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  1. I am a White Sox fan and I always find it weird that my fellow White Sox fans get upset about things like this. Projections are meaningless for me. What am I going to do? cancel my season tickets over a low PECOTA? In 2006, many pundits picked the White Sox to win the division (obviously not PECOTA) was that a better season than 2005? These things are not worth getting upset or excited over. They exist to help GM’s improve the team and to fill column inches. They are only a little more meaningful to the average fan than the useless “Power Rankings” that appear everywhere. Fans take this as a sign that there team is not respected. Thanks, but you can respect whoever you want, I’ll take wins over respect any day as a fan.

    Now I’m off to check the Blackhawk’s Power Rankings.

    Comment by MikeS — February 18, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

  2. PECOTA has had some serious issues post-Nate Silver, no? They put out projections, major flaws are found… then they put out a new revision – rinse and repeat.

    Comment by Xeifrank — February 18, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

  3. Could you please explain “projections are not predictions?”

    Comment by wes — February 18, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

  4. The phrase is a link to a post i wrote about that very issue.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — February 18, 2013 @ 1:40 pm

  5. Not that I doubt the author, but the absurdity compelled me to follow the link to verify that Tomaso had in fact written the phrase “[m]y whole world of reality” — to say nothing of distinguishing such as its own paragraph. May we throw him out with the bathwater?

    I must have missed (or perhaps forgotten) the original Zimmerman piece on DL numbers. I recall the Yankees firing their Strength and Conditioning coach a few years back in response to multiple early-season injuries. It seemed a little Steinbrennerian on the surface, but it turned out the guy had made some significant (and not entirely popular) changes to the training regimen.

    If there is call for more research on this going forward (and with millions theoretically at stake, there surely will be), I’d wonder if we’d be better able than now to discern how much is the training staff and how much is drafting/signing guys with good health projections, good mechanics, and good habits (like, say, learning to stretch on your own even if the coach doesn’t tell you to do it).

    Comment by AC of DC — February 18, 2013 @ 1:40 pm

  6. I’ve stopped using them, but my recall is that they typically set themselves an ambitious outline, then rushed things to meet it. With the expected amount of errors following.

    So it wasn’t PECOTA problems, but marketing writing checks too big for production to make good on.

    Comment by Richie — February 18, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

  7. Maybe i missed this, but mid-season moves would also account for a lot of the difference, right? If you seriously improve (or weaken) your team with a trade, that could mean a difference of a couple wins, too.

    Comment by NeilS — February 18, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

  8. 1. So, to some extent, injuries are projectable probabilities and therefore could potentially be included in a projection system?

    2. While projections are not predictions many people who read them turn around and use them as not only predictions, but reality as if there is no need to even bother playing the season.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — February 18, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

  9. I think most of that was in their first post-Silver season, when they were basically trying to make Silver’s gaigantic excel sheet into a computer script.

    Some of the arguments against them have been unfair, in my opinion, since PECOTA’s PTA forecasts were compared with non-PTA forecasts for all players with 450+ PA, and of course, the error in PTA made a big difference.

    PECOTA still uses FRAA for defense, which is a joke at best, and a number of BPro’s proprietary metrics aren’t as good as what Fangraphs caries. If you’re looking for 5×5 projections, PECOTA is fine. But don’t believe the hype: looking for the most accurate system in the universe is pointless and real differences between projection systems are small.

    Comment by philosofool — February 18, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

  10. gotta love a guy who believes in an individual’s system (or systems, in Silver’s case, i guess) … until it disagrees with him.

    Comment by MrKnowNothing — February 18, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

  11. I had this thought as well. Kenny was quite the wheeler and dealer, so it was not uncommon to see roster changes to compete. While the White Sox haven’t had an impressive farm in a while, they’ve also made the most of their farm both through role-filler MLB production and trade return.

    Comment by steex — February 18, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

  12. That was my first thought. Kenny Williams is an aggressive GM, and it seems easy enough to prove/disprove. One would simply look at if the team was closer to its projection when August and September are discarded.

    The reduced sample size is a risk.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — February 18, 2013 @ 2:38 pm

  13. As a fellow Athletic Trainer I was surprised to see an article giving credit to the Athletic Training Staff as a reason for a teams success on the field. Thanks for the love Dave!

    Comment by Greg — February 18, 2013 @ 2:38 pm

  14. Actually Oakland seems to be below-average.

    Comment by Tim — February 18, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

  15. Good idea not to be concerned. The White Sox underperformed their PECOTA in 2 of those 10 years. That hardly proves a biased coin.

    Comment by Baltar — February 18, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

  16. Holy crap, that article quotation is inane. When I see stuff like that, I wonder why people like that have jobs. Maybe there aren’t very many people who want to be sportswriters?

