Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, by now you should already know that Baseball Prospectus has unleashed their new game “Beat PECOTA.” You can find the game, and all the details right here. What follows are a few of what I feel are the best bets to hit on their respective sides of the ledger. Please note: all projections are coming from the annual, and not the website, as the ones in the annual are the ones being used for the contest, and some of those projections may be different on the site as of today.
Picks for Pitchers Better
Personally, I picked 4 players in this category in my entry to the game, but I only have real confidence in one of those, and it’s basically a freebie that Sam Miller told us all to pick when he intro’d the game on Effectively Wild.
Wade Davis: projected 3.57 DRA
One of the issues with PECOTA sometimes is that when a player has his role changed, like when a pitcher moves from a starting role to a relief role, PECOTA can’t (or won’t) tell the difference, so his days as a mediocre starter are still baked into his projection. Considering that Davis’ DRA in 2015 was 1.64, and 1.34 the previous season, this is just about as safe of a pick as you can get.
The other three pitchers I chose were Raisel Iglesias (because I’m a homer), JA Happ (because I believe he figured out something last season, maybe not to the point of success that he had, but I think he can be good/not great now), and Mat Latos (when he’s been healthy he’s beat his projected number every season since his rookie year, and the White Sox keep pitchers healthy). I don’t quite have the confidence in those picks to say, “hey, definitely pick those guys,” and why would you take my advice anyway?
Picks for Pitchers Worse
Matt Garza: projected 4.87 DRA
Call this a scouting pick, rather than a numbers pick. Conventional wisdom would say to regress his 2015 5.33 DRA, but since my favorite team plays in Garza’s division, I saw him pitch quite a bit last year, and frankly, he looks about done. He never had great command, and now he’s getting pounded with the home run ball (23 last season, up from 12, 8, and 12 the previous 3 seasons), and his strikeout rate continues to trend in a negative direction. He’s only 32, and his velocity hasn’t really dropped, so there’s a chance for a rebound, but I’ll take my chances with this pick.
Michael Pineda: projected 3.71 DRA
I think it’s very possible I’m wrong on this one if Pineda stays healthy and strong, problem is, he never does that. Even if he stays healthy, he’s never had a full season of starts, so I’m banking on him wearing down putting him slightly worse than his projection.
Picks for Batters Better
Joey Votto-projected .321 TAv
That seems super low. I’m sure it’s because PECOTA is baking in a decline phase as Votto goes into his age 32 season, but there has been no sign of decline. Votto has beaten that number 6 of the last 7 seasons, and on one leg in 2014 managed to put up a .303 TAv, so I’m taking the over on this one.
Bryce Harper-projected .312 TAv
It makes sense, it really does, if you look at his entire career and think, hey, career year, PECOTA has a long memory, yadda yadda yadda, I get it. But honestly, doesn’t everyone buy the “corner turned” theory with Harper? I know I do. His 90th percentile projection is .342, and I don’t think I’d pick that in the game, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he blows that out of the water as well.
Yasiel Puig-projected .302 TAv
I’m blaming Puig’s disappointing 2015 on injuries. He’s was over .320 in his other two seasons, and Puig got hurt right off the bat in 2015, and even when he played, although he only played half of a season, it seemed that he was never right. I’m banking on health here, but I guess you can say that about every single one of these picks. I’m all in on Puig this year. I’ve drafted him in two different fantasy leagues, so if I’m wrong on this one it’ll hurt in multiple aspects.
Giancarlo Stanton-projected .317 TAv
Going into his age 26 season, and coming off years of .342 and .353, I can see a little regression baked into this one, but I’m just not buying that it will go that low when theoretically he should be trending upward or in his plateau period.
Picks for Batters Worse
Jay Bruce-projected .265 TAv
I don’t have huge confidence in this one, but I’ve been banging the “Jay Bruce isn’t good any more” drum for so long that I figured I’d put my money where my mouth is, so to speak.
Yadier Molina-projected .266 TAv
Don’t get me wrong, I still think Molina is a good player, but it seems like a couple of years of nagging injuries has caused his offensive production to decline a bit, and he’s 33 now, so projecting a .027 increase seems a bit high.
Joc Pederson-projected .285 TAv
What is Pederson? The first half monster, or the second half bomb? I tend to think the answer is somewhere in the middle, of course, and while Pederson may well hit at that .285 level in the following years, I think .275ish is more likely unless he figures out his contact issues.
Albert Pujols-projected .283 TAv
Much like Molina, I just don’t see the 36-year-old Pujols hitting that number, in fact, this may be the year he falls off a cliff.
Have fun playing this new game, and don’t blame me if you use my picks and finish last, because no one should ever listen to what I say.Next post: BttP Podcast 50: Announcers, Pollock, Sandoval
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