- a lot of work has gone into the translation postprocessing of the PECOTA data, and GB%, BABIP, and defensive projections appear to have been significantly improved. There are still individual players that have interesting results, which we’ll continue to look at.
- a clarification: the column in the weighted means spreadsheet GB Out %, not GB%–that is, GBO/(GBO+AO), not GB/BIP.*
- four comparable players are now available, and their names are formatted to be easier to read.
- players have been added. Please comment on additional players we’re missing and we’ll get them in there too.
- player R and RBI now scale to the team run environment.
- a few pitchers have been assigned >30 starts, which was treated as a hard cap in previous runs.
We’ll keep you posted about additional updates… please let us know what else you are seeing in the comments.
* We would prefer GB/BIP, but for large chunks of our data, we don’t have GB info on hits, so we don’t have GB/BIP information. We can get GO data for a lot more pitchers than we can get GB data - so that’s what’s used. Once you get past pitchers with < 10 IP, the correlation between GBO% and GB% is about 0.96--pretty close to identical.
His production has waned in recent years, but for a handful of seasons Travis Hafner was a monster. Finally given a chance in Cleveland after languishing for six years in the Rangers system despite lusty minor league numbers, Hafner exploded onto the scene as a ready-to-bash 27-year-old. From 2004-2007, the Sykeston, North Dakota product put up an OPS run of .993, 1.003, 1.097, and .837, while averaging 32 home runs and 109 RBI. Hafner talked about his development as a hitter on the final weekend of the 2009 season.
David Laurila: Why have you been a good hitter?
Travis Hafner: I think the main thing is…first you have to be able to control the strike zone and get good pitches to hit. You have to recognize the ball early. I think that my strength helps me. It’s also being able to work hard and trying to get your mechanics as consistent as possible. But, basically you just want to go up there and get a good pitch and put a good swing on it.
DL: At what point did you become a good hitter?
TH: Probably in high A. I changed my mechanics a lot to where I started getting ready for the pitch really early. I used to have like a leg kick and would try to time the pitch, and I just changed that up to get my foot down early to where I’m able to see the ball a lot better. That year I played winter ball in Puerto Rico, where I’d take until I had a strike on me and that helped me to learn the strike zone really well. I think those were the two biggest things that have helped me as a hitter.
DL: You bio in Baseball Prospectus 2002 said, “Travis Hafner can flat out mangle a pitched baseball,” and in 2003 it said, “Now that he’s with a new organization that’s likely to give him a chance, he should be able to do great things.” That was high praise for a mostly undervalued minor leaguer.
TH: If I see a kid in Double-A or Triple-A, I think that I have a pretty good read on whether he has a chance to be a pretty good hitter in the big leagues. That was probably a similar situation there, where you could see a guy having success in the minor leagues and you were kind of projecting it out to how it might translate at the big league level.
DL: Were you ready to hit in the big leagues before you were given a chance to do so?
TH: Well, I was blocked somewhat in Texas. Rafael Palmeiro was there, and we had Teixeira in the organization, and Carlos Pena was in the organization for awhile as well. So, I spent pretty much a full year at every level. I might have been ready earlier, but you just try to make the most out of the opportunity that you’re given. I definitely had enough time in the minor leagues.
DL: Is it possible that the Rangers were guilty of looking too much at what you couldn’t do, and not enough at what you do very well?
TH: In this game, players get labeled all the time, and fair or unfair it seems like once you have that label, it’s tough to shed. So, some teams may do that, but baseball is a game where things can change so much. I mean, you can be a guy with a plain, average swing, and then you get with the right coach and something clicks, and your career takes off. I mean, it would be tough to scout baseball players, I think.
DL: You play for an organization that places a lot of value on statistical analysis. What do numbers mean to you?
TH: First and foremost, you show up to the park every day to try to become a better player and your ultimate goal for that day is to win the game. I think you pay attention…when you play other teams, you pay attention to guy’s stats up on the scoreboard to see how they’re doing. I think numbers are a big part of the game. You can’t really go out and try to put up good numbers, but if you focus on each at bat, your numbers are going to be there.
We’ve been making a lot of changes to the process behind the scenes, and we don’t have all of the components working together without a hitch yet. In retrospect, we should have called this a beta release, as some of you have suggested in the comments. What we’ll be doing is releasing improvements as soon as we’ve got them, and we’ll do a better job of managing your expectations as far as the fitness of the entire system going forward.
To answer a few of your questions:
* we have no concerns about the PECOTA data shipping in Baseball Prospectus 2010. In fact, you’ll see a few improvements over what we’ve run in the book in the past. We’re looking into BABIP and GB% issues that are reflected solely in the depth chart processes (and, by extension, in the projected standings).
* PECOTA cards are coming… we’re hoping for next week on those, but we’re improving them a lot this year, and we’ve got work left to do on them, so we’re not able to guarantee a date yet.
