2014's most unexpected (Yogi Berra / Niels Bohr were right)

Meet 2014's Most Unexpected - Jason Miller

Every year, some players exceed their projected production level. Who are 2014's most unexpected players as we approach the halfway point?

I say the same Yogi Berra / Niels Bohr quote about prediction any time I write about prediction. And I figure why ruin such consistency? So here it is again anyways.

Prediction is difficult, especially about the future.

-Niels Bohr, Nobel Laureate in Physics

-Yogi Berra, MVP and All-Star Aphorist

There's been a lot of discussion about projection systems lately. Managing Editor Bryan Grosnick has recently detailed the tale of Kevin Kiermaier and looked at high projections in the Oliver system.

Regardless of the projection system, some players will exceed their projection, some will fall short. Last year, Chris Davis exceeded expectations the most, while Jeff Keppinger fell short the most. As with last year, we're working with Dan Szymborski's (I got the name right this year) ZiPS projection system, but we're adding another wrinkle. FanGraphs has a Fans Scouting Report where fans can try to project how they think players will do in the coming year. Just to prove that Niels / Yogi were right, we're going to show how the fans do.

The table below shows the 166 qualified players, along with their projected wOBA by the Fans and by ZiPS. Then, there's the probability that we'd see a season better than the one they're having given that the projection system is correct. The lower this probability, the more they've exceeded expectations. Data is current through June 22nd.

