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An homage to Lord Kelvin.

The American scientist William Thomson, better known under the title granted him in Britain, Lord Kelvin, is famed for many things (the Kelvin temperature scale honors him), but the most-quoted of his remarks is what I want to address here in a baseball context:

I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be.

Because there is a lot of pessimism going around about the Giants' offense this year, I ginned up some software to use the data I already gather daily for the web site and extract some analysis. The basic idea is simple enough: take each man's career line, pro-rate each datum for the amount of playing time the man has had so far in 2010 (compared to his career total), add those pro-rated data up for a team line, and apply some analysis to that team line.

Since the Giants have some older players, some commenters have questioned whether career stats can be considered indicative of present abilities. Back in the day, what I preferred to use was a last-three-seasons composite, but that requires some tedious man-by-man fine-tuning for guys who have not been everyday players for most or all of such a period. But also remember that a career is not a line that starts at its peak and declines every year; most men reach their performance peak somewhere around age 28, and in the years before that the level will have been rising from a lower start (obviously not every man's career follows such a simple path, but most do); thus, a full career is not, till the man is well into his 30s, likely to be off by much.

But the proof of a pudding is in the eating, so the thing to do is examine the actual individual player lines to see if the projections seem notably out of line with the actual performance. We do not, of course, expect every man to do what his career averages predict: baseball would be so simple even a Sabean could do it were that the case. But what we expect is that the individual ups and downs will--usually--pretty well equalize out, at least over s stretch as long as a season. They don't always--there are always going to be a couple of outliers in a given season--but usually they more or less do. The thing to do is to see if any of what seem to be the more marked discrepancies seem tightly associated with age.

Now for the moment you've all been eagerly awaiting (hey, that's how they say it on tv):

Presentation is: first, the line projected from career-to-date stats, pro-rated by actual 2010 plate appearances; second the man's actual 2010 stats. These are through 43 games (through Sunday 23 May). Keep in mind that because the career stats are current to date, they include 2010; for veterans, that will make little difference, but for newer players (or pitchers) the resemblance between projection and actual is rather less remarkable.

Man               AB      H     2B     3B     HR     BB    HBP     SO     PA
============================================================================
Torres           106     28      7      3      3     13      1     27    120
                 103     29     11      1      2     16      1     20
                        
Whiteside         48     12      3      0      1      2      1     11     51
                  47     14      5      0      2      2      1     12

Huff             155     43      9      1      6     15      1     23    172
                 150     42     10      1      4     18      2     20

Schierholtz      107     31      7      1      1      5      1     18    115
                 104     31      8      1      1      8      3     12

Uribe            142     37      8      1      5      9      1     27    154
                 135     36      5      1      5     16      1     28

Molina           126     35      6      0      5      5      1     13    134
                 119     35      4      0      2     11      3     13

Renteria          83     24      5      0      1      7      0     12     91
                  83     26      3      0      1      7      0     14

Sandoval         170     55     12      2      6     14      1     23    187
                 170     48     10      2      3     15      1     21

Ishikawa          20      5      1      0      1      2      0      5     22
                  19      4      2      0      1      3      0      4

Rowand           126     35      8      1      4      8      4     26    139
                 132     32      6      2      5      5      2     27

Downs             72     16      5      0      1      8      1     17     82
                  72     18      6      0      1      8      1     17

Velez             48     12      2      1      1      3      0      8     51
                  46      9      2      0      2      5      0      8

Bowker            75     18      3      1      2      5      1     18     81
                  76     16      3      0      3      6      0     22

DeRosa            92     25      5      0      3      9      1     19    104
                  93     18      3      0      1      9      2     16

Rohlinger         10      1      0      0      0      1      0      3     11
                  10      2      0      0      0      1      0      2

Sanchez F         19      6      1      0      0      1      0      2     20
                  19      4      1      0      0      0      0      6

Lincecum          20      3      0      0      0      1      0     10     22
                  21      3      0      0      0      1      0     10

Sanchez J         11      1      0      0      0      1      0      6     12
                  12      2      0      0      0      0      0      5

Zito              15      2      0      0      0      1      0      4     16
                  16      2      0      0      0      0      0      8

Wellemeyer        13      2      0      0      0      0      0      6     13
                  13      1      0      0      0      0      0      8

