Yup, ignore ESPN
The Vegas Watch blog evaluated the preseason predictions of a lot of famous people, plus PECOTA’s projection system. And then Tom Tango updated the chart to include the default projection of every team going 81-81. Here’s the revised list (number to the right is RMSE)
10.6 Perfectly Competitive Balanced (all teams predicted at 81-81)
PECOTA did the best, and then two PECOTA-ish writers (Neyer and Law) also beat the default projection. Everyone else did worse.
Let me repeat – everyone else did worse than predicting all 30 teams to go 81-81. If you knew absolutely nothing about baseball, didn’t know the rules, had never heard of any players, but you had a basic understanding of probability, you would have done better at predicting the 2008 MLB season than pretty much all of the experts on TV.
Keep this in mind the next time some professional baseball writer calls you an arrogant bastard for daring to ignore their insights and opinions that stem from years of experience. They suck at turning their experience into actual knowledge. In fact, they suck at it so badly that they can actively take away knowledge. Listening to Steve Phillips and giving him credit for knowing something can actually make you know less about baseball than if you stuck your fingers in your ears and hummed every time he came on TV. And he used to run a baseball team.
People who think that their positions entitle them to have their opinions respected are likely not worth listening to. If they actually had something of value to share, they wouldn’t have to lean on their employment status, but could stand on their track records instead.
Moral of the story – ignore the media. They don’t know baseball any more than you do.