It’s time for THT Forecasts

Today, we’re launching the 2011 version of THT Forecasts, the next best thing to a crystal ball for understanding what’s ahead in the 2011 baseball season. Forecasts gives you weekly-updated forecasts courtesy of Oliver throughout the season, as well as weekly-updated playing time projections provided by our depth chart editors.

In bullet-point form, here are some of the things you’ll find on Forecasts:

{exp:list_maker}Oliver projections for the next six years for more than 9,000 major and minor league players. These forecasts include hitting, pitching and fielding statistics (the latter based on Brian Cartwright’s own play-by-play system), as well as wins above replacement (WAR) projections. You can read more about Oliver here.
Raw statistics for the past four years, including all the statistical categories listed above.
Major league equivalencies (MLEs) for the past four seasons, so you can see not just a player’s raw past statistics, but also how his numbers look adjusted for context.
Depth chart projections to tell you how much impact a player will make at the major league level this season.
More than 1,300 player comments from the best team bloggers on the internet, to give you a more subjective look at just about every player who matters.
A player watch list feature, so you can keep track of every player you care about on one page.
A fantasy value calculator that lets you set your league parameters, and tells you exactly how much each player is worth in your league.
Projected standings.
And all of the above, updated each and every week, from now until October.
{/exp:list_maker}
If you’re a fantasy player or just a baseball fan, there is no single better tool for understanding what’s to come than THT Forecasts. And best of all, it’s available for $14.95. If you’re ready to subscribe already, click this link. If not, feel free to browse around and see just how much Forecasts has to offer. We’ve made the player cards for the World Series champion San Francisco Giants free for your perusal, so you can take a look at what we have to offer before you subscribe.

It’s a sneak peek we know no baseball fan will be able to resist.

Using THT Forecasts

THT Forecasts offers a lot of features, so let’s take a tour around some of the most important ones.

Projections can be accessed in a lot of different ways on Forecasts. You can, for example, search for a player by typing in his last name in the search box on the left sidebar. If you type in “Greinke” and hit enter, you’ll be taken to a page that looks like this, where you can now click “View” to look at Zack Greinke’s player card.

At the top of the card, you’ll find our 2011 projection for Greinke, adjusted for his expected playing time. Since the season hasn’t started yet, you can see that his year-to-date numbers are all at zero, but overall we expect him to pitch 200 innings, going 13-8 with a 3.48 ERA*. Once the year starts, those numbers will start to change, and Forecasts will tell you both what we expect Greinke to do for the rest of the season, and what year-end line that should lead to.

*This article was written about a week ago, so some numbers referenced in it have since changed, and also of course Greinke’s projections will change when we update his team next week. We’ll have to update his player comment as well. Clearly, the Royals traded him at an inopportune time for THT Forecasts.

The next section on Greinke’s player card is his six-year Oliver forecast. This is a computer-generated forecast with no adjustments for major league playing time estimates. With Greinke, you can see that the computer is a little more optimistic about his playing time than our depth chart editors, penciling him in for 218 innings pitched in 2011.

The Oliver forecast is particularly good for two things: (1) You can see not just where a player is now, but how we expect him to develop over the next six years (with Greinke, for example, you can see that he’s projected to lose quite a bit of value between 2011 and 2016, going from 4.7 to 1.9 WAR), and (2) For players with no or minimal projected major league playing time, it gives you an idea of where they would be with roughly a full season’s worth of at-bats, rather than penciling them in for zeroes across the board.

After the Oliver forecast, we have a comment on Greinke, contributed by the fantastic Jeff Zimmerman, who warns fantasy owners to remember that with the Royals anemic offense, it doesn’t matter how good Greinke is—he’s still unlikely to contribute very many wins. (Note that player comments won’t be available for another week or two. We’re hard at work editing them right now.)

Following the player comment, we have three years worth of raw stats for Greinke. You can see how he progressed from merely very good to great before falling back last season. If you want to understand where his projection comes from, this is a good start. Better yet might be the Major League Equivalencies (MLEs) that follow. They’re not super useful for major league players, but for minor leaguers, they help put in context minor league statistics. Mike Moustakas put up some fantastic numbers in the minors last year, but as his MLEs show, that was equivalent to a .340 wOBA in the major leagues—slightly above average, but leaving much room for growth.

So that’s one way to use THT Forecasts. But there are many others as well. For example, I generally end up using the sortable leader boards instead. In the left column on the front page, you’ll find links to sortable batting and pitching statistics. Here’s what happens if you click on the “Sortable Batting” link.

