Sixth Annual Dugout Central Challenge

by KerryWhisnant

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 Sixth 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 Dodgers will win 98 and the Cardinals 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 Los Angeles and 2 for St. Louis), 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 I swept the Fifth Annual Dugout Central Challenge for both average win difference and root mean square difference; it was my fourth victory in five 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 some point, but I don’t anticipate that happening. Entries must be submitted by the official opening day, 7 PM CDT, Sunday, March 30, to whisnant@iastate.edu. 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. The two games played in Australia will be freebies – you don’t have to submit picks before them.

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!

69 Responses to “Sixth Annual Dugout Central Challenge”

  1. Raul Says:

    I’ll try to do this.
    I have never tried to guess wins for every team before, so my submission will be complete guesses pulled out of thin air.

  2. Bob Says:

    Jarrod Parker needs Tommy John. And we all pull crap out of thin air.

  3. Raul Says:

    Shit.
    Jarrod Parker, too?

    Everyone’s arm is falling off.

  4. Kerry Says:

    @1 Yes, please do! Cameron has already submitted an entry, and Chuck and Bob will probably enter again, but we need more people!

  5. Cameron Says:

    Don’t be afraid. You won’t do worse than me anyway.

  6. Bob Says:

    So I have this publication called Sports Market Report (SMR) and this month they printed two articles. One the top 10 most forged signatures in the sports world. The other, the top 10 most forged signature in the non-sports world.

    1. Ruth
    2. Gehrig
    3. a 3-way tie with Mantle/Williams/DiMaggio
    4. Michael Jordan
    5. Yasiel Puig
    6. Ali
    7. Tiger Woods
    8. Jeter
    9. Gretzky
    10. LeBron James

  7. Bob Says:

    The non-sports world.

    1. Elvis
    2. The Beatles
    3. Neil Armstrong
    4. J.F.K
    5. Michael Jackson
    6. Marilyn Monroe
    7. Jim Morrison
    8. Jimi Hendrix
    9 The Stones
    10.The Hunger Games cast

  8. Raul Says:

    Forging Yasiel Puig’s signature seems like a joke. Who the hell would want his autograph? On 2nd thought, maybe that’s the genius of it. Because who the hell would want Yasiel Puig’s autograph?

    Muhammad Ali’s autograph is probably a bunch of squiggly lines. I mean he’s had Parkinsons for a long time. Okay that was a bit mean. But so what? Ali was a jerk to Joe Frazier and I can’t get over that.

    JFK’s signature…I mean he was President. And I’m guessing on top of forgeries, a lot of his stuff was probably signed by secretaries.

    Is Neil Armstrong’s autograph even valuable? Perhaps I’m underestimating the nerd appeal here.

    Personally, I wouldn’t even want most of those people’s autographs, period. Michael Jordan? Marilyn Monroe? Tiger Woods?

    And Derek Jeter’s autograph is easy to come by. All you have to do is sleep with the guy…you get autographs…baseballs…and I’m pretty sure it includes a gourmet fruit basket with like apricot jellies and brie cheese and shit.

    I’d forego any autograph to spend a night drinking/partying with Ruth or Mantle.

  9. Bob Says:

    Funny you mention Kennedy and secretaries. According to the article, Ruth’s nurse signed a lot of stuff in his last month. Whether he was too feeble to fight back, just did not care, or was drunk I have no idea. Though I like to believe it was the alcohol.

  10. Chuck Says:

    It’s a ML rule that each player signs a dozen balls every day. They are used for charity purposes, sponsor giveaways, etc.

    The Yanks clubhouse guy was Pete Sheehy, he was there almost 50 years and his specialty was forging signatures. Mantle said once he went 15 years without signing a ball.

    A friend of mine used to manage a card and memorabilia store…he said upwards of 80% of all autographs and game used stuff is forged.

