It's that time of year, when everyone who's anyone predicts what's gonna shake down in the baseball season.
Let us take a look around the 'net to see what the conventional wisdom on the Sox' season has to say: from logical and scientific method based computer based simulations to more, how do you say -- "bullshit type" predictions like those of John Kruk and Jon "I like to use batting average and errors as metrics" Heyman.It's 2011 -- bow down to your Computer Overlords.
PECOTA: The notoriously Sox pessimistic Baseball Prospectus system predicts a 3rd place finish with 83.6 wins on average. However, PECOTA regresses heavily to the mean and it rates the Twins, Tigers and Sox at virtually even odds to take the division.
Diamond Mind: Diamond Mind simulates the season thousands of times using whatever projections you plug in. While not quite the juggernaut of hardcore sims it used to be the program still has its share of adherents in the sabermetric community. Using the PECOTA predictions inside Diamond Mind the Sox are predicted again in 3rd with 83.1 wins. Using "Oliver" projections (THTs version of Marcel) the Sox come out at 82.9 wins, again in 3rd. Oliver likes the Twins quite a bit, predicting 86 wins for them and a fairly easy division crown. Using the Bill James projections has the Sox at 81.5 wins, again in 3rd with the Twins in 1st. See all the Diamond Mind predictions over at Replacement Level Yankees Blog.
It's 2011 -- Computer Overlords Haven't Eradicated Pundits Quite Yet
ESPN -- Kruk says "They still have four really good pitchers, Their bullpen is young, but very talented, great right and left guys who can strike people out. They’re going to have unbelievable power in their lineup."
Forget some of the more pessimistic computer projections, that's a horrible reverse jinx if I've ever seen one. Shitbirds. FWIW, Orel Hershiser also likes the Sox to take the division.
What does it all mean?
It's looking like a great year to be a fan of the Sox, Tigers and Twins. The AL Central is up for grabs -- as usual. Most of the computer projections don't factor perhaps the Sox' biggest asset: their training staff and Don Cooper's ability to keep their pitchers healthy. Luck will play a role, as it always does. The eventual division winner likely won't be crowned until late September.
The best prediction? Perhaps yet another play in game.