The first page you are taken to is the “Rest of the Year” forecast leader board. This is exactly what it sounds like: These are our projections for the rest of the season, based on our playing time estimates as well as the Oliver projections. Right now, these will be the same as our “Full Year Forecast,” but once the season starts, this becomes an extremely valuable view for fantasy players looking to understand a player’s value for the rest of the year. Minor leaguers expected to get called up midseason will move up the rankings, while injured major leaguers will drop down.

This isn’t the only sortable view we offer, though. You can also choose to view “Year to Date” leader boards, which are pretty self-explanatory, a “Full Year Forecast,” which combines the “Rest of the Year” projections with “Year to Date” stats, and the “Oliver Forecast,” which is the computer forecast unadjusted for projected playing time.

What’s really cool about all these leader boards, however, is all the sorting and filtering options. Subscribers can filter the projections by position, league, organization and class. So let’s you’re a fantasy player in an NL-only league looking at catchers. You can choose to look at only National League catchers, and then, if you’re specifically looking for power, you can sort by home runs and see that we project Brian McCann to lead the NL with 22 homers. Or, if you’re a Red Sox fan, you can choose to select all Red Sox players, sort them by WAR, and find that Kevin Youkilis is Oliver’s favorite Red Sox, projected to accumulate 3.4 WAR in 2011.

Better yet, if you’re one who likes to play around with numbers, you can download any leader board that you create into Excel by clicking the “Spreadsheet (CSV)” button. That means you can download all the hitter projections in one click, or just the projections for Orioles first basemen in Double-A. Feel free to play around with them to your heart’s content.

Like a good infomercial, however, we’re not done yet. There’s another option for viewing projections, and it’s one that I find myself using very often (available for no extra charge if you call in the next 15 minutes!). That’s the “My Forecasts” page, and it carries updated full year major league projections for only those players you care about. If you want to add a player to your watch list, all you have to do is click the “Save this player to your Player Watch list” button near the top of each player card. Your watch list is then accessible from any page on THT Forecasts—just hit the “My Forecasts” button, and you’ll have projections for all the players you care about on one page. I follow my favorite Red Sox players as well some top prospects, but for fantasy players, this is an extremely useful feature for keeping track of your fantasy team.

There’s one other feature I want to highlight in this tutorial, and that’s our fantasy value calculator. For fantasy players, there is no better tool on the web for valuing players year-round. Near the top of every Forecasts page, you’ll find a “Fantasy Price Guides” link. It takes you to a page titled “My Price Guides.” Click the “Create New Price Guide” button, and it will take you to a page that looks something like this. The page allows you to input your league-specific settings—number of teams, league, positions, positional eligibility requirements, statistical categories, and so forth. Then, all you have to do is hit “Save,” and the calculator will instantly give you dollar values for every player in baseball based on our projected rest of the season forecasts.

Not only is this tool going to be hugely helpful with your fantasy draft, but it will prove indispensable in-season as well. Since our forecasts and playing time estimates are updated weekly, you’ll be able to calculate rest-of-the-season fantasy values all year long, and that’ll give you a leg up when trading with your league mates and making waiver claims. No longer will you need to rely on outdated values, or try to guesstimate them based on updated projections. All you’ll have to do is press a button.

Moreover, you are not limited to creating just one price guide—you can create as many as you want and even edit them, and every price guide you create will be saved to your profile. If you play in five different fantasy leagues with five different sets of rules, you’ll be able to prepare for all five drafts with a minimum of hassle.

I hope that with this tutorial, you’ll be able to navigate THT Forecasts with a minimum of hassle. And as always, if something doesn’t make sense to you, feel free to e-mail our one-man customer service department (me) at
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A final note

If you’ve read this far, I hope you’ve already subscribed to THT Forecasts after seeing all it has to offer. If not, though, I’ll make one more plea. The Hardball Times offers something on the order of five articles a day for free, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a cost to running the site. Besides things like server costs and licensing fees, we like to pay the writers a little something as well. We don’t charge for articles, and we believe in getting paid only for value-added content. If you’re on the fence about THT Forecasts, please consider that by subscribing you’re helping to support The Hardball Times, ensuring that we’ll be around for awhile to provide you with great baseball content five days a week, 52 weeks a year.

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Comments

  1. tony starks said...

