Baseball Prospectus: Sox Will Finish Last

Cubs sitting pretty in sabermetric pub's annual predictions

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    NEWSLETTERS

    If there's one thing that will cause Kenny Williams to stop smiling, it's Baseball Prospectus.

    Every year, Baseball Prospectus' Nate Silver -- he of FiveThirtyEight.com, the single most successful electoral prediction site of 2008 -- uses the various mathematical and performance-based calculations in his laptop to accurately (though not perfectly) predict the outcome of the impending baseball season. In part because of these predictions, Baseball Prospectus' readership has grown; it is by far the most popular sabermetric baseball publication anywhere.

    Silver and Co. just released their 2009 predictions, which you can peruse here, and things aren't looking very good for the White Sox. At 74-88, the Sox are predicted to finish last in the AL Central. Oof.

    The Cubs' future looks far brighter. B-Pro has the Cubs winning 95 games at the NL Central; the next closest team is the Brewers at 85 games, while the Cardinals are pegged to finish just under .500.

    One bright spot for Sox fans: Not only are these predictions not set in stone -- it's still very early in the baseball calendar, and any prediction set is going to have varying degrees of accuracy -- but the other teams in the AL Central aren't at all impressive. Even the "first-place" Indians are only supposed to win 84 games, while the second-place Twins are at 79. It's a wide-open division. A few variances, some better-than-expected performances, and the Sox are right there. Theoretically.

    Of course, that goes for any mathematical prediction system: There is far too much luck and skill and impossible-to-describe factors that go into baseball for anyone to be perfect. That's good news. The bad news: In 2007, Baseball Prospectus said the Sox would win 72 games. Kenny Williams made fun of the math nerds in the corner and said the Sox would win far more than that. At the end of a disastrous season, the Sox had won ... 72 games.