Before we delve into the 2014 Pirates, I wanted to review the 2013 Bucs a little bit. Before the season, I am a sucker for all of the projection systems. I bought six fantasy baseball magazines and none of them told me what I wanted to hear.
Baseball America projected Starling Marte to steal 8 bases and hit six bombs saying his prospects for 2013 are shaky. I threw it into the corner after reading the 19 homers for Pedro Alvarez. It’s sort of fun to read it now however bent the pages may be.
Back in March, I also dug into PECOTA or any acronym sounding projection system that some really bright person put together that might show our beloved Pittsburgh Pirates winning on one side of the bell curve or the other.
Speaking of smart (and really cool) people, David Manel at BucsDugout did a phenomenal job, as always, prior to the season on this very topic. Will The Bucs Be Better This Year A Final Look at PECOTA Projections
It wasn’t what anyone really wanted to hear–I think it was about 80 to 82 wins for the Buccos. I remember being so damn depressed after reading the post.
What David did was to dig into each of the PECOTA projections in order to give all of us baseball starved junkies a sneak peek at what would most likely occur in the 2013 season. It sure is funny to read now. Heh, not even Nate Silver’s system could see that season coming.
PECOTA is an acronym based on the name of journeyman major league player Bill Pecota, who with a lifetime batting average of .249 is sort of like a Pirates fan praying for production from Josh Harrison.
Silver developed it in 2002 and 2003 and then introduced to the public in the book Baseball Prospectus. Silver managed PECOTA from 2003 to 2009. Beginning in Spring of 2009, BP assumed responsibility for producing the annual forecasts. The first baseball season for which Silver played no role in producing the PECOTA projections was 2010.
For years PECOTA said the Buccos would suck. And they sucked. It was usually around the area in which the Bucs finished, but by the end of those seasons everyone was too damn depressed to even give a shit.
In looking at the most likely things to happen in 2013, the big misses for PECOTA were many:
Frank the Tank was a candidate to collapse. Wrong end of the curve Baseball Prospectus guys.
The performance of the Pirates pitching staff.
Pedro Alvarez was unlikely to improve.
Predicting it was most likely that Clint Barmes would have a bounce back year.
Obviously the cumulative impact of so many players having the season at the very end of the bell curve–the unlikely seasons strung together by so many in the Pirates pitching staff that led the team to so many victories.
The big hit for PECOTA was the production of Starling Marte which the system successfully saw coming.
But the most fun of all of it is going back and reading the comments. I think BucDaddy said it best in the comment section after the post.
I will listen to BucDaddy over Nate Silver every year now.
But this March when I read all of the garbage again, I am going to remember that it just doesn’t matter.
I am going to follow BucDaddy’s advice and think of Head Summer Camp Counseler Tripper Harrison (Bill Murray‘s) rousing speech to the campers.
And even, even if we win, if we win, HAH! Even if we win! Even if we play so far over our heads that our noses bleed for a week to ten days. Even if God in Heaven above comes down and points his hand at our side of the field. Even if every man, woman and child held hands together and prayed for us to win, it just wouldn’t matter, because all the really good looking girls would still go out with the guys from Mohawk ’cause they’ve got all the money! It just doesn’t matter if we win or lose.
IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! (all chanting) IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER. IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!…