With all the snow and the sleet and the rain and the dreariness that come with this spot on the calendar year — and by that, we mean Valentine’s Day — it can be easy to lose track of what’s really important: Baseball spring training starts today.
Yes, today is the official start of training camp for the Mets, with pitchers and catchers all reporting to Port St. Lucie. Tomorrow’s the official pitchers and catchers day for the Yankees, so, you know, expect the Mets’ pitching staff to be one day better than the Yankees’ all season long.
In actuality, most pitchers for both teams have been at camp for a while; the off-season gets shorter and shorter every year, and with baseball training being how it is these days, it’s likely most players didn’t take much of a day off at all. But now we can all see them, from Matt Harvey to Johan Santana to Ike Davis, who has been at camp for more than a week now. The main subplot in Mets camp will be the opportunity to sneak peeks at super prospects Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud. Neither player is likely to start the season in Flushing, but they’ll be up eventually; spring training is your first real chance to watch them and imagine a brighter future. Or at least a future that isn’t as depressing as the present.
The “start” of spring training, as mentioned, isn’t so much a start for the players as it is for fans to reset their internal clocks and accept that baseball is almost back. (The first spring training game is in twelve days, for example.) So, fittingly, Baseball Prospectus released its PECOTA projections this morning. For non-baseball-stat nerds, PECOTA is the revolutionary projection system invented by Nate Silver in 2002. (It stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm.) It is the best system yet for figuring out what a player’s going to do in a given season. You should go to Baseball Prospectus and subscribe yourself, but to give you a taste, here’s PECOTA’s projections for four key Mets and Yankees players in 2013:
Stats! Now you know it’s almost baseball season. If you close your eyes and concentrate, that smell isn’t the subway; it’s freshly cut grass.