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CAIRO projections and the 2012 White Sox

"Your team will suck!"
"Your team will suck!"

The extremely early CAIRO projections are out. CAIRO has a better track record than the simple Marcel projections but not quite as good as some of the other projection systems. And this was its projected 2012 AL Central standings:

Tigers 89 73
Indians 87 75
White Sox 77 85
Royals 73 89
Twins 66 96

These projected standings aren't worth a lot because it's early in the offseason and rosters change. But I thought I'd see if the Computer was doing anything crazy and calculate my own projection for the 2012 White Sox based on CAIRO's invidual player projections.

I generally stuck with the playing time estimates by CAIRO. The only one I changed was Chris Sale because he's projected as a relief pitcher. After the jump, you can see the assumptions and projections and judge for yourself.

Pitcher Projections

Pitchers IP WAR
Gavin Floyd 188 3.1
Jake Peavy 98 1.4
John Danks 155 2.9
Chris Sale 130 2.0
Philip Humber 92 0.7
Jesse Crain 66 1.3
Matt Thornton 65 1.1
Addison Reed 43 0.6
Jason Frasor 62 1.0
Will Ohman 49 0.5
Zach Stewart 109 -0.2
Gregory Infante
55 -0.4
Dylan Axelrod 90 1.2

Add it up and you get 1202 IP, which is about 250 IP short of a full season. I assumed replacement level for the remaining innings.

Pitcher WAR: 15.2 WAR


Position Player Projections

Now on to the hitters. Obviously, there's currently a bit of a logjam in the outfield. I assumed that Carlos Quentin would be the one to go. However, if you want to include him instead of another outfielder, his WAR was 1.6 in 563 PA. I also don't think the last bench player is currently with the White Sox so I have put in a replacement level placeholder. Note that these projections are inclusive of defense.

Hitters PA WAR
A.J. Pierzynski
459 1.5
Paul Konerko
622 2.5
Gordon Beckham
523 1.2
Alexei Ramirez
633 2.8
Brent Morel
340 0.3
Alejandro De Aza
236 0.9
Alex Rios
614 1.5
Dayan Viciedo
321 0.5
Adam Dunn
599 1.1
Tyler Flowers
233 1.2
Ozzie Martinez
283 0.5
Brent Lillibridge
197 0.2
Fourth bench player
150 0.0

Add it up and you get 5210 PA, which is about 900 short of a full season. Again, I assumed replacement level for the remaining plate appearances.

Position Player WAR: 14.2 WAR.


Bottom Line

So let's add it up for a win total. A replacement level team is expected to have 48.6 wins. Add the 15.2 pitcher WAR and 14.2 position player WAR and we get 78 wins, or 1 more win than CAIRO projected.


Let's Play the Adjustment Game

I'm sure there are plenty of people reading this that are taking issue with these projections. Don't kill me, I'm just the messenger (who hopefully didn't screw up any math; it's late at night). There are some assumptions here that one could reasonably say are shortchanging the White Sox. There are some others that you can perhaps a bit less reasonably say, if things go better than expected, the White Sox will be much better than this projection. Let's go over a few of each that could have a significant effect on the win total.

In terms of both projected playing time and performance, Phil Humber is one guy that you look at and say, did last season not happen? And CAIRO responds, did the five prior seasons not happen? Obviously Humber had a breakout season in 2011. If you think that breakout was a new performance level, those innings should probably be upped to around the 163 IP he had last season. He was worth 3-3.5 WAR last season, so you may also want to up that WAR projection, too. If you do that, you'll probably be tacking on 2 wins. So we're at 80 wins.

The other starting pitcher you might look at is Jake Peavy. Sure, he's averaged just a bit more than 100 IP the last three seasons, but maybe you think this is the year he finally is healthy for most of the season. So maybe tack on 60 IP to that projection. And you also think that WAR projection understates what Peavy will do. So maybe you want to tack on 2 WAR to that projection. So now we're at 82 wins.

On the position player side, I know Tdogg is out there screaming about Alexei Ramirez's projection. According to fWAR, he was worth 4.9 WAR in 2011. bWAR is a bit less impressed but you're optimistic so you'll ignore that and say that he'll play like he did last season. So maybe you want to tack on 2 WAR to his projection. And now we're at 84 wins.

Another guy Tdogg will be screaming about is Alejandro De Aza. Both fWAR and bWAR had him worth more than 2 WAR in just 171 PA last season. There isn't anyone who thinks he can keep up that pace over a full season but you think that projection shortchanges him. You also think that PA projection is wrong because you don't think de Aza will be part time and you think he'll manage to stay relatively injury free, like he did in 2011 for the first time in his career. So you up those PA to 550 and up that WAR to an above average player, say, 2.5 WAR. And now we're at 85.6 wins.

Dayan Viciedo's projection makes him look like he's not quite the guy you thought he was given all the hype about him last season. You can't believe this top prospect would only get 321 PA and be worth a half a win. So double those PA to 600 and make him an above average player, too, at 2.5 WAR. Things are looking pretty good now: 87.6 wins.

You're also an optimist about both Alex Rios and Adam Dunn and think that both will return to being above average players. You don't want to be seen as too crazy so you think they'll both be 2.5 WAR players. So tack on 1 WAR to Rios and 1.4 WAR to Dunn. And now it's a division-winning 90 win team.

I'm sure there are those out there who want to keep going, adding a win to Brent Morel or a win to Brent Lillibridge and so on. Obviously, I've just outlined a crazy optimistic, nothing goes wrong season with some surprise performances (Dylan Axelrod and Tyler Flowers worth 1.2 WAR each?). The pessimists out there could do something similar to what I did: John Danks is traded away, Dunn and Rios play more like last season, no breakout performances, injuries to a couple key performers, another key performer has a terrible season and on down the line until the White Sox are a 70 win team.

So have at it, optimists, pessimists, realists and everyone else. Is the early offseason Computer right, wrong to the negative or wrong to the positive?