April 25, 2016

"2016 MLB Predictions/Each team’s rating and its chances of advancing to the playoffs."

At FiveThirtyEight. 

34 comments:

traditionalguy said...

The Braves have gone back from first to worst. The owner's wealth does make a difference. Wherefore art thou Ted Turner.

mccullough said...

538 is always off with its models. The Royals are still the best team in baseball just as they were last year when 538's model predicted them to be a .500 club. Start looking at baseball as the Royals management team has. They got the pieces to win. They are looking at different factors and evaluating other factors differently.

mockturtle said...

It's high time my Mariners got to the WS. My mother, a really big fan, will be 91 this year and this could be her last chance to see a great season. We do miss Lou Piniella. He at least got us into the playoffs.

Tommy Duncan said...

Steve Goodman: A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xBxZGQ1dJk

[Verse 1: Steve Goodman]
By the shores of old Lake Michigan, where the hawk wind blows so cold
An old Cub fan lay dying in his midnight hour that tolled
All around his bed, his friends had all gathered, they knew his time was short
And on his head they put this bright blue cap from his all-time favorite sport
And he said, "It's late, it's getting dark in here and I know it's time to go
But before I leave the line-up, there's just one thing I'd like to know

[Chorus]
Do they still play the blues in Chicago when baseball season rolls around?
When the snow melts away, do the Cubbies still play in their ivy-covered burial ground?
When I was a boy they were my pride and joy, but now they only bring fatigue
To the home of the brave, the land of the free and the doormat of the National League

[Verse 2]
He told his friends "You know the law of averages says that, 'Anything will happen that can'
That's what it says, but the last time the Cubs won a National League pennant
Was the year we dropped the bomb on Japan"
The Cubs made me a criminal, that's what they did
They stole my youth from me (that's the truth)
I'd forsake my teachers, to go sit in the bleachers, in flagrant truancy

[Verse 3]
Then one thing led to another and soon I'd discovered alcohol, gambling, dope
Football, hockey, lacrosse, but what do you expect
When you raise up a young boy's hopes?
And then just crush 'em like so many paper beer cups

[Verse 4]
Year after year, after year, after year, after year, after year, after year, after year
'Til those hopes are just so much popcorn for the pigeons beneath the 'L' tracks to eat
He said, "You know I'll never see Wrigley Field, anymore before my eternal rest
So if you have your pencils and score cards ready, then I'll read you my last request

[Verse 5]
He said, "Give me a double header funeral in Wrigley Field on some sunny weekend day, no lights
Have the organ play the "National Anthem" and then a little 'Na, na, na, na, hey hey, hey, goodbye'
Make six bullpen pitchers carry my coffin and six ground keepers clear my path
Have the umpires bark me out at every base, in all their holy wrath

[Verse 6]
It's a beautiful day for a funeral, hey Ernie, let's play two!
Somebody go get Jack Brickhouse to come back, and conduct just one more interview
Have the Cubbies run right out into the middle of the field, have Keith Moreland drop a routine fly
Give everybody two bags of peanuts and a frosty malt and I'll be ready to die

[Verse 7]
Then build a big fire on home plate out of your Louisville Sluggers baseball bats and toss my coffin in
And let my ashes blow in a beautiful snow from the prevailing thirty mile-an-hour southwest wind
When my last remains go flying over the left-field wall, we'll bid the bleacher bums adieu
And I will come to my final resting place, out on Waveland Avenue

[Verse 8]
The dying man's friends told him to cut that out, they said stop it, boy, that's an awful shame
But he said, "Don't cry, we'll meet by and by near that heavenly hall of fame
He said, "I've got season's tickets to watch the Angels now, so that's just what I'm going to do
He said, "but you the living, you're stuck here with the Cubs, so its me that feels sorry for you!"

[Verse 9]
And when he said, "Play that lonesome losers' tune, gosh, it's the one I like the best"
He closed his eyes, and he slipped away, well, Mike
It was the Dying Cub Fan's Last Request
So here it is

[Chorus]

Left Bank of the Charles said...

