Baseball Toaster The Juice Blog
Societal Critic at Large: Scott Long
Frozen Toast
Google Search
The Juice

02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09 

Personally On the Juice
Scott Takes On Society
Comedy 101
Kick Out the Jams (Music Pieces)
Even Baseball Stories Here
Link to Scott's NSFW Sports Site
PECOTA Was Very Right and Very Wrong about the 2007 White Sox
2007-06-16 22:50
by Scott Long

For the past few years I've been hammering Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA system, in regards to how off it's been about the Chicago White Sox. 2007 is shaping up like the overall record PECOTA predicted could be pretty close. I was much more optimistic in my thinking and while it still is pretty early in the season, it would appear like I'm going to have to eat some crow on the White Sox. (Most of my other predictions are looking pretty good, though.)

Nate Silver wrote an interesting piece a couple of days back, discussing how the White Sox in 2008 could bounce back, if they make a few key acquisitions. As bad as the offense has been, it's the bullpen that has the White Sox below .500, so I'm doubtful that keeping the status quo there will work in some type of 2008 overall team resurgence.


What I would like to discuss below is this. PECOTA might be right about the White Sox record, but the reason it will happen has little to do with the reasons why PECOTA felt it would occur. To demonstrate why I feel this way, I will list the White Sox players individually. I'm just listing OBP and SLG for hitters and ERA and WHIP for pitchers, as VORP and other statistical tools don't connect with many of the readers here at the Juice Blog. If you want to use those figures, be my guest, but I'm guessing they won't show much of a different conclusion than what I'm presenting.

White Sox Hitters
Erstad .297 311 324 344
Iguchi 356 327 435 347
Thome 385 469 522 542
Konerko 364 336 518 442
Dye 354 282 524 427
Crede 317 258 475 317
Pierzynski 315 288 414 408
Uribe 309 274 457 328

I have included only 8 regulars, as Scott Podsednik has been hurt almost the whole season. There have been numerous players filling in for him who have for the most part been so miserable they have made Podsednik look like a valuable component. At this point, PECOTA was off by over 100 points on 6 of the 8 players OPS total. Only Pierzynski and Erstad have been even close to what PECOTA predicted. While I'm not saying I had anymore of a clue that most of the Sox offense would fall off a cliff, it's hard for me to want to give a lot of credit to PECOTA on this subject.

Starting Pitching
Buerhle 4.74 3.45 1.39 1.09
Garland 4.74 3.59 1.41 1.22
Contreras 4.84 4.64 1.41 1.43
Vasquez 4.48 4.15 1.30 1.14
Danks 5.52 4.34 1.55 1.55

This category was why PECOTA picked the White Sox to fall apart this year. As generally the case, it is way off on Buerhle and Garland, nearly 2 and half runs off from what it originally predicted for the 2. Contreras and Vasquez are really close, so kudos on them. Danks has been a big surprise, though his ERA won't stay in the 4's if he continues with such a high WHIP. Starting pitching was my big beef with PECOTA at the beginning of the year. Here was my predictions for the Top 4 starters at the beginning of the year.

Buehrle 4.45 1.34
Garland 4.15 1.29
Contreras 4.40 1.35
Vazquez 4.25 1.31

Jenks 3.70 2.52 1.34 1.12
Thornton 4.67 6.05 1.54 1.76
MacDougal 3.87 7.13 1.43 2.21
Logan 6.33 3.79 1.67 1.21
Aardsma 5.12 6.18 1.58 1.59
Sisco 4.57 8.36 1.57 2.14

I actually think PECOTA did a pretty good job of predicting impending doom in the bullpen, as when you have a relief corp with this high of WHIP's, you can't be confident in success. Kenny Williams has been spoiled by pitching coach Don Cooper developing damaged pitching prospects the past few years and this year it was like they (Sox Front Office) were Ginger Lynn holding onto Peter North (Sox Bullpen). It exploded right in their faces.

At this point of the year, it appears like I was way off on my 88 win prediction. Some are hailing PECOTA for being right about the White Sox, but if you look at the breakdown on a player to player basis, the system couldn't have been much more wrong. The White Sox of this season are a really bizarre team. This is something that PECOTA and SWOBODA can agree on.

(Author's Note: I'm a huge fan of Baseball Prospectus and I believe that PECOTA is the best statistical prediction tool available. My continuing series on it stems from how I think PECOTA is generally way off in regards to the White Sox.)



2007-06-17 14:08:22
1.   D4P
Please Explain: Moviegoers

(Actual headline from

'Fantastic Four' bumps 'Ocean's Thirteen'

2007-06-17 15:55:42
2.   joejoejoe
You'll have to incorporate the Ginger Lynn factor into SWOBODA.
2007-06-17 23:49:02
3.   Sandus
Has Jose Contreras been so bad he no longer gets to use his second R?
2007-06-18 06:40:15
4.   Scott Long
That is the best way of proofreading I've received in quite awhile. What are the odds that if someone is going to screw up a name of a White Sox starter, it wouldn't be Buerhle? I wish they all had the name Danks.
2007-06-18 08:02:38
5.   Sky
I think your analysis of the White Sox hitters is a little misguided. PECOTA missed on most hitters, some high, some low. But overall, how accurate were they? And more importanly, how accurate were they compared to most other sources? I think most people expected the Sox to score more runs than this, while PECOTA was more bearish. And they're pretty close in that respect.
2007-06-18 08:45:32
6.   Scott Long
Sky, I obviously disagree. The big reason PECOTA picked the White Sox to win 72 games was because of their starting pitching. 4.48. 4.74, 4.74, 4.84, 5.52 are numbers for a team which is in the cellar. This was and continues to be my biggest beef with PECOTA, the way it underrates pitchers like Buerhle and Garland, who have great control, but don't strikeout many batters. Look at their yearly finish versus PECOTA and you will see that outside of 2006, it is generally off.

The bullpen is the biggest reason they are losing, as bad as the hitting has been. Here is an example of what I'm talking about. Over the past 21 games, the White Sox have had the lead in 17 of those games. Most of those games were lost after the 6th inning.

2007-06-18 18:25:06
7.   Suffering Bruin
Scott, I'm not sure what any of this has to do with my getting a closer for my fantasy team.

Seriously, I called a buddy in Chicago and he echoed what you had to say about the Sox bullpen (it bites). According my friend, the reason why the bullpen bites is because they don't strike people out. It's a simple way of saying too many balls are being put in play. That sounds like the same criticism that's been levied at White Sox starters for what seems like eons now. I submit my friends take, FWIW.

2007-06-19 08:10:14
8.   Scott Long
I can't go along with that. Unless the guy is Walter Johnson and can get a strikeout whenever it is needed, WHIP's in the 2's are going to kill any pitcher. It has been the walks and homeruns that I've noticed killing the team. Plus, none of their bullpen has anyone with any real sink to their pitches, so double plays are generally out of the question, as well.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.