It’s spring and all baseball fans are filled with hope. Going by the numbers, Seattle Mariners fans might have more reason for hope than others.
The season started with three wins and Mariners fans would love to root for a winning team again. This could be the year, if you listen to a baseball fan with a mathematical formula for predicting winners.
Math professor Bruce Bukiet, at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, is a baseball junkie who applies the principles of math to a game obsessed with numbers. His formula takes every team’s starting nine and analyzes each player’s performance over recent years to calculate the likelihood that the team will score a certain number of runs in a game.
“Then if you compare that run distribution, how often a team gets zero, one, two, three runs against the opposing team, then you can figure out the probability of winning any game,” said Bukiet.
The Mariners have picked up a few players with recent injury issues and that’s a factor in Bukiet’s formula. Of course, he can’t factor in trades and injuries during the season.
Bukiet is a Mets fan so he knows long suffering. He eliminates hope and other subjective factors from his projections.
“I try not to factor in, well, maybe this guy will come back from his injury and play like he did a couple years ago, I just use what’s out there and try to be as objective as I can.”
His website makes projections for the entire season and daily picks, too.
So, how will the Mariners do in 2014, based on Bukiet’s mathematical formula?
“I have them winning 87 games, trying for second place in the AL West with the Angels and just barely making the playoffs, edging out the Yankees and the Rays, so that would be a pretty nice turnaround from last year.”
Last year, Bukiet predicted the M’s would win 71 games in 2013. That’s exactly what happened.
“I compared my results with about 55 other so-called experts and I come up in about the top ten. I’ve won the baseballphd.net contest three of the last four years.”
However, Bukiet also picked the L.A. Angels to win the A.L. West last season and they flopped to a sub-.500 season.
Math is not a perfect science, said Bukiet. “That’s why they play the games.”