General Red Sox Predictions and Projections

How Big a Bump?

In the Yankee Analysts' big prediction shindig, the lone blogger to choose the Yankees as AL East winners was William J., who defended his selection (not that it needed defending) in the comments:

I can understand why the Red Sox are so fashionable, but when I balanced both sides of the equation, I didn’t see the drastic shift so many else do. Sure, Crawford and AGon are great additions, but I don’t think people realize how good Beltre was. VMart was also very good. Also, too much is being made of Youk and Pedroia being healthy. Not only did those two play 175 games last year, but both were having career years. Boston will gain a bump from having them all season, but not as much as people are implying. Also, how Youkilis handles the switch to 3B could be an issue.

This is something I alluded to in the big post about Fangraphs' new aggregate defensive measure, but it was overlooked in the resulting continuation of the Jeter brouhaha, so I want to address it as a separate item here:

Is it true that having Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford on board will essentially offset losing the value of Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez, especially when considering the likely defensive dropoff from Beltre to Youkilis at third and Youkilis to Gonzalez at first?

General Red Sox Predictions and Projections

Scary for a Sox Fan

This is a first in my lifetime, and probably the lifetimes of most Sox fans. The crimson hose are essentially the unanimous World Series favorites. 

And when I say unanimous, I'm not exaggerating much:

  • Sports Illustrated's baseball preview has the Sox winning 100 games and a championship.
  • Jayson Stark picks the Sox to win it all — as do 32 of his 44 colleagues. The final ESPN tally: Red Sox 33, Phillies 7, Braves 2, White Sox 1, Giants 1, Rockies 1 (Yankees 0? Really?). All 45 ESPN analysts picked the Red Sox to win the AL East, and 42 picked them to win the AL championship (the Yankees, Rays and Chisox each had one vote).
  • The ESPN consensus was more split on postseason awards, but Adrian Gonzalez took home a comfortable plurality for predicted AL MVP, with 15 of the 45 votes. Robinson Cano won 12 votes, while Miguel Cabrera and Evan Longoria finished well behind with four. Alex Rodriguez and Carl Crawford took three votes apiece, while Kevin Youkilis grabbed two. Josh Hamilton and Mark Teixeira received one vote each. 
  • Jon Lester, meanwhile, nearly claimed a majority of predicted Cy Young votes, with 22, well ahead of second-place Justin Verlander (7) and third-place CC Sabathia (5). David Price received four votes, and Clay Buchholz and Gio Gonzalez were each named once.
  • Ken Rosenthal also has joined the ranks of the Red Sox believers.
  • And even the 10-man staff of the Yankee Analysts (almost) unanimously picks the Sox to win the division, with six of them also putting Boston in the World Series (though only three of them give them the crown. The Phillies get five votes, with the Yanks and Rockies each receiving one.)

I'm sure I'm missing some, but needless to say, this is pretty unprecedented. The Sox have had teams in the past that many thought were excellent and may even have been favored by a majority of analysts and/or fans (2004 and 2007 were both this way, as I recall), but this is an incredible consensus, one I think overrates the Red Sox in relation to teams like the Yankees, Phillies and even the Rays and makes me very uncomfortable. On the one hand, it's very exciting to go into a season with such a good team; on the other, there's essentially no room for the team to have what will be perceived as a successful season short of the ultimate goal. And as we all know, it's still unlikely the Sox get there.

One day left!

Predictions and Projections

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (YFSF Predictions)

Updated with picks from SF and YF. Updated again with picks from John and SF's postseason picks, which I neglected. Updated with Nick's picks.

Who ya got?

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog's projection simulator has the Red Sox winning the AL East, averaging 94 victories and making the playoffs 60 percent of the time. None of the most commonly used projection systems picks anything less than an AL East title for the Red Sox. Likewise, the Yankees are a unanimous second-place pick, averaging 92 wins in SG's simulations. 

If that seems low and almost boringly close (as it's frankly destined to be, considering that three of the projection systems are Marcel-based or Marcel itself, which is nothing more than a three-year mean regression, and those projections are then run hundreds of thousands of times, pounding out any abnormalities that inevitably will occur when the season happens once in real life), it may help to know that the average number of wins for the AL East's first-place team in the simulations was 98 and the second-place team averaged 91 wins. 

In other words, while the Sox and Yanks' win totals averaged out to 96 and 94, respectively, the winner usually finished about seven games ahead of the second-place team, and the winner more often than not (42 percent of the time) was the Red Sox.