    Comment by Eminor3rd — February 18, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

  17. Looking at it again, it must be a joke. I’m overreacting.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — February 18, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

  18. Didn’t Nate Silver grow up in East Lansing, not Detroit?

    I think White Sox fans still remember when Baseball Prospectus wouldn’t give the Sox a 100% chance of winning the division in 2005 even after they’d clinched because their model didn’t understand the MLB tie breaking procedure at the time. Sox fans made fun of them for it, and their responses were all arrogant and blamed MLB’s system as opposed to admitting that their model had an error in it. They lost a lot of credibility with Sox fans from that just because they acted so stupid about it.

    Comment by Huisj — February 18, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

  19. I don’t think he was talking about the Oakland Athletics, but rather the profession of athletic trainers.

    Comment by Jorge Fabregas — February 18, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

  20. Michael Tomaso is an idiot.

    Comment by JS7 — February 18, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

  21. Huisj’s comment hit the nail EXACTLY on the head when it comes to Sox fans and why they belittle BP. BP brought it all on themselves by their arrogance.

    The only other comment after reading what I’m sure was a well intentioned piece by the author is to remember the quote from Monty Python and Mr. Gumby, “my brain hurts…”

    Mark Liptak

    Comment by Mark Liptak — February 18, 2013 @ 3:55 pm

  22. no, i think you have a right to be outraged. yeah, that fool is partly joking around but the fact that he couldn’t even be bothered to find out that silver was a tiger fan and that when he was in chicago he actually was a white sox fan is pretty sad.

    Comment by De Selby — February 18, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

  23. Dave,

    The Cooper/Schneider factor seems like it would be dynamically interrelated to the runs-allowed side of the run-distribution factor.

    Also another possible factor. Ozzie was a good handler of the pen, which might have helped the team beat projections. This would also be interrelated to Don/Herm.

    I won’t be surprised that other teams start to copy the Sox method, reducing the gap among all teams.

    Comment by Dr. Chaleeko — February 18, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

  24. Relating to customers is probably BPros number one problem.

    You criticize and they get defensive. Everything is hidden behind the veil. And you have to pay for what other sites do better for free.

    Comment by deadpool — February 18, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

  25. Who’s to say that the Sox’s pitchers ability to stay healthy is attributable to Cooper and their training staff and not just to luck? Granted, that sort of success probably has some cause other than luck but how do we know that it’s not luck?

    A couple years ago you wrote a great post about luck, talking about how (I think) the NFC won the Super Bowl coin flip 14 years in a row, supporting the notion that sometimes things that are very improbable happen. The possibility that their success avoiding injuries is attributable to good luck is more likely than the coin flip victories.

    Comment by chuckb — February 18, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

  26. They get paid to say outrageous things, not to be factually accurate. When they’re called out for their idiocy, they can just say something like “it was a joke”, rationalizing it and attempting to pass the blame to the reader or listener.

    Comment by chuckb — February 18, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

  27. I see this a bunch. People get really steamed at, say, John Sickels because he’s not rating their team’s prospects highly enough. When, in truth, the rating have something like zero bearing on the ultimate success of their favorite team.

    In politics, the perceived momentum impacts fundraising and voter behavior (a variant of the bandwagon effect). So gaming the polling and predicting your guy’s victory can be a self-fulfilling prophecy at the margins.

    In baseball? It’s fun to disagree amicably, but it won’t effect your team. There’s nothing at stake.

    Comment by Bookbook — February 18, 2013 @ 6:02 pm

  28. Indeed. I doubt that mid-season trades are as big a factor as much better than average health, but it’s a factor. An article in the most recent Hardball Times Annual noted Williams’ tendency to make mid-season trades for talent.

    Comment by Detroit Michael — February 18, 2013 @ 6:13 pm

  29. Maybe it is luck but while it is possibly luck it is more likely not. It would be a complete disregard of critical thinking to just say it is luck and move on. First try to eliminate the reasons then if none work say luck. This opens up thoughts about how well the White Sox make mid-season trades, how the ability to limit injuries helps a team and such.

    Comment by ron — February 18, 2013 @ 6:17 pm

  30. Which Chicago broadcaster said this?

    Comment by Joeyheynow — February 18, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

  31. McNeil? Mulligan?

    Comment by Joeyheynow — February 18, 2013 @ 8:10 pm

  32. Good article for a fan of those other Sox to read. Hopefully some of Cooper’s magic rubbed off on Juan Nieves and the apparent pitching depth the Red Sox have accumulated isn’t a mirage.

    Comment by ODawg — February 18, 2013 @ 8:53 pm

  33. Catering to the meatballs.

    After all, Skip Bayless still has a job.

