Friday, February 25, 2011

Baseball Prospectus bullish on Giants

I hadn’t spent much if any time looking at Baseball Prospectus’ (BP) 2011 projections, that is, until now. Guess what: There’s another reason why it’s great when your team wins the World Series: their “Depth Chart” appears free to all at BP. This is also the case for the Texas Rangers, who in case you’ve forgotten, lost to the Giants in the Fall Classic. In five games.

They call their projections PECOTA – Pouring Endlessly and Cleverly Over These Algorithms. I made that up, but that’s because I don’t know what it actually stands for. Your turn to try.

For those Giants fans that are already worried the Giants are being underestimated, don’t be. For starters, you should never be worried of that because it doesn’t really matter. No, really, it doesn’t matter. You also shouldn’t this year because it’s simply not the case.

Baseball Prospectus is currently projecting the Giants to win the NL West by three games, besting the Dodgers. They have the Giants winning 90 games (two less than 2010) and the Dodgers winning 87. Beyond that, the Rockies grab 83, the Friars fall to just below .500 with 80 and the Diamondbacks… well their still in the cellar, though 74 wins is a nine game improvement.

But there’s more. BP also is projecting the Giants to have 1) the second best run differential (RD) in the National League at +86 runs and 2) the second lowest figure of runs against (RA). First is of course the Phillies. Just kidding. It’s the Dodgers. What?

Actually, this makes perfect sense. A couple reasons: the Dodgers have a solid rotation which includes Clayton Kershaw – a budding ace – to go with Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla, as well as a very good bullpen.

I guess Padilla is having some issues with a nerve in his forearm. I guess we could start singing a jingle like Jonny Gomes, but we won’t do that here. But only because Padilla’s no ace. I mean, if Kershaw goes down I reserve the right to celebrate. Rob Neyer said I could.

I said a couple of reasons. I meant a few. I always thought a couple meant two, a few meant three and some meant four. That’s just me, but I digress. The other reason is the ballpark the Giants, Phillies and Dodgers play in. The Giants and Dodgers play in more neutral, less offensive parks. Actually, the difference isn’t what some people make of it because the Citizens Bank Park is regarded as a more neutral park when you really get down to it than is generally perceived (or portrayed) by most fans and the media. But when push comes to shove, Chavez Ravine (LA) is the most pitcher friendly, followed by AT&T (SF) and then Citizens Bank Park (Philly).

There’s also the fact that despite the Phillies’ wunderrotation – new word – their bullpen probably isn’t as good as the Dodgers’ and Giants’. They are all close though, at least in terms of RD: 637, 640, 657.

As I mentioned in passing earlier, the Giants have the second best run differential. First place does go to the Phillies with their +94 and 91 wins, but that’s just eight runs and one game in the standings. They win the East, in this projection. Rounding out the National League (NL) is the Cardinals with a +62 RD and 87 wins, despite losing Adam Wainwright. Make sure to mark your calendars for the Braves versus Dodgers one game playoff – they’ll fight for the last spot with 87 wins each.

Please also take note of the fact that the Brewers are the next in line with 85 wins. This shouldn’t come as a big surprise to anyone. They added Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke this offseason and already had a very solid offense anchored by Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Standings are very fungible, a little luck (bad or good), an injury here or there, and voila: the Cubs win the Central. This stuff happens.

Personally, I’ll take the Brewers in the Central right now on a whim. I have the right.

That’s the standings, kids. I’ll give you some thoughts on the player projections in due time. Probably. Hint: Brandon Belt is projected to be the second best hitter on the Giants in 2011, but won’t really play enough for it to matter.

Update: BP ran the numbers again and the Brewers are now on top in the Central, although in a virtual tie in the standings with the Cardinals. Waino's loss to Tommy John surgery figures to make a tight race in the Senior Circuit's weakest division.


  1. Who cares what BP thinks about the Giants? They have been biased against the Giants for years now and they used their 2010 annual chapter on the Giants talking about how Brian Sabean should be fired!

    That is about as big a mistake as anyone can make, well, after those people saying the Giants were stupid for not trading Lincecum for Rios, but I'll bet that there won't be a mea culpa in this year's annual chapter, just no over-the-top diatribe against Brian Sabean.

    I would bet, however, that it would be a sabermetric analysis showing how lucky he was and how the Giants are doomed in some sabermetric way.

    The funny thing is that the Giants are built almost exactly the way BP's research in their book said a team should be built if you want to go deep in the playoffs: great strikeout pitching staff, great rotation, great closer, great defense, and for the cherry on top, you can add team speed, which is the only part we don't have but Sabean has been working on for years now (he stated long ago that team speed was something he wanted).

    With Burris, Ford, Brown, Peguero in the minors, hopefully enough will come up and inject some speed in the coming years.

    Great post, as usual, really love the way you write.

    I finally made it to a trophy picture opp, I got teary-eyed thinking of my father-in-law who was a big Giants fan but passed way too young, it was exciting but went so fast in a blink of the eye since they were moving the line fast (which I appreciated as the cold gale-force winds outside were giving me the chills).

  2. Also, thanks for pointing out depth chart!

    I also looked at the team audit and the offense actually had second best offense VORP in NL West, behind, of course, Colorado, in 2010. And was 7th in the NL. With average offense and our pitching, the Giants easily wins 90 games, should be somewhere low-to-mid 90's.

  3. Say, what is RP for BP? I count up 36.1 WARP on the Giants page, if RP is 54 wins, then that would equal 90 wins, which is the prediction, do I have that right?

  4. Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm

    That is what PETCOA stands for or at leat that is what I have heard on the street.

  5. I got a word right. That's amusing.

  6. I guess I did not make myself clear. I was wondering what is considered replacement player level by Baseball Prospectus. I recall that there is some debate or controversy over what BP uses, and I was asking if their level was 54 wins since the total WARP plus 54 equals the 90 wins they are projecting. I was wondering also if I got how we are suppose to use WARP correct as well.

  7. Could be. That would make sense because replacement is usually lower than that for other WAR systems, FanGraphs for example. If replacement is higher, Wins Above Replacement numbers would not be as high... Right? So if Pujols is the only hitter with a WARP over 5, makes good sense their replacement is higher at 54, as opposed to say 41-46.