Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Break out Year Fallacy

I have seen a few people mention that for the Mets to contend this year they need to have player X (usually Duda, Ike, Santana or Wright) have a break out or come back year. This seemed right to me but I decided to put it to the test. Let me begin by noting that this is a not a scientific process, just an interesting way of looking at this prediction. To do so I am making a few assumptions:

1) That if everything goes normally and no one has a break out year, the Mets will win about 70 games. Could be a few more or less but 70 is a good baseline.
2) For the Mets to contend, they need to win 90 games. Again, could be more or less, but 90 is a fair goal for a contending team.

So then the question becomes, how do we reach 90 wins using break out stars or come back years? Let's look at the 4 players most people mention as the guys who need to have a big year for the team to win. We will use fWAR to judge the players. In all cases for the sake of argument, I am offering what I consider the best possible outcome for them.

Lucas Duda - Duda is a power hitter and people have been talking about his long balls in Spring Training. If he were to have an absolute break out year as a power hitter the best case scenario is he plays like Jose Bautista, the most recent phenom power hitter to have a breakout year. Bautista's fWAR in his break out 2010 was 6.8 so let's say 6.8 is a best case scenario for Duda.

J ohan Santana - I think the absolute best case, dream scenario is that Johan plays as good as he used to. His best year ever in 2004 he earned a 7.7 fWAR, so let's sign him up for 7.7.

David Wright - Again for Wright I think the best we can hope for is a return to the his top form which had him at a career high 7.1 fWAR in 2008. He is still young though so lets give him room for being better than ever and you say he maybe can reach an 8.

Ike Davis -  Ike is a power hitting first baseman who put up a 3.5 WAR in 2010. Let's say that for an absolute homerun season his fWAR matches the current best power hitting first basemen in his first full year, Albert Pujols, who recorded a 7.7 in 2011.

The best case scenario numbers are:

Duda - 6.8
Santana- 7.7
Wright- 8
Davis- 7.7

If anyone of these players can reach this level we still wont crack 80 wins. Any two of them we get about half way there and three puts us at 90. If all four play out of there minds it comes out to 30.2 over over 100 wins. I think this proves that the "single player break out year theory" is false. None of these projections are at all likely and it would require an amazing bit of providence for an unlikely scenario to happen three times in a year. More likely if those Mets are going to contend it will take everybody playing a little better, one break out star won't help.

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