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Yankees picked to finish third, miss playoffs

Jan 28, 2010, 3:21 PM EDT

Pecota.jpgPECOTA — or “Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm” for those of you who don’t like clever acronyms — is the statistical projection system owned and operated by the good people at Baseball Prospectus.

While the specific means by which PECOTA predicts what players and teams will do is proprietary — and while the parts that are public are way over my head — the upshot is that PECOTA looks at the career path followed by every player in baseball history, compares current players to those guys, takes its best computerly guess at how the current guys will progress as well, and based on that spits out a set of predictions each year.  All prediction systems are going to be subject to some error here and there — you only get out of these things what you put into them — but PECOTA has actually been pretty accurate as far as these things go.

But it does cause an utter s—storm every once in a while.

Last year, for example, PECOTA famously predicted that Orioles’ catcher Matt Wieters would put up one of the best offensive seasons in the history of catchers. That didn’t come to pass, of course, and a lot of people who like to beat up on stat people beat up on the Baseball Prospectus guys over that. Oh, if we were all judged by our worst moments.

I mention all of that because PECOTA’s projected standings for 2010 just came out, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Baseball Prospectus will be the only reputable organization picking the Yankees to finish in third place and out of the playoffs. Oh sure, it’s close — only three games separate them from the first place Rays — but on the outside looking in they are.

Like I said, I’m a moron about such things, but if I had to guess this projection is due in part to the fact that there simply aren’t that many teams in baseball history with as many older players continuing to play elite baseball as the Yankees have, and thus the projection penalizes them a bit more than might be warranted in real life (remember; this is an algorithm talking, not some sportswriter). That is, if you can consider 93 wins a penalty. For what it’s worth, the AL East looks like a tossup in these projections, and the difference between the Rays, Sox and Yankees probably fall within the margin of error.

Not that it will stop some newspaper writer from going crazy in the next day or two and using it as an opportunity to tell stat guys to get out of their mother’s basement and go watch a real baseball game.

  1. david nystuen - Jan 28, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    All of you act like teenagers, I assume you are. At least your knowledge and reasoning put you there.

  2. m daniels - Jan 28, 2010 at 5:25 PM

    paul i have been a yankees fan for 51 years. i live in syracuse what does make me?

  3. Foghorn - Jan 28, 2010 at 5:25 PM

    That the Craig I rememeber. Yankee hate articles at least three days a week.

  4. mick-7-1961 - Jan 28, 2010 at 5:37 PM

    I was born in Upstate NY and have lived in Spokane for 50 years…I’m as much a Yankee fan as the guy who lives blocks from Yankee Stadium and has attended every home game for the last 50 years. You don’t think that I am? Please, come to Spokane and tell me that to my face.
    As far as any predictions concerning the Yankees go? How about this one:
    They’ll definitely make the playoffs in 2010 and the Mariners may be as good if not better in ‘010 as they were in 1995…pitching, pitching, pitching.

  5. Walter Bishop - Jan 28, 2010 at 5:39 PM

    Obviously, the human that wrote the PECOTA computer program is a NY Mutts’ fan, Simple as that! Now, back in the real world, the Legendary 27 time, World Series Champions, the New York Yankees are going to rule over the American League East with an Iron Fist for the forseeable future, and go on to win their 28th World Series Championship in 2010. It’s been such a loonnnggg time since NY has had a 2,000,000 person Ticker Tape Parade down the Canyon of Heroes, the Long Suffering Yankees fans deserve to witness yet another Championship. Oh wait, silly me, we just had another. You know, when you win as much as the Yankees do, the Yankees fans tend to just see it as another day at the park! GO YANKEES!!! PS…As a Yankees fan, I’m already looking forward to next years Free Agency…Yes sir! The YES Network Bank Vault to swing wide open, and walla..here comes Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford to the Yankees, and if Joe Mauer wasn’t such a Wimp, he’d jump at the chance to wear the Legendary Yankees Pinstripes, but, you know those mid-westerners…. No Guts…No Glory! Just rather sit around, widdling wood, watching the grass grow and collect the Twin’s meager paycheck…