That's the brainy way of looking at things. Others of us would rather just squint hard and throw darts at a newspaper and see how things look. One of those things is more conducive to a last-minute predictions post.

Without further ado, here are my 2011 predictions. In the past, all the co-moderators would email hurriedly behind the scenes and post all our predictions in one post. Rather than do that this year, I invite all my co-moderators — and of course everyone else — to respond in the comments with their predictions. I'll then sum up everyone's choices into some kind of consensus YFSF prediction. Ready? Go!

General Red Sox General Yankees Predictions and Projections

The Defense Rests

Fangraphs has added a helpful weighted defensive aggregate number that takes into account the four popular defensive metrics out there right now.

As a refresher, two of the three major defensive metrics, Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved, share a similar methodology — people from Baseball Info Solutions watch every play of every game, divide the field into zones and determine whether a play would have been made or not by an average fielder in that zone, and then credit the fielder with +1, -1 or 0 plays above average, depending on whether he made the play and how easy it was. The total figure is then converted into the now-familiar Runs Above Average linear-weights scale that is used as the basis for Wins Above Replacement.

There's still a lot of dispute about defensive stats and their reliability, and rightly so.

General Baseball General Red Sox General Yankees Predictions and Projections


A lot of interesting stuff has been buzzing around the Interwebs lately. Here's an attempt to distill it into one handy post:

  • You might have heard that Albert Pujols and the Cardinals will not be reaching an agreement before the end of the 2011 season, if at all. Re-signing him, even for the money he's seeking, still makes too much sense for the Cardinals, but if they don't, Gordon Edes and Peter Abraham both note the Sox will have a lot of money coming off the books and an open DH slot for him and Adrian Gonzalez to share.
  • That's obviously a little far-fetched, but it's not out-and-out crazy. Ken Rosenthal has that market cornered with his pair of preposterous trade proposals: Pujols straight up for Mark Teixeira (laughable) or Ryan Howard (worst trade idea in the history of bad trade ideas).
  • Joba Chamberlain showed up to camp "heavier," in the words of Brian Cashman. Heavier because he's Fatty McFatterson or because he put on some muscle, which is heavier than fat? "Heavier." Ah. Of course. Has Cashman always been this weird?
  • If you haven't been following along, the introduction several years ago of MLB's Pitch f/x has done more than just give statheads more numbers to parse (effectiveness of individual pitches, more refined splits for pitchers and batters, etc.). It's also given some data to what we've known all along: that umpires are not consistent in how they call the strike zone — they don't call the zone by the rulebook, they vary based on pitcher, based on hitter, based on catcher and even based on inning and count (x2). A simply terrific summary of the research and a huge step forward in determining the importance of catchers' framing ability can be found at Baseball Prospectus. Well worth the read.
  • Finally, some projected standings have begun surfacing. PECOTA has the Sox with baseball's best record, at 93-69, one game ahead of the Yankees and both teams ahead of Philadelphia. Every AL East team is projected to finish within five games of a .500 record. CAIRO has the Sox at 96 wins, also baseball's best record (by two games over the Phillies) and winning the East somewhat easily, by four games over New York. Only the Rangers reached the playoffs more times than the Red Sox in SG's simulations. CAIRO has all five AL East teams within four games of .500.
  • Rob Neyer, after wrongly picking Robinson Cano over Dustin Pedroia as the best second baseman of the coming decade, does his best to make up with Red Sox fans by picking Carl Crawford as the 2010s best left fielder. Brett Gardner gets a mention, but Neyer figures he's ticketed for center once Curtis Granderson's contract is up in 2012.
  • And, in case you wondering, the unofficial awards for the 2010-11 offseason are in, and the Red Sox cleaned up: Best Trade Acquisition, top grade in the division, First- and third-biggest moves, Most Improved Team, Checkbook Champs, second-best free agent signing, best trade (all from the previous link, Jayson Stark's annual poll of MLB GMs.) Glad we got those titles out of the way. We can all stop paying attention now, right?
General Red Sox General Yankees History Predictions and Projections

Running of the Simulators, Part 8 (Recap)

Last in a series (Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6, Part 7)

So what have we learned about the simulations' general accuracy? 

