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— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Return of YEPS: The 2003 YEPS 15
Riding into the Year-End Valley of Death
OK, kids, they finally gave me more than a day off at a time and that means that I could actually focus my eyes sufficiently to manipulate a bunch of tiny numbers in my YEPS (short for Year-End Projection System) spreadsheet.
Prior to that step, of course, was the selection of a group of batters whose performance in 2003 and/or some other element of “intrinsic interest” made them desirable candidates for what has become known as “The YEPS Fifteen” (any resemblance to the “Hollywood Ten,” “Chicago Eight,” “Fab Four”, or “The Magnificent Seven” is not only unlikely, it’s probably illegal).
This year’s list is a mixture of superstar, cult player, the heavily hyped, and the roundly panned. Let’s arrange ‘em into those categories, just for fun:
Superstars: Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Sammy Sosa
Yes, a couple of players show up on both lists. No, YEPS doesn’t have a separate projection based on these categories (though it’s tempting).
Here are the stats for these fifteen players (appearing in alphabetical order) through June 12th:
What YEPS does, for those of you who’ve either not been here before or have dutifully forgotten all about it, is to take these stats, combine them with the batter’s previous performance (usually the past two or three years of data), and use the aggregate performance level to produce a year-end projection.
It’s not a simple task to describe all of the steps involved in the projection (though they’ve been outlined several times in the past), but basically the system assumes that a player will perform close to the adjusted performance level for the balance of the year. Players like Jeremy Giambi and Alex Gonzalez, who are noticeably below or above their earlier performance levels, are expected to move in the direction that the earlier stats would suggest as their “true” performance level.
This is best demonstrated by showing the “straight projections” that the season-to-date numbers produce. These numbers assume that the player will keep the exact rate of performance being exhibited through the first ~60 games of the season over the entire year:
Looking at these numbers, you’d project that the long-ballyhooed Andruw Jones was finally going to have a season that would make his boosters clench their fists in triumph. On the other hand, Sammy Sosa looks like a major casualty. The Marlins’ Alex Gonzalez would figure to have an unparalleled “from out of nowhere” season, while Jeremy Giambi’s flop would be accompanied by the sounds made by the chronically flatulent.
Maybe the most amazing numbers here, however, are the ones associated with Adam Dunn. Instead of being the next Bonds or Thome, Dunn is looking like the missing link between Rob Deer and Dave Kingman.
YEPS makes a series of modifications to these projections based on elements of past performance, and by comparing the season-to-date performance to it. It’s predicated as much on the shape of the stats as the value of the stats, an area that doesn’t receive much attention from the current generation of number-crunchers.
As a result, YEPS comes up with some always interesting and surprisingly accurate year-end projections. Here’s what YEPS comes up with for this year’s fifteen:
You can compare the YEPS numbers to the straight projections and see how the raw numbers and the “shape” of the stats have been altered. We’ll look at several players in a bit more detail below, but basically what you see is that players who are performing above or below their established production levels will move in the direction of those levels, modified somewhat by what they’ve done so far this year. Compare Jason Giambi, Gonzalez, Jones, Mike Lowell, Sosa and Tejada’s YEPS projections to their straight projections and you’ll get a sense of this.
Over at the Big Bad Blog you’ll find some additional notes for some of the players on this list. (There are also a few comments that undoubtedly would not be deemed suitable for “Prime Time.”)
Let’s wrap up by looking at a question we pondered earlier in the year-what kind of season will Barry Bonds have after having the two greatest consecutive offensive seasons in baseball history?
What G AB R H D T HR RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS 6/12 54 175 44 54 9 1 18 41 57 27 5 0 .309 .478 .680 1.158 Straight 142 460 116 142 24 3 47 108 150 71 13 0 .309 .478 .680 1.158 YEPS 142 451 118 144 26 3 50 110 154 71 12 1 .319 .492 .724 1.216 BoY 276 74 90 17 2 32 69 97 44 7 1 .326 .501 .750 1.251
YEPS projects Barry to gain ground in the second half, as the balance-of-year (BoY) figures, extracted from the spreadsheet and shown below the overall YEPS projection, indicate. I don’t know if I actually believe that, but there you have it.
So if YEPS is right, Barry will lose about 150 points of OPS; if he stays at his current pace, that figure will be a bit over 200 points. In any case, it’s amazing to think that anyone could decline that much and still be the best hitter in the game.
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