    Comment by MikeS — February 18, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

  34. I think that healthy good starting pitching is the biggest factor in winning percentage during the regular season. In the post season, a dominant starter’s worth is elevated but during the regular season the aggregate worth and health of the starting five could be the salient factor in a team’s success.

    Comment by whitesox67 — February 18, 2013 @ 9:56 pm

  35. Yes.

    Comment by dafuq — February 18, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

  36. It is an entire article about a semantic distinction. Projections are predictions.

    Comment by dafuq — February 18, 2013 @ 10:02 pm

  37. I think this will be one of the next major areas where teams can really improve. Throwing things over your head really fast will make your body wonky, but this doesn’t mean that some of the issues can’t be addressed through progressive treatment and pre-hab rather than just sitting around and icing it.

    Also, see any of the people who are notorious for not adopting decent S&C programs (though not to defend all the programs, some seem pretty dumb) and wondering why they get injured more often than someone proactive.

    Comment by dafuq — February 18, 2013 @ 10:06 pm

  38. It is both.

    Comment by dafuq — February 18, 2013 @ 10:07 pm

  39. They consistently outperform their projections. I believe it’s a combination of BP underrating a lot of their players/prospects and as some have pointed out a lack of major injuries. I wasn’t a fan of the White Sox offseason but they’re still poised to outperform BP’s low projections once again.

    Comment by MatManz — February 18, 2013 @ 10:13 pm

  40. And I think Tim was making a joke

    Comment by joser — February 18, 2013 @ 10:34 pm

  41. No, it’s an entire article distinguishing between two concepts and then choosing to attach those words in a way that maintains the distinction.

    Comment by joser — February 18, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

  42. From Southsidesoxfeature: “While dismissing runs created, (hitting coach) Manto offered his own statistical category: “runs produced” — measured by runs and RBI, subtracting home runs from that total and dividing that number by games played.” BAZINGA!!

    Comment by Grand Admiral Braun — February 18, 2013 @ 10:59 pm

  43. If the SD is 8 wins and there are 30 teams, then the chances are pretty high than any one team will have predictions ca. 56 wins above or below average over 7 years.

    I estimate it at about 10%.

    Comment by zenbitz — February 19, 2013 @ 12:37 am

  44. The Question now becomes whether or not this should (can?) be added to current projection system for White Sox players.

    Comment by rotowizard — February 19, 2013 @ 7:53 am

  45. Or on the high end, the Rangers.

    Comment by rotowizard — February 19, 2013 @ 8:31 am

  46. Nate Silver predicted 53 house GOP seats in 2010 they picked up 67… also gave Rick Perry a 51% chance to win 2012 GOP presidential nomination he went on to finish 10th out of 10… He is good but far from perfect.

    Comment by Jim — February 19, 2013 @ 8:41 am

  47. When I read the title of this article, I immediately thought “Don Cooper”.

    In 2008, the Sox are listed to have 89 wins, which they did, but had to win game 163 in order to do so. Should that extra game be accounted for in the difference?

    Comment by Vijay — February 19, 2013 @ 9:07 am

  48. I would still like to see a follow-up article on whether BP is correct to hate their prospects.

    Comment by John Franco — February 19, 2013 @ 9:25 am

  49. This drivel is the kind of thing you expect to see with a mix of thumbs up and thumbs down on a yahoo sports comments section. I’m not being hyperbolic; I truly believe that you could take the average idiot comment from a 15-year-old and it would be of equal or greater quality. The guy should be embarrassed of himself, but he surely isn’t.

    Comment by TKDC — February 19, 2013 @ 9:50 am

  50. And to clarify, though I doubt it is needed, I’m talking about the clown from Chicago, not Dave Cameron.

    Comment by TKDC — February 19, 2013 @ 9:51 am

  51. Bozo?

    Comment by Jason B — February 19, 2013 @ 10:20 am

  52. True.

    They get paid to start an emotion-filled discussion.

    You don;t do that by logically comparing & contrasting X and Y.

    You do that by saying “Let me tell you what’s wrong with X …” and then you do so in a combative way.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — February 19, 2013 @ 10:33 am

  53. Ah… George Ofman… I forgot about that goof. Doesn’t surprise me one bit.

    Comment by baty — February 19, 2013 @ 11:12 am

  54. Cool. Lemme know when you find a dictionary instead of relying on Mr. Cameron to redefine the English language.

    Comment by dafuq — February 19, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

  55. You’re stuck on some clown from the ’60s, man.

    Comment by wobatus — February 19, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

  56. They are merely catering to the type of inane White Sox fans who went hoarse during the repeated “Cubs suck” chants during the 2005 playoffs/World Series/championship parade (none of which, obviously, involved the Cubs). They know their audience.

