Table of Contents

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hardball Times Season Preview

The Hardball Times Season Preview 2009 is nearing publication, and I was generously tapped once again to contribute a section on the Reds. David Gassko wrote about it today:
The bulk of the Season Preview consists of team essays, player comments, and projections. In all, we have 1,050 player projections and comments in the book, meaning that we’ve covered just about anyone who might have an impact on the 2009 baseball season. In addition, purchasers of the Season Preview will have access to a spreadsheet with over 2,600 projections.

The projections include all the regular statistics you might expect, plus fielding ratings, three-year projections, a reliability score, projected fantasy values, and depth charts. In other words, no matter what you’re using these projections for, we have you covered.

But enough about the projections. They’re good, but they’re not so much better than any other system that I’m going to ask you to buy the book just for them. Instead, I want to talk a little about the lifeblood of the Season Preview—the writing.

The writers featured in the Season Preview are not just some random schmucks we pulled off the street (well, except for John Brattain), but some of the best bloggers on the internet writing about the teams they follow every day. Who better to tell you about the Arizona Diamondbacks than Jim McLennan? And who knows more about the Seattle Mariners than Jeff Sullivan?
I'm not sure that I'd make the argument that I know more about the Reds than anyone else (that honor might go to slyde), but nevertheless I think the team essay and player comments that I contributed are pretty much on the mark...which means it's not wildly optimistic for 2009, but I do talk a lot about the positive aspects of our team (Bruce, Votto, Volquez, Cueto, etc).

If this sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to go to ACTA's website and preorder the book. It should ship in February. While I'm admittedly biased, over the past several years I've found that it's even more insightful than BPro's Annual in terms of player comments and team essays. Furthermore, the player projections have improved and are now truly on par with the best of the other systems: CHONE, PECOTA, etc. ...

As a final example of what you're getting, Here's an excerpt from last year's book (pre-2008 season) on Jeff Keppinger (coming off a fabulous debut):
Keppinger began the season in AAA, but when he finally joined the club in July, he flat-out hit. He eventually all but took over the starting shortstop position, despite not playing short only eight games in the minor leagues. The surprising thing about his batting line was his power: while Keppinger has always been a high-AVG hitter, his 0.477 SLG in the major leagues last season was higher than any seasonal total he'd ever posted in the minors. At 27, I think it's unlikely that he suddenly discovered a power stroke upon arriving in the big leagues, so look for his power to decline next season as per THT's projections. Defensively, while his numbers weren't particularly bad at short, I think that's largely a small sample size issue--he seems sure-handed, but he his range is more suitable for the hot corner. The release of Jorge Cantu also means that Keppinger should get a good number of starts at first base against left-handers.
Kepp was even worse than expected, of course...