After getting back on their feet against the Pirates, th Birds enter another series that they should win.  The Astros are simply not good.  They currently have a pythag record of 8-23 and only have one regular with an above average wOBA. With that said let’s see what the updated version of the projections say.  For this preview I thought I would put aside the tables for some graphs (taking my inspiration from the one Justin Bopp did for my BtB series preview).  Let me know if ya’ll like these better.

First the offenses (remember these are projection based)

Clearly the Cards have the offensive edge.  Of note, the Astros are 32 runs created worse than the second to last place Mariners, which almost mirrors the gap between the Cards and Yankees (36 runs created) who are 2nd in the Majors behind the Brewers.  Basically the Astros have been dreadfull offensively and don’t project much better.

Now for the D

The Cards have the edge here too, riding Brendan Ryan and Mat Holliday being substantially better than their counterparts (Yadi doesn’t hurt either)

And finally the pitching

Wandy Rodriguez gives the Astros the edge at SP2, but the Cards hold the edge in the other two games and the bullpen.  So how does all of this add up?

The Cards should win the series around 70% of the time.

The cure for a slumping offense is facing the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Their pitching has allowed a league leading 180 runs. That’s a bit unlucky according to BaseRuns, which says they should have allowed 167, which is still awful. Really, really awful. That’s 6 runs allowed per game for those of you scoring at home. While their pitching staff has underperformed expectations, expectations weren’t that high to begin with.

I’m going to just cut to the chase since the game has already started, but I think we all know what to expect.

Yes, folks, there are still Pirate fans in existence. Smart ones, too. Matt Bandi helps oversee the blog Pittsburgh Lumber Company, one of the finest team-centric blogs around. Matt was nice enough to humor me for this series’ edition of My Questions Three.

You can also follow Matt on Twitter at @mbandi

Run prevention has been *ahem* a bit of a problem for the Pirates so far this season. The starting pitching staff in particular has really got pummeled. Do you see any glimmer of hope with any of these guys? What’s going on?

Yes, the rotation will be better. It can’t get much worse, that’s for sure. Charlie Morton has produced some awful results, but his peripherals indicate that he has actually pitched pretty well. His K and BB rates have been excellent all season. He has been undone by a disastrous HR/FB rate and a BABIP that is much higher than should be expected. He also may be tipping his pitches, a flaw that is definitely correctable. Zach Duke and Paul Maholm have established themselves as average starting pitchers, and Ross Ohlendorf should provide similar production when he returns from the DL next week. The fifth starter will be an issue all year, and the shuttle between Triple-A Indianapolis and Pittsburgh will remain busy.

The pieces are there for this to be an average rotation once things settle down. That being said, the pitching matchups this weekend do not exactly favor the Bucs.

Andy LaRoche seems to finally be living up to his promise. What are your thoughts on his early season performance, and do you think he will continue to have this sort of success?

LaRoche will not produce like this all season, as he is relying on a high BABIP at this point. But he will certainly hit well enough to remain somewhere in the lineup once Pedro Alvarez arrives, and his plus defense at third may even force Alvarez across the diamond to first base. LaRoche was a league average player in his age 25 season in 2009, and is just now entering his prime. He is unlikely to be an All-Star level player, but he should be an above average complementary piece for the Pirates for several years.

Neal Huntington is definitely a lot more saber-friendly of a GM than David Littlefield, and he’s been pretty candid with the fans. What are your overall impressions of him, and are you satisfied with his job performance to date?

I am a huge fan of Huntington’s, and I think he has done just about everything in his power to turn this franchise around. He came on board when the Pirates were in an absolutely awful situation. They had virtually nothing in the minor league system and the major league roster was mostly made up of aging mediocrity. The organization essentially did everything wrong for His only real option was to draft well and wait 5+ years for that talent to begin arriving in Pittsburgh. He did a good job to add several younger, talented players through trades to supplement the solid drafting and speed up the rebuilding process.

The Pirates are still a long way from competing, and will still require many breaks to go their way to be successful. But for the first time in years, Pirate fans have legitimate hope for the future. Neal Huntington is the reason for that hope.

Note:  Be sure to check out Erik’s questions with Phillies’ blogger Bill Baer in the previous post.

The Cards won yet another series over the weekend, as they should have.  Next up on the docket is one of the teams that a lot of people (both mainstream and saberists) placed not only at the top of their division, but the top of the league: the Phillies.  The Phillies sit at 14-10 with a pythag of 15-9 and are 6th in BtB’s power rankings.  It should be one of the tougher (if not the toughest) series to date for the Birds.  Let’s look at how the teams stack up.

