A walkthrough of all the info available on BP's player cards.
It’s time for another episode of Feature Focus! Now this is the last time we’re doing the home game… I know, I know.
Oh, wait, that’s the episode of Press Your Luck where TV game shows were broken forever. Instead, we’re going to talk about the BP player cards. A key note is that I’m showing off the full cards, including subscriber-only features, so if you don’t see all of these things, you may want to get yourself a subscription.
The teams that have outhit and outpitched their projections, or fallen the farthest short.
We’re approaching the halfway point of the season, though we’re still over a month away from the nominal start of the second half. And that means we’re also approaching the point at which we stop thinking about how we thought the season would play out (except for our probably accidentally accurate predictions, which we treasure forever). According to Colin Wyers, in-season team records become more reliable than pre-season projections around Game 103. Most of us don’t have a particular point of the season at which we entirely abandon pre-season projections—nor should we—but every day we trust what we’ve seen so far a little more and what we expected to see a little less. And eventually, we look back and wonder why we didn’t see certain things coming.
PECOTA has had plenty of successes. The projected team TAvs for the Rangers and Brewers, for example, have been correct to the point, and the projected team ERAs for the Mets and Diamondbacks have been less than 0.02 points off. But while PECOTA deserves a pat on its back for its accurate predictions, there’s much more to say about the surprises. This article is about the lineups and pitching staffs that have defied our expectations so far.
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If everyone on the Astros played to their 90th-percentile projections, and everyone on the Angels played to their 10th-percentile projections, which would win more games?
Last year around this time I had plans to compare the Astros’ teamwide PECOTA projections to those of a variety of lower-level squads: the best Triple-A roster, the best Double-A roster, an All-Star High-A team, etc. I didn’t get to it, and then the season started, and I still didn’t get to it, because the Astros started off hot and it would have been weird to have run that piece about a team that was 22-23 in mid-May. I was sort of glad I didn’t run it, because the longer I lived with the idea the more it started to feel mean.
So this year, I have a similar idea, and I’m rushing it out before the guilt kicks in. Again I’m going to be exploring just how bad the worst team in baseball is. Or just how good the worst team in baseball is. That’s the point of it, after all. It’s not to prove that the Astros are as bad as, say, a team of High-A All-Stars. It’s to see if the Astros are as bad as a team of High-A All-Stars, and if they’re significantly better (as I suspect they would have been), then we’ve learned a little something about baseball.
Announcing the arrival of the 2013 PECOTA percentiles.
PECOTA percentiles are now available to subscribers.
Those of you new to BP, or to PECOTA, might wonder why we publish percentiles in addition to the weighted-mean projections for players, which we’ve already released. The answer is that forecasting is an inexact science; the future is not exactly what you'd call certain. The percentiles allow us to put a range of outcomes around a single-point forecast, to illustrate how uncertain the forecast is and what range of outcomes are most likely.
Seven bets where PECOTA could beat the oddsmakers.
In retrospect, it was actually pretty easy to take PECOTA with me to Las Vegas over the weekend. When I heard that its guardian, our own Colin Wyers, seemed to have acute grade III avian sniffles on the Cubs season preview podcast Friday, I figured he’d be an easy target for burglary. And when I went to lift PECOTA, he’d already passed out, presumably from fake and/or real outrage over Tony Campana and/or Luis Valbuena. You can’t be sure.
Anyway, once the not-so-brazen heist was complete, PECOTA and I were off to Vegas, and let me tell you: best travel companion in the history of ever. It—actually “he” if it’s named after Bill Pecota, right?—doesn’t hog the armrest on the flight, quietly whirrs instead of snoring across the hotel room, and doubles as a tip calculator. Really, you couldn’t ask for much more.
Old players are contributing less to teams than they have in years, but a few veterans are bucking the trend.
What if you’d been asked back in 2003—following the greatest season since 1950 for aging hitters—which position players in their prime would be the likeliest candidates to enter 2013 as the best old guys? Sure you’d have predicted Derek Jeter, but Nomar Garciaparra and Miguel Tejada would have been in the same sentence. Ichiro would have come to mind too, since he’d have seemed like someone who’d probably age okay, but Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon, and Manny Ramirez would have been popular outfield picks as well. Even if you knew Chipper Jones would be retiring with something left in the tank, there was still a third baseman on the board. Edgardo Alfonzo, a seven-win player in 2000 and a five-win player in 2002, is even younger than Jones.
No matter whom you picked, you mostly would have been wrong, and through no fault of your own. It’s just the worst time in decades for older players. Jeter had a pretty good 2012 until he had to be carried off the field at the end, and Ichiro found a little life after the trade from the Mariners to the Yankees, but that’s really about it.
Asking questions about PECOTA's projections, and explaining what the system thinks is in store for Bryce Harper.
When the PECOTA spreadsheet appears, one of the first things people do is pick out the players projected to make the greatest gains or suffer the largest declines. Then the questions start: Why does PECOTA like/dislike so-and-so so much? Is there a problem with the projections? Or is the system just picking up on something I’m not seeing?
Behind the scenes, the BP staff goes through the same thought process. Before we publish the projections, we approach PECOTA’s output with a skeptical eye, on the lookout for anything that could be a bug. But even after we’re satisfied with the spreadsheet and release it to our subscribers, PECOTA retains the capacity to surprise.
PECOTA's projected award winners, bounceback candidates, and betes noires.
If your holiday was anything like most of mine, you’ll want a couple of Tylenol and some Gatorade this morning because you’re feeling the effects of PECOTA Day. Now that we’ve slept it off, it’s time to take a look at some of the highlights of the data as they project the 2013 season.
Team win totals can be found here if you want to use the projection system to forecast the playoff races eight months before the Division Series. But individual performances are easier to assess because they’re not compounding (or more accurately, just adding together) error with the projections.
BP begins to roll out its projections and fantasy tools for the 2013 season.
Welcome to the initial launch of this year’s PECOTA forecasts. We hope you find them enlightening, useful, and predictive.
Let’s start with the business aspects of things. In order to access the PECOTA forecasts, you need to be a subscriber to Baseball Prospectus. Monthly subscribers will have access to certain PECOTA features but will not have access to downloads like the PECOTA spreadsheets. The best value we offer is a yearly subscription, which not only gives you access to the full PECOTA product offering, but also unrestricted access to our extensive prospect coverage, R.J. Anderson’s Transaction Analysis, in-depth analysis from the likes of Ben Lindbergh, Sam Miller, and more, and the latest in baseball research from the likes of Russell Carleton and myself. If you feel you can pass on that, we offer our lower-priced Fantasy subscription, which give you full access to the PECOTA products and all fantasy-focused articles on the site.