Baseball season 2019 may be winding down, but observers are already making their predictions for next year.
Of course, nobody has a perfect way of seeing into the future—at least not yet. Still, knowing what factors affect a team’s prospects can help you to make better predictions about how things will turn out.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the factors that professional prognosticators consider when forecasting the future of sports. We’ll also consider the role that sports algorithms play in predicting outcomes. Use this information to get more enjoyment out of the sport you love.
They say that the best way to know what a team will do in the future is to look at what it’s done in the past. Fortunately, you can find box scores and game results online going back as far as 1871. This information can give you a solid basis for your personal predictions.
Pregame Factors to Consider
Pregame factors can affect a team’s performance during a particular game. They include:
- Home field advantage: A team that plays on its own turf enjoys a powerful psychological advantage.
- Travel distance: Jet lag affects baseball players as much as the rest of us. Time zone changes can throw off-key body rhythms, hindering performance.
- Rest days before a game: Generally, a team will perform better if it has had time to recuperate and retool in the days prior to the game.
Every baseball fan knows that a pitcher’s performance is crucial to his team’s prospects. The question is how to evaluate an individual pitcher’s record. Modern formulas use factors such as walks plus hits allowed and the total number of strikes per nine innings.
Sizing up a pitcher is both an art and a science. It’s a good idea to review the methods used by game analysts and team managers. Once you get the knack of working with the numbers, you’ll have a powerful predictive ally in your bullpen.
Calculating preseason rankings is beyond the abilities of most of us, unless we happen to be a computer or a mathematical genius. That’s why it’s best to let professional analysts handle this aspect of the process.
Rankings tend to differ from one source to the next, of course. That’s why it’s a good idea to check all of the available sources rather than relying on a particular favorite. It’s never wise to put all of your eggs in one basket.
Computers Versus the Human Factor
Sports algorithms have revolutionized the world of professional athletics. But their use is controversial. Have computers replaced good old-fashioned gut instincts?
No, they haven’t. That’s because computers cannot “think,” in the normal sense of the word. Instead, they process data and make recommendations based upon mathematical probabilities. This limits their ability to deal with unexpected events.
Take injuries, for example. No computer can foresee an injury, nor can it predict how much an injury will affect a player’s performance. There are simply too many variables for the program to keep up with.
Sports algorithms are useful tools for storing and analyzing information. At the end of the day, however, only a human being can size up a situation and make a judgment call. This is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future.
Keeping It All in Perspective
At the end of the day, baseball is about showing team loyalty and celebrating athletic achievement. Victories are great, of course. But the true fan sticks by his or her favorite team through good times as well as bad.
There’s nothing wrong with placing an occasional wager, of course. Just keep the big picture in mind while doing so. That way, you’ll never miss out on the fun of the game.
Spring of 2020 will be here before you know it. Use the tips in this post to brush up on your predictive skills between now and then. That way, you’ll be in a better position to make the right calls when the time comes.