The Yankee blogosphere didn't let this slide even for one second, and SG from RLYW immediately found a flaw in BP's methodology and wrote about it. Over here at Yankeeist, we poured through BP's numbers and explained the flaws we saw here, here and here. (Many other blogs would have found this to be an onerous use of resources, but Yankeeist employs a crack team of statisticians.)
BP responded to the criticism and called mulligan, updating PECOTA not once, but twice. On the first update the Yankees wound up tied with the Red Sox atop the AL East. On the second update BP got with the program and put our boys back on top -- until recently.
It went by with little fanfare, but PECOTA has been updated for a 4th time! (FOURTH! We haven't even played a game or made a trade!) And, as if you couldn't see this coming, the Red Sox are now predicted to finish two games ahead of the Yankees, who are seen just squeaking by the Rays.
The BP projections bother me because no games are being played yet. As the season draws closer I'm becoming more anxious to see actual baseball, but I'm also becoming more and more hungry for a 1998-style defense of the 2009 title. BP is raining on my parade.
That's why I took a fine-tooth comb to their projections earlier. (For those who don't know, my first-ever post on Yankeeist took BP to task for missing badly on its projection of the 2009 Yankee offense.) Nevermind that it smells like a rat anytime a single projection system projects something different from all the others. I want to be supremely confident that the Yankees are going to win 120 games this season, at least until we go 14-17 in April. BP is a chink in my psychological armor.
BP's new standings can be found here, and with a subscription you can see their forecasts for the Yankees here. My biggest criticism with the projections at this point is that they've been updated 4 times. Which prediction is correct? Why so many updates?
Beyond that, perusing the numbers quickly, my previous comments stand. BP is bad at predicting superstars and aging players, and the Yankees have both. As a result, even though the 2009 team scored 915 runs BP projects the 2010 team to score 821 runs, nearly 100 fewer. That number seems low, but PECOTA is conservative (bad?) when it comes to offensive projections.
The real difference between the Yankees and Red Sox projections are their pitching staffs. PECOTA simply does not like some of our pitchers. Mariano Rivera is now projected to have a decent season (earlier projections have Mo putting up his worst ever numbers), but PECOTA is down on Andy Pettitte, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes. All three are projected to regress from last season; Pettitte is seen posting a 4.71 ERA. Joba Chamberlain, meanwhile, is seen having a solid season, but only pitching 138 innings. Javier Vazquez, on the other hand, is projected to be nearly as dominant as CC.
For my part, I believe the CHONE, CAIRO and MARCEL projections. Not only do I find BP's general status as an outlier hard to believe, but I also don't buy the level of regression they are predicting for so many Yankees. They forecast such regressions last year and got it wrong. When they get it right this team is pretty much over because the entire core four will have lost all its value. I'm not there yet. That said, all of this is just posturing until they start playing the games.