We will get everything ironed out as soon as we can, but in the meantime, do not take the depth chart standings to Vegas. Thank you for your patience and continued support.
To close out the post, here’s a question: do you want us to push out data as soon as we have something close, with a “beta” tag on it until we’re sure about it, or would you prefer that we release data we’re more certain about a day or three later?
Reading through the comments of yesterday’s announcement that the PECOTA projections have been released, it is evident that there is a lot of concern over several aspects of the data, ranging from the projected standings to individual quirks. We understand and appreciate that this reflects a lot of passion for what we do here at Baseball Prospectus. To be blunt: we messed up, and are working to fix the issues.
One issue involves the run environment: individual player projections do not match up with the run totals on the projected standings.
Another problem revolves around BABIP, as defense was being double-counted (double-counted).
These and other issues are being worked on and we hope to have an update provided by the end of the day, to unmess up. Please stay tuned for further updates.
UPDATE 2:48PM Pac: 2009 comments have been removed from all depth charts. Comment away on the 2010 versions.
Phase One of the 2010 PECOTAs are here!
Before you get too excited, just breathe. The first bits are the Weighted Means spreadsheet for players expected to play in the majors this year, the PFM, and the first-crack depth charts. (We’ll be purging the 2009 comments from the depth charts and turning Fantasy subscriptions on momentarily, so please stay tuned on those.)
There’s been a lot of work put in to these cards this year. The entire PECOTA system has been converted from an absolutely ginormous spreadsheet application – one that couldn’t even be opened on a three-year-old laptop – into an executable program that can be run at any time. That really doesn’t affect the current PECOTAs in any way – but it leads to an extreme simplification of the input process. And that means that we should be able to make in-season PECOTAs without too much hassle; still enough of a hassle that there won’t be daily updates, but I think monthly updates are within reason (he says now, before actually doing one).
The other advantage to this is the ability to run a PECOTA for any other year as easily as we run it for this year. So the translated projection for Wade Boggs in 1982, his rookie year, was .314/.388/.410 and a .277 eqa; we got a .343/.399/.438, .296 eqa, in-line with his 80% percentile score. Dwight Gooden’s 1985 PECOTA says he could strike out 204 batters in 174 innings - at the 50% level as a 19-year-old. It gives Willie Mays 40 more home runs for the time in 1952-53 when he was in the military, which would have given him an even 700 for his career. There’s a lot of ideas just waiting to have this new toy turned onto it (and a lot of PECOTA cards from the past to think about building).
I haven’t turned much attention to the PFM yet this year – other than to verify that that the current PECOTAs do load in, and the dollar values are reasonable for the stats they work with. I do have some ideas for that as well…
There are a couple of fields missing in the weighted means page. One is the Upside – unfortunately, I need to finish running the card data to get that info (its based on the best 6 years forecast out of the next 10). I know that’s a stat people look for – at least, I know *I* look at it - , and I’ll add it as soon as the cards give me the answers.
Everyone knows that BP is know for three things:
1) provocative baseball writing
2) statistical analysis
3) funny acronyms
I need help with #3 today. For the last seven years, I’ve been doing the Team Health Reports (with one year where we went to Positional Health Reports). The rankings have gone from speculative to pretty darn good, with the typical variance. I’ve made some slight changes this year, mostly due to having seven years of data to work with now. What I don’t have is a catchy name for the system. I’ve always called them the “THR ratings,” which is kind of weak.
So, I’m looking for a catching acronym for the system. My favorite (and it will be purely subjective, so don’t whinge) will get the full spreadsheet of rankings a full 24 hours before the rest of the world. You know what to do, in comments …
Oh, and I’m about a third of the way through the ratings, with the Team Health Reports (and an exciting new format for them) debuting in early February.
I’ve said the following in a previous Unfiltered post as well as my most recent chat, but I’ve seen it come up again a few times since then, including in Will’s recent “Focus” post: Baseball Prospectus 2010 will have an index. It really, truly will. By Odin, Zeus, and Babe Ruth, there will be an index.
Look, we feel pretty rotten about the absence of an index in the 2009 edition. We had a perfect storm of things go wrong, and it was put to us that if we insisted on an index the book might be late or not-at-all. Also, they threatened to shoot a puppy. Several puppies. Really cute ones. We figured it was better to have a book without an index than an index without a book. Note that we are with a new publisher this year. The Index Incident is not the whole reason we moved, but it’s not unrelated either. We take anything that compromises the reader experience personally.
This year we had a far more pleasant experience cooking the book and an index was part of it, prepared with care by Christina Kahrl. It is really, really there. Honest. Again, we contritely apologize for last year’s omission, but it is a thing of the past. The index is back and it is here to stay.
