Notable Past Player Projections

These projections have not been updated for 2013 yet. They will be fairly soon. However, since the changes this season were relatively small, and these players’ seasons haven’t changed, the updated projections should remain pretty similar. Power will probably be lessened, but mostly it should remain similar.

I ran my algorithm on some notable past Japanese hitters, to see how it did. There are large margins for error, for a variety of reasons. For one, it uses park factors for the modern NPB, and uses a more modern NPB league average. There were a lot of missing statistics for past players, especially intentional walks.  I will address what was missing for each particular player. It should also be noted that these projections do not apply MLB park effects for the MLB park the player played in.  wOBA is calculated using Fangraphs 2011 formula.

Due to it being past players taken in a modern context, the projections may be quite variant. And the margins for error are large. The current system will be far more accurate than these retrospective looks. Anyway, on we go.

Ichiro Suzuki

Ichiro’s numbers did not have runs for one of the years (which throws several things off), caught stealing, hit by pitch, intentional walks, sacrifice hits, sacrifice flies, and double plays grounded into.

0.0 – .332/.399/.446, .370 wOBA

0.1- .303/.373/.416, .350 wOBA

0.2 – .308/.372/.422, .349 wOBA

Actual – .322/.365/.419, .339 wOBA

Ichiro’s numbers in the new projection come out pretty similar to his career numbers. And his peak numbers are pretty similar to his oldest projection. He was hurt in the average department because he has always sustained a very high BABIP, and my projected BABIPs just do not go that high. However, this is a very good projection.

So Taguchi

Taguchi actually had all his numbers except for intentional walks. So he likely only saw a little variance from being a past player.

0.0 – .272/.326/.362, .291 wOBA

0.1 – .259/.315/.349, .278 wOBA

0.2 – .264/.315/.357, .277 wOBA

Actual – .279/.332/.385, .316 wOBA

Taguchi was not the best of players. The projections hate him, and while he outperformed them a bit, he still wasn’t particularly good. The difference in wOBA appears to be larger than the differences in his slash line.

Norichika Aoki

Now, since Aoki was so recent, he should have one of the smaller margins for error. All of his number were available, and he was the only player here to play a season since the ball change.

0.0 – .302/.375/.368, .318 wOBA

0.1 – .293/.354/.358, .308 wOBA

0.2 – .296/.355/..379, .313 wOBA

Actual – .288/.355/.433, .344 wOBA

Aoki was an interesting case. He had an awful year prior to coming to the MLB, which dragged his projections down a lot, particularly in the power department. My guess is if I ignored that year, his projections would be fairly similar to his actual MLB line. Also, I know that his numbers collapsed the same year the ball changed, but his collapse was far more than that. They fell a ton. From being one of the best hitters in the league, so third or fourth best on his own team. But oh well. His career is still very much in continuation. Also, he played in what comes out as a fairly large hitter’s park in Japan. Aoki also was the only one to see much change between 0.1 and 0.2, since he played a season with the new ball. If I were actually attempting to acquire a player like this, I would up his power projection in anticipation of a bounce back in the power department.

Akinori Iwamura

Iwamura for one of his seasons had everything available. For the other, he was missing caught stealing, intentional walks, sacrifice hits, and sacrifice flies.

0.0 – .277/.351/.363, .309 wOBA

0.1 – .253/.324/.,339, .290 wOBA

0.2 – .251/.316/.339, .284 wOBA

Actual – .267/.345/.375, .322 wOBA

I guess Iwamura learned a little bit of plate discipline on his way to the MLB.

Tadahito Iguchi

I always liked Iguchi due to one of the better throws I’ve ever seen a second baseman make. Iguchi is missing intentional walks, and caught stealing, sacrifice hits, and sacrifice flies for one season.

0.0 – .316/.383/.457, .363 wOBA

0.1 – .279/.350/.419, .338 wOBA

0.2 – .288/.352/.429, .336 wOBA

Actual – .268/.338/.401, .327 wOBA

His projection isn’t super far off from his career numbers. But they nail his first two seasons pretty well. Before he collapsed, Iguchi was a .280/.347/.430 hitter, which is almost exactly his latest projections.

Kenji Johjima

Johjima is missing the exact same things as Iguchi, since they played on the exact same teams for the years used in the projections. And they both had inflated projections, so it’s possible that something was going on with the park. The team was in flux, transitioning from the Fukuoka Hawks to the Daiei Fukuoka Hawks (then back again), so it’s possible that the stadium just played differently back then.

