Sometimes I forget that baseball statistics are supposed to be fun. I get so invested in making a point or being correct that I forget that my love for numbers began with the back of a baseball card, not a twitter account or a television stat package. I’m going to take a second here to have some fun with a stat line that can only be described as fun (via Baseball Reference, of course): The 162 projected average.
First, an annotation. I use it every day, and so does everyone that writes about baseball, but I never give Baseball Reference the credit it deserves. Without it, my life would be boring and meaningless.
So, what is The Baseball Reference 162 average? Well, The Baseball Reference 162 game average takes a players career games played and divides it by 162, and then divides that players career totals by that factor/number.
A lot has been made about how the Cardinals batting order should be lined up. Where do you hit Matt Carpenter? Should Aledmys Diaz hit 2nd? Blah, blah, blah. Yada, yada, yada. If you want more lineup talk I’ve written about that, but the gist is that a lot of the guys on the Cardinals roster are basically the same hitter.
As of today, and moving around the diamond, the Cardinals starting eight will be Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, Jhonny Peralta, Aledmys Diaz, Randal Grichuk, Dexter Fowler, and Stephen Piscotty. With the exception of Wong and Grichuk, I guessed that the other six presumed-starters are all 15 home run-ish 70RBI-ish .280-ish hitters. So, I did the ground work.
If you take the 162 game career averages from Fowler, Carpenter, Diaz, Piscotty, Yadi, and Peralta and add it all together then divide it to get the average, this is the player you get:
16 Home runs, 34 Doubles, 73RBI, with a slash line of 281/355/802 and an OPS+ of 114. That’s a damn fine player.
So, at this point you should be asking, “Is there one player padding that stat line or is another player dragging the line down?” Surprisingly, the answer is no, not exactly. There is a little sway, but the highs and lows are as follows:
HR: Piscotty 22; Yadi 11
RBI: Piscotty 93: Fowler 52
Doubles: Carp 43; Diaz 28
Average: Diaz .300; Peralta .267
OBP: Carp 376; Peralta 330
OPS: Diaz 879; Yadi 738
OPS+: Diaz 133; Yadi 98.
Of course, with only one full season of Diaz and one and a half seasons of Piscotty, those numbers are a bit loaded. But, as you see, all six of the regulars are splattered on both ends of the spectrum. This, in my opinion, makes the calculated 162 median a good indication of what those six will bring to the lineup collectively.
Now, stats are only as fun as the comparisons available. Since the signing of Fowler, I’ve been telling people that I think this Cardinals lineup stacks up favorably to the 2015 Kansas City Royals.
That team had a starting lineup of Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Omar Infante, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Alex Rios. The Royals DH was Kendrys Morales. If you take the top six hitters from that lineup and average the sub-par numbers of Rios with the inflated numbers of Morales, the actual collective numbers for that team are:
17 Home Runs, 72 RBI, 24 Doubles, slashing 282/342/789 with an OPS+ of 112. All of those stats are right in line with what the 2017 Cardinals projected lineup has done historically.
Of course, that Royals team was a defensive juggernaut. But that is a conversation for a different day…
So, there are many things that could go wrong in 2017. Diaz could regress. Piscotty could have an entire season similar to his second half. Peralta and Wong could continue down their paths to nothingness. But, if all stays the same, the Cardinals’ lineup, one through six, is set to be pretty damn solid, if not unspectacular, much like the Royals in 2015.
Is it an exact science? No. Is there a chance that this is what the combined stat line will look like at the end of 2017? Probably not. But, man, was that a lot of fun to research and speculate about!
Thanks for reading!