  6. Walter Bishop - Jan 28, 2010 at 5:46 PM

    Obviously, the human that wrote the PECOTA computer program is a NY Mutts’ fan, Simple as that! Now, back in the real world, the Legendary 27 time, World Series Champions, the New York Yankees are going to rule over the American League East with an Iron Fist for the forseeable future, and go on to win their 28th World Series Championship in 2010. It’s been such a loonnnggg time since NY has had a 2,000,000 person Ticker Tape Parade down the Canyon of Heroes, the Long Suffering Yankees fans deserve to witness yet another Championship. Oh wait, silly me, we just had another. You know, when you win as much as the Yankees do, the Yankees fans tend to just see it as another day at the park! GO YANKEES!!! PS…As a Yankees fan, I’m already looking forward to next years Free Agency…Yes sir! The YES Network Bank Vault to swing wide open, and walla..here comes Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford to the Yankees, and if Joe Mauer wasn’t such a Wimp, he’d jump at the chance to wear the Legendary Yankees Pinstripes, but, you know those mid-westerners…. No Guts…No Glory! Just rather sit around, widdling wood, watching the grass grow and collect the Twin’s meager paycheck…

  7. Glen L - Jan 28, 2010 at 5:48 PM

    The PECOTA team records forecasts haven’t yet been updated to properly account for individual player PT.

  8. Walter Bishop - Jan 28, 2010 at 5:51 PM

    And, before someone jumps on me about posting a dulpicate post, it wasn’t me, it was this NBC sports pitiful message board. Yuck! Boy, I sure miss the MSNBC MLB message board!

  9. mick-7-1961 - Jan 28, 2010 at 6:10 PM

    I’m 100% with you, Walter..the message boards were the best.

  10. Shely - Jan 28, 2010 at 6:35 PM

    And what do you know about the game? I suppose Drew will come on to hit .330 with 30 Hr’s and carry the team? Did you ever play the game? Who will take Bay’s place? Maby David will get back into shape and start at 1st. base. Don’t act like an ass. If you think you are right, lets wait until Sept. and see who knows anything. I correctly predicted the fall of the Cardinals BEFORE the LA series last Fall. Others were saying they would pull out the series. I predict a Yankee victory in the AL East, and Maybe a repeat of the WS win. IF IF IF Dice-K comes back into shape, Boston could finish second.

  11. peteinfla - Jan 28, 2010 at 6:37 PM

    Really now Phil, We all know you love the Reds. You’ve repeated it over and over and over again. WE know you are ecstatic about the young guys coming up. We know you have a man-crush on Dusty. WE GET IT! But let’s face it, the fact that you actually have 3 favorite Yankee moments speaks voulmes as to your lack of any recent REDS MOMENTS! The last time they were relevant, Shotzie was still taking dumps in the Reds clubhouse, and Pete Rose was still in the good graces of MLB! Why can’t you just be excited about your teams future, and stop dumping on the Yankees? Jealousy? Insecurity?
    And other than you, who said you were better-read on this board than joeblow?

  12. twins2010 - Jan 28, 2010 at 6:52 PM

    Actually Mr. Ghost, I think Shely has a point here. I am neither a Red Sox Fan nor Hater, ok? But as far as the offense, it does have some serious question marks to say the least. Victor, Youk, Pedroia and Drew (when he’s healty) are all good or great offensive players. But after that – Ortiz is a question mark, Ellsby had no power and a low OB% so far, Beltre was a good hitter but certainly has to prove he can still hit after last year, Cameron has power and speed but does not usually hit righties to well… seems that there is a legitimate question about the Sox hitting. As far as the pitching, I think that and the improved defense are more certain. Lester and Beckett are great, Lackey is good when he’s healthy. Buckholz looks like the real thing. Dice K and Wakefield are no sure thing but the rest of the staff is excellent. It’s going to be interesting to see how they hit this year, and if not as well as usual, can the Defense and Pitching overcome any offensive deficienies. Should be fun to watch!

  13. Rays fan - Jan 28, 2010 at 7:03 PM

    The prediction’s meaningless but I’m going to enjoy anyway

  14. yanksrule - Jan 28, 2010 at 7:25 PM

    Lets move forward 5 Scifi years. With the country loving greed and the quick rush and football stealing the american past times rightful place and some MLB teams too cheap to spend money, how about in 2010 the last place team in each division has to execute 1 of there 25 players on the final day of the season !!!!
    What a Rush That Would Bring!

  15. I am Providence - Jan 28, 2010 at 7:30 PM

    “especially since Boston lost Bay, and are counting on questionable pitching.”
    A starting rotation of Lester, Beckett, Lackey, Matzusaka and Bucholz should be very strong. It should be a 3-team race all season in the AL East.

