Friday, March 21, 2014

Data Shows Spring Stats Matter

Another day, another fantastic Mike Moustakas spring performance. With each day that goes by the Royals former top pick continues to mash in the Arizona sun. Heading into this afternoon's game Moustakas was hitting .450/.521/.875 and of course he then went 1-1 with two walks. So what does all of this Spring success mean for Moustakas in 2014? Fortunately, the wonderfully fantastic FiveThirtyEight and Neil Paine brought us this post on when Spring Training results matter. Here's what Paine concluded:

"We then find that spring productivity is statistically significant when predicting actual performance in the upcoming season, even after controlling for a player’s Marcel projection. However, while significant, the effect is extremely small: To raise his expected regular-season wOBA by just a single point, a typical player would need to hit for a wOBA roughly 17 points higher than expected during the spring.
In other words, spring numbers can and should affect our predictions for a player’s regular-season production, but only slightly, and only after a particularly strong or weak performance."
Based off this study, there is statistical backing to believe that Moustakas's strong spring should improve our expectations for our third baseman for 2014. In fact, Mike Moustakas is one of the ten players that Paine even mentions as a guy to keep an eye on for the upcoming season. Prior to Spring, Marcel's projections called for Moustakas to post a wOBA of .321, but after a wOBA of .616 in Spring they have revised their projection to .331 for the season.

This of course would be a tremendous improvement from Moustakas's 2013 performance in which he posted a wOBA of .287. In fact, Moustakas's previous career high in wOBA is the .305 mark that he posted in 2012. In case you are curious a .331 mark would've ranked 72nd in baseball last season and 8th among third basemen.

I'm not of the opinion that Moustakas has to rake for the Royals to find the playoffs in 2014. The Royals have done enough this offseason to get themselves to the periphery of playoff discussion and there are much fewer "ifs" that need to play out this year than there have been in the past for the Royals to play in October. Of course, if Moustakas can hit as Marcel and Paine are projecting, with his defense he becomes a 3.5-4 win player.

Let's hope that Moustakas can carry these results into the season. It would be a huge boost to the Royals offense.

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