    I’m not opposed to paying for an autograph as long as whoever it is is sitting in front of me. I would never walk into a store and drop 20 bucks on a ball or buy it on ebay.

    At the Brewers game yesterday, Rollie Fingers, Blue Moon Odom and George Foster were signing. Getting Foster on a ball would be nice, but we were on the clock and couldn’t ask.

  11. Chuck Says:

    Raul…Mike Silva is re-launching his old NYBD site…I’ll let you know when it’s back up.

  12. Raul Says:

    Oh, cool @ Silva relaunching. I’ve been looking for a new site to read. I’m so sick of the usual stuff on ESPN. And Bleacher Report is a joke.

    LOL. I think Mantle didn’t like signing baseballs because he genuinely could not understand why anyone would put him on such a pedestal. The way he saw himself, he was just a regular guy who played baseball.

    DiMaggio, on the other hand… That guy probably didn’t like signing baseballs because he was just an A-hole.

  13. Raul Says:

    Any one of those reasons seems possible @ Bob.

    I doubt he wouldn’t care to do it, though. Complex as Ruth was, I got the impression that he was pretty good about interacting with fans and kids on a personal level. I’m sure he cared.

    Now Ruth’s interactions with hecklers in the stands? That’s another story…lol.

  14. Chuck Says:

    SB Nation is pretty good, Raul. I hang around their prospects site, “Minor League Ball”. Pretty good group. I stay away from their team sites for the most part, just a bunch of fanboys trying to out do each other. Their Yankees site,”Pinstripe Alley” can be good, but sometimes they make River Ave Blues seem intelligent.

    There’s fresh content every day though on all of them, so they have that going for them.

  15. Raul Says:

    Adding to my bookmarks.
    Thanks Chuck

  16. Cameron Says:

    Jose Abreu is adjusting to the states well enough. Hitting over .300 for the spring. More importantly though… Just listen to the bat in this video.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/white-sox-first-baseman-jose-abreu-adjusting-to-major-leagues-new-country?ymd=20140319&content_id=69662942&vkey=news_mlb

    Beautiful.

  17. Bob Says:

    Raul asked if Neil Armstrong’s autograph is even valuable. So here is there write-up.

    “It may come as a surprise, but astronauts are one of the popular autograph collecting themes in the hobby. With that in mind, it is easy to see why an autograph from the first man to set foot on the moon (1969) would be the pinnacle of these collections, especially in light of his passing in 2012. In fact, authentic signed photos of the entire Apollo 11 crew fetched more than $7,000 each at auction this past year. Over the past three decades, Armstrong had a virtual no-autograph policy, making it even more difficult for collectors to obtain the genuine article. One of the most sought after Armstrong signed items is the familiar NASA studio-style photograph, which the late astronaut signed for fans. But beware, it is also a popular medium for forgeries.” A signed cut of his goes for $1,500 while a signed photo goes for $5,000 or more.

    So yes Raul, you are underestimating the nerd appeal here!!!

  18. Bob Says:

    Dayton beat Ohio State. Any bracket busters with that one?

  19. Cameron Says:

    My only bracket is Kansas and Wichita State making it to the Final Four. Hasn’t failed me yet.

  20. Raul Says:

    I actually had Dayton beating Ohio State.

    Right now it looks like Harvard might be Cinci. I had Cinci winning that one but I had them losing to MSU in the next round, so it wouldn’t sting too bad if Harvard takes this one.

    My Final Four is Florida, Michigan State, Louisville and Baylor, with Florida beating Louisville to win the chip.

  21. Cameron Says:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-26669967

    And now I do the happy dance.

  22. Bob Says:

    Kerry, I sent mine in.

  23. Bob Says:

    Also, a blockbuster deal yesterday. Mike Scioscia’ son for Wayne Gretzky’s kid. Got to monitor that deal this season.

  24. Bob Says:

    Duke is out.

  25. Bob Says:

    Seriously, wtf is going on????????????????

