Community projections are one of my favorite features because they give us a snapshot of what the consensus about players was at a point in time. Looking back at our projections from the previous year allows us to figure out why a projection was correct or to figure out why we were wrong and use that information to learn something more about what might happen in the future. For the 2012 Brewers, there were things that went right, and then there were a lot more things that went wrong.
I will start out with the starting pitchers today and provide some thoughts on each. These are just some quick thoughts that probably could/should be expanded into their own posts. Remember, when we projected an "ERA" in the offseason, we were really projecting something more like FIP, which is a measure of the pitcher's performance on the ERA scale-- so we can compare pitchers without factoring in defense and luck.
BCB Projection: 204 innings, 3.09 ERA
Actual: 212 innings, 3.10 FIP, 3.48 ERA [For the Brewers: 123 innings, 2.53 FIP, 3.44 ERA]
Our total projection was about as close as one could hope for, but unfortunately it was in the best interest of the Brewers to trade away Greinke before the deadline. It seems like it was not long ago it was 2008 and the BCB comments sections were a hotbed for unrealistic trade proposals to get Greinke away from the Royals. I consider it a treat that we got to root for him as long as we did, and in the end the Brewers ended up replacing the prospects they gave up to get him with a strangely similar batch from the Angels. I'm going to miss that guy.
BCB Projection: 204 innings, 3.34 ERA
Actual: 204 innings, 3.94 FIP, 3.66 ERA
It would be foolish to call Gallardo's 2012 a step backward, but I cannot really call it a step forward either. Compared to 2011 he struck out nearly the exact same rate of batters but he also walked 9.8% of batters he faced, up from 6.8% the year before. That trend gives me a bit of concern because his velocity dipped a bit on his fastball, so if he was trying to scale it back to improve control, it was not working. That is not to say I am really all that concerned about Gallardo, he has put up four consecutive years of very consistent, solidly above-average performance and has been about as durable as you can expect any pitcher to be. But at the same time if some team were to value Gallardo in a way similar to, say, a James Shields-type, I certainly would not fault the Brewers for seeing what they could get for him in a trade. That being said, I think it is very unlikely that Gallardo would be dealt if the Brewers think they have any possible hope of being in contention because of what he has meant to a franchise that has had little stability in the rotation in past years. I look forward to watching him and hopefully he can get the walk rate back down and be a Cy Young contender in 2013. But I would not be terribly surprised to look back one day and say that the optimal time to deal Yovani would have been the 2012-2013 offseason.
BCB Projection: 182 innings, 3.67 ERA
Actual: 124 innings, 4.10 FIP, 3.70 ERA
With Marcum we begin to see why our high expectations for the season were not fulfilled. We envisioned a very strong 1-2-3 at the top of the rotation and a solid offense. Marcum's injuries squashed that plan early and the Brewers dug themselves a big hole in the standings. With that being said, SIGN THIS MAN (**if he is cheap which it seems likely he will be**). He is still pretty good, and if they are going to sign another starter before spring training, I would much rather have it be a guy who is going to be better than what is on the roster now when healthy but likely will not be healthy all year. I do not want somebody to eat innings. Anybody can eat innings, including plenty of pitchers in AAA. Starting pitching depth is a strength of this team. There is a deep group of young pitchers who are close to ready and can probably perform at just as effective a level as any free agent that people refer to as an "innings-eater". What is needed is some top-end quality that is affordable due to injury risk. Marcum fits the profile better than most anyone that is available and affordable, and it seems as if he wants to come back. Unless there are health issues the Brewers know about that I do not, this seems like a no-brainer.
BCB Projection: 195 innings, 4.03 ERA
Actual: 142 innings, 4.74 FIP, 5.69 ERA
And here we really see the discrepancy between what the community thought the Brewers would be capable of and what actually happened. Wolf struggled all year and was released before the end of the season. There were a lot of signs that Wolf was just having an uncharacteristically off year, as most of his peripheral stats were not far off his career marks, but the Brewers had no reason to keep him around when there were young pitchers sitting around who could use innings. Our memory of Wolf's time with the Brewers will probably be marred by his final season but the Brewers knew going in to the 3 year contract they gave him that they were likely overpaying for production in the first season or two. He did just about what was expected, and though his final year was not one to remember, his contract can probably be looked back at maybe not as an outright success, but at least not as a failure.
BCB Projection: 166 innings, 4.29 ERA
Actual: 9 innings, 6.2 FIP, 7 ERA
Narveson is something of a forgotten man but his injury was a big role in the disappointment of the 2012 season. Narveson has always had the strong peripheral profile of a pitcher with better results than he has gotten in his career, and a lot of us were optimistic for something of a big breakout last season, but all he ended up doing was tying Vinny "The Vincredible" Chulk in major league innings pitched. If he is fully healthy and ready to go I see no reason why we cannot postpone some of those expectations to this year. He may look worse if he needs to be slotted into the third spot in the rotation, but there is upside here and let us hope that bad luck does not strike again.