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!).
Using Team Tracker
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.
Without rehashing the content of the two articles above, many fantasy owners also like the email feature of Team Tracker—where an owner gets an email (optional) whenever a Baseball Prospectus author writes about a player on his team.
Using Scoresheet Draft Aid
Help for the above squad isn’t exactly coming in the draft—at least until people make cuts—as can be seen from the Draft Aid page for the league. Draft Aid offers some great features for Scoresheet owners to review the talent available in their league (note: where the article discusses available prospects, that will become available after the top 101 prospect list is published, not before). And, as a convenient tie-in, there’s a Team Tracker function to load Scoresheet teams so the stats (real and projected) of players already on teams can be seen as well.
Using Player Forecast Manager, And the Rest of our Fantasy Coverage
I know, I know. It is weird to be reading an introduction to something that kicked off three weeks ago on January 5th. However, this introduction is written not only for our current subscribers—thank you once again for your continued support—but also for anyone new coming on board this year for the first time.
Past subscribers are already familiar with several of the weekly features that have already graced the pages of the fantasy section of Baseball Prospectus in 2015, including the following:
· State of the Position: A broad overview of every position on the diamond from a fantasy perspective, with a look at both the present and the future of each position.
· Players to Target/Avoid: An argument for or against adding a player to your fantasy team in 2015. This feature is being presented as a deeper dive this year, with fewer players per article but more detailed arguments for each player.
· Top 50 Dynasty Players: A look at the Top 50 players by position for dynasty league players (expanded from 40 players in 2014).
· Tier Rankings: A breakdown of players by position into “star” rankings for mixed leagues.
· Infographic: Mauricio Rubio’s look at where a player’s production came from and how last year’s bid, last year’s price, and this year’s bid compare in an eye popping series of graphs.
· Get to Know (Position) Prospects: Prospects position by position, some who will help your teams in 2014, and other long term names to know in keeper and dynasty leagues.
· Tale of the Tape: A detailed comparison of two closely ranked players at a position that runs through each player’s strengths and weaknesses.
· TTO Scoresheet: Our breakdown for Scoresheet players, moved up to January this year from last year’s start in March.
This is already a healthy chunk of information to digest, but our readers asked for more and—as they might say during a pitch meeting in a Mad Men episode—we listened! New features in the fantasy section this year include:
· The Quinton: Jeff Quinton applies his excellent take on organizational thinking and reasoning to fantasy baseball, breaking down draft/auction perceptions and challenging the way fantasy owners think.
· Tale of the Tape, Dynasty Edition: The same positional comparison in Tale of the Tape with a focus on dynasty leagues.
· Only League Previews: Play in an only league? Take the deep dive with two separate articles a week by position for AL-only and NL-only.
· Fantasy Profile: 1-2 profiles a week of a specific player and his fantasy prospects for 2015.
And of course, with all of this you get the Player Forecast Manager (or—as it is more popularly known—the PFM) and the Team Tracker. Put simply, the PFM translates Baseball Prospectus’s renowned PECOTA projections into draft rankings or auction values for your league. My bid limits for mixed, AL-only, and NL-only leagues will be available next month for the third year running, but if your league is an extremely custom league—or if you simply don’t trust the human element that my bids provide—then the PFM is for you (I do strongly urge you to read this tutorial before diving in).
Another feature available to our subscribers is the Team Tracker. Do you want to see how your fantasy team projects out through the rest of the season? The Team Tracker merges PECOTA projections with your team’s statistics year to date and puts together a valid baseline for the season. The team tracker is customizable for nearly every category, and can be used to track not just your team but every team in your league. A detailed tutorial can be found here.
Baseball Prospectus has always been the place to go for top notch baseball coverage. Now, it’s also the place to go for top shelf fantasy baseball coverage as well. This may sound like the tagline to the kind of jingoistic marketing campaign that irritates me to my very core, but you are not going to find a website that offers more fantasy coverage across all formats on a weekly basis than BP. And this doesn’t even include the mock draft and mock auction analysis, bid limits for auction leagues, and LABR and Tout Wars expert league coverage and analysis that will once again grace this website in 2015. If you are a returning customer, thank you once again for your continued patronage. If you are a new subscriber, thank you for joining us. You will not be disappointed. —Mike Gianella
Thank you for reading
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