Those lost souls that actually follow the Rays closely know that there is talent on this team and several players have a chance to break out this season. We here at RI try to stay level-headed and not get too optimistic with expectations for individual players. We have an idea of what each player is capable of, and hope that those players at the very least make progress towards those levels. We know that a few players will achieve to those levels, a few players will maintain past levels and probably a few players will regress, whether it be due to injury, past overachievments, steroid testing or baby mamma issues.

That being said we would still like to have a realistic idea of what can be expected from our Rays this season. Enter Baseball Prospectus and their PECOTA playing cards. In short, Nate Silver of BP has developed an algorithm using Sabermetrics to predict future performance of individual players. We don’t pretend to know the math behind PECOTA, but our best understanding is that it uses past performances, age and predicted playing time and compares those numbers to similar players from past years. In doing so, they develop a probability distribution for each player, with predictive stat lines from the 10th percentile to the 90th.

Below we have presented weighted means for players that we expect to receive regular playing time with the 2007 Rays. The weighted mean “incorporates all of the player’s potential outcomes into a single average, weighted based on projected playing time.” For example, Carl Crawford has a 10th percentile stat line that looks like .268-8-41-22. In other words, he has a 90% chance of having a season at least as good as that stat line. His 90th percentile line is .343-20-78-54, but he only has a 10% chance of having a season that good or better. The percentile does not apply to the individual stats, but to the entire line. As Rays fans we realize that CC has a better than 10% chance of stealing 54 bases, but a .343 batting average is probably not in his repertoire yet. We have only included the most common stats. You can find more stats in addition to more players cards at Baseball ProspectusTomorrow we will present the Rays pitching staff.

Carl Crawford 633 .309 16 66 43 .351 .476
Rocco Baldelli 520 .299 20 70 13 .342 .501
Akinori Iwamura 560 .275 17 64 7 .353 .449
Delmon Young 588 .297 18 75 22 .334 .473
B. J. Upton 604 .264 13 54 40 .347 .412
Jorge Cantu 548 .267 21 79 1 .308 .452
Elijah Dukes 532 .283 16 62 13 .349 .454
Jonny Gomes 530 .238 27 75 6 .343 .480
Brendan Harris 500 .259 11 56 3 .314 .390
Dioner Navarro 349 .269 8 39 3 .344 .410
Greg Norton 301 .260 11 42 1 .339 .442
Ty Wigginton 460 .269 19 65 4 .336 .467
Ben Zobrist 526 .279 5 46 9 .348 .393

A few thoughts on these numbers…

  1. In 2006, the Rays had the worst team OBP in baseball (.314). It looks like PECOTA predicts the team to take a jump forward in 2007, with 10 players in the .330-.360 range. The premise being that players become more patient and adept at reaching base as they get older. That would go along way to improving this team dramatically in 2007.
  2. Carl Crawford showed at times last year that he has a power game and we will probably see more home runs this season. Also, if CC bats third as predicted, look for more RBI.
  3. Rocco Baldelli’s numbers are about what we are expecting, although we think he will probably be closer to 20-25 stolen bases.
  4. B. J. Upton’s numbers look to be inflated a bit as he probably will not see that many plate appearances. Still, it is nice to see that despite his recent struggles, PECOTA still predicts him to emerge as a solid offensive player. He is young, and talented and there is still plenty of time to develop.
  5. Jorge Cantu and Jonny Gomesyou would think they were a Hollywood couple as often as these two have been mentioned together this Spring. We might need a Brangelina-type nickname. We kinda like Jornny Gomtu. No? Anyway, Cantu’s and Gomes’ numbers are probably the most difficult to predict because half there careers to this point have been affected by injury. So we suggest taking their numbers lightly.
  6. Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes (if he gets enough ABs) look to be exactly what most people would realistically expect.
  7. If Ben Zobrist can give the Rays a consistent glove and .350 OBP, Joe Maddon will be very happy.


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