Thursday, December 30, 2010

Early CAIRO Projections

The very, very, very early CAIRO projections for the 2011 standings have been released by the Replacement Level Yankee Weblog.  While these projections are fun to look at, we shouldn't take the findings too seriously.  There are still plenty of moves to be made, and several free agents are still available.  With players like Adrian Beltre, Carl Pavano, Rafael Soriano, Johnny Damon, and Manny Ramirez still on the market, this version of CAIRO's projections are still very much a work in progress. 

Additionally, the author of the blog points out the inherent limitations of projections systems.  Systems like CAIRO, CHONE, and PECOTA estimate a player's true talent level.  As such, they're incapable of predicting large swings in unpredictable behaviors like career seasons or extreme good (or bad) fortune/luck; hence, the reason why projections on certain players (or even teams) can significantly miss the mark.  This doesn't mean the system is flawed.  It only means that the player exhibited an unexpected level of performance during that season.  Furthermore, while projections systems can predict the number of games a player might miss due to their historical injury pattern, it can not predict unexpected catastrophic injuries like torn ACLs or rotator cuff injuries.  Therefore, projections systems can't predict how the loss of a specific player would affect a team's ability to perform at their expected level.

The early CAIRO projections currently have the Red Sox winning the AL East with 98.1 wins, the Twins winning the Central with 85.7 wins, and the Rangers winning the West with 89.7 wins.  The Yankees and Rays, despite having poor offseasons by some standards, are still projected to be among the best teams in the American League.  As it currently stands now, the Yankees would likely edge out the Rays for the wild card with 89.1 wins.

In the National League, the Phillies are the class of the National League, and are projected to win the NL East with 96.1 wins.  The Cardinals (90.2 wins) would take the Central, and the Rockies (85.9 wins) would edge out the Giants by about two games.  The Braves (88.5 wins) are projected to edge out the Brewers (87.2 wins) for the Wild Card.

Like I said, it's too early to take too much stock in the projections, as they'll be run numerous times between now and Opening Day.  Additionally, when it comes down to it, the games are played in the field, not the computer.  Last year, the Giants were picked by most projection systems to finish fourth (ahead of the Padres) in the NL West, and they ended up winning the World Series.  Anything can happen once the season starts. 

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