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Last time out we looked at the HACKING MASS results, so this time we’ll take a look at the other Baseball Prospectus fantasy contest, Predictatron. Our own Jim Baker was kind enough to share this contest idea with the tech crew, and the first annual contest has gotten rave reviews from staff and readers alike.

Previously, we looked at the distribution of picks and got into considerable statistical jargon. This time, we’ll keep it lighter and look at how the contest actually transpired. In case you’re not familiar with Predictatron, check out the rules. If you had your own entry, you can view the details of your ballot here.

Here is an example of the detailed ballots, this one for our winner, Greg Ferguson:

Team Your Guess Projected Difference Prediction Notes Score Playoff Points
ANA 92 95 3 Made Playoffs -3 +2
ARI 68 77 9 -9
ATL 94 90 4 Division Series Winner -4 +2
BAL 81 74 7 -7
BOS 99 95 4 World Series Champion -4 +2
CHA 81 99 18 -18
CHN 86 79 7 -7
CIN 67 73 6 -6
CLE 84 93 9 -9
COL 69 67 2 -4
DET 74 71 3 -3
FLO 92 83 9 League Champion -9
HOU 87 89 2 -2
KCA 56 56 0 0
LAN 78 71 7 -7
MIL 79 81 2 -2
MIN 89 83 6 Made Playoffs -6
NYA 98 95 3 Division Series Winner -3 +2
NYN 83 83 0 0
OAK 87 88 1 -1
PHI 86 88 2 -2
PIT 59 67 8 -8
SDN 87 82 5 Made Playoffs -5 +2
SEA 74 69 5 -5
SFN 82 75 7 -7
SLN 93 100 7 Made Playoffs -7 +2
TBA 67 67 0 0
TEX 81 79 2 -2
TOR 85 80 5 -5
WAS 72 81 9 -9
TOTAL SCORE: +1000 -154 +12

Greg’s score: 1000 – 154 + 12 = 858

As you can tell, Greg did an excellent job predicting team wins this year. The only team he was more than 9 wins off for was the White Sox (as we’ll see, that was fairly common this year). Greg notably had both of his mortal lock picks, Kansas City and Tampa Bay, pegged exactly right. He did make up a few points in the playoffs, getting 6 of the 8 playoff teams correct. Those 12 points were enough to propel him to victory, holding off the second place finisher, who earned 18 points for correct playoff predictions.

In talking to Greg, he revealed that he didn’t have any secret formula. He entered originally as a way to procrastinate at work, and forgot about the competition for much of the year. Checking back into it, he found himself in first place at the start of the playoffs. As we noted before, his playoff bracket was good for 12 points, getting 6 of the first round teams correct. He’s planning on using his winnings toward travel out to California’s East Bay to visit his parents over the holidays. Happy travels, Greg.

As a point of comparison, here is a list of how far off the median win guesses were (MGD stands for Median Guess Difference):


Team    MGD
ANA     5
ARI     5
ATL     2
BAL     6
BOS     2
CHA     20
CHN     9
CIN     2
CLE     8
COL     2
DET     5
FLO     3
HOU     9
KCA     9
LAN     17
MIL     6
MIN     7
NYA     0
NYN     1
OAK     1
PHI     0
PIT     3
SDN     5
SEA     8
SFN     7
SLN     7
TBA     2
TEX     1
TOR     7
WAS     13

This median ballot would score 828 points before we subtract for whichever two teams were selected as Mortal Locks, and without getting any points back for playoff picks. Interestingly, a score of 828 would place about 135th, which is about 88th percentile for the 1095 ballots.

It is no surprise that the biggest misses for the ballots as a whole were the White Sox, Dodgers and Nationals. What is fascinating, though, is that the highest guess for the White Sox total wins was 95, which was 4 wins lower than their actual total, 99 wins. If we treat the team’s win total like a binomial distribution, where p is the team winning percentage, then the highest win guess for the White Sox was actually half a standard deviation lower than the mean. One ballot had the White Sox at 64 wins, over 5.5 standard deviations below the mean.

Miraculously, one user did accurately predict this year’s World Series winner. Congrats to Beau
Underwood
, who has bragging rights over friends for decades to come.

Regardless of what you think contributed to the Dodgers’ poor season, Predictatron balloters didn’t see it coming. Only 2 people guessed a win total lower than the Dodgers’ actual total of 71 wins (99.8% of ballots missed this). For the Nationals, just 7 ballots were at 81 wins or higher (and 99.36% of ballots were lower).

To finish up, we’ll look at the standings of Baseball Prospectus staff predictions:

Name Score
Tom Gorman 839
Dave Kirsch 835
Will Carroll 830
Rany Jazayerli 823
James Click 816
Jonah Keri 814
Ben Murphy 806
Paul Swydan 782
Jason Karegeannes 776
Keith Woolner 776
Jim Baker 740

Ironically, in the first annual competition, Predictatron’s creator, Jim Baker, came in last among staffers. Thanks to all to for making the first iteration such a success, and we’ll look forward to playing next year.