2017 Pennant Race Predictions (with the Coolest, Strangest Stats and Facts)
For better or worse, statistics are the lingua franca of baseball, the language (and lifeblood) of the game.
We say “better or worse,” because as we all know, statistics can be misinterpreted or manipulated to support specious arguments (“Juan Gonzalez deserved the 1996 MVP because…RBI”), create divisions amongst fans (“old school” vs “sabermetrics”), confound or clarify (WAR and its components, particularly defensive metrics prior to the StatCast era).
But stats are also something else: A way to keep score, of course. A way to rate and rank our favorite players and teams. A favorite diversion (one that transcends mediums, from baseball cards to baseball-reference.com).
And, as Kevin Reavy and Ryan Spaeder, authors of “Incredible Baseball Stats: The Coolest, Strangest Stats and Facts in Baseball History” know, stats are just plain fun. So fun, in fact, that they can make the annual fool’s errand known as predicting the division races for the coming year a worthwhile exercise.
Here then, a list of cool, strange, illuminating and just plain fun statistical nuggets discovered or uncovered by Reavy and Spaeder – one per team, in predicted order of 2017 finish. For much, much more you’ll want to check out their book (really, the best ones are still there to be discovered by the reader). As they write in their introduction, “there’s a monstrous pile of data and satiating sabermetric goodies in this book…. But also, there are some really incredible stories.”