0.0 – .337/.406/.516, .395 wOBA

0.1 – .286/.361/.464, .356 wOBA

0.2 – .297/.365/.476, .357 wOBA

Actual – .268/.310/.411, .315 wOBA

Well, the new projection is a little less of a big miss on Johjima, but still a huge one. He was a monster in Japan, and just never could put it all together in the MLB. I still think he could have been great.

Hideki Matsui

Godzilla did not have intentional walks available. He did have most of his numbers though, probably because he played for the Giants. Which also inflated his numbers, but hey, they were there.

0.0 – .316/.417/.475, .376 wOBA

0.1 – .268/.378/.427, .340 wOBA

0.2 – .274/.376/.435, .337 wOBA

Actual – .282/.360/.462, .357 wOBA

Matsui was a little underrated by the projections. Maybe the Tokyo Dome played a little differently when he was there.

Kazuo Matsui

The other Matsui might not have had quite the gaudy home run totals Hideki did, but he was still a double and home run machine during his last two seasons in Japan. He put up huge numbers those years, even if he couldn’t walk like Hideki, and struck out a bunch.

0.0 – .299/.350/.455, .337 wOBA

0.1 – .268/.313/.418, .310 wOBA

0.2 – .272/.318/.430, .315 wOBA

Actual – .267/.321/.380, .309 wOBA

Another player fitting the mold so far. His overall career numbers are similar to his current projections. He had a couple of decent years for the Rockies and the Astros, but nothing exceptional.

Tsuyoshi Shinjo

Shinjo had the most missing data. He was a while ago, so he didn’t have caught stealing, walks for one year, strikeouts for one year, hit by pitch, intentional walks, sacrifice hits, sacrifice flies, and double plays grounded into for one year. And it was over a decade ago.

0.0 – .292/.314/.431, .321 wOBA

0.1 – .259/.292/.398, .298 wOBA

0.2 – .267/.288/.409, .300 wOBA

Actual – .245/.299/.370, .292 wOBA

Shinjo didn’t play all that much. 438 plate appearances, then 398, then 124, and he was gone. However, his first season, where he got the most at bats, looked pretty similar to his old projection (.268/.320/.405). His career line is similar to his current projection.

Now, for the pitchers. The methodology was the same as for the hitters, translating lines into a modern context first. There were fewer things missing, though, since many of the useful pitching metrics don’t require that many components. The ones presented here had all relevant numbers available.  Numbers presented are LERA, FIP, and xFIP. Atual numbers give ERA, FIP, and xFIP. Projected xFIP uses a 2012 league average home run rate, and FIP and xFIP both use constants of 3.1. LERA uses a LOB% of 72%.


Yu Darvish

0.0 – 2.81 LERA, 2.55 FIP, 3.26 xFIP

0.1 – 3.25 LERA, 3.15 FIP, 3.79 xFIP

Actual – 3.90 ERA, 3.29 FIP, 3.52 xFIP

The newer projections did a pretty good job here. They are a little under on his K/9, and a little under on his BB/9. Overall though, very close to his actual numbers.

Daisuke Matsuzaka

0.0 – 3.13 LERA, 3.10 FIP, 3.40 xFIP

0.1 – 3.6 LERA, 3.74 FIP, 3.92 xFIP

Actual – 4.52 ERA, 4.37 FIP, 4.56 xFIP

Still a miss, but his 0.2 projections were very close to his rookie season (4.40 ERA, 4.23 FIP, 4.17 xFIP), and his walk, strikeout, and home run rate projections were very good. Unfortunately, Matsuzaka has not been particularly healthy following his first two seasons.

Kenshin Kawakami

0.0 – 4.20 LERA, 4.14 FIP, 3.56 xFIP

0.1 – 4.74 LERA, 4.84 FIP, 4.06 xFIP

Actual – 4.32 ERA, 4.26 FIP, 4.49 xFIP

Kawakami was projected to have an awful home run rate, which he improved on some. Unfortunately, that was accompanied by a drop in his strikeouts as well.

Hisashi Iwakuma

0.0 – 3.63 LERA, 3.65 FIP, 3.76 xFIP

0.1 – 4.11 LERA, 4.27 FIP, 4.25 xFIP

Actual – 3.16 ERA, 4.35 FIP, 3.76 xFIP

Iwakuma was projected to be an average pitcher in every way. In his rookie season, he pitched like a fairly average pitcher in every way.

Hiroki Kuroda

0.0 – 3.84 LERA, 4.07 FIP, 3.83 xFIP

0.1 – 4.35 LERA, 4.73 FIP, 4.32 xFIP

Actual – 3.42 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 3.63 xFIP

Kuroda really reigned in his home run rate when coming to the MLB. Additionally, he managed to keep his walk rate miniscule, something that doesn’t usually happen when players make this transition.

