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Friday, January 27, 2006

PECOTA Drubs The Halos

Derek Jacques at Baseball Prospectus -- or maybe I should say PECOTA -- blasts the Angels for their offseason:
Given the current roster composition, PECOTA projects that the Angels would be the second-worst offensive team in the league, after the Royals, in 2006. That’s even with highly-touted Casey Kotchman taking over at first base, and incumbent first baseman Darin Erstad returning to center field. The next wave of Los Angeles of Anaheimian offensive talent--shortstop Brandon Wood, second baseman Howie Kendrick, Cuban refugee Kendry Morales--have played a grand total of four games at the Triple-A level (all by Wood), and are each presently blocked at the major league level. While one has to admire the Angels’ player development system, and their discipline in thinking of the long-term, this season could prove a rude awakening for Angels fans who have grown used to contending over the past few years.
Which is to say, second place may even be a bit ambitious.

If someone can demonstrate to me that previous PECOTA projections have accurately forecast how well a team does in the coming year, then I will pay attention to this.
I will say this: PECOTA is notoriously unreliable when dealing with rookie- or near-rookie-level players.

The Angels' offense will likely improve drastically at three positions (DH, 1B, CF), and slightly at a fourth (3B), while regressing only at C & treading water at 2B, SS, LF & RF. That will remain true in just about every injury scenario except for something bad happening to Vlad, or an Erstad/D-Mac double injury.

The offensive woes from last year were largely self-inflicted; those moves have largely been corrected. And the team as constructed, although still with less punch than I'd like to see, is even deeper than last year's impressively deep squad.

As for Wood/Kendrick/Morales being blocked, I'm not sure what he's talking about. None are ready for the bigs; if Morales can hit enough he'll be in Triple A ... I sure would love to see Wood/Kendrick start the year at AAA, and if they *don't* then I'll call them "blocked" (by Aybar/Callaspo); so hopefully they'll move Aybar to CF, use Callaspo as trade bait, then let the 2007-12 dynasty ripen while we confound Rob and the Neyerites yet again.
I agree with Matt. Besides, I was already on board with this year being a transition year (I didn't support them picking up any bats this offseason...and they didn't). They won two division championships in a row and now they are going to be trying to break in a couple of young guys a year for awhile (Dallas, Kotch, Quinlan, and Mathis this year; probably some combination of Weaver, Wood, Kendrick, Morales, etc. over the two after that).
when is someone going to make a site that holds these predictie methods to some scrutiny?

It is getting a bit Miss Clio among the stat-wonks.

Of course, if someone were to post the results of all the awful predictions, the rationalizations posted as comments would cause the poor site to crash!
Why did the site crash the other day?
Which one?
Rev. -- In the intro to my Hardball Times Annual essay about the Angels this year, I have fun with the A's-heavy (and therefore incorrect) predix the past four years by Neyer, Prospectus, Hardball Times, and so on. When you stack them all together, they're really funny.
Aw, damn, you're in the HT Annual? I might actually have to buy a copy...
Well, I think the problem with these projections is that they are used way too widely. PECOTA seems to have a huge amount of variability in terms of accuracy with individual players. When you average that across a whole team full of players it just magnifies the problem. I don't think these prediction algorithms are ready for that broad a use quite yet.

In addition, there's some obvious bias built in because teams like the A's are built in a stats oriented fasion they will score better in stats oriented predictions. I'd like to see the BP guys try and take that into account a little and add a fudge factor, maybe subtract a little from the A's and add a few points to teams like the Angels and White Sox which don't seem to be judged as accurately.

As far as the predictions for the AL west the last couple of years, they've been pretty decent. I mean, the races have been pretty close with the Angels coming out ahead the last two years.

Finally, it'd be really nice if someone kept track of all the predictions (something like King Kaufman's annual NFL prediction tracker at Salon) just to see how everyone does, SABR types and old schoolers alike.
Sounds like the same drivel they wrote before the 2002 season when the Angels won the World Series.
"...the Angels would be the second-worst offensive team in the league, after the Royals, in 2006"

Who wrote this? The Oakland A's press core? What a joke and a horrible credibility killer.

Don't worry, the Angels will go ahead and show-up for the games no matter what PECOTA thinks. There are a lot of guys on that team who are feeling mighty disrespected from the national media (and PECOTA). I will put our guys up against Oakland and Seattle any day. Texas has some pretty big bats, even with losing Soriano. If they had mediocre pitching they would compete but as is, they are headed for another year in the cellar.
The Angels were 7th in the AL in runs scored last year. In order to drop to second-worst, they would have had to score 63 fewer runs.

Given that the Angels may have only one player with an OPS over 800 next season, I think it's possible that the offense will be that bad...
Given that the Angels may have only one player with an OPS over 800 next season, I think it's possible that the offense will be that bad...

Let's do some OPS comparisons, using last year's stats, last year's starters, and this year's projected starters:

Po. 2005/2006
1B: .696/.836
DH: .658/.744
CF: .645/.696
3B: .744/.749
C: .782/.???

The other positions are essentially the same.

Seems to me that the offense is likely to gain, not lose. Especially if Scioscia is clever with the platooning.
That may be so, Matt. But Angels pitching will be much worse than last year. Washburn was preturnaturally good, and so was Byrd. Santana will have to show me he knows how to be consistent, something he's had a problem with throughout his minor league career. And this squad has no significant depth in the rotation outside of Hector Corrasco, unless you want to impress Shields into the rotation.

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