Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, both in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that has been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.
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There is enough evidence to perform at least an exploratory empirical analysis of what types of skills are best accentuated by Coors Field.
Up until now, the Coors Field Wars have been fought from the top down. There have plenty of theories advanced about what sort of hitter should do well at Coors. Joe Sheehan presented one theory (players who put the ball in play make best use of Coors), Rany Jazayerli presented another (high altitude provides a comparative advantage to whiff-prone hitters by reducing strikeouts), and Dan O'Dowd has tested out both theories and then some in his manic building and rebuilding of the Rockies.
What hasn't been done, at least so far as I am aware, is a systematic study of what sort of hitters actually have benefited from high altitude. Baseball in Denver is no longer a novelty; the Rockies have accumulated tens of thousands of plate appearances in their decade of existence. There is enough evidence to perform at least an exploratory empirical analysis of what types of skills are best accentuated by the ballpark.
Including the Mile High years, there have been 29 hitters with significant major league experience in another organization who accumulated at least 130 plate appearances in a season in purple pinstripes. Although it would be stretch to call any of those hitters an established superstar prior to his initiation as a Rockie - Larry Walker can make the best case - they represent every possible permutation of strength and deficiency. It would be hard to identify two more opposite players than Dante Bichette and Alex Cole, who took the outfield together in the Rockies' first ever home game on April 9, 1993.
I turned back the clock and ran PECOTA projections for each of these 29 players. There are only a couple of differences between this set of forecasts and those that appear in this year's book. First, because we do not have Davenport Translations that far back into time, only major league stats were used; thus the emphasis on established major leaguers. Second, all players were projected into a neutral park and league. The PECOTA system makes certain assumptions about how to apply park effects - all players are not treated equally. In this case, however, we're using our forecasting system to test out certain theories about actual performance, and not the other way around; introducing PECOTA's notions about park effects would bias the analysis.
We can get away with comparing park-neutral forecasts to park-affected results by using a measure for value that places all players back on an equal footing - in this case, Equivalent Average. Our nouveau Rockies are listed in the table below, sorted by the difference between their expected and actual EQA.
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