SABR member Rob McQuown is a lifelong Cubs fan who was inspired by a Bill James Abstract to join STATS, Inc., where he was first published in the The Scouting Report, 1993. Since then, neither starting up multiple dot-coms or years in big corporate life could pull him convincingly away from his first love, baseball. Getting restarted in the industry in 2006 with Baseball Daily Digest, he was welcomed to the Baseball Prospectus team when BDD became a subsidiary of BP - as a programmer and writer, and has contributed extensive web content with both words and programs for numerous sites.
Welcome to PECOTA day, sponsored by DraftKings. Premium subscribers can now download the 2015 Weighted Means Spreadsheet under the Fantasy tab at the top of this page, or by clicking "manage your profile." Player pages have been updated with these projections, as have team depth charts (with projected standings) and the fantasy team tracker. Allow us to expand on a few details that might be helpful to you.
Why Does PECOTA Hate My Team?
Every year, fantasy owners and fans of teams ask this question, “Why Does PECOTA Hate My Team?” Last year, Deadspin compiled five dozen “(maybe) surprising player projections.” This season, there’s already been a Lineup Card with eight such surprising projections and Sam Miller did some Pebble Hunting to reveal some of the “winners” in the PECOTA pitching projections. This all raises the question of why Baseball Prospectus would keep publishing surprising projections. Shouldn’t these things be getting better with time, as the system is refined and there’s more data?
It would be disingenuous to suggest that projections never miss the mark. Sometimes by a lot. In fact, last season alone, 39 of the 362 position players for which Baseball Prospectus had projected 100 or more plate appearances actually amassed 100 or more plate appearances with very unexpected (to PECOTA) hitting performances. We looked at these players’ WARP-per-600 plate appearances, with FRAA removed (yes, FRAA is important, but it’s projected differently and is—sometimes—much more out of the player’s control than batting stats). Using this metric, 39 players missed by 3.0 or more WARP-per-600. It could almost have been called, “Craig’s List”, as Mr. Allen Craig was the no. 9 culprit with a WARP-per-600 difference of 4.6 … and as those who saw him play for Boston can attest, he was making a strong run to top this list. PECOTA had projected 1.8 WARP-sans-FRAA in 426 PA (March 22nd projections), and he ended up with -1.7 WARP-sans-FRAA in 505 PA. But Dan Uggla took the top honors, falling 5.7 WARP-per-600 short of projections. Steve Pearce was no. 3 and represented the top over-performer, bettering his WARP-per-600 projection by 5.4.
The above examples come from the most stable group of players—batters who were projected to play and who did play. Yet, some of the most surprising projections entering the 2014 season ended up being close to perfect. For example, people who saw A.J. Burnett pitch in 2013 thought PECOTA needed glasses, as it projected Burnett to have one of the 10 largest declines in 2014. It projected his ERA to be 4.24, which, considering the drop in leaguewide offense in 2014, would have been adjusted to 4.14. His FIP in 2014? 4.14. Projections for Bryce Harper and B.J. Upton, tabbed as “(maybe) surprising” in the Deadspin article, proved prescient.. Remember the reaction when Chris Davis had a .289 TAv projection (again March 22)? That number ended up being optimistic (he posted a .271), even though when he was coming off a .358 TAv season virtually everyone thought PECOTA hated the guy.
Seriously, though, PECOTA doesn’t hate any player or anyone’s team. There are no biases in it based on anything but historical track records. For completeness, it should be noted that results such as the examples herein are not just “shrugged off” – both accurate and inaccurate results are processed. So, while some projections are going to be surprising, it’s important to keep in mind that all-in-all, the results have been very accurate over the years (thank you, Nate Silver!).
