The Things That You're Li'ble To Read in the Bible 

Yes indeed, the 2007 PECOTA projections are here. These are the numbers the propellorheads at Baseball Prospectus crunch to predict -- or more accurately, to estimate within a range of likely outcomes -- how both major and minor leaguers will fare in the upcoming campaign.

I don't remember what PECOTA stands for. There are other projection systems with fun acronyms: ZIPS and CHONE, for example. I don't know which is better. All are to be taken with some skepticism, of course, as many of you point out whenever I post numbers you don't agree with.

They tell all you chillen the devil's a villain /
But it ain't necessarily so

When these systems tell us that, say, Barry Zito will have an ERA over 4 in 2007, it's up to us to ask if there are any extenuating circumstances (other than "he's cool" or "he's a winner") that would put the projection to shame. Alan Schwarz of the New York Times says yes: moving from the AL to the NL tends to lower a pitcher's ERA nearly a full run. Ken Arneson of Catfish Stew says Zito's pitch selection and mechanics make him an "outlier" -- stat speak for someone who confounds general trends.

I'm exhausted talking about Zito, but I'll say one more piece: the Giants haven't had a bonafide chick magnet since J.T. Snow left. With his artsy prentensions and hipster/bachelor hair, BZ's target female will skew a little older than J.T., who specialized in pre-teen girls who dreamed of growing older and dating the high school's starting quarterback. But make no mistake: the Giants will feature his buns in as many marketing campaigns as possible. (Which may not be directed entirely at the female fan population.)

You don't think the marketeers think of this? Obviously you don't sit in the bleachers, where girls up to their mid-twenties -- maybe even older, depending on their alcohol intake -- comment loudly on players' backsides. (Mom! Stop that!) You know those pink hats aimed at the casual female fan? I predict a deluge of pink and other femmy frilly swag to help cash in on the girls who surf into the Giants Dugout and past the concession stands on a wave of Zito-inspired estrogen.

(You can already order a Zito 75 jersey, but not in pink. Yet.)

OK, back to the matter at hand. The murkiest field of all baseball statistics is defense, with a range of systems all measuring a slice. Since I don't know what to believe when it comes to defensive ratings, this approach seems as good as any: average out all the rankings into one number.

How do the Giants fare in these defensive metarankings compiled by Lee Panas? Pedro Feliz is tied for third among 3B. Ray Durham is fifth-worst at 2B. Omar Vizquel is third at SS (and Rafael Furcal sixth!). Dave Roberts ranks first....among left-fielders (he'll be playing center for the Giants). Barry Bonds is sixth-worst. Caveat: Lee only considers 2006 rankings in his metarankings. So no Ryan Klesko.

I take that gospel whenever it's pos'ble /
But with a grain of salt

Putting aside quibbles over the merits of Vizquel v. Furcal (see comments of yesterday's post), the Giants' strong left-side infield defense will be good for Barry Zito, who as noted by the Catfish Stew article referenced above is very good at inducing jam-shot grounders to third with an inside fastball.

Check out Lee's site Tiger Tales which I've added to my blogroll, for his ongoing defensive rankings. And remember, it ain't necessarily so.


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