We have had some discussion here recently about projection systems. A recent look at several systems suggests the Rays will win about 90 games this season and finish third in the AL East.

This, and a recent article in the Orange County Register got us wondering…What is the full potential for the 2009 Tampa Bay Rays?

In the PECOTA projections over at Baseball Prospectus they actually provide a range of projections for each player.The highest (best) projection for each player is their “90th percentile.” We decided to take a look at what the 2009 Rays would look like if each player played to the 90th percentile.

Notes on the projections are found after the tables…



Notes on the 90° PECOTA projections

  • We used the opening day roster, with Jeff Niemann as the fifth starter and Lance Cormier in the bullpen. We also used BJ Upton in place of Matt Joyce.
  • The offense is projected to score 963 runs based on 6,324 plate appearances. The Rays had 6,312 plate appearances in 2008, so we did not scale this number.
  • The pitching staff is projected to give up 443 earned runs. Based on how many unearned runs the Rays allowed last year, that number translates to 481 total runs. But this number is based on 1,350.1 innings. Last year the Rays pitched 1,457.2 innings. So the total number of runs allowed was scaled up to 519.
  • Based on Pythagorean win expectation, scoring 963 runs and allowing 519 runs would translate to a .756 win percentage.
  • Based on a .756 win percentage, the Rays would finish the regular season at 122-40 (and some thought the C.H.A.L.K. projections were optimistic at 113 wins)
  • What stands out to us, other than every player having a very good year, is that none of the numbers for individual players seem outlandish to us. We can look at each stat line and envision a season in which that player reaches those numbers. In fact, in a couple of cases, the numbers seem low (BJ Upton, Carl Crawford). This is because the projection systems don’t account for stats from previous seasons that are affected by injuries.
  • Last year the Rays finished 97-65, which was 5 games better than their Pythagorean win percentage. Some say this is evidence that the Rays were lucky in 2008. We think it does not account for a team with a great bullpen that wins more close games than an average team. In 2009, the Rays 29-18 record in 1-run games was the best in baseball.


  1. eyebleaf says:

    The Blue Jays are winning the pennant.

  2. Joe D. says:

    It's hard to Imagine that the all of the Rays pitchers are going to have ERA's under 4, I've got Imagine best case scenario at least one guy is going to be in the 4.5 ERA range in the and at least one in the pen and one in rotation...

    But I agree that the offensive projections here don't seem all that unattainable. I also find it interesting that Aybar projects so well offensively, and so much better then Aki.

    Prof. I am wondering does this projection take in to account defensive play/abilities?


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