    Comment by Garys of Olde — February 19, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

  57. Projections are not predictions. This has nothing to do with baseball English and everything to do with math and economics; these concepts have been around for quite a bit longer than sabermetrics has been in the mainstream.

    Comment by Kyle Boddy — February 19, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

  58. Yeah, that one made me chuckle too. But, I can see that being a good way for a coach to give out morale-based kudos to guys. He doesn’t need stats that help him build a roster.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — February 19, 2013 @ 5:55 pm

  59. I assumed it was McNeil before I saw it was Ofman, but then I realized that McNeil doesn’t care enough about baseball to actually be offended by anything like BP.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — February 19, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

  60. Totally on 2! I don’t know how many times I’ve seen people put out the projections as the end of the argument for or against a player.

    Comment by obsessivegiantscompulsive — February 19, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

  61. I don’t think that it is out of the realm of possibility that BP is biased against one team or another. So I sympathize with White Sox fans if that is their view of BP’s overall stance regarding their team. I agree that Pecota would not be biased against a certain team, but overall, they can be biased, I believe.

    I have seen a similar negativity against the Giants, enough that I’ve stopped buying their annuals. For example, they keep on beating up on the Giants about the punted picks, touting that the Giants could have selected Matt Cain with those picks, but forgetting that their own analysis advised that teams should not select high school players, and particularly pitchers, in the first round. In general, I found that their annual analysis of the Giants to be lacking in terms of understanding what the Giants and Sabean were doing.

    The final straw for me was their spending the whole chapter on why Brian Sabean should be fired. FYI, that was their 2010 Annual, the year Sabean finally won it all. And I checked on their 2011 Annual (read it in a book store, wasn’t going to pay for it), not a word about what they wrote about in 2010, so I lost all respect for their tough-sounding marketing blurbs that ring hallow for me that if they are going so far as to advocate for a GM to be fired, they should have the balls to admit that they were wrong or at least address it in the following year about why they still believe they are correct in spite of the world championship. They did neither.

    Of course, after two championships in three seasons, it seems pretty clear that BP did not understand what Sabean was doing in building up a team, and if they can’t do that for a team that accomplished something that hasn’t been done since the 70′s Reds, then what else have they been missing with their analysis?

    Comment by obsessivegiantscompulsive — February 19, 2013 @ 6:52 pm

  62. The funny thing is that the Giants first championship could have been predicted by BP.

    Their book, Baseball Between the Numbers, studied the issue of why Billy Beane’s methods didn’t work in the playoffs, and they came up with some metric rules for teams that usually went deep into the playoffs, and the 2010 Giants had those type of stats, high K/9 staff, great closer, good defense. I looked up those stats off their website and found that the Giants would have ranked in their Top 10 list, where 7 of the 10 won the World Series, and two that didn’t, lost to another Top 10 (three happened to happen in 1979).

    And adjusting for the fact that the Giants seasonal stats did not represent the team actually in the playoffs – the team in the playoffs had a great K/9, great closer, as well as good defense – their 2012 team fits the metrics, after the fact and adjustment. For example, much was made out of how the Reds had a better bullpen, but what was missed was that they had a better bullpen overall in the season because the Giants had to turn to some subpar relievers along the way, but in the playoffs, the cumulative ERA for the actual playoff bullpen for the Giants were just as good as the Reds. Overall, the team in the playoffs played to the stats of a team that regularly won the World Series, in the past.

    So BP could have looked pretty good touting their prior book’s results and trumpeting the Giants. Instead, they are known for asking publicly for the GM to be fired, right when he finally wins it all.

    Comment by obsessivegiantscompulsive — February 19, 2013 @ 7:07 pm

  63. Not to be contentious, as I agree with the underlying sentiment, but I’m going to have to say their main flaw is an utter inability to retain the people who made it into what it is (was).

    The two may well be connected by a flawed upper management.

    Comment by brad — February 19, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

  64. Its a good collection of health blogs!

    Comment by Botox — February 20, 2013 @ 10:32 am

  65. Really glad to see someone finally give Herm Schneider and Don Cooper some love. We White Sox fans think of Don Cooper as some sort of “pitcher-whisperer.” He can look at someone and immediately disect what’s wrong with their mechanics. This exact thing happened with Matt Thornton. Coop saw Thornton throwing for Seattle against the Sox in spring training and told the GM that a simple suggestion would add 5mph to Thornton’s fastball and make him more accurate. Kenny traded for him within a week of the game, and immediately Thornton was throwing “gas” for the Sox and making all-star games.

    Comment by Andy — March 19, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

  66. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how all teams have fared over the last 10 years or so compared to a ranking system or all ranking systems?

    Comment by Ryan — March 20, 2013 @ 10:26 am

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