Fifth Annual Dugout Central Challenge
Who are the best teams? Who are the worst teams? And just how good or bad are they? Members of the Dugout Central staff and readers are again challenged to predict the number of wins in the regular season for each of the thirty major league baseball teams in the Fifth Annual Dugout Central Challenge.
It requires an in-depth knowledge of all thirty teams to accurately predict the number of wins for every team – a lot more than for picking division winners and a wild card team for each league. Relative strengths within the division, within the league and between leagues also come into play. Strength of schedule is another factor. And key injuries can upset even the best predictions.
Same as last year, there will be two contests this year, one using the average win difference (AWD) and the other using root mean square difference (RMSD) between the predictions and the actual win totals on September 29 — or later if there are make-up games played after that.
For example, if you predict that the Yankees will win 98 and the Red Sox 94, but it turns out to be 93 and 96, respectively, you are off by a total of 7 games for those two teams (5 for New York and 2 for Boston), and the AWD is 3.50. The RMSD would be the square root of (25 + 4)/2 = 14.5, or about 3.81. The average win difference does not penalize picks that are far off the mark as much as RMSD does.
Any unplayed games will be assigned wins according to the team’s winning percentage. For example, a team is 96-64 and doesn’t make up two games. They have a winning percentage of .600, and so those two make-up games will be worth 1.2 wins, for a total of 97.2. Tie-break games will count — the final winning percentage will be prorated to 162 games. Hence, in 2009 the Twins (87-76) were rated at 86.47 wins and the Tigers (86-77) at 85.47 wins.
Last year Robert Owens won the Fourth Annual Dugout Central Challenge using average win difference, narrowly beating me and even the Vegas Over/Under line, in addition to other Dugout Central entries. I won the RMSD title by the smallest possible margin over Jon Ellis; it was my third victory in four years using RMSD.
As usual the contest will be opened up to readers as well Dugout Central staff. If the number of entrants gets too large, I will cap the number of reader entries at ten, but I don’t anticipate that happening. Entries must be submitted by 7 PM CDT, Sunday, March 31, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you submit an entry, you may change it before the deadline if there is a significant injury or roster change that affects your prediction — or even if you just have second thoughts.
This will not be an empty exercise, to be forgotten once the season starts. Updates will be provided periodically throughout the year using winning percentages, and contest entrants will be held accountable at the end of the season. So there’s nowhere to hide, and may the best prognosticator win!