Happy Birthday, MLK. And, thanks to the three-day weekend that comes from that, I was able to complete my first release of 2017 projections. Projections which, if 2016 is any guide, will be arguably the best projections you can find.

For those of you stumbling into this site from the Google, my name is Clay Davenport. I’ve been messing with baseball statistics since about 1980, developing my own sets of tools for run scoring and player ratings (Equivalent Average), and my own methods for translating statistics between leagues (minors, past majors, foreign leagues). I was one of the founding members of Baseball Prospectus, but split from them several years ago and have since gone my own way. And one of the things I did on my own was to go back to using my stats my way – which is what we have here. In the daytime, I work for NOAA – maintaining software and data distribution from our fleet of weather satellites. This site, as much as anything, is about allowing me to access my stats over the internet. Which is my way of explaining why I don’t write that much – this site is about the numbers, not the words.

So, about these projections. They are a two-part effort. Part number one relies on the computer algorithms. I have a database of player-seasons, most of which is displayed one way or another on this sit, which goes back to 1871 for the majors, to 1947 for AAA, and to 1978 for most other Organized leagues. I’ve run some statistics to identify typical progressions, by age or position, for players; but, like BP’s PECOTA, the forecasts are primarily driven by establishing historical analogue players and seeing how they progressed from a similar point. Those are the projections labeled as “the original computer projections”, “All 2017 Hitters” and “All 2017 Pitchers“.

Part 2 is about me, and my experience building forecasts like this. The computer projections get dropped into a monstrous excel spreadsheet, where they form the basic forecast input. Another part of that spreadsheet contains depth charts for every team – into which I allocate my opinion of who plays where and how much. Flipping to the White Sox page, I see I have Jose Abreu down for 75% of the playing time at first, with another 15% coming at DH. That puts him in at 90% total playing time, and 617 projected PA, slightly more than the 602 he gets from the computer. I gave Todd Frazier gets 20% of the 1B time – a lot of that is driven by trying to guess how they’ll work Yoan Moncada in, which leads to shuffling Frazier and Lawrie around. But those numbers will refine as spring training and then the regular season comes around, and I will be updating steadily. So this is primarily the computer projections for rates, with my, major league only, PT estimates superimposed. They do have one further feature – all the statistics are adjusted so that the total statistics of this set match the total statistics of 2016. This means that my projections will balance – runs scored equals runs allowed, hitter homers equal pitcher homes, et cetera. These, then, are the stats in the Major League Hitters and Major League Pitchers links.

As for the projected standings – that’s the way things fall out when the projections are applied. There is big love for the Cubs (even more than last year, when I projected 101 for them) and for the Astros. There is big hate for the Padres and, once again, the Royals (I don’t deliberately target KC, honest; there is a mismatch between KC and the projections that was worth 10 games in 2014, 12 in 2015, and 11 last year). There are players who seem to repeatedly over- or under-perform their projections, and the Royals seem to load up on those over-performers.

In addition, I’ve done just a little bit of cheating on a couple of players. I’ve matched a couple of free agents – Bautista, Trumbo, Napoli – with their rumor mill teams, even though they haven’t actually signed. typically, these are teams with an obvious hole at those positions – we can be pertty sure they are going to sign somebody to fill the void, even if those somebodies eventually get shifted around. Anticipating that Trumbo will eventually re-sign with the Orioles is no different, really, than a forecast  expecting him to hit for a .275 EQA. Again, as reality settles in, those will adjust.

So the first projection for playoffs: Astros and Indians win their division; Seattle and Texas are wild cards; Boston and Toronto in a playoff for the east. Favor Boston. Nationals, Cubs, and Dodgers win their divisions; the Marlins take one wild card; the Mets and Pirates play for the other.



2 Responses to 2017 Projections – First Release

  1. Joseph Randall says:

    How come CJ Cron’s BA is so different from the MLB projections .271 to the ALL hitters .283

    • clayd says:

      That is a slightly complicated answer, and has to do primarily with those “make it all fit” adjustments.

      If I take the projections for all of the players, and assign them playing time through the depth charts, and then sum all of those, I end up with league totals that are distinctly above my targets. In particular, the sum of all players creates a league with a .268 BA. But last year’s AL had a BA of .257.

      The way that discrepancy sorts itself out in reality, I believe, is that some of these good players, the ones I have projected for 500 and 600 AB, are going to get hurt, and replaced for periods of time with distinctly worse players. But, not knowing which ones will get hurt, I rectify the totals with an across the board adjustment.

      The NL, for whatever reason, only needed a 4 point adjustment. I also needed to make substantial changes to strikeouts, to AL R and RBI.

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