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/10646038/bruce-rondon-detroit-tigers-torn-elbow-ligament-miss-season

  26. Raul Says:

    I think Duke is suffering from a lack of talent.
    Kids just don’t want to go there anymore. And the school’s academic requirements isn’t exactly helpful to inner city kids who struggle in the class room.

  27. Raul Says:

    It was only a matter of time.

    You limit these kids from throwing and they eventually start dropping like flies with injuries.

  28. Cameron Says:

    Which is weird, because Rondon is Venezuelan. He’s used to throwing.

  29. Bob Says:

    There were about 2 dozen scouts watching Jeff Samardzija. Perhaps I will work out a trade proposal after March Madness. Obviously the Cubs will require a young pitcher with Bryant, Baez, Solar etc. The question is the best fit. Plus what secondary player they will want.

  30. Raul Says:

    What year is this in the Theo Epstein era?
    The Cubs need to start seeing results.

    I mean Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder left the division and these suckers still can’t get in the hunt?

  31. Jim Says:

    It appears that Grady Sizemore will be the RS opening day center fielder. That will make some interesting roster decisions.

    What a great story.

  32. Chuck Says:

    Sorry, Cam, but that’s what happens when you’re overrrated by a soft schedule.

    Wichita State had no chance to win the title.

  33. Cameron Says:

    Kansas out, WSU out, I’m out. My new prediction is someone’s gonna win the trophy thing by putting the bounceball through the scorehole.

  34. Mike Felber Says:

    I stumbled upon this great web site. They have an excellent analysis of various baseball mechanics & debated, great discussion of fastest pitchers & define & distinguish bat & exit speed, hitting & pitching instruction + myth-busting sections, great videos & demonstrations…

    I like that it confirms what I have long thought re: a couple old wive’s tales, sometimes taught by high level folks. How “squish the bug? created a bunch of problems with power, weight transfer, fluidity, lengthens the stroke, hands too far out front, wasted movement/energy in the legs-& actually inhibits or they say gives a false or partial hip turn.

    Great discussion & proof on crazy old ideas to hit the top 1/2 of teh ball, & to “swing down” before contact. It is swing (at contact of course, the only meaningful measure of effect on the ball) at an uppercut to compensate for the downward angle of the ball & get some lift (average MLB HR stroke, 20 degrees). And hit 1/2″ below the center of the ball for backspin/lift.

    http://www.efastball.com/hitting/should-i-hit-the-top-of-the-ball-or-the-bottom

  35. Raul Says:

    Well, I correctly picked Dayton over Ohio State.
    And Kentucky over Wichita State.

    But that Kansas loss stung. So did the Syracuse loss.

    I didn’t have either one in my Final Four, but I had them going at least another round or two.

  36. Cameron Says:

    I’ll just state it. My interest in college basketball exists in the span of about one day. Draft day. I look at the top Jayhawk and then root for the team that drafted him*. This year, I’m stoked because BOTH Wiggins and Embiid have shots to be drafted #1, with their only real competition being Jabari Parker. I’ll root for (most likely) the Bucks and 76ers (respectively taking Wiggins for scoring and Embiid to team with Noel for one of the most athletic frontcourts in the league) and wait for next year. Unless we get a Final Four run in the tournament, I couldn’t care less.

    *Recently, Sacramento is on shaky grounds with poor development of McLemore and the absolute dicking around of T-Rob.

  37. Mike Felber Says:

    Ah, don’t forget about actual the actual baseball post just above! There is much science & stuff to learn there at efastball.com.

  38. Cameron Says:

    Going from a group home to where staple foods are determined and I was eating sandwiches I could affectionately say were made of “Hamloaf” to oven roasted chicken and baby swiss… Life is good.

  39. Cameron Says:

    Sometimes you have to just applaud someone for completely giving decency the finger.

