The Cleveland Indians are projected to return to the World Series in 2017, but they won’t be avenging the Chicago Cubs who beat them in 2016.
The Cubs are projected to easily win the National League Central Division, but three other NL post-season favorites have better pitching and the Cubs won’t be returning to the 2017 World Series.
The New York Mets, Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers join the Cubs as consistently the best in the NL for 2017 and any one of the three can stop the Cubs in the NLCS.
There is a clear leader of the NL pack: the Dodgers. Sorry, Indian fans, but the Dodgers also are the likely 2017 champs.
Don’t take these projections lightly. A 14-year-old math whiz on ESPN Sportscenter and I were the only ones to accurately publish and predict a Cubs and Indians World Series back in spring training in 2016.
I was even more like Nostradamus when I ran the post-season rosters and more specifically published before the Series that the Cubs would beat the Indians in seven games in one of the closest World Series in years.
I’ll tell you more about that 14-year-old math whiz in a moment.
I have made these annual projections for several years as a beta tester for Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP), the most comprehensive baseball game on the market. https://site.ootpdevelopments.com/out-of-the-park-baseball/
Former Boston pitcher Curt Schilling and Red Sox owner John Henry are among the gamers in the OOTP community.
OOTP contains a database of every single person to ever play in the major leagues. This year’s version even includes all the players in the minors.
The rosters were assembled by a team of beta testers and include the projected opening day rosters of all teams up to today’s end of spring training.
What is significant about the data is just how much is measured: ballpark factors, injury likelihood by age, career stat peaks by age and so much more. Real prospects in the minors are rated based on the reports of real scouts and professional rating associations.
Most significantly, Markus Heinsohn, the game’s creator, has an entire world of baseball history to project how players progress by age and by level of advancement from the minors to the majors, hiding math under the hood that calculates the peak age and injury curves based on everyone who has ever played the game. In other words, this game can make a very educated guess.
Heinsohn has built a masterpiece of a game that is officially licensed by MLB.com and the Major League Players’ Association. Gamers are able to play out every inning, go as deep in salary management, trading and second-guessing for the entire history of baseball, even into the future, or they can create an entirely fictional baseball universe.
The game is just now available for opening day and includes the same rosters that I used for my projections.
I go a whole lot beyond simming just one season. I used a spreadsheet to track repeated season sims, also recorded the built-in pre-season predictions in each of those sims and used what is called the “sim module.” This module allows you to match two teams for as many games as you want, head-to-head.
This is not as hard as it sounds because the sims happen very rapidly.
What I did was run multiple season sims, identify the clear post-season candidates and then match them head-to-head for 100 games — a process that only takes about 10 seconds.
Now back to the projections.
The Indians are even stronger than 2016 because of their balance of offense, pitching, bullpen and defense.
There are always sleepers and surprises and the Houston Astros are the 2017 team to watch. Let’s see how many experts project them to top the American League.
The Astros are very evenly matched with the Indians and advance to the World Series in projections almost as frequently. But the Indians are better in head-to-head matchups.
Neither the Astros nor Indians can beat the Dodgers, though.
The other post-season contenders in the American League include Tampa Bay, Seattle and Boston.
Now about that 14-year-old math whiz. Connor Garcia Whitehill built his own series of calculations using MLB stats and predicted the Cubs would beat the Indians in the 2016 World Series.
Whitehill was helped by two math teachers at his eighth-grade Oakland, Calif., school.
ESPN featured him earlier this week with his 2017 calculations. Once again, the kid with a calculator is closely matching what OOTP shows.
He also shows the Indians and Dodgers in the 2017 World Series. The only difference is that he picks the Indians to win it all.
Oakland 14-Year-Old Used Stats to Predict 2016 World Series Last ...
The final hedge and disclaimer: With so much riding on the pitching arms of the Dodgers or Indians to pull this off, these projections were run with injuries turned off and assumed no trades after Opening Day. And there is no database that can figure out that rookie who comes from nowhere and exceeds all expectations.
That’s why the game is played on the field — and the rest of us can second guess with this great game.
Anything can happen.
(Roger Snell was a reporter for nearly two decades, won the Pulitzer Prize with the staff of the Akron Beacon Journal, is the author of “Root for the Cubs: Charlie Root and the 1929 Cubs,” www.rootforthecubs.com. He also is a long-time member of SABR and the beta-testing team of Out of the Park Baseball.)