How to Make Your 2015 Prediction

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When it comes to making a 2015 prediction for the Oakland Athletics, fans have become selective about what stats they use to compare what could be with would could have been. Shooty Babitt told 95.7 that home runs were “long gone” with Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, and Derek Norris gone but what about the guys we actually have on our team.

It seems that Shooty, and some fans, have started selecting stats that paint Billy Beane as a mad scientist while other fans, probably me, select stats that paint Beane as a genius among mere mortals. The truth, as is always the case, lies in the middle.

To assume that Brandon Moss is going to be a 25+ home run hitter in your 2015 prediction is fine but you must also acknowledge that Ike Davis could very well be a 25+ hitter too. In 2009, Moss had 7 homers in 133 games but in 2012 he had 21 in only 84 games which illustrates the point that some seasons are better than others and that success isn’t always apparent in the early years of a player’s career.

Ike Davis only had 11 home runs in 2014 but had 32 in 2012. Why, then, do so many people exclude Davis’ recent career highs and point out the possibility of regression but ignore the regression argument with the guys we traded? If you’re looking at home run power, take a look at recent history for both sets of players.

In 2012, Ike Davis, Billy Butler, and Josh Reddick combined for 93 home runs. Will they ever hit those numbers again? Probably not but we cannot look at those numbers and blindly say that there is no power now that Runs DMC are gone. The potential for power needs to factor into your 2015 prediction as much as the potential for regression.

Further, we must look at trends across all stats and how they relate to each other. In the case of Ike Davis, his home run count went down but his OBP went up and his K rate went down dramatically. In 2014, Davis’ strike out rate went from every 3.7 at bats to every 5.4. Just from that, we can conclude that Davis is making up for a lack of power with better plate discipline which, for Beane, is as good as a home run.

The fact of the whole thing is that comparing 2014 numbers would indicate that there is a dramatic drop in home run power with this new 2015 lineup but comparing the last three seasons, things are about the same. With Moss coming off of surgery, there’s no guarantee that he’s going to hit more than 10 homers this year. Josh Donaldson is on decline in nearly every category except strike outs so there’s no promise that he’s going to be a home run machine in 2015 either. We can’t just assume that our old players are going to keep getting better while our new players keep getting worse.

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So how do you make a 2015 prediction that is well informed and factors recent player trends, history and projections? You don’t. Just don’t make a prediction. It’s impossible to predict what a new coaching staff and ballpark can do for these new acquisitions and it’s impossible to predict what affect all these new personalities will have on our returning players. Having Billy Butler in house may distract Reddick to the point of 5 home runs a year or it could inspire him back to his 25+ days (look what Gomes did for Josh).

For my 2015 prediction I’m staying away from giving specific win totals (because to really do that you need to factor the win probability of each series they play and that’s impossible in February) but do say they’ll be over .500 and probably finish somewhere in the mid 80’s. For my home run predictions, if we can get 15+ out of Reddick, Butler, Davis, Crisp, Zobrist, Vogt, and Lawrie we’ll be in pretty good shape and won’t need a 30 jack player. Of course, if we’re going crazy and saying that our former 30+ guys can hit 30 again, it’ll be a bigger year than 2014 in that department.

No matter what anyone says, there’s no science to making season predictions, especially when the season hasn’t even started yet, so just be optimistic and enjoy watching the season play out in front of you. The argument can easily be made that 2015 is going to stink like the coliseum sewage and there’s an argument that this could be a better lineup than we’ve had the past three post seasons. Just enjoy the game.

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