Sunday, April 03, 2005

Why the D-Backs Will Improve This Year 

Primer has coined an acronym -- CFBPS -- which stands for "Crazy Fan-Boy Projection System." The definition is pretty loose, but it basically means any less-than-rigorous projection system. And, in lieu of doing real work on a rigorous system, allow me to spend four minutes typing up why I think 75 wins is a none-too-unrealistic goal for the D-Backs this year.

First: the D-Backs' Pythagorean record last year was 54-108. That record, which means the D-Backs' 51 wins was slightly unlucky, is better for moving forward with into 2005. I've thought about this by comparing 2004 with 2005 and using Win Shares, though I'll convert those shares into actual wins added (or, on occasion, subtracted). OK, by position:

LF: Gonzo was out for 1/3 of the year, plus injured the rest of the year. He'll get two wins just by being in the lineup, plus another win for being healthy: 3 wins
CF: Cruz will be as good in a full season as Finley was for 2/3 of a season: 0 wins
RF: Green is projected by BP to hit 17 more HRs than Bautista did in 2004: 2 wins

3B: Glaus will mash: 3 wins
SS/2B: To say that Counsell and Clayton will be better than Cintron and the raft of characters at 2nd is not to say that Cintron might not be better this year. But they were awful last year: 2 wins
1B: I think Tracy will struggle a little bit this year, but will put up similar enough numbers to Hillenbrand: 0 wins
C: Again, Hill and Snyder might not be great, but C overall last year was a hole: 2 win

Position-player bench: Once more, it just seems like we'll be spared the energy-sucking vortex that was the D-Backs' bench in 2004: 1 win.

Vazquez: Even if he has a decent year, he's no Randy Johnson: 2 losses
Webb: Will bounce back, with better defense: 1 win
Ortiz/Estes/Halsey: I recall reading somewhere that the 3-5 starters last year had an ERA above 6.00. Even if these three starters have an ERA of 5.00 (which is where I think BP had them), over 540 innings, that's a difference of 60 runs, or: 6 wins

Bullpen: The worst bullpen offenders are gone, with the best still around. The rotation is stronger. All in all, I think that means another: 2 wins

Manager: I don't know -- I just think Melvin will be good for the team: 1 win

Count 'em up, that's 21 more wins, or 75 for the season. I'm probably overoptimistic in some areas, but I also think there's some upside (Vazquez, Green).

And, really, what's Opening Day without a little hope?

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