There was some chatter this morning about FanGraph’s World Series projections for the remaining teams in the playoffs. Some Orioles fans feel a bit slighted. Of the four remaining teams, FanGraphs projects the Orioles as having the least chance of winning it all.
— Avi Miller (@AviMiIIer) October 8, 2014
We’ll call that “not a ringing endorsement.” The site gives the Orioles a 38.6% chance of winning the ALCS. Again, the Orioles play the role of Rodney Dangerfield. But rather than excoriating those “haters” in the national media, I’d simply like to go back to a particularly telling FanGraphs piece from earlier this year.
Predicting baseball is silly. Everyone is terrible at it, including us. But as long as you know that going in, it’s still kind of a fun exercise.
They then went on to have exactly two of their thirty-one writers predict the Orioles to win the AL East and six to pick the Kansas City Royals as the AL Wild Card team. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not beating up FanGraphs here, just the opposite. They may not always get it right, but they get it. Baseball is beautiful because of its numbers, and because sometimes reality differs so greatly from the expected results.
Nervous about what those odds mean for the Orioles’ World Series chances? They mean everything. And also nothing. Consider that all the major projection systems agreed that hearts around Baltimore should have been broken by now:
- FanGraphs projected the Orioles to go 76-86.
- PECOTA projected the Orioles to finish in last place, at 75-87… 14 games behind the Boston Red Sox.
- CAIRO projected the O’s to finish in fourth at 84-78.
Also, note how the experts felt at the outset of the season:
- ESPN polled 44 of its best baseball minds, and only two of them predicted the Orioles to win the AL East. One picked them as the AL Champion. No one was brave/foolish enough to pick them to win it all.
- Sports Illustrated had only one of their six experts correctly identify the Royals as a Wild Card contender. None picked the Orioles out of the East (nor to make the playoffs).
- CBSSports had one four pick the Orioles to win the East. Their consensus pick to with the World Series was the Dodgers.
- Bleacher Report picked the O’s to finish in fourth place, in February.
I could do this forever. Plenty of smart baseball people did not correctly predict the outcome of the season. We should not be surprised if plenty of smart baseball people botch playoff predictions, as well.
In the meantime, the Orioles’ unlikely three-game sweep of the favored Detroit Tigers means that Birdland has a few days on its hands to sit back, read, and argue about the experts’ opinions. It’s silly, but kind of a fun exercise.
There are worse ways to to spend this portion of offseason.