Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Emptying the Inbox
A couple of recently publicized announcements from the stats world are worth noting.
After a couple of fits and starts, Baseball Prospectus has issued its PECOTA projections for the 2010 season, and to no surprise of any White Sox fan, our team does not fair very well.
According to the annual estimates, the Sox will finish 80-82 with about a 27 percent chance to make the playoffs, said Clay Davenport of BP, citing the computer’s concern with age.
But as Sox fans realize, PECOTA has never been kind to a Kenny Williams constructed team, and amazingly, in five of the last six seasons it has underestimated our final performance (the other year hit it on the head).
Here is PECOTA’s past performance regarding the White Sox (as best we can find):
2004 — est 79 wins, actual 83 wins (outperformed by 4 wins)
2005 — estimated 80 wins, actual 99 wins and a World Series (outperformed by 19)
2006 — estimated 80 wins (where was the love?), actual 90 (outperformed by 8)
2007 — estimated 73, won 73 (nailed it)
2008 — estimated 77, won 89 (we outperformed by 12)
2009 — estimated 72, won 79 (outperformed by 6)
So since 2004, the White Sox have outperformed PECOTA projections by 49 games!
Maybe some reader would want to see if that is the biggest over performance in MLB.
So, why do we think PECOTA annually swings and misses on the White Sox?
Last summer, the BP folks were at the ballpark for a seminar and were impressively frank and open about the system, its “flaws” and why the Sox and udnerwhelming in the preseason computer’s analysis.
Two topics seemed to reoccur: 1. health (and the ability of Herm Schneider and his staff to take players with injury histories and have them on the field more than any computer can project); and 2. part of Ken Williams’ modus operandi is to find players (like Carlos Quentin), who we believe have the talent, but for whatever reasons — injury, lack of opportunity/playing time, depth of another team’s roster — just haven’t been given the opportunity to play. Those players, and I understand this, are inherently difficult to evaluate/project going into a season.
There are a lot of folks much smarter than me and much more versed in this that I am, so I’d love to read thoughts/comments related to these annual rankings of the White Sox.
One of my heroes (to be a bit overdramatic). James recently came out with his “Young Talent Inventory” judging the teams with the best young talent in the game. The White Sox rank ninth overall (sixth in the AL), while John Danks and Carlos Quentin are among the best young players in baseball. Last season, the White Sox ranked 25th on this scale, so 2010’s improvement was 16 places.