Adjusting PECOTA’s Projected Standings

Baseball America names decade's top prospects
Remembering Matt Nokes

Lots of Yankee fans were up in arms a few days ago when word got out that the nerds at Baseball Prospectus projected the Yankees to finish in third place in the AL East despite winning 93 games. How could that be possible with their lineup and increasingly deep rotation? Well, said nerds have gone back and adjusted their standings, correcting mistakes, tweaking the process, etcetera, etcetera.

This time around, they have the Yankees and Red Sox tied atop the AL East with identical 93-69 records and identical +122 run differentials. The Rays are knocked back to third place with 92 wins and a +114 run differential. I’m not going to post the full league standings because they’re behind a pay wall, but here’s the only division you probably care about…

Furthermore, they project the Yanks to have the best OBP in the game by almost ten points, and not coincidentally the most runs scored in the league by 28.  Only three teams are projected to win 90+ games, and you’re looking at them in the chart above. Say what you will about the validity of the rankings, but they are very good at giving us a general idea of what is likely to happen. Despite laughter from the masses, PECOTA nailed the Rays’ breakout in 2008 the the ChiSox’s collapse in 2007, for example.

The Yankees and Red Sox might not tie atop the division with 93 wins, but chances are they’ll finish 1-2 in a tight race. The Yanks will probably push more than 855 runs across the plate, but the idea is that they have the best lineup in the league. The Mets … well they’re still expected to finish in fourth place. I’m not sure if that accounts for that huge Josh Fogg pickup, though.

Baseball America names decade's top prospects
Remembering Matt Nokes
  • Steve H

    So I can go back to watching the games this year?

    • Mike Axisa

      At your own risk.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      There goes soccer for me, except for the month of June, of course.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    No way are the Red Sox and Yankees that close offensively speaking.

    • Mike Axisa

      Didn’t you hear? They replaced Johnny Damon with RANDY FREAKING WINN!!!11!

      • JobaWockeeZ

        Stupid Cashman!!! You’re right this season is ovah without the best hitter of all time in Johnny Damon.

      • anon

        I still dont understand the signing. Id rather them save the 2 million and buy the whole team extra tube socks.

        • Steve H

          Im gonig too cancle mye tube sock of teh monht club subsrcrptin beecause of teh singing.

          /bronx teacher’d

    • Reggie C.

      I wouldnt be shocked to see Adrian Beltre return to an OPS of .800 ala 2007. He was way overpaid based on one juiced-up season with the Dodgers, but I think his offense is now a bit underrated.

      • Mike Axisa

        He’s a pull hitter, so he’ll get a boost from the handball court in LF.

        • Zack

          Does that make their ballpark the biggest joke in the game? Or just an old-school novelty?

    • BoSux

      Agree comletely JobaWockeeZ. How exactly do they figure fewer wins in 2010 for Yankees with Halladay out of the division and almost equal Sox-Yankees slugging with Bay gone and Lowell and Varitek going part-time? They expect Big Poopie to suddenly rebound after bust for juicing? ….Check out this funny addition to the pre-season B.O. Sox – Yankees noise:

      Too funny!

  • bonestock94

    Apparently they expect the red sox to win 1-0 93 times.

    • Steve H

      The Sox have above average offense at 5 or 6 positions, and at least average at the rest (expecting Beltre turnaround in Fenway). They will have a strong offense, and won’t have the end of lineup holes that they had last year with Varitek and the SS du jour. Combine that with great pitching and defense, and they will win plenty of games.

      • Don W

        I think you’re being a little generous. That scenario is true only if you fail to factor the boost that Fenway gives their hitters. Remove that inflation and they’re average at some of the plus positions and below in some of the average.

        As an example:

        Dustin Pedroia, career on the road – .756 OPS
        Avg A L second basemen 2009 – .764 OPS

        Pedroia is an about average AL 2nd baseman offensively. Fenway masks this tremendously by pumping .140 OPS pts into his home OPS. I’ve previously ran the #’s, if you apply the rate he hits doubles on the road to his home #’s and turn the extra doubles into fly outs…his numbers are identical to his road #’s. The Green Monster makes Pedroia look much better than he is…offensively.

        Scutaro has met or exceeded the 2009 average AL SS OPS twice in his career and has 2 years of OPS+ over 88. A 96 in 2006 and his fluke year last year with 111. Scutaro is not an average offensive SS.

        Ellsbury, career OPS of .715 OPS away from Fenway. That’s the kind of season the Gardner non-believers are afraid he’ll have playing full time.

        Beltre would have to rate as slightly above average offensively but I fully expect Fenway to make him look like an all-star at the plate.

        Same story for Cameron but with a much bigger chance that age will cause a slightly slower bat to translate into even more K’s and below average real production.

