Tangotiger published the results of his annual Forecaster’s Challenge on Tuesday, and my Rotoworld projections put together a pretty nice showing versus several other experts and projections systems.
There were 22 entries in the challenge, including the likes of Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA, Bloomberg Sports and the Fangraphs community projections. Also included was a consensus ranking using all of the systems put together. The projections were judged in four different competitions, and I finished first, second and fourth in three of those. I was somewhere in the middle of the pack in the other. It was in the head-to-head contest that I thrived; put in a two-person league with one of the 21 other systems, I won 41 out of 42 runs.
Alas, when Tango combined all of the four contests into one score, I finished second to the consensus model. As it turned out, the average of all of the expert systems was better than any of the individual systems this year.
Now back to working on those 2012 projections. Anyone with an idea on how many homers Bobby Parnell will allow should drop my a line.
(If you want to see more, I reviewed a bunch of my projections in this space last month.)
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.
Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.
There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.
Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.