    “You see the pope’s funeral? It was like watching Ben Hur, thousands of pedophiles in red velvet.”
    -Billy Connoly

  40. Mike Felber Says:

    It is an upgrade Cam! while the vast majority of priests are not dangerous, the Catholic system has effectively recruited & harbored way too many.

  41. Cameron Says:

    RIP Ralph Wilson, last of the original AFL owners.

  42. Bob Says:

    The Pirates and Starling Marte have agreed to a 6-year extension with at least one option year.

  43. Jim Says:

    Nice to see the Bucs wrapping up a young player.

  44. Kerry Says:

    OK guys, only a few more days before the deadline. Cam and Bob have sent me entries, but nobody else…

    I also have a couple of other contests I run for some friends of mine (no money, just for bragging rights).

    In one, basically you pick the eight teams each month that you think will have the most wins that month. That way you can change your picks if they go bad or you change your mind, but only on a month by month basis. Once the playoffs are set, you then pick who you think will advance, all the way to the World Series (i.e., you pick once at the beginning of the playoffs, with no changing along the way). The deadline for the first entry is the same as for the Dugout Challenge, Sunday at 7 PM CDT.

    In the other contest (John entered this last year), you make one set of picks at the beginning of the year. You are given a certain amount of money and you pick as many teams as you can afford, using the opening day payrolls. (You can load up on cheap teams or take a smaller number of more expensive teams, or a mixture of the two. Usually the money is enough for as many as twelve teams or as few as five.) You get points for each win, and large bonus points for postseason wins. The deadline for this is about two weeks into the season, since opening day payrolls aren’t know until, naturally, opening day, and you get some time to think about it.

    If anybody is interested in one of these contests, send me an email (whisnant@iastate.edu) and I’ll send you the detailed rules.

  45. Cameron Says:

    Oh my god, Kerry mentioned that last contest, so I decided to look up the opening day payrolls of all the teams.

    The two lowest payrolls in the league are Houston ($44.55MM) and Miami ($47.57MM) Combine them together and you get a team that’s a shade above the Seattle Mariners at 18th ($92.08MM) who are paying Robinson Cano 30 million fucking dollars, so that number’s pretty inflated already.

  46. Cameron Says:

    Also, Tim Beckham is finally slated to be on the opening day roster. Kinda shows how strong Tampa’s drafts have been when they can fuck up so bad on a #1 pick who takes six years to make opening day riding the bench… And no one notices, cares, and doesn’t matter.

  47. Chuck Says:

    Tim Beckham made the Rays because he’s out of options, not because he all of a sudden became good.

    Kerry, I’ll get you my picks before Monday.

  48. Cameron Says:

    Could’ve been cut, just sayin’. Wouldn’t be the first #1 to never make the bigs. And actually, he’s out with an ACL tear right now, so he’s on the 25 man but not on the field.

  49. Kerry Says:

    @47 Good to hear Chuck.

    Now how about it, Bob? You won the Average Win Difference part of the 2012 DC Challenge.

    Raul, you showed some interest.

    And Mike and Jim, we do need more people…

  50. Bob Says:

    @ 49. I submitted mine.

  51. Kerry Says:

    Oops, yes you did, I even mentioned that earlier.

    This semester is killing me. I’m running a course with 1250 students, handling advising for 40 students (who are all starting to sign up for fall classes this month), and also have some other committee duties that have heavy time commitments this time of year. Not to mention the NCAA tournament and figuring out my taxes. I hardly know which end is up half the time.

  52. Bob Says:

    1250 students taking physics? That is a good sign. How many physics professors does Iowa State employ?

  53. Raul Says:

    I apologize. It’s been busy and I just flew in to LA yesterday.

    I’ll try to post over the weekend.

  54. Kerry Says:

    @52, yes, we have a lot of engineering students here and enrollments are going up. Some are not really cut out for it (engineering uses physics as a weed-out course). We have about 40 faculty right now.

  55. Raul Says:

    My fantasy mlb draft was held yesterday. I had to do it on my phone via a cbs app.

