over at wsj.com, the Daily Fix is running its annual baseball contest; click the link and look inside the sidebar box at the left of the page. it's a series of 20 questions about the upcoming baseball season --- everything from "who will win each division?" to "how much will run scoring increase / decrease this year compared to last?" the contest is open to everyone; whoever gets the most correct answers wins a fabulous prize.
some guy from england won last year.
i'm going to submit an entry, and i'm asking for the community's help with one of the questions --- #20, which reads: "On what date will Barry Bonds hit career HR No. 756? (Say none if you think he won't.)" post a date in the comments thread below, and i'll aggregate the responses community-projection style --- that'll be my/our answer.
just for reference, bonds hit 26 homers last season in 367 at-bats; he is sitting on 734 as the season begins, or 22 shy of #756. last season, he hit #22 on september 4. so far this spring he has hit 5 dingers in 26 at-bats and is slugging 1.000.
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on tuesday night, SG posted the results of the 3d annual Diamond Mind projection blowout at Replacement Level Yankees Weblog. he ran the 2007 season 4,000 times, using four different sets of projection data (chone, PECOTA, ZIPS, and Diamond Mind) for 1,000 seasons apiece. head over to SG's site for all the details, which are plenty juicy; i'll just post the aggregated results (ie, the average of all 4,000 seasons) for the nl central:
actually, stl edged out the cubs by .2 of a game, 84.4 wins to 84.2. in other words, over those 4,000 seasons the cardinals won about 337,600 games, while the cubs won about 336,800. that's pretty tight, boys and girls. a few other items of note:
- the cards' worst showing came in the PECOTA projection --- they averaged an 80-82 record, fourth best in the division and 5 games worse than the cubs.
- their best showing was in the ZIPS projection --- average record of 90-72, the best not only in the division but in the whole national league, and second only to the yankees in mlb.
- they finished no worse than 2d in the national league in runs allowed in any of the four projections. in the aggregate projection (all 4,000 seasons) they averaged the lowest runs-allowed total in baseball, 721.
- among the four projections, the cardinals finished no better than 9th (tied) in the national league in runs scored --- and were as low as 15th (PECOTA); in the aggregate, the offense ranks 13th out of 16 national league clubs. for all the worry about the pitching staff, the simulation exercises have consistently indicated that the offense is where our concern ought to lie. the offense could really suck.
- the cardinals won their division 1,382 times, or 35 percent of the time --- 3d-best showing in the national league (the phillies and padres won their divisions 39 pct of the time). the cards made the playoffs as either a division winner or wild card 41.6 percent of the time, 4th best showing in the league (behind the mets, padres, and phillies).
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and then there's sports illustrated. i'm old enough to remember when the magazine's preseason baseball preview was The Word --- there were no Baseball Prospectuses, bill jameses, online betting sites, or smarty-pants bloggers around to challenge the mighty si's prognostications. now it's just another publication with another set of meaningless preseason picks . . . . for what it's worth, they like stl's chances to win the nl central. john heyman's writeup concludes: