One day, when the machines replace us humans, this is how we'll decide the World Series: The Prediction Machine, a website that claims to have the most sophisticated sports forecasting software on the market, plays each game of the 2013 season 50,000 times, calculates all the outcomes and tells us what's most likely to happen in baseball this year.
It's like — nerd reference alert! — The Observers in "Fringe" who see all possible futures. I'm already sorry for that namecheck.
Anyhow, for this season, The Prediction Machine ranks The Los Angeles Angels, with the towering trio of Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout, as the top team in baseball. In Prediction Machine's calculations, the Angels won the World Series 12% of the time. Both the Washington Nationals and the Detroit Tigers won 10% of the forecasts while the Cincinnati Red won 9% of the time.
See all the projections here — including final records, division standings and the 11 teams it gives a 0% chance to win the World Series. Surprise: The Houston Astros and Miami Marlins are among them.
If you're like me, your first question was, "So how did this Prediction Machine do last year?" Glad you asked.
Last season, it picked the Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers as most probable winners (each at 16%), the Boston Red Sox were next (11%) and the Milwaukee Brewers (9%) followed. Well, only one of those teams finished last in its divisions.
The actual winners, the San Francisco Giants, ranked eighth and the team they beat, the Detroit Tigers, were 11th.
Prediction Machine got only two division champions correct (Giants and Tigers), and it missed the same surprise teams that many people — the Baltimore Orioles (it predicted a last-place finish) and the Oakland Athletics (predicted third).
This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we humans still play the game and don't just turn it over to the computers. Unpredictability is what makes it a thrill.
BLS H/N: Hardball Talk