I wasn’t originally going to do this series of articles again for 2019. Expectations for the season were generally muted, with about two-thirds of fans expecting a losing record in our pre-Opening Day poll. But this morning, Jack nudged me in the direction of the projections, and there’s an interesting divergence in the figures. This is probably to be expected at this stage: indeed, it’s not dissimilar to what we saw last season. At this point, the projections are still far more significant than the actual results: for obvious reasons, the former diverge while the latter are “hard”, fixed numbers. Still, the difference in the predictions is quite significant. Here are the numbers for the four systems.
- Fangraphs: 7.6% (division: 1.5%; wild-card 6.2%)
- Baseball Prospectus: 20.3% (division: 6.6%; wild-card 13.7%)
- FiveThirtyEight: 22% (division 7%; wild-card 15%)
- Numberfire: 12.9% (division: 2.8%; wild-card 10.1%)
So, take your pick. That’s almost a 3x factor of difference between the pessimism of Fangraphs and the optimism shown by FiveThirtyEight. There are a couple of reasons for this. Fangraphs still is unconvinced this is a .500 team, expecting the 2019 Diamondbacks to be a 76.5 win team. In contrast both BP and 538 are more bullish, now projecting us to reach 80 wins. I am a bit confused by the latter “only” giving the Dodgers an 80% chance to win the division, considering they currently project Los Angeles for a 98-win season, with no-one else in the NL West even reaching .500. Fangraphs makes the Dodgers a 93.3% division chance, while projecting them to win a mere 95 wins.
I wish I’d made a note of the other three systems before the season started, but it’s interesting to see how things have changed over the ten games so far on Fangraphs, where you can check out the historical odds for the year. In the National League, the East and West have remained relatively stable. but in the Central, we’ve seen the Cubs’ poor start drop them by more than 20%, from pre-season odds of 64.2% down to 43.3%. In the AL, you won’t be surprised to hear it’s the Red Sox which have done something similar. losing slightly more than the Cubs: from 90.3% initially, they now sit at 67.7%. The Rays are the biggest beneficiaries, almost doubling their chances to 54.9%.
I’ll keep an eye on this as things go forward. But after what last September brought, I think it’s safe to say no-one in Sedona Red will be getting excited about a post-season spot until one is actually clinched...