Everyone who follows baseball at all has probably dabbled in the Baseball Prospectus Team Tracker—the most powerful tool of its kind available. For a reminder of some of the various things Team Tracker can do, both on the Team Tracker pages and elsewhere on the site, please refer back to Feature Focus articles on Team Tracker, Basics and Team Tracker, Advanced. The primary reason it’s being mentioned here is that 2015 PECOTA forecasts are now available. Shown is an actual portion of the Team Tracker page for the hitters on my Scoresheet team. (A team which was much better last season than it had any right to be. I had the second-best record among 24 teams entering the final week of the season and then, um, moving on… ) It can be seen that even for a 24-team league, hard times are likely ahead in 2015, based on PECOTA projections. The excerpt from my Team Tracker display is truncated on the right side as a reminder that there are many other stats which can be selected for the reports—allowing them to be tailored to each owner’s needs.
The tool for tracking the current top prospects, reviewing prospects from past seasons, and following your team tracker teams across all levels.
With the minor-league seasons winding down, many are turning their attention more and more to prospects—both those who are likely to get called up and those who are still a ways away. Prospect Tracker was announced early in 2012, and some new features were added last season to make it even more powerful.
The Pitch f/x Matchup Tool brings the fantastic Brooks Baseball data to bear on a batter-v-pitcher matchup. See what happened with each pitch between any pair of opponents!
Lucas Duda sat out today with a "Hammy" strain today, that injury only a batter with Duda's extreme platoon bias can suffer; that is, of course, the strain suffered when contemplating facing tough lefty Cole Hamels. Okay, so it's not a perfect example because "Hammy" has a great changeup and shuts down righties as well. But Duda is hitting just .153/.242/.220 against Southpaws this season, and his career line is also far far worse than his "vs RHP" line.
In reading this news, it's easy to wonder exactly how Duda has faired against Hamels in his career. And the Pitch f/x Matchup Tool provides all the answers. To get started, simply pick the pitcher and batter in question from the pulldown menus:
A picture is worth a thousand words - see how teams stack up by position at a glance with Visual Depth Charts!
There are two products at BP that use the name "Depth Charts." Here's a quick explanation of the differences, and a reminder that one of them is Visual Depth Charts (complete with Visual Year-to-Date stats).
Three members of our staff share different perspectives on the 15th edition of the popular baseball sim.
My experiences with Out Of The Park Baseball began early, as I was a young fan of baseball sims. I started with What If Sports and moved around to a few different ones before settling in for a long and meaningful relationship with OOTP. I have a long relationship with video games, as I grew up a child of the 90s; before baseball took a firm hold of my heart, Sega and PlayStation dominated my childhood. The transition to video games and baseball was a natural one for me, as I wanted to emulate the players I revered.
The daily schedules for Minor League Baseball games are now available at BP, and full of prospect goodness.
Thanks to the inspiration of Harry Pavlidis and feature requests from readers, you can now see the daily Minor League Baseball game schedule at Baseball Prospectus, including information about which games are available on MiLB.tv, who the probable starters are (with up-to-the minute updates as soon as they are announced on the milb.com site), and the number of BP-ranked prospects in the game.
PECOTA appears at MLB.com, and BP publishes new stat reports and updates to PITCHf/x products and player cards.
Often, the content on the Baseball Prospectus website is driven by data collected during the research leading to an article. And readers can now benefit from some recent research on a daily basis, as six new reports have been added to the sortable statistics page, all of which will be updated daily throughout the season.
HACKING MASS, our competition to pick the least dangerous hitters and least effective pitchers in the majors, returns for the 2014 season! You can field your team and put yourself in the running for $100, a lifetime Baseball Prospectus Premium subscription, or one of nine one-year BP Premium subscriptions by clicking here. Registration is open to anyone with a Baseball Prospectus account, including Basic accounts, which are free to create. You'll have a full week to enter (the deadline is April 14, 2014, at midnight PST), but it's easy to change players, so feel free to go all in on Darwin Barney on the entry form today, then switch to Ryan Goins Monday morning. But once the deadline arrives, partial teams will be dropped and new entries and changes will no longer be allowed.