I had originally posted this over on my Angels' blog. I thought it was pretty interesting...and since my traffic numbers show that not too many people would have seen this, I'll post it here too. The original article has individual player projections, but for some reason I couldn't get them to post correctly here. The entire article is here: The Halo Is Lit
While cruising around the internet, I came across some projected stats over at Fangraphs. The methods used to create player projections have improved over the years, but they're still just a tool that gives a "best guess" as to what a player is expected to do. Obviously, injuries can not be predicted, and in most cases, breakout years (see Ryan Ludwick), but they're fun to look at and play around with.
Below are the projected numbers for the Angels' line-up as it stands right now and last year's stats for the players who had the majority of playing time. No Teixeira, no Dunn, and no Manny. The only changes I made to the projected numbers was to increase the totals for Brandon Wood and Kendry Morales as both of these player's playing time should increase if no other players are brought in this off season.
The drop in team performance wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. With additional playing time of Wood and Morales, I would have thought the decrease would have been worse. If either one of these players can provide that breakout season, the team's offensive output won't be too far off from last season...which isn't saying too much as last season the Angels ranked in the middle of the league in most offensive categories. Here are some projections for potential free agent additions, the two players I think the Angels have the best chance to sign:
With Dunn replacing Matthews in the outfield and Teixeira taking away some of Morales', Wood's and Figgin's at-bats, the offensive numbers look like this:
So, for approximately $35M in increased salary, the Angels' offense would receive an additional 18 runs and 22 HR, a slight increase in OBP and SLG, and a decrease in batting average in replacement value. Doesn't sound like much of a bargain. Let's take Dunn out and put Figgins in leftfield and Wood at third full time, and bump up Morales' playing time a bit:
Besides the slight drop in batting average, the 2009 team doesn't look much different than the 2008 version. And why is that? I think the addition of Teixeira to the line up for the entire year is off-setting the loss of Garret Anderson and the inability of Wood and Morales to replace Anderson's numbers. This is one thing I hadn't given much thought to; adding a player's stats to the team totals isn't enough unless you remove the stats of the player being replaced. I know that's a "no-brainer", but I'm sure a lot of people don't give that enough thought when considering signing a free agent. One more scenario and we're done. What if Teixeira signs with another team and the Angels are able to sign Dunn? Replacing Matthews with Dunn, playing Morales full time and keeping Figgins at third base, here's what the projections say:
Not much of a change at all from 2008. If the Angels are able to sign Dunn for right around the amount they paid Anderson in 2008 ($12M), and with the gained experience Morales gets from playing full time, this might be the most cost effective route the Angels could go. The Angels' main competition will come from Oakland, especially if they add another player such as Rafael Furcal and improve their pitching staff. I think the Angels' are still the favorite to win the West, but signing Teixeira for $20M+ doesn't do much for the Angels' offense and doesn't improve their chances a whole lot.
I realize these are just projections and aren't a complete picture of what will happen in 2009, but this does provide some information as to the effect of adding and subtracting players from the roster. In the long run...2010 and beyond, the Angels might be better off with Morales at first and using the money saved from not re-signing Teixeira for other needs. Plus, with a possible 7 picks in the first and supplemental rounds of next year's draft, the Halos may be on the verge of many years of American League domination. Do I still think the Angels should re-sign Teixeira? Sure, but based on this information, my heart won't be broken if they don't.