When I’m asked about a specific PECOTA projection that seems hard to swallow, or about the system in general, I usually point out that PECOTA has something awesome that many of us don’t: A long memory. It doesn’t overreact to the past week, or even the past two years. I do.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
PECOTA likes a few pitchers quite a bit more than it did a year ago. What did those arms do to deserve better projections?
You know who had a really good year last year? Alfonso Alcantara. The guy obviously dedicated himself to the sport, got himself in great condition, learned a new trick or two, and/or was just darned focused like a great athlete should be. I have no idea who Alfonso Alcantara is.
Whose 2014 season, good or bad, had enough of an impact to drastically change how PECOTA views them?
Last year, around this time, I wrote an article here about the players who had most changed PECOTA’s mind in the previous year. The premise of said piece was that it takes extraordinary circumstances for PECOTA to acknowledge that the player had changed. Players don’t usually change much, at least in a year. People don’t usually change much. Last year, around this time, I wrote that article, and right now I’m writing that article, because I don’t usually change much.
Hank Aaron would be worth a billion dollars if he were playing today. What would he actually get?
The other day, as in not today, but any other day from the storage of prior human existence, Jeff Sullivan did a simple thing that turned out interesting: He took a bunch of guys like Giancarlo Stanton to see how much they would have been worth in the 13 years following their age-24 season. This was interesting for reasons having to do with Giancarlo Stanton’s outlook, which is why Jeff wrote it that day, but it was also interesting for sweet, sweet Fun Fact reasons. At the very, very top of the list was this:
Classifying the fans you'll see in the stands for the next three games of the World Series.
The following originally ran two years ago today. With two exceptions—the seventh word of the piece, and the section on the woman in the Marlins jersey who turned out to be a dude in a Marlins jersey, and who we now know much, much more about—it's just as true today, so we hope you'll enjoy it anew.
You will be spending the next two days with the AT&T crowd, so you might as well get to know who they are. While a stadium of 43,000 can hold countless types, the culture of the park can be pretty well summed up by just a few of them.
The commissioner's lasting legacy isn't randomness and meaningless. It's a more fair world.
For all the excitement of this postseason’s individual games, there is a fairly common sentiment out there that something sucks about a system so random that sub-par teams get to fluke their way to the World Series, thus stripping the season of its power to make sure the best teams are rewarded. Why play a long season and then reduce the championship to coin flips? Why continually expand postseason until every champ resembles Chris Moneymaker? Zachary Levine foretold this postseason in his epitaph for Bud Selig, written in August:
Andrew Friedman might be the most revered executive in the game--Billy Beane included--and the richest team in baseball just hired him.
On the one hand, Andrew Friedman is one of the only executives with a book written about him—or, at least, a book read by more than the author’s closest friends and relatives. On that hand, he runs a team that, when it succeeds, is largely credited to his genius (and the genius of his front office). On that hand, his Rays have been experimental and at the vanguard of various “trends”—at various times shifting, locking up pre-arb players ever earlier, building around defense, resisting multi-year contracts to relievers, or giving what figuratively seem like literally millions of at-bats to Jose Molina—that have become routine, even over-fished, around the league years later. We tend to see his Rays as the first clinical trial for the strategies that will soon be ubiquitous, so we pay a ton of attention to him. Because of all this, we know a lot about Andrew Friedman, who the Dodgers just poached to be president of baseball operations.
On the other, he has run perhaps the most opaque organization in the game. I once heard about a former Rays intern who was applying for another job. Standard industry practice in this situation is to pump the applicant for information about what his old team was doing, the research, the secrets. Heck, some of the time this fact-finding might be the only reason the interview is even taking place. But this intern wouldn’t budge. Again and again, he told the team that he was interviewing with, the team he was trying to impress, that, well, shoot, he’d love to, but he just couldn’t, not with his non-disclosure agreement, not when we’re talking about the Rays. The Rays were a black box. Their local media, for the most part, never got the Rays, and the Rays never gave them much to get. We know, in some ways, very little about Andrew Friedman.
What to watch for in this postseason? Things three standard deviations away from the mean, obviously.
There’s a toy over at Brooks Baseball—well, he probably wouldn’t call it a toy, but I use it as a toy—that I just love. For each pitch thrown by each pitcher, it assigns a “scouting scale” number for certain characteristics and results: velocity, movement, release point, whiff rate, groundball rate, etc. As you know, on the 20-80 scouting scale, 50 is average and each standard deviation represents 10 points up or down the scale. For instance, Aroldis Chapman’s average fastball velocity is a bit more than three standard deviations from the average left-hander's, so, per Brooks, his fastball velocity is assigned an 84 (lol) on the scouting scale. Dallas Keuchel’s groundball rate on his sinker is nearly three standard deviations higher than the typical lefty sinkerl in that specific aspect, it gets a 79. It’s a toy, of course, because that’s not to say Keuchel’s sinker is an 80 pitch, or that a scout would put an 80 on it, or that you should put an 80 on it; it’s just that, statistically, in this one aspect of it, compared to other pitchers, in the period of time surveyed, his was thatfar from normal.