Hi, I’m BeefLoaf and I think it’s time we have a heart to heart conversation with ourselfs. It’s time to say, SELF….let’s talk about our irrational hatred for widely available baseball projections. Let’s get down to the bottom of these problems we got and why we lash out at PECOTA and ZIPS (among others). Take a seat on my proverbial couch (it’s not a casting couch….dirty fucking mind you have!)….Okay….YOU READY!?!?!?
I think we probably need to start with a definition, so we know what we are talking about….and then we can get into what we really talking about.
That seems pretty straightforward and in the context of PECOTA or ZIPS or STEAMER or any other website that does a projection to lesser acclaim this definition is correct. NOW! What does this thing mean to you right now in your fit of anger about this sort of ting….
I think some of the revolt comes from someone in a far off place with a spreadsheet (or more likely using some sort of advanced database) telling YOU, about YOUR TEAM!! That really chaps people’s arses. Maybe it’s the term “data” that is so upsetting, because I often see and hear people try and nitpick the sometimes esoteric and often immaterial aspects of data driven projections that don’t work. There is a reason why these folks use statistics, data and historical comps to create these projections….
Data driven projections don’t skirt ALL biases, but they do avoid more than we can avoid using our mental model. It’s a good thing, clarity of thought……FUCK! Maybe it’s just the term “projections” that unnerve us.
All projections really are is a form of forecast. The people saying “Projections are meaningless” and “Projections are useless”, I feel bad in alarming you of this, but you are projecting things nearly constantly, but because you aren’t using SQL or Excel or R or a Monte Carlo Simulation, you are pretty comfortable with it. Let’s just think about RIGHT HERE. RIGHT NOW.
We’ll go with baseball first. Ever sit there during a White Sox game and think, “they should bring in Aaron Bummer to face the lefty hitter that is coming up 2nd this inning”. You are projecting the future performance of the two teams and overlaying your expectations. It’s a projection. Currently, you are probably sitting at home thinking, Luis Robert is going to be a fucking stud…even though you’ve never seen him face a major league pitch…..guess what? It’s a projection. Maybe you think, the White Sox should trade for Ken Giles from Toronto…guess what? It’s a projection…of future needs for the team and expectations of performance. You see how your brain works. It’s not just your brain, it’s everyone’s brain and forget baseball for a second.
Let’s go with some REAL LIFE projections. Do you drive a car? Guess what you are doing CONSTANTLY behind the wheel of a car. You are projecting the future actions of drivers around you, pedestrians, bike-cyclists, etc. Dats right!! Now you aren’t pulling out a spreadsheet to do it, although the way some of you mufuckas drive maybe you should, but nonetheless you are projecting stuff (and doing a reasonably good job).
Someone at home is going to say, YEA BEEF, WE GET IT, but these are SHORT TERM EXTRAPOLATIONS……PECOTA is trying to project an entire baseball season, which is a longer term projection with a million variables and that’s USELESS!!!! OH….you think we don’t project long-term as living walking almost fully formed humans.
Just holler at me if you did any of these in your lifetime…..
Chose a Career
Chose a College or University
Purchased a Home
Purchased a Car
Listened to Doctor’s Orders
I think you are starting to get the picture, those are all long-term projections with countless variables most of which are entirely out of your control as being an “n of 1” on this gigantic planet we call earth. Are you starting to get the picture? Do you see how projections matter? They are a frame work for how we view the future and help us clarify our thoughts by either making tangible decisions OR improving our mental model for thought.
BUT BEEF….WHAT IF I JUST DISAGREE WIT DOSE PROJECTIONS….
I think my guy Covey’s Burner says it best…
Now that hopefully you understand how projections effect your life I have 3 pieces of advice for yous to deal with projections in the future.
If you are the type that is easily annoyed by other people’s opinions, then just ignore the projections. Now, I don’t want you to ignore them on twitter like people who have never seen Star Wars, but have to constantly tell you how they have never seen Star Wars, ignore it. Don’t GO VEGAN on ignoring these projections. Just stfu and don’t look at them and avoid conversations about them.
Bet against them.
If you think a set of projections stink or a betting line is total bullshit, there is one easy way to clarify your position. BET! You can bet with a friend or at an offshore sports book, or hopefully Illinois will get its fucking head out of its own sphincter and legalize sports bettings everywhere and then we can bet on basically everything from our phones. That’d be joyous.
Use the information as part of your own mental model.
This is materially what I do. If I see the Fangraphs guys worrying about / discussing Luis Robert’s risk of being a total fucking bust, I don’t yell about it, I import some of that thought process into my thinking. Maybe not a full download, but enough to have me re-look at the situation and try to understand where they are coming from. If I see a team projected for a lot more or a lot less wins than my mind would think, I’m digging in to see what those causes might be and try to understand it, so my thinking is further clarified in the future. Now, if I get to the point of “this projection is total bullshit!”…then go back to NUMBER TWO above.