PECOTA has taken a crack at the standings, as have our individual authors. Now Clay Davenport steps up with a different, and more optimistic, look at how the season may play out.
PECOTA, you see, uses a "most likely" to set the value of all the players and teams. "Most likely," though, is very different from "only." For the last couple of years, we've been running a product called the Postseason Odds Report. We've used it to to evaluate a team at any point in mid-season, and to play out the remainder of schedule a million times, to estimate the likelihood that the team will make the playoffs.
It doesn't take a lot of brain power to realize that what can be done in mid-season can also be done in pre-season. It is also a pretty short leap to go from using Adjusted Standings to using the PECOTA-based estimate as a stand-in for them. What we find is that there is hope for everyone (even the Royals) when we apply some random numbers, and get to see the difference between probabilities and possibilities.
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Clay has discovered a problem in the way we compute a great deal of advanced metrics, including EqA and RC/27.
The book that turned me into a hardcore sabermetrician wasn't one of Bill James' Abstracts, although I bought all that I could (including a fairly rare 1980 edition; I have a friend who managed to get a 1977.) No, for me it was The Hidden Game of Baseball, with Pete Palmer's stats and John Thorn's writing.
Palmer's system for rating players was called Linear Weights. It was a simple linear equation, something like
Clay returns with Part Two of his look at the WBC participants.
Pool B - United States, Mexico, Canada, South Africa
The US is probably the strongest team in the tournament. The secret to that rating is their depth. There are a lot of countries who may have a .280 EqA third baseman, say…but if for some reason he doesn't play, their next choice is down at .250, and if he can't play, their next choice is at .230. By contrast, if the US loses a .280 player, they've got .275 and .270 guys lined up right behind--minimal dropoffs, even if they don't get their first choice. The upshot of that is a US lineup with someone like Johnny Damon as their worst hitter, which is how they get an overall batter rating of .290--a narrow second place to the Dominican's .292. But it is the pitching, and especially the bullpen, that really sets them apart, where they will line up Chad Cordero, Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, Huston Street, and Billy Wagner. Overall, the US gets a 134 rating--tops in the tourney. The US' Batting DT is here and the Pitching DT is here (again, the file can be viewed in your browser, or in a plain text editor).
The World Baseball Classic is coming up, and Clay has some new Davenport Translation numbers to help handicap the field.
If you have been in a box all winter, the WBC (and, just for the record, sharing acronyms with organizations that govern boxing cannot be considered a good thing) is a 16-team tournament that will be played like a baseball version of the World Cup. Players will compete for their "home" country, with some latitude for determining just what their "home" is--although people familiar with soccer's World Cup, or even the Olympics, are already familiar with how national ties can be established. The Italian and Dutch teams, in particular, stand to benefit from having American-born and raised players of the appropriate ancestry to supplement their teams.
Provisional rosters for all teams were released last month; final rosters won't be needed until the teams are actually ready to play. We have good, reliable statistics for the past few years for the vast majority of the players in this tournament; the need to obtain them for this tournament has kicked me into researching some of the others. I think we are now in a position to make a reliable estimate of the relative strengths of each team.
With Gold Glove season upon us, Clay takes a look at who the numbers say should win the awards.
On all of the tables below, the fielders will be rated by the familiar stat-stat-stat routine, only instead of AVG, OBP, and SLG, they will be Fielding Rate, Runs Above Replacement, and Runs Above Average (using the in-season, rather than the all-time, version). Since the awards are as much about reputation as performance, and since a reputation usually takes time to acquire, we'll break the stats out into 2005 only, 2004 and 2005 combined, and career. Asterisks (*) will designate the 2004 winner.
Seven teams had better projected chances to make the postseason than the 2005 Indians did and missed, according to the Playoff Odds Report.
Yesterday, it came became apparent that we were living in one of those 35,000 worlds where the Indians did not make the playoffs, despite having the advantages of playing at home, with four games left against the two worst teams in the American League, while their chief opponents were going to play each other and hopefully knock each other off. Seven agonizing days later, losing six of seven games by a combined total of seven runs, the Tribe gets to spend a winter in pained remembrance.