  • In 2010, the Yankees finished one game and the Rays two games shy of the average projection. The Red Sox finished off by six games, but no projection can — and no projection should — project a season like that.
  • In 2009, the Red Sox finished one game better than projected, but the Yankees overperformed by seven games.
  • In 2008, the projections generally punted. The Rays were 12 games better than projected, the Yankees were six games worse, and the Red Sox were three games better. Only the Blue Jays were projected more or less accurately.
  • In 2007, no projection was closer than four games off of the Red Sox' ultimate record, but they pretty much nailed the Yankees'.
  • In 2006, the Sox underperformed by three games, the Blue Jays overperformed by four, and the Yankees were seven games better than the average projection.
  • In 2005, the projections nailed it, placing the Sox and Yankees one game off, one either side, of the clubs' ultimate first-place tie.

Of the 16 AL East teams projected over the course of the last six years, I count the number of successes (two games or fewer) at seven — a 43.8 percent success rate. As for significant misses (four games or more), I also count seven. And twice, the projections were three games off, which is right on the border between being fairly close and pretty obviously not close. 

Then there's the other, arguably more important facet, which is whether they got the standings right, even if one team ended up significantly better or worse than projected. Being seven games off the Yankees' record doesn't matter nearly as much if the Yanks were expected to finish in first anyway, for example.

On that score, the projections got it right in 2005 and 2009. That's it.

They get partial credit for 2006 in correctly projecting the division winner but swapping second and third.

They missed entirely in 2007, 2008 (though correctly projecting the Sox to finish second, I don't count it as a success if you miss on the first- and third-place teams) and 2010, when all three teams finished differently than projected.

So successful, or at least correctly projecting the division winner, three times, missing the boat three times. Taking that with the roughly 50/50 success rate in terms of raw record projection, it seems we can be about 50 percent certain of the projections being correct in any given season.

As Hudson noted on one of the previous threads, it seems like we could randomly pick two numbers between 92 and 98, then assign the higher number to the Yankees and the other to the Red Sox, and we would have just as likely a chance at correctly projecting the AL East as 1,000 simulations of whatever top-flight projection systems are out there today. 

If we did that, we would get it right in 2005 and 2009, get the division winner correct in 2006, and miss it entirely in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Just like the projections.

But that doesn't make them any less fun, which of course is the entire point.

General Red Sox General Yankees History Predictions and Projections

Running of the Simulators, Part 7 (2010)

Seventh in a series (Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, Part 6)

And so we reach last offseason, the infamous "Bridge Year" for Theo Epstein and the Red Sox.

The Sox signed Marco Scutaro to keep shortstop warm for Jose Iglesias, picked up Adrian Beltre to play third on a make-good, one-year deal, and signed Mike Cameron to play center field while Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Kalish and Josh Reddick continued their development. 

The Sox parted ways with Jason Bay, perhaps looking more toward the 2010-11 offseason than was believed at the time, though the defensive upgrade to Ellsbury in left and Cameron in center was (or should have been) significant. The Sox also threw a plate of spaghetti at the bullpen wall to see what stuck. But the Sox also made a big-name signing, as well, locking up John Lackey. Other signings didn't make much of a splash at the time, but the Sox picked up scrap heap bench players Darnell McDonald and Scott Patterson, as well.

Finally, in the feel-good move of the offseason, the Sox signed Nomar Garciaparra to a one-day contract, whereupon he retired as a member of the Red Sox.

The Yankees, obviously didn't need to make as many moves. But they did trade for Curtis Granderson to replace the departing Johnny Damon, re-signed Andy Pettitte after he considered retirement (again), released Chien-Ming Wang, signed Nick Johnson to replace Hideki Matsui and traded Melky Cabrera to Atlanta for old friend Javier Vasquez, giving Brett Gardner room to roam in center. Bench and bullpen moves included picking up Marcus Thames and Chan Ho Park.

General Red Sox General Yankees History Predictions and Projections

Running of the Simulators, Part 5 (2008)

Fifth in a series. (Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4)

Coming off a World Series win and with a young core in place, the Red Sox were in a strong position to sit tight in the offseason, figuring out only what to do with aging veterans (but key 2007) pieces Mike Lowell and Curt Schilling, both of whom were eligible for free agency.

They resolved those questions quickly, re-signing both in deals the team would come to regret. Other moves were minor, aimed at reinforcing the bench and bullpen, as the Sox traded for David Aardsma and signed Sean Casey.

