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  1. I’ve read in the past that Oliver does a solid job of projecting prospects/rookies. Wondering if Oliver would be the happy medium between Fans and Steamer…?

    Comment by LuckyStrikes — February 21, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

  2. Granted I’m a fan and not an algorithm, but the supposedly irrationally bullish fan projections on that table almost invariably make more sense.

    Comment by geefee — February 21, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

  3. Oliver likes minor leaguers even more than the fans do. There is no projection system in the world that likes minor leaguers more than Oliver. I don’t put a lot of stock into the MLEs it produces.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — February 21, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

  4. What is missing is an examination as to which projections have proven right. Ie. I’m betting fans would have been closer on trout and Harper last year, wouldn’t they have? Or heyward or Stanton? Given that they are more optimistic.

    Comment by Crumpled Stiltskin — February 21, 2013 @ 4:22 pm

  5. At least fans know you’re supposed to suck worse as you get later into your 20’s.

    Comment by Delmon Youngs sprained left fat — February 21, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

  6. Do we know if these exuberant fan projections from years past were off the mark?

    Comment by Argoyle — February 21, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

  7. He says right in the article that fans annually overpredict WAR (presumably just for the players they project) by 20%.

    Comment by Anon21 — February 21, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

  8. I knew skimming would pay off

    Comment by Argoyle — February 21, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

  9. [sternly] *bee-boop-beep*

    Comment by algorithm — February 21, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

  10. But after normalizing for that, the point stands, which is more accurate. Seems like an obvious ommision

    Comment by futant462 — February 21, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

  11. So, you are not a fan anymore Dave?

    Comment by Captain's Gift Basket — February 21, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

  12. fans blink.

    Comment by boss — February 21, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

  13. Dave’s a robot

    Comment by smiley54663 — February 21, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

  14. It would be a fun discovery to learn that twenty four and under players are on average half a win better than the next best age group, but it would also be pretty surprising.

    Comment by philosofool — February 21, 2013 @ 5:20 pm

  15. Keep in mind the fan projections listed by Dave have already been deflated from the actual fan projections. For example:

    Brett Lawrie
    Fan Projection 5.7
    Fan Projection (Deflated) 4.8
    Steamer 3.7

    Comment by Eric — February 21, 2013 @ 5:22 pm

  16. I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you.

    Comment by HAL 9000 — February 21, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

  17. that’s cherry picking. plenty of top prospects never work out, or disappoint at first, e.g. montero, smoak, ackley, etc.

    Comment by brendan — February 21, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

  18. But the 25-28 group would include more mediocre and less talented players than the under 24 set, no?

    Comment by Argoyle — February 21, 2013 @ 5:33 pm

  19. Less talented, yes; less productive, probably not.

    Comment by Anon21 — February 21, 2013 @ 5:37 pm

  20. George W. Bush did 9-11

    Comment by Tom in Ohio — February 21, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

  21. I would assume that the sample of Fans projecting would probably be skewed towards projecting players on their favorite teams, as opposed to random samples, no? I certainly know of a certain subset of the general fanbase that believes that the Baltimore Orioles are favorites in the AL East this year, for example. Steve Johnson and Miguel Gonzalez don’t actually project to be good this year, right?

    Comment by grady — February 21, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

  22. It’s at least an open question to my mind. The best of the 25-28 group will likely be better, but more of the under-24 group may congregate around 2-3 WAR, while more 25-28-yr old players are closer to replacement level.

    Maybe not likely, but it’s possible.

    Comment by Argoyle — February 21, 2013 @ 6:10 pm

  23. Remeber that talented 24 year o,ds graduate to being players in their prime, they survive and often improve while less talented players are selectd out of the pool.

    Comment by philosofool — February 21, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

  24. So if the fans overproject WAR by 20% every year, how close does Steamer get every year?

    Comment by Ben — February 21, 2013 @ 7:24 pm

  25. Possible, sure, but I think we’re on fairly firm ground thinking the relationship goes the other way. Young, unproductive, but toolsy players are more likely to receive playing time (particularly on noncontenders) than older nonproductive players, who are usually presumed to have reached whatever potential they have.

    Comment by Anon21 — February 21, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

  26. I guess this would be the question. If we could look at these numbers from the last few years, or just wait patiently for a year….

    Comment by jesse — February 21, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

  27. Great analyses. This is why I keep coming back to this site.

    Comment by wanderin — February 21, 2013 @ 8:42 pm

  28. What am I missing here?:
    “Sure, there are some established players like Miguel Cabrera where the two sides differ”.