Yet they have this consolation: the Odds Report doesn't think they blew the best chance of all time, in terms of having a playoff spot right there and then letting it slip away. Since 1901, there have been 320 races for the Odds Report to analyze: two races every year from 1901 to 1968, four a year from 1969 to 1993, and eight a year since 1995. (I've decided to simply leave 1981 and 1994 out of the discussion.) Given that many races, you'd expect to have somewhere between five and 11 teams who reached the upper 90s and then missed out on the playoffs, and in fact there are seven teams who have fared worse than this year's Indians.
The popularity of the Playoff Odds Report spurred requests for past-season reports.
Because of its popularity, one of the most common requests I get is for Playoff Odds Reports for past seasons, particularly ones with interesting pennant races. It's not as easy as it sounds; the report runs through a million trials of the rest of the season, and doing that for, say, the last 30 days of a season takes considerable time. Still, the Cardinals' "virtual clinch" last week caused Rany Jazayerli to ask about the 1964 Phillies, whose ten-game losing streak down the stretch in 1964 cost them the NL pennant, and I admit I was curious as to what the report might say about them.
I pulled out the software I'd used to run the tests of the playoff odds earlier in the year, and adapted it to run day-by-day through
September of 1964. It is based on 10,000 trials instead of a million.
Here's the last three weeks of the season, with the odds of winning
the pennant (there were no divisions in 1964). Each line represents a team's chances of winning the pennant.
Clay returns with the most recent installment of his Objective Hall of Fame series, as he starts to move away from 19th Century players.
The players who retired around the start of World War II--and there were a bunch of those--are starting to show up now, so we won't be entirely stuck on players from the 19th century--not that there's anything wrong with that. Next time I'll take a break from the players I'm putting in and look at some of the players I'm keeping out. The information presented below is the player's name, position, Career MVP score, and, in parentheses, the year he was elected to the real HOF.
Clay continues assembling his Objective Hall of Fame, and starts to see his selections veer away from the True Hall's inductees.
In the mid-1940s, the real Hall of Fame went on an induction spree, adding a raft full of players from the early 20th century. The mid-40s extravaganza is one of the two periods when the Hall made most of what are regarded as its poorest selections. Regrettably, the objective Hall is going to go meet a similar fate at a similar time. I noted, in the beginning, that there was going to be a fixed allotment of Hall of Famers, based on the number of team-seasons that have been played in major league history. The objective Hall is close to catching up to all of the obviously qualified players of the past, but still has a considerable quota to fill. The players inducted in the seasons right before we catch up to the quota are going to be among the least qualified in the Hall. In addition, as we go down the lists, the players are ranked closer and closer together, so there is less difference between those who just barely make it in and just barely get kept out. These are points to keep in mind as we work through the next couple of articles.
The top-rated player in baseball history highlights these three classes in our Objective Hall of Fame.
We're up to the 1940s in our attempt to construct an Objective Hall of Fame. Be sure to check out the first and second parts of this series for more information. The information presented below is the player's name, position, Career MVP WARP3, (year elected by real HOF).
Clay fills out classes from 1937 to 1940 as he continues to build an Objective Hall of Fame.
Let's jump right back into our attempt to construct an Objective Hall of Fame. Be sure to check out the first part of this series for more information. The information presented below is the player's name, position, Career MVP WARP3, (year elected by real HOF).
With recent inductees into the Real Hall of Fame still in mind, Clay proposes an Objective Hall of Fame. In Part One, Clay details his methodology and presents the opening class.
Then why are you doing a bunch of articles on it, Clay?
Just because I don't think the real Hall of Fame should be chosen in this way doesn't mean that there's no value in having an objectively defined Hall for us to know about. Ideally, you want the Hall to be a mix of objective greatness and subjective fame, which is a lot easier to do if you establish the objective Hall beforehand. Only then are you in a position to mark this guy down, and this guy up, based on everything else--character, personality, off-field contributions, you name it. When we are talking about the highest honor the game has, everything should count. We'll let real people make the final determination, but they should at least be able to start with facts, and then adjust--at least that's the idea.