Out There

Prediction Foolishness

Posted in baseball, fun, Uncategorized by Pete on April 4, 2016

Today was opening day for a few teams, and my beloved Mariners start out tomorrow in Texas, when King Felix will dethrone Cole Hamels, Adrian Beltre, and the rest of the Texas Ranger lineup.  As spring training winds up, all of the major media outlets put out their predictions for which teams will make the postseason.  Every year these kind of make me crazy, and there are a few common picks that I disagree with and I think I should post my contrary predictions.  And this year I’m doing it.  For example, everyone picked the Nationals last year to win the NL east.  As I recall something like 54 of 54 people at ESPN picked the Nats to win the NL east.  The problem is, let’s say a team is 60% likely to win a division.  Well then of course everyone should pick them to win, but then when you see *all* the experts picking them to win, it makes that team appear to be far more dominant than they really are.  And it pushes me toward being a contrarian and picking the teams noone else is picking but who still have a real shot.  Which is a great way to miss on almost every prediction except 1 or 2 that noone else made.  Soooo, we’ll see how this goes.

To start with, you can see USA Today’s predictions here, or what the heck I can paste in this  handy graphic:  

Quibbles – The Angels finishing over Seattle?  I see Anaheim as a 4th place team at best, and Oakland may finish ahead of them.  They have the best player of this generation, or maybe ever, surrounded by bad players.  Richards can be a good pitcher, but the rest of the starters look to be poor.  And in the lineup Pujols is a shell of his former self and is probably their 2nd best hitter.  I could see them losing 90 with Trout, and 100 if he gets hurt.  I see Houston as the clear favorite in the west, and Texas and Seattle have a high degree of volatility in their possible outcomes.  The Rangers could be undone by the back end of their rotation, especially before Darvish comes back.  Seattle has so many eggs in the Cano & Cruz baskets, and those players are aging and at some point the production will really start to decline.  Cruz was so far above his career line last year, it is almost a given that he will massively decline this year.  However, Cano looks primed for a bounceback year after getting over his health issues from last year, and those 2 things might be a wash, statistically.  If pressed I’ll pick Seattle to finish 2nd in the west, and yes my objectivity here is hopelessly compromised.  I’m putting the Astros at like 89 wins and the M’s at 86 and Texas at 85.  Specific enough?  And 3 or 4 wins apart really means it’s anyone’s division to win, especially if injuries crop up, or one of the team goes 15 games over .500 in 1-run games or some other fluky thing.

Over in the AL Central, I will admit that this is a difficult division to predict, but I would take Cleveland or the Twins before the White Sox, though I do think the southsiders will be in the mix to the end and have a real shot at winning it.  And I’m picking the Tigers to finish at the bottom with the Royals (yes, last years champs).  When I say the bottom I mean around .500 in what is a very deep division (no really bad teams).  The Tigers strike me as a brittle, top-heavy team that could win 90 games if everything goes right, but it is the very rare season in which everything goes right like the 2001 116-win Seattle Mariners.  I think the whole division will win 80-something games.  If forced to go with 1 team I’ll take the Twins.  Tons of young talent there.  Sano is a monster.

In the AL East I think USA today has the O’s and the Yanks winning too many games.  I guess one theme with my picks is I’m very leery of what I perceive to be the older, more injury prone teams, or the “stars and scrubs” rosters that carry a lot of risk in 1 or 2 great players, especially as those players age.  I see the Yankees falling down to like 74 wins this year, and the O’s to a record of 69-93.  So who do I like in the east?  I like all 3 of the other teams, but I’m going to go with Tampa.  I told you I like to be a contrarian.  They have the pitching depth and just enough offense.  I’m optimistic about Brad Miller.  Those guys really know how to do more with less.  I’ll take Toronto 1 game behind them, and Boston 1 game behind Toronto.  90, 89, and 88 wins.

OK, it’s after 1 am and I’m not as much of an NL guy so let’s speed this up.  I’m *agreeing* with USA today’s NL east predictions!  Not just because I’m sleepy but I do like the Nats over the Mets this year.  It’s kind of silly that almost everyone picked the Nats this year, then they all go bleeting over to the Mets side after the Mets did well.  We so easily overreact to *recent* events and give those events too much weight in our analysis.  The Nats have Harper, and I think Rendon can bounce back, they have good pitching.  The Mets have pitchers who throw hard and get a lot of Ks.  They are good pitchers.  But I don’t particularly love their bullpen or their lineup.  Plus they have the Wilpons as owners (terrible reputation) and it’s always nice to be able to root against those guys.

I can quibble with the NL Central.  In my biggest upset pick I’m going with the Pirates to break through at last.  Of course the Cubs are better on paper.  That is why everyone is picking them.  They have the best front office int the game probably.  Awesome young talent all over the place, yada yada yada.  But everyone is picking them, so I’m going with the pirates.  I’ll admit that it’s probably like a 1:4 shot or something but it’s a legit shot.  Like any team there can be injuries, maybe a sophomore slump or two, anything can happen.  I don’t see it with St Louis.  I know they are a development factory and they just seem to manufacture good players out of thin air (bricks without straw!) – which by the way makes me crazy as a Mariners fan, an org that is the polar opposite of this in terms of player development.  We can ruin top 10 prospects if you give us a chance.  The Cardinals can make all stars out of guys off of the top 100.  Anyway I’m going with Pirates beating the Cubs in a one-game playoff to decide the division with 92-94 wins, and the Cards finishing with 85 wins.  I like their pick of the Reds with 61 wins, but I’ll pick the brewers to win 59 as they jettison all present talent for future lottery tickets.

In the NL West I’m going with Dodgers first, Dbacks and Giants tied for 2nd like 5 or 6 games back, and the Pads and Rockies way, way back in 4th and 5th place.  I guess the Rockies are a better team than the Padres, though USA Today disagrees.  They’re both bad, but the Rocks have Nolan Arenado, whose hitting is eclipsed only by his superlative fielding.  Both teams seem to lack much of a coherent plan, as far as I can tell.

Phew!  OK, 1:24.  Tammy is still at work planning her lessons for the week (man those teachers are all overpaid, amirite??), but even she won’t be there much longer so I must wrap this up.  Here is a link to the fangraphs staff predictions.  Kudos to them for the amount of variability in their picks.  None of the divisions are unanimous as the Nats were in years past on espn as I mentioned above.

Here are ESPN’s picks.  You can google more from SI, cbssportsline, nbc sports (hardball talk), etc etc.  In scanning these, I guess I’m most contrarian when I pick the Rays, Pirates, and Dodgers.  I’m kind of surprised that the Dodgers were picked by so few, at least at espn.  They can kind of buy their way out of any mistakes they make.  I knew the Rays and Pirates would be a little out there, and the Jays offense makes me waiver a little on the Rays pick but I shall not be, I shall not be moved.  Predictions are a fools errand.  And this is quite true when it comes to predicting outcomes in sports, where luck (or chance if you prefer) holds far more sway than most of those connected to the game want to admit.  Foolish or not, I’m crossing this errand off.  On to other items on the to-do list, like blogging about Alaska’s budget problems, filing our taxes, and prepping for class tomorrow.

 

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