How many “On Pace” tweets is Buster Olney on pace to get correct?

Buster Olney is the true champion of “On Pace” tweets.

If you’re not sure what that means, here his latest one:

What he does (or more likely has produced for him) is he takes the current players stats, works out the pace the player accumulated those stats and then pumps out a tweet saying what they are likely to finish with if they continue at that pace.

The question is, how often does Buster (or whomever produces them for him) get this right? This isn’t a “Ha! You’re wrong!” post, it’s more of an opportunity to ask how useful the “On Pace” thought process is.

So let us go back to the start of 2017 and check how the “on pace” tweets finished the year.

First up, here’s one for Jose Ramirez on the 4th May 2017:

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Category ”On Pace” for Finished with Difference
Hits 192 186 -6
Extra-Base Hits 78 72 -6
Runs 90 107 +17
HR 36 29 -7
RBI 138 83 -55
Total -57

The actual differences weren’t too bad, except for RBIs, which just shows how volatile and how crappy a stat it is.

Next, we’ll try the free swinging Ryan Zimmerman who had a fantastic start to the 2017 season, here’s Buster’s tweet on the 7th May 2017:

Category ”On Pace” for Finished with Difference
Hits 254 159 -95
Extra-Base Hits 135 33 -102
HR 70 36 -34
Runs 151 90 -61
RBI 184 108 -76
Total -368


Wow, thats a blow out. Surely the rest can’t be that bad?

Let’s try a pitcher next, here’s a tweet for Craig Kimbrel on the 11th June 2017:

Category ”On Pace” for Finished with Difference
K/9 17.98 16.43 -1.55
WHIP 0.47 0.68 +0.21
Innings Pitched 65+ 69.0 +4.0

This wasn’t a bad one, Kimbrel ended up continuing on his trend from mid-June to have a great season. Also, with relief pitching they pitch less frequently and someone like Kimbrel is less volatile. So let’s head back to the hitters and look and the Arizona Diamondbacks Paul Goldschmidt. Here’s Buster’s “on pace” tweet from 15th June 2017:

Wow, they are seriously good stats for Goldschmidt. That would have been the most runs, hits and RBI he’d ever scored in a season, matching his best ever HR season, one SB short of his previous best (32 in 2016) and seven short of his best ever walk total. What a year!

As before, we’ll now compare Goldschmidt’s “on pace” with what he actually finish- wait, what’s this?

The on pace figures have changed (odd that) and Buster sticks out another tweet (With extra stats). This time on the 23rd June:

Unsurprisingly the stats have changed. So let’s try to compare them with what he finished with. We’ll take the average of the two tweets, when it comes to the difference column.

Category “On pace” for (15th June) “On pace” for (23rd June) Average for Tweets Finished with Difference
Runs 140 146 143 117 -26
Hits 184 195 190 166 -24
Walks 111 104 108 94 -14
Steals 31 29 30 18 -12
HRs 36 40 38 36 -2
RBIs 128 142 135 120 -15
Doubles N/A 42 42 34 -8
Total -101

These were just a few examples from last year and as I said at the top of the post, this isn’t a chance to point and laugh at Buster. Mainly because he wouldn’t care, but it’s not really the done thing. We put our opinions and analysis out there and we never expect to get it right every single time. What we do though, is try to use different ways of expressing how good or bad a players season has been. Whether that is the “on pace” method, comparisons to the league as a whole, comparisons for that players career so far etc.

In my opinion, the “on pace” method doesn’t really add anything to the party this early into the season. It’s probably more suited to players post All-Star break, as we can get a real feel if they will beat old personal bests or — even better — break a current all-time record.

Feel free to keep enjoying Buster and his “on pace” tweets, but please do take them with a very large pinch of salt.

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