Why Predictions Don’t Work In Baseball

I didn’t make any predictions for the 2015 season because I just had a feeling that it would be a strange year. Murray Chass, the former NY Times baseball reporter and the best baseball writer of my time, has posted the following description of doomed predictions for 2015.
From Murray Chass on Baseball..
Everybody loves predictions, that is, everybody but me. Everybody in my business loves to make predictions, that is, everybody but me. I don’t know what the obsession with predictions is all about, but I know predictions make the predictors look foolish.

Look at Sports Illustrated. That estimable publication last spring picked the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series. Memo to Sports Illustrated: The Indians will not win the World Series because to win it, you have to be in it, and the Indians won’t be in it because they aren’t in the playoffs. They aren’t in the playoffs because they finished the season with an 81-80 record.

The team Sports Illustrated said would lose to the Indians in the World Series isn’t in the playoffs either. That team would be the Washington Nationals.

To complete their futility of foolishness, SI was wrong with its predictions of all five American League playoff teams and two of five National League teams. Well, you can’t win ‘em all.

Like most prognosticators, SI simply picked the winners. PECOTA, on the other hand, takes predictions to an entirely different level. PECOTA is an acronym for a formula created by Nate Silver, who has gained notice as a political prognosticator and employee, first by The New York Times, currently by ESPN.

Now the property of Baseball-reference.com, PECOTA tells you not only where each team will finish but also what its won-lost record will be. You wouldn’t want to bet the rent on PECOTA’s predictions or projections, whatever they are.

I don’t know how PECOTA has done in the past, but I know what its projections did this year. Its worst miscalculation was the Kansas City record, projected to be the A.L. second worst 72-90 but turned out to be the A.L. best 95-67.

Poor PECOTA was at its division worst with the N. L. Central. Pittsburgh won 98, not 80; the Cubs won 97, not 82; St. Louis won 100, not 89; Milwaukee won 68, not 80, and Cincinnati won 64, not 79.

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