happen. I figured they would fill in a Livan Hernandez-type sooner, but credit J.D. Martin, Ross Detwiler, and Craig Stammen for making that not necessary.

Strasburg will be the pick, and he will sign.

Aaron Crow will get the $4.4 million he wanted last year.

Well, yes and no. They negotiated a deal that lets Crow claim he did this. They're using fuzzy math, but it's close enough to say I was part right.

Shawn Hill will finish the season with more win shares than the Nationals' fifth starter.
Win shares isn't available yet, but Livan Hernandez and Ross Detwiler's good September will make this not true.

Nick Johnson will get 500 at bats and finish the season with an OPS+ over 140.
Wrong on both counts.

Mike Rizzo will lose the "acting" and be named the new Nationals GM.

Manny Acta will get another year.

NL playoff teams: Mets, Dodgers, Cubs, D'Backs.

AL playoff teams: Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Angels.
Go Tigers!

The Dodgers will beat the Yankees in the Series.
We'll see.

The Nationals' record will be 74-88, their fourth last place finish in five years.
At the time, I thought I was being pessimistic.


Sasskuash said...

"The Nationals record will be 74-88, their fourth last place finish in five years.
At the time, I thought I was being pessimistic."

This is classic! Thanks for the laugh.

Sasskuash said...

Just to stir up the pot a little bit, Nick Johnson finished with Type B status in the Elias Rankings. Does this change anybody's opinion on the trade made at the deadline?

(I personally don't think so because I doubt we would have offered arbitration, thus the Type B status is useless)

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 said...

On your 77-88 pick, it depends when you made. I would have absolutely agreed with you in April. My pick of 55 wins in mid-june was made with a serious lump in my throat.

Anonymous said...

"Call that one a wash, and 50-50 overall on these guesses" - Oh Please Steven....you backed those "guesses" up with tons of regression testing and Return to the Normal year hype. Those were not guesses they were presented as statistical truths. Go back and read your case for Kearns.

YOU WERE WRONG ABOUT KEARNS because you looked at the Stats not his swing. You contented that if he just got enough AB's he would return to his Reds numbers. That is not a guess it is an example of why Rizzo still says stats have a place but you must still use your eyes.

Grover said...

Despite recent additions, the bullpen will be in the bottom third in the NL by ERA.


That's kind of like a New Orleans weatherman taking credit on August 30, 2005 for having predicted it would rain the day before. Technically it's correct ... but it kind of misses the point.

Anyway, pretty impressive forecasting.

Will said...

Anon, you're being very nitpicky (and cowardly). Steven admitted he got it wrong, so what's your point?

Anonymous said...

Steven's use of the term guess is what I take offense at. For 3 years Steven has been using stats to forecast the return of Kearns to his "norm". Just looking at his swing and lack of confidence it was clear he was done two years ago. Steven yet again predicted that Stats matter not what your eyes tell you. IT WAS NOT A GUESS....JayB as if Steven did not know....I do not use my Signon on PC's in airports....

Steven said...

@sass--I don't think you would tender Nick Johnson a contract regardless. He made $5.5 million in '09, and you don't get pay cuts in arb. So you're talking about paying the guy at least $6 million. Forget it. If you want to bring Nick back, go sign him for less now. But the team would have been very foolish to tender him a contract.

@Grover--I hear you. If I had guessed what their ERA was going to be, I would have been too optimistic. But remember, in 2008, they were 10th in the NL. And they had just signed Beimel. Bergmann added to the bullpen mix. Who'd they subtract? Half a season of Rauch? Luis Ayala? Ray King? Most folks felt pretty good about Hanrahan and Rivera, plus Hinckley and Shell. So the presumption at the time was that they'd be at least as good if not a bit better than 2008. And the other thing you always used to hear people say was that Bowden always could piece together a decent bullpen.

Grover said...


Wasn't criticizing. Impressive prediction record, actually. I just wanted to analogize the Nats' 2009 bullpen to Hurricane Katrina.

Nobody could have ever predicted the scope of either disaster.

flippin said...

Thanks for the update. How will your performance this year change your prediction metric for next season? I have a suggestion, leave yourself a little wiggle room to head off swipes from ingrates at the end of the season.

James Bjork said...


At least you had the guts to make clear predictions. Whether they were "guesses" or statistical predictions is just semantics. I'd call them "educated guesses." You just never know. That's why they go out and play the games.

Thank you for your time in blogging this season.