        • Steve H

          But they get to play half of their games in Fenway. And most players hit better at home to begin with. So you can’t say Pedroia is an average hitter, he’s only average for half his games. Scutaro is an unknown, agreed. Ellsbury also has value on the bases, so just looking at OPS is somewhat shortsighted in his case. Cameron has been above average his whole career, and while age may finally affect him, if it doesn’t, Fenway is the perfect park for him. Teixera only posted an .882 OPS on the road last year, relative to AL 1b, that’s probably not head and shoulders above average, so while they do benefit from their home park, it’s not out of the norm either. Their offense certainly doesn’t match up with the Yankees, and they will struggle against good pitching, but they will be an above average offensive team. I really think they will see a huge improvement in spots 7-9, where last year they had an almost NL lineup 7-9 so that the pitchers could relax. They cannot relax pitching to any of the Sox hitters this year, as they can all make them pay for mistakes.

        • PaulF

          Yeah, they might not be as far above average as they would be on another team, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are built perfectly for their park. The Yankees won’t be helped offensively in Fenway because they have no right hand pull hitters (unless they are facing a lefty). The Yankees are built for their stadium as well, with power lefties and righties with opposite field power. So you can’t criticize a teams offense for playing to their park.

          • Don W

            I’m not trying to erase the runs off the board. My contention was calling average or below average players above average or average just because the Green Monster makes them look better than they are. It’s the same situation as Johnny Damon. Damon wouldn’t have put up the numbers with any other team as he did with the Yankees. That doesn’t mean he’s a great player as a Yankee and just and average to above average player everywhere else. It means he’s an average to above average player that was able to take advantage of his home park. Guess what? A lot of opposing players took advantage of the new stadium as well. In fact the Yankee’s opponents hit an ever so slightly higher percentage of their total HR’s against the Yanks @ YS than the Yankees got at home against their opponents. (statistically insignificant difference really) That means Johnny’s #’s HAD to be higher @ home just to help negate the boost their opponents got.
            If the Yankees moved the fence way in in left and A-Rod hits 100 HR’s this year it doesn’t make him any better of a player than he was before. It’s a park affect plain and simple. Just like Damon in YSIII and Pedroia, Ellsbury and every other righthander who ever hit in Fenway.

            • PaulF

              OK, if we’re just talking about how good an individual player is, then you’re right, but not if we are looking at how good the red sox offense will be next year, which is what Steve was saying.

        • David in Cal

          The Red Sox have built a team tailored for their ballpark, just as the Yanks have. It all counts.

    • Lanny

      Great point.

      That Sox offense is pretty awful.

  • Esteban

    IF people wanted to know about the accuracy of these projection systems (and I can’t remember if it was posted), Vegas Watch did a post on it.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Tampa, Detroit, Oakland and Seattle screwed PECOTA last year.

  • Nick

    I think Adrian Beltre will return to his normal form and hit 25-30 HRs but only because of the Green Monster. Someone explain how CC,AJ,Javy,Andy, and 5 starter will give up 31 more runs than Boston. And also how we will only score 855 when we scored over 900 last year and improved offensively (except Damon) with Granderson and Johnson. Since I live in Michigan I saw Granderson all the time and watching Austin Jackson reminded me of a right handed Curtis Granderson.

    • Section 39

      I agree with you completely on the offense side of things. Regarding the pitching though, from the SP standpoint, Boston and the Yanks are pretty damn close.
      CC vs Lester — Yanks slightly
      AJ vs Beckett — Boston
      Vasquez vs Lackey — Boston slightly (could turn to EVEN)
      Pettite vs Dice-K — Yanks
      Joba/Hughes vs Buchholtz — Yanks

      It’s fairly close. Where I see the bigger advantage for the Yanks is in the pen.

      In reality, I don’t think anyone believes the Yanks are losing 10 more games than last year by adding Granderson, Johnson, and Vasquez instead of Damon, Melky, and Wang. Let’s get real there.

      • Reggie C.

        Joba’s accrued 281 career innings … you gotta think Joba will pitch well enough in ST to keep the 5th spot. Hughes waits another year, which isn’t a terrible fate since he’ll stay in the bigs and likely remain in the good graces of Yankees fans all-season long as a dominant set-up man. So Joba > Buchholz > Hughes.

        CC = Lester … jmo though.

        • Steve H

          What puts CC ahead of Lester IMO is the innings (and to a lesser extent track record). CC goes 7 and 8 (and 9 innings) much more often than Lester, which means less reliance on the bullpen to finish games. I’d say thru 6 innings they are about equal, but the stamina of CC puts him over the top. He leaves less room for error for the pen.

          • Lanny

            Lester while good isnt in CC’s league yet.

