Re-Projecting Greinke

Sad-but-true fact (unless you’re an Angels fan): Zack Greinke will probably give up a run or two tonight. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is, odds and averages and such. Odds are, it’s not his fourth shutout in his first seven starts. But it’d be awesome if it was.

So I figured we might project him the rest of the way while the best pitcher in baseball‘s real-life stats still look like this:
6 GS, 6 W, 0 L, 0.40 ERA, 45.0 IP, 0.84 WHIP, 54 K

In Baseball Prospectus 2009, PECOTA figured his final like to look like this:
30 GS, 12 W, 10 L, 3.96 ERA, 192 1/3 IP, 1.29 WHIP, 164 K

(If that seems pessimistic to you, know that almost all other projection systems saw more or less the same thing.)

I’m not going to assume he only has 24 starts left. If he pitches tonight and every five days from here on out, he’ll end up with 33 starts. So if he performs at exactly his PECOTA-projected rates (including IP/start, wins/start, etc.) from here on out, his final line ends up looking like this:

33 GS, 17 W, 9 L, 218 IP, 3.22 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 202 K

Looks a little disappointing considering where he is right now, but consider:

1. With those numbers, he’d have tied for sixth in wins, fifth in innings, fifth in ERA, ninth in WHIP and fourth in strikeouts in 2008.

2. I think that, given how dominant Greinke has been in his first six starts, there’s approximately a 100% chance that he’s a better pitcher than the guy PECOTA expected him to be — he’ll regress from here, of course, but not to a nearly 4.00 ERA. If he’s, just say, a 3.30 pitcher the rest of the way, his amazing start to the season leaves his final ERA at 2.72.

And it’s very possible that the Royals are better than anybody thought, too, so 17-9 might be too pessimistic as well.

The other day, I laughed out loud when I saw that whoever writes the fantasy news copy for cbssports.com said (at least it’s still there as I type this) that Greinke “has probably already locked up the Cy Young,” and was apparently serious. But now that I look at it, with the head start he’s given himself, even when he comes down to earth it looks like he’ll be awfully hard to beat.

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