Predicting Bautista

Even before Jose Bautista signed his five year $65 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, fans, bloggers, writers and likely a fair share of MLB front offices were predicting what the future would hold for the surprising home run king of 2010.  While it’s almost certain that Bautista will both regress back to human numbers as well as decline over the course of the five year contract, the more immediate and pressing question is how will he perform in 2011.

Despite frightening comparisons to Carlos Pena and Rich Aurilia, there exists a uniqueness to Bautista’s mind blowingly unexpected absolute assault on pitchers last season in that despite previous opportunities, he never came close to accomplishing what he did in 2010.  As much fun as baseless speculation is, there is a science to projecting how a player will perform in the coming year.  Several organizations and publications have come up with algorithms that use factors like a player’s past numbers, similarity to other players throughout history, age, regression, park effects, and several others to predict future performance.

Two of the more respected publicly available projection systems are Tom Tango’s Marcel, which is the basis for most of the current systems, and the numbers from Bill James’ annual forecasting, which is one of the first attempts at seriously projecting future performance.  Recently, FanGraphs has added a feature in which mere mortals can guess as to what they think a particular player’s numbers will be.  The site then accumulates the results and posts them in the player profile page, right next to the Marcel and James predictions, as well as the forecast from RotoChamp, a system more closely associated with fantasy baseball.

Let’s take a look at the results for a smattering of Jose Bautita’s projections for next year:

RotoChamp 66 29 3 39 84 109 0.270 0.383 0.571 107.8 0.408
Bill James 66 32 2 34 80 119 0.251 0.355 0.509 96.2 0.373
Marcel 65 25 2 30 72 112 0.246 0.346 0.486 84.9 0.362
All Fans 75 30 4 36 88 126 0.257 0.362 0.515 106.4 0.378
Other Fans 76 30 4 35 86 127 0.258 0.362 0.512 104.9 0.377
Team Fans 73 32 4 37 92 122 0.258 0.368 0.524 110.7 0.384

As you can see, the fan projections are split between Blue Jays fans and fans of other teams who have taken the time to fill out their guesses.  The other numbers, which are close in several categories, have all been calculated through a system similar to what I described above.

So, now that you’ve seen what the experts and consensus says, what kind of season do you think Jose Bautista will have?