Survey says?!?!?

Before the season began, THT staff members took their best shots at predicting this year’s standings. With baseball guaranteeing us anything but guarantees, of course we all whiffed on at least some of our guesses. The question is, who did the best at minimizing their mistakes?

To arrive at a winner, each entrant received a point for each spot in the standings his prediction differed from the actual results. The person with the lowest score won. (If two teams tied, I split their spots in the standings. For example, the Orioles and Yankees tied for third/fourth in the AL East, so I count each of them at position 3.5 when calculating everyone’s score.) And the results were:

                      AL East   AL Cent   AL West   NL East   NL Cent   NL West   TOTAL
Jeffrey Gross             9         2         4         2         4         1       22
Matt Hunter               9         2         4         2         6         1       24
Shane Tourtellotte        8         2         4         4         4         3       25
Dave Studeman             9         6         4         2         2         3       26
Chris Jaffe               3         6         4         6         4         4       27
Greg Simons               8         4         4         4         4         3       27
Doug Wachter              8         2         4         2         8         5       29
Jason Linden              8         4         4         4         6         3       29
Dan Lependorf             9         6         2         4         4         5       30
James Gentile             9         6         4         4         4         3       30
Joe Distelheim            9         4         4         4         6         3       30
Sam Hendrickson           9         6         2         4         4         5       30
Jack Weiland              8         2         4         6         8         3       31
Bruce Markusen            9         6         4         4         4         5       32
Matt Filippi             11         4         4         4         6         3       32
Paul Francis Sullivan     9         6         4         6         2         6       33
Brad Johnson              9         6         4         4         6         5       34
John Barten               9         6         6         2         6         5       34 
Mike Clark               11         6         4         6         4         3       34
Nick Fleder               9         4         8         4         4         5       34
Steve Treder              9         6         4         4         6         5       34

Average                 8.7       4.6       4.1       3.9       4.9       3.8      5.0

Jeffrey Gross is this year’s winner, with a better prediction of the National League Central pushing him ahead of Matt Hunter. At the bottom of the standings were five individuals whose names can be seen above, so there’s no need to call attention to them further.

There were a few specific performances worth noting. Jeffrey and Matt came within a scoring decision of being the only ones to nail a division completely. With San Diego and San Francisco tying for third/fourth in the NL West, it could be argued that these two gents predicted the division perfectly. If you want to consider their submissions spot-on, I won’t dispute you too vigorously.

Over in the American League East, Toronto’s flop was a surprise to just about everyone, with the exception of Chris Jaffe. Chris saw the Blue Jays’ flaw and pinned them for the cellar, leading to him dominating the division with only three points, five fewer than anyone else.

Collectively, however, we tanked the AL East, missing the mark almost twice as badly as any other division. All five of the other divisions were within a point of each other, with THTers doing best with the NL West.

Our overall division average of 5.0 points means that we typically missed a team’s finish by one position. Is that good, bad, mediocre? Honestly, I don’t know. Since this was the first year of six, five-team divisions, we’ll need more data.

Baseball is full of surprises. It may be something as brief as an amazing pitch or a huge game, or something long-lasting like an incredible streak or a shocking season. The beauty is that we get to witness it all every spring through fall, year after year.

I’ll be back soon to wrap up our performances at predicting the postseason and the individual awards. And we’ll be back next year to take our best shot at prognosticating this crazy game we all love.

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Greg has been a writer and editor for both The Hardball Times website and Annual since 2010. In his dreams, he's the second coming of Ozzie Smith. Please don't wake him up.
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How did you do?  Maybe compare against purely random picks which should be equal to picking everyone to finish third which should yield 6 points.  So yeah, the AL East was tough for people with brains.  With Houston and Miami generally considered pre-season locks, you could call those four team divisions that would be 4 random points, which was what you averaged over them.  So the one place you shined was NL West where probably everyone but SD had someone picking them to win.

dennis Bedard
dennis Bedard

This is great stuff.  When I was a kid, my favorite Sporting News issue was the one where the paper predicted the outcome of each league.  I took the predictions seriously, almost as solid as the end of season results.  I thought the writers possessed a unique prescience that allowed them to divine what would happen on September 30th.  No matter what they said about a team I liked, there was eternal optimism.  If my team was predicted to be first, that only showed how smart they were.  If not, predictions are, well, meaningless.  Thanks for the flashback.

Jeffrey Gross
Jeffrey Gross

Everyone can ignore that whole Braves-Rays WS prediction


I think for measuring how you did the ‘default’ prediction would simply be picking each team to finish exaclty where they finished the year before.