One game in the books this season for the Red Sox, and all has gone according to plan so far. But what about the advanced metrics and prediction analysis? What do they say about Boston?
Despite an offseason that featured some bold moves by general manager Ben Cherington, not everyone is necessarily sold on the Red Sox competing in 2013, but according to PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm), the Sox have as good a chance as any team in the AL East to grab a playoff spot this year. According to PECOTA, the Red Sox have just short of a 40 percent chance of making the playoffs this year — after a 93-loss season a year ago.
PECOTA was developed a decade ago by Nate Silver for Baseball Prospectus, who’s become something of a celebrity in the wake of the 2012 presidential election, where he was able to successfully predict the voting outcome of most districts. Interestingly enough, PECOTA is traditionally viewed as finicky, and obviously doesn’t rely on chemistry issues — it disliked the 2012 Orioles, for instance.
However, the predictions that it’s seemed to have made for the Red Sox look totally reasonable, and has them still competing. For instance, it has Stephen Drew slated for just 320 at-bats, it has Ryan Dempster pitching well but not spectacularly, Will Middlebrooks is predicted to have a sub-.300 OBP and Jonny Gomes and David Ortiz are predicted to regress offensively.
However, keep in mind that some of the players being replaced weren’t so spectacular. While Cody Ross was well-liked in Boston, for instance, he was only rated at just more than two wins above replacement last season, so his value isn’t that difficult to duplicate.
That all being said, PECOTA predicts that the Sox will win 84 games and challenge the Yankees for the division crown. Of course, PECOTA is not a crystal ball and, as they say, that’s why they play the games.