Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Why Does PECOTA Hate The White Sox?

Baseball Prospectus released its PECOTA projections for (essentially) all of the players that will see playing time in 2005. As far as I can tell, PECOTA projects that, technically speaking, the White Sox will be a steaming pile of dung next year. I mean, really bad. Baseball Prospectus doesn't allow people to distribute the PECOTA spreadsheet, but I do feel free enough to post the highlights.


PECOTA projects that the White Sox will have a disappointing season offensively. Although they don't compile team statistics, here's the combined line for all the current White Sox players (except Tadahito Iguchi):

.270 AVG / .327 OBP / .440 SLG

This is about the same AVG as the 2004 Sox, but a drop of .006 in OBP and a .017 drop in SLG. Given that Magglio Ordonez only played about 1/3 of the season last year and that Timo Perez was his primary replacement, the drop in slugging percentage is rather shocking. The Sox still project to hit about 200 home runs (assuming 5500 total at bats), but PECOTA suggests that no White Sox player will hit more than 26 home runs (Konerko). PECOTA projects that Jermaine Dye will largely be a flop with the White Sox, posting a .256 / .332 / .449 line with only 17 home runs in a total of 384 at bats.

PECOTA projects that Joe Crede will rebound to a .266 AVG, with an increase in his walk rate and 20 homers in 432 at bats. Over 550 at bats, that's more like 25 homers, which would be pretty good. It also projects that Aaron Rowand will maintain a lot of his surprising 2004 production.

Overall, the bottom line is that the Sox are expected to have more consistent production throughout the lineup. Only Frank Thomas has above a .360 OBP. Only Frank Thomas has a SLG over .500. For a team with a .330 OBP and .440 SLG, that is pretty consistent production over the lineup.


So gruesome I can hardly write about it. The starting rotation is, at the top of the rotation, league-average. The bottom is not so league average. The bullpen is disastrous.

Here are the projected ERA's for the starting rotation:


Yikes. I guess Buehrle, Garcia and Hernandez will have about league-average performances, but they aren't getting paid for league average performances. Contreras and Garland are pretty much no good (but an improvement over the 5th starters in 2004). It's an average rotation, notable for the lack of any horrible or good performances.

The bullpen...ugh. The lowest bullpen ERA projection belongs to Damaso Marte at 3.99. Shingo is a no-go, allowing 10 HR in 54 2/3 innings. New acquisition Hermanson stinks with a 5.09 ERA, and Vizcaino is equally bad at 4.91. In fact, no one other than Marte is under a 4.50 ERA. If this is the case, the Sox bullpen is in really, really bad shape.

One thing I've noticed about PECOTA is that it seems to push most players to a kind of league-average performance - there are not many highs or lows. People who played poorly last year are projected to play a little better. People who played well last year are projected to play a little worse. It's taking regression to the mean to the maximum. I'd be interested in comparing the PECOTA projections to 3-year averages and to see which are better predictors.

I encourage you all to get a subscription to BP. The subscriber material is excellent - it's not all statistics and many of the writers are genuinely funny.

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