            His durability and innings give him the edge. Agreed

            • Esteban

              Fact: Lester had a better ERA+, lower FIP, and only a .4 lower WAR than CC.

              Fact: Jon Lester is already in CC’s ‘league’

      • JobaJr

        Sabathia is better than Lester, not just slightly.

        • dr mrs the yankee

          Lester is really fantastic and I wouldn’t be surprised if he surpassed CC this season.

          I think they were pretty even last season.

          • JobaJr

            I think we need one more year to be sure. This was CC’s first season in NY and he was an amazing pitcher, however, he may be even better in 2010.

          • Steve H

            To back up my statement above, I decided to look it up.

            Lester pitched into the 7th 16 times last year.
            CC pitched into the 7th 28 times last year.

            As we all know, starters>>>relievers, so more outs from the starter carry a lot more value.

      • Hey ZZ

        Speaking of Lester. According to fangraphs, in 2009, 100% of the time a hitter swung at a pitch outside the zone they made contact. Up from 50% in 2008. Thought that was interesting…

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Someone explain how CC,AJ,Javy,Andy, and 5 starter will give up 31 more runs than Boston.

      Because they will prevent runs that the Yankees cannot prevent in their defense.

      • Lanny

        Preventing runs in Fenway Park??

        You dont need Gold Glovers to win there especially in LF. Just think. They had Manny and Bay there the past 15 yrs. Real offensive studs. Now? They have Ellsbury. Like his defense is going to matter there??

        • Steve H

          Well considering they play half their games away from Fenway Park, it will make a huge difference.

        • JobaWockeeZ

          You dont need Gold Glovers to win there especially in LF. Just think. They had Manny and Bay there the past 15 yrs. Real offensive studs. Now? They have Ellsbury. Like his defense is going to matter there??

          So apparently defense to you means LF defense. Defense is important Bo. I would think you would know this by now because the Yankees sucked in 2005-2008 in that regard and OYU LOVE TRASHING THE YANKEES.

          So you of all people should understand it’s important because you hate the Yankees and I’m sure you said IMPROVE TEH DEFENSE CASHMAN a million times because you’re you. Undersatand?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

          Yeah I can annoyingly put in unnecessary question marks too.

        • Esteban

          15 years? Did Mike Greenwell change his name to Manny Ramirez ala Chad Ochocinco?

      • Section 39

        What are you honestly talking about? We have plenty of defense. We don’t have a GG in every position, but we have then in key spots and have above average fielders in others. Your argument would hold some water if we resigned Damon, but really, there isn’t much to complain about with our current roster.

        We have a GG at 1B/SS, Cano is above average at 2B, AROD is above average at 3B. We now have Gardner/Winn in LF who are both above average and Granderson in CF, again, above average. Swisher is average — nothing special. Posada is below average.

        Boston certainly has better defense, but overall, we have better pitching. I could honestly care less about the 31 runs considering we will score 60-80 more runs than them next year.

  • chriskeo

    What if this theoretically happens, the Yankees and Red Sox tie, do they go to a one game playoff or does the team with the better season record vs. the other get the AL east, one with worse gets WC.

    • Stuckey

      If they’re tied and both make the play-offs, I believe divsion/WC is settled by head-to-head record.

      • Section 39

        As long as both teams are making the playoffs, then yes, whoever won the head-to-head series gets the division and the other gets the WC. It then goes to division record, then conference, then it gets interesting, I believe run differential maybe. It doesn’t usually get further than head-to-head, not that this commonly happens anyway.

  • Simon B.

    PECOTA didn’t nail the Rays breakout in 2008. They had them much improved (which could be easily predicted), but still third in the division.

    I’m not railing on PECOTA, it is one of the better projection systems, but a lot of people seem to act like its an all-knowing god.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      I’m not railing on PECOTA, it is one of the better projection systems, but a lot of people seem to act like its an all-knowing god.

      Here or in general?

      • Simon B.

        In general. Maybe I just hang around the sillier fans.

    • Esteban

      You say it was easy, and I’ve looked, and I haven’t many people saying the Rays would be as improved as PECOTA did.

      • Esteban

        “People” are no better than PECOTA at predicting winners.

        • Andy in Sunny Daytona

          If people can’t pick winners, the tell me, how was Las Vegas built?


      • GG2000

        Yeah, the Tampa Bay fans must be in an uproar today over going from first to third in these adjusted standings. All three of them.

  • dkidd

    2010 yanks-sox could be one of the all-time great division races

    part of me hopes the wild card is not an option down the stretch so the drama is maximized

    • PaulF

      It will be though. No one else in the AL is close to the Yanks and Sox, except maybe TB. It will still be a great race because it might be the three best teams in baseball fighting for two spots.

      • dkidd

        the wild card is a net positive but there are years it drives me nuts (2005!!!)