Cain              13      2      0      0      0      1      0      7     14
                  14      1      0      0      0      0      0     10

Romo               1      0      0      0      0      0      0      1      1
                   1      0      0      0      0      0      0      1

Wilson             1      0      0      0      0      0      0      0      1
                   1      0      0      0      0      0      0      1

Affeldt            1      0      0      0      0      0      0      0      1
                   1      0      0      0      0      0      0      1

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
TEAM TOTALS:    1476    392     83     12     41    109     15    290   1614
Actual, 43 G:   1454    373     79      8     33    131     17    286   1614
difference       -22    -19     -4     -4     -8    +22     +2     -4
============================================================================
Man               AB      H     2B     3B     HR     BB    HBP     SO     PA

The point that should stick out most obviously from the team totals is that what is most lacking in 2010 as compared to reasonable expectations is power. The actuals are 55 bases below TB expectations. Here are some miscellaneous other stats compared:

stat        career | actual    diff
------------------------------------
TB:            622 |  567       - 55
PF:           1.59 | 1.52       -.07
BB+HB:         124 |  148       + 24
Safe on Error:  19 |   12       -  7
OB:            535 |  533       -  2
R+LOB:         502 |  443       - 59
Outs:         1112 | 1171       + 59
BIP:          1145 | 1256       +111

The power shortage arises from dual causes: fewer hits, and fewer average bases/hit. If we pro-rate the projections for a hit total of only the actual 373, we are still short 3 triples and 6 home runs (that's that .07 on the Power Factor). Curiously, though, the extra walks this year make up for the missed hits as far as simply reaching base--but they don't make up for the lack of base-advance total bases.

If we plug through with the TOP "runs-created" type formula--skipping the details--we find that the actual run totals right now are 22 runs below expectations. Meanwhile, the seasonal projected total (and remember again that this is a strong function of playing-time allocation, which could change materially at any whim of the manager's) is for 733 runs before any "deductions" for using small-ball tactics. Currently, the team is not attempting many stolen bases, and its success rate, while not good, is not far from average, so that probably doesn't hurt much. More salient, the team has had non-pitchers sacrifice 10 times already so far this year. It's hard to quantify the effects there without spending more time than I, at least, care to, but if we pro-rate that up to 38 on the year and figure a cost of about a third of a run on average, we get 720 runs--very, very close to the 722 I roughed out much more crudely a week or two ago.

Incidentally, another factor hurting run scoring is that this team grounds into double plays just about exactly 30% more often than the rest of the league. That, so far, has cost about 10 base runners over average, or maybe 3 runs. Not huge, but enough to swing a game or two over the course of a season. I can't imagine how a team with the fleet-footed Bengie Molina ("It's into the far corner! It's rattling around and the fielder drops it! Molina will have a single!") could possibly have such problems.

If we want to know where the problems are coming from, that's easy. On batting average, it's Sandoval and DeRosa; between just those two we're short 14 hits, which is much of the discrepancy. On power, it's less dramatically clear, but we can again assign--if that's the word--much of the shortage to just two men, in this case Molina and Sandoval.  DeRosa's dive is partially ameliorated (besides by his injury) by a pathetic .224 BABIP, but regrettably no such hard luck can be inferred from Sandoval's stats (though possibly from his new corrective eyewear).

There's one excellent reason for optimism: Sandoval is already (to all appearances) out of his odd funk, and its his shortages of both hits and long balls that is the deepest driver of the under-performance so far. Now, it seems, it's just a matter of sitting back and waiting for his performance to bring the average back up. Meanwhile, DeRosa will either be able to play better or not be playing at all. (Yes, that last could go wrong if they press him to "cowboy up", but I suspect from what I've read that he's not going to go on long if he feels he's not largely back to normal.)

So does age make for unreliability? DeRosa is no kid, nor Molina, but Sandoval definitely is. I'd say the projection of 720 runs is a very reasonable expectation. And, as I have said before, if the team just duplicates the pitching (and defense) performance of last year, 611 runs yielded, then (by "Pythagorean" or the like formula of your choice) 94 wins looks do-able.

This FanPost is reader-generated, and it does not necessarily reflect the views of McCovey Chronicles. If the author uses filler to achieve the minimum word requirement, a moderator may edit the FanPost for his or her own amusement.

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