The mathematics behind simulation games such as Diamond Mind now drive not only the strategy of baseball teams, but the media coverage of the game. An increasing number of sites have turned to using data and probability theories to determine how the very entertaining season will finish out and who will win the 2017 World Series. That includes Major League Baseball itself.
As we head into the stretch run of the season, the following goes over some of the predictions that data analysts have put together for Major League Baseball. The predictions also will prove interesting for baseball fans who enjoy the intricate numbers behind the game.
Major League Baseball
MLB has turned to the statisticians at FanGraphs for predictions on the season. The analysts at FanGraphs run Monte Carlo simulations to determine the probability of teams making the playoffs or winning a division.
Named after the gambling mecca in Monaco, Monte Carlo simulations attempt to model the probability of various outcomes in situations where there are many random variables. Mathematician Stanislaw Ulam developed the theory after playing many games of solitaire while recovering from brain surgery. He developed Monte Carlo simulations along with fellow mathematician John Von Neumann.
The simulation takes into account standard deviation and variance, among other factors.
Using this approach, FanGraphs developed the following predictions on the fate of every team. Here are they are, by division. These numbers are as of mid-September. It will be interesting to see how they turn out & who we’ll be watching in the 2017 World Series.
Here’s a look at the numbers for the junior circuit, which currently features one the best wildcard races in recent memory.
AL Division Winners
The division winners in the American League are fairly easy to predict, as all have large leads. FanGraphs gives the Boston Red Sox an 87 percent chance of winning the AL East and the Cleveland Indians a 100 percent chance of winning the AL Central. The Houston Astros already have won the AL West.
AL Wild Card
No less than eight teams still have a reasonable shot at a wildcard birth in the American League. According to FanGraphs, the New York Yankees are almost assured a playoff spot with an 85 percent chance of winning the first wildcard.
After that, no team has a more than 50 percent chance of winning the second wildcard. The top three teams in the hunt are the Minnesota Twins (44.1 percent), Los Angeles Angels (29.8 percent) and Texas Rangers (11.2 percent).
Still with hope, but fading hopes, are the Kansas City Royals (7.3 percent), Seattle Mariners (3.9 percent), Tampa Bay Rays (3 percent) and Baltimore Orioles (2.7 percent).
The National League has less of a wide open race. In fact, The Los Angeles Dodgers have already clinched the NL West division and the Washington Nationals have secured a playoff spot.
NL Division Winners
FanGraphs gives the Nationals a 100 percent chance of winning the NL East. As noted, the Dodgers have won the NL West. The only division in doubt, although not very much doubt, is the NL Central, where the Chicago Cubs have a 77.8 percent chance of finishing on top.
The NL wildcard race is not much in doubt, either. Both the Arizona Diamondbacks (99.9 percent) and Colorado Rockies (87.1 percent) remain far ahead of the pack. However, and this is a big “however,” the St. Louis Cardinals have a 6.8 percent chance of winning the wildcard and a 17.6 percent chance of catching the Cubs for the NL Central title.
Overall, FanGraphs gives the Cardinals a 24.4 percent chance of making the playoffs in some way. Since it’s the Cardinals, who are the Yankees of the National League, it’s worth noting.
What About the 2017 World Series?
The FiveThirtyEight blog, run by famed statistician Nate Silver, takes a shot each year at predicting all kinds of things. That includes election results and, of course, MLB champions.
As of mid-September, with the Cleveland Indians by far the hottest team in baseball, the site gives the Indians the highest probability of winning the 2017 World Series at 26 percent. The other three teams with probability percentages in the double digits are:
- Los Angeles Dodgers – 17 percent
- Washington Nationals – 15 percent
- Houston Astros – 12 percent
So those are the numbers as this entertaining season enters the final weeks. Now we can see how close these projections turn out in real life. And now you can obsess over this like every other baseball fan in the country who also loves simulation games.