      • Matt Imbrogno

        It’s almost a shame that three of the best teams in baseball play in one division.

    • anon

      part of me.. most of me hopes the Red Sox find themselves below the Orioles in July and the Yankees coast to the post season with a 20 game lead

      • dkidd

        no fun. better to give them hope and then break their hearts at the last moment

      • Matt Imbrogno


        It won’t happen, but it’d be awesome.

  • Bob Stone

    Last year the Yankees gave up 753 runs with Sabathia, Aj, Andy, Joba and Want/Mitre/Gaudin/Hughes. How does PECOTA show 733 Runs Against with the improvement to the rotation and better depth.

    2009 vs 2010 – Result
    CC vs. CC – Same or Better
    AJ vs. AJ – Probably Better (injusry risk a factor though)
    Andy vs. Andy – Same (with more downside than upside risk)
    Joba vs. Joba – Better
    Wang, Mitre, Gaudin, Hughes vs. Javy – MUCH Better

    The bullpen will be better in my opinion with Hughes all year instead of half a year. I think Mo will be the same. I just don’t think he will decline YET.

    The defense is better, swapping out Damon for Granderson.

    The offense should be close to the same but with some downside risk. I really like Damon and Matsui and wanted both back badly but I understand Cashman’s strategy to get younger (and to stay potentially healthier). Granderson and Johnson replacing Matusi and Damon on the offense should be pretty close.

    How does anyone project this team winning fewer than 97-99 games in 2010? I understand that an aging Posada, Jeter, and ARod could all decline. I also account for the fact that the Yankees were relatively healthy last year.

    I project the Yankees winning 100, BoSox at 95 and Rays at 88.

    Who needs complex mathematical formulae to make a reasonable projection?

    • dkidd

      my biggest injury worries are aj, andy, posada and johnson

      if they have another healthy year, they could win 110 games

      • Matt Imbrogno

        Easy now. Unless a ton of things go right for the Yankees AND a ton of things go wrong for the other teams, there’s no way they’re winning 110 games.

        • dkidd

          meant to type 100

          but screw it, they’ll win 110!

          • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

            Think about how good the 27′ Yanks were: They won 110 games with TWELVE LESS GAMES than we play now.


    • pete

      I’m going to say 101 for yanks, 98 for Sox, 90 for Rays, 78 for Orioles, 69 for Jays. Central is too boring to project. I’ll go with 91 for Texas, 90 for LAA, 88 for Seattle, and 84 for Oakland.

      I think there will be awesome races in the East and West in both leagues this year.

      • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

        99 for the Yanks, 98 for the Sox, 96 for the Rays. 91 for Seattle, 90 for Texas, 87 for the Angels, 82 for Oakland.

        Central, Twins win with 87 wins, ChiSox in 2nd with 85, Tigers third with 84. Indians have 75 wins.

  • Matt Imbrogno

    Don’t worry about the Mets’ offense, guys. They just signed Tatis and Catalanotto. Their offense will be fine.

    Actually, if they strictly platooned those guys at first, they might be fine.

  • T-Dubs

    Does Vegas give over/unders on runs scored? I wonder what the Yanks would be: 950.5?

    • radnom

      I doubt it, that would be VERY aggressive.

      You’d almost have to bet the under there.

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  • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

    So basically PECOTA is admitting that they don’t have the slightest idea who will win the division.

    They’ve had some accurate picks in the past, but they’ve had their duds as well.

  • Ed

    They picked the Rays to break out in 2008 and the Chisox to collapse in 2007, so everything else has to be believed. It’s like the psychic way back in the early ’60’s who vaguely predicted something bad would happen to JFK in November of 1963 and made a living off of it in the tabloid rags for a couple of decades predicting nonsense. I’ll watch the games, thank you.

    • whozat

      Ed: 1
      Strawman: 0

      No one made the point that you’re arguing against. Also, no one ever said that we don’t want to watch the games.

      I will never understand this belief that people who spend copious amounts of their spare time analyzing and slicing and dicing the game to try to understand it better somehow don’t like baseball.

      • Spaceman.Spiff

        I once fought a strawman and lost…

        Strawman: 1
        Spaceman.Spiff: 0

  • Jim Kaufman

    On paper you can shape the numbers build all the charts and graphs and predict all the nuances of who’s better and who and what will happen. Having watched baseball for over 50 years I can tell you that we will be surprised at half of what we see, that ironically the ball is going to bounce funny and that hamstring injuries will be cronic in April. 25% of the roster will have changed by August 1 so hang on to your socks and hope that Cash/Giradi can roll with the punches. If our core plays better than their core we make the playoffs. From their its pitching that counts. Hire somebody to do all the numbers and enjoy the game for what it is.