    The Steamer and Fans projections as listed look nearly identical!
    Perhaps Dave’s comment reflects the fact that the fans haven’t inflated Cabrera’s value the way they have other players? IE, the Fans’ pre-deflation number is in line with projections while for most players it’s markedly higher?

    Comment by DBA — February 21, 2013 @ 8:59 pm

  29. Barry Bonds did 756

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — February 21, 2013 @ 10:08 pm

  30. It’s not cherry picking. It’s suggesting that at times the “overly optimistic projections” are not at all overly optimistic, and that there might be specific types of players fans are in fact better at projecting than analytical computer systems.

    Montero, Ackley and Smoak just aren’t comparable to Stanton, Heyward, Trout and Harper. The latter two are older players (and that all three now play in a ball park that kills certain players swings-for one Beltre-makes them not ideal comparisons) having gone to college. Even Montero is slightly too old to fit the same age profile, but his hype relies mainly on power potential, the fact that he was originally a catcher (a position he can’t really play) and age relative to league and not on the numbers he was able to produce. As a career dh or defensively challenged 1b, I don’t think most people would think him as exciting a prospect.

    Perhaps fans are better at predicting numbers for baseball prodigies because in these cases the computer programs are too conservative. Historically, positon players who make their major league debut prior to turning twenty are usually good to great in short order, especially when their minor league numbers back up their promotion. (And Giancarlo Stanton was 20.)

    Or perhaps not. But it’s not cherry picking to suggest it as a possibility, especially when there’s no exploration of past projections and their viability as regarding individual player, which was really the main point of the statement.

    Comment by Crumpled Stiltskin — February 21, 2013 @ 11:06 pm

  31. It seems there are a fair amount of guys aged 26, 27 whose ceiling is around 2 WAR and are more likely to give you 0.5-1.5 WAR but are plugged into to fill holes in lineups and the back end of rotations, even on contending teams. These guys are “solid.”

    Comment by Argoyle — February 22, 2013 @ 12:17 am

  32. Nice name

    Comment by Chummy Z — February 22, 2013 @ 5:45 am

  33. Killjoy.

    Comment by James — February 22, 2013 @ 5:47 am

  34. What is the impact of projecting defense in this comparison? I suspect it’s the case that defense is wildly over-projected moreso than offense. And this would change the analysis from “over-optimistic fans” to “we’re drawing conclusions based on limited data.” Fans are doing defensive projections for a 28 YO player based on an average 3+ years of UZR. Since it’s recommended to (more or less) average three seasons of UZR, wouldn’t we expect much larger error rates in defensive projections for young players?

    When all you have to go on is a scouting report that says Eric Hosmer is a gold glove caliber 1B, then he posts a -8 UZR, seems a little unfair to just slap the “overly optimistic” tag on the fans.

    Comment by Paul — February 22, 2013 @ 8:00 am

  35. I reviewed 2012 Steamer, FanGraphs Fans, and a gaggle of other projections from a Fantasy perspective (

    The nature of my test – correlating a projection source’s valuation of a fantasy team’s draft with their final standings points – should remove any systemic inflation by the Fans.

    The 2nd test I did applies each sources’ rate stats against actual playing time to remove that variable (this is the first year that Steamer is publishing projections using FanGraph Fan projections). In that test, FanGraphs and Steamer tested equally for hitting while Steamer crushed it in pitching.

    Based on my tests, I’d say that the fans are better at projecting hitting vs. pitching (even after accounting for the increased difficulty in projecting pitching).

    Comment by Rudy Gamble — February 22, 2013 @ 10:03 am


    Comment by Steve 1 — February 22, 2013 @ 10:45 am

  37. Guess that’s what happens when you’re a Mariners fan that moves to North Carolina.

    Comment by Steve 1 — February 22, 2013 @ 10:48 am

  38. Since we have had some discussion around here lately on the topic of error bars and probability distributions, I think maybe there’s a more nuanced approach to adjusting “fan exuberance”. Qualitatively, I feel that fans just tend towards a players “upside” in some fashion. If a player has less “upside” (i.e. a smaller spread of possible values to occupy on the WAR scale) they tend to be closer to the projection’s mean value. If a player (like a prospect) has more risk involved, they simply trend upward from the mean.

    Maybe there’s a formula here for expected fan projection. Like projection_mean + (projection_standard_deviation * k), where k is some constant.

    I don’t know how these projection systems work, but if you have access to a standard deviation that might allow you to make a better adjustment to the fans’ estimation.

    Comment by kylemcg — February 22, 2013 @ 10:48 am

  39. Dave, When will the 5-year Oliver projections be posted on the site?

    Comment by evo34 — February 22, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

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