(Methodology)

Name wOBA DEF/150 RC/Game
1 Skip Schumaker 0.332 -5 0.573
2 Ryan Ludwick 0.357 1 0.653
3 Albert Pujols 0.432 5 0.928
4 Matt Holliday 0.388 6.5 0.745
5 Colby Rasmus 0.350 5.5 0.587
6 Yadier Molina 0.327 8 0.494
7 David Freese 0.347 0 0.548
8 Brendan Ryan 0.306 7 0.402
9 Pitcher 0.200 0 0.048
Game Totals 0.19 4.978

You’ll note that Colby’s wOBA slid a little from last series while Freese’s has increased. Those two are the most likely to fluctuate with the updates as they have the lowest number of previous PAs.

Name wOBA DEF/150 RC/Game
1 Shane Victorino 0.344 1.5 0.620
2 Placido Polanco 0.337 6 0.578
3 Chase Utley 0.394 11 0.786
4 Ryan Howard 0.385 0 0.732
5 Jayson Werth 0.376 11 0.680
6 Raul Ibanez 0.353 -5.5 0.583
7 Carlos Ruiz 0.328 2 0.484
8 Juan Castro 0.261 -4 0.254
9 Pitcher 0.200 0 0.048
Game Totals 0.15 4.764

Thankfully for the Cards, Jimmy Rollins is injured as that tips the lineups and defense in favor of the Cards.

Starter Starter ERA IP/GS Bullpen ERA
Game 1 Jaime Garcia 4.34 5.66 3.7
Game 2 Adam Wainwright 3.53 7 3.7
Game 3 Brad Penny 4.11 5.66 3.7
Game 4 Kyle Lohse 4.21 5.33 3.7

Garcia is similar to Freese and Rasmus as his current IPs are going to be more heavily weighted because of lack of prior experience.

Starter Starter ERA IP/GS Bullpen ERA
Game 1 Joe Blanton 4.19 6.33 3.8
Game 2 Cole Hamels 3.83 6 3.8
Game 3 Kyle Kendrick 4.86 5 3.8
Game 4 Roy Halladay 3.24 7.66 3.8

Yep, Roy really is a horse.  I think he may even be undervalued in the above projection.  Either way he’ll likely not be handing the ball over to the bullpen for very many innings.

Here’s the runs allowed (combining pitching and defense)

Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4
Cards 4.27 3.69 4.11 4.16
Phils 4.21 3.94 4.56 3.40

Add all that up and you get the following chart of outcomes

So the Cards win the series about 29% of the time, lose it about 35% of the time, and split the rest.  If the Phils had Jimmy Rollins, those numbers would look more like winning 23% and losing 41%.  Let’s take advantage of them while we can!

Another series in the books another series win, this time a thumping of the Braves.  Next up on the docket are the Reds, a team that was seen as a potential dark horse candidate in the division.  So far the Reds sit at 11-11 with a pythag record of 9-13.  Before I dig into the normal series preview I’ll note one quick methodology change (for more about the methodology you can see this post.  Sorry about not linking that in previous previews).  From here on out I’ll be updating the projections on a semi regular basis (maybe not every series, but probably at least once a week or so).  To do that I’m going to take the CHONE projection and weight it by (1*(2009 PA)+0.8*(2008 PA)+0.6*(2007 PA)+200)/( (1*(2009 PA)+0.8*(2008 PA)+0.6*(2007 PA)+200+(2010 PA)) and take the current stat (wOBA for hitters, xFIP (for now, maybe BB FIP in the future) for pitchers)) weighted by 2010 PA/that stuff I had in the denominator above.  Adding those two terms together gives the new “true talent projection”.  The only caveat is that I weight minor league PAs as 0.5*PA.  Could I just use updated ZIPS?  Yep but, for whatever reason I started with CHONE, and I enjoy doing things myself anyway.

On to the preview.  First up is the Card’s lineup

Name wOBA DEF/150 RC/Game
1 Skip Schumaker 0.331 -5 0.574207
2 Ryan Ludwick 0.357 1 0.657092
3 Albert Pujols 0.432 5 0.932839
4 Matt Holliday 0.388 6.5 0.748355
5 Colby Rasmus 0.354 5.5 0.607518
6 Yadier Molina 0.328 8 0.499671
7 David Freese 0.342 0 0.534981
8 Brendan Ryan 0.304 7 0.396725
9 Pitcher 0.2 0 0.04831
Game Tot 0.186667 4.999699

