Prediction season is about to begin

Brace yourself, Orioles fans. The PECOTA projections are coming out next week and you know what that means: probably a prediction of last place and a losing season.

Before the Debbie Downers around here rush to agree, you should remember that the system seems to often miss the Orioles’ win total by a mile. The Orioles have won 444 games the last five years to lead the American League. During that span, PECOTA predicted a total of 371 victories. The system has predicted five straight losing seasons for the Orioles in that time, missing each time.

PECOTA, which stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm, is Baseball Prospectus’ proprietary system that projects player performance based on comparison with historical player seasons.

The system missed huge on the Orioles yet again in the 2016 season. The projection was for last place in the AL East at 72 wins. The end result was a tie for second place, with 89 wins and a wild card berth. Yep, not even close. Again.

PECOTA did project three of the six division winners last year, hitting on the Indians, Cubs and Dodgers. It is just that the system doesn’t work for the Orioles. Here are the PECOTA projections for the team since the 2012 season and the actual win total:

2012: 71 (won 93)
2013: 75 (won 85)
2014: 75 (won 96)
2015: 78 (won 81)
2016: 72 (won 89)

Maybe what Orioles fans really hope for next week with PECOTA is a projection of another losing record, right?

Schoop-ing out an All-Star appearance: On “The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report” on MASN yesterday, we briefly looked at Orioles that could be future All-Stars who have yet to make the game.

Schoop-Hitting-Gray-Sidebar.jpgI mentioned second baseman Jonathan Schoop as a possibility. Last year he hit .267/.298/.454 with 38 doubles, 25 homers and 82 RBIs. He had an OPS of .752.

At the All-Star break in 2016, Schoop was batting .304/.338/.509 with 23 doubles, 14 homers, 52 RBIs and an OPS of .847. That is one strong half of baseball, yet Schoop was not close to being on the All-Star team.

Working against Schoop is that second base is a loaded position in the AL. Players such as Jose Altuve, Brian Dozier, Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia, to name just five, play the same position. After hitting 25 homers and driving in 82 runs, Schoop ranked no better than 10th in the AL in WAR among second baseman last season at 2.1.

Which Oriole do you predict could make his first All-Star team this year?

Norfolk’s “All-Star” team: Speaking of All-Stars, the Triple-A Norfolk Tides have announced the final results of fan voting for the All-Harbor Park team. The team was voted on by fans on the Tides Facebook page as part of a year-long celebration of 25 years of baseball at Harbor Park.

The All-Harbor Park Team features a combined 22 major league All-Star appearances, four International League postseason awards and four World Series appearances. Eight of the 14 members of the team appeared with the Tides as a Baltimore Orioles affiliate, while six of the 14 appeared with the Tides as a New York Mets affiliate.

The final results included the following players being selected for the team:

*Catcher: Matt Wieters - Four-time AL All-Star, two-time Gold Glove Award winner with the Orioles
*First baseman: Christian Walker - Has the most home runs by a Tide as an Orioles’ affiliate
*Second baseman: Schoop - Has reached double digits in home runs in his first three major league seasons
*Shortstop: José Reyes - Four-time National League All-Star with the Mets, 2011 NL batting champ
*Third baseman: Butch Huskey - 1995 International League Most Valuable Player, highest vote-getter
*Outfielder: Dariel Álvarez - Has the most hits and doubles by a Tide as an Orioles affiliate
*Outfielder: Jeromy Burnitz - 1999 National League All-Star with Milwaukee, finished major league career with 381 home runs
*Outfielder: Ángel Pagán - 2012 World Series champion with San Francisco Giants
*Pitcher: Jake Arrieta - 2015 NL Cy Young winner, 2016 World Series champion with the Chicago Cubs
*Pitcher: Zach Britton - Two-time AL All-Star, led AL with 47 saves in 2016
*Pitcher: Jason Isringhausen - 1995 International League Rookie and Pitcher of the Year, 300 career major league saves
*Pitcher: Chris Tillman - Threw a no-hitter with Norfolk in 2010, AL All-Star in 2013
*Utility: David Wright - Seven-time NL All-Star with Mets, second-highest vote-getter
*Manager: Ron Johnson - Tides franchise leader in managerial victories, 2015 IL Manager of the Year.

The Tides will play their first game of their 25th year at Harbor Park on Friday, March 31 in an exhibition contest against the Orioles. Norfolk will open its regular season on April 6 at Charlotte, before starting its home portion of the schedule on Monday, April 10 with a 6:35 p.m. game versus Gwinnett.

Babe’s bash is tonight: The Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum will host another “Babe’s Birthday Bash” tonight. The event runs from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Diamond Tavern in the Baltimore Hilton at 401 W. Pratt St. right near Camden Yards.

Former Orioles Scott McGregor, Chris Hoiles and Ross Grimsley are scheduled to be on hand, along with MASN broadcaster Jim Hunter. They’ll be celebrating the upcoming Feb. 6 birthdate for the Baltimore-born Bambino, whose 122nd birthday is approaching.

It’s one of the top events on the Baltimore sports calender. I’ll be there and be part of a panel discussion of the Orioles. To purchase tickets for tonight’s event, call 410-727-1539.

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