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Dave Cameron Newsbeat

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Cameron: Let’s Talk About the Phillies’ Playoff Odds (!)

According to Dave, Martin O’Malley might have a better chance of being the Democrat nominee.

See that flat line across the bottom? That’s the Phillies. Their 24-17 start hasn’t moved the needle, at all, on our forecasts expectations for their chances of reaching the postseason. Okay, that’s not exactly true; they’ve gone from a 0.1% chance of winning one of the two Wild Card spots in our preseason forecast all the way up to a 0.3% chance of getting to the play-in game now. But their odds of hanging on to the NL East? Still close enough zero to round down when displaying one decimal point.

This is, to some, puzzling. A question in my chat yesterday brought up the point that our system is far more bearish on the Phillies hot start leading to postseason success than others; Baseball Prospectus gives them a 2.3% chance of winning the division and a 7.6% chance of getting a Wild Card spot, for 10% overall odds of reaching the playoffs. FiveThirtyEight is even more bullish than that, putting them at 4% to win the NL East and 13% to reach the postseason. So why is our system so stubborn relative to others attempting to look into the same crystal ball in order to see what the final standings will look like in October?

Well, it’s worth noting that there are dramatic methodological differences between the way that we (and BP) do our forecasts and the way FiveThirtyEight is doing theirs. Our forecasts are essentially an amalgamation of individual player projections, summed up at the team level; BP does this same thing too, using their PECOTA projections where we use a mix of ZIPS of Steamer. FiveThirtyEight, on the other hand, is using Elo Ratings, which adjust up or down based on whether you win or lose a game, and how much of an upset that win (or loss) was relative to their pre-game expectations. While they used individual player projections to come up with their preseason Elo ratings, their in-season adjustments are based on responding to a team’s win-loss record.

Our system doesn’t care at all about a team’s actual record at any point in the season; it only looks at the individual player performances to try and ascertain whether there have been significant changes in expected playing time or production level to adjust the team’s expected record up or down. So far, ZIPS and Steamer look at what the Phillies players are doing and think “yeah, that’s basically what we expected.” Our preseason expected win% for the Phillies was .395; 41 games into the season, our rest-of-season expected win% for the Phillies is .396. And because they were starting from such a low baseline of expected wins, even their extra banked wins through the first six weeks don’t really change how often they make the postseason in our simulations; the strong start has taken them from 64 to 72 projected wins, but nobody’s making the playoffs at 72 wins, or anything close to it.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Dave Cameron: The Worst Transactions of the 2016 Offseason

#2: Orioles Overpay Aging Slugger
Acquire: Chris Davis
Cost: Seven years, $161 million

There’s essentially one defense for this deal; Peter Angelos knowingly overpaid for his star first baseman, but was willing to authorize additional payroll to cover the costs because he puts a high personal value on having Davis on his team. If that’s the case, and re-signing Davis doesn’t hider the team’s ability to acquire other players, then it’s not the end of the world, even if it’s not the best way to run a franchise. But with the Orioles facing a number of deficiencies around the roster, if Davis’ contract is held up as a reason the team can’t make other necessary upgrades, then this could be the most harmful free agent contract signed in years.

That there was no other real market for Davis this winter suggests that he’ll be very difficult to trade if things don’t work out in Baltimore, and given the track record of players like this, that’s a very real possibility. The Orioles could quickly find themselves needing to rebuild if 2016 goes poorly, only they’ve now saddled themselves with a significantly over-market contract right as they head into a period where they might need to start focusing on the future. Bringing Davis back could work if other upgrades are made and the team can catch lightning in a bottle again, but there’s a huge risk here, and the downside if it doesn’t work is too high to justify the reward.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 16, 2016 at 01:36 PM | 69 comment(s)
  Beats: dave cameron

Monday, February 15, 2016

Dave Cameron: The Best Transactions of the 2016 Offseason

#2: White Sox Find a Third Baseman
Acquire: Todd Frazier
Cost: Frankie Montas, Trayce Thompson, Micah Johnson

A year ago, the White Sox tried to go for it despite a flawed roster, and ended up struggling due to the vast amount of at-bats wasted on replacement-level scrubs. This winter, the White Sox have again attempted to push their chips to contend in the short-term, but those hopes got a nice boost when they somehow managed to convince the Reds to give them Todd Frazier for a package of talent that won’t cripple the organization. Frazier’s second-half swoon may have dragged his value down below a reasonable level, since teams saw him hit just .220/.274/.390 in the second half, but kudos to Rick Hahn for taking advantage and turning some spare parts into a +3 to +4 win third baseman. With Frazier at third base, the team has turned a black hole into a real strength, and while they could still use some additional improvements, the Frazier acquisition should go a long way to getting the White Sox back into the AL Central race.


 

 

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