Kei Igawa

0.0 – 4.21 LERA, 4.29 FIP, 3.84 xFIP

0.1 – 4.82 LERA, 5.08 FIP, 4.44 xFIP

Actual – 6.66 ERA, 6.19 FIP, 5.56 xFIP

Igawa never played very much after being booted out of the Yankees and into the minors for good. He was never going to be worth the contract he got. He could have been a passable back end starter if you squint hard enough, but the expectations for him were way too high.

Kazuhisa Ishii

0.0 – 3.45 LERA, 3.68 FIP, 3.95 xFIP

0.1 – 4.10 LERA, 4.56 FIP, 4.71 xFIP

Actual – 4.44 ERA, 5.06 FIP, 5.26 xFIP

Ishii had walk problems in Japan, and they only got worse in the MLB. And his home run rate ballooned. Then he lost his strikeout ability. It was exactly what was projected of him, other than the loss of strikeout ability after 2 seasons.


Akinori Otsuka

0.0 – 3.23 LERA, 3.24 FIP, 2.87xFIP

0.1 – 3.45 LERA, 3.60 FIP, 3.17 xFIP

Actual – 2.44 ERA, 2.95 FIP, 3.39 xFIP

Otsuka had a pretty variable MLB performance, but he didn’t give up many home runs. His strikeout rate went down every season, though. He struck out a ton in Japan, and did in his first MLB season. His first season was essentially his projected K/9 and BB/9 rates, but he kept his home runs way, way down.

Koji Uehara

0.0 – 3.71 LERA, 3.54 FIP, 3.33 xFIP

0.1 – 3,96 LERA, 3.88 FIP, 3.62 xFIP

Actual – 2.89 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 3.12

Uehara has been a very, very good reliever in the MLB. He has kept his walks in control, with an exceptionally low walk rate. Other than his rookie year, he actually gives up more home runs than walks. A vast improvement on his performance in Japan. His K/9 and HR/9 projections have been fairly accurate, though.

Yoshinori Tateyama

0.0 – 3.48 LERA, 3.08 FIP, 3.38 xFIP

0.1 – 3.74 LERA, 3.46 FIP, 3.70 xFIP

Actual – 5.75 ERA, 4.54 FIP, 3.59 xFIP

Tateyama hasn’t pitched all that much in the majors yet. He has put up good strikeout and walk rates, but poor home run rates and a bad LOB%. He oculd be a pretty good reliever if he’s given a decent shot. So long as his home run rate regresses toward the mean some, which is more difficult to do in Texas.

Hideki Okajima

0.0 – 4.32 LERA, 4.12 FIP, 3.42 xFIP

0.1 – 4.62 LERA, 4.55 FIP, 3.76 xFIP

Actual – 3.11 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 4.14 xFIP

Okajima was projected to have a high home run rate, and ended up having a pretty low one. He was pretty good and near his projections his first several years, but he’s fallen off the past two seasons.

Masahide Kobayashi

0.0 – 3.95 LERA, 3.66 FIP, 3.63 xFIP

0.1 – 4.22 LERA, 4.01 FIP, 3.92 xFIP

Actual – 5.10 ERA, 4.84 FIP, 4.30 xFIP

Kobayashi was projected to be decent bullpen fodder. And he was in his first year. His 4.53 ERA, 4.55 FIP, and 3.99 xFIP were pretty in line with his latest projections. Then he pitched 9 terrible innings the following season, and that was it.

Hisanori Takahashi

0.0 – 4.27 LERA, 4.03 FIP, 3.67 xFIP

0.1 – 4.56 LERA, 4.41 FIP, 3.98 xFIP

Actual – 3.97 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 3.85 xFIP

Takahashi was projected to be pretty good if he got his home runs under control. And he got his home runs under control. He’s a solid reliever.

Takashi Saito

0.0 – 4.70 LERA, 4.48 FIP, 3.69 xFIP

0.1 – 4.02 LERA, 3.56 FIP, 3.41 xFIP

Actual – 2.34 ERA, 2.81 FIP, 3.26 xFIP

Saito has been put in the system incorrectly, so his projections were way off initially. He got his home run rate down a lot in the majors, and had some pretty good luck with BABIP and LOB% to go with it.

Keiichi Yabu

0.0 – 4.22 LERA, 4.59 FIP, 4.22 xFIP

0.1 – 4.52 LERA, 4.96 FIP, 4.53 xFIP

Actual – 4.00 ERA, 4.31 FIP, 4.68 xFIP

Yabu didn’t project to be much more than filler, and he wasn’t in the end.

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