clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Angels and Bill James' Favorite Toy

New, 2 comments

HTML clipboard While surfing around the internet, I was reminded of a tool Bill James invented to determine the probability of a player reaching certain career plateaus.  The formula, called the Favorite Toy, "weights" the previous three seasons to predict what a player has left in his career factoring in age and career totals.  Additionally, the calculations are based on a player remaining active until he reaches the age of about 37 years-old.  As you'll notice below, I changed the formula just a bit to add in the predicted numbers for a player reaching the age of 39, as it seems more players -- at least the very good players-- stick around a little longer.

HTML clipboard

Career Home Runs (totals do not include 2009)

Vladimir Guerrero (392 HR):

Career
HR Goal
Predicted
(age 37)
Predicted
(age 39)
500 59% 100%
600 7% 33%

 

 

 

 

Guerrero has a 59% probability to hit 500 career home runs if he plays through his 37th year, and is predicted to get to that plateau if he plays 2 seasons after that.  As most Angels' fans have noticed over the last couple seasons, Vlad has aged rather quickly and has already missing most of this season, making it look difficult for him to play at his previous career levels.  Another thing to consider is his actual age.  Was last year his 33 year-old season, or his 34th...or already his 35th?

Torii Hunter (213 HR):

Career
HR Goal
Predicted
(age 37)
Predicted
(age 39)
400 14% 41%
450 1% 22%

 

 

 

 

Torii Hunter isn't known as a "premier" power hitter, but he did hit 80 home runs over the last 3 seasons.  Hunter has a 14% chance of reaching 400 career homers if he plays 6 more seasons and almost a fifty-fifty chance if he plays another 8. 

Mike Napoli (46 HR):

Career
HR Goal
Predicted
(age 37)
Predicted
(age 39)
250 16% 32%
300 3% 16%

 

 

 

 

Napoli has two things working in his favor in order to reach those plateaus, his age (he's only 27) and his increasing playing time.  Over the previous 3 seasons, Naps has totaled just 714 at-bats (238 per season), but recently he's seen more time as DH giving him more opportunities to put up big numbers.  If he continues getting into the line-up, the next time we look at this, we'll be projecting the probability of getting to 400 or 500 home run career totals.

Brandon Wood (138 HR):

Career
HR Goal
Predicted
(age 37)
Predicted
(age 39)
500 27% 42%
600 10% 22%

 

 

 

 

Okay, these aren't Wood's major league projections, but rather what the probability is for him to hit 500 or 600 career home runs in the minor leagues.  Of course, a player that has a 10% chance of getting 600 career home runs wouldn't spend his entire career in the minor leagues...or at least we'd hope he wouldn't.

Career Hits (totals do not include 2009)

Bobby Abreu (1946 hits):

Career
Hit Goal
Predicted
(age 37)
Predicted
(age 39)
2500 63% 100%
3000 9% 43%

 

 

 

 

As of today, Abreu only has 42 hits as an Angel, but he is an Angel for at least another 120+ games.  Could he end his career in Anaheim?  I doubt it, but he's becoming one of my favorites this season (if only he could hit a home run every once-in-a-while).  He's average 587 at-bats over the last 3 seasons, which would indicate he's not slowing down much at the age of 35 -- another indication is he's already swiped 15 bases this season.

Vladimir Guerrero (2136 hits):

Career
Hit Goal
Predicted
(age 37)
Predicted
(age 39)
2500 100% 100%
3000 36% 77%

 

 

 

 

If he stays healthy, Vlad is pretty much a lock to get to 2500 career hits.  Getting to 3000 will probably be out of reach if his recent injury history continues to cut into his playing time.

Torii Hunter (1371 hits):

Career
Hit Goal
Predicted
(age 37)
Predicted
(age 39)
2500 18% 46%
3000 0% 17%

 

 

 

 

Well, it doesn't look like Hunter will be getting into the hall of fame based on getting 3000 career hits, but he does have an outside chance of reaching 2500.  When looking into Hunter's career stats, I noticed on the list of players who compare to Torii (here's the list at Baseball-Reference) those who played recently (1980's to 2008) remained in the majors until at least their 37th birthday, which means Hunter has a decent shot of getting to 2500 hits.