“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
Of course Solomon was a baseball fan.
I compare you, my love,
to a well-turned 6-4-3 double play.
Your cheeks bulge with chewing tobacco,
your neck with ire over a missed tag.
Something like that, anyway.
The point is that we’ve once again arrived at the beginning of the baseball season, and that means it’s time for predictions.
Over at her blog, Jackie has called on a panel of experts to help her select this year’s playoff teams and eventual World Series winner. I’m pleased and honored that she asked me to be a member of the panel.
But such predictions, made before the season even begins, are a matter of guesswork. And so, once again, I’m turning to SCIENCE! to make my own.
For the past two seasons, I’ve used a formula based primarily on margin of victory in the first games of the season. In 2015, I achieved 40% accuracy in picking the playoff teams; last year I upped that to 70%. I’ve made further tweaks to my methodology this year, and I’m aiming for 90% or better.
Until now, I’ve been vexed by having to deal with pre-Opening Day games giving some teams a longer track record than others, while other teams have had their first games rained out. That’s definitely hurt my accuracy.
Fortunately, this year all of the teams that played Sunday had Monday off, so nobody’s played their second game yet. Unfortunately, Monday’s Tigers/White Sox game was rained out. So we’ll use the results of today’s game instead. Assuming, of course, that it doesn’t get rained out too.
So, enough background. What are the predictions?
Let’s start with the National League this year:
- East – The New York Mets are the clear leaders, thanks to their six run victory over Atlanta.
- Central – The St. Louis Cardinals are the only NL Central team to win, and that was only by one run. Clearly, it’s going to be a slow year in this division.
- West – The LA Dodgers are going to build on their 14-3 shellacking of San Diego and run away with the NL West.
- Wild Cards – This prediction system loves the Colorado Rockies. For the second year in a row, it thinks they’ll grab a wild card, while the other slot goes to the Washington Nationals.
As for the American League, it looks like this:
- East – Who would have thought it would be the Tampa Bay Rays taking the division? But a convincing 7-3 victory over the Yankees can’t be dismissed.
- Central – The Minnesota Twins‘ 7-1 victory over Kansas City puts them in the driver’s seat. But with no games played by Detroit and Chicago, we could have a quick change of predicted victors here.
- West – Many of the conventional predictions have the Houston Astros winning the West, and some have even penciled them in for the World Series. Thanks to their 3-0 clobbering of Seattle, my system also has them taking their division.
- Wild Cards – The Cleveland Indians will take the first slot on the strength of their 8-5 win against Texas. Both Boston and Oakland had two-run victories; as in the past, we’ll use their preseason records as the tiebreaker. That means it’ll be the Boston Red Sox on the strength of an 18-14 record. Unless, of course, Detroit or Chicago rearrange matters to their liking.
Interesting, wouldn’t you say? The Cubs won’t get a chance to defend their title, the Giants won’t win the World Series* either, the Orioles will be on the outside looking in, and the Mariners will extend their “missed the playoffs” streak to 16 seasons.
* Not that anyone expected them to: the last time the Giants won a World Series in an odd year was 1933.
Forget that “aiming for 90%” thing. This year I’m in the peculiar position of hoping my system implodes spectacularly.
But I’ll go with the predictions as they stand, subject to correction once the White Sox and Tigers actually play a game.
Who’ll be the World Series winner? It’s too early to tell. Last year I took a week’s games as my baseline and that worked well, so I’ll do the same this time. Thursday, I’ll have something of interest for the
hereticsnon-baseball fans, and my playoff predictions will go up next Tuesday.