  16. Walter Bishop - Jan 28, 2010 at 7:38 PM

    Hey Mick!! How have you been? I know you don’t reconize my new posting name, but, you will probably remember me as Trust_No1 on the MSN boards! Wasn’t last year great? I didn’t know which I enjoyed more at first, watching Baaston lose and remembering those obnoxious Baaston fans on MSNBC and thinking how much they were crying about the Yankees brand new shiny Championship trophy, in the new Shrine they call Yankees Stadium(although I’m homesick for the old one),or watching the Yankees destroy the Phillies. So I finally went with the New Championship! How Sweet it is!!! I only wish we could bump into some of the better posters from the old boards. Well, enjoy the new season, although I question the Yankees playing cheap and parting ways with Johnny Damon. Well, we’ll see if this move will bite the Yankees in the ass this year, won’t we? Talk to you soon!

  17. John Willumsen - Jan 28, 2010 at 7:43 PM

    Sigh. The hardest part of being a Yankees fan is…well it’s other Yankees fans. How is it possible to have (by far) the highest payroll and win the World Series and yet have fans who are so ridiculously insecure that the merest suggestion that the team isn’t the finest club in the history of sport causes them to erupt into ignorant, angry diatribes. How about this, if someone questions the team, just nod and say, “that might be true, but let’s see how the season plays out.” Too much to ask, right?

  18. BillyBeaneismyHero - Jan 28, 2010 at 8:20 PM

    Um…the Yankees coming in third isn’t nearly as shocked (and disturbing) as the Nationals winning 82 games next year. I trust PECOTA’s accuracy, but I just don’t see that one.

  19. Phil - Jan 28, 2010 at 9:33 PM

    peteinfla,
    Well, you’ve proved that irony is officially dead. I really think you should read John Willumsen’s post.

  20. Rays fan - Jan 28, 2010 at 10:05 PM

    “The last time they were relevant, Shotzie was still taking dumps in the Reds clubhouse, and Pete Rose was still in the good graces of MLB!”
    correction–Pete Rose was banned in 1989, & the Reds swept the heavily favored A’s in the 1990 World Series.

  21. Josh - Jan 29, 2010 at 12:16 AM

    I believe last year was an aberration, not the year before. The Rays should rebound from a fairly down year to compete for the AL East title. It should be a three team race again. New York’s rotation and bullpen imho are still somewhat questionable. Burnett is very inconsistent and often posts high ERAs, the Vasquez experiment didn’t work out for NY last time, etc. Boston’s offense is very very questionable unless Ellsbury learns how to get on base and Ortiz continues his second half of last season’s production (id est get back on the juice.) Tampa won a few years ago with very solid pitching, great defense, and speed. If they can rediscover all that, maybe they can take the division again. Otherwise I see New York taking it.
    But I’m surprised not enough people have been remarking about the Nationals winning 82 games by PECOTA’s prediction.

  22. Matt - Jan 29, 2010 at 7:42 AM

    How ’bout OAKLAND winning the West?!

  23. JP - Jan 29, 2010 at 8:35 AM

    PECOTA: You can’t be that stupid to pick the Yankees to finish 3rd and out of the playoffs. Which calculator are you using? Hopefully not your head.

  24. Travis Bickle - Jan 29, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    Baseball Prospectus? Isin`t that the same guys who use the “UZR”?
    That moronic stat that at one time last year claimed that Ryan Howard was a better fielding 1st baseman than Texieria. Using thier twisted logic I guess the Nationals will be world champs!
    The worst part is that by mainstream media writting about this it lends them credence. Just ignore these 12 year old stat geeks and maybe they`ll go away.

  25. Julie - Jan 29, 2010 at 10:05 AM

    “Please do not consider yourself a Yankee fan if you are not from the tri state area. You are just a band wagon hopper.”
    I’m going to assume that you meant this in jest. I can’t imagine any adult making such ridiculously random generalizations in seriousness. I happen to live in a minute town in East Tennessee, but I’ve been a die-hard Yankees fan for 25 years. If that makes me a ‘band wagon hopper’, then so be it. Region has nothing to do with fandom. Down here, we’re inundated with Braves games, Reds games, even Cards games, but it was the Yankees that lured me into the baseball fold & that’s where I’ve stayed. Your generalization that you have to live in NY to be a “true” Yankees fan is oversimplistic and silly at best and downright offensive at worst.

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