Player Season wOBA ZiPS wOBA ZiPS P(Better Season) Fans wOBA Fans P(Better Season)
Michael Brantley 0.399 0.319 0.0025 0.333 0.011
Victor Martinez 0.411 0.338 0.0077 0.349 0.0199
Troy Tulowitzki 0.467 0.388 0.0095 0.396 0.0172
Seth Smith 0.399 0.321 0.0127 NA NA
Brian Dozier 0.359 0.3 0.0172 0.327 0.1281
Jonathan Lucroy 0.401 0.337 0.0206 0.349 0.0457
Carlos Gomez 0.399 0.335 0.0265 0.338 0.0281
Nelson Cruz 0.407 0.343 0.0288 0.343 0.0244
Jose Altuve 0.361 0.311 0.0315 0.315 0.0398
Dee Gordon 0.323 0.277 0.0329 NA NA
Adam LaRoche 0.393 0.329 0.0382 0.341 0.0666
Michael Morse 0.376 0.318 0.0407 0.342 0.158
Brandon Crawford 0.34 0.291 0.0481 0.301 0.094
Kurt Suzuki 0.354 0.301 0.0513 NA NA
Hunter Pence 0.374 0.328 0.0601 0.351 0.225
Charlie Blackmon 0.365 0.32 0.0617 NA NA
Scooter Gennett 0.351 0.304 0.0666 0.32 0.1638
Alcides Escobar 0.319 0.278 0.0734 0.287 0.1187
Todd Frazier 0.375 0.331 0.0793 0.343 0.1489
Yasiel Puig 0.409 0.368 0.0992 0.375 0.137
Anthony Rizzo 0.391 0.352 0.1094 0.368 0.2339
Alexei Ramirez 0.331 0.299 0.1142 0.306 0.1878
Luis Valbuena 0.354 0.314 0.1155 0.305 0.0681
Chris Owings 0.342 0.304 0.1206 0.323 0.2771
Andrew McCutchen 0.412 0.377 0.1225 0.397 0.3081
Yangervis Solarte 0.334 0.3 0.1266 NA NA
Casey McGehee 0.341 0.311 0.1426 NA NA
Starlin Castro 0.354 0.323 0.1458 0.322 0.1291
Alex Rios 0.351 0.32 0.1485 0.332 0.2659
Brandon Moss 0.378 0.344 0.1575 0.363 0.3217
Melky Cabrera 0.36 0.332 0.1625 0.336 0.2019
Angel Pagan 0.34 0.311 0.165 0.331 0.3929
Coco Crisp 0.359 0.328 0.1771 0.325 0.1535
Alex Gordon 0.368 0.341 0.1854 0.36 0.3984
Dexter Fowler 0.355 0.33 0.1919 0.354 0.4823
Neil Walker 0.357 0.33 0.2004 0.348 0.3914
Josh Donaldson 0.356 0.332 0.2079 0.362 0.5871
Paul Goldschmidt 0.403 0.379 0.22 0.402 0.4767
Daniel Murphy 0.339 0.318 0.2235 0.327 0.3231
Brett Gardner 0.342 0.321 0.228 0.344 0.5252
Adam Dunn 0.355 0.329 0.2297 0.344 0.3609
Erick Aybar 0.327 0.307 0.2362 0.31 0.2707
Jose Bautista 0.418 0.395 0.2367 0.387 0.1591
Giancarlo Stanton 0.411 0.388 0.2384 0.401 0.3732
Edwin Encarnacion 0.405 0.385 0.2638 0.397 0.4039
George Springer 0.355 0.334 0.2651 0.353 0.4612
Anthony Rendon 0.353 0.337 0.2797 0.353 0.4903
Justin Morneau 0.369 0.352 0.2945 0.339 0.1693
Lucas Duda 0.352 0.334 0.2954 0.343 0.3871
Matt Adams 0.357 0.338 0.3045 0.353 0.4384
Marcell Ozuna 0.332 0.319 0.3262 0.322 0.3671
Justin Upton 0.366 0.351 0.3275 0.375 0.5968
Kyle Seager 0.341 0.329 0.3276 0.35 0.5996
Freddie Freeman 0.383 0.37 0.3341 0.381 0.4528
Nick Markakis 0.337 0.326 0.3341 0.335 0.47
Mike Trout 0.42 0.408 0.3421 0.407 0.3334
Denard Span 0.317 0.307 0.3484 0.312 0.4134
Carlos Ruiz 0.344 0.332 0.3512 0.324 0.247
Chase Utley 0.356 0.345 0.3514 0.363 0.5818
Salvador Perez 0.341 0.329 0.3535 0.348 0.5727
Yoenis Cespedes 0.353 0.341 0.3562 0.355 0.5186
Jose Abreu 0.388 0.377 0.3757 0.358 0.1873
Miguel Montero 0.338 0.329 0.3785 0.343 0.5621
Billy Hamilton 0.31 0.303 0.3935 0.289 0.2257
Brian Roberts 0.304 0.296 0.3935 0.285 0.2645
Adeiny Hechavarria 0.28 0.273 0.3948 0.285 0.5585
Jimmy Rollins 0.32 0.312 0.3984 0.308 0.3303
Danny Espinosa 0.295 0.288 0.4034 0.293 0.4713
Asdrubal Cabrera 0.329 0.323 0.4046 0.329 0.4937
Jhonny Peralta 0.329 0.323 0.4077 0.334 0.5581
Christian Yelich 0.337 0.33 0.4092 0.348 0.6323
Adam Eaton 0.317 0.311 0.4128 0.347 0.8246
Mike Napoli 0.364 0.357 0.415 0.368 0.5437
Marlon Byrd 0.343 0.337 0.4164 0.322 0.2402
Junior Lake 0.304 0.298 0.4183 0.327 0.7404
Ian Kinsler 0.344 0.339 0.4262 0.334 0.3521
James Loney 0.316 0.312 0.4396 0.321 0.567
Khris Davis 0.349 0.344 0.4405 0.356 0.5856
Garrett Jones 0.327 0.323 0.4511 0.314 0.3432
Trevor Plouffe 0.32 0.316 0.4518 0.327 0.5748
Curtis Granderson 0.339 0.336 0.4544 0.345 0.566
Michael Bourn 0.3 0.298 0.4673 0.317 0.7139
Robinson Cano 0.359 0.357 0.468 0.387 0.8089
Howie Kendrick 0.321 0.32 0.4853 0.331 0.6273
Matt Carpenter 0.339 0.338 0.4864 0.362 0.7895
Hanley Ramirez 0.363 0.363 0.4903 0.367 0.5494
Xander Bogaerts 0.335 0.335 0.4946 0.36 0.7914
Adam Jones 0.344 0.345 0.5105 0.359 0.6821
Elvis Andrus 0.301 0.303 0.5206 0.316 0.7134
Emilio Bonifacio 0.287 0.29 0.5266 0.288 0.5163
Leonys Martin 0.311 0.315 0.5448 0.326 0.6823
Adrian Beltre 0.363 0.367 0.5453 0.378 0.6572
David Murphy 0.314 0.32 0.5616 NA NA
Matt Dominguez 0.298 0.303 0.5623 0.317 0.7327
Yunel Escobar 0.293 0.299 0.5682 0.31 0.7223
Desmond Jennings 0.316 0.322 0.5753 0.337 0.757
Matt Kemp 0.347 0.356 0.5996 0.368 0.7201
Starling Marte 0.318 0.327 0.6094 0.345 0.8071
Torii Hunter 0.319 0.33 0.6103 0.335 0.6906
Yan Gomes 0.317 0.328 0.6197 0.327 0.6162
Brandon Phillips 0.308 0.318 0.6244 0.324 0.7025
Yadier Molina 0.33 0.341 0.6259 0.357 0.8097
Ryan Howard 0.323 0.334 0.6302 0.344 0.7421
Matt Joyce 0.328 0.34 0.6306 0.343 0.6609
J.J. Hardy 0.308 0.32 0.644 0.317 0.604
Jacoby Ellsbury 0.33 0.344 0.6718 0.347 0.7211
Ian Desmond 0.316 0.329 0.6725 0.352 0.8715
Omar Infante 0.289 0.304 0.6843 0.312 0.753
Nick Castellanos 0.312 0.33 0.7006 0.325 0.653
Derek Jeter 0.289 0.304 0.7011 0.321 0.8692
Alberto Callaspo 0.297 0.314 0.7072 0.31 0.6695
Adrian Gonzalez 0.331 0.348 0.712 0.356 0.7814
Brett Lawrie 0.317 0.335 0.7123 0.351 0.8588
Norichika Aoki 0.295 0.311 0.7129 0.333 0.9114
DJ LeMahieu 0.286 0.305 0.7396 0.306 0.7585
Shin-Soo Choo 0.345 0.365 0.7432 0.385 0.9089
Dayan Viciedo 0.302 0.324 0.7512 0.335 0.8452
Jayson Werth 0.333 0.355 0.7585 0.377 0.9277
Pablo Sandoval 0.321 0.344 0.7598 0.36 0.8896
Pedro Alvarez 0.311 0.336 0.7658 0.344 0.8333
Ben Revere 0.276 0.297 0.7695 0.311 0.904
Jason Heyward 0.326 0.349 0.7734 0.367 0.9174
Miguel Cabrera 0.4 0.427 0.7774 0.442 0.8858
Albert Pujols 0.337 0.363 0.7806 0.377 0.9011
Ben Zobrist 0.315 0.34 0.7814 0.343 0.8236
Andrelton Simmons 0.286 0.31 0.7833 0.327 0.91
Dustin Ackley 0.285 0.31 0.7857 0.331 0.9313
Martin Prado 0.308 0.333 0.8003 0.334 0.8125
Jose Reyes 0.311 0.338 0.8028 0.346 0.8682
Austin Jackson 0.302 0.329 0.8065 0.354 0.9521
Dustin Pedroia 0.32 0.344 0.8099 0.361 0.9295
Matt Holliday 0.339 0.366 0.8101 0.378 0.9017
Gerardo Parra 0.298 0.323 0.8149 0.318 0.7576
Carlos Santana 0.336 0.365 0.8196 0.366 0.8273
Jonathan Schoop 0.276 0.309 0.8363 0.318 0.8918
Chris Carter 0.306 0.343 0.8377 0.352 0.9036
Jordy Mercer 0.269 0.302 0.8411 0.339 0.9843
Jay Bruce 0.317 0.356 0.8526 0.372 0.9288
Buster Posey 0.332 0.367 0.8559 0.379 0.9284
Chris Johnson 0.292 0.324 0.8561 0.336 0.9299
Zack Cozart 0.264 0.298 0.8589 0.304 0.8996
Mark Reynolds 0.317 0.356 0.86 0.324 0.5708
Justin Smoak 0.288 0.325 0.8639 0.334 0.9108
Evan Longoria 0.324 0.36 0.8764 0.377 0.9525
Alejandro De Aza 0.28 0.318 0.8802 0.333 0.9512
Ryan Braun 0.351 0.395 0.8807 0.393 0.8895
Jed Lowrie 0.293 0.329 0.8879 0.336 0.9303
Aaron Hill 0.298 0.338 0.9057 0.349 0.9518
Allen Craig 0.308 0.348 0.9066 0.369 0.9752
Jackie Bradley Jr 0.27 0.312 0.9081 0.337 0.9842
Brad Miller 0.271 0.315 0.9117 0.342 0.9857
Jason Castro 0.295 0.342 0.9228 0.348 0.9483
David Wright 0.321 0.363 0.9244 0.39 0.9914
B.J. Upton 0.27 0.315 0.9339 0.321 0.9542
Chris Davis 0.326 0.383 0.9397 0.389 0.9557
Everth Cabrera 0.252 0.293 0.9456 0.322 0.9969
Billy Butler 0.305 0.357 0.9619 0.368 0.983
David Ortiz 0.346 0.406 0.9644 0.402 0.9635
Jean Segura 0.272 0.326 0.9675 0.325 0.9685
Brian McCann 0.288 0.35 0.9691 0.353 0.9678
Nick Swisher 0.273 0.335 0.9761 0.362 0.9967
Joe Mauer 0.298 0.355 0.9764 0.395 0.9996
Yonder Alonso 0.259 0.324 0.9817 0.354 0.9984
Nate Schierholtz 0.255 0.334 0.9902 0.323 0.9816
Eric Hosmer 0.286 0.357 0.9935 0.363 0.9963
Domonic Brown 0.261 0.361 0.9986 0.354 0.9978