    Hey David, just curious about the new tool. Looking at the sample page it seems like it’s geared for an auction league. Is it just that the sample your staff provided was for an auction league and the page would be different for H2H pts based leagues?

  2. David Gassko said...

    Hey Tony,

    There’s only one tool. Rankings for H2H leagues should be similar to those for auction leagues, though I suppose they wouldn’t be exactly the same (my understanding is that traditionally all-around players are considered a little more valuable in H2H than they are in roto). It would be interesting to think about how we might put together an H2H tool, but I’m not sure how different the rankings would end up being.

  3. RFK said...

    Happy to see the return of the forecasts.  But still no “Spreadsheet (CSV)” for the six-year Oliver forecast information?

  4. Stu said...

    Can the 2011 forecasts be easily exported to a spreadsheet?  Or is this always just an online view/sorting of the criteria that is applied?

  5. Alan said...

    Hi David,

    Do the Forecasts contain any adjustments for “career breakthroughs” and for age?  For example, Jonathan Sanchez’s projection seems to be an arithmetic average of the past 3 years, and therefore it doesn’t seem to reflect his breakthrough 2010.  Shouldn’t such breakthrough seasons (or disaster seasons!) be reflected in the projections?

    I’m no doubt missing something, but I thought I’d ask the expert…

    Thanks,

    Alan

  6. zenbitz said...

    David -

    I think the extra Phils wins from depth chart bug went to the Giants.  The individual projections seem fine, but no WAY they add up to 98 wins.  And 98 wins is obviously not a real projection.

  7. David Gassko said...

    To expand on Dave’s answer, all you have to do is go to a leader board and hit “export to CSV.” If you want the computer projections, just go to the Oliver leader board; if you want the depth chart adjusted numbers, just use the Rest of the Season screen.

  8. David Gassko said...

    Alan,

    There’s been a number of studies done on the issue, all of which have shown that a player’s future performance is best predicted by taking a weighted mean of his past number’s and regressing it to the mean. Giving more weight to career years doesn’t improve the projection; in fact, it makes it less accurate.

    Zenbitz,

    As I mentioned, there was a bug. The Phillies are now projected to win 95 games and the Giants to win 96. Oliver loves the Giants’ pitchers.

  9. Charlie Manuel said...

    You have my Phillies as the 10th best team in the National league this year?

    Yet you want money for these projections? SMH

  10. David Gassko said...

    There is a bug that is keeping the depth chart projections for showing up for the Phillies hitters. We’ll have it fixed ASAP, and that will knock their projected win total up a lot.

  11. dan said...

    what causes the discrepancy between recent years and recent major league equivalents for major league players?  Specifically why is there a different k/9 or bb/9 compared to what the pitcher actually accomplished?

  12. David Gassko said...

    Dan,

    Brian could answer this better than me, but MLEs are adjusted for park and league and put into a context neutral environment. So depending on the player’s park and the offensive level of his league that year, MLEs might not match actual production even for major leaguers.

  13. Kevin said...

    I created a Fantasy Price Guide based on a 12 team, $260 per team, 70/30 hitter/pitcher split and it valued 20 pitchers at $50 or greater – Roy Halladay comes in at $164.

    Can this be right?

    kevin

  14. David Gassko said...

    Kevin,

    There appears to be a bug in the guide when you set SP/RP requirements to 0. We’re looking into it right now, and it should be fixed soon.

  15. david gassko said...

    Mike D,

    The full year forecast is based on a combination of the players current season mlb stats and his forecast for the rest of the year based on our depth chart editors’ playing time projections. So its basically what we expect a players end of the season major league numbers to look like. The Oliver forecast is simply his computer projection.

  16. dan said...

    Is there a place where you can see prior forecasts to check vs. actual numbers? ideally most recent forecasts, such as 2010 or 2009.

  17. Pablo said...

    Hey, I just bought the subscription, and I think it’s a good value.

    One gripe:  I realize it’s still December, but there are some guys (like Miguel Olive) listed as having no organization when they, in fact do.  Those players, along with some guys (like Derrek Lee) who haven’t signed anywhere, don’t have any counting stat projections.

    I realize that Oliver can’t update every 10 minutes, and that it can’t make “offical” projections without having league and ball-park info, but for those of us using the projections for fantasy planning purposes, some “placeholder” projections would be nice.

    Great stuff, otherwise!

  18. David Gassko said...

    Not yet, Dan, unless you downloaded the projections last year. However, one of the things that we do plan to do at some point is add the old projections to the player pages.

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