A few weeks ago there was a comment asking me to elaborate on the poll results rather than simply take them down. With that in mind I posted the poll asking you to predict how many games we would win this season, and based on the tenor of the off-season I wasn't necessarily expecting a feel-good outcome. That's ok - that's why this blog exists.
First of all, for those of you who voted that we would win 65 or fewer games - I've contacted Google for the list of your ip addresses, and you're all banned from the blog. :-)
Of course, I’m kidding. Fortunately, a similar portion of you expect us to be in contention for the division title this season. Which brings me to the main point: making preseason predictions is an imprecise exercise. There is so much right now that we don’t know – injuries, performance, even roster composition – that will greatly impact the final standings.
For example, using their PECOTA system, Baseball Prospectus predicted that we would win 78 games in 2006. We won 88. In 2007 the system predicted 86 wins. We won 89. In 2008 the system predicted 78 wins. We won 63. Furthermore, recent World Series teams like the '08 Phillies, '08 Rays, '07 Rockies, and '06 Tigers weren't even supposed to make the playoffs! Here’s the thing: Baseball Prospectus, and particularly PECOTA, is about as good as it gets. They are VERY good at what they do. The problem is simply a massive amount of uncertainty. That may be the problem, but that’s also the fun.
Imagine a season in which everything is perfectly predictable, and I can imagine something that isn’t worth following.
On the other hand, imagine a season with a lot of unknowns – young players, new faces, unproven talent – and you have the real MLB season. Those unknowns create the great stories, the disappointments, and the achievements…the good stuff.
So, I won’t blame any of you for being pessimistic, but just remember that nothing is preordained. As for those of you who voted that we would win 95 or more games, I want you to identify yourselves. Optimism is a great characteristic.