Michael Brantley definitely has surprised people, but there are plenty of familiar names at the top of the list in Victor Martinez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Carlos Gomez. Tulowitzki's season continues to impress. Consider that he was projected to have the seventh-highest wOBA on the year, and yet has had such an incredible year that his was the third-least likely season based on preseason projections.

On the other end of the spectrum, to say that Domonic Brown has had a tough season would be an understatement. Some thought he seemed primed for a potential breakthrough, but he hasn't been able to build off of his 2013 season. (As his owner in the BtBS Ottoneu League, I find this very unfortunate.) Joining him at the bottom are a former MVP in Joe Mauer and a quartet of All-Stars in Swisher, McCann, Ortiz, and Segura.

One final thing to consider in projections is whether they have a tendency to overshoot or undershoot as a general rule. A good projection system would be symmetric about 0.5 in terms of P (Better Season than Actual | Projections), as well as being mostly near 0.5. Below you'll see ZiPS has the symmetric property while the Fans ... well ... don't. As a general rule, fans are overestimating players by quite a bit. But even ZiPS has a hard time getting the projections dead on. Just a reminder that Niels / Yogi were right.

Projectionsystems_medium

. . .

Data and projections courtesy of FanGraphs.

Stephen Loftus is an editor at Beyond The Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @stephen__loftus.

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