Xander Bogaerts back on pace to reach 200 hits, win AL batting title

Back on Wednesday morning, I showed that Xander Bogaerts and Miguel Cabrera were hitting at paces that would cause Bogaerts to (most likely) surpass Cabrera for the AL batting title. Though I didn’t mention it at the time, these projections also showed that he’d reach 200 hits even if he sat out a couple of games, and a few more than that if he played all the remaining games. After a pair of low-hit games knocked Bogaerts off that pace, his 3-for-4 performance last night has put him right back on it.

In trying to project future totals using “the pace at which a player is producing right now”, how many games do you use to determine what that pace is? The last 5? The last 10? 20?

I circumvent that question by using all of them … I calculate his pace of production over his last 5, 6, 7, 8, etc. games, then use that pace applied over the remaining number of games to be played to see what final numbers he’s headed for. This gives a big collection of possible final numbers; you then choose one in the middle.

On Wednesday I did that for Cabrera and Bogaerts using their paces of production as established by their last 8, 9, 10, etc. up to their last 20 games. That gave 13 paces of production for each player. I then applied these to their remaining games assuming they’d not sit out any games, and then again assuming they’d each sit out two games. I got these results:

If playing all remaining games
Bogaerts Cabrera
Low 0.327 0.324
Median 0.329 0.326
High 0.332 0.331
If sitting out two games
Bogaerts Cabrera
Low 0.327 0.326
Median 0.329 0.328
High 0.331 0.332

In all but one of these 26 projections, Bogaerts would end up with at least 200 hits.

I just updated these numbers, and now they look like this:

If playing all remaining games
Bogaerts Cabrera
Low 0.327 0.325
Median 0.329 0.326
High 0.330 0.332
If sitting out two games
Bogaerts Cabrera
Low 0.327 0.327
Median 0.328 0.328
High 0.329 0.332

Here are Bogaerts’ projected numbers of hits:

Bogaerts projected 2015 hits
# of recent games used If playing all games If sitting two games
20 204.0 200.8
19 203.3 200.2
18 203.0 200.0
17 203.3 200.2
16 203.6 200.5
15 204.0 200.8
14 205.1 201.7
13 204.9 201.5
12 203.8 200.7
11 204.4 201.1
10 204.0 200.8
9 204.7 201.3
8 204.3 201.0

Longer term projections (based on his last 40 or more games) almost all have him finishing with 200 hits exactly if he sits out 2 games, 203 hits if he plays all remaining games, and a .327 average.

If they play it out, and stay on pace, Bogaerts probably will win the batting title and will get to 200 hits.

Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com for the gamelog data I used for this article.

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Xander Bogaerts on pace to surpass Miguel Cabrera for batting title

I’m a little frustrated with this article. I don’t think it gets me any closer to knowing how much of a shot Xander Bogaerts has at 2015 American League batting title. It just says, “it will be difficult”.

So I did some projections, to see what the numbers say. Of course, things have changed a bit since this article was published – the gap is now just 12 points instead of 18. There are 11 games left on the Tigers’ schedule, and 12 games left on the Red Sox’. I did two sets of projections. One assumes each player plays in all his team’s remaining games. The other assumes each player sits out two games.

In each case, I used the numbers of at bats and hits of each player in his last 8, 9, 10, etc. games, up to his last 20 games, as the basis for projecting his number of at bats and hits to come in his remaining games. I scaled these samples to the number of remaining games, added them to the current season totals, and calculated batting averages. So that made for 13 separate projections in each case.  The results:

Bogaerts projected 2015 AVG
# of recent games used If playing all games If sitting two games
20 0.330 0.329
19 0.329 0.329
18 0.330 0.329
17 0.329 0.328
16 0.328 0.327
15 0.327 0.327
14 0.328 0.327
13 0.328 0.328
12 0.330 0.329
11 0.332 0.331
10 0.331 0.330
9 0.329 0.328
8 0.330 0.329
Cabrera projected 2015 AVG
# of recent games used If playing all games If sitting two games
20 0.328 0.329
19 0.327 0.328
18 0.326 0.328
17 0.324 0.326
16 0.324 0.326
15 0.325 0.327
14 0.326 0.328
13 0.328 0.329
12 0.326 0.328
11 0.324 0.326
10 0.325 0.327
9 0.327 0.329
8 0.331 0.332

In both cases, because Bogaerts is hitting well right now and Cabrera is hitting poorly, the projections show that Bogaerts will probably surpass Cabrera and win the batting title. The charts pictured below show the lowest, highest, and median projections among the 13 projections produced for each case.

If playing all remaining games
Bogaerts Cabrera
Low 0.327 0.324
Median 0.329 0.326
High 0.332 0.331
If sitting out two games
Bogaerts Cabrera
Low 0.327 0.326
Median 0.329 0.328
High 0.331 0.332

If both players hit at their current paces the rest of the way, Xander Bogaerts will surpass Miguel Cabrera for the 2015 AL batting title.

Who should AL Player of the Month be, Encarnacion or Bradley?

To think about who should be the American League player of the Month for August, we could start by looking at those with the highest OPS on the month (and at least 50 plate appearances):

Player Team Pos G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS▼
 Encarnacion, E TOR 1B 23 86 23 35 11 0 11 35 9 15 0 0 0.407 0.460 0.919 1.379
 Ortiz, D BOS DH 26 91 17 32 8 0 9 22 16 17 0 0 0.352 0.432 0.736 1.169
 Bradley, J BOS CF 26 79 23 28 9 3 5 23 11 24 3 0 0.354 0.429 0.734 1.163
 Donaldson, J TOR 3B 27 105 29 34 7 1 11 35 16 25 2 0 0.324 0.408 0.724 1.132
 Gutierrez, F SEA LF 19 62 12 21 4 0 7 20 4 19 0 0 0.339 0.388 0.742 1.130

Based on offense alone, you have to pick Encarnacion, though Ortiz, Bradley, and Donaldson all show very well here. But can defense close the gap? Not for Ortiz, the DH, but maybe for Jackie Bradley Jr., the defensive wiz in the outfield. Now I haven’t seen Encarnacion’s defense this month, but I have to wonder, how likely is he to have made plays at first base in August like this catch:

Bradley Jr.’s incredible catch

or this catch:

Statcast: Bradley’s great grab

or this throw:

Statcast: Bradley Jr. gets Bird

or this catch:

Must C: Bradley Jr.’s great grab

or this throw:

Bradley Jr. nabs Sanchez

or this catch:

Bradley runs in for catch

or this throw:

Bradley Jr.’s throw nabs Infante

or this catch and throw:

Bradley’s running catch

Given the game-changing, run-saving nature of Bradley’s defense so many times in August, that has to propel him squarely into a two-person discussion for who should be AL player of the Month for August.

Do you think the pick should be Encarnacion, Bradley, or someone else?