Friday, March 31, 2017

How Will These Yankees Overperform and Underperform Their Projections?

In this transition year from the Elderly Empire to the Baby Bombers, most of us are just hoping the Yankees are still playing meaningful games in the last week of the regular season. They're part of a group of about 18 teams with a shot at a wild-card slot if more things break right than wrong. That adds a little more meaning to this annual tradition of picking which players will overperform and underperform. Below are my predictions of the Yankees that will defy their Steamer projections, for better and worse.

Last April, I successfully forecasted that Didi Gregorius (2.3 Projected WAR, 2.7 Actual WAR) and Dellin Betances (1.4 Projected, 2.9 Actual) would overperform, and that Brian McCann (2.9 Projected, 1.3 Actual) would underperform. My only miss was picking CC Sabathia (1.6 Projected, 2.6 Actual) to underperform in a season in which he actually enjoyed a decent bounce-back. As fans, let's hope I'm right about the overperformers and wrong about the underperformers in 2017.

All projections based on the Steamer system, which is neatly displayed on Fangraphs. Yankees Steamer projections are found here. (Some proof that Steamer is fallible: The system projects the retired Mark Teixeira to log one at-bat this season.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How Imaginative Are Vonnegut's Similes?

My high school English teacher once saw Kurt Vonnegut on the street near the author's home on the Upper East Side.

"Hey!" my teacher exclaimed. "You're Kurt Vonnegut!"

"Yes, yes I am," Vonnegut replied, before calmly continuing on his way.

That interaction endeared Vonnegut to me forever. I don't know if he was being rude or funny, but I always assumed the latter. Either way, I still find it hysterical, just like many of Vonnegut's turns of phrase.

One of my favorite aspects about Vonnegut's writing is his delightful use of similes. He rarely bothers with one you've seen before. I recently read the short story collection Look at the Birdie, and here are my favorite Vonnegut similes in that book: