Projections Update

ZiPS Buster - USA TODAY Sports

Earlier in the year, Alex Hall and I tag-teamed on a series where I looked at the A’s AL West competition, and he looked position-by-position at the A’s. At slightly more than a third of the way through the year, now is a good time to see how things are going for everyone.

We both used ZIPS projections by Dan Szymborski and posted at Fangraphs to do this. Szymborski's formulas had the A's a couple games below .500 collectively, and had some dour notes about the A's players individually. Put simply, the A's players didn't have much of a track record to go on, and most of projection is about properly weighting past performances when they are available.

Today, here is how the AL West is shaping up. This table is adapted from the one at the Projected Standings Page at Fangraphs:

Team

YTD Record

RoS Record (projected)

Full Season (projected)


G

W

L

G

W

L

W

L

TEX

56

35

21

106

58

48

93

69

OAK

59

35

24

103

53

50

88

74

LAA

58

25

33

104

56

48

81

81

SEA

58

25

33

104

50

54

75

87

HOU

58

21

37

104

43

61

64

98

This is compared to the preseason projections, showing win totals of 91, 78, 93, 74, and 57 going down the current standings. In addition, when compared to the other division standings, it puts the A's solidly in the WC1 position.

One of the things I've learned reading saber topics is seemingly a simple one, but it's important when someone is looking at projections: wins, or losses, are banked. That is to say, what's done is done and however the wins come, however improbable they are, nothing can take those away. Just ask the Orioles and their ridiculous 29-9 one-run game record last year. You can see above just how that works: with the A's already having won 35 of their first 59 games, they have significantly altered their preseason projections because of those wins. Conversely, having only won 25 of their first 58 games, LAA has altered theirs for the worse. What's more, and partially due to their record against LAA, the Astros are no longer projected for 100 losses.

The corollary to that idea is that regression may indeed happen, but it is regression to the mean. This does not foreshadow that if a team goes on a big hot streak that regression in the form of an equally long cold streak will necessarily follow in the same season. Indeed, in many ways, 162 games is still not a big enough to sample to measure what a team's performance will be over time. Just ask Jim Johnson, also of the Orioles, who blew three saves in a week's span after converting 35 consecutive saves dating back to last season. Forget that saves are dumb, the point was that he was successful at not relinquishing a ninth-inning lead until he wasn't, and that end was not predictable and came in the middle of a new playoff push for them (rather than last year).

Again, once the wins (or losses) are banked, there is not much a team can do about those past performances, and those banked decisions have to be accounted for going forward. Given that, as summer approaches, the A's look to be in a good place standings-wise. While they will eventually cool off and/or face better opposition, it's not clear when that will be. Here's hoping they make it farther than they did last year.

Next week I will look at individual players who are over- or under-performing their projections.

The A's will look to continue their reign of terror against hapless Midwestern opponents this evening at 5:10 PM. A.J. Griffin will oppose Kyle Lohse, in a battle of short vs. long hair at domed bad beer stadium. Lev Facher will host your game thread.

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