BTF: Odds on NL leaders (Pujols Triple Crown?)

April, 3, 2010
4/03/10
11:34
AM ET
Earlier today, we took a look at using ZiPS to project the American League leaders using the Monte Carlo method. Now it's the Senior Circuit's turn. Will Albert Pujols win the Triple Crown? Time to find out.


While Albert Pujols is the superior player, Ryan Howard's combination of power, his home park, and his team's offense makes him the HR/RBI favorite pretty much every season. Howard's not a great bet to age particularly well, but there's nothing to worry about right now. Despite being the active BA leader in baseball, Pujols only has one batting title so far, but he's still a good bet, with Kung Fu Panda his biggest obstacle. Holliday and last year's BA champ, Hanley Ramirez, are good candidates as well.

With Chipper Jones in the twilight of his career and Barry Bonds safely retired, Pujols is the odds-on favorite to lead the NL in on-base percentage for the next several years. The competition for the slugging title is stiffer, with Howard and Prince Fielder able to surpass Albert in any individual season, but the Cardinals' first baseman is still the favorite.

Other favorites include Michael Bourn in stolen bases, Pujols in runs scored, Sandoval in doubles and Jose Reyes in triples. (ZiPS doesn't know what to do about thyroid conditions.)

The Phillies brought in Roy Halladay to win games, and that's just what he should do. One of the best pitchers in the league and on likely the best team in the National League, Halladay's a good bet to lead the league in wins. Lincecum's still likely to be the best pitcher in the NL, and it shows in the ERA chart and the near-slaughter in the K leaderboard, but the Giants' offense remains weak and has little depth. The save race is wide open, as neither the Philles nor the Cardinals have dominant closers. I wouldn't be surprised if any of the top 10 led the league in saves.

OTHER TIDBITS

" Howard occasionally hit 60 home runs, about once every 102 seasons. OK, about as often as the Cubs have won the World Series lately, but Howard was the only player in either league to clear 60.

" Luis Castillo once hit 10 home runs.

" As in the AL, nobody hit .400, with Pujols coming closest with a .387.

" Jayson Werth's batting averages are a pretty bell curve, except for the nutty season in which he hit .368 (.314 was his second best season!).

" Hanley Ramirez has the best shot at a 40/40 season at 4 percent. Nobody else comes close -- the next most likely being Brandon Phillips at 239-to-1. Of qualifying players, David Eckstein is least likely, being 1.49 decillion to-1 (1-4-9 and 31 zeroes) in favor of pulling off the feat. Just for reference for how big a number that is, if Eckstein got to play forever and not age, he's still not likely to have managed a 40/40 season by the time the universe can no longer sustain life.

" Like in the AL, only a single pitcher beat 25 wins in 1,000 seasons, with Roy Halladay putting up a single 26-win season. A handful of pitchers lost 20 games, including John Lannan and Jeff Suppan (the latter unlikely to enter the season in the rotation now, thankfully). Roy Oswalt had a particular stretch of nasty luck one season, going 7-21 but with a 3.84 ERA.

" Tim Lincecum cleared 300 strikeouts in eight seasons. In fact, the top 34 strikeout seasons were all Lincecum. Johan Santana snuck in one year to have the 35th-best K season (286) followed by another 37 Lincecum seasons. Lincecum also had the lowest-ERA year, going 15-11, 1.71 one year. ZiPS likes Tim Lincecum, if you haven't guessed.

Dan Szymborski is the editor-in-chief of Baseball Think Factory.

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