    C – Salvador Perez
    1B – Joey Votto
    2B – Jason Kipnis
    3B – David Wright
    SS – Andrelton Simmons
    OF – Ryan Braun
    OF – Carlos Gonzalez
    OF – Wil Myers
    DH – David Ortiz
    Bench – Jose Abreu (1B)
    Bench – Michael Cuddyer (OF)
    Bench – Jed Lowrie (SS)

    SP – Gerrit Cole
    SP – Mike Minor
    SP – Matt Moore
    SP – Alex Cobb
    RP – Trevor Rosenthal
    RP – Sergio Romo
    RP – Glen Perkins
    Bench – Hyun-Jin Ryu (SP)
    Bench – Jose Quintana (SP)
    Bench – Tommy Hunter (RP)

    I know some guys are injured though.

  56. Bob Says:

    Are people openly rooting for Ryan Braun to suck shit? And if Hamels decided Harper should get it, and Dempster decided ARod should get drilled, who will be the pitcher to nail Braun with a fastball?

  57. Raul Says:

    I dunno.
    Ryan Braun acted like a jerk but I don’t think it’s up to other players to exact vigilante justice by throwing at him.

    What he should have done (not sure if he did) was personally apologize to the tester he got fired. And probably should have cut him a huge check. And helped him get another job.

  58. Bob Says:

    The Brewers should hire the guy. His title can be special assistant to the GM.

  59. Jim Says:

    Ryan Kalish will make the Cubs opening day roster. Another feel good story about a player whose career was being derailed by injury.

    Kerry, I’ll send my guesses later tonight

  60. Cameron Says:

    Bobby Abreu, cut from the Phillies for being hurt, 40, and hitting .244.

    …I don’t get it, what makes him different than everyone else in the lineup?

  61. Chuck Says:

    Won’t have to worry about the tournament after tomorrow Kerry…we’re gonna smoke your ass.

  62. Chuck Says:

    Nice lineup Raul, although your pitching blows..

    Rangers released Tommy Hunter yesterday.

    Braun did apologize to the guy..not sure if he made good on anything else.

    Dude has issues…

  63. Cameron Says:

    Um… Go Dayton? I just have a problem with Florida. I like Patric Wilson, he’s a hell of a player, but anyone who lines up someone 6′9″ at center deserves to lose.

  64. Bob Says:

    Go Michigan and Michigan State. Could care less between Louisville and Kentucky. Though both are formidable.

  65. Lefty33 Says:

    @60- Because the Phillies play in the NL and eventually Abreu would need to play the field. That’s kind of a problem when he has an arm that makes Ben Revere’s look like a rocket launcher while also having the lateral mobility of Stonehenge.

  66. Cameron Says:

    Still not seeing the difference. =P

  67. Lefty33 Says:

    Since Raul shared I figured that I would as well. This group is a work in progress as the league I’m in drafted three weeks ago and I forgot to check things over until now.

    Yadier Molina – C
    Prince Fielder – 1B
    Chase Utley – 2B
    Josh Donaldson – 3B
    Jean Segura – SS
    Andrew McCutchen – OF
    Giancarlo Stanton – OF
    Mark Trumbo – 1B,OF
    Adrián González – DH,1B
    Justin Upton – OF (Bench)
    Wil Myers – OF (Bench)
    Pablo Sandoval – 3B (Bench)
    Kyle Seager – 3B (Bench)
    A.J. Pierzynski – C (Bench)
    Coco Crisp – OF (Bench)

    Cliff Lee – SP
    Justin Verlander – SP
    Rafael Soriano – RP
    Jason Grilli – RP
    Shelby Miller – SP
    Francisco Liriano – SP
    Ervin Santana – SP

  68. Bob Says:

    I am assuming we all heard about the new contract some player signed in Detroit, correct?

  69. Cameron Says:

    If he were on the Yankees, the contract would have another zero on it.

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