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derrick goold thumbs through the new bill james handbook, looks back at the 2005 cards' prowess on the basepaths and ahead at their projected (per james) 2006 performance. the niche now exists (and don't all jump in at once) for someone to start evaluating the forecasting systems, which prominently include james, ZIPS, PECOTA, and idunnohowmany fantasy-baseball projectors-for-hire . . . . not to mention the various proprietary stuff produced by or (under contract) for the big-league clubs themselves. anyway, the field is surely broad and deep enough by now to spin off a supra-discipline, sabrmetricmetrics. a sabrmetricmetrician asks questions like: which forecasting system is the most accurate overall? which one is closest on hitters? pitchers? which most reliably anticipates young players' development, and which best foretells old farts' decline? ev'y important communications medium and academic discipline has gone meta; if sabrmetrics wants to go big-time, better follow suit.

or maybe not. forecasting guru ron shandler posted this disclaimer about player projections last friday:

I've been publishing player projections for the better part of nearly two decades. During that time, I have been made privy to the work of many fine analysts and many fine forecasting systems. . . . . We do have some success at predicting the future, and that limited success whets our desire, luring us into believing that a better, more accurate system awaits just beyond the next revelation. So we work feverishly to try to find the missing link to success, creating vast, complex models that track obscure trends and relationships, and attempt to bring us ever closer to perfection. But for many of us fine analysts, all that work only takes us deeper and deeper into the abyss.
puts me in mind of darren aronofsky's debut feature, pi -- anybody see that one? great story: a mathematician constructs numerical models to forecast the behavior of the stock market and stumbles across the true but unspeakable name of god, which forbidden knowledge places him in the crosshairs of a scary chasidic sect and even scarier buncha members of the cult of the investor class . . . . hope i'm not giving too much away if i reveal that there's a drill bit lodged in somebody's skull by the time the credits roll.

if you're more comfortable with an unscientific, numbers-n-hunches sizing-up, check out the series
at play a hard 9, which has an early look at all five nl central challengers -- separate posts for each team (scroll down). and if even that is too left-brained forya, head over to cardnilly for unvarnished bias, team by team: part 1, then part 2.

the hall of fame announces its 2006 inductees today. danup thinks sutter doesn't belong, fungoes reports some eaerly voting returns, diaspora weighs in on hall-eligible relievers' facial shag, rob at the bw shrugs. i weighed in on sutter a coupla weeks ago -- fine pitcher but no famer -- but in the end i don't feel passionately about who does or does not populate the hall. ability and performance fall along a spectrum; any line that you draw to divide a segment of that spectrum from the remainder is bound to be arbitrary.

the 26th man has been replaying the 2004 world series vis dynasty league baseball; cards took the 1st two in fenway, but a late rally in game 3 fell short and they lost 4-3. albert has jacked three dingers in the series; game 4 pits marquis v lowe . . . .