Boston Red Sox predictions: PECOTA, ZiPS and me


The Boston Red Sox prediction wheel is in full force and I will not be left out of the loop.

That time of year is upon us where baseball hits a soft spot – especially for the hot stove followers of the Boston Red Sox. The news starts to diminish and that leaves a vacuum that nature must fill. Enter PECOTA and ZIPS forecasting systems. I will not get into the mathematics since that is certainly not in my skill set, but I have long admired Nate Silver, Tom Tango and Dan Szymborski. But I have my own system that does not use complicated algorithms and proprietary formulas.

There are certain steps that must be followed to be an All-Star prognosticator and I have my own that I would suggest you follow religiously or face the consequences of complete and total failure – and, of course, embarrassment.

The key element is a hearty breakfast. Now don’t sell your nutritional soul to the legion of health nuts who repeatedly state “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Nonsense that has its disdainful roots linked to the Food and Drug Administration or whomever oversees our nutritional pyramid. Every meal is important as long as it is not your last. I understand from my diligent research that Nostradamus ate a hearty breakfast before writing his quatrains. I would suggest that corned beef hash with three scrambled eggs is an exceptional motivator for tuning the prediction senses.

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A second item is to clear the mind and an empty mind is essential. If you have read my articles you certainly are aware that I have an exceptionally empty mind. This is hard work. For some minds, it is similar to cleansing the Breakers in Newport with a toothbrush. For me? Similar to emptying the ash tray in your vehicle if you don’t smoke.

A third item that must be observed is in conjunction with the mind and that is meditation. This is not yoga (or Yogi), but a simple way of bringing tranquility, concentration and insight into focus. I am not a Buddhist, but I have occasionally paid a visit to a local temple since meditation does have restorative values and you can’t beat the tea and sugar cookies. I find some great emotional cleansing and value in it.

Lastly, I ignore Baseball Prospectus, media columns that “predict,” and projections on any baseball sites and any other statistical item that may end up dancing around my brain pan and inadvertently infecting my own performance. My ultimate pronouncement on projections is they are like astrology – fun to read, but don’t take them seriously.

Last season I wrote down specifics about selected players. Some would ignore my steps above and simply call it a wild guess. Luddites!

So I went back and did some comparison with just how I did with what was posted on FanGraphs via Dan Zymbroski’s Baseball Think Factory or I shall use the ZiPS designation. Some appeared eerily close and others were so far out they were on their way back in. On David Ortiz I had 30 HR and that matched up with the 29 posted on ZiPS. I got a visionary spanking on Handley Ramirez power numbers since I had 31 HR and 19 came in on ZiPS.

I hit a futurist home run with Pablo Sandoval and the math experts or computer simulation came up far short. Mookie Betts I was almost in line with his stats right down to steals. Allen Craig was a bust for Dan (AKA – ZiPS) and I called it correctly. Pitching? I had some that were spot on and others that were duds.

What I did notice was that my mental dart board approach actually was as successful as the most advanced systems ever formulated by baseball nerds. I certainly kept to the very basics and left it at that. No computing power with my TRS-80 for that adventure. Then there is the comparison to reality and margin of error. Margin of error. Exactly what is acceptable? Ten percent? Twenty percent?

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Anyways, this year I thought I would toss out my “predictions.” Just the starting lineups and real old school basics. The “Big Boys” and their mainframes and sophisticated algorithms have that territory covered. My “guesses” will be full season projections and not consider “lost” games. If you want hard numbers and metrics? Wrong place to look. No detailed averages, wOBA, home runs, ISO and yada, yada, yada.

I see in the hazy crystal ball an All-Star nod for Mookie Betts and the honor of being the only .300 hitter in the Red Sox lineup. Plan on Mookie getting into gear with 30+ steals. Xander Bogaerts will take a step back in average and a step forward in power. Ramirez will mash and Panda will be mush. Dustin Pedroia will stay in one piece and be a notch below the Petey of old. Jackie Bradley will barely hit .250, but will provide some nice extra-base numbers. Ortiz will come close to his standard 30/100 on the march to the HOF. Rusney Castillo will be dependable and consistent, but expect no star quality. Christian Vazquez will be a defensive whiz and provide some quality at bats. Blake Swihart needs to play and it may be elsewhere by July.

Next: Red Sox 25 in 25: David Ortiz

David Price and Craig Kimbrel look to solidify both the rotation and the bullpen support staff. Their infusion will bolster both spots. No breakout year for Henry Owens, but he will make the lower end of the rotation solid. Rick Porcello will go back to 2014 mode. Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz will be like a sink faucet – hot and cold. Eduardo Rodriguez will be making plans for a huge payday. The bullpen will be one of the best in the American League will five dependable arms. Steven Wright will be a big factor as a swing pitcher.

Later on I will make my “predictions” for just how the 2016 Red Sox will miss or make the playoffs.