The Yankees, meanwhile, had a pressing need: to re-sign Alex Rodriguez, who had caused a stir when he opted out of his contract by holding a sign reading, "Screw you, Cashman!" as he parachuted onto the Coors Field grass in the middle of World Series Game 4. Then he slugged Jonathan Papelbon in the face. (He later explained: "Well, who hasn't wanted to do that?")

While negotiations continued, the Yankees also made some minor moves, signing LaTroy Hawkins and releasing Andy Phillips. The Yankees, in much the same situation as the Red Sox with their key veteran pieces, then re-signed Andy Pettitte to a one-year deal, Rodriguez to a 10-year contract and Mariano Rivera to a three-year deal. Finally, in a surprising coup de grâce that shifted for generations the balance of power in the AL East, the Yankees signed Billy Crystal to a one-day contract near the end of spring training.

General Red Sox General Yankees History Predictions and Projections

Running of the Simulators, Part 3 (2006)

Third in a series (Part 1, Part 2)

Coming off the close-fought but ultimately disappointing 2005 season, the Sox and Yankees had dramatically different offseasons, emphasis on the drama, at least in Boston's case.

The Theo Epstein saga shook Boston for weeks, as the GM feuded with Larry Luchhino, quit the team, left in a gorilla suit, was rumored to be advising his interim replacements while he vacationed in the tropics (with Pearl Jam? Is this some kind of weird dream where I end up naked on the last day of school?), then came back in triumphant glory, or something like that. In the meantime, the Sox traded four prospects for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, and it remains debated to this day whether Epstein had a hand in the deal, tacitly approved it or would have vetoed it had he been fully in charge.

In less dramatic moves, the Sox replaced Mark Bellhorn by trading Doug Mirabelli for Mark Loretta and dumping Edgar Renteria on the Braves for Andy Marte and signing Alex Gonzalez. In an effort to revamp the bullpen, the Sox signed Rudy Seanez and Julian Tavarez and traded for David Riske as part of the deal that brought in Coco Crisp (and sent Marte to Cleveland).

Of course, bringing in Crisp was necessary because the Sox' incumbent center fielder, Johnny Damon, signed with the Yankees. We won't go into all the recriminations and drama, but needless to say, there were and there was. It was the biggest move in a relatively quiet Yankee offseason, as the Yanks signed Mike Myers, Kyle Farnsworth and Octavio Dotel in an effort to address their own bullpen issues but otherwise stood pat.

That March, SG ran the Diamond Mind simulations, adding a third 1,000-run set for PECOTA, which at the time was actually reliable because it was still run by Nate "Midas" Silver, who is now the best political blogger not named Ezra Klein or Jonathan Chait. 

General Red Sox General Yankees Predictions and Projections

Running of the Simulators, Part 1 (2011)

First in a series

As you may know, we love projections here at YFSF, and even though the offseason is only half over, that seems like the perfect time to look at what our teams have wrought. Of course, this is slightly silly because neither the Sox nor Yanks have actually finished compiling their rosters — and other teams whom they will face throughout the season are even less along in their roster construction. That said, SG at Replacement Yankee Level Weblog has begun what is an offseason ritual we love to parse: the Running of the Simulators.

You can click through for the full league summary, and there are always a number of caveats that go with projections, not least is that they can be hilariously inaccurate (as we will see shortly), even when considering complete expected rosters during spring training. As he notes, "these projections will favor the teams that have essentially completed their 2011 rosters." Further, this is just one system, SG's own CAIRO. Previously, he has mixed as many as six systems together (ZiPS, PECOTA, CHONE and the like) and those systems have varied widely at times (as we will also see shortly). But they're fun, so without further ado, here are the early returns for the AL East:

American League                    
TM W L RS RA Div WC PL W+/- RS+/- RA+/-
Red Sox 98.1 63.9 856 690 54.6% 15.6% 70.2% 9.1 38 -54
Yankees 89.1 72.9 835 740 23.2% 21.7% 44.9% -5.9 -24 47
Rays 87.1 74.9 707 640 17.9% 18.7% 36.6% -8.9 -95 -9
Blue Jays 74.1 87.9 693 737 2.6% 5.8% 8.4% -10.9 -62 9
Orioles 70.1 91.9 723 813 1.8% 2.9% 4.7% 4.1 110 28
General Red Sox Predictions and Projections

I Predict: Eleventy Billion Wins!

