A Look at Padres PECOTA Projections: Part I

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

A breakdown down of how the Padres will perform in 2014, based on Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projection system.

Our friends over at Baseball Prospectus recently released the 2014 edition of their PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm) projection system. PECOTA was originally developed by Nate Silver, who is best known for his election predictions at FiveThirtyEight.  There are numerous systems that attempt to predict the future performance of baseball players, but PECOTA stands out among them as the most accurate.

Basics

PECOTA projects player performance based on historical player seasons. It incorporates information about how comparable players' stats changed over time and utilizes MLB equivalents to aid in projecting players who are yet to player in the big leagues. Linear weights and regression are also used to provide baselines for each player.

In the chart below, you'll see column for Breakout, Improve, and Collapse. The numbers you see there are percentage chances.

For example, a Breakout score of "8", as in the case of Kyle Blanks, simply means that there is an 8% chance that he will outperform his career baseline TAv of .268 (Total Average, I'll get to that in a minute) average by at least 20%. The "44" you see in the next column under Improve, means that there is a 44% chance that Blanks will outperform his career TAv by even the slightest measure. The "6" in the next column Collapse, indicates a 6% chance that Blanks will underperform his career TAv by at least 25%.

A quick note on TAv: Total Average uses linear weights to assess batting performance. Unlike most other hitting performance metrics, TAv factors in situational hitting and reaching on errors. It also includes park factors and league quality. More information on TAv can be found in Baseball Prospectus' Glossary

I spoke to Baseball Prospectus' Rob McQuown, who added:

Comparables are weighted by how similar they are to the player in question, so Buster Posey's BREAKOUT chance is more highly influenced by what Carlos Santana did in his age 27 season than what, say, Juan Pierre did.

With all of that information in mind, let's take a look at how Baseball Prospectus projects the Padres lineup for this season. (Table below)

Pos.

Player

PT%

AGE

PA

AVG

OBP

SLG

TAv

WARP

Breakout

Improve

Collapse

Comparables

C

Y. Grandal

70

25

458

0.25

0.349

0.396

0.277

2.1

5

39

3

Chris Iannetta, Buster Posey, Jeff Clement


N. Hundley

30

30

188

0.228

0.291

0.377

0.248

0.4

0

39

6

Mike Macfarlane, Ryan Doumit, Ozzie Virgil

1B

Y. Alonso

85

27

593

0.266

0.335

0.397

0.27

1.3

1

49

8

Willy Aybar, Ryan Garko, Daniel Murphy


K. Blanks

15

27

255

0.231

0.314

0.401

0.269

0.8

8

44

6

Nelson Cruz, Shin-Soo Choo, Casper Wells

2B

J. Gyorko

85

25

569

0.255

0.309

0.45

0.278

2.7

4

37

11

Danny Espinosa, Neil Walker, Travis Snider


C. Spangenberg

15

23

93

0.23

0.269

0.306

0.219

-0.1

0

0

0

Eric Young, Cesar Hernandez, Emilio Bonifacio

3B

C. Headley

85

30

610

0.26

0.342

0.405

0.278

1.5

1

38

2

Eric Chavez, Morgan Ensberg, Ron Cey


A. Amarista

15

25

267

0.235

0.273

0.347

0.231

0.4

1

59

7

Nate McLouth, Jordan Schafer, Shane Costa

SS

E. Cabrera

75

27

566

0.25

0.317

0.34

0.252

2.4

2

51

8

Erick Aybar, Jason Bartlett, Tsuyoshi Nishioka


A. Amarista

15

25

267

0.235

0.273

0.347

0.231

0.4

1

59

7

Nate McLouth, Jordan Schafer, Shane Costa


R. Jackson

10

26

62

0.235

0.291

0.325

0.234

0.1

3

16

9

Angel Sanchez, Oswaldo Navarro, Josh Wilson

LF

C. Quentin

60

31

426

0.245

0.337

0.454

0.293

1.8

0

39

1

Brian Giles, Rico Carty, Billy Williams


C. Denorfia

15

33

179

0.263

0.316

0.387

0.264

0.7

1

33

5

Jody Gerut, Kevin Mench, Ryan Spilborghs


S. Smith

15

31

364

0.245

0.323

0.411

0.271

1.4

0

41

6

Ryan Klesko, Will Clark, Benny Ayala


K. Blanks

10

27

255

0.231

0.314

0.401

0.269

0.8

8

44

6

Nelson Cruz, Shin-Soo Choo, Casper Wells

CF

C. Maybin

85

27

565

0.247

0.312

0.375

0.259

2.6

6

51

3

Dexter Fowler, Franklin Gutierrez, Nate McLouth


W. Venable

15

31

556

0.245

0.307

0.419

0.265

2

2

44

8

Ryan Church, Ryan Ludwick, Raul Mondesi

RF

W. Venable

60

31

556

0.245

0.307

0.419

0.265

2

2

44

8

Ryan Church, Ryan Ludwick, Raul Mondesi


S. Smith

30

31

364

0.245

0.323

0.411

0.271

1.4

0

41

6

Ryan Klesko, Will Clark, Benny Ayala


A. Dickerson

10

24

65

0.244

0.28

0.394

0.25

-0.1

3

14

5

John Bowker, Roger Kieschnick, Scott Van Slyke

The column PT% simply indicates the percentage of the playing time at each position that BP projects each player will see. Because some players will appear in multiple positions, you'll note that certain players appear more than once.

Aside from TAv and Breakout, Improve, and Collapse, I've included PECOTA's projections for some statistics you'll find familiar, the slash line (Avg/OBP/SLG) and WARP. WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player) is similar to Fangraphs WAR and Baseball Reference WAR, but is calculated differently.

PECOTA projects the Padres to finish 81-81, so it should be an interesting season in San Diego. How do PECOTA's stack up against your expectations for the Padres hitters this season?

Ryan Potter also writes at Beyond the Box Score and Dynasty Guru. You can follow him on Twitter @80GradeWant

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