And the Reds

Name wOBA DEF/150 RC/Game
1 Drew Stubbs 0.31571 8 0.506291
2 Orlando Cabrera 0.318197 -0.5 0.501983
3 Joey Votto 0.391938 2.5 0.771881
4 Brandon Phillips 0.33364 7.5 0.540472
5 Scott Rolen 0.345295 8 0.566604
6 Jay Bruce 0.376548 4.5 0.658623
7 Jonny Gomes 0.349563 -10 0.551189
8 Ramon Hernandez 0.325325 -0.5 0.461619
9 Pitcher 0.2 0 0.047638
Game Tot 0.13 4.6063

And the pitching staffs, starting with the Cards

Starter Starter ERA IP/GS Bullpen ERA
Game 1 Brad Penny 4.09 6 3.7
Game 2 Kyle Lohse 4.25 5.33 3.7
Game 3 Chris Carpenter 3.12 7 3.7

And the Reds

Starter Starter ERA IP/GS Bullpen ERA
Game 1 Johnny Cueto 4.56 5.66 3.86
Game 2 Homer Bailey 4.57 5.66 3.86
Game 3 Aaron Harang 4.29 6.33 3.86

Adding the pitching and the defense yields a runs allowed table of

Game 1 Game 2 Game 3
Reds 4.546863 4.550207 4.396201
Cards 4.114451 4.188855 3.34673

Just looking at the lineups and pitching staffs it appears that the Cards should have the edge in both scoring and run prevention.  That plus home field advantage should make for a nice series for the Cards.  What does the simulation have to say about how nice of a series?

Cards win the series ~72% of the time, 27% of the time with a sweep.

The Cards, coming off of their first series loss of the year, return home to face a Braves team that is scuffling more than I would have expected before the season began.  The Braves are 8-10 and have a pythagorean record of 8-10 as well.  So how do the two teams stack up according to the pre-season projections.  First lineups, with the Cards first

Name wOBA DEF/150 RC/Game
Skip Schumaker 0.335 -5 0.586152
Ryan Ludwick 0.356 1 0.650075
Albert Pujols 0.431 5 0.925749
Matt Holliday 0.39 6.5 0.751876
Colby Rasmus 0.343 5.5 0.56356
Yadier Molina 0.329 8 0.499789
David Freese 0.34 0 0.523898
Brendan Ryan 0.31 7 0.415002
Pitcher 0.2 0 0.04807
Game Totals 0.187 4.964171

and the Braves

Name wOBA DEF/150 RC/Game
Melky Cabrera 0.33 3 0.56664
Martin Prado 0.351 -2 0.631089
Chipper Jones 0.377 -3 0.722701
Brian McCann 0.373 -3 0.689586
Troy Glaus 0.356 0 0.60987
Yunel Escobar 0.352 1 0.579506
Jason Heyward 0.345 5 0.540776
Nate McLouth 0.355 -4 0.564164
Pitcher 0.2 0 0.04807
Game Totals -0.02 4.952402

I diverged a little from CHONE for the Braves.  CHONE was a major outlier for Melky Cabrera, so I went with the next highest projection.  For Jason Heyward, I went above and beyond the projections and projected him similar to Rasmus’ pre-season projection.  Quibble if you like.

The Card’s pitchers

Starter Starter ERA IP/GS Bullpen ERA
Game 1 Kyle Lohse 4.18 5.33 3.7
Game 2 Chris Carpenter 3.1 7 3.7
Game 3 Jaime Garcia 4.45 5.66 3.7
Game 4 Adam Wainwright 3.53 7 3.7

and the Braves

Starter Starter ERA IP/GS Bullpen ERA
Game 1 Tim Hudson 3.95 6 3.25
Game 2 Derek Lowe 4.07 6 3.25
Game 3 Kenshin Kawakami 4.44 6.66 3.25
Game 4 Jair Jurrjens 3.77 6.33 3.25

Runs Allowed (combining pitching and defense) for the Cards

RA
Game 1 4.144058
Game 2 3.327826
Game 3 4.347754
Game 4 3.691353

and the Braves

RA
Game 1 4.059855
Game 2 4.146812
Game 3 4.509783
Game 4 3.950145

it appears that the teams are fairly even on the offensive side, but the Cards have an advantage in run prevention. It helps that the Cards have such a decided edge defensively.

and then finally the results of the sim

A split is most likely, but if someone is going to win the series, then it should be the Birds on the Bat.

