The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Happy Opening Day

A belated Happy Opening Day to you all. I've spent much of the past 48 hours half-watching games while I worked against my deadlines, a less-than-entirely satisfying endeavor offset by the fact that at least I was watching real baseball. Sunday night's Braves-Phillies contest, Monday's Mets-Reds, Yankees-Orioles and Dodgers-Padres tilts offered their novelties (touted Braves phenom Jordan Schafer homering in his first major league at-bat, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira in pinstripes, a Cesar Izturus home run, Manny Ramirez with even longer dreadlocks, and the Reds' diminutive hurler Danny Herrera, who's listed as 5'7" but looks "barely bigger than a roasting chicken," as my BP colleague John Perrotto quipped) and familiar pleasures (Derek Lowe putting up zeroes, Johan Santana working out of jams, Michael Kay's exaggerated home run calls, Vin Scully smooth like butter).

At Baseball Prospectus we've got the staff picks of a dozen contributors, myself included. Here are mine:
AL Standings

AL East AL Central AL West
Rays Indians Angels
Yankees * Tigers Athletics
Red Sox White Sox Rangers
Orioles Twins Mariners
Blue Jays Royals

1. Evan Longoria
2. Mark Teixeira
3. Dustin Pedroia

AL Cy Young
1. CC Sabathia
2. Zack Greinke
3. John Danks

1. Matt Wieters
2. David Price
3. Rick Porcello

NL Standings

NL East NL Central NL West
Mets Cubs Dodgers
Braves * Brewers Diamondbacks
Phillies Reds Rockies
Marlins Cardinals Giants
Nationals Pirates Padres
1. Albert Pujols
2. Manny Ramirez
3. Hanley Ramirez

NL Cy Young
1. Tim Lincecum
2. Brandon Webb
3. Chad Billingsley

1. Cameron Maybin
2. Colby Rasmus
3. Jordan Schafer
Interestingly enough, the staff consensus is that it will be the Rays left on the outside looking in come October as far as the AL East is concerned; I was one of only two ballots out of 12 that predicted them for first place.

Also up at BP yesterday was the always-controversial preseason version of the Prospectus Hit List, derived from our PECOTA Projected Standings. The Yankees top the list, while the Dodgers rank fifth and the Brewers 12th:
1. Yankees (99-63, .606 Hit List Factor, 800 Runs Scored/635 Runs Allowed)
A $441 million spending spree brought the Yankees the winter's biggest haul, but their self-loving $300 million slugger—a former steroid user, in case you hadn't heard—starts the year on the DL as the team moves into its charmless $1.3 million new ballpark, the House That Ruthlessness Built. This is the third consecutive year the Yanks top the preseason Hit List, but money guarantees nothing in the top-heavy AL East.

5. Dodgers (93-69, .568, 820/710)
Fresh off their first NLCS appearance in 20 years, the Dodgers pared payroll significantly while raising expectations as the spring has progressed. Since our initial PECOTA-driven projections, the NL West race has swung 12 games, thanks largely to the signings of Orlando Hudson and Manny Ramirez. The offense projects to have the league's second-best OBP, not to mention fewer corners for Joe Torre to back himself into, while young studs Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw and Jonathan Broxton forecast to be part of the league's top run prevention unit.

12. Brewers (83-79, .515, 778/754)
After tasting Oktoberfest suds for the first time in 26 years, the Brewers kept their mugs on the table as CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets departed. Yovani Gallardo should help offset that loss, though he'll be capped around 150 innings, and Braden Looper, their most prominent offseason acquisition(!), is nobody to pick up that slack. Nonetheless, with six productive regulars between ages 25 and 29, the Crew retain a respectable outside shot at the Wild Card if not the division.
Both articles are free, and there's plenty to argue with, as usual. But it's also worth remembering that our PECOTA-based system tops the field in accuracy as far as these things go. It's had the smallest average error (RSME) in three of the past four years (barely missing in the fourth) and over every multi-year range since 2005. As you can see from comparing my predictions to the Hit List, I don't necessarily believe that every single placement on the list is as accurate as the next, but -- for those who need a late pass on this topic -- what's presented on the list is what's being produced by our complicated formulas and systems, without any manual intervention; where I differ significantly is noted in the accompanying analysis. We at BP are not hive-minded robots; we're allowed to think critically about what our tools are telling us and to bring more information to the table than what even our most sophisticated models can incorporate. As my guru, Homer Simpson, would say, "Blame me if you must, but don't ever speak ill of the program!"

So what I'd really like to see is the snippy critics of the Phillies', Marlins' and Rangers' rankings -- a few teams whose fan bases have been especially vocal of their placements -- step up to the plate and lay down their own predictions so we can compare notes in October. How many games are those teams going to win, and where are the corresponding losses going to come from? Which Rangers' starters are going to break a 5.00 ERA in a significant number of innings so the team can avoid allowing 900 runs, punk? Inquiring minds want to know.

• • •

Over at Field of Schemes, Neil deMause has an excellent roundup of several first impressions of the new Yankee Stadium, both from professionals (the Post's Joel Sherman: "a fake place designed to manipulate my emotions and get into my wallet") and bloggers (New Stadium Insider: "The Grandstand evokes memories of Shea Stadium - don't count on a baseball, fair or foul, ever reaching there"). Generally negative, with the exception of Lisa Olson's ecstatic take on the cupholders. WTF?

Hearty congratulations to Cardboard Gods' Josh Wilker, the man who unlocks existential secrets from the shoeboxes full of old baseball cards which clutter his mind. According to this New York Times piece, he recently got a well-deserved contract to write a literary memoir. Count me in for a copy.

Labels: ,

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


June 2001   July 2001   August 2001   September 2001   October 2001   November 2001   December 2001   January 2002   February 2002   March 2002   April 2002   May 2002   June 2002   July 2002   August 2002   September 2002   October 2002   November 2002   December 2002   January 2003   February 2003   March 2003   April 2003   May 2003   June 2003   July 2003   August 2003   September 2003   October 2003   November 2003   December 2003   January 2004   February 2004   March 2004   April 2004   May 2004   June 2004   July 2004   August 2004   September 2004   October 2004   November 2004   December 2004   January 2005   February 2005   March 2005   April 2005   May 2005   June 2005   July 2005   August 2005   September 2005   October 2005   November 2005   December 2005   January 2006   February 2006   March 2006   April 2006   May 2006   June 2006   July 2006   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   January 2007   February 2007   March 2007   April 2007   May 2007   June 2007   July 2007   August 2007   September 2007   October 2007   November 2007   December 2007   January 2008   February 2008   March 2008   April 2008   May 2008   June 2008   July 2008   August 2008   September 2008   October 2008   November 2008   December 2008   January 2009   February 2009   March 2009   April 2009   May 2009   June 2009   July 2009   August 2009   September 2009   October 2009   November 2009   December 2009   January 2010   February 2010   March 2010   April 2010   May 2010  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]