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PECOTA vs SWOBODA: Ranking the Teams
2007-04-02 17:33
by Scott Long

Following in the tradition of such battles as King Kong vs Godzilla, the Abbott and Costello vs Frankenstein, and Trump vs Rosie, here comes PECOTA vs SWOBODA. Baseball Prospectus put out their Prospectus Hit List today. Now I realize that the rankings are made up of more than just PECOTA, but it is the main component used in ranking the teams.

Usually I think their rankings are pretty good, but this season they are really wacky. Despite the excellent writing talents of Jay Jaffe, the pre-season edition of their Hit List cannot escape the bizarre ratings he has to use. We will see at the end of the year, but I suspect that someone will have to reexamine the PECOTA's engine in November.

I have listed my Top 30, with BP's in parenthesis. Like BP, I don't just grade strictly on record, as the AL is superior to the NL. For example, I suspect the Braves will have more wins than any team other than the Red Sox, but I knock them down to where I think they rate among all of MLB.

Pre-season Top 30

  1. Red Sox (3)
  2. Angels (5)
  3. A's (13)
  4. Braves (15)
  5. Padres (9)
  6. White Sox (27?)
  7. Indians (4)
  8. Yankees (1)
  9. Tigers (12)
  10. Twins (2)
  11. Astros (17)
  12. Dodgers (19)
  13. Cardinals (16)
  14. Mets (8)
  15. Cubs (10)
  16. Phillies (6)
  17. Orioles (26)
  18. Rangers (14)
  19. Blue Jays (21)
  20. Brewers (11)
  21. Diamondbacks (7?)
  22. Rockies (20)
  23. Mariners (25)
  24. Giants (23)
  25. Devil Rays (24)
  26. Pirates (23)
  27. Marlins (18)
  28. Reds (28)
  29. Royals (30)
  30. Nationals (29)

Look at BP's list and 3 thing jump out at me about the biases that PECOTA suffers from.

  • Top-notch young players are given too much credit. The Diamondbacks and Brewers are rated highly because of this factor. It reminds me of the guy who during a fantasy draft gets all excited about obtaining the hot prospects. Talented, young players are great, but I think you can get too far out ahead of yourself on them.
  • Big hitting teams, with questionable bullpens grade out well. See Indians, Phillies, and Rangers. These are the type of teams that are going to underperform their pythagorean, as they win a lot of 12-3 games, but fail too often on the 4-3 contests.
  • Teams with pitching staffs that don't have high strikeout ratios are downgraded. The White Sox are the best example of this.
2007-04-02 20:47:48
1.   Mark T.R. Donohue
I was just having a long argument with the Research Department about why PECOTA loves the Diamondbacks so much. I think your first AND second points apply. They have a lot of young players, and their bullpen is pretty dreadful. I also don't know what happens if even one of their starters get hurt.
2007-04-02 21:11:12
2.   Benaiah
I know you are a Sox fan, and it seems bizarre on the face to think they are going to lose 10 games more than last year but consider this: Garland and Contreras were both a full run lower than their career ERA in 2004, Buehrle has generally been decent, but that was clearly his best year. Vasquez has good peripherals, and is a good bet to improve this year, but certainly isn't a lock for an ERA under 4. Danks is a rookie so who knows? In general then, you have a rotation full of inning eaters, but no one is particularly outstanding.

The offense had three big horsemen, plus Crede who was the better version of Francoeur. Crede's career batting average is .260, so even though he has power he might easily OPS under .800. Dye was amazing last year, but it hard to imagine that he does it again. Thome and Konerko will both be good, but probably not as good as last year. The rest of the lineup is mediocre to terrible.

Obviously the Sox have a lot of upside, since there are a lot of players who have been fantastic in the last few years. But if things break the other way, then they have a lot of question marks in the toughest division in baseball. 72 wins is a tad pessimistic, but I bet they come in fourth. Bullpen or no, the Indians are the team to beat in that division.

2007-04-02 22:27:48
3.   Scott Long
Picking the AL Central is a big crapshoot. I realize the White Sox could have a losing record for the first time this decade, but to be rated 27th overall? The White Sox won 90 games last year, so this would be a drop of 18 games.

The White Sox used to be the Indians before Guillen got there. Big boppers, would look like the team to beat and then would lose to the Twins, as they couldn't win close games. Offense is overrated, as defense and pitching are harder to measure.

As I mentioned, I've never picked the sox to win over the past 5 seasons and I realize this is a strange year to do it. I think they are the only team in the division that can trade for a big contract, so if they are close, I suspect they will do just such a thing, if there is someone out there they need.

27th best team in baseball.
Arizona is the 7th.
Come on, now.

2007-04-03 08:06:59
4.   Benaiah
27th is a bit of a stretch, on the other hand the D-backs compete against the Dodgers and the Padres, while the White Sox compete against the Twins, Indians and Tigers. No team in the NL West would be better than fourth in the AL Central. I think the Sox should be in the 12-18 range, but BP probably has a bit of an axe to grind. If Thome gets injured or regresses seriously, though... the Sox might only win 72 games.

By the way, the Sox last year were a bunch of boppers and they won 90 games.

2007-04-05 21:59:57
5.   underdog
Why does SWOBODA sound like a character on Barney Miller?
2007-04-05 22:15:55
6.   Scott Long
underdog gets the best line of this week.
wojo to swoboda would be a great double play combo.

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