Orginally presented on February 4 for the Cleveland chapter of SABR (Society of American Baseball Research), an in-depth player/positional analysis was performed to see how the 2012 Indians will fare. This is part one of a 15 part series that will be released over the following two weeks. The rest of the research/analysis can be found here.
Conclusion: Accounting for the Lucky 2011 Season
and Predicting the 2012 Win Total
It’s important for every analyst to realize the context of the data. For example, according to the Pythagorean Expected Win Formula, the Indians, based on the numbers of runs scored and allowed, should have won 75 games in 2011, not 80. The formula more or less tries to eliminate a certain degree of luck.
So, using the 75 wins as a starting point for the 2012 season, the team should see an increase of 10 to 12 wins (beginning from greatest to least): the rotation and right field should each witness an increase of 4.5 wins, second base should see a 3.5-win increase, center field, left field and first base will improve by one-and-a-half games, catcher by one game, the bullpen and shortstop positions should hold constant, and designated hitter and third base should decline by 0.5 and 1.0, respectively. Subtract the three wins due to random injury – remember, Grady Sizemore’s and Travis Hafner’s playing time was already adjusted prior, and depending on the amount of human error the total wins for the 2012 Indians should be between 86 and 89.
Finally, there’s one other factor that could play a role, and perhaps a major one, in 2012: the possibility of starting seven left-handed hitters. How is this going to alter the team’s offensive production? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe left-hander hitters struggle against left-handed pitchers because they just don’t see them that often. Either way, the bench will have to contain almost right-handed bats exclusively. Perhaps, subtracting one additional win, which is just a best guess, will account for it, bringing the final total to 85 to 88 wins.
Is this a definite, etched in stone total?
No, no it’s not.
Things happen that simply can’t be forecasted: multiple injuries, poor luck, and trades, among others. Look at the 2010 season for evidence.
Instead, this total, the 85 to 88 wins, represents what should be expected of the Cleveland Indians during a normal season.