What it will take to reverse the curse is one intrepid fan with two season tickets and a service goat to take in all the home games and reverse the curse.

CWJ said...

Yes I love it when the experts underestimate the Royals (again). I don't think it makes the Royals angry or more motivated, I think as a team they just don't care. You actually have to be present in the park watching them game in game out to see how they function as a team rather than as individual statistics. It's the classic "you had to be there," and we feel blessed to have had that opportunity last year and this. What great good fortune to have purchased a season ticket package both years and attended a number of games in 2014. Who knew that the baseball the Royals played was so unique today? My wife and I just thought we were watching good ball!

If they do better than predicted it just makes the experts eat crow and then explain why they were right while being wrong, not that they will change their models next year.

Kind of like global warming.

SteveR said...

I pay pretty close attention to the AL West in particular, the rest of MLB as well, and I can't say I agree with them on this. I suppose any thing can happen for the first time.

mccullough said...

The Royals are very consistent hitting team against both left handed and right handed pitchers. And their hitters hit to all areas. They have a very team approach to hitting. The Tigers are even better at hitting both lefties and righties and use the whole field. But their pitching and defense are subpar.

Chuck said...

I stopped reading at "Cubs." The Cubs win 102 games, win the NL Central; >90% chance of making the playoffs. Right.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics...

I don't hate the Cubs at all. My rooting interest when it comet to the Cubs' fortunes is mostly nil. I'm AL (Tigers) all the way. I think the Cubs are cute. I think the North Side is fun. I'm not a hater; it's not like I am from St. Louis, or something.

But come on; the Cubs ?

Sebastian said...

Braves are rated a little too high.

mockturtle said...

It appears that the prognoses were just based on extrapolation of the current standings, which don't mean squat this early in the season.

Bobby said...

mccullough,

"538 is always off with its models. The Royals are still the best team in baseball just as they were last year when 538's model predicted them to be a .500 club."

A slight correction might be in order- I don't think FiveThirtyEight had their modeling system last season. I believe FiveThirtyEight debuted their baseball Elo ratings for the MLB playoffs and this is its inaugural drive for a season.

I think what you might be remembering is their coverage of the FanGraphs model (which had the Royals barely above .500 as late as August last season!) or their analysis of the 2014 aggregation of ESPN experts (who had the Royals winning just 79 games!).

mezzrow said...

JAKE ARRIETA
GREAT AGAIN

Joe Maddon in 2016.

Birches said...

I think the Cubs might actually be that good this year. Pigs fly, dogs and cats living together...

But I also think the Royals are for real.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

The Braves with a 1% chance to make the playoffs?

So...you're saying there's a chance!

Static Ping said...

The great thing about these probabilities is while each individual probability is more likely than not to be true, as a group at least one of them is going to be very wrong.

I love baseball statistics, but I prefer them from a historical perspective rather than a predictive one. I'm not saying that the predictive stuff is not useful, but as a fan it is not as fun as watching the games. It is usually possible to figure out who is good and who is not just by watching anyway.

walter said...

Ooh boy..can't wait for hours of engaging baseball radio..

Brando said...

Hey, Orioles have a 2% chance! Keep hope alive!

I'd like to see the Cubs not make it so they maintain their streak. I'm sure Cub fans vehemently disagree.

EMD said...

The owner's wealth does make a difference.

The Braves are rebuilding in time for a new park. Not a fan, but this was inevitable.

EMD said...

The Cubs won 97 games last year and added pieces. Winning 100+ seems like a real possibility.

Of course, the playoffs are a total crapshoot so I'm not sure they go all the way.

EMD said...

The Royals, while good, are bound to run out of the luck they've been having recently.

Their starting pitching is thin, so they'd better hope for no injuries there.

mccullough said...

Bobby, you make a good point. Nate Silver who started and runs 538 also developed the PECOTA model, which is owned by Baseball Prospectus. So 538 was reporting the PECOTA model each year, but with pride of authorship of Silver. PECOTA is pretty good at predicting individual player performance but pretty weak at performing team performance.

The 538 Elo ratings for last year's playoffs seem to have the same problem as PECOTA. The had the Royals ranked 5 and the Mets 8 out of the 10 MLB playoff teams.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

EMD said...
The Braves are rebuilding in time for a new park. Not a fan, but this was inevitable.


Oh I wish! They got rid of almost all the guys who were fun to watch, event the ones who weren't all that expensive. Sure, you want to save some cash and send Jason Heyward elsewhere, but what did we get for Andrelton Simmons (one of the most dynamic guys playing the game today)? Newcomb, Ellis?

Maybe they'll pan out eventually, but consigning yourself to losing seasons right before a big move and doing so in a way that makes your team not only less competitive but in fact less entertaining...I'm not sure that's a great strategy, but it certainly seems like a bad idea when you're moving to a new place and want to make sure your ticket sales are strong.

Bobby said...

mccullough,

Honestly, given how bad the Royals had been in the last two decades since George Brett's retirement (one winning season in 20 years, and that was 83 wins with a mediocre team in 2003, for which Tony Pena was rightly awarded AL Manager of the Year), I can't really fault the experts- traditional or sabermetric- for not believing that the Royals really were legitimate World Series contenders. They certainly showed marked improvement in 2013 (86 wins) and 2014 (89 wins), but we're still talking about a lot of "unknown" (I know they were known to you all) and unproven talent who, it turned out, developed into legitimate star-quality players (Perez, Hosmer, Moustakas, and that absurd bullpen).

But that's the thing about young athletic talent- especially in baseball- it doesn't always pan out. For the Royals, it obviously did, but you can't fault observers in 2012, 2013, 2014, etc., for being skeptical that it would all develop.

That said, after seeing what the Royals could do in 2015, no one should be second-guessing them in 2016 (or 2017 or even 2018, for that matter).

EMD said...

but what did we get for Andrelton Simmons (one of the most dynamic guys playing the game today)?

Simmons, for all of his defensive talents, has an OPS of .553 currently and had one of .660 last season. His OPS+ last season was 86, in which the "average" player in the league is said to have 100. His career OPS+ is 84.

He doesn't get on base (.302 career OBP) and doesn't run (16 of 29 in stolen bases for his career over 3+ seasons) and his power has evaporated (17 HR in 2013, 4 last season). He's glove-only, and for a team on the rebuild getting some talent for him makes sense.

The Braves pretty much fleeced the Diamondbacks in the Shelby Miller deal. Don't get me wrong, Miller is good, but he wasn't going to help the Braves improve over the next 3-4 seasons, as potentially Aaron Blair and Dansby Swanson can.

The Cubs gave Heyward $184m over the next 8 seasons. That's a lot of cash tied up in one player. Let's say your payroll in Atlanta turns out to be $120m/year. That's 1/6th of your payroll on 1 outfielder who has hit over 20 HR ONCE in his career!

EMD said...

The Royals are no longer a small market team. They're spending $131m this season!

Their biggest obstacle will be keeping the team together. Hosmer, Moustakas and Cain are FAs in 2018. They have Alex Gordon, Ian Kennedy and Salvador Perez locked up beyond 2018, with Gordon a potential opt-out for $4m in 2020.

EMD said...

A look at how teams are overperforming/underperforming. Now, all that matters is what really happens in the first W-L column. But if you take into account certain attributes, you can see that some teams (White Sox) should have a worse record and that the Cubs should actually be doing better!.

mccullough said...

Bobby,

I fault the 2015 predictions. It was obvious then the Royals were becoming a very good team. If not for Bumgartner's epic performance in the Series, the Royals would have won. It's one thing to predict they will not win the World Series; it's another to predict 79 wins. That would be a very big drop off on a team that wasn't old like the 2013 Red Sox. I have no idea what garbage inputs would predict 79 wins from a team that kept its core players (even though I like Billy Butler: he's slow as a mike but can rake, I didn't consider him to be part of the core).

You would think that they would start adjusting the model after getting so many teams wrong over the past decade. The 2015 Royals was just the most egregious example.

Bobby said...

mccullough,

Honestly, bro, I suspect the modeling can't accomodate your starting pitching. There was only one pitcher who made more than 28 starts or pitched more than 163 innings last season (Volquez), and there really wasn't a single starting pitcher who was better than just "above average" last season (including Johnny Cueto, who was below average during his 13 starts with you all). That isn't supposed to happen. Baseball traditionalists have preached for years about the importance of having excellent starting pitching and by all metrics, you all didn't have that.

I suspect that the models don't know how to deal with the (what is currently a uniquely) Royal practice of utilizing the bullpen early and often and in non-"traditional" (really, pre-Save) situations to get around a comparatively weak starting rotation. Bullpens aren't supposed to get that much work, and when they do, they're not supposed to be so significantly better than the starting pitchers (and the margin of difference is absurd-- closer Holland was the only one "above average" while Herrera, Davis, Madson, Morales, et. al., were ridiculously excellent).

Now you're correct that all of this should have not mattered if you're using a model that accounted for total team performance -- clearly, people are using models that assume these "classic" roles for starting and relief pitchers (if you look at FiveThirtyEight's model, in fact, that's precisely what it does) and it's undercounting the performance of the Royals. But then again, if you're looking at the other 29 MLB teams, who more or less employ their pitching staff in a non-creative (and inferior) manner, it's going to more accurately reflect their likely performances. The Royals will remain outliers, albeit outliers who win Division, League and WS championships along the way [and, of course if history is any guide, this will cause other teams to emulate their methodology].

G-Man said...

I will never forgive Milwaukee's Bud Selig for forcing my Astros to move to the AL. It should have been the Brewers. Of course, Bud had a history of screwing the Astros. As long as the Brewers don't win the WS, I just don't care happens in baseball anymore.

mccullough said...

Bobby,

So far this year through 20 games the White Sox are also getting exceptional middle relief, especially for their number 4 and 5 starters. It's an interesting strategy to load up on quality middle relief guys. Innings pitched per starter is an interesting metric. I personally think this is what has contributed to Kershaw's subpar post season performances and it affected Jake Arrieta of the Cubs and David Price as well. Throwing 225 innings in the regular season is exhausting on even the best pitchers. The Royals starting 4 in the playoffs were relatively fresh based on innings thrown during the regular season.

mccullough said...

I'd also add that the Royals hiiters had the fewest strikeouts the last few years. This is an important team stat even if it's not important for any individual hitter. While the Royals batting average on balls in play last year was 10 out of 30 last year, their denominator of balls in play was the highest.

Rusty said...

walter said...
Ooh boy..can't wait for hours of engaging baseball radio..

All things being equal I'd rather have the clap.

Bobby said...

mccullough,

"So far this year through 20 games the White Sox are also getting exceptional middle relief, especially for their number 4 and 5 starters. It's an interesting strategy to load up on quality middle relief guys. Innings pitched per starter is an interesting metric. I personally think this is what has contributed to Kershaw's subpar post season performances and it affected Jake Arrieta of the Cubs and David Price as well. Throwing 225 innings in the regular season is exhausting on even the best pitchers. The Royals starting 4 in the playoffs were relatively fresh based on innings thrown during the regular season."

As a lifelong Dodger fan, I totally agree that Kershaw's season-long workload has to have had a negative impact on him in the postseason (and it didn't help that Mattingly would leave him in late in playoff games, either). And I totally buy the argument that the Royals starting pitchers were relatively fresh because of their limited innings pitched in the regular season. But your team can't lead the league with 95 wins- like the Royals did- while resting your starters all season like that long unless you have a great bullpen to eat those innings, and the KC relief corps was downright historic last season-- arguably, one of the top five bullpens of all time (and without a marquee name to boot!). And no one else really played that kind of baseball- what ESPN is calling the "race to the 6th inning"- so I think it would be difficult for any model to pick up the true value of stockpiling quality middle relievers, at least until other teams start adopting the same approach (which they will if they see it correlating with wins).