PECOTA Officially Loses Its Marbles

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The PECOTA projections for the 2010 season arrived this week, as the god of the nerds, Nate Silver, new guys in charge of PECOTA unleashed a mighty flow of predictions upon its cult followers. I think PECOTA does a fine job of predicting individual players, but, if you think about it, the team records are based on the performance of these same projected players, which would be nice if the PECOOTERS functioned in a vacuum. Nevertheless, wacky managerial decisions (as just one example) have an undoubted effect on the actual outcomes of a game, meaning that the real baseball world is not a vacuum at all. As such, these projections can readily be thrown off by cold, hard reality. Therefore, I don't really give much weight to these things; however, I do think they can be fun to look at in and of themselves. This year especially is proof positive of the sheer insanity that can happen when folks start poking around with numbers, and it begs the question of whether or not PECOTA is just messing with diehard baseball stats guys now.

You can view the complete projected records at Baseball Prospectus, where they are presented by division. Let's just take a gander at a few of the things that make this year's dose of fortune telling more ridiculous than Robert Downey Jr.'s career arc:

  • There are only three teams expected to eclipse 90 wins next season. Last season, PECOTA projected six. All three in 2010 (Rays, Red Sox and Yankees) are from the AL East.

  • By PECOTA's estimation, the Royals are going to have the lowest win total (66) next season. Unfortunately, this will be a year too late to grab Bryce Harper, which is just so fitting for this terrible, terrible franchise.

  • Speaking of terrible teams, the Nationals are going to win 82 games. I will wager anybody that this doesn't happen.

  • If the Nationals were playing in the AL Central, they would be tied for the division lead. LOLwut?!

  • Big League Stew already pointed this out, but the current projections have the Rays winning the East, Boston as the Wild Card, and the defending champs missing the playoffs entirely despite putting up 93 wins. Excuse me, 2008, I didn't hear you come in.

  • Why does PECOTA love the Athletics so much? The system had the A's winning the division last year too...

What grabs your attention, though? Leave 'em in the comments! And yes, I promise I will write a post soon that doesn't involve bullet points. If you're also interested, another projection system, CAIRO, released its expectations for the 2010 season and they're a bit more...reasonable.

Updates! Yes, I am an idiot. Yes, Nate Silver isn't in charge of PECOTA anymore. Edits have been appropriately made. Shame on me for assuming that Silver was still at the helm. Nothing said above was intended to be insulting towards him in the least, but rather an attempt at imaginative grandiosity for the sake of lame humor. Because, hey, I'm a nerd who enjoys PECOTA and advanced metrics. Thanks to the many, many people who pointed out my error.

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Personally, I don't understand how PECOTA projects no 90-win NL teams. I know the AL dominates interleague play every year, but that doesn't throw the balance off THAT much, does it?! This whole exercise makes me think of pretzels - specifically, how pretzels have huge grains of salt on them.

For the record: seven teams hit 90 wins last year, four of them in the NL.

Remember: PECOOTERS is a projection system and not a prediction system. Everything is based on a very scientific calculation that takes into account players' age, past performance, the history of past players' performances, and predilection to wear Ed Hardy clothing.

Also: what gives on the Angels? Are they all on a downward turn? They didn't lose THAT much talent from '09.

There is a difference between "There is no team in the NL that PECOTA projects to 90 wins" and "PECOTA projects that no team in the NL will win 90 games."

PECOTA did not give us its probability on the latter.

I too thought of pretzels, and they were making me thirsty.

PECOTA is high on Victorino this year, based mainly around his new line of Afflitcion tees.


The forecast is pretty precise. You know, when it the forecast contains figures I'm inclined to believe it. I hope the players do never read forecasts. I believe the expectations influence a lot the outcome.

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