If this doesn't set your innards a-tingle, then nothing will:


  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF, 4.2 WAR (as projected by the Fangraphs crowdsourcing project*)
  2. Carl Carwford, LF, 6.1 WAR
  3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, 5.9 WAR
  4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B, 6.6 WAR
  5. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, 6.0 WAR
  6. David Ortiz, DH, 2.4 WAR
  7. J.D. Drew, RF, 3.4 WAR
  8. Jed Lowrie, SS, 3.1 WAR
  9. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, 1.7 WAR


  1. Mike Cameron, OF, N/A
  2. Marco Scutaro, IF, 1.6 WAR
  3. Jason Varitek, C, N/A
  4. ???, IF/OF


  1. Jon Lester, 6.4 WAR
  2. Josh Beckett, 4.2 WAR
  3. Clay Buchholz, 3.9 WAR
  4. John Lackey, 3.8 WAR
  5. Daisuke Matsuzaka, 1.9 WAR


  1. Jonathan Papelbon, 1.8 WAR
  2. Bobby Jenks, 1.2 WAR
  3. Daniel Bard, 1.3 WAR
  4. Dan Wheeler, N/A
  5. Matt Albers/Rich Hill/Andrew Miller
  6. Tim Wakefield, N/A
  7. Scott Atchison/Felix Doubront

Well done, Theo.

General Red Sox Predictions and Projections

Gonzalez in Fenway: A Prediction Thread

When's the season start? In more than three months? Crap.

The big question for 2011, at least for the moment, is what kind of effect Adrian Gonzalez will see as he both moves from an easier league to a harder one and moves from a brutal home park to a generous one. It's worth noting that throughout Gonzalez's career, the National League parks he hit the worst in were:

  1. Dodger Stadium (.663 OPS in 190 PA)
  2. Dolphin Stadium (.799 OPS in 72 PA)
  3. Petco Park (.808 OPS in 1,650 PA)
  4. AT&T Park (.832 OPS in 205 PA)

Gonzalez every year was playing 99 of 162 games in three of the National League's best pitchers' parks — and performed accordingly.

Predictions and Projections

And Down the Stretch They Come

The Yanks, Rays, and Red Sox each have 30 games left on their regular season schedules, including a heavy dose of games against one another.  So much can happen from one day to the next that running hypothetical scenarios is admittedly pretty fruitless.  But as a fan I also find it irresistible.  I can't avoid looking one series or week ahead and thinking "what if they were this far back or ahead by then?" or "what is the likeliest route for them to get back into this?" or "by when would they need to shore this up to be ready and healthy for the post-season?", etc.  Indicative of an idle mind? Probably. A complete waste of time? Undoubtedly.  But enjoyable nonetheless.  So, doing my best to wear the fandom of each of the ALEast contenders I looked at their respective match-ups over this final month, and came up with the below.

General Yankees Predictions and Projections

Projecting the 2010 Yankees

Here we go with Round 2 of looking at how CHONE's WAR projections compare with the performance our teams received in 2009.

General Red Sox Predictions and Projections

Projecting the 2010 Red Sox

CHONE projections are out, which allows us to begin the fun task of seeing how our respective teams match up, given their various improvements. Unlike the Bill James/Baseball Info Solutions projections, CHONE has proven in years past to be pretty accurate, and it also provides enough data to allow Fangraphs to do a WAR projection, so there's obviously some more value there for our purposes — particularly given that both teams have made defensive upgrades that may or may not be captured in the pitchers' projections.

Here's a comparison of the Red Sox starters' 2009 vs. their projected 2010. If I get the time, I'll revisit these posts as additional systems release enough data for Fangraphs to figure WAR projections and see what the differences are. And I'll try to do the Yankees' projections later today or tomorrow.

Predictions and Projections

World Series Prediction Thread

It's possible that someone in the YFSF community–moderators and commenters–had the Yankees and Phillies as the World Series match-up when we made our predictions at the beginning of the season. Possible, but not likely. If my memory is correct, a few of us in April had an inordinate respect for the New York Mets and Arizona Diamondbacks. During that cruel month, there might have been a couple among us who speculated that CC Sabathia wasn't made for the post-season. And, of course, there was the previously reliable (if you ignored certain statistics and sample size caveats) prediction that A-Rod would stink up the joint when the calendar turned to October. I remember making fun of the Tigers for their choice of Edwin Jackson as a number two starter. Turns out, he was a legit #2. And I think there was a vocal minority that felt John Smoltz would be the key to a great fall and post-season run for the Sox.

The point is that we're human and we're not designed to learn from our mistakes. So let's do it again!

Here goes: