Wait ’til you see PECOTA

Alex Remington, continuing his stats-based series of columns for Yahoo!’s Big League Stew, asks, “How many more wins will a healthy Reyes and Beltran bring the Mets?

It’s a good writeup, but Remington is only trying to piece together two pieces of the giant puzzle that is attempting to project how the Mets will fare in 2010. Big pieces, mind you: The Mets’ success is certainly all wrapped up in the health of Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes.

But Remington neglects to include how many more wins they’ll gain from a fully healthy Johan Santana, John Maine and Oliver Perez, not to mention returns to form from David Wright and Mike Pelfrey and improvement from Daniel Murphy.

And who could blame him, really? That would require way more analysis than could fit in a 600-word piece, plus would probably be a fool’s errand anyway. None of those things is necessarily a safe bet to happen, though we can hope for all of them.

Remington’s big finish:

It’s a good bet that they’ll get back those six games that they lost with Reyes and Beltran out last year, if not a few more. And that’s pretty close to the prediction offered by Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA, which predicts the 2010 Mets to finish 78-84. And if they can get just three more wins above that, with Jason Bay’s help, they’d be a .500 ballclub. That’s a tall order, but a win total in the high 70s is eminently reasonable for a team with such pitching problems once you get past Johan Santana.

All of this assumes, of course, that Reyes and Beltran actually are healthy next year. And with the record of the Mets medical staff as of late, that’s a heck of an assumption.

Sounds pretty gloomy to Mets fans, I realize. PECOTA is generally among the most accurate projection systems in baseball — or heck, anything — but I find it difficult to believe that these Mets, if healthy, will only manage 78 wins in 2010.

Then again, I find it difficult to believe these Mets will stay healthy in 2010. Injuries to baseball players often seem to forebode more injuries, and it seems downright delusional to expect the Mets’ top 4 starters to produce 800 innings, as one “Mets higher-up” suggested recently.

Still, assuming Reyes, Wright and Santana break camp healthy and Beltran is on schedule, I’ll take the over on 78.

The bottom line is that projection systems are only that, and though I don’t pretend to understand the mechanics of PECOTA or any other system, I imagine the 2010 Mets are about as hard a club to project as any in history, given the amount of uncertainty.

We can hem and haw all we want about what could go wrong and what might go right, but we won’t know if they’re any good until they start playing games.

23 thoughts on “Wait ’til you see PECOTA

  1. I hope Bill James burns in baseball hell. Like has to room with Ty Cobb or something. I hate how people are trying to make baseball into a predictable math equation. I just hate it. They remind me of the people that would build Jurassic Park…

    • I know, right? And then the players can’t help but follow that math equation, because that’s what the projections suggested would happen? Man, that’s the worst.

    • I love Bill James, kind of unequivocally. Have you read his writing? It’s pretty amazing, and I’d heartily recommend it. There’s not a lot of his best stuff available online, but he generally does a really good job contextualizing his analysis with the human element of the game.

      Also — and this is a common topic of debate among my friends — I’d be down for building Jurassic Park if we could. I’d like to check out dinosaurs, and if it turns out that dinosaurs are a more dominant species, I’m ready to bow down to the dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are pretty awesome, after all.

      • You’re too young for this, but I use to order Bill James’ annual from the back of the Sporting News when his annual was nothing more than a pamphlet he produced from his home. He is the Godfather of baseball stats.

        But I digest… It seems to me that PECOTA has real problems making predictions for players coming off of injuries because of the incomplete data and is thus rather useless (and overly pessimistic) with players such as Maine, Perez, Jose, Santana, etc. 78 is way too low for this team. Put it this way, if any other 70-win team from last year signed Beltran, Reyes, Bay, Santana, Maine, and Perez this off-season, the “experts” would be calling them the most improved team and predicting 90 wins.

      • I agree here. The mets with a aaa roster and a staff of god knows who for most of the season won 70 games. Logically you’d have think they’d be a bit better than 8 games improved.

        Another perspective is that it projects and additional 17 wins for the nationals? What exactly is this based in? Adding an old Pudge, Jason marquis, Adam Kennedy, and Wang who won’t be ready until June is worth 17 wins but getting Reyes, beltran, Santana, back plus Bay and so on is only worth 8 wins?

      • Beltran is out til at least May. Who knows how much he will play. Santana made 25 starts. Maine and Perez are still huge question marks.

        78 seems pretty accuarte. I’ll say 80-82

    • For what it’s worth people are trying and turn everything into a predictable math equation, not just baseball. I don’t know if that makes you feel any better but baseball isn’t the only thing being victimized, in the grand scheme it’s probably near the bottom. Almost anything that involves money, people are going to try and find the most efficient and profit maximizing way to allocate their resources and that’s almost always going to come from trying to turn it into a predictable math equation.

    • Not very, actually. Predicted the Mets first, Marlins last, the Cubs to win the Central and the D-Backs to win the West. Actually, PECOTA was pretty much abysmal in the NL last year.

  2. Pecota was one of the least accurate last year weren’t they?

    That being said while we’re probably gaining from multiple players. We’re also probably losing wins between what we expected from Pelfrey, Maine and Ollie going into 2009, and what we’re expecting now, from what we expected from Delgado going into 2009 and what we can expect from Murphy, and from what we expected going into 2009 from Wright and what we can expect in 2010 based on his mysterious power loss in 2009. There’s also more questions surrounding Santana than there were going into 2009.

  3. Ted, I want to commend for alluding to Jeff Torborg so well. A Yankee-fan friend of mine still hits me with that quote from time to time in response to my raving about some new Met player.

    • Thankfully there’s no gun to my head, but I’d take the under on the 89. Of course, I’d never actually make that bet because it would break something I deemed the John Giacomo Principle, after a dude I worked with when I was interning at fox in DC: Never bet against your team. You always lose.

      • Well, either way you win and either way you lose. Giacomo always wound up betting against the football Giants — he was from Jersey — but then found himself conflicted when they won. If I’m betting, I either bet on my team or bet on a game I have no vested interest in, because I never want to do anything that could mitigate the thrill of my team winning.

  4. You have to remember that Vegas jacks up the win numbers and lowers the odds for the more popular teams because those teams have more fans putting their money on them.

    I would take the under if I had to, but I think 87 is a reasonable expectation for this team.

  5. Thanks for the link. I honestly don’t know what to expect from the Mets. I’m not sure there’s any way to know with any reasonable degree of certainty what you’ll get from Oliver Perez, John Maine, or Mike Pelfrey, let alone how healthy Reyes and Beltran will be. (Or what will happen to David Wright’s bat.) If everyone has a career year, of course, they could be a strong team — but if not, then they could be scraping the bottom again. Hard to say. One thing is sure, though: if they have another bad start, there’ll be almost irresistible pressure to fire Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya. There is already.

  6. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/fantasy/dc/index.php?tm=NYN

    One of the reasons for such a pessimistic PECOTA forecast is pretty conservative playing time projections for Reyes, Maine, Perez (although you could argue that based on his projection less IP for him would be a good thing), Niese, and even Wright (90% PT, the other 10% to Cora, ouch).

    While I think it is absolutely right to be conservative with Mets playing time projections, if the key guys stay healthy, the Mets will be better and PECOTA reflects that.

    P.S. The link is useless if you don’t have BP Premium.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s