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Friday, December 30, 2011

Milestone Odds Projections

This is just kind of a neat idea that I thought I would give a shot. I would here like to explore the possibility of various players reaching various milestones. I think the idea is pretty straightforward, I’ll use a few simple tools (Bill James’ Favorite Toy, Mitchel Lichtman’s aging curve, and a standard oddsmaking device) to determine the odds of a given player reaching a given milestone.

There will be a few specific rules: one, all players will play through their age 39 seasons. I know that many will retire before then and a few will play past that, but in our scenario, the player is existing solely to get to the milestone, so he would, theoretically, get through that season. This model also includes only past injuries. There is no accurate way to project injury, but I will take into account past injury, with the exception of major fluke injuries: for instance, Dustin Pedroia’s season-ending injury in 2010. Also, I will only be looking at major career milestones and records. I’m not interested in Juan Pierre coming up on 1860 runs scored. Also, I will only be looking at guys with track records with which I can project. So, as much as I’d like to, I can’t forecast the likelihood of your standout rookie hitting 500 home runs.

With all of that in mind, let’s get started.

Vladimir Guerrero and 500 HRs. Over a 16-season career, Vladdy has fashioned a name for himself as not only a future Hall of Famer but one of the best bad-ball hitters of all-time. He currently sits at 449 homers, going into his age-37 season. Under our set of rules, this gives him three more seasons to collect 51 home runs. Interestingly enough, I'm projecting him to hit exactly 51 home runs over that time. This gives him a perfect 50% chance of him getting there by the end of his age-39 season.

Dustin Pedroia and 3000 hits. Pedroia has turned into the best second-baseman in baseball, a top-shelf hitter and the best defender at the position. He's sitting pretty on 862 career hits at 27 years of age, leaving him 2138 hits shy with, in our scenario, and 12 seasons in which to get them. I have him hitting 195 hits per season, for a total of 2340 over that span. This gives Pedroia a 60% chance of getting 3000 hits.

Evan Longoria and 500 HRs. Longoria is one of the elite talents in all of baseball, a powerful, slick-fielding third baseman. Still just 25, he already has 113 home runs. To get to 500, he needs 387, and in our scenario, he has 14 years to get there. I have him hitting 474 before the end of his age-39 season, which gives him a very good 73% chance of getting there.

Jose Bautista and 500 HRs. Bautista is perhaps the games greatest reigning slugger, but his short career as a dominant hitter raises some questions. Assuming he is what he has been for the last two years and ages normally, what are his odds of getting to 500 homers? He currently has 156, but only has 9 years to collect the remaining 344. I have him projected to hit 346 over that time, giving him a 51% chance of getting to that milestone.

CC Sabathia and 300 wins. I don't like doing wins, but for a guy as consistent as CC and locked into a long-term contract with his current team, I will for this case. CC has 176 wins presently, having just finished his age-30 season. He now has nine seasons to collect 124 wins, a very attainable goal considering he should be around 20 wins for the near future. I actually have him winning 163 games over that span, giving him a great 82% chance.

Justin Verlander and 3000 strikeouts. Verlander, your 2011 Cy Young Award winner and MVP, has blown through AL hitter for the last five years, gathering 1215 Ks through his age-28 season. This gives him 11 seasons to get another 1785 -- very doable. I have him getting 2470 by the end of his age-39 season, giving him a great chance: 88%

Miguel Cabrera and the RBI record (2297). Cabrera, one of the most feared hitters (and maybe the best hitter) on the planet, has a streak of 8 consecutive 100+ RBI seasons. This has left him with 984, with 11 seasons to go in our scenario. This means he needs 1313 more RBI to catch Hank at 2297, and I have him projected to hit 1138 more, putting him at a 37% chance.

Mark Buehrle and 4000 IP. 4000 innings pitched would put Buehrle in exclusive company, as only 40 men have passed that threshold, and only about half of them in the last 90 years. Buehrle, 33, already has 2477. This leaves 1533 innings and seven years to get there. I only have Buehrle pitching 1306 innings by that time, giving him a 35% chance of getting to 4000.

Shin-Soo Choo and 55 WAR. That level of value is roughly Hall of Fame caliber, so what are Choo's odds of becoming the first Korean in Cooperstown? Well, Choo is going to be 29 and has 18.2 wins. With 11 years left and in need of 36.8 WAR, Choo has very, very good odds. An 88% chance, in fact.

Fransisco Liriano and 3000 Ks. Liriano is interesting, a guy who was once fast-tracked to stardom, but more recently has settled into life as a pretty good pitcher, though even that hit a snag when he had an awful 2011 season. Liriano will be 28 in 2012, and still needs 2321 strikeouts. I have him projected to ring up just 1728 more in the next 12 years, giving him just a 25% chance to get there.

Albert Pujols and the home run record. Pujols needs 317 homers to get to 762, but will have through his age-41 season to get there, assuming he plays out his monster deal with Anaheim. That tenth year really comes into play, as with the ten-year deal I have him projected to hit 349 home runs -- a 60% chance.

Felix Hernandez and 4000 strikeouts. Felix, 26 in 2012, already has 1264 Ks in his career, meaning he would need 2736 to get to 4000. By the end of his age-39 season, I have him projected to collect a whopping 3132, giving him a very good 65% chance.

Adrian Beltre and 3000 hits. Beltre is sitting on 2033 hits currently, and will be 33 in 2012, giving him seven seasons to collect 967 hits -- a very doable task. And, since I'm projecting him to gather 1062, it's very doable indeed. This gives him a 60% chance of getting his 3000th hit.

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