Coming off of yet another series win,the Cards prepare for a 3 game tilt against the Giants starting Friday night.  Unfortunately Wellemeyer just pitched last night, so the Cards won’t have an opportunity to rough up an old friend.  So far this year the Giants are 8-7, but have a 10-5 pythagorean record.  This should be a tough series as the Cards will see both Lincecum and Cain.  On to the inputs for the simulation, first a representative Cards lineup

Name wOBA DEF/150 RC/Game
Skip Schumaker 0.335 -5 0.586152
Ryan Ludwick 0.356 1 0.650075
Albert Pujols 0.431 5 0.925749
Matt Holliday 0.39 6.5 0.751876
Colby Rasmus 0.343 5.5 0.56356
Yadier Molina 0.329 8 0.499789
David Freese 0.34 0 0.523898
Brendan Ryan 0.31 7 0.415002
Pitcher 0.2 0 0.04807
per game total 0.186667 4.964171

and then the same for the Giants

Name wOBA DEF/150 RC/Game
Aaron Rowand 0.323 -1 0.539323
Edgar Renteria 0.317 -3 0.501985
Pablo Sandoval 0.385 0 0.752782
Aubrey Huff 0.336 -3 0.554014
Mark DeRosa 0.335 0 0.535061
Bengie Molina 0.311 -2.5 0.437402
John Bowker 0.35 3 0.557654
Juan Uribe 0.314 -2 0.428261
Pitcher 0.2 0 0.04807
per game total -0.05667 4.354552

and then the Cards pitchers

Starter Starter ERA IP/GS Bullpen ERA
Game 1 Jaime Garcia 4.45 5.66 3.7
Game 2 Adam Wainwright 3.53 7 3.7
Game 3 Brad Penny 4.11 5.66 3.7

and Giants

Starter Starter ERA IP/GS Bullpen ERA
Game 1 Tim Lincecum 3.12 7 3.6
Game 2 Barry Zito 4.85 6 3.6
Game 3 Matt Cain 3.93 6.6 3.6

Quick summary, the Cards have the position player edge, both offensively and defensively. The Giants have the edge on the mound, although that edge is smaller than the offense edge the Birds have. What does the sim say?

Again the Cards are projected to take 2 of 3. Most likely way to get there is losing the opener to Timmy and then winning the next two (the third is a virtual coin flip). All in all I think the Birds would definitely be happy winning 2 of 3.

Since we now have one game down, here’s the updated graph that has how the series as a whole (to include last night) will turn out.

If you’ve read some of my previous stuff around the internet you likely know that I enjoy using simple simulations to do analysis.  With the regular season upon us, I thought it would be interesting to run one such simulation before each series to serve as our PAH9 version of a series preview.

First then a quick overview of the simulation.  It is built similar to the one that I described at Fangraphs

In order to run the simulation needs the [...] teams true talent win percentage. The simulation is a simple Monte Carlo that determines the winner of each game using random draws bounced up against log5 based winning percentages. For example, if we want to simulate the outcome of a game between Team A that has a 0.600 true talent win percentage and Team B that has a 0.450 win percentage, we first calculate the probability that A beats B using the log5 equation linked above. That calculation says that Team A should have a 0.647 winning percentage against Team B. To simulate a game between these teams then, the simulation draws a random number between 0 and 1 and if the number is less than or equal to 0.647 then Team A wins, otherwise Team B wins.

So, how did I derive the true talent win percentages? The process is similar to the one used by JinAZ over at BtB to do his power ranking, only I use projections instead of results (as the season continues I’ll probably use updated projections). To approximate runs scored I take the eight starting position players and calculate the projected runs/game for that lineup by plugging each player’s CHONE projection into the Runs Created formula that Fangraphs uses, and scaling that to a single game. To approximate runs allowed I take the (starter’s projected ERA/.92)*IP/start+(bullpen projected ERA/.92)*(9-IP/start) and from that I subtract the team’s defensive runs saved per game. These two calculations are plugged into PythagenPat to find the each team’s true talent win% with the respective lineup/SP combinations. On top of that %, I add a 0.040 home field advantage for the home team. Plug those into the simulation and you get the following for the Cards D-Backs series

The chart is Cards wins across the x-axis and frequency on the y-axis, so you can see that the simulation says that Cards should sweep about 18% of the time. The most common set of events was the Cards winning the first and third games, and losing the middle game to Dan Haren. This series of events happened ~20% of the time.

For the curious, here’s the table of true talent win % (with home field advantage) I derived

Game 1 Game 2 Game 3
Cards 0.587 0.584 0.676
D-Backs 0.5 0.606 0.533

So there ya have it… the Cards should win 2 of 3…. Again (well 40% of the time anyhow).

For any of you team specific bloggers that stumble upon this, if you want a copy of the simulation (it’s in excel using vba) just drop me a line and I can get you a copy (after I pretty it up a little and add a GUI like function).

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