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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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?

Nobody backed into this wildcard spot!

Wow, what a finish in the AL wildcard race.  The Indians winning their last 10 games, and needing every one of those wins to take the top wild card spot, as the Rays and Rangers both went 8-2 at the end (the Rangers with a 7-game winning streak of their own).  This is the way you want to see a playoff race finish … lots of winning!

Reminds me a bit of the Rockies’ mad dash to the playoffs at the end of the 2007 season.  They had to win, I believe, 13 of their last 14 to tie for the wildcard spot.  It was exciting to watch!

Predictions:  The Rays are a stong team, but weaker on the road.  The Rangers have been impressive how they’ve turned things around at the end of the season, turning a big slump into a big winning streak.  I’m inclined to give the Rangers the edge here given their home field advantage and momentum, but the fact that the Rays have David Price pitching gives me pause.  At times this season he’s been lights-out, and though lately he’s been just consistently good, I have to think for a big game like this you’ll see him pitching well.  Slight edge to the Rays because of Price.  Should Price get injured before he’s done, edge goes back to the Rangers.

As for the following matchup with the Indians, I give the edge to the Indians.  They’re a good team with a manager that knows about getting into and through the postseason, in Terry Francona.  They’re on a roll and they’ll have a very partisan crowd in their favor, as their Wednesday wildcard game is already sold out, and their opponent is yet to be determined.

But in the end, the ALCS will be between the Red Sox and the A’s.  Let’s just hope for a lot of fun baseball to watch on the way there!

My prediction: wrong!

Well, no opening day HR for Big Papi.  I was wrong.

No excuses, right?  But I feel I must state:

I envisioned a day game.  Who the heck plays their opening day game at night?  The Red Sox have never done so in their entire history!  So I’m curious to see how he does in the first day game, as I believe he does better in day games.

I didn’t realize he’d be facing possibly the toughest lefty in the game.

They didn’t throw him much near the strike zone.  He got one pretty hittable pitch by my recollection, slightly up and in.  Jammed him, but when he’s on his game he destroys that pitch.

I’ll be watching carefully to see if he can launch one in his next couple of day games.  Hoping he does.