Comparing Projected HR leaders to actual

Tom Tango asked an interesting question on Twitter yesterday:
TangoForecastHR

The odds of the projected HR leader actually leading the league is an interesting question. I’ve been doing projections since 2011, so I thought I’d sweep my database for the RotoValue projections and see what that history was. That gives me just five years, but it turns out my projection model did correctly name the MLB home run leader once in those five years, or 20% of the time. Chris Davis hit 47 HR in 2015, leading MLB, while my model projected him to hit 35 HR. Note that when you’re leading the league, you’re not only very likely beating your own projection, you’re also probably beating all the projections, because the projected totals can be considered a weighted average of all possible outcomes for that player, and the possibility of a bad year or injury will pull that average down from what a peak player will produce when healthy. Also it’s not unusual for the league leader to be a player having a breakout year, well above what his past performance suggested.

Last year, Mark Trumbo’s career-best 47 HR topped MLB, despite my model projecting him for just 21.3 HR, the 46th best total. My projected 2016 leader was Chris Davis again, now projected to hit 37.9, and he actually slightly edged that out, with 38 HR. But I was not projecting the overall home run surge, and Davis’s 38 HR ranked only 12th best.

The actual MLB HR leader has regularly surprised my projections model. Only one other year, 2012, when Miguel Cabrera’s 44 HR led, was the actual leader among my preseason projected leaders (my model projected 34.5 HR for Cabrera, the 5th best projection). In the other years, the leader was projected 36th (Nelson Cruz moving to Baltimore in 2014), 90th (Chris Davis in 2013) and 73rd (Jose Bautista in 2011) by my model.

Over the 6 years, of the 60 players projected to finish in the top 10, 22 of them did so. Also, 24 of the 60 equaled or bettered their projected total, while 36 failed to reach the projected value.

Below the jump I’ve put tables for each year showing players projected to be in the top 10 in HR in my model, along with any players who actually finished in the top 10, along with their projected values.

2016
Name ProjHR ProjRank ActHR ActRank
Chris Davis 37.9 1 38 12
Giancarlo Stanton 35.2 2 27 47
Mike Trout 35.0 3 29 38
Nelson Cruz 33.0 4 43 2
Jose Bautista 32.9 5 22 78
Edwin Encarnacion 32.4 6 42 3
Bryce Harper 29.9 7 24 65
Anthony Rizzo 29.7 8 32 22
Josh Donaldson 29.3 9 37 14
Jose Abreu 29.3 10 25 55
Chris Carter 27.9 15 41 6
Nolan Arenado 26.4 17 41 7
Kris Bryant 25.3 21 39 9
Khris Davis 24.9 22 42 3
Todd Frazier 24.4 30 40 8
Brian Dozier 22.0 38 42 3
Mark Trumbo 21.3 46 47 1
Robinson Cano 17.9 77 39 9
2015
Name ProjHR ProjRank ActHR ActRank
Chris Davis 35.0 1 47 1
Miguel Cabrera 32.2 2 18 70
Giancarlo Stanton 31.4 3 27 25
Mike Trout 30.9 4 41 5
Jose Abreu 30.5 5 30 19
Nelson Cruz 30.4 6 44 2
David Ortiz 30.2 7 37 12
Edwin Encarnacion 29.8 8 39 10
Jose Bautista 28.6 9 40 7
Adam Jones 28.3 10 27 24
Albert Pujols 25.4 13 40 8
Josh Donaldson 21.9 26 41 6
Bryce Harper 20.1 40 42 3
Carlos Gonzalez 18.6 49 40 8
Nolan Arenado 15.3 86 42 3
2014
Name ProjHR ProjRank ActHR ActRank
Miguel Cabrera 36.0 1 25 21
Chris Davis 32.9 2 26 20
Adrian Beltre 31.1 3 19 57
Giancarlo Stanton 30.5 4 37 3
Edwin Encarnacion 29.8 5 34 8
Mike Trout 29.6 6 36 4
Jose Bautista 28.5 7 35 7
Prince Fielder 28.4 8 3 320
Adam Jones 28.0 9 29 12
Adam Dunn 27.3 10 2 366
David Ortiz 23.5 24 35 6
Nelson Cruz 21.0 36 40 1
Chris Carter 19.8 47 37 2
Anthony Rizzo 18.1 60 32 9
Victor Martinez 15.6 88 32 9
Jose Abreu 14.0 110 36 5
2013
Name ProjHR ProjRank ActHR ActRank
Jose Bautista 34.5 1 28 16
Miguel Cabrera 34.2 2 44 2
Giancarlo Stanton 31.9 3 24 31
Ryan Braun 31.6 4 9 194
Jay Bruce 30.7 5 30 11
Albert Pujols 30.5 6 17 80
Josh Hamilton 30.4 7 21 52
Adrian Beltre 29.7 8 30 10
Mark Trumbo 27.8 9 34 6
Josh Willingham 27.8 10 14 107
Adam Dunn 26.5 15 34 7
Edwin Encarnacion 26.3 17 36 3
Adam Jones 25.0 22 33 8
Evan Longoria 22.5 35 32 9
Paul Goldschmidt 21.6 44 36 3
Pedro Alvarez 18.3 72 36 3
Chris Davis 17.0 90 53 1
2012
Name ProjHR ProjRank ActHR ActRank
Albert Pujols 40.6 1 30 23
Prince Fielder 40.1 2 30 23
Giancarlo Stanton 36.6 3 37 7
Mark Reynolds 35.9 4 23 52
Miguel Cabrera 34.5 5 44 1
Jay Bruce 33.6 6 34 10
Jesus Montero 33.4 7 15 117
Evan Longoria 32.3 8 17 97
Dan Uggla 31.8 9 19 79
Joey Votto 31.8 10 14 129
Ryan Braun 31.4 13 41 5
Adam Dunn 30.3 16 41 5
Curtis Granderson 26.6 20 43 2
Josh Hamilton 24.5 27 43 3
Edwin Encarnacion 22.8 39 42 4
Adrian Beltre 21.9 49 36 8
Josh Willingham 19.3 72 35 9
2011
Name ProjHR ProjRank ActHR ActRank
Prince Fielder 42.3 1 38 5
Albert Pujols 41.4 2 37 6
Ryan Howard 41.0 3 33 10
Adam Dunn 39.7 4 11 143
Mark Reynolds 36.6 5 37 6
Miguel Cabrera 34.9 6 30 21
Ryan Braun 34.4 7 33 11
Mark Teixeira 34.2 8 39 3
Carlos Quentin 32.8 9 24 43
Evan Longoria 32.7 10 31 16
Giancarlo Stanton 32.4 11 34 9
Dan Uggla 29.3 16 36 8
Matt Kemp 23.9 39 39 3
Jose Bautista 19.2 73 43 1
Curtis Granderson 14.7 120 41 2

About Geoff

Dad, hacker, fantasy sports entrepreneur.
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