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Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Baseball Prospectus is forecasting the MFY at 90 wins, the Sox at 95 and TB with 93 wins. BP forecasts runs scored and against based primarily on their PECOTA player projections, then plugs that into Bill James Pythagorean formula to calculate winning percentage. James’ Pythagorean equation has a 9% margin for error mostly due blow out, one-run and other close games. Besides the aforementioned run distribution, player forecasts, head-to-head record and the potential for additions to the organization can impact the projections. Run distribution and head-to-head record is too difficult, if even possible, to plan for and significantly impact. The baseball gods have more say on these two factors than any player, manager or general manager, which leaves three factors to analyze.

Player Projections

PECOTA does a good job at projecting player production, but injuries, odd career and young players tend to give the system issues. With that in mind, the Rays forecast has the most risk. It is projecting that Ben Zobrist is for real after a 2009 breakout season with only a significant dip in BA. More importantly, PECOTA has the young trio of T-Bay Rays pitchers (David Price, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis) each throwing around 150 innings with an ERA slightly above 4.00 and 2-to-1 K:BB ratios. One or even two out of three is reasonable but hitting on 100% is highly unlikely.

The MFY’s PECOTA player projections appear to be dead on with one exception – Javy Vazquez. It is forecasting that Vazquez’s K:BB to improve over his three years with the White Sox. It is likely considering his great season in Atlanta while also putting less impact on it since he is in his mid-30s. But PECOTA may not adjust a change to the A.L. East from the N.L.; only League-to-League. Also, forecasting the impact of MFY Stadium is volatile given only one year of data.

Beyond the big two, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, the Sox rotation has question marks to varying degrees. PECOTA appears to be optimist on three. John Lackey has made 27 and 24 starts in his last two seasons. So in his thirties, it is unlikely that he takes the ball 30 times and pitches 190 innings. Daisuke Matsuzaka is a “national treasure” and “like box of chocolates…you never know what your gonna get.” Similar to the T-Bay Rays trio of young pitchers, Clay Buchholz’s forecast is on the optimist side – ERA under 4.00 and slightly better than a 2-to-1 K:BB ratio. As with any system, PECOTA is consistent.

Trade Targets

As side from the T-Bay Rays, who are unlikely to deal with the Sox or MFY and be out of October baseball, Adam Dunn and Adrian Gonzalez are the probable impact bats on the market come July. On paper, neither slugger is a fit for the Olde Towne Team or the MFY. It is doubtful that the Rays will part with the assets necessary to acquire either big bat.

If healthy, Ben Sheets or Gil Meche would upgrade any rotation. Meche would be owed roughly $18M through 2011 at the time of a deal, so the Rays are out. He also has a limited no-trade clause. Both the Sox and MFY might find Meche more attractive as he would fill a spot in 2011 that could be vacated by Josh Beckett with Boston and Andy Pettitte or/and Javy Vazquez in NYC. Sheets at $10+M in 2010 is probably to rich for the Rays blood, but not for the Sox, MFY or other contenders. Although the prospect price will probably be too high for the A.L. bEasts.

A.L. EAST Prediction (Last year, I did pretty well. I swung and missed only twice on B.J. Upton and John Smoltz. Everything else was solid, even the trade speculation.)

SOX - 93 wins – Starters 3-6 are not as productive as PECOTA projection
MFY - 90 wins (Wild Card)
TBR - 84 wins – Crawford, Pena, Soriano, etc. are traded at the deadline


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