What White Sox, Cubs are likely to do for rest of season
BY JOHN GROCHOWSKI For Sun-Times Media July 28, 2014 9:48PM
Chicago White Sox's Gordon Beckham begins to celebrate his home run off Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Neil Ramirez as he passes catcher Welington Castillo, during the eighth inning of an interleague baseball game Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Updated: July 28, 2014 10:23PM
The White Sox’ 51-55 record is right on the pace their 455 runs scored and 471 runs allowed suggest they should be on through the Pythagorean projection developed by Bill James.
The Cubs have won a few games fewer than their data suggest. They were 42-61 through Sunday, and their 397 runs scored and 447 runs allowed pointed toward a 46-57 record.
Does that mean the Sox can expect to stay on an even keel for the last two months and the Cubs can expect to improve a bit? Not necessarily. Rosters change, and so do other conditions.
At FanGraphs.com, projections for the rest of the season are updated daily. They look at the remaining schedule and projected player performance based not only on this season but on his norms in recent years. A player who performs far above his career averages might keep it up for a full season, but history has shown us the most likely outcome is he will play closer to his career norms the rest of the way.
FanGraphs projects the Sox to go 26-30 the rest of the way, slightly below their current pace. For the Cubs, the projection is an improvement to 27-32.
If you click on each team on the projections page, you can get projections for each player.
Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez has a .724 OPS, an improvement on his .693 last season and his .651 in 2012. The workings of the FanGraphs system put him closer to his career norms the rest of the way, with a .690 OPS in the last two months.
Conor Gillaspie’s .840 OPS is a giant step from his .695 last season, his first as a regular. The projection is for a step back to .723 the rest of the way. For Jose Abreu, who is going through the long major-league season for the first time, the projection is for a smaller dip — from .963 to a still-outstanding .895.
Chris Sale projects as a top pitcher, of course, but with rises in walks per nine innings (1.55 to 2.01), home runs allowed per nine innings (0.49 to 0.85) and ERA (1.88 to 2.98) to be closer to his norms.
For the Cubs, the projection is for a cooler last two months for Anthony Rizzo (.917 OPS to .844) and Starlin Castro (.745 OPS to .729) but a rise for Welington Castillo (.681 OPS to .708) and a .701 OPS from Arismendy Alcantara that towers above the .594 by the departed Darwin Barney. Edwin Jackson projects to improve from a 5.76 ERA to 4.23 and Travis Wood from a 5.06 ERA to 4.18.
Projections aren’t predictions or destiny; they just point to probabilities based on past performance. Gillaspie and Sale might keep performing at their new levels, and the Sox might win more than the projection. Jackson and Wood might keep giving up more than five runs a game, and the Cubs might fall even further behind the pack.
But most players revert to their norms, and the FanGraphs projections reflect that.