Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mid-Season Accountability Review

The year 2009 has not been a strong one for predictions for the authors of the GRBG. We thought that Mine That Bird had no shot in the Derby, that the US was going to get waxed in the Confederations Cup, and that Zach Duke would implode. With that in mind, let's take the All-Star break to review our predictions, see what's gone right/wrong so far for the teams in the league, and consider forecasting what the second half has in store. Warning: our predictions, it turns out, makes our Derby prognostications look savvy. (El Angelo)

The 2009 PECOTA predictions have been the greatest spreadsheet-related disaster since Bernie Madoff first pirated a copy of MS Office 95. If we had any intellectual integrity, we'd shut down the blog. Luckily, we in fact don't have any intellectual integrity, so off we go. (Teddy)

12. The Spam Avengers (predicted: 9th)

Key quote from preview: "It's a good-not-great roster with a lot of pratfalls."--El Angelo

For starters, I'll note that somehow the 6 teams I previewed are currently in 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th and 12th. I leave it up to the reader to guess whether that's a curse or coincidence.

At any rate, the prediction has been kinda-sorta true, but this team has been markedly worse than I expected. What happened? Well, Jimmy Rollins has been a colossal stiff when not playing the Mets, and the bounty from the Drew/Upton-Milledge/Votto swap hasn't quite panned out: Lastings never made it back to the majors, and Votto missed a month with anxiety disorder. Throwing away that much firepower seems like too much to overcome. (El Angelo)

A team picking that high in the draft can't afford to eat its first round pick. Throw in a double miss on Votto and Milledge and it's crash city. That said, PECOTA actually got the neighborhood right for TSA--this far down things like managerial indifference start to swamp the data no matter how you pick 'em. (Teddy)

11. It's Enrico Palazzo (predicted: 1st)

Key quote from preview: "This perennial contender is a player or two shy of the top this year."--El Angelo

Perennial contender and PECOTA's pick goes to shit. What the hell happened? Three things. First, this team's pitching has utterly collapsed. For the last two years, this team has succeeded because of its arms, not its bats. Here's a chart showing their points earned in years past:





























Second, the hitting that was passable in years past has not been a strength at all, thanks to some killer performances and injuries from the infield. Russell Martin and Dan Uggla have gone from huge strengths at weak positions to just plain ol' shitty. When Carlos Delgado went down for an extended period, the team's hitting demise was set (to say nothing of Raul Ibanez's new injury).

Third, the owner appears to have taken the year off. While I can't say I blame him when the team is this poor, it's possibly the key difference between 11th and, say, 6th. Though given the top-heavy nature of next year's draft class, it's probably the smart move. (El Angelo)

SP-heavy teams are subject to collapse without warning, but this is ridiculous. Next year, rather than post the projected PECOTA winner we'll just send that owner a dead black cat in the mail and get it over with. I will say that the above chart points out the extent to which RPs influence the rate stats--it's nota coincidence that the team's collapse in SV gone along with a collapse in ERA and WHIP. (Teddy)

10. The Loose Bowels (predicted: 7th)

Key quote from preview: "The league's most average team."--Teddy

Turns out that was optimistic. How do you know you're having a rebuilding year? When your outfield consists of Colby, Cody and Ryan. Collecting women and Irish guys will not lead you to greatness. (El Angelo)

Those are the names of either a Little League outfield from San Dimas or a family of golden retrievers. (Teddy) Again, though, the PECOTA predictions saw a mash-up from 10th to around 6th, so the prediction was pretty much on the mark once you factor in trades. (Teddy)

9. wormcheese mousebird (predicted: 8th)

Key quote from preview: "If they can dig up some starters during the year that push them towards respectability, this team may be able to be middle of the pack; otherwise, it's a push for 2010."--El Angelo

This roster is really odd. They're doing fine in saves, runs, steals and OBP, and suck at everything else. Though for most of the year, their entire strength has been 3 closers, a couple of speedsters, and a guy in Petco Park. Looks like a push for 2010 is in order. (El Angelo)

Yep, those couple of starters never materialized. The power numbers should go up a touch over the rest of the year with Adam Dunn on board, though some of the SV might get flogged off as well. The upshot is that this team feels about right at this level, as PECOTA shockingly predicted. (Teddy)

8. Unenviable Position (predicted: 3rd)

Key quote from preview: "a smartly constructed roster with some minor flaws in the infield, and some health and development question marks on offense in general."--El Angelo

To do well in fantasy sports, you need not only for your players to do well, you need some of them to do above and beyond what's expected. Go to this team's roster and find a single player that's having a great year other than Ryan Braun, who's an established stud. I'll wait. (El Angelo)

Well, Mark Reynolds, honestly. But I've been killed by a succession of events that were independently predictable, but collectively extremely unlikely. Four pitchers (Ervin Santana, Wifey McBeater, Anibal Sanchez, and Troy Percival) have essentially been out for the duration, and my OF, projected by PECOTA as a source of strength, has cratered with Milton Bradley exploding, Alfonso Soriano imploding, and Eljiah Dukes, I dunno, deploding? Is that a word? It's my second perfect storm of suck in four years and honestly, I'm gettig sick of it. (Teddy)

7. Evil League of Evil (predicted: 4th)

Key quote from preview: "Here's my pick as the preseason favorite."-El Angelo

From what I can tell, this is pretty much attributable to bad luck, a couple of injuries, and drafting at the back of the pack for 4 straight years finally mattering. (El Angelo)

We didn't really factor in the bundle of joy which (understandably and correctly) distracted ELoE at the beginning of the season when he faced some injury and underperformance issues that he might otherwise have managed his way out of. By the time he came to it was fire sale time. (Teddy)

6. Wu Tang Financial (predicted: 2nd)

Key quote from preview: "This franchise has been only slightly easier to fuck than Iola Morton."--Teddy

Wait, you're saying that's out of context? Fine.

Actual key quote from preview: "We're a little more skeptical, though even we have to admit that the roster here looks talented and durable enough to make trouble."--Teddy

Random prediction: this team will still compete this year, barring them intentionally reversing course and trading off assets. I'm not saying for the top spot, but I think they're the 4th best squad in the league. (El Angelo)

Yeah, a little more rise wouldn't stun me either. They won't get that board spot, but they're a first division squad. PECOTA gets a little more time here. (Teddy)

5. Aroids Anonymous (predicted: 12th)

Key quote from preview:"They should be, at worst, mid-pack competitive most of the year."--El Angelo

Unlike Teddy, this is roughly where I thought these guys would be, but that's mostly because I had a lot more faith in Carl Crawford than my partner. Though the fact this team's competitive despite getting nothing out of Matt Holliday is impressive. (El Angelo)

Here is where PECOTA just starts crapping all over itself. I admit to having shared PECOTA's skepticism on Crawford; not much to say there other than I'm an idiot. The largely unforeseen overperformance of the Toronto pitching staff has also helped. But for a team that has made no major trades to go from a prediction of DAFL to a board-challenging performance is both impressive and a testament to the human frailties of Nate Silver.

4. Recalcitrant Cobbler (predicted: 6th)

Key quote from preview: "Probably not going to hit the board, but certainly one to watch."--Teddy

Even a broken clock is right twice a day. (El Angelo)

Woot! (Teddy)

3. Mission Accomplished (predicted: 4th)

Key quote from preview: "Even with the issues at closer, this team has enough firepower and upside to keep the owner in the top half of the league, and focused on this year instead of some amorphous future horizon."--Teddy

I'm a bit surprised how well this team has done this year--I had been shooting for a 5th-7th place finish. This is all attributable to Albert Pujols turning into a modern day Ted Williams; if you replaced him with Mark Teixeira, my team would have, without exaggeration, 11 fewer points. Now that I've added 3 closers for the stretch run...I'm not saying I can win, but I like my chances to stay competitive, barring a horrible injury. (El Angelo)

Yeah, everyone got this team right so far, though the massive post-trade transformation of the roster pretty much invalidates the old projection going forward. It sure seems like this team will stick around, though I honestly expected it to be a little farther up in the standings by now, so maybe I'm overrating it post-trade. (Teddy)

2. Flaccid Funiculi (predicted: 10th)

Key quote from preview: " This sure looks like a rebuilding campaign, and should be marked by a ton of activity in the trade market."--Teddy

Here's what I wrote about Will's team in our 2007 mid-season review:

I have given up trying to make sense of Gaynor's teams. I thought they would be good two years ago, and they sucked. I thought they weren't any good last year, and they were good. I thought they'd be near me this year, and they're doing great. In an effort to not kill his chances in the second half of the year, I'll just demur.
I stand by it this year, because as I noted in the comment section on this team's preview, in the past, we have misunderestimated Will's teams. (El Angelo)

Yeah, honestly, I fucking punt here. Edwin Jackson my ass. (Teddy)

1. Le Dupont Torkies (predicted: 11th)

Key quote from preview: "They should be in the mix, but will have to drive the hell out this team to get back into the money again this year."--Teddy

Putting aside PECOTA's horrible blunder, Teddy's preseason words were quite fortuitous. Our defending champ has done a masterful job in the first half of this season, riding a roster without a lot of superstars (are there any here besides Chase Utley?) and withstanding the losses of A-Rod and Joe Mauer to still be atop the league. Making it possible are some great performances on the pitching side, as this team has 52 pitching points (60 is the max possible).

Can this continue? There's not much room for improvement in the pitching side, but there is some room for improvement on the hitting side. There's also a chance to lose ground in hitting too; they could easily be passed in R's and HR's and sacrifice a few points, despite making some savvy trades this month. My guess? They finish the season in 89-91 point range, basically daring anyone else in the league to beat them. Good luck to all. (El Angelo)

I at least knew enough to question PECOTA here based on history. And while we're here, a note on manager involvement: the current top three in the league standings are all in the top four in pitchers' IP. Can't win from the bench. (Teddy)

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