2016 AL/NL Central Division Rankings – PLA Consensus Model Projections

By: Joe Botana

 

Proverbs 11:14  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

14 Where there is no guidance the people fall,
But in abundance of counselors there is [
a]victory.

Proverbs 15:22  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

22 Without consultation, plans are frustrated,
But with many counselors they [
a]succeed.

Last week, we introduced a new statistical model, based on consensus ratings from four popular existing models. Inspired by the Biblical wisdom quoted above, as well as by “poll of polls” and “analyst consensus” estimates used in political science and finance, our “PLA Consensus Model” seeks to predict the outcome of the upcoming baseball season based on the collective wisdom of other. Over the last few days, we used the output generated by the model to project the final results of the NL East and West Divisions as well as the AL East and West Divisions.

In today’s installment, we depart from the geographic periphery of MLB, and move to the center of the map, where I live, and where my two favorite baseball teams, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago White Sox ply their trade. We will use the model to predict the outcome of the AL and NL Central Divisions. Finally, on Sunday we will look at the playoff picture six months before it begins, based on the model’s projections, and reaffirm our projections so we can check back in October.

AL Central Divison

Consensus Rankings

Team              League-Div    W            L      DivRank  SDivRk  SdDvW

Cleveland              ALCD      85.3        76.8       2.25      1.50        4.79

Kansas City            ALCD      83.5       78.5      2.50       1.73        6.95

Chi White Sox       ALCD      81.3        80.8      3.00        1.83        7.37

Detroit                   ALCD      81.0        81.0       3.50        1.29        3.16

Minnesota             ALCD      81.0        81.0       3.75        0.96       2.16

The model predicts that this division will be close, and that no team will be dominant. It also predicts that there is a great deal of uncertainty as to how the individual teams will do, or in which order they will finish. It’s interesting to note that the Cleveland Indians are projected to win 85.3 games and finish atop the division, but their consensus finishing position is 2.25th place. In a sense, the model is predicting that no one will finish in first place!

Close on their heels, the model projects that the defending World Series Champion Kansas City Royals will finish second, with 83.5 wins, in 2.5th place. However, given the wide range of uncertainty in their results, it would not be surprising to see the Royals deviate significantly from that number, either up or down.

Right behind the Royals, expected to finish third with a just over .500 record of 81.3 wins, are the Chicago White Sox, predicted to finish in third place with a Divisional position index of 3.0rd. However, the uncertainty range of this prediction is an index of 1.73, highest in MLB. Not surprising, given that the four base models pick them to finish 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th. No one individually picks them to finish 3rd. The uncertainty spread index on the number of wins is also a whopping 7.37, the model’s second highest.

Finally in the 4th and 5th positions respectively are the Tigers and Twins, each expected to win 81 games. There is much more agreement on how these two will perform and finish, although given the closeness of the predictions, it would not be surprising to see them exchange places, not just with each other, but even with the teams projected to finish at or near the top of the ALCD.

The AL Central ranks as the second strongest in terms of Division Strength (50.9% index), helped by the fact that there are no weak teams. It is by far the highest in uncertainty as to team final position (7.3 vs. 3.9 average) and the second highest uncertainty in division wins (24.4 vs. 19.6 average) index values.

NL Central Divison

Consensus Rankings

Team         League-Div   W      L        DvRnk   SDeDvRk  StdDevWins

Chi Cubs      NLCD         96.0  66.0   1.00        0.00            3.37

Pittsburgh   NLCD         88.5   73.5   2.25        0.50            4.73

St. Louis      NLCD         87.8  74.3     2.75        0.50            6.80

Milwaukee  NLCD         70.5  91.5      4.00        0.00            7.05

Cincinnati   NLCD         67.8    94.3    5.00        0.00            6.24

Unlike in the AL CenDiv, where the model displays a high degree of uncertainty, for the NLCD the model unanimously and confidently picks the Chicago Cubs to win the division, with 96 wins and a 1st place position. The Cubs are the model’s top pick for 2016, and share the honors of most confident pick to win their division with the ALWD Houston Astros.

Well behind the Cubs in second place will be the Pittsburgh Pirates, in at 2.25th position with 88.5 wins. Close behind in third will be Cardinals, with 87.8 wins and a 2.75th position index. The model expresses fairly high uncertainty in both teams’ number of wins, so it would not be at all surprising to see those two swap places. It would, however, be quite unexpected to see either one move up to challenge the Cubs, or move down to fourth or fifth.

Bringing up the rear are the NLCD’s two rebuilding teams, the Brewers and the Reds. The Crew is expected to finish fourth, with 70.5 wins and a fourth place position index. The Reds are projected to finish dead last, with 67.8 wins and a unanimous pick to finish fifth. As in tier two of this three tier division, the model expresses fairly high uncertainty in both teams’ number of wins, so it would not be at all surprising to see those two swap places. It would, however, be quite unexpected to see either one move up to challenge the Pirates or Cardinals for second or third place.

The NL Central ranks as the third strongest in terms of Division Strength (50.7% index), due to the superior strength of the Cubs and the solid middle tier Pirates and Cardinals. It is by far the lowest in uncertainty as to team final position (1.0 vs. 3.9 average) but the highest index of uncertainty in division wins (28.2 vs. a 19.6 average) index values. Because of the relative difference in expected wins, it is unlikely that there will be much change in overall finish position. The Cubs should win it. The Pirates and Cards should battle each other for second and third. The Brewers and the Reds will duke it out for fourth and fifth.

Now that we have used the output of the PLA Consensus Model to project each of the sixth division, we will wrap up the series tomorrow with playoff pairings and projections. We will also make some other corollary predictions, including such things as the team most likely to win 100 and lose 100, and rank our predictions in order of confidence and uncertainty. In response to some who have raised the question, we’ll also disclose the meaning of the new model’s name.

Stay tuned. Tomorrow the predictions end. The next day, the real thing begins!

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