Inevitably, there are guys who don’t show up in the book, and/or players who don’t get projected. This year, we’re being a lot more ambitious about who’s getting projected, but while the book will provide people with a ton of info and median projections, we’re also going to be projecting people who didn’t make that cut during the course of the year and on into the future. So, with that in mind, let’s consider a pair of people who have been in the news lately.
First up, Jim Edmonds’ interest in resuming his career–ideally with the Cardinals–has been in the news quite a bit lately. So naturally I’m nudged Clay Davenport to see if we what PECOTA spits out for a projection for the former center-field great. Clay’s comment was, “Guys who miss an entire year at this age get shredded–they’re virtually comps are people who never came back at all, so the forecast comes out as a .170 EqA.” Voila, triple-slash rates of .192/.247/.265, two homers, 139 PA, and top comps that include Johnny Grubb, Greg Myers, and Al Simmons. Blech. Ratchet that up to his 90% forecast gets you to a .266 EqA, with a .284/.332/.421 line and four homers in 139 PA; “you’re down to the .170 eqa by the time you get to the 70% forecast.”
Clay suggests, “Another way to do it is to forecast a 2009 line for him (as if he had played), and then use that to forecast 2010.” That gets us a 2009 made-up season where he’d hit .246/.328/.389 with a .256 EqA as a 39-year-old (projected with the Cardinals), with six homers in 221 PAs. His comps for that campaign were Steve Finley, Tris Speaker, and Ruben Sierra, probably the last time you’ll find those three in the same conversation. Projecting 2010 from there gets us .255/.318/.369 with a .243 EqA, and four homers in 171 PAs; comps include Sierra and Speaker again, as well as Johnny Mize. As Clay notes, “a .243 EqA is probably what I would use.” Needless to say, that’s not going to inspire you to get grabby in your drafts early, or make signing him look like much more than a courtesy add-on to the roster–useful as an ex-famous veteran-type person, which Tony La Russa’s been known to favor now and again.
The other interesting player who we already know isn’t in this year’s book is Colby Lewis, who as I noted last week has came over to the Rangers from Japan after two good seasons there. As Clay notes, his translation models “love what he did in Japan,[but] they love’d what he did in Sacramento in 2007. Forecasting a roughly 4.00 ERA, with his upsides (6 % breakout/40 % improve) substantially larger than his downside figures (12 % collapse/8 % attrition), plus a solid comp list.” The comp list starts with Jon Lieber, followed by John Smoltz, Javier Vazquez, and A.J. Burnett. Working from that PECOTA spits out 169 1/3 IP, 165 hits, 141 Ks, 48 walks, a 1.26 WHIP and a 4.16 ERA (4.05 DERA), or 8.6 H/9, 2.4 BB/9, and 7.1 K/9. That’s projected for Texas, mind you, so it’s impressive. Or, to be blunt, he’s someone you’ll want to keep in mind, whether for your own league or for the Rangers’ rotation picture.
BP is closing in on it’s seventh year of BP Premium. I can remember being as nervous as prom night — and if you know the story about my prom night, well … Back in 2003, I was new to Prospectus, coming on board to a place that, to me, was as unreachable as Yankee Stadium had been when I was playing.
As other outlets, such as the New York Times, have vacillated on similar content models, and as the whole world waits on the Apple tablet changing everything, BP’s still chugging along, costing the same price it did back then and working to earn your money and trust by working hard to give you exactly what you want. No, this isn’t a leadup to tell you that BP’s raising the price. We didn’t do it when the economy was booming and we won’t do it when the economy is doing … well, whatever it is that it’s doing now.
We’ve made some changes along the way. We’ve added writers … and lost writers. We’ve added comments. We’re working hard to revamp the PECOTA cards to make them more useable, something you’ll see very soon. Add in a redesign that will allow us to get you information faster and even more behind the scenes changes that would just bore you.
But we’re curious - what’s the ONE feature you would like to see added at BP and (here’s the kicker) how much would you pay to see it added?
As you know, I’ve taken a recent interest in pitching awards. (Let me pull that knife out of my back. Huh, Cardinal red, who knew?) During this year’s BBWAA meeting, the voting procedures were discussed and changed. The discussion that surrounded it brought up an interesting topic: Are modern relievers being shortchanged by the process?
There’s nothing like speaking up at your first meeting, so I proposed an award just for relievers, since the job description is the same. It’s hardly a new idea - we’ve had things like the Rolaids Award for years - but this would be an official award, equal to the Cy Young and MVP.
Just take a look at how many times Mariano Rivera has received even a single vote for the Cy. Surprising, isn’t it? Perhaps Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and others will have no trouble getting into the Hall of Fame, but Lee Smith and Bruce Sutter sure have.
Jayson Stark does a better job explaining why this is a good idea than I ever could, so read his Rumblings on the topic. If nothing else, I hope we can add the category in next year’s IBAs.
And let me say for the record that while I hate the save rule and the management style it’s caused, I fully agree with Jayson on naming this award after Jerome Holtzmann.