People who know me know I rarely plug products, especially fantasy products. Generally speaking, you do not need to shell out the big bucks for a fantasy subscription at Baseball Prospectus because, even if you understand the difference between SIERRA and WARP-3, equally valuable free information is out there for the taking. Between Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference to Minor League Splits, you can get everything from indexed CHONE projections to player-by-player Bill James projections for free. The power of the internet is glorious and free and like I say with closers, why pay if you don't have to.
I have found one exception to my rule, however. For the last six or so months, I have been using and contributing to THT Forecasts, which incorporated Brian Cartwright's Oliver system. You can call me biased because I wrote most of the Oakland player card comments and because I work for The Hardball Times, but Oliver is truly one of the most comprehensive and accurate systems out there.
In early 2009, Brian Cartwright compared the Oliver system to PECOTA, CHONE and ZiPS with respect to actual baseball numbers regarding 2006-2009 data. In terms of wOBA projection, "Oliver had the lowest mean error at .006, followed by CHONE .011 and PECOTA and ZiPS at .012 each."
Using just the 2009 projection numbers, Tom Tango took a look at the accuracy of all the popular projection systems. For 2009, Oliver ranked thusly in comparison to the other big names out there:
- Chone (63.8% accuracy)
- ZiPS (62.3% accuracy)
- Oliver (60.7% accuracy)
- Marcel (59.0% accuracy)
- PECOTA (56.4% accuracy)
If all THT Forecasts was was next year's Oliver projection, however, I would likely not be plugging the program (you can get comparable next-year projection systems out there for free, honestly). The reason that THT Forecasts is so valuable is because it is comprehensive. Not only do you get next year's projections, for example, but you get a straightforward (unlike BPro) six-year forecast for players. This can be monumental for Fantasy players in keeper leagues. The projections for the current season are also updated during the season (glorious in-season updates!), which helps you figure out who to buy/sell over the rest of the year. Here are just some of the features you get access to for less than $15.00:
- 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.
You can